At a music convention like In The City, rumour and hype swirl together to form a noxious fog that can engulf even the most seasoned and cynical new band seeker. Avoiding bands surrounded by hype is one of the basic rules of following rock music, and yet I willingly traipsed along to see two of the main ‘buzz’ bands, drunk on a few begrudging words of encouragement from a middle aged A&R man.
The club was packed on both occasions. One of these bands was actually cheered onto stage before they had even played a note, and yet when their guitars were actually plugged in, they were disappointingly risk-free, and average at best. So when I found myself in another crush of haircuts and PR sweat, I expected little. Half an hour later, after Ou Est Le Swimming Pool had finished, I still wasn’t sure if they were the best or worst band I’d ever seen.
On reflection, I realised that this was the best reaction I could have hoped for. Even ignoring their linguistically challenged of-the-moment name, the band is crammed with weird, admirable anomalies.
The two keyboard players looked like a before-and-after picture of a Pet Shop Boy who’d drunk a pint of LSD. One was in a geography teacher’s grey suit, and the other sported a moustache, vomit-coloured shirt, and a vividly coloured scarf wrapped around his head. They both played thrillingly big music; stabbing chords and huge drumbeats.
Contrast them with the two singers who emerge from the shadows, one a Burberry-clad Simon Le Bon mini-me, the other a boyband escapee. They both sing with a sincerity and passion that jars hard against a band set-up that is so post-ironic it has become pre-irony, and thus sincerity. Clever.
The response from everyone who saw them was the same: bewilderment and then a creeping realisation that Ou Est Le Swimming Pool were the most memorable band of In The City.
I could describe the songs to you as usual, but for once, I don’t think words could do them justice. Listen for yourself and feel a band more polarised than a trucker’s Aviators.