Bardens touts itself as a ‘boudoir’ as if suggesting that it’s some kind of velvet covered, perfume soaked utopia. Of course it is nothing of the kind, it’s actually is a dingy dive with sweat dripping off the walls and a selection of flat beers served in plastic cups. The only nods towards the Louis XIV opulence that the name implies are a couple of leather armchairs at the back. Dave Goldberg, Box Elders’ multi-talented drummer and keyboardist, explains to me that this particular style of armchair upholstery is known as ‘diamond tuck’. I’m mildly impressed with Goldberg’s command of upholstery terms but not nearly as impressed as I am with his ability to play the drums, the keyboard and shake his maracas all at the same time.
Some bands like to express their collective ethos by wearing matching sharp suits and making similar dance moves. The Box Elders are not one of those bands. In fact, the three members of Box Elders don’t look like they should be in a band together at all. Bassist Clayton McIntyre, with his long flowing blonde mane and his tasselled leather waistcoat, tells me that he is the reincarnation of original Metallica bassist Cliff Burton. A little spooky when you discover that he was born on the day Cliff died. Clayton rocks and headbangs his way through the set while brother Jeremiah, on lead guitar looks a little more subdued in a Tom Waits-esque fedora. At the back Goldberg sweats it out with his multi instrument ensemble giving a performance that is so energetic it would be equally at home on the Baltimore electro scene.
It is a pleasure to watch the Box Elders performing their lo-fi, ramshackle brand of noise pop. Although incongruous each member brings their own unique energy to the band. The songs have a tongue and cheek irreverence about them and Jeremiah introduces one song by explaining, ‘This is a sad song about loving someone who can’t love you back. It’s called necrophilia.’
The song Dave samples Jonathan Richman’s Egyptian Reggae and, like Richman, the Box Elders make smile inducing, quirky and uplifting music.
They ended the set with cover of Teenage Kicks by The Undertones which they dedicated to their road manager ‘who hates everything apart from this song'. It was a brilliantly upbeat cover that was bound to raise a smile out of even the most hard to please of roadies.