Wild Smiles, Leon of Athens, Rosenthal - The Monarch, Camden, London,1st May 2014

Wild Smiles, Leon of Athens, Rosenthal – The Monarch, Camden, London,1st May 2014


The geek is dead – long live the geek. Having finally called time on his long running Geek Out night – rules included a mandatory Weezer cover by everyone on the bill – veteran NME writer Mark Beaumont has once again vowed to bring us another monthly selection of the best new bands around.

It may now nestle under the banner “Mark Beaumont presents…’, but this opening night proves every bit as wonderfully geek powered as its predecessor. Take our host himself, for starters, clad in a colourful shirt, sipping a glass of red wine behind the decks and dropping tracks by those kings of indie prepiness Vampire Weekend into his DJ set at a rate of at least one every ten minutes.

And while tonight’s openers Rosenthal look cool enough to be a young Sonic Youth, their currency also depends on a certain awkward, gawky charm. The Danish three piece boast imaginative, gently evocative dream pop with titles like ‘Heat’, ‘Void’ and ‘Lashes’, and while there is an obligatory Scandinavian reference point – Bjork‘s pre-solo outfit The Sugarcubes – most of their sound lies rooted in British influences like Cocteau Twins, New Order and the more tender moments of My Bloody Valentine.

Prepared to pare down their sound to a tiny whisper one moment, then blow like a mighty hurricane the next, they’re a sonic delight with way more confidence and songwriting skills than most groups playing just their fifth show.

Leon of Athens is second up, and although he’s blessed with movie star looks and self-assurance aplenty, he too puts the geek in Greek with a Breton shirt and a deftly employed ukulele. Much more rooted in mainstream pop, his recent singles ‘Baby Asteroid’ and ‘Global’ are nevertheless as multi-faceted and original as they are hard to get out of your head. But the highlight is a breakneck gallop through ‘Slow Down’ – see what they did there – sounding like The Waterboys after a night necking Guinness and speed with The Pogues. Something, quite clearly, The Waterboys should have done more often.

New signings to Rob Da Bank’s Sunday Best label Wild Smiles complete the evening’s entertainment and it’s quickly apparent why they’re tipped for big things this year. They’ve got that classic three piece intensity that The Jam and the Hendrix Experience had, for starters. They’ve got a riotous punk streak that connects with a clear love of the bubblegum mindlessness of the 50s and 60s, making comparisons with The Ramones.

Sure, it’s a little ‘punk by numbers’ in the same way The Vaccines are, and once they’re done you’re left thinking more about the impressiveness of their bassist’s prodigious quiff than your favourite lyric or chorus, but the hint of hype does seem at least partly justified.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.