The New Academy opened its doors just a few months ago, and this is the first gig I've been to there. It's further out of Birmingham's centre, and the underpass you have to go through to get to it from town would be a pretty scary place to spend any amount of time. Across the road is a shop with juxtapositional 'Kwality' in the name, and an Adult Shop - all a little intimidating. The Dome is a building of strange architecture, the main entrance overhung by the upper floors, but the door to the usual venue out along one side of the building, looking more like a side entrance. The building itself on the outside is brown, dirty enough to rival the old Academy, and it came pre-adorned with lumps of chewing gum and damp drippy patches under each window.
Inside it's a different story - they have decorated it and arranged it in a similar way to the other Academy, only the balconies are seated now and it's much cleaner and more plush inside. All in all, despite the rather exposed and scuzzy outside for queueing, which wasn't much better at the old venue, this Academy gets the seal of approval.
The first band on at The Cribs was a three-piece punk/indie band called Sky Larkin. They were charming, the female frontperson with stage presence and real talent, for singing and the guitar, although she missed a few notes vocally here and there. She was definitely in it for the music, confused wolf whistlers eyeing up the female roadie and then realising she was in the band. I like that, there's everything right with it, but I liked their music even more - angular, punky but thoughtful rock music. A lot of good noise for three people too, and the drummer was fabulous to watch for the funny faces. The second band on were the much-hyped Los Campesinos!, who had about eight band members on stage at once, give or take an instrumentalist. They had a violinist, an unusual feature, and a flotist-keyboard player. If only they had someone who could properly sing. It was all trying a little too hard, though the sounds they made were quite nice, like a cross between something left-field indie with Hadouken!
The Cribs came on at about twenty to ten. They opened with The Wrong Way to Be, often a closer, but good to hear either way. Ryan asked the crowd if they were 'old-school fans', and then rather sarcastically asked what we counted as old school, third album or before? Obviously the crowd didn't like that, and all cheered for album number one, whether they knew it or not.
The whole evening was a Wichita party, with all three bands signed to the indie label that nudged The Cribs into the limelight, and Gary proclaiming "Fuck the meehjurs" half way through the gig. The Cribs played a very good set, and Tweeted later that 132 people had gone over the barrier in that gig, crowdsurfers or otherwise. (Ryan's asking-fer-it "where have all the crowdsurfers gone?" obviously sparked some ideas in slightly drunk lads' heads.)
Anyway, the set lasted just over an hour, containing highlights of the slower B-side Get Your Hands Out of My Grave, one I never thought I'd see live, and I actually worked out the words, Be Safe with Lee Ranaldo on the projection screen which will never fail to entertain me, City of Bugs because it was at the end and the twins did the extremely appealing "ramming the guitars up the amps" thing for our dilectation. Other songs in the set were Another Number, Direction, Cheat on Me, We Were Aborted, Hari Kari, Emasculate Me, Ignore the Ignorant, Save Your Secrets, Nothing, Our Bovine Public, Men's Needs, I'm a Realist, Hey Scenesters! and Mirror Kissers.
Very good, but because I was pushed further and further to the right of the barrier (my fault for where I stood) and because there seemed to be energy lacking in the performance (don't know why), it wasn't as good as the Leamington Spa gig in October.