Sporting a pork-pie hat and precision moustache, Brothers Rasputin’s hyperactive frontman left his memorably psychotic mark on the Finsbury’s front-of-house last Thursday. Often employing a vocal upper-register that bordered on a squeal, any conventional pop prose was interspersed with morally questionable hooks like ‘I’m gonna make your fuckin’ nose bleed’. This bipolar Bee-Gee ensnared members of the audience as he swang from lover (pointing and gyrating in one woman’s direction) to fighter (leaping off stage mid-song to scream in another’s face). It was, of course, extremely funny, although his coiled unpredictability held the crowd in a certain uneasy flux. None of it would have worked if the band couldn’t hold their own, but Brothers Rasputin are as slick a funk-rock trio as you could wish for - sharing some space and feel with the likes of Cake - their sound fleshed out not by horns and percussion but by our man’s judicious use of a loop pedal on both his versatile voice and guitar. Ticking the box for genuine comedic and musical entertainment in one ain’t easy, but Brothers Rasputin pull it off. Go see – just be a little careful where you stand.
150 Friends Club also appeared to be having plenty of fun, and were certainly exploring some rarely chartered territory. Their stunning dexterity facilitated a fusion of original time signatures, key changes and rhythmic patterns. Accents and stresses were placed where least expected, sometimes losing the listener amid a forest of musical smarts, only to deliver them, blinking, back to a comfortably familiar refrain by song’s end. A mid-set lull established that the lyrical plot-lines were as clever-clever as the rest of the band’s contributions, but it was during the more dynamic tunes that you could really appreciate how good the quartet were, driven by a belter of a drummer and peaking on the bouncing jazz-rock-prog of ‘Hoonanaparka’. A little self-indulgent, perhaps? Sure, but the group’s obvious enjoyment of their craft was infectious and they went down a storm.