Live Review: The Bug Club – Village Underground, London 01.03.2024

Don Blandford

It’s St David’s Day and Sam Willmett, Tilly Harris and Dan Matthew have escaped over the border and made it to the Village Underground. Following the release of their latest album Rare Birds: Hour Of Song, the Caldicot band bring their distinctive brand of garage rock and ornithological oddness to Shoreditch. 

There are more daft ditties than daffodils as Sam and Tilly rip through their rather lengthy set-list. So long in fact that drummer Dan doodled a devil on his set-list with the words “get the hell on with it!”- he doesn’t want it to drag on. There’s a club night starting soon and the band are very eager to start and there’s no time for stage banter. The songs provide all the fun anyway. Like an indie garage version of Rachel Parris and Marcus Brigstocke this feels like improvised rock with random topics attacked and given the Bug Club treatment. 

Opening with the frenetic Is This The Music You Like we are in the company of joyous jangling rock. Any of the tracks would fit nicely into a contemporary Peel Festive Fifty especially If My Mother Thinks I’m Happy which revives a marvellous indie seam mined by David Gedge and with hints of those trendy Medway bands. Lucky then that Marc Riley has championed the band and inspired the full house tonight. Sardonic wit permeates the air on We Can’t All Play Saxophones and Short And Round strikes a similar note with its haircut chat. The sublime interplay between Sam and Tilly peaks on Marriage where Tilly sings “nothing rhymes with marriage…” only for Sam to interject with “…except for garage…”. Such life-affirming fare.

Just when it seemed it couldn’t get more surreal, They have zipped through over twenty tracks and like a swift that never settles they arrive at Rare Birds. It’s a twitcher lesson with Sam and Tilly each reeling off the common name then the Latin name of rare birds interspersed with a crashing chorus. A curious end to a most absorbing set. 

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