LIVE REVIEW: BODEGA, Romero, Happy2000, The Loft, Southampton, 05/11/2022
Photo Credit: Pooneh Ghana
Whilst the clubs in Southampton geared up for what would be a busy Saturday night, The Loft was ready to welcome a crowd of roughly one hundred and fifty people, who were waiting for Happy2000, Romero and BODEGA. Bonfire Night may have been a wash out, but not this show.
The crowd is met with the loud strumming and arm punching sound of Happy2000. Hailing from Southampton, this local band demonstrates what the South Coast has to offer. Although a relatively new band, their music is what you would get if the Sex Pistols were at their height in 2022. They even have a song that is anti-establishment and very fitting for the political turmoil the UK is currently undergoing. On a small stage, it is hard to keep people engaged, yet the lead singer was pulling out all the stops. He even addressed his outfit choice of polo shirt and black leather trousers, there’s a lot going on for this band. 6/10
Up next, Romero take to the stage. Flying all the way from Melbourne, Australia, this tour is their first time in the UK. Fronted by the charismatic Alanna Oliver, they played songs off their EP Honey as well as their debut album, Turn It On!, released in April 2022. Neapolitan is a metaphor for the emotional rollercoaster that life throws at you and is a deeply personal song for Oliver. As she sings, you can hear the soulfulness of the likes of Carole King and Stevie Wonder, or a female Blues Brother (Oliver toured across Australia as part of a Blues Brothers tribute act). As for Fergus Sinclair, Adam Johnstone, Dave Johnstone and Justin Tawil, they brilliantly come together to support her melody to create a composition that feels similar to Stray Heart or Letterbomb by post-punk legends, Green Day.
As for Honey off their EP, Oliver’s vocals and lyrics demonstrate what she listened to growing up as punk was not her genre. In particular, this tune is very girl power vibes of The Go-Gos We’ve Got The Beat. And who better to blend punk with the other sounds of the 70s and 80s than Oliver. Other notable songs include Lady of the Night which gives and Passenger, a song that is if Blitzkrieg Bop by The Ramones had a love child with the likes of 90s chic-indie, Letters To Cleo. It has a summer vibe. To describe their energy would be a disservice to them; you must see them to understand. There is no doubt that we will hear more about this incredible band in the near future. 10/10
After an amazing set by Romero, the headliner takes to the stage, BODEGA. Hailing from New York City, they command a dedicated fanbase in the UK. With the release of Statuette On The Console and Broken Equipment this year, there were a lot of songs this band could pull out of their repertoire even before including their 2018 album, Endless Scroll. Opening with The Art of Advertising, their set was off with a bang. To release two albums in a year is an incredible achievement, but a common theme that Nikki Belfiglio and Ben Hozie tend to address across all their albums is today’s obsession with commodity and pop culture. They played How Did This Happen off their 2018 album and in particular, the random interjections of lines like ‘Hey there’s a half-off sale at the Barnes and Noble’ and ‘It’s new world now, don’t discriminate/ everyone is equally a master and a slave’ takes skill to observe whilst living in that world they sing about.
Touring can be a great experience for people and there was nothing more heart-warming than to hear and see BODEGA dedicate Boxes For the Move. With Dan Ryan on guitar, Adam See on bass and Tai Lee on drums, there is no denying the influence of The Who on these members. As one of the calmer songs, Ryan and See have a blast as they show off their psychedelic riff skills.
Of course, the calmness didn’t stay for long. Ramping up once again for The Difference Between Art and Advertising, the band shows they can blend the sounds of 70s punk of The Ramones with the contemporary interest in electronic drum machines with a hint of 80s synth of the likes of The Buggles. Similarly, Territorial Call of the Female shows how 80s synth is coming back and works in the post-punk world of 2022. Similar to how Wet Leg sings on Wet Dreams, Belfiglio goes hard on the vocals as she demonstrates the complexity of the female voice and that yes, women do belong in the punk world.
As The Loft is a very small venue, the band pretends to collapse as there is nowhere for them to escape before starting their encore. It’s a creative way to hear the claps and chants of the crowd. They turn round and the crowd chant “three more songs” to which Belfiglio announces there are five to go. Hozie follows up with “it’s the least we could do” but was cut short by a female audience member screaming “you have to promise to come back.” Hozie replied “we haven’t even left yet!” They then launch into the next song.
The gig shows how punk is very much alive. It may not be the same as it was in the 70s, but the legacy lives on. That’s the joy of it – each generation makes the genre its own. From Melbourne to New York City and even Southampton, these bands are experimenting with instruments that shouldn’t work in punk but do, thus creating memorable commentary on various subjects that affects listeners today. Coming together under one roof only exemplifies this. As the lights go up, the one question on everyone’s mind is when will they be back in Southampton? 8/10
Written By: Jo Lisney