Seafood @ Border's Bookshop, London (12th May 2000)

It is impossible to claim that Seafood's debut album isn't a brazen theft from all of their influences but, being kind, you might say that at least it shows their impeccable taste: Sonic Youth, Pixies, Dinosaur Junior, Pavement... melodic guitar rock that worships the god of effects pedal. Can you see why I went to see them do an acoustic set at the Border's Bookshop in on Oxford Street? The curiosity of how it could possibly work was enough to make me turn up at a 'gig' in a suit at 6.30 p.m.

Playing in a bookshop is a far cry from all the angst, the noise and the weird time signatures that characterise this kind of sound. Unsurprisingly, the three of them (I think it's Charles who's missing tonight) are as bewildered as us. Or as uncomfortable. We collectively wince at the mildly amplified random swearwords and the beer drinking---it seems so out of place. The audience consists of the curious, a few die-hard fans who know all the words, some indie kidz who've managed to negotiate a torturous mile from Camden, several obligatory Japanese girls with immaculately 'cool' clothes---and some booklovers occasionally doing an impromptu 'stage invasion', presumably in search of the latest Harry Potter.

Anyway, improbable as it may seem, it actually works. They start off with "Led by a Bison" (difficult) and you suddenly realise that, stripped of all their references, these are actually good songs. They have lovely melodies, decent lyrics and David's voice is beautifully in tune. They proceed to do "Porchlight" (more difficult), "Guntrip" (impossible---everyone laughs at the prospect), some B-sides and even attempt to do "Folk Song Crisis" (several times but it just isn't happening).

There's still hope for Seafood if they can continue to craft their music in this way and not give in to the pull of US lo-fi. Essentially, this was a performance in its own right, it didn't make you want to add distortion and squealing guitars in your head and it was quite easy to let go of the record sound. The songs sound almost folky, probably because of their simple, catchy melodies. Don't give up on them yet. Just don't let them anywhere near your electricity supply. (Radiant Kovacs)

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