The Strange Boys, Sex Beet
Rhian Daly 21/04/2010
Slouched stage right with a sullen pout near-permanently daubed across his face, you'd be forgiven for thinking Ryan Sambol didn't really want to be here tonight. There's a fine line between nonchalance and downright boredom and, luckily, there's just enough passion in The Strange Boys' frontman's drawled vocals and the way he works around his instrument to save this show from crossing over to wrong side. And hey, he does break into a smile occasionally - mostly during the brief interactions with the more enthusiastic members of tonight's lethargic crowd.
Kicking things off with 'Night Might', the rest of the set is a perfect combination of first and second album tracks that fit snugly together in a way that suggests The Strange Boys might adhere to the old 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' saying. 'Be Brave', the title track from last year's LP, gets the biggest reaction as you might expect although the likes of 'I See' provide close competition. Various calls from the audience for 'Ice Cream Sandwiches' are rebuffed with grins from the rest of the band and Sambol's admission at having forgotten how to play it. No one seems too disappointed by its omission, especially as in it's place we get a breakneck run-through of first album favourite 'Should Have Shot Paul', complete with audience member giving it some on backing vocals.
On any other night, in any other venue, this show would have gone off in an explosion of writhing, sweaty bodies and Texan blues-rock love. That's not The Strange Boys fault, far from it. Technically, they've become a great live band, drawing you in with their could-care-less posture and then rewarding you with flawless renditions of what you've heard on record. Maybe the ICA, with it's black walls and non-existent vibe, just isn't the right venue for the type of show this could have been.