15th December | Louisiana

Heading towards The Louisiana on Saturday night, you could plainly see that it was Christmas party season in town. There were all manner of groups of work mates, crammed into their very formal wear, being herded towards organised festive fun: a three-course meal that can be produced in large quantities for the seasonally shit-faced, at a mildly-alarming price per head (with or without a complimentary bellini).

For a mere fiver, however, the more casually-dressed could avail themselves of a fine three-course menu of The Malago Ballroom, Slonk and Pork Pie without even a glimpse of a tinselly bauble or a syrupy soupcon of Bublé. For good measure, the headliners had erected a banner on the back wall with their name on it. Experienced Louisiana-goers will know that you’re normally staring at the name of the venue as the band does its thing, but for one night only, it was rebranded as The Malago Ballroom. And they certainly owned it.

There’s such a gulf between the profession of conveyancing and what Joe Sherrin, aka Slonk creates. Anyone who’s bought a house will have a sense of just how thrilling phrases like ‘easements’ and ‘Land Registry’ aren’t and just how you feel your bank balance lightening as you hear them. Anyone hearing ‘I’m Pursuing a Career Outside of Conveyancing’ would undoubtedly have approved of the less-than-lucrative choice Joe made to make music (that said, everyone needs someone like Slonk in an office). If anyone from the Royal Mail was present for ‘Joe, Just Admit You Could Be A Wicked Postman!’ then they’d have been impressed with just how assuredly Slonk delivered.

Weston-Super-Mare might make you think of donkeys or Dismaland, but Pork Pie are anything but morose or melancholy. They had launched the evening with a barrage of seasonal proto-punk, culminating in their Christmas offering, ‘Mince Pie’. Once they had generated a whole load of heat and Slonk had got us dancing and smiling, it was time for The Malago Ballroom to celebrate the release of their EP In Between Lives and to celebrate their first year as a band.

Launching straight into ’11 Years’ and ‘The Guilt Again’ early on was a bold move, following the dynamic of the EP. For a band with a relatively short repertoire, you’d be forgiven for wondering if they’d peaked early, but it became clear that they have no lesser songs, no filler. There’s such variation in their composition, be that in volume or tempo, that each track feels like you’re always getting the absolute maximum. Even the quieter, Elbow-like ‘Minds Like Oceans’ swells to an overwhelming flood.

The band is impressively cohesive live. That might sound self-evident, cohesion being a general pre-requisite of playing music, but just how tight their collective musicianship was gave the night an extra element. Lyricist and vocalist Dave Huntriss led from the front, energetically, accidentally head-butting the microphone several times, so much so that he threatened to weave it into the act in future.

Ask Deanna from Human Resources what she did on Saturday night and she’ll tell you she over-did it on the prosecco, mocked the CEO’s b.o. and dropped her phone down the toilet. Check out Ian from accounting; he sacked off the works do and went to The Louisiana to hear The Malago Ballroom. Guess which one was looking smug on Monday morning?

See the video for ‘The Guilt Again’ here: