Bodega – The Haunt, Brighton – 5th July 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

“For those that don’t know, we’ve got our first record coming out at midnight, so this is our album launch party” stated Bodega frontman Ben Hozie as the New York post-punk quintet packed out The Haunt for the second time in as many months after their Great Escape show, which saw queues filing all the way around the corner of the venue. This performance, featuring a crowd made up of everyone from 15 to 50, confirmed BODEGA as one of the most exciting, most important bands making their way through the ranks right now. Their brand of post-punk not only feels vital, it’s also an incredibly fun slice of postmodernism that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Support act, Meggie Brown, fresh from her Franz Ferdinand support slot earlier in the year, opened proceedings with an exciting amount of vigour. Brown, and her band, craft a heady mix of gloomy and atmospheric garage rock, effortlessly fused with incessant punky noises that whipped the crowd into an excited frenzy. With additional theatrics thrown into proceedings she evokes the likes of John Cooper Clarke and Nick Cave with their jolting basslines and free-spirited looseness coming to fruition.

Instantly what is clear about Bodega is that all five members are supreme live performers, yet extremely different. Nikki Belfiglio is assertive and dominating at the front of the stage, as she smashed at a lonesome cymbal, as well as wildly moving around the stage with furore. Likewise, lead guitarist Madison Velding-VanDam is dynamic to the side of the stage, subsequently teetering over the stage pushing his wild rhythms to the front of the crowd. While Ben Hozie barks powerfully, embodying not only the themes of their music, but their entire post-punk attitude. Together, however, they effortlessly create a mind bending wall of post-punk noise.

Unsurprisingly, their set was direct and to the point, a showcase of their new record’s short and concise work. ‘Bodega Birth’ is a consuming and galvanizing banger where Hozie and Belfiglio both scratchily intone: “This is documentary,” before the funk-instilled bassline of ‘Name Escape’ playfully mocks the lack of originality in modern music. While best song on the night, lead single ‘How Did This Happen?!’, is a beautiful slice of art-rock with its nagging, droning riffs and howling, in-your-face vocals. It’s clear that BODEGA are a playful band, poking fun at the world in the only way they know how: with incessant humour.

At times it’s a little self indulgent – they close out with ten minutes of noise and halfway through call for a minute’s silence – but with Endless Scroll now firmly under their belt and a storming set of live songs, BODEGA have earned that. As an artificial voice repeats the words “Heaven knows I’m miserable now”, throughout the night, you immediately gather BODEGA aren’t just any other band: they’re exciting, imperative and armed with their own manifesto.

Liam McMillen