Tuesday saw the return of the New York art punks Bodega to the Brudenell Social Club for the first time since their appearance at last year’s Gold Sounds. They’ve grown in both experience and stature since the early days of last summer, as shown by the thin smattering of hands raised in response to singer and guitarist Ben Hozie’s question of who was in attendance nine months ago. They’ve also got a new live album, Witness Scroll, recorded in Glasgow and London, under their belts to complement last year’s debut, Endless Scroll, both released on the What’s Your Rupture? label.
Following an impressive set from Bejing-based, guitar-and-bass duo, Gong Gong Gong, a regular touring companion of the band, Bodega took the stage to a packed-out Community Room. Moving through tracks from the debut L.P., including Bodega Birth, How Did This Happen?!, and Margot, the group employ their well-honed post-punk to draw the crowd into their drone-like rhythm section. The pair form a sort of yin and yang; Heather Elle on the bass maintains an authoritative and calm figure, whilst Tai Lee pogoes on the spot, duct-taped sticks beating down on the minimalist drum set up and wincing with blister-induced pain by the end of the night. The line up is completed by Madison Velding-Vandam, thrusting his guitar in and above the audience on the right of stage, and singer/hi-hat figure Nikki Belfiglio in the centre, one hand on hip, the other twirling a sole drum stick around like a rhythmic gymnast.
After introducing the Leeds crowd to a few new numbers, they move again into tracks from Endless Scoll, including crowd favourites Boxes For The Move and Charlie. They finish off the night with a ten-minute, seemingly improvised instrumental that sees Velding-Vandam given free range to experiment with the sounds produced from sinking his guitar into the path of his amplifier, followed by a standout Jack in Titanic. After a brief break, they reappear with members of Gong Gong Gong to form a seven-piece mammoth punk noise, giving Hozie the freedom to wander around the stage reciting a novel as their “exit song”. Members slowly filter off to the dressing room, leaving just Lee, at this point with hands rapped in fluorescent orange tap, to hammer away at the drums.
This is a band that is both well-rehearsed and well-informed; they’re clearly a product of the New York underground scene, possessing the kind of deadpan delivery that one can only get away with if you’ve got the NY twang, and a self-awareness and humour found in peers like Parquet Courts. They clearly have a respect and a love for the scene that birthed them. Bodega have proved a more-than-capable addition to the post-punk landscape on both sides of the Atlantic, despite only being a couple of years into their formal existence, and one that promises to become a mainstay in the years to come.
Words by Leo Joslin, Pictures by James Ward