Art Brut Knows How to Have Fun

June 24th, 2011

Art Brut – Music Hall of Williamsburg – June 23, 2011

Songs about drunken phone messages, taking public transportation, moving to L.A. and DC Comics are the mundane, everyday subjects of which Eddie Argos clearly has no end. In addition to getting away with rhyming “Hennessy” and “Morrissey,” he delivers all of his vocals in a preachy spoken-word style, no matter what direction the band is taking. Lately his post-punk straightforward delivery has taken a new direction thanks to Frank Black of the Pixies, who’s recorded Art Brut’s last two albums and reportedly coached Argos to actually sing on their latest full-length, Brilliant! Tragic!—a feat somewhat illustrated live last night when Argos actually combined words with a tune on the track “Sexy Sometimes.”

And just in case anyone would accidentally take the sentiment seriously, the singer slowly unbuttoned his shirt and remarked, “After a new one, you’re supposed to play an old hit right? Well you can forget it, we don’t have any hits anyway.” The riff for their second single, “Modern Art,” sent the audience into a frenzy, as the band kept right up with Argos’s endearing antics, knighting one another with their guitars, while bassist Freddy Feedback laughed at the frontman’s rants as he silently sang along.

But no one was prepared for Argos’s monologue as he walked through the Music Hall crowd, essentially telling a story about how much it cost to get into the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and how he ended up on an elevator ride to hell after licking a painting. By this time, he’d convinced the entire crowd to sit down and then teased them for sitting on the dirty floor. For a band named after a style of art created by the marginalized misfits and mentally ill members of society, these guys seem to be getting away with having all the fun. —Jason Dean