Shamefully, this was my first time at the Thirsty Dog. It won't be my last: anywhere with live music yet carpets this plush deserves a second visit. Squares that we are, we were a little early - I'm getting awfully confused in my old age about whether a rock gig that says it starts at 9:00 starts at 9:00 or at 11:45, and I've been burned a few times recently. Anyhow, there were cosy benches, a stereo with various Clash and Mescaleroes records on shuffle and a handy system where my coloured bits of paper can be exchanged for their bottles of cold beer, so passing the time was easy.
Atsushi and the Moisties have a memorably awful name and a handy brass section who like to dance when not musically employed. Atsushi himself wears a cow costume and plays a mean guitar; it was unclear whether the gentleman in the front row in a similar outfit was a Moisties associate or just a particularly dedicated fan. I've never quite decided how I feel about ska: I'm pretty confident there's only been one ska song ever written, and every ska band plays it eleven times each night (I'd wager the name Rudy in the title somewhere), but it's a pretty decent tune to hear a few times on a saturday night after a few beverages. Given the dancing horn section and the multiple bovines, vocals would have been one gimmick too many, but if you're after an instrumental ska band to open your night, you won't go too wrong with the Moisties.
I'd seen the Rebelles once before, as the post-game entertainment at a roller derby, which was about as perfect a venue for their three girl, one boy ramalama as you could get. Here, they blitzed through about 15 songs in around 20 minutes and still found time to incite a human pyramid in the front rows. Their singer's Kat Bjelland / Poly Styrene-styled voice is a powerful thing, and carrying on singing without missing a beat even when being tackled to the ground by your fans is pretty impressive. I'm not sure how the Rebelles would fare as headliners, given the brevity of the tunes and the intensity with which they are played, but if a short, sharp statement is what you want, they do a fine job.
The King Cannons sound is reggae bottom end with a punk sensibility, buttoned-up Ben Sherman style. The band is new to me, but they've been round long enough to have a record for sale behind the bar, and long enough to know just how to work a friendly crowd such as this. I'm trying awfully hard not to use the word skanking, but even someone as allergic to reggae as me was getting into the rhythm, and the Cannons' stage presence is undeniable. Faithfully covering "White Man in Hammersmith Palais" is a pretty decent way to get the non-believers on board too...
Taking advantage of free tickets (thanks, job) to the unfortunately deserted *mantis show at Rising Sun was a nice way to finish off the evening: following up a punk reggae act with a hip hop gig was almost too unusual for my poor little brain, but some comfortably familiar squid rings at the Burgerie, just like after every rock show ever, sorted me out just fine. Take note, indie kids - if you're worried you're expanding your musical horizons a little too much, greasy takeaways do a pretty good take-two-aspirins-and-call-me-in-the-morning job