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TV Personalities Live

Dustin’s Bar Mitzvah

Considering that Television Personalities were one of the first truly independent DIY punk bands in the UK, it’s nice to see them backed by a band the seem intent on keeping the spirit of 1977 alive and well.

Dustin’s Bar Mitzvah are four snotty kids in parkas covered in badges, looking like they’ve rolled straight onto stage from a scrap in the playground at Grange Hill where they go to school and it’s always 1976. And they fucking rule. Loose and sloppy, frantic and fast, they rumble through a set of boisterous and scrappy punk that proclaims it’s love for The Ramones in ‘To The Ramones’ and reminds you why you fell in love with this punk junk in the first place. It’s immediate and you’ll immediately love them.

First, some facts. The Television Personalities, led by the enigmatic Dan Treacy, self-released their debut single ‘14th Floor’ and sent it to John Peel who instantly fell for the band.

Kurt Cobain was a huge fan, inviting the band to support Nirvana in November of 1991 at the Astoria in London, to the bemusement of the hardcore grunge fans. Dan Treacy has a history of depression, drug and drink addiction, homelessness and eccentricity that has cursed his career. He writes some of the most beautifully fractured, fragile pop songs you could ever hope to hear. Like his mentor Syd Barrett, his songs sound like they could fall apart at any second but real genius holds them together.

So, it’s fair to say that Television Personalities gigs are unpredictable affairs and tonight is no different. Right from the start it’s clear that Dan Treacy is in a bad way. He struggles to climb up onto the stage and when he does he tumbles to the floor, before bumbling around the stage trying to plug his guitar into the wrong amp, telling the crowd to fuck off and looking like a bewildered, confused man on hard drugs. When Dan does finally get his guitar working it’s horrifically out of tune and the band smile awkwardly around him, trying to coax something resembling a song from the chaos Treacy seems intent on creating around him.

Yet when they do click, as they do in parts on ‘Special Chair’ and ‘My Dark Places’ from their new album of the same name, the original genius of Treacy’s songs does start to shine through but it’s clear that Dan is having a spectacularly bad time. After just four rambling, chaotic attempts at songs, he literally runs off stage and hides behind an amp, suddenly fearful of the crowd who try and coax him back onto the stage for another song. The band suggests late-seventies classic, and John Peel favourite, ‘Part Time Punks’, and invite support band Dustin’s Bar Mitzvah up onto stage to jam it with them. Treacy won’t be tempted out from behind the amp and the set ends as it began, a bizarre, confusing mess.

Drugs. Don’t over do them kids.

James Sherry