The Maccabees, Rock City, Nottingham
SBTRKT, Koko, London

You're never too posh to mosh. Just ask the 6th Laird of Lochbuie and his chums

This is the year The Maccabees make their move. The Brighton band, whose names are not Jasper, Cornelius, Tarquin and Fernando but might as well be, tried the shameless trick of releasing their third album, Given To The Wild, in the first week of January when nothing else was out, enabling these nice, privately-educated boys to crack the Top 5 and, therefore, the Big League.

Because heaven knows they weren't going to achieve it via sheer force of charisma: this is a band with almost nothing to say, and almost nothing worth saying about them (but bear with me, because I like a challenge).

Given To The Wild is not-unenjoyable. Produced by Mo'Wax and DFA co-founder Tim Goldsworthy, who knows his way around indie-dance with his eyes wide shut, it's a liquid, pellucid thing, guitarist the 3rd Earl of Rochester's top-string twiddles trickling over Kaiser Wilhelm III's drums like a babbling brook over pebbles. And it has one, and only one, attention-grabbing smash in the form of staccato New Wave "Pelican", of which I can't decide if it's the best song The Futureheads never made or the worst one that they did.

Oddly, "Pelican" failed in its "smash" duties, barely scraping the Top 75, but it's greeted with hysteria by The Maccabees' young crowd. To give you an idea of the age of the average Maccabees fan, when singer Le deuxieme Comte De Chambord dedicates a song to Dean Jackson of BBC Radio Nottingham, a gaggle of girls next to me squeal "Oh my god, he's my biology teacher!" Fortunately for the 6th Laird of Lochbuie, the personality-free frontman, the excitable indie kids afford him a very generous exchange rate, allowing him to parlay his mostly-incoherent mumbles for screams.

It's telling that The Maccabees, whose real names are not Henry, Josh, Troilus, Agamemnon but might as well be, spend much of the show performing before a blue screen, the old cinematic technique for superimposing outdoor backgrounds onto studio-shot footage because they're so blank you could project pretty much anything onto them.

I prefer their more meandering moments, like the restful "Feel To Follow", but the gig kicks off when they go for the jugular with "Love You Better", whipping up a big, blustering sound which bypasses Arcade Fire and was last seen heading towards U2. The Maccabees are the band in spring 2012 to get the teenagers bouncing around. Before the last drumbeat, I've forgotten them.

As a Welshman who was force-fed Cymraeg at school, you'd think I'd be used to vowel deficiency, but the recent rash of consonant-heavy names – MGMT, HTRK, BLK JKS, STRFKR, CHLLNGR, PVT, MNDR – has been almost supernaturally irritating. As with so many heinous trends, I blame PRML SCRM, and I find myself wishing they'd take a hint from the name of the legendary Shoreditch take-away, and FCKF.

SBTRKT, aka Shoreditch DJ-producer Aaron Jerome (and, live, sidekick Sampha), is another sufferer from Irritable Vowel Syndrome. There's no escaping it: the six consonants are projected on the backscreen for much of the show. We're meant to pronounce it "Subtract", the concept being that Jerome wishes to deduct his personality from the entity, leaving the audience to concentrate on the music.

It's this kind of thinking which, in generations past, led to the epithet "Faceless Techno Bollocks" (or FCLSS TCHN BLLCKS), which in turn became a T-shirt slogan worn with ironic pride. Onstage, he takes facelessness to a literal extreme, preserving his and Sampha's anonymity behind a variety of tribal masks.

It's not an original idea, but paradoxically, this self-effacing stance helps SBTRKT's sophisticated electronic soul – both urban and urbane – make a connection with the crowd. The audience take over and fill the personality vacuum, imitating the "woooh" synth noise on their Little Dragon collaboration "Wildfire", the one which sounds like an effeminate ghost, en masse. It's hilarious.

Nevertheless, it's noticeable that there's a flurry of excitement when an actual human being, the bun-headed, besequinned singer Roses Gabor, steps out in front of Jerome and Sampha's consoles and kits for the superb "Pharaohs". If this is FCLSS TCHN BLLCKS, it's VRY GD.

Pop choice

Public Image Ltd (with Johnny Rotten) headline BBC 6 Music's 10th birthday bash, with Gruff Rhys and Anna Calvi also on the bill, at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London (Fri). Pierrot-painted cabaret songstress Emilie Autumn takes her Fight Like a Girl tour to the Bristol Academy (Sun); London Electric Ballroom (Fri) and Manchester Ritz (Sat).

Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea