Pop: I'm Sure I Saw Them on A Poster...

A regular round-up of bands you won't have seen on `Top of the Pops': Creeper Lagoon Barfly, Camden, London U One Lady Owner Water Rats Theatre King's Cross, London U Witchman Astoria, London
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The Independent Culture
THESE DAYS, indie bands have to work hard to look the part. Some look as if they have steadfastly starved themselves in order to achieve that sunken-chested, I-was-bullied-at-school look, while others might have hunted far and wide for the ugliest in retro attire. But Creeper Lagoon are the real thing. Their hand-me-down shirts and saggy slacks are enough to make Jarvis Cocker blush, while their school-boy geekiness is revealed in unadulterated fear.

"We were all afraid of coming here but you guys are OK," mumbled the singer after a couple of songs. You could hear tremors in his voice. But as their anxiety subsided, their sound inspired considerably more confidence. Creeper Lagoon take you back to the youthful, pre-Britpop era of Dinosaur Jnr and Pavement. Their wailing guitars are balanced by sweet, folky melodies and lyrics that brim with teenage whimsy. But most impressive of all is their unbridled energy. For sheer effort, this band deserve to be famous.

I was lucky to emerge alive from One Lady Owner's gig after squeezing myself through the scrum at the door. They are Creation's latest hot property, discovered by the third Gallagher brother, Paul. They are essentially a souped-up Goth band, and are an interesting departure from the current wave of Oasis imitators. But any fascination with them must surely revolve around their palpable insanity. Their drummer twitched like a tartrazine- fuelled child; their shaven-headed vocalist would have looked more at home in a Scandinavian death metal act.

If ever the axiom "intelligent drum'n'bass" was intended for an act, it is Witchman. This three-piece faced a particularly unforgiving crowd as the support act for industrial giants Front 242, but even out of familiar dance territory, they still managed to suffuse the Astoria with eerie break-beats. A guitarist, a DJ and a gadget man generated stark soundscapes fleshed out with unsettling rhythms. Such tinkering recalls Aphex Twin's brighter moments with glimpses of danceable beats and distortions to make your pulse race.

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