The infant London alternative rock station XFM bounced into life this week, christened with a string of celebratory gigs, but its road ahead is an exceptionally tough one. If the gods and the Radio Authority had smiled on XFM five years ago, it would have been there before "indie" became the mainstream, and it would have soundtracked Britpop with the same revolutionary zeal with which Kiss FM captured dance culture. But now Radio 1 is lean and witty and hasn't been averse to poaching XFM folk Steve Lamacq and Mary Ann Hobbs over the past few years, many of the battles and triumphs have passed.
But with DJs like Keith Cameron and Simon Williams from NME, the odds are that XFM will be well-equipped to deal with new trends that come its way. For sure, the live scene is due for a boost. One of the last XFM gigs this week is from Sheffield's Longpigs, who very much belong to the post-Britpop hangover crowd. They are the emotionally articulate new breed, fond of black nail varnish - the Manics and Radiohead rather than Oasis and Blur.
Their 1996 debut album, The Sun is Often Out, was impressive stuff, shifting between incendiary and introspective moods, but always with an ear for a good tune. Album opener, "Lost Myself", is typical of their eloquent intensity, vocalist Crispin's voice bending and soaring with vivacity, and the guitars full of bloody drama ebbing and flowing around him. The band's ability to produce broody sonic beasts was no one-off, as other Top-30 penetrating singles "On and On" and "She Said" proved. Fingers crossed that - as with Radiohead after their first album - Longpigs will really prove their long-term viability.
But their Rolling Stones-esque capacity for partying isn't going to get that second album written. Sure, Suede came back after a period of debauchery, but it's never too soon for a young band the wipe away their smeared eye- liner and live up to the feverish but literate promise that has seen them covered in praise.
So if you fancy a night inhaling the equivalent of 60 cigarettes in a room the size of a television cabinet, with 200 other people, get down to the Falcon.Reuse content