The Agit Reader

The Wedding Present
The Bell House, Brooklyn, April 15

April 21st, 2017  |  by Stephen Slaybaugh

The Wedding Present at The Bell House

There was a period of time around the turn of the last century when the Wedding Present ceased to exist. Sure, frontman David Gedge was still making music under the guise of Cinerama, but it wasn’t the same, and the world surely lacked for not having the Weddoes in it.

Fortunately, for all of us, Gedge resurrected the Wedding Present banner, though not the same lineup of the band, in 2004. As such, with members coming and going with every album, you would think that there would have been more variance in the band’s output, but Gedge has managed to maintain a degree of continuity, not to mention the same frenzied pop aesthetic and sardonic wit that has been inherent since the very beginning.

Gedge and company made a stop at Brooklyn’s Bell House this past week in support of Going, Going…, their latest album. They are joined on this tour by opener Colleen Green, who’s eschewed her normal one-woman approach in favor of a band that she’s calling, appropriately enough, the Colleen Green Band. Her set of spunky, Ramones-esque pop numbers was the perfect amuse bouche, although I was disappointed not to hear her excellent cover of the Descendents’ “Good Good Things.”

The Wedding Present began their portion of the evening with “Unthinking,” a B-side to a 2012 single. This song choice was indicative of the setlist as a whole, with a smattering of songs from the new record, but generally an eclectic mix that ran the gamut of the band’s catalog. Was I expecting to hear “Mothers,” a Jean-Paul Sartre Experience cover that originally appeared as a B-side to the band’s “Lovenest” single? No. Was I glad to hear it? To quote another Weddoes song not played this night, yeah, yeah, yeah!

Fortunately, this hodgepodge of selections worked well, fan favorites scratching a collective itch, while lesserknowns and the new material differentiated the night from just another bout of the same-old, same-old. So while the 1-2 punch of “Dalliance” and “Dare” from Seamonsters was familiarly riveting, cuts like “Interstate 5” and “Fifty-Six” were just as thrilling. Of course, such thrills are largely the result of Gedge’s manic guitar playing. His partner in crime Marcus Kain was no slouch himself, but the night’s highlight came when he put his guitar aside and took a seat in front of some auxiliary drums for Valentina’s “End Credits.” The combination of those motorik beats and the jangle of Gedge’s playing was the coup de grace.

As anyone who’s seen the band before knows (and were reminded by Gedge), the band doesn’t go for the charades that is doing encores, so when they finished with “Santa Monica,” that was that. It was more than 20 years since I first saw the Wedding Present play, and it’s easy to say that as much as things have changed, the band is just as good as they have always been.

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