Gig Review: Teen Mortgage with Jools at The Bodega

Words: Talia Robinson
Photos: Ben Gordon
Tuesday 11 June 2024
reading time: min, words

Rent is due! Teen Mortgage are taking over The Bodega and the compensation? An all-round good time. Talia Robinson was there...

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Wednesdays at The Bodega are usually reserved for the sounds of indie – yet tonight, punk has seeped into the cracks of the floorboards and evaporated through the soles of our shoes. There’s no escaping the cajole of unfiltered noise and the candour of feet stomping, all rather neatly packaged up and finished before 9pm. Don’t be fooled by the short set: the tinnitus is enough to feel like you’ve spent eons in the pit.

Quite literally breaking their sound system is Jools, a seismic six-piece who barrel onto the stage with no introduction but all the scuzzy syncopation of one. If you’re after a band of a similar caliber to STONE or DEADLETTER, you’ll find their self-deprecating musings rather
melodic. Passionately adamant in their spoken word lyrical and crafting a pit-inducing post-rock sound in such a small venue, 97% and FKA are some standout singles from tonight to get properly acquainted with this band. You need to.

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For a two-man band, you’d be forgiven for thinking Teen Mortgage were as physically claustrophobic as their supporting slot – entering the stage to a boxing match-esque instrumental, stage lights spinning sporadically, their raucous nature weights the air before any sweating takes place.

Doctor bleeds through our dutiful chants of welcome with its sinewy distortion; James Guile’s fingers practically singed with how frantic his strumming is straight off the bat. Echoing that fuzziness of grunge in your garage nostalgia, we’re told Life/Death is “slowing things down before the real fun starts”. Sure, that swing-ability of the song may appear more languid yet the calamity that is the chorus whiplashes you back into the room (or perhaps that’s just a body careening into you).

The Washington duo’s repertoire of punchy one-and-a-half-minute songs truly is a testament to making every second of the show a transformative experience. Whether that be our blurred shadows pulsing against the backdrop of S.W.A.S, or the gravel-laden vocals in The Change igniting us to sway in juxtaposition to one another, the band encapsulate that hardcore punk noise. It’s a show brimming with raw energy and celebrating life’s simple pleasures.

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Despite the lack of conversation with the crowd tonight, the band has quite a few dedications for each track. Shangri-La is politically geared against the Government and the news corporations (I’m paraphrasing here, choice expletives omitted) while Sick Day prematurely congratulates us for calling in sick to work tomorrow.

“This is our second time in naughty ol’ Nottingham,” Guile croons into the microphone, the crisp quality of his speech surprising given his hoarse tonality in the performance. “Rest in peace The Chameleon. We’ve gotta keep the scene alive, man. Every one of you f**ckers, this one is for The Chameleon.”

Such Is Life filters in a ferocity to the night that we didn’t know we could reach: Edward Barakauskas on the drums is an unwavering, decibel-defying force to be reckoned with. Each interluding moment between songs is treated as a transitionary drum solo, Barakauskas quite happy to tinker away at a melody whilst Guile re-tunes his guitar. Aptly falling into Tuning In, there’s no time to rest as our heads are hammering against the music once again.

“This next song has 32 words. They’re all the same. You better f**king sing along!” Layered over a foundation of noise, there’s many a time that you can’t quite understand any of the words – yet the chaotic genre spilling out of the sound speakers makes sense of the nonsense once you hear it live. 

It’s unadulterated, it’s hardcore. It’s punk, alive and breathing in every one of us in this room. Nothing screams punk quite like the collective joy of ‘doot doot doot’ing along to the Wii Music. Yes, the Wii Music. 

All in all, money well spent. 

Teen Mortgage are revitalising this movement into a new soundscape, and alongside bands such as Bad Nerves and Wine Lips, I think it’s safe to say that punk ain’t dead.

Teen Mortgage performed at The Bodega on 5th June 2024, with Jools in support.

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