GRAB Promotions Presents… Hot Club de Paris Hot Club de Paris played downstairs! That won’t mean much to those not from the Cardiff area… allow me to explain. Clwb Ifor Bach is pretty much the hub of the Cardiff live music scene, and, with its three floors of rooms for gigs, works as a sort of hierarchy of popularity. The smaller, local up-and-coming bands and the more obscure acts that aren’t able to sell as many tickets are found on the ground floor and the bigger bands of the moment play the much larger top floor (recently the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, Future of the Left, Good Shoes). So it was quite a surprise, then, that upon arrival I was pointed in the direction of the ground floor room, and even more of a surprise to see it pretty vacant! OK, so you may not have heard much from the Liverpool three-piece since their critically appraised debut that brought them the popularity that they still seem to be unjustly living off. Only yesterday did somebody post on their Last FM page “I need to get back into the album…” The album? The album?! Since said debut, Hot Club have released a second album – another upbeat math-rock inspired essentially pop record – and an EP, released just over two weeks ago (and available for download for a mere 99p from Play.com). So there really is no need for Hot Club to riding the fortunes of a record they released over 3 years ago. And the band seem to be fully aware of this as they greet the Cardiff – apparently their 'bogey town' – crowd, opening with a new track off the EP and quickly following it with one-minute-wonder 'Yes No Goodbye'. The energetic songs translate perfectly from recorded to live, but you can tell that the band weren’t overly impressed by the not great turn out and this did come across in the songs. The vacant floor space in front of the band, instead of working as a dance-floor, was the opted route for those that needed a piss, which was the majority of the room every 5 minutes judging by the number of people walking to and fro. The songs, like the crowd, weren’t as energetic and as loud as you’d hope, and the banter between songs was like a Bob Mortimer joke on Shooting Stars – not even the quiet murmur of talking to be heard from the crowd. But the music was good. Acappella 'Bonded By Blood' was really quite special, all three band members abandon their instruments and recite it brilliantly. Struggling for crowd response, the band took requests – playing 'Clockwork Toy', which probably got the most response of a few nodding heads. One young lady performed a small amount of hip jiggling, but, like the rest of the room, she might have just needed a piss. Playing a track off an upcoming EP (which put my mind at ease after noticing the bass drum skin spelt out “Goodbye”), a song about Biggie Small, the band keep their fun and almost juvenile attitude through the medium of light-hearted and harmony-heavy indie rock. There aren’t many doing what Hot Club do (especially after the break up of Dartz!), and they do it well. The night was drawn to a close with 'Shipwreck' – which may or may not have been the band sharing their thoughts on the night’s success. For those Hot Club fans out there, and I know you are out there, I’d suggest that now is the time to see them live. The atmosphere might be awkward, but it’s (probably) the closest and most intimate gig you’ll get to a band that deserve to be playing, and hopefully will return to, a much bigger stage. The band continue their UK tour at: 24th February: Jericho, Oxford 25th February: Railway, Winchester 26th February: New Korova, Liverpool 5th March: Escobar, Wakefield