BODEGA @ YES, Manchester, 17 Feb

New York post-punks BODEGA play the first of two sold-out nights at Manchester's YES and prove why they're one of the buzziest bands around right now

Live Review by Chris Ogden | 22 Feb 2019

New York post-punkers BODEGA have quickly gained a reputation for their live energy and witty satire on the alienation of modern life. Here they play in front of a sold-out crowd on the first of two nights at YES' Pink Room with a performance that shows why they are deservedly one of the buzziest bands around right now.

BODEGA’s 2018 debut LP Endless Scroll took wry, unsettling jabs at online culture, and the six-piece take the stage accompanied by the eerie sounds of old instant messaging noises and speech synthesisers before starting at break-neck speed. Led by their barking frontman Ben Hozie and his hair-whipping, lightbox-wielding foil Nikki Belfiglio, BODEGA race through with the jaunty elastic-band twang of Bookmarks and the rat-a-tat blast of Bodega Birth, showing they are already a live outfit to be reckoned with.

BODEGA play the entirety of Endless Scroll here, their two drummers rollicking them through the gang chants of How Did This Happen?! and No Vanguard Revival while Hozie peppers The Smiths and Oasis references amid spontaneous rants. On record, such relentless intensity might get exhausting but it’s exhilarating here, and BODEGA can do more than just zippy two-minute songs as Boxes for the Move’s more haunting plod proves.

While the humorous call-and-response of Jack in Titanic is thrilling, it’s Name Escape that really shows BODEGA’s power as a live act as Hozie leans into the crowd and spits every word as the band skewers identikit hipsters and in turn our own replaceability. 'Every single work humanity has ever created will be forgotten! / Now is all that matters!' Hozie yells on an extended interlude, he and Belfiglio talking over one another dizzyingly before the song comes to a climax. It’s a stunning moment that’s rewarded with astonished applause.

With Belfiglio poking her head around from the back door to test our enthusiasm, BODEGA return to the stage to sing Charlie, an unusually tender tribute to a friend lost to suicide, before reasserting their punk credentials with the sludgy Can’t Knock the Hustle and a new song about – of all topics – ATMs. For all of BODEGA’s whip-smart sarcasm, they are the type of band that grabs you by the shoulders, shakes you from your oversaturated stupor, and frees you from the depersonalising, big data world that we've started to live in – in short, exactly the type of act we need right about now.