The 22-20's may have only been opening for former Blur-member Graham Coxon Wednesday night at the Black Cat, but to a coterie of cigarette smokers in the front row, they were the only band worth seeing. Glen Bartup, bassist for the 22-20's, resembles a young Jarvis Cocker. He rocked his long, scraggly locks, full black suit and near-absent tush during the band's 40-minute corker.
It's unknown whether the band has really experienced all the heartache moaned about so bitterly on their self-titled debut, which they previewed at the show. Lyrics like "Where'd you learn to shoot your gun so straight?" prompt musings as to the young-looking chaps' life experience.
"I didn't have a girlfriend until I was 19!" Bartup admitted.
That was merely two years ago.
The nubile, strapping 22-20's are from Lincolnshire, England, and their accents are hardly crisp. Martin Trimble's voice is gritty and soulful, like an aging bluesman from the Mississippi Delta.
The band has broken free of the standard Brit-rock sound and taken influences from traditional American blues. Trimble got Bartup into blues when they were both only 11 years old, which Bartup admits had them brimming with music snobbery.
"We decided that there was nothing else in the world," he said.
Highlights from the gig included "Shoot Your Gun," an angst-ridden rant against girls who've done them wrong, and "Such a Fool," a song toted by Bartup as "the one they're happy with."
The band fulfills a tenacious oral fixation with Camel Lights, and Bartup loves hitting his sauce of choice, vodka. After their 2003 opening slot for Kings of Leon and Jet, this current tour and two club dates at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, they are well on their way to overdoing the rock star life. Recently Trimble has even taken up residence in New York City.
"Every time he's been drunk he's told me he's never leaving," Bartup said.
With the release of their album on April 19, the band is gaining popularity by the gig. It hasn't reached the pinnacle of stardom, however.
"I don't think we've had any stalkers yet," Bartup said.