Balham in South London is not exactly a popular place to go to attend gigs. Only about 2 minutes away from the tube station there is, however, a pub called the Bedford where they put on bands every Thursday night. The London based group Bikini Atoll are headlining there and that is a good enough reason for me to head in that direction.

The pub looks relatively small from the outside, considering that it has a bar, a music venue and also large rooms for weekend club nights.

My friend and I enter the pub just after 10. "Karaoke tonight!' says a sign right behind the door. It is actually the ever first time I have ever seen karaoke. While my friend is kindly getting drinks, I watch a bunch of men sitting around a piano player and howling

"Help, I need somebody,
Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone, help."

No doubt they do need help. It will be the last time for sure that I ever watch karaoke!

We walk through the pub and into the concert hall. The hall is in a shape of a circle, with a stage cutting into one part of it and the rest being taken up by the auditorium. There are black tables which are lightened by candles. We sit right in the centre of the auditorium and watch the third supporting band.

Unfortunately I don't catch their name when the singer introduces his group, but, after a few songs, I have no big regret about that.

The 4 piece Bikini Atoll come on to the stage at about 10:45. Gideon, the singer, welcomes us to the gig. The band 'warms' us up slowly with the rumba rhythms of 'Black River Falls'.

The following song 'Cinnamon' and 'Then Amplify', which is played later on in the site, do justice to the numerous Bikini Atoll reviews which have made reference to acts such as Joy Division and Nick Cave. The loud beats of Che's drums give the songs a strong base , and are powerfully supported by Gideon's and Bastian's guitars and Viva's keyboards.

Even though the venue is all seated tonight, a few fans have given in to the music and are standing right in front of the stage swinging to its rhythm

'Desolation Highway', which the band also play tonight, has been featured in a horror film 'My Little Eye'. One of the most attractive things about Bikini Atoll to me is their skill at transforming naturally their almost psychedelic music from a calm into a loud sound. 'Desolation Highway' has plenty of that.

Even though Bikini Atoll are now half way through their set, there are still people coming in. Most possibly, they heard the music in the bar and couldn't resist coming through to check it out.

One of my most favourite song of tonight's set is the instrumental 'Shark Requiem'. This number is totally addictive to listen to and really forces you follow its assertive tune

It' is past 11:15 when the band finish their set. With the encouragement of the audience they are forced to play one last song 'Cheap Trick' ,and close their set in great style.

The applause following tonight's performance is definitely something to be proud of.

Unfortunately I have to run for my train now, but Bikini Atoll's music has not left my head.

Bikini Atoll will appear at the 3rd Penny Black Music Night at the London Spitz on the 2nd August, 2003.

Set List:

Silver Moon
Black River Falls
Desolation Highway
Shark Requiem (Instrumental)
Then Amplify
Powder Burn
Cheap Trick

The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Bob Stuart and originally appeared on his website

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