Bis In Concert – Leeds Sound City ’96 – Past Daily Soundbooth
Bis in concert to end the week. Recorded at Leeds Metropolitan University during Leeds Sound City ’96 on April 12, 1996 and emceed by none other than John Peel. A riotous time was had by all.
A few words from their very own website (in case you aren’t already well-familiar):
Since forming in 1994, bis have continually mutated their initial influences of Synth-pop, Riot Grrrl and DIY Punk into weird and wonderful songs with a natural gift for melodic earworms with a disco heartbeat. Sci-Fi Steven, John Disco and Manda Rin first caught the UK underground’s attention with the “Disco Nation 45” EP in 1995. Its cross-breeding of Huggy Bear, Blur and Devo made it stand out in the dreary death of Britpop, fanzines had new saviours and before long the underground went overground. With the next release, “The Secret Vampire Soundtrack”, suddenly bis were playing “Kandy Pop” on Top of The Pops – as the first unsigned band ever to appear – and riding high in the “proper” charts. Bands, record labels and entire movements seemed to spring up in the aftermath of this generational wake-up call. Whilst bis didn’t quite pull-off the revolution they threatened too, they have still managed to survive the twists and turns of 20 years of Punk Disco.
A frantic bidding war resulted in bis turning down big-money from big business and opting to sign for Wiiija Records in 1996, a spiritual home where the band could maintain absolute control. Choosing the Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal label in the US was based on the same philosophy. The first album “The New Transistor Heroes” came out in early 1997, a punk rock ethos meaning there were to be none of the earlier hits present as to give the fans complete value for money, so 16 new tracks were written and recorded in the gaps in the band’s vigorous touring schedule. The album sold 100,000 copies on release in Japan and saw bis support acts as diverse as Bikini Kill, Pavement and Foo Fighters across Europe and the US. The band were even seen as the ideal candidates to write and record the theme tune to Hanna-Barbera’s classic cartoon, “The Powerpuff Girls”. By the time of 1999’s “Social Dancing”, the band’s sound had shifted away from the more DIY sonics of the earlier recordings and a more electronic, polished sound was emerging. Punk hadn’t been forgotten but it’s the shiny Electro-Pop of its signature song, “Eurodisco” that encapsulates the second phase of the band. After spending most of 1999 on the road, including a main stage appearance at the inaugural Coachella Festival and a headlining show at the Benicassim Festival, bis released the even more electronic “Music For A Stranger World” EP in early 2000 before spending the rest of the year in the studio creating the band’s most misunderstood album “Return To Central”. Seen by some fans as the masterpiece the band had been striving towards, and by other fans as the final straw, “Return To Central” showcases the band’s impatience and desire not to repeat themselves. Gone was the shouty vocal style, replaced by Manda’s threatening whisper and in came lush, layered electronics. Instead of cribbing riffs from old Rough Trade records, “Return To Central” aimed for the gravitas of The Associates, Talk Talk and Brian Eno but with those trademark melodic earworms and disco heartbeat intact.
And there you have it (at least up to 1999). Still at it – still going strong. Their latest album, Slight Disconnects was released in February of this year. Head over to their site and take a look around – lots to see and records to pick up. Do it.
In the meantime, crank this one up and dance your ass off.