Head Automatica are one of a handful of bands that went on to become personal favourites of mine after first hearing them on a mixtape swap with my friend Vicky in 2005 (other notable names from this CD included Motion City Soundtrack and Death Cab For Cutie). I liked the song she included, Beating Heart Baby, but didn’t really think much more about the band until my friends and I started going to rock/alternative clubs where, time and time again, the track would be the moment in the night when people were finally able to overlook their inhibitions and move to the dance floor en masse.
As well as busting some frankly ICONIC dance moves, this also prompted me to revisit their discography, which consisted of two great albums Decadence and Popaganda. The timing worked out well, because after a couple of cancellation due to frontman Daryl Palumbo’s ongoing struggles with Crohn’s Disease, a UK tour was announced with a local date in Southampton.
I knew it was a big deal at the time to get to see them, what with Head Automatica being a ‘side project’ for Daryl (his main band being Glassjaw, as I’m sure many of you will know) and the health issues restricting his ability to tour all that often. I’m still glad I got the opportunity, particularly with the band having being inactive now for a decade. Supposedly there is a third album, Swan Damage, that’s never seen the light of day due to legal disputes with Warner Bros.
Daryl chose to use a bit of creative licence with how he performed the songs, playing with the timings in the delivery of his vocal parts. I’ve seen a few artists do this over the years, where it’s clearly a choice rather than a mistake. It does make for a challenging experience to sing-along to, but also makes you shut up and listen I guess. Interestingly, looking for some videos from this show I instead found footage of when they played in Southampton again in 2012 (I didn’t go this and I’m not sure why). The renditions of songs played are even more radically different from the record.
Try as I might, I can’t find the name of the support band for this show. The bass player was a running joke between Greg, Ed and I (who went to the gig) because of how paranoid he looked. In hindsight he was probably on a fair amount of Southampton’s finest.
Here’s the t-shirt I bought at the show. I loved this one, it saw many a night out.