Bands FC at the BME

Bands FC is a concept that has taken on a life of its own, much of it via Twitter. A project that is the brainchild of Tim Burgess and Nick Fraser, it’s in the Cunard building, runs all week and is free to see.

The creative team of Mark Liptrott, Stanley Chow and Chris Walker, have, with Burgess and Fraser, raised money in memory of Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison and just this week, Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Not bad for a wacky idea.

Now, we’ve been through this with Cast quite recently. It’s the whole ‘who is most likely to make a balls of this review?‘ question. Do you send the hardened Cast pro or the newbie to review the homecoming gig?

Same again here really, and for reasons that remain unclear Getintothis decided to send one of the only writers on the team with what could only be described as disdain for football and all that it brings.

We get that you might like it, we would even go so far as to understand why you like it, but for the love of God don’t ask the two of us to sit through 90 mind-numbing minutes of prima-donnas prancing around in shorts and t-shirts feigning life-threatening injuries at the sight of wet grass.

We cannot have it.

(Sorry.)

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This Bands FC malarkey though, that’s a different away kit altogether. We spotted it quite early on and we are taken with the retro view of the world in many of the creations. We were looking forward to this.

You don’t really have to like football to get it, it helps in certain respects, but it isn’t compulsory. It’s a lovely thing though, and well worth a wander down the docks even in this weather.

There are dozens of brilliant ideas spread across the cafe and the main space. You could potentially spend hours walking back and forward between the two rooms, each visit gives you a new badge, or flashes a newly surfaced memory you didn’t spot the last time.

Some of these are very obvious, some are clearly more like the football emblems they represent than others and some are frankly works of sublime genius. Pulp, for example, have a stunning card. It’s a near perfect representation of Jarvis Cocker as an owl. And it works beautifully.

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Our favourites include The Coral, who appear in a communist era military band, The Tea Street Band whose badge includes Paddy’s Wigwam, AC/DC who are imposed on a Gunners badge and Starsailor who are almost Blue Peter-esque with a bright red ship.

The Echo and the Bunnymen badge is a wonderfully cheeky take on the Liverpool Echo logo spliced with a Liverpool FC badge, ABBA are a beautifully bright Swedish flag, Prince is particularly purple and the Radiohead badge is a stroke of Oxford FC genius.

If the exhibition lacks anything it is perhaps an insight into how some of these creations came to be. Where it is explained it’s perfect, we were just a little saddened to see that the notebooks and scribbles the crew had created over the years were tucked away in the shop, hidden from view almost.

There is a three-step schematic for the Radiohead and Gorillaz badges that really helps the non-footballers among us. We might have a pretty broad knowledge of bands but being able to place them with the football clubs the bands like or live near is not near the top of a list of things you need to do this particular gig.

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Given our lack of love for football, we were a little more interested in the process rather than the footie related parts. That left us scratching our heads a little, but all in, this is a glorious thing to behold.

The gift shop is packed full of buttons, referee gimmicks, postcards, shirts, and prints. Throw in some clever Fanini cards, a playlist by Tim Burgess, an opportunity to colour in or design your own logo, and well, the foyer of the Cunard building has never looked so good. Well worth the wander.

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