BMI took over Bar Matchless last night for a crop of mismatched but mainly worthy acts, the standout being the UK’s White Belt Yellow Tag, named not after the 90′s indie guy penchant for wearing white belts with skinny jeans as I first hoped, but for guitarist Justin Lockey’s level in taekwondo as a kid.


WBYT is a formidable power trio made up of guitarist Lockey (formerly of Yourcodenameis:milo and now also half of the shoegazery duo Lights on Moscow, also playing CMJ), singer/guitarist Craig Pilbin, and touring drummer Tom Bellamy (now of Losers, formerly of one of the most wildly vivid of UK bands, The Cooper Temple Clause).

As soon as they plugged in, they conjured a technicolor swell of sound; a euphoric blaze of melodies swirled around Pilbin’s voice, which easily reached an impressive falsetto on hits like “Always and Echoes” or “Remains”. His are pipes on a par with artists like Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Ian McCulloch or Doves’ Jimi Goodwin, and although I don’t love falling into the trap of comparing bands to bands, a few of these acts are the ones that White Belt may nod to.

And let’s hear it for secret talents: though Bellamy is best known for his wild, knob twiddling, producing and keyboard wizardry, his spot on, heavy-hitting skills as rock drummer was the anchor for the songs’ dreamy grandeur, keeping the music from floating up into the ether like a balloon, or getting too damn precious.


WBYT’s first full-length, Methods, came out in the UK last May on Distiller Records, but they’ve got a new EP in the works for The Musebox, so I’m sure these boys will be back.–Madeline Virbasius/photos by Tear-n Tan/videos by Zabatay

  1. At the end of the White Belt set someone from BMI took the mic and said, “ok we have a giveaway, and for once I have to say the prizes are pretty cool and they get better as the night goes on. To get the prize you have to answer one question about the band, come on up and answer one question.”

    Dead silence, everyone is looking at the lint in their pockets, their shoes.

    “It’s going to be a really easy question, I promise.”

    I tried to nudge somebody else, I’m thinking I probably know the least about this band, just heard them right now for the first time.

    “Come on up, just a quick little question.”, at this point the promoter is basically read to just throw the prize into the crowd and get off the stage.

    Finally a girl goes up, librarian look.

    The promoter is beaming, finally to get rid of this thing: “What is the name of the band that just played?”

    The contestant is thinking about this for a beat and answers something like “White shoes yellow hat”, a collection of colors and things interchanged. The promoter is totally happy with this, “Yes, yes White Belt Yellow Tag” perfect and gives the winner her iPod nano.

    One of the band members just mutters, “it was getting a little embarrassing for a bit and that questions this into embarrassing.”


  2. check them out at:


  3. [...] of sound; a euphoric blaze of melodies swirled around singer Craig Pilbin’s voice” back at CMJ 2010, are putting out the EP You’re Not Invincible, their first North American release, on May 10, [...]