Facebook Slider

Rockaway Beach 2020, Butlin's, Bognor Regis - Part One

Image:- Steven Velentzas (@captainstavros)

It's that time of year once more to head down to the southern end of GB for the first festival of the year. This time around the on-site, daytime entertainment had clearly been beefed up so an overall different experience from past years was highly anticipated.

Weather-wise we got probably the best possible for a January weekend & certainly the best of the three years the event's been on at that time. This made daytime wandering around Bognor Regis itself very pleasant, whilst the location of this year's accommodation couldn't have been handier for the performance spaces + we even had a sea view.

Once we'd arrived, checked in and then had dinner the first act we were able to catch on the Friday night were Young Knives, who I think I last saw around five years ago (a quick look on Wikipedia confirms it was in fact eight, seeing as it was album number three they were touring at the time), the first of the weekend's acts whom Captain Stavros was unacquainted with. Singing their praises as decent purveyors of indie & post-punk, I lead us off to the show.

Eight years is clearly a long time in music. Having previously dressed as if they'd just left the office(s) they still had to work in to make ends meet, there's now shoulder length hair, a full beard, some kind of sequined, glam rock t-shirt, a coat which could once have been a pair of curtains and a fourth member on percussion. Not that any of that is in itself cause for alarm. Having stood about through a long-winded setting up of levels (the more kit you have the more there is that ca go wrong) we in the crowd finally get some music, fifteen or so minutes later than billed. 

Noise rock is about as close a description as I can manage. Screaming & shouting was a part of the band's sound previously but now there's a cacophony of guitar and drums worlds away from the likes of 'Sister Frideswide' or 'She's Attracted To'. After four numbers & with no interest in seeing how known songs are fitted into the set, we beat a hasty retreat, with me attempting to explain how different they used to be.

Thankfully this is the only real shock of the weekend. There's at least one surprise, on the Saturday night, but everyone else plays it as expected, for better or worse.

On to the main venue then for Black Country, New Road. The youthful septet served up a blend of Eastern European folk music sifted through Roxy Music & James Chance's saxophone noise. I've either not paid enough attention to them on the radio or it was a case of a band being very different in the flesh, but they weren't exactly what I was expecting. Which isn't though to say there was anything wrong with the show - they were an enjoyable act to watch & went down well with the crowd, albeit with the odd bizarre heckle although those happily seemed to go over their heads.

BC,NR were followed up about twenty minutes or so later by Soak, the first of the bands we saw to actively take the mickey out of the collective experience of us all being at a holiday camp. That fell as flat as it deserved. Having done something similar when reviewing the event in the past I can now speak as a convert. This was the festival's fifth iteration and it was clearly well attended & the assumption could be made from that that many people had been to it more than once in the last few years - not something to be mocked.

Musically the band played some pretty competent shoegaze incorporating a bit of Sundays twee, with on occasion Big Countryesque guitar solos. On the whole they left the impression that they'll be filling the shoes of Texas and/or Deacon Blue in years to come if they last that long.

Tonight's headliner was John Cale, the definition of a living legend and in an utterly different league from most of the other acts appearing over the weekend. That said I know nothing of his output other than the Velvet Underground material, Paris 1919 (first heard only last year) and the awful Songs For Drella album which I ended up putting in a litter bin as no secondhand record shop would take it off my hands in the decades before Discogs (Q Magazine didn't half recommend some terrible music in the '90s).  

He starts straight into his set with no preamble, which sets the scene for the entire show seeing as he's not that chatty. Making full use of the venue's projection facilities he and his band have some some of the best films/abstract displays of the weekend. Plenty of the songs maintain a good pace but noodling does become an issue on more than one. 'I'm Waiting For The Man' proves to be the only song I recognise, albeit it's a bit drawn out & sounds odd with Cale singing it. Still though this is one of the tightest sets I've seen at the festival to date, despite which (as well as out of respect for the singer's six decades of performing) people still felt it was more important to have a conversation throughout the performance.

Princesteen is the night's closing act but the combination of the two performers being paid tribute to doesn't inspire me to stay out so it's off back to the Shoreline for some shut eye. 

Read more...

Fire Records Xmas Party, Studio 9294, London

 

Ah December, synonymous with warm fires, friends, kicking back and maybe even poppin' off a few crackers while downing a few constitutionals. Our crackin' times kicked off a little bit early this year with a few cheeky gifts under the tree (our inbox). The Musos' gang got to open 1 such digital gift early when we popped open an e-mail and found an invite (THANKS GUYS!) to the Fire Records Christmas Party this past weekend. Fire Records and friends were sleigh, sleigh, sleighing it all the wayyyyyyyyyy over at 9294 from the late afternoon till the wee morning hours. Some of you purists out there may say, 'hey now, opening presents before Christmas is just bad luck!' to you I'd say you're probably right and we ended up paying for it.

Some people like hitting up a gig but before hand pump themselves up by listening to the artist(s) they're about to go see. That's not really our jam, plus most feel that we could use more pumping down than up. This time I wish I had because I would've avoided a crushing heartache the next day, more on that later though. So we arrived early thinking we might sneak out between acts to skulk about the always changing Hackney Wick, no luck. Not only were the acts pretty close together but the sites (pubs) we wanted to hit were to widespread, not to mention that from 5:30-6:30 the venue housing the studio had filled up!

Digging in I held firm not wanting to miss out as the tunes and bands both descended upon me. The first highlight for us was The Pictish Trail (@pictishtrail). I'll be honest, anytime I see anyone get on stage with an acoustic guitar......my skin crawls, in fact my notes start off with the word 'yikes' under T.P.T. I couldn't have been more wrong. Johnny Lynch asks us to all welcome Pictish Trail to the stage, looks off stage starts clapping.......when he's already on stage. His talent is in line with his humour and translates to the tunes the duo version of the band pumps out on stage. The show absorbs you because it turns out T.P.T. is a seasoned vet and played his guitar like a motherfucking riot, we shit you not! Supplemented by keys, fun lyrics, a psychedelic light show it's not to be missed, weirdly wonderful vibes.

The next and final highlight for us of the evening quite literally took us, and everyone else in the Studio, by surprise. I had an aunt who once tried to teach me a lesson on how to gain a person or persons' attention without being obnoxious, it never took, but I also never forgot it. She said, 'speak firmly and speak quietly, people will endeavor to listen'. It's now just after 8pm, some of the crowd have been on their feet for three hours and most had been drinking, to say it was a bit rambunctious with everyone trying to go every which way in between acts might just be the understatement of the century. Between sets there were solid tunes being pumped out by the sound crew so it took a while for my ear (wearing earplugs Mom don't worry!) to discern a difference in tones AND crowd noise. Islet (@isletband) I'd soon discover had begun to transform what was our perceived stage space and soundscape blurring the lines between space, audience and band member. Like a Great White's dorsal Islet's collective hands cut through (not literally, although interesting enough to imagine) the tops of our heads in the crowd striking small glossy rectangles. Together as they filtered through and over us they remained mostly unseen but the crowd was reduced to a hush as plush chimes and tones synced up as the trio made their way on stage. I can honestly say outside of Arcade Fire doing a bait and switch with a false stage papier mache band and curtain drop at the Apollo years back this has been by far the most beautiful and ingenious opening to an act I've ever seen, it resonated with everyone. The Welsh art funk 3 piece kept the energy going strong and long with jangly dances by the keyboards, slapping the shit outta the standing drum kit coupled with oblong shaped guitar tangos. Their first performance in the Big Smoke since 2015 we here at Musos' sincerely hope to see them again soon.

SOON after Islet I started fading but my bad luck would find its second wind as opening our gifts a tad on the early side would come to bite us on the ass. There were a bunch of peculiar and strung out drunks around me crashing and shoving into my precious self throughout the night and after 6 hours of standing still and sober on concrete I started to buckle and became overwhelmed by my station's responsibilities. The final nail in the coffin was Fenella, who although I'd heard great things about, failed to meet my expectations live. Just too 'out there' for me so I promptly packed it up and made tracks thinking Vanishing Twin would've been along the same lines so I vanished myself. Big-MISTAKE. Leaving 9294 I was caught in the rain and was instantly put into a miserable mood, my +1(s) texted and called to apologize for not making it out and by the time I got home soaked and tired I realized I was plum fresh out of snacks! As I sat down to finish keyboarding this article I texted back and forth with The Chief who implored me to expose my shortcomings......I wasn't so sure I wanted to. So, I did what anybody would do who's as much of a piece of shit as I am, I tried to fake it by listening to V.T. over YouTube music and freaking heck, the lowness hit an all new low. What I'm hearing, if it were even a fraction as good as the studio stuff, live would've been remarkable. Not only that but as I left V.T. to stream in the background I was introduced to a variable plethora of other amazing artists; even by proxy these guys are amazing. I truly feel like I've let our friends over at Fire Records down but even more so ourselves. I've just done a quick search and have seen that Vanishing Twin'll be playing in Cambridge come this February. I'll be there, and I recommend and hope you will too, front row center.

Read more...

Temples, Shepherd's Bush O2, London

 

Sometimes it's hard to see stuff, even when said stuff is right in front of you, hear me out on this one. I'm going to stick to the pertinent points about 'stuff', for once in my life, relating to gigs in particular. Being short and not at the front, you're in trouble. Maybe you've just snapped back into reality only to realize you've been rocking some serious tunnel vision videographing half the gig you're (not) present at missing that sweet sweet peripheral action because you've been watching it through your phone's screen....hands up, guilty as charged. Perhaps worst of all is something we've all been guilty of at one time or another which is being too close to 'stuff (someone) we care about and mistakenly attributing those feelings and projecting them onto what's actually happening in front of us, in other words being blindsided. More on that later.

 I arrived late for the Temples (@templesofficial) gig at the 02 and in a state of Popsicle (ice-lolly) this past Sunday evening and missed most of the opening acts. Melting my way into the lobby I pool in front of the guestlist ticket wicket and drop my name. It appears for the first time in weeks I'm actually on the list but not only that along with my tickets tumble down a few wristbands for the 'after show'. I act cool (no involuntary hiccups or twitching) and slap the band on before they've got a chance to take it away. I'm lead up to level 1's reserved area and finish thawing out. There's a vacuum where the atmosphere should be presently but crowds can be fickle up until the headliner takes the stage.

 Temples materialize suddenly in front of us and I can't take my eyes off of them. Imagine this, a visual mashup based upon the best of Prince and Led Zeppelin at their respective peaks. I cannot compose in words the construction of a cage made up entirely of my utter and absolute jealousy on the subject matter.  James (vocals/guitar) is rocking a a tailored dusty rose suit, Adam (keys/rhythm guitar) is draped in dark colours with a Sheriff's badge on his smoking jacket (yeehaw!), Rens' open shirted neck-kerchief percussion is something to behold, I'm thinking along the lines of MC5's drummer Dennis Thompson. Perhaps my favourite though was Thomas (bass/backup vocals) who'd easily teach  masterclass on androgyny second only to Bowie (RIP sweet prince) himself. Their hair alone would get the win Britain's been so hungrily awaiting all these years on Eurovision. 

 This show is the last of a slew of UK/EU tour dates bring the year to an end and the fatigue's just settled into Temples bones seizing up their limber youth before our very eyes. Just like the infectiousness of a psychedelic plague can spread throughout a crowd in equal proportions so does fatigue. James starts out thanking the crowd for coming out because 'it's cold and a Sunday' two songs later into their act he back-flips with 'this is the quietest crowd ever' ya mate, it's Sunday and it's cold. It's never sat right with me when the band needs the audience to revive them, sorry but you lot are the Pied Pipers, not the other way around. To be honest I was bobbing my head at the beginning of their set but after a few tracks when the glitz and glamour of their most righteous facade wore of their stage presence wore out and along with it my attention span. I sorta just zoned in and out of their performance. I sat back and thought to myself, not a bad lot but not  headliner material. Temples aren't a hungry young band any longer, they've burnt bright and fast. They're live act reminded me of the time I saw Crows play the Tufnell Park Dome years after their break out tour where metal barricades were being torn apart by the hands of crazed fans in Birthday's basement. Now fast forward only a few years later and at both shows sparse crowds make up the bulk of the crowd on the main floor.  Kids feel it's safe enough to invite their parents and so expose them to their life in London's mainstream music scene in mild doses too weak to kill them but strong enough to embolden them against the horrors of what someone shoving their way out of the crowd to use the loo might easily be mistaken for the fabled mosh pit! Temples, the flu-jab of the music scene. Sluggish and uninspiring they move through their performance like most of the lads attending moving towards the bar to squeeze in one more pint before the encore. I find myself thinking how found myself listening to Temples is exactly the reason I wouldn't recommend them to anyone. Their vocals sound like Kevin Parker's. I say to myself here you are giving me a knock-off when you know I want that name brand.

Looking over my notes I find gems like 'rock boys in big boy outfits'. There's no denying, the formula's there you just can't fake the results. The Mystery Lights (@themysterylights) one of the breakout bands of this year for me with a modest 11k following blew me away, Temples with their 60k+ following and look may-be getting a glossy cover on Rolling Stone but won't hold my attention. The studio tunes have that smooth production sheen but lack psychedelic magic. Previewing 'Hot Motion' I fell pray to it thinking,'is this Tame Impala?' as YouTube's algorithm shuffle snuck 'em in; not by a long shot but it did grab my attention. Live, sorta the same deal, pop and fizzle. Captain Stavros footnote, seeing Tame Impala live sold me whereas their albums never really grabbed me. The exact opposite happened with Temples. Had I been on the main-floor I would've probably have just left, not because it was terrible or anything but you know how it is when one person yawns you end up yawning too. The band was flagging and I guess I just caught that from them too.

Others though found their second wind after their fourth pint. A splinter faction of  fans formed like braying jackasses congealing near the stage sending half-filled pints sailing through the air closely followed by their 'weeeeeeeeei's. The same lot attempted to start a pit which sputtered and failed during the slower tracks. Sure, the results themselves were mixed but I must admit plenty of people did get their drinks spilled all over themselves by these buffoons so A for effort? Between the aforementioned and James's random 'Vote Labour' and other off handed remarks like introducing their tune as, 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'.....came off as pretty self-assured, I know, a dirty word. As the band's encore finished up of whatever it was they were grinding out I realized I wasn't even listening to it anymore anyway. My thoughts and body drifted towards the after party instead. I really wanted to rub elbows with some of those finely adorned vintage people in the crowd who were heading back stage and maybe get the low-down on the vintage underground in London. Instead I'd be getting a different scoop.

 After the gig I ran into an older gentleman with a 'backstage pass' prominently adorning his breast whom I had also bumped into earlier before the show. His name is Richard & he's James's Dad. I'd first asked him where the after party was because he looked cool, 'there's no after party for us' he'd said, 'James, the wife myself and the rest of the family are driving back home right after the gig tonight,' he'd said, ' we're all tired and are about 100 miles from London'. Fair enough I thought as we continued to exchange pleasantries. Richard was super proud of his son and told me that although 'James can't even read music, it comes from here and here' he was pointing to his head and his heart which I thought was sweet. I asked him if he'd supported James's musical endeavors not only now that the band had found commercial success but in the olden days of 2012, 'hell' he said, 'he started playing music because I was always playing music, of course I did'. Richard was obviously a proud father and furthermore told of James helping spread the wealth by producing up and comers whom he'd recently toured with too. Afterwards when I ran into Richard again he was beaming with confidence, 'what'd ya think' before I could even answer came, 'great weren't they? I told you!' I suppose I missed the nuance of the rhetoric. 'I just don't know why they aren't bigger in the UK' he concluded with. I'd hear Richard repeat this phrase to pretty much anyone within earshot. I even caught an encore at the urinals when he addressed a man with frosted tips on the other side of me as he spoke through and behind me. For the record I really hate talking or being spoken to at urinals but not more than dudes scrolling through their phones , seriously dudes, gross. Sure if Richard stepped back he might get a little pee-pee on his shoes but maybe that's what being a Dad's all about? Stepping back to get a better view.

Read more...

The Gotobeds, The Islington, London

 

Spoiler Alert:

Skip to the bottom of this review to read the transcript of an interview with the band where they absolutely fucking roast Cary (Percussion) for saying that canned cranberries are an underrated American Thanksgiving dish. Now without further adieu (lots of further adieu, sorry. Adieu).

I've been spending God knows how many hours on the phone lately with customer service, for every service, hours and hours. It's basically along the lines of  'let's help you, with a twist!' Whatever your problem may be you'll be shown how you don't actually have a problem, from their perspective. It's sorta like hearing, “oh you're decapitated? Having your head attached to your body is just an urban legend anyway” at the hospital. 

Anyway (anyways for our North American readers!), months after moving flats I STILL have a semi-hidden-cache of boxes full of stuff, my precious precious stuff, under my bed. This means I have nowhere to hide in an emergency. It also means my motivational posters can't be put up and out, action figures can't be posed and even books can't be displayed to prove to people I can read.  Life, at times it's stressful but even more so when you realize what's causing your stress, is out of your control. You live in London though, music Mecca so if you're missing out on tons of live music, it's probably your fault. I aim to fix that tonight by taking back MY life with my tiny claw like fingers. No pressure.  

Go to bed is pretty much synonymous with my childhood. Every night I'd hear the shrill voice of my mother ringing throughout the suburban nightmare I lived in, floating up the basement stairs like a demented slinky in reverse. Sure, that sounds cool, but could only ever really exist in a bizzaro world, gravity's a harsh mistress. Anyway(s) to subdue my near-breakdown like vibes I'm probably spewing out into the galaxy at present The Islington claps back in a virtual noise canceling frequency baptizing me back into the fold with warm lighting, framed rock and pop icons draped in well, drapes. I instantly feel my stress melt away while a tide of nostalgia for a furnished flat ebbs in to take its place. To my left at the end of the table are the @GoToBeds, I'm teetering between leaving them alone and talking to them (a.k.a. ruining their good time). I go for the former hedging my bets that I'll be able to sink a quick word in after their set.

The Pittsburgh natives practically crawl onto the stage after the opening acts clear out. Each is armed with 2 drinks and Eli (Guitar/Vocals) trailing behind them all with 4 shots of something dark and murky. The stage is now set and Gavin (Bass/Vocals) belts out, 'we're here to confirm all your American stereotypes' he's a riot, along with the rest of the boys, throughout their the set. They start off with 'Affection' and I'm instantly affected. The Bass pedal on 11 coupled with the thronging of the bass sets the tone, it's somehow both pushing and pulling back through your chest. The blown out stage and thread bare carpet along with the bands playing style reminded me of Scott Pilgrim's rehearsal space. House party basement vibes for days and days, keep that nostalgia coming.

 

Their enjoyable stage presence started off with a warm up bass line from Metallica's 'Enter Sandman' (a personal fave) which I question and get a response from Gavin of, 'Yeah it is, good ole American music!'. Coupled with grimy and grungy appearances, each member sports a shirt faded complete with holes and rungs of sweat that cling instead of rolling off. The whole affair reeked of tepid water that hotdogs have been cooked in all day, unapologetically, crashed over me in waves for the duration of their performance. Their energy was infectious, like hot dogs, and their stage presence feels like an inside joke the whole set through, like hot dogs? The set is chaos, guitars come unplugged, balance is lost, lyrics and songs get all fucked up and most importantly everyone is drunk (full blast admission via Tom Payne [Guitarist] who pirouettes repeatedly at speed and remarkably keeps his balance and form (instead of eating stage). No one is taking anything too seriously and it's exactly the lesson I need to take away from this. It works.

I can't remember whether it was Eli or Gavin, but I suspect Gavin, who announces, 'we have a tradition called half time' it basically means they stop playing and pound back whatever drinks they can get their hands on. Watching them play is like watching yourself when you think no one is looking, really givin-er, full air guitar style in front of the mirror which is exactly why it's so cool, it's in us, it's in front of us, it's relatable. I like the borish-line-cutter-at-the-super-market vibes  I'm getting off their tunes. Before I know it the set is over with 'Ipso Facto' which is dedicated to some dude that's already blown this taco-stand. Gavin closes out the thrashfest by draping Eli with the 'Upset The Rhythm' banner a la James Brown, over the shoulders of our tiny prince. I want more though so I approach Gavin for an interview. The dude, like the rest of the bandmates, outside of Tom who has a momentary lapse in courage but comes back strong in the end, are well up for a chin-wag. Gavin, 'does your blog have, let's say, a budget?' Captain: 'God no, besides, I think you're getting bribery wrong, shouldn't you be trying to butter me up so I say nice things?' Gavin:'Touche'. I watch the band disassemble their gear without offering to help as I'm lost in thought. I was stressed out and wound up before the night's festivities but after watching the GoToBeds I'm definitely feeling unwound a cathartic resurrection bringing me back to my normal (for me) self, thanks gang.  Feel like getting back to your normal self? Maybe you just feel like getting weird and watching these steely Pittsburghites do their thang-thang out of perverse curiosity? You won't go wrong for doing so, you CAN'T go wrong, they'll beat you to that punchline and then some with seemingly boundless energy. If you miss their last tour date in the Netherlands make it your New Year resolution to catch-em back in the States. This is your Captain speaking, prepare for interview.

Interview:

Captain: So you guys started off your tour in Italy recently, is that correct?

Unanimously: Yeah yeah yeah yeah.

Captain: Okay, so, Italian food, does it live up to the hype? OR, would you prefer Olive Garden's unlimited soup, salad and bread sticks instead?

Audible Sigh: Very audible sigh.

Cary: I like Olive Garden.

Eli: Olive Garden, god damn, bread sticks?

Gavin: No, Italian food's better.

Cary: We found the one Olive Garden in Bologna believe it or not and it was exaaaaactly the same.

Cary is completely deadpan when delivering this line, he's not blinking, it doesn't look like he's EVER blinked.

Captain: I don't know if you're joking.

un-phased Cary (or Tom) just carry on

Cary or Tom: Thing is they make their own pasta in the Italian Olive Garden, in Italy.

Everyone starts laughing, I nervously join in too.

Gavin or Tom: Oh yeah, Bologna, amazing food, the most amazing food I've had the whole trip.

Captain: And super dangerous from what I hear.

The GoToBeds: So are we, so you know, they're tracking with us (I think they said tracking, American AmIRight?)

Captain: Sticking on the food scene, am I correct in thinking you're not making it back in time for Thanksgiving, that's this Thursday right?

GoToBeds: Nooo NOOOO, unfortunately we'll be in Amsterdam., what is this a food blog?

Captain: Answer Censored, if you're reading this guys, which why would you be? Don't tell anyone what I said.

GoToBeds: Audible laughing at my answer, a laugh that feels my pain.

Captain: Most underrated Thanksgiving food, go!

Straight out the gate:

Gavin: Green Bean Casserole!

Eli: Gravy!!!!

Captain: Gravy is a food?

More such similar questions on the gravy front from the band.

Tom: Yams.

Captain: Any special way they're prepared?

Tom: Nothing special about them.

Here is where shit kicks the fuck off.

Cary: (in the most mid-western-American-accent you can imagine) Ciaaaned Cryanberries.

A relentless volley of hatred is spewed IMMEDIATELY with dead aim attacking, and striking, it's victim Cary dead-on. All this because of cranberries let me give you the gist because it was near impossible to transcribe the shit-storm sandwich our man here was fed:

Everyone except Cary: Gross/Fuck-you/get fucked/I'm not spending my Thanksgiving with you/Jesus Christ (it's almost Christmas cover your fucking ears Jesus!!!)

Cary: Ooooooooo OOOOH I'm sorry I didn't come from a Riiyaich Family like you.

Someone: They're a fucking dollar a bag man!

Captain: How am I going to transcribe this (lots of fucking whooo wooo ooos).

 

Read more...

Boy Harsher, The Scala, London

 

I'm at the Shacklewell Arms checking out a band, Human Pet (@humanpetband), when I run into Connor (Guitarist for The Cosmics), his partner Marta and shortly there after Double D Double J (Jessica Jefferies who shamelessly sports a Canadian Tuxedo whenever she hops on Apollo). We're chatting between sets and enjoying a constitutional or 2;  Connor is thankfully going on about guitars and Ty Segall at length which frees me up for a change from always talking over everyone when over his shoulder I notice a poster listing upcoming gigs BOY HARSHER in particular sticks out to me. 'Wow, I've got to see them' I think out-loud. I ask Double J if she knew of Boy Harsher or had she heard any of their tunes before. FYI we're at my flat and she's sitting across from me right now but I can't remember how she responded to my question that night. 'Do you remember what you said?' She cups her face with her hands, makes a very audible exhale, 'Mmmmmmmmm I caunt remember'. She's also just complimented my fake British Accent as I re-read the sentence over to her mockingly. I go home that night determined to review the gig and a few e-mails later between myself and the team over at Stereo Sanctity PR (@Ssanctity) and I'm on the list plus+1. Double J laughs about the list +1, 'that didn't get us on the list', more to come on that later.

It's Tuesday evening now and as the Scala is about a 10 minute bike ride from my place that's how I imagine I'll get there. Lo-and-behold however I've come into work and discovered Double J has been replaced by a pirate, or a reasonable facsimile there of. She's hurt her leg climbing and is hobbling around like Tiny Tim on crutches. 'I wasn't on crutches' she strongly clarifies with a lofty tone from my couch, ever hear of a metaphor or creative liberties before J? 'No'. I'm outside the building we both work at in central london chilling on Apollo who's volunteered to give both of us a ride to the gig. From the shadows emerges this duplicitous figure descending upon me with a hobble. I'm about to say I don't have any change when I realize it's my newly disabled pal. She hops on Apollo and with a 'weeeee' off we zoom between the traffic towards the gig. 

Outside the Scala, we've dumped Apollo under a street light and attempted to join the queue. To be clear the 'queue' is 5-6 die-hard fans 'yeah' J confirms. There are barriers leading to the door. It's about 7, doors open 7:30, and a security guard comes out and very firmly asks, 'everyone to back up. I'm going to have to agree with J on this one, it was fucking weird dude, I mean I've never stood facing forward while walking backwards the wrong way to the entrance of a venue, I guess there's always a first time for everything. Okay, let's skip ahead a bit to the part where we 'got in' and were 'on the list'.

Still not used to saying it I give my name at the ticket booth followed by 'I'm on the list'. Reading/Saying it still makes me cringe. 'Name?' I give my name, 'you're not on the list'. Surprisingly this has actually never happened to me before while reviewing gigs. He allows me to look over the lists in case he's missed my name but he hasn't. I quickly pull up the Stereo Sanctity e-mail's as proof but it means nothing to him and he's informed me he's going to get the manager. J demands to know what's going on as she sidles up next to me. The manager isn't showing up and I'm sweating bullets. I think the key-master takes pity on us and probably remembers my half-baked mug from being at The Scala pretty much every other week so as a professional courtesy from one music fan to another he just stamps us and let's us by. Shout-out to that dude and his sweet looking curly-fro-y brown locks for saving a lot of embarrassment for us and aggro. Also thanks to the Stereo Sanctity team for reaching out to Boy Harsher's tour manager to make sure we got in alright.

We're in. Through the doors we see a space in front of the stage just wide enough to fit two very small human shaped objects. You might be asking yourself, Cap, why the front? 'Cause we're short' J chimes in. Although that's technically true J, for me rule #1 is don't stand up straight if you don't have to. Folks, get your lean on, you're gunna be there a while. 

Opening for Boy Harsher was one part of @MinuitMachine @Hante_ otherwise known as Hélène De Thoury. Double J tells me she liked Minuit Machine but upon pressing her for details I got, 'it was dancy, electronic and there was a lot of orange' I ask, was it a lot of orange? 'No, not just a lot of orange, she had other things going on too'. 'To tell you the truth, it was really dark, the stage was really dark, it didn't make a huge impression on me' she says. That being said while Double J here was looking up Minuit Machine's instagram profile she realized they were playing the last week of November (28th) at the Shacklewell Arms, 'I think I might go see her again'. As for me, she did make an impression on me. What is it about the French and electro? I think they've got a knack for it. Minuit Machine is a dark horse and she (they) are definitely in the running. I thought her music and set showed a lot of diversity within her genre, deep electro tunes with tightly formed beats rising and falling throughout her set. It must be especially hard being part of a duo but then doing a set on your own, if so though Hélène' showed nothing of the sort. She was up there keeping a steady rhythm both in her tunes and her dance moves, she looked and sounded great. Fatalistic sounding fun at its best folks.

Moving along, time for our main event, the heavyweight contender, @BoyHarsher. You ever see those red flashlights soldiers had on their person in Vietnam? You know, the one's that they'd shine inside those crazy tunnels? Well Jea Mathews comes out on the darkly silhouetted stage splashing down a beam of red something like what the bad guys must see before they're melted into a jelly from Superman's Heat Vision. I'd been anticipating this performance for a real long while and I felt pretty lucky to be there, but would they disappoint? In my experience it's not so great getting your hopes up. Fear not though chums, you won't be turned into a jelly like paste on the floor or be disappointed in their performance if you're fortunate enough to catch it.

'The first thing I noticed' Double J says, 'is the music was real pumpy, it made you wanna move, like I said it's now on my cycling playlist for kicking it into overdrive when I'm running late for work'. I work across the hall from her, she's always late for work. 'I noticed that everyone in the crowd was really cool looking, all dressed in black, I don't think I saw anyone wearing anything that wasn't black. In fact, I'm pretty sure someone was wearing sunglasses too, everyone had rings on all their fingers as well. I really liked that Augustus didn't say anything the entire time and that he was so cool and composed. He just kept pumping his arm,' Jess is pumping her arm in the air right now and fyi it doesn't look anything as cool or like what Augustus did, 'he showed no emotion. I mean he was definitely having a good time and you could tell.' I'm going to have to agree with Jess, this performance did NOT let me down in any capacity, allow me to explain.

Let me start off by saying that Jay, who's got her eye-brow-arch game on lock-down son, is a little instigator isn't she? She's coaxing and teasing the rogues out of the gallery all night long. She's trying, I assume, to illicit anything from the steely chef of death cooking up some fiery and most wild beats none other than Augustus-Maximus, but to no avail he's stone cold. When that guy's behind his equipment I don't even know what to say, he's like some sort of fucking mad scientist. He's dropping catalysts in beakers, he's cranking up the flames beneath the test tubes of MADNESS. Their setup which looks quite minimal to be fair must be anything but. The spaghetti of resistors and wires that make up their equipment also make them IRRESISTIBLE. I couldn't get enough. Club kid vibes meet Gothic vampire industrial slaughterhouse with a generous helping of Depech Modey-Joy Divisiony undertones, they take you there and bring you back, whaaaaaaaaaaaat. I think I can honestly say I've never experienced sounds like these woven together. Throughout their performance they play different roles, Jay on the CB mics is easily coherent in her lyrical savvy, Augustus on the other hand comes through the speaker in this incoherent and demonic voice, it works, it works real hard. The work is a rich pastiche of all sounds '80s sampled from origins unknown yet instantly familiar. He's reminiscing my own mind back to me, wow dude. I went in thinking at best I'd hear the music I already enjoyed live and that'd be great or at worst they'd flop live like so many of my favourites have. Maybe not so many, but enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth, anyway. I came out seeing Boy Harsher in a completely different light with an infinite amount of respect for and of their process. Jay's non-lexical wisps of air into a mic that produced a sound you could never request of a sound engineer to make for you, how'd she even figure out how to do that? I'm rambling but I'm also impressed. Augustus - minimal dance moves but maximal style.

In summation. It was a helluva lot easier getting out of the Scala that night than it was getting in. On our way back from a road trip this weekend, and a long long long day, I feel like Jess and I had the Sunday night dreads with the 'oh-my-god I have to still write and submit that article by tomorrow to the editor' feeling but she said something that really stuck with me after we'd dropped off our rental. 'You know, I'm listening to Boy Harsher a lot more lately' and that folks is what you'll take away from seeing the Boy at his harshest, you'll be listening to them a lot more, a lot more likely.

Read more...

Pip Blom, The Caves, Edinburgh

 

Photographs: Cassandra Harrison

Oddly The Caves doesn't get a lot of gigs as far as I'm aware, outside of August when it's pressed into Fringe service. Then again my eye's not exactly on the ball so it could be hosting bands seven nights a week for all I know. 

Either way it's a good sized venue with great acoustics so ideal for tonight's show. Which starts promptly at 20:00 and those latecomers who managed to miss the first half of support act Personal Trainer should be kicking themselves. An energetic septet fronted by a man equal parts Anton Newcombe, Shaun Ryder & Ian Curtis they throw everything into their performance, having seemingly raided their old school's musical department for such items as a trombone, cowbell & a well used vibraslap. And they deploy a megaphone every so often too.

Their keyboardist/trombonist resembles Napoleon Dynamite and gets himself into all sorts of contorted positions with the microphone as a he hollers his head off on backing vocal duties. I've seen no unknown act this good since being introduced to Squid back in January at Rockaway Beach. Unfortunately they don't get the riot on the dancefloor which their sound and it's speedy delivery deserves but full marks to them for not being phased and fingers crossed that they can capture that intensity when they get an album out. £20 for two 7"s at the end of the night seemed a bit steep though.

Given the support act's efforts on this double Dutch bill I for one thought Pip Blom had their work cut out for them when they took to the stage at 9pm and yet they very nearly pulled it off with a 12 (possibly 14) song set shorn of any fat and battered out far faster than on the likes of recent album Boat. Drummer Gini beats the shit out of her kit, looking close to having a seizure at any moment, breakthrough song 'School' comes and goes early in the set with no favouritism and breaks to say thanks for coming along are the briefest of moments.

Most of Personal Trainer make it into the crowd for the closing few numbers of the set and, around the time of 'Daddy Issues' being played, the central part of the audience finally develops into the pit which all 11 of those who've appeared on stage & given it their all so rightly deserve as just reward for their efforts. There's no encore but that's entirely fitting for the punk spirit (oddly offset by the incongruous jazz from various eras which was on before, between & after the bands) which was channeled via the politeness of The Netherlands.

The bands have another six dates to play in the UK over the coming week and you really want to make sure you catch them at it.  

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed