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Fire Records Xmas Party, Studio 9294, London

  • Published in Live


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.


Festival Coverage: The Great Escape - Day 3

  • Published in Live

With a heavy head and tired feet we drag our carcasses out for the final day. The excellent Great Escape app alerts us to a surprise outdoor gig outside of the Brighton library and we head here first.  

To our complete surprise it’s the massive talent of Rag 'N' Bone Man. And though announced very last minute, it pulls in a huge crowd and as it's outdoors in the baking sunshine, it is certainly a wonderful start. As he knocks out his hits the word gets around and by the end of his short set he has a huge audience. As the crowds fade away we stay to catch the brilliant songwriting talents of Vince James, whose honest, in-depth storytelling lyrics are bound to project this guy to bigger and brighter things.

Next up is Flamingods a five piece from Bahrain who are multi-instrumentalist consisting of drummers and guitarist. They show of their skills by swapping after each track.  There swirling Middle Eastern rhythms meet psychedelic guitars in a wonderful mixture of world sounds.  Continuing the world music theme we plump for Sarathy Korwar an Indian artist of traditional folk music who has just been signed to Ninja Tune. The blend of beats, folk and jazz are continuing to grow his reputation on the back of his new album which we highly recommend.

We pop across to Brighton marina to catch some more beats in the form of Blue Lab Beats. These two guys have produced and remixed many artists including the aforementioned Rag n Bone Man.  After gaining reputation as remixers they decided to go alone and breakout on their own to huge effect.  We march to catch The Parrots in the blazing sunshine and the hideous weather of previous days is now a distant memory. These Spanish indie rock and rollers are great fun and bring a wonderful energetic sound. We now have a short few hours break from the afternoon sessions until we attack our final night. We start off with the wonderful Daniel Wakeford. He gained fame via the Channel 4 tv show The Undateables. And now he’s a singer at the festival. He is simply wonderful and the huge outdoor crowd roar and scream their appreciation for a man whose warmth and love of music and performing is undeniably infectious. 

We feel we need a calming softer act to refuel so we plump for Julie Byrne, a country acoustic artist who transports us to a front porch of the deep south with her wonderful melodies of the mysterious of love. She is also a wonderfully talent guitarist and we are suitably calmed and relaxed. Ayia are an Icelandic electro pop three piece who serve up post-apocalyptic, intimidating, glichy, abstract dance music.

Jane Weaver is an intense artist that demands your immediate intention with her intense haunting voice that we were lucky to catch as she drew a huge crowd. Even bigger crowds come to see Baloji who comes highly recommend. He has so many talents from poetry to filmmaking and he wows us with a visual and sound display of epic proportions. There was a rumour of a secret gig in the same venue and to our absolute delight it’s the incredible John Grant. We are treated to very intimate performance and judging by the sheer size of the crowd it wasn’t that big a secret. He is such an intense and wonderful performer with a wonderful sense of humour. 

We race to catch a bit of Brighton’s own The Magic Gang with their lovely cross over sound. Relaxed indie yet a larger vocal presents is how we would describe them. We are running out of time so we plump for a final bit of urban in the form of Ryan De La Cruz. He is simply sensational with a wonderful crowd interaction and boundless energy. This is followed by the equally excellent Stefflon Don who loyal fan based packed out the venue. She finished with an impromptu stage invasion where half the audience join her.  Our Final act of the three days were Pom Poko from Norway a geeky four piece punk pop band who sum up the brilliance of this festival. Multi layers of genres throw together from acts all over the world who all come to celebrate the amazing thrill of live music.

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