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Great Escape 2013: John’s Day 3 Roundup

 
By on Monday, 3rd June 2013 at 3:00 pm
 

After two days of revelry and debauchery on the streets of Brighton, TGTF heads were heavy and the party decided that a debrief in Giraffe, a chain restaurant serving quite frankly the best breakfasts on the South coast, was appropriate to clear the haze from the past 2 days, and augur the body for the day ahead.

After the demons of the past two days were expelled, not literally I may add, I dragged myself to meet the extremely personable Itch, ex-frontman of The King Blues and generally lovely chap. You can watch the interview here. After a nice chat in his tour manager’s garden, I ventured to the Blog Up, where the impressive Embers were attracting a capacity crowd in the tightly woven confines of The Mesmerist. The sound in the venue made for a deafening spectacle, which wasn’t help by us at TGTF setting up camp right next to the main monitors. With earplugs donned, it was easy to see the attraction of Embers.

They’re young, good looking and have an archetypal tall, dark and handsome lad on lead guitar and vocals in the form of George Agan. Their sound is extremely big live though, there’s a splash of prog, with comparisons to Muse overarching throughout the set, but it’s all kept grounded by the fact they have a cutesy female violin player. It all is a bit more authentic for that fact at least. (7/10)

After a few drinks in Brighton’s most reputable watering holes with some of my compadres from my former life in Guernsey, it was back off on the long journey to Concorde 2 to catch one of my favourite bands Tall Ships. They’re a group who go about progressive rock in the right way, that being their own way. They’re not smashing dubstep into the equation and shoehorning in electro wherever they can, they’re making exciting guitar music on time signatures that excites me in ways that aren’t suitable for even here.

‘Phosphorescence’ sounds pristine, as if it’s been ripped straight from ‘Everything Touching’, their fantastic debut record. Whilst ‘T=0’ is the ultimate set closer, forget ‘Knights of Cydonia’, scratch all of that, and wow, it absolutely went off. The disappointment was that it seemed to only be certain sections of the crowd enjoying the expertly crafted riffage, perhaps they were all too worn out from Hacktivist’s drivel the night before. However, at least in certain small sections of the crowd it was obvious there was a deep appreciation of the musical chemistry going on in front of them, aloft on stage. (9/10)

My trudge back towards the pier is at least cheerier for the fact that I was to be reunited with editor Mary, and that I would shortly be watching one of my guiltiest pleasures The 1975. However, whilst I was on the guestlist, and 10 minutes before the band were scheduled to venture on stage, I was rebuffed by the bouncers on the door. Instead of fleetingly and pointlessly arguing my case to the two gentlemen, who were, I quote, “taking none of my shit”, I hopped step and legged it to The Dome to sneak into the capacity Bastille show. What I was to be met with was unbeknownst to me…

Think of the audience to your classic, McFly or The Wanted show; sprinkle a sparing dressing of awkward looking v-necked boyfriends, and voilà, you have the cornucopia of underaged girls amassed to pay tribute to their new favourite band Bastille. Bastille have literally everything going for them at the moment; frontman Dan has hair that does that flicky thing, I mean, do I even need to continue? Yeah, all right then. The tunes are horrendously catchy and are accessible to all, Radio 1 friendly and firmly embedded on the A-list. The throngs of screaming girls just add to the blurred hysteria around the band, who can seemingly do no wrong in 2013.

Their debut album ‘Bad Blood’ is there with Mumford and Sons‘ ‘Sigh No More’ just for its mass appeal alone. Hence why The Dome was at capacity when I squeezed my way through. Note: I’m 6’ 5″ and look like a potato, so for any poor girl whose view I blocked with my massive form, I apologise, but it was for the good of music…

The almost fanatical following that the band have developed led me to believe that the performance was going to be one of pure showmanship, energy and enthusiasm. Instead, Bastille slogged their way through a set that looked like it was almost a trial to them. They looked like they’d just fought of millions of Persians at the Hot Gates, and Spartans they are not, with their weariness etched clearly on their visages. Every note, from the album tracks, to set closer ‘Flaws’ was sung, well, flawlessly. Dan even did a little circumnavigation of the crowd during the encore. But overall the set seemed lacklustre. Perhaps the band have been on tour for too long, or it was an off night, but either way, it was a set to forget by these up and coming less-than likely lads. (5/10)

To close the festival for me, it was a trip to the seaside. To the stage where my first romance with The Great Escape began, Coalition, to watch for the second time of the weekend, Mikill Pane. My opinion was that he would be more suited to the late night slot, in a larger venue. This wasn’t the case though, as technical problems and an overawing backing band distracted attention from the fantastic London rapper’s lyrical prowess.

Mikill wasn’t being a diva, far from it, as the microphone was cutting in and out throughout the short set. But his reaction somewhat detracted from the excitement of what was geared up to be a livewire set, but sadly ended up being quite flat and repetitive. (6/10)

 

Liverpool Sound City 2013: Martin’s Day 1 Roundup

 
By on Tuesday, 14th May 2013 at 1:00 pm
 

Martin’s high-res photos from the Thursday can be viewed on his Flickr.

Acts of the day: Moongaï, Findlay, The Oreoh!s (known now as the Orielles as of 26/11/13)

Venue of the day: Kazimier Gardens

It wasn’t until the final night of Liverpool Sound City 2013, whilst tramping up Seel Street for the umpteenth time that weekend, that I had a flash of the blindingly obvious: that people other than music fans are allowed to party in this area of the city as well! The past couple of nights had seen the handful of parallel streets that accommodate the countless music venues which form the heart of LSC13 dominated by so many wristband-toting musos that it was easy to forget that regular Liverpudlians on their well-deserved Saturday night shindig were permitted to use the facilities as well. What they made of the invasion of the weird, wild and wired LSC13 crowd was unclear, but none seemed uncomfortable in the others’ company. From established acts with nothing to prove, via young bucks seemingly teetering on the brink of stardom, to those dipping their toes in the waters of showcasedom for the very first time, such was the quality on offer that one could stick a pin in the LSC13 poster and have every confidence that the randomly-chosen act wouldn’t disappoint. Each person’s itinerary is by definition decided as much by practicalities, happenstance and opportunity than judicious planning, and as such is simply a snapshot of the event as a whole rather than any attempt to unravel the latest and greatest. With that caveat in mind, here’s my take on the Thursday:

Nateley's Whore's Kid Sister Liverpool Sound City 2013

Any thought of easing in gently is discarded in favour of a powerful punch in the ear courtesy of fellow Tynesiders Nateley’s Whore’s Kid Sister (@NWkidsister). Shorn of the stocking masks they were wearing last time I saw them, but lacking none of their previous raw power, Nateley’s deliver an uncompromising set perfectly summed up by their “alternative sludge” bio description. As subtle as slamming your hand in a car door. [Probably one of the weirdest names for a band since Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head too – Ed.]

Moongai Liverpool Sound City 2013

For some light relief, the first trip to the Kazimier Gardens for Moongaï‘s (@moongai) baroque mélange of idiosyncratic Gallic pop. They’re all in retro fancy dress, the music heavy with that combination of style, eccentricity and camp that the French excel at. Eva whoops beautifully over the band’s electronica-tinged upbeat pop; by the time she has scampered through the entire audience, exhorting them to ever higher levels of appreciation and excitement through a loudhailer, everyone is bemused and captivated in equal measure. Brilliant, original, bonkers.

Findlay Liverpool Sound City 2013

Findlay give great show. There’s a fine, guitar-heavy performance from the band, with particular mention to the gentleman guitarist who gamely attempts to compete with his vocalist for the audience’s indulgence. But it would be inaccurate of me to say that very much attention was paid to anyone at all but the eponymous lead singer. Attired in a skinny, clingy leopard skin dress, gyrating and emoting for all she’s worth, Findlay the band are essentially a vehicle for the lead singer’s stage presence. Her voice drips with ’70s new wave punk attitude; recent single ‘Your Sister’ showcases it perfectly: a bitter slice of pop rock, its fiercely snarled refrain demonstrating just how much potential this young act have. In Findlay we may be witnessing the emergence of a genuine rock star.

Reverend and the Makers Liverpool Sound City 2013

Reverend and the Makers are received with rapturous applause, and Jon McClure unashamedly bathes in it, acting for all the world like God’s gift to rock ‘n’ roll, rather than a paunchy Yorkshireman in his thirties. After a brief meeting earlier in the day, he seems like a delightfully down-to-earth chap, who just happens to be held in a position of adulation by a certain type of laddish crowd previously entertained by Oasis and their ilk. This reviewer is far too much of a music snob to be able to enjoy this sort of thing: the songs are all pretty basic, formulaic affairs, and the whole shebang would have little appeal if it weren’t for McClure’s irrepressible personality. Everybody bounce!

AlunaGeorge Liverpool Sound City 2013

BBC Sound of 2013 alums AlunaGeorge are the great new hope of mainstream British urban music, and their live show just about keeps that optimism on track. Aluna Francis has as good a voice live as on record, and the band are highly competent; one might hope for a little bit more soul in the performance, but no doubt that will come with time.

The Oreohs Liverpool Sound City 2013

Next up are one of the most surreal and surprising acts of the festival: The Oreoh!s hail from Halifax and trade in delightful 3-minute punk-pop ditties which sound far more mature than their age would suggest. Did I mention their age? They barely look old enough to have taken their GCSEs, let alone be knocking out some very cool songs at midnight at a music festival. I know appearances can be deceptive, but there’s no way any of them would get served for a much-needed post-gig beer without proffering ID, poor things. The natural conclusion is: if they’re this good at such a tender age, where will they be in a couple of years? Ones to keep an eye on.

The Kill Van Kulls Liverpool Sound City 2013

As if to prove the fickleness of the music biz, Manchester’s The Kill Van Kulls bring their intelligent, well-honed set of catchy, poppy, guitar epics to a mere handful of people. They were admittedly ear-splittingly loud for such a small venue, but still it sticks in the throat a bit, with memories of the Makers’ enormo-rabble fresh in the memory – the KVKs are leagues ahead in the musical department. Still, the band give it their all, with guitar histrionics aplenty. I need to see them again, in a proper venue, and a proper crowd, which is presumably what they get most other days of the week.

Bastille Liverpool Sound City 2013

Rumours abound that Bastille is full to capacity, but the opportunity to catch the man of the moment is too good to pass up, so I took a chance and headed over. Even though the room was busy, it wasn’t full – shame the same couldn’t be said for the photo pit, which was rammed with photographers trying to catch that iconic shot which could propel them out of a sweaty pit and into the catwalks of the South of France. The crowd are pretty mad for the well-crafted pop, which catches just enough of the zeitgeist to be cool, but is traditional enough to appear unthreatening to enough people to fill a sizeable venue such as tonight’s disused car park. Bastille Dan takes it all in his stride, despite his trademark gravity-defying hairstyle taking a beating. A competent performance, but I still prefer the record.

Tired of foot and exhilarated of brain, a quick peek into the delegate after party at the Epstein Theatre reveals – in amongst the scattered bodies of industry heads and liggers who’ve indulged in one too many sweet sherries throughout the evening – the final gem of the night. MiC LOWRY (pictured at top) are a five-piece self-described “boy band” who trade in the sweetest harmonies this side of the Jackson 5. Cast in the classic mould of an act like Boyz II Men, for a few brief numbers the Epstein is alive with buttery-smooth soulful sounds from these five cheeky Scouse lads. They’re so eminently ripe for the plucking by a Cowell-style ‘mentor’, you can almost s the X-Factor breathing down their necks. One can only hope they get proper, sympathetic advice that sees them grow their career in a steady, long-term fashion, rather than chewed up and spat out by the industry machine; the world needs to hear MiC LOWRY.

 

Bastille / October and November 2013 English Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 30th April 2013 at 9:00 am
 

Bastille have announced a tour of England for October and November. Tickets go on sale 9 AM this Friday (the 3rd of May).

Bastille headlines Saturday night at Brighton Dome at this year’s Great Escape, but top-up tickets have already sold out.

Tuesday 15th October 2013 – London Brixton Academy
Thursday 17th October 2013 – Leicester Academy
Monday 21st October 2013 – Leeds Academy
Tuesday 22nd October 2013 – Manchester Academy
Wednesday 23rd October 2013 – Sheffield Academy
Friday 1st November 2013 – Newcastle Academy
Saturday 2nd November 2013 – Nottingham Rock City
Sunday 3rd November 2013 – Birmingham Academy

 

Update: The Great Escape 2013 reveals final band line-up

 
By on Friday, 19th April 2013 at 1:00 pm
 

It’s just under a month until Brighton’s bars, clubs and venues get invaded by a host of giddy A & R reps, jubilant journalists and the best new bands the scene can offer at the moment.

The Great Escape 2013 is promising to be the biggest event of its kind in the UK and is already known as the British version of SXSW. That’s an accolade that can’t be sniffed at in any way; they may not have Dave Grohl as a main speaker, but The Great Escape convention runs alongside the festival proper and will once again host a variety of insightful industry talks, panel debates, targeted networking sessions and keynote interviews for industry professionals and music business fans.

Two of the hottest acts pitching up on the South Coast are originally from the area and will definitely be putting on some of the best shows of the festival: Tall Ships‘ album ‘Everything Touching’ is one of my stand-outs of the last 6 months and after this 2013 BRIT Awards Critic’s Choice win, Tom Odell is tipped by everyone and their gran to be stratospheric.

New additions to the bill include one of my favourite interviewees in working at TGTF, the witty Hackney hailing wordsmith Mikill Pane, who will be playing Coalition on the Saturday. (Read the interview here.) You may have heard of his track ‘Little Lady’ with Ed Sheeran, which features on Ed’s No. 5 Collaborations Project. Nina Nesbitt will also be bringing some of her fanatic Nesbians to the Brighton shores.

Topping the bill though you’ve got Everything Everything, hot to trot boys Bastille, alongside the experience of Billy Bragg (pictured at top).

Tickets are still available for just £49.50. All those bands for less than £50? You’d be mad not to go. Get those wristbands now!

 

SXSW 2013: Final Impressions

 
By on Friday, 5th April 2013 at 1:00 pm
 

So after spending a full week in Austin for SXSW 2013, I thought it would be nice to do a summary post to reflect on the experience the second time around…

My SXSW by the numbers:
I saw 41 different bands/acts in total, some multiple times. The bands I saw the most were the Crookes and Kodaline, both 3 times.

I managed an average of 5 hours of sleep per night. Not really all that bad. I learned from last year to make sure I got as much rest as possible.

I saw shows at 8 venues that I’d not previously stepped foot in.

I rode a pedicab 3 times (versus zero times in 2012) and all the drivers were amazing. Note to all attendees: pay these people a little bit more – they’re hiking you up hills and over long distances while sweating their arses off in the Austin heat. A special mention goes out to Andrew who drove me all the way home Thursday night after I’d just about given up on finding a taxi and was ready to cry. He was a total sweetheart!

Unforgettable (good) moments of the week:
Learning that David Baldwin of the Dig is affectionately nicknamed “Baldy”, but it has nothing to do with the status of his hair follicles.

Accidentally running into Rhydian Dafydd of the Joy Formidable at a sushi bar and having lunch together to talk about the industry and such. I found out he’s a Dutch Uncles fan!

Finding out Adam Kane of Cave Painting and Dan Croll were schoolmates in this interview.

Jon McClure of Reverend and the Makers tried to hide his beer between his legs so the Austin police wouldn’t confiscate it during our interview Wednesday afternoon outside Latitude 30. Unfortunately, despite his great pains, it didn’t work.

Getting a genuine Stetson trilby gratis Thursday afternoon at Blackheart for knowing about British bands playing at SXSW. About time I got rewarded for all these random things I have in my brain…

Finding a kindred cider mate in Kris Harris of Story Books during our interview there.

Getting a ride back into the centre of town on the Joy Formidable‘s bus after watching them gig at the Fender stage and do an autograph session at Waterloo Records (photo at top).

Being recognised by Kodaline‘s tour manager at the Hype Hotel Thursday night before they played for the last time at SXSW. (Honourable mention: getting singled out and pointed by guitarist Lynval Golding of the Specials at the same showcase.)

Unforgettable (bad) moments of the week:
Being treated like cattle outside Stubb’s Tuesday night. I’m not likely to return.

Dropping my jumper by accident at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room Wednesday night after already resituating myself at its rooftop, then getting forced by security to go all the way up, down and around to retrieve it. Lucky I don’t have a walking impediment.

A crazy drunk bloke tried to pick me up on Cesar Chavez Street when I was trying to hail a taxi Thursday night. He said he was going to follow me home. I eventually somehow lost him when we ran into a group of people and I ran. It was terrifying at the time, but now I can laugh about it.

Getting pushed and shoved by kids at the HGTV / Paste showcase at the Stage on Sixth. We know you’re excited for the Zombies. But can you be a little less annoying?

Best quotes of the week:
“Thanks for interviewing us. You’re probably the prettiest person to ever interview us. We usually get interviewed by ugly dudes.” – Emile Mosseri of the Dig after this interview by the river outside Stubb’s. They said they want to start a new side project called “Poppa Squat”. I don’t know if they were joking.

“I like to confuse people!” – Tim Wheeler to me after his solo performance at Monday night’s [email protected] showcase (11th March 2013)

“It’s Dan from Bastille, everyone! Cheers mate for coming out.” – Steve Garrigan of Kodaline to Dan and the punters at Wednesday night’s Communion showcase at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop

“Ahh, I see you’ve met the infamous Mary!” – Angela Dorgan of Music from Ireland, warning Girls Names about me outside B.D. Riley’s on Friday morning after our interview (as if this editor needs to come with a warning!)

“We have a very serious question for you, Mary. Why isn’t Washington, DC in Washington state?” – Tom Dakin of the Crookes on behalf of his band, after they played their British Music Embassy / Kilimajaro / PRS for Music slot at Latitude 30 on Friday night (if you were wondering, I set them straight with a story that involved both coasts of our country and the relative locations of myself and my brother, though I’m not sure how well that will stick in their minds.)

“Mary, Mary. You’ve been disowned!” / “But…a 5-string. You can play Korn on that guitar!” – George Waite / Tom Dakin of the Crookes to me the same night, after, perhaps a little too proudly, I showed off a picture of my 5-string ESP. We did some rechristening of guitars in Austin and he’s still yet to provide me a new name for mine.

“Do you fancy a bit of pole dancing later, Kris?” – Andrew Parry of Story Books to bandmate Kris Harris, in reference to and gesturing to Kitty Clementine‘s writhing at the Captiva showcase Saturday afternoon

And with that…that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. See you next year, Austin!

 

Update: Everything Everything added as Great Escape 2013 headliner, alongside Billy Bragg and Bastille

 
By on Wednesday, 27th March 2013 at 2:32 pm
 

Take a stroll down to the seaside and grab some Harry Ramsden’s, go on, treat yourself. The weather has been off its rocker in the first few months of the year, and well, it’s just time to chill out and have some you time next to the sea.

Oh, you don’t fancy relaxing? Well, hey, why not take in the Brighton seascape and the hottest new bands in the world too? That tickles your fancy, yeah? I thought so.

The line-up so far has been nothing short of phenomenal and to top it off, boy, have those fellas down at this year’s Great Escape got a treat for you. Fresh off the back of the release of ‘Arc’ (review here), Everything Everything are riding higher than Jonathan Higgs’ vocals and as a result of that will be headlining a Dome show Thursday night during the festival, alongside Billy Bragg and the continually omnipresent it seems Bastille, being supported by the much-fancied Kodaline. [Editor’s note: trust me, they’re worth fancying.]

For those unfamiliar with the concept of The Great Escape, here’s a whirlwind tour that should spell it out: imagine 30 venues dotted around the city, during the 16th to the 189th of May, with some of the bars leading out onto the seaside, while others are slap-bang on the eponymous Brighton Pier. Then throughout the day, rain or shine band after band playing in venues differing in size, charm and capacity.

For someone who has witnessed it, I can concur that it is a truly great site. The swathes of denim clad punters rushing from bar to bar to catch the ‘next big thing’ or a band with a funny name. Take your pick really, there’s a bit of everything. From Welsh pop-punkers the Blackout to Camden alt-indie quartet Tribes, there’s something for even the fussiest of indie tastesetters.

The Bastille Dome show may be long sold out, but 3-day-tickets and day tickets can all still be bought here.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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