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Live Review: Editors with the Dig and the Antlers at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 21 February 2010

By on Thursday, 25th February 2010 at 2:00 pm

Lovely to see you again. Hope you’re doing okay.” Those were the first quiet words of hello from Editors‘s Tom Smith to the crowd at the sold-out 9:30 Club Sunday night. That may have been a tentative introduction but the band’s performance was anything but tentative. They played a nearly 2-hour set to an audience of adoring fans in love with their old hits like ‘Munich’ and “Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors’ as well as the synthy goodness of newer tracks like ‘Papillon’ and my personal favourite off ‘In This Light and On This Evening’ (released last year), ‘You Don’t Know Love.’

It was really interesting to watch the contrast of material from their first two albums made with traditional rock band instruments against the new songs, heavy on synths. The best moment of the night for me was ‘Bricks and Mortar’, watching lead guitarist Chris Urbanowicz leave his guitar behind for a moment to plug away at a synth, with Smith following not far behind to join him so they were pressing buttons feverishly in tandem. Electropop awesome sauce.

Joining the dark princes of English indie rock on this tour were the Dig, a rock ‘n’ roll quartet and the Antlers, a more fuzzed out, dream / experimental pop band. Of the two, I preferred the Dig, because they played straightforward, feel good guitar rock that isn’t showing up on American radio stations as it should. Songs like ‘You’re Already Gone’ and ‘I Just Want to Talk to You’ point to exactly what is wrong with most rock music today. It’s missing bands like this that make exciting but not over the top rock ‘n’ roll. The Dig is set to self-release their debut album ‘Electric Toys’ in America in late April.

MP3: The Dig – You’re Already Gone


But it’s not like the Antlers really needed my endorsement anyway. The Brooklyn trio have a definite following in Britain, with their early March gigs at London’s Union Chapel and Brighton’s Hanbury Ballrooms already sold out. Songs from last year’s ‘Hospice’ are brooding pieces for the thinking man, somewhat challenging for the average pop music fan but worth the time seeking out if what you’re after is thoughtful lyrics with an interesting instrumental backdrop. I’ve heard them been compared to Fleet Foxes, Cold War Kids, Passion Pit, and I can see the reasons behind these comparisons, but I’d throw in possibly Beach House and Late of the Pier for good measure. If any of these bands named ring your bells, the Antlers just might be for you.

After the cut: photos and set lists.

Continue reading Live Review: Editors with the Dig and the Antlers at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 21 February 2010


Live Review: Local Natives and Peggy Sue at Bristol Thekla – Wednesday 24th February 2010

By on Thursday, 25th February 2010 at 12:02 am

Last night we braved the rain showers, the freezing cold and the plain depressing evening and ambled along to Bristol’s Thekla to catch two bands that have been flying below a few radars of late.

First up was Brighton’s Peggy Sue. The indie folksy trio have just announced that their debut album will be out on Wichita in April, and so they’re hitting the road with Local Natives as a warm up to what looks set to be a year spent on the road. Having toured with Kate Nash, The Maccabees and Mumford and Sons, they knew how to command the stage and warmed up the limited Wednesday night crowd with some ease.

Sounding like Arcade Fire if they’d gained a few Fleet Foxes and spent a few weeks in the wild west of America with Gogol Bordello, they make a hell of a lot of noise for three people. With a wash board, accordion, and salvaged cymbals they started off slow with Long Division and Yo mama before notching it up a bit. Chat was kept short “due to a show on Monday where we just talked shit”, but they were none the worse off for it. Bluesy and lots of drums, they sound like so many bands you know (and love) and also something charmingly different. Definitely catch them if you can.

Then it was the turn of Los Angeles’ Local Natives. Not ones for having a massive hype machine behind them, they have built up a fanbase through relentless touring. They worked their way through the entirity of their debut long player, Gorilla Manor joking at the start of the encore “this is our last song – no, seriously, it’s the only song left that we know that we haven’t played!”.

So much of their set is full of anthemic, fists in the air sort of stuff, which we love here at Tighter than , you can tell that they know their songs inside out, stopping and re-starting songs in perfect unison. It’s almost like they’ve taken Fleet Foxes and injected them with a bit of Vampire Weekend or Two Door Cinema Club. They can also pull off the slower tracks (“Stranger things”, “Cubism”) with panache that doesn’t leave the crowd leaving for the loos or a fag break like Miike Snow’s set did.

Whilst both bands are no fresh faces to the touring circuit, both showed that they’re getting somewhere – it may not be an Arctic Monkeys rise to fame, but they’re definitely on the right tracks.

Enter our competition to catch Local Natives next week in Birmingham.


Live Review: VV Brown at DC9, Washington DC – 19 February 2010

By on Monday, 22nd February 2010 at 2:00 pm

As we walked up the stairs to the main floor of DC9, the loud booming of Editors’ synthtastic ‘Papillon’ greeted us. I could tell this was going to be one great night. To be fair, Liberation Dance Party is always full of English electropop, but this time, VV Brown was in the house. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how many people in Washington knew who she was or what songs she was famous for; a lot of people go to Liberation for the open bar and to socialise, not necessarily dance or pay attention to a live act, if there is one. But I was proud of my D.C brethren for selling out DC9 and for the amazing, raucous reception they gave Brown and her band, and deservedly so for their short but high energy set.

VV Brown is one gorgeous woman, now joining Twiggy and Danii Minogue as a face on Marks and Spencer’s future adverts. So I’m not sure why she chose to obscure her face with a glittery, feathered mask. But I’ll admit it did lend an air of celebration to the festivities. Whether singing into her microphone or megaphone, beating on a conga drum, shaking a jingle stick, or playing keyboards, she looked right at home on the DC9 stage. She mainly played songs from her debut album, ‘Travelling Like the Light’, released last year, but there were some surprises. Brown asked the audience if they liked hip hop, and would it be okay if they played a cover of ‘Best I Ever Had’ by American star Drake. Was she kidding? This was Washington after all, chockful of urban radio stations. The fans ate this cover up.

‘Shark in the Water’, Brown’s upbeat love song that was supposed to be the closer of the night, became a massive crowd singalong, two boys next to me particularly keen on singing along to the chorus loudly and looking like they were going to make a move to jump on stage to touch Brown. When fans cheered for an encore, Brown and her band returned to the stage and played a song that she admitted really was an improvisation – I don’t think any of them had expected to receive such kudos from the audience. Her post-gig Tweets indicated that she was really touched by the reaction to her music and I’m glad: their set was absolutely blinding.

Editor’s note: this review would have been a lot more detailed, had an overzealous fan not snatched my notes in a fit of urgency at the end of the show. Mary Beth surmised that he grabbed the closest piece of paper – my notes – in order to get an autograph from VV. What an odd incident! Note to VV Brown fanatic: if you still have my notes, I’d like them back please. You have my contact information, please get in touch. Thank you.

On the train ride home, Mary Beth and I recalled the great songs that were played at the dance before VV Brown played, because it really was a night of English pop/dance epicness. Bill Spieler told me the complete list should go online at the dance party’s Web site sometime later this week, but I’ve included a list of the great songs we could remember. So after the cut: in addition to the usual photos, I’ve included a list of songs that were played on the night so you can have a feel for the epicness.

Continue reading Live Review: VV Brown at DC9, Washington DC – 19 February 2010


Live Review: We Were Promised Jetpacks with Typefighter and Bad Veins at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington DC – 13 February 2010

By on Tuesday, 16th February 2010 at 2:00 pm

After the La Roux show scheduled for last Wednesday (10 February) was postponed to 25 July due to the latest round of snow here, I was so worried about the We Were Promised Jetpacks boys making it safely to the States that I sent them a Tweet to check on them. Wednesday night they Tweeted me back from New York with the following exultant message: “don’t worry, we made it in yesterday!” Single gals like me wince just thinking about Valentine’s Day. This year however I was really, really chuffed because I knew I’d forget all about this when captivated by the Scottish rockers the night before V-Day, rocking out to their tunes at a sold-out show at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel in Northeast. They’d played an opening slot here last October with comparatively older veterans of the music scene, Fat Cat labelmates Brakes and the Twilight Sad. But Saturday night, the Jetpacks were headlining.

First up on the night were Typefighter, a local Washington folk/pop quintet that looked and sounded oddly like Fanfarlo. This description is not intended to be a dig at either band; I just thought it was eerie for two bands to be playing such similar music, with four guys and a girl multi-instrumentalist / backing vocalist, having been put together separately but divided by an ocean. Speaking of oceans, Typefighter enjoys singing about them, as evidenced by the song ‘Ocean Floor’. Another great song is ‘Worth the Wait’, featuring the banjo and lead singer Ryan McLaughlin‘s twangy, countrified, folky voice. Given the popularity of Fanfarlo, Mumford and Sons and Noah and the Whale, I imagine they would do extremely well in Britain. They’re currently unsigned but I imagine with their promising talent, they’ll be scooped up soon.

Bad Veins, a duo from Cincinnati, Ohio, played second. I’ve seen some duos at the RnR come up with some ingenious solutions to only having two members. In Bad Veins’s case, they employ a third “member”, an antiquated reel-to-reel tape player they’ve christened ‘Irene’, and Irene comes through with orchestration that would of course be impossible with just two humans. And as if having Irene wasn’t enough, singer Benjamin Davis also employs a telephone setup, so he can sing into the receiver and the resulting sound is just like you’d imagine someone singing to you down a telephone line. The backbeats are courtesy of drummer Sebastian Schulz, whose driving rhythms along with Davis’s vocals and guitar combine to make some great sounding rock. I thought hard about how to describe what they sound like – the drumming is as manic as Keith Moon’s in the Who, but Davis’s vocals on top can be angsty as Glasvegas’s James Allan but can sometimes be shouty.

Half past 11, so that meant it was finally time for We Were Promised Jetpacks, the band I had come all this way to see. I was bouncing off the walls the day in December when their first North American tour was announced. The band is so powerful instrumentally live and lead singer/guitarist Adam Thompson‘s vocals are so cutting that this is not a band you can watch and simply sit and stare. There is something so incredibly liberating to singing along to ‘Quiet Little Voices’ playing in your bedroom. But it’s incomparable to the effect of the “oh oh ohs!“, multiplying the feeling a couple thousand times when you’re stood in front of Thompson, singing along with him and the other similar-minded fans squeezed into a tiny club like the RnR. Fantastic.

While stage banter is not the band’s forte, Thompson thanked the appreciative crowd for their applause between songs, and he must not have forgotten being mocked in October for being from Scotland (an audience member then equating Scotland as if being out in the wilderness with no running water) because when asked to tell a Scottish joke, he responded good-naturely with a wry smile, “a Scottish joke? Fuck off!” This of course caused everyone in the club to laugh.

But we weren’t there to laugh, we were there to be rocked by the Jetpacks. The band powered through 10 songs, with ‘It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning’ and ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’ being major highlights for me. The set also included two new ones that might be on a new EP, but I can’t tell you for sure because it’s not on Fat Cat Records’s Web site yet, and the merch table was gone by the time the show was over and I couldn’t find any of the band to ask them about the new release. (The disappearing merch table is one of the few complaints I have about the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, as I couldn’t get Miike Snow merch last September there either.) In short: it may have been Valentine’s Day, but thanks to this amazing show, I walked out into the cold Washington night with a spring in my step.

After the cut: photos and set list.

Continue reading Live Review: We Were Promised Jetpacks with Typefighter and Bad Veins at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington DC – 13 February 2010


Live Review: Band of Skulls and TAPETHERADIO at London’s 100 Club – Wednesday 10th February 2010

By on Monday, 15th February 2010 at 10:00 pm

Band of Skulls have recently hit the big time having appeared on the latest Twilight soundtrack, so needless to say Wednesday night’s show at the 100 Club on London’s Oxford Street was jam-packed full of newly converted fans.

First up was Deptford’s very own TAPETHERADIO (pictured right) that Jess introduced us to last week. Amazingly tight, their indie pop-rock is a masterpiece, slightly Cure-esque and very anthemic. Steve Lamacq commented about their new single, Save A Life, that he “like[s] the urgency. It’s like they must get it out there or they’ll explode”, and live this is definitely the case – rock star poses, anthemic fists-in-the-air moments. It just would have been nicer if more people had turned up early enough to see them.

Followed by the nausiating Black box Revelation, we felt TAPETHERADIO should have been at least second on the bill – Black Box Revelation were full of whiney vocals, poor attemps to rip off the White Stripes and a Phil Lynott look-alike. Shame.

Finally it was time for the headliners, Band of Skulls. With a strange crowd made up of half middle aged rockers and half tweenie Twilight fans, they managed to get the crowd as one rocking out to their blues-infused rock. Generally a bit heavier than what I’m used to, I won’t lie in saying they’re not completely my first choice of a band, however their bassist Emma Richardson is one of the best I’ve seen in a while.


Album Review: Field Music – Field Music (Measure)

By on Wednesday, 10th February 2010 at 12:00 pm

Almost immediately after their last album, ‘Tones of Town’ was released, Sunderland band Field Music put themselves on an indefinite hiatus, partly because they were skint, and partly because they wanted to get away from the pressure of trying to compete as an “indie” band. As they said in my interview with them, “The thing with the new record is we had an idea like, how can we redefine Field Music and still not feel like we’re in that competition. Because if we were in that competition we’d probably be sort of like in the 3rd division or something like that, 3rd rate. And we kinda thought, like, well, lets make a double album! An album that’s too long.”

At twenty songs, ‘Field Music (Measure)’ is certainly long, but it doesn’t feel too long and there are no “weak link” songs that could be taken from the album without depriving the listener of something really special. It often seems that the best music comes from a sense of freedom and experimentation, when bands really allow themselves to pursue their vision without worrying about anything else. Their press release for the album says “Unlike previous Field Music albums, characterised by their precision and conceptual and sonic coherence, this new record makes no attempt to present itself as a unified whole.” The songs don’t all go together, but they are unified by the fact that they are all distinctly Field Music songs. By not constraining themselves to as many self-imposed rules as in the past, the Brewis brothers have created an album of twenty individually genius songs.

Trying to condense all of these songs into one summarized review would do a disservice to the album, so instead I’m treating you to a track-by-track breakdown (below the cut).

Continue reading Album Review: Field Music – Field Music (Measure)


About Us

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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