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Great Escape 2013: Mary’s Day 1 Evening Roundup

 
By on Tuesday, 28th May 2013 at 3:00 pm
 

After being thwarted – twice – at last year’s Great Escape and having never actually made it inside the Dome for a show, I decided this year at Great Escape 2013, I had to do it at some point. What better line-up to go for than Everything Everything, supported by BBC Sound of 2013 wunderkinds Kodaline, eh? But first, John said he just had to take me for fish and chips at Harry Ramsden’s. He explained that years ago when he was small his father had taken him there and Harry Ramsden’s was the be all and end all when it came to chippy tea. And what better place to have fish and chips is there than by the seaside? I was all for it! (For the record, it was very good. I will say however that the waitress was less than accommodating when I asked her for a place to charge my phone…)

Besides John’s own trials and tribulations before he left Lincoln, this trip for me had been full of technological glitches and miscellaneous mistakes: my mobile charger broke into pieces literally minutes before I boarded my flight in Washington; my laptop charger bit the dust in Manchester 4 days into my trip, which meant I couldn’t do anything on my laptop for nearly 3 weeks; I left a jumper in the wardrobe of that house in Manchester (though the woman I stayed with kindly posted it to Martin’s house in Gateshead); my suitcase ripped in two places; I lost my hat in Brighton, etc. etc. So really, as we’re walking down towards the pier to the restaurant, a seagull jumping out flying from a nearby fountain and spraying us didn’t faze me as it normally would. “John, did that really happen? Did a seagull just pee on us?” We just looked at each other and laughed.

After dinner, we went our separate ways, and I decided I wanted to see Girls Names one more time. The Belfast band, if you recall, were one of my favourite ‘new’ discoveries of SXSW 2013, and I was lucky to have run into them at B.D. Riley’s, the Irish pub on 6th Street, later that week and interviewed them. They were playing Coalition, where we hosted a stage in 2011, starring headliners White Denim and a then-unknown Foster the People. However, I’d not been there previously. I then understood what John meant when he told me the place just oozed of character; the brick arches reminded me of SXSW 2012’s Hype Hotel where I’d seen Oberhofer. Coalition isn’t just a cookie cutter venue, it’s got loads of charm. I will say however that within Coalition, like other venues down by the seaside (Digital, Life, the former Horatio’s, etc.) you haven’t a prayer of getting a mobile phone signal, so if your intention is to meet someone at one of these places, your best bet is to get in contact with said person before you go into the mobile phone dead zone.

Pictorial Candi Great Escape live

Prior to Girls Names, the previous act was running a bit late. Candelaria Saenz Valiente, the frontwoman of Pictorial Candi, part of the large ‘Don’t Panic! We’re from Poland!’ contingent, was wearing a flowery shirt, which made me initially think she was going to be yet another Florence and the Machine wannabe. Not so. She’s a DIY punk rocker; from what I read, she doesn’t know how to play the guitar very well, though is very dedicated to the music-making and creative process. What’s more punk than stepping on a lime with heels on, eh? When not playing her guitar, she also has this spastic dance that is not unlike the robot moves of one of my football idols, Peter Crouch. Unfortunately for her, I remembered the dance better than the actual music.

Girls Names Great Escape live

Next up at Coalition was Girls Names. There was a photographer to my left that I came to admire as the set went on; at the start, just like me, he had his camera at the ready for the start of their set. Then, in a split second it seemed, he turned from professional into a headbanging punter, his long hair and beard flying. I don’t really think of Girls Names as a headbang-eliciting band, but I was happy to see that based on this one bloke, they were obviously doing something right, causing someone to go completely mental at only half past 7 on the first night of the Great Escape. They recently released the official video for ‘Hypnotic Regression’ (previous Video of the Moment here); the bass line of the song alone sends me into ecstasy, so getting to hear it again live was a treat. From what I’ve seen online, they’re currently being paraded on BBC Introducing, which is fabulous news for them. I can’t wait for more people to hear them and be taken in by their at times jangly and other times washy guitars.

From there, it was a hike back up the hill to the Dome to sort out my press pass. I’m glad I went early, as there was some confusion as to where I was supposed to queue to get my guestlist pass, and then I learned even with my photo pass, I wasn’t allowed to shoot in the pit. That was disappointing. Still, not all was lost. When you step into the lower level of the Dome, there’s something wrong with you if your breath is not immediately taken away. It’s a grand place, much posher than probably most of the acts that would grace it that weekend were used to. (I am positive John will have some lovely gems of prose when he gets to describing the sold out Bastille show there on Saturday night.)

There was already a reasonable-sized group of kids already down the front who were just raring to go; remember that this was one of the few all ages shows at the Great Escape. I groaned inwardly as some under 18s were talking about the time they snuck hip flasks of vodka into a gig somewhere else; I’m sure by the time they reach drinking age, they’ll have forgotten this inane conversation. I also chuckled to myself as a hip hop song came on over the PA and the girls in front of me were humping air to the beat; this is where Western music has gone wrong and why Radio1 has a stranglehold on our children’s listening habits, isn’t it?

Earlier that afternoon, I interviewed Steve Garrigan, the lead singer of Kodaline, outside the Dome in the sun. We talked about how this appearance of theirs, supporting their friends Everything Everything, was their Great Escape debut and how absolutely massive this opportunity was. He and the other guys were, unfortunately, horribly jetlagged too, having just flown in from Toronto, having supported the Airborne Toxic Event on a tour of North America, their first real taste of touring our continent. Apparently I have a bad habit of scaring bands before the biggest shows of their lives (you’ll see in an interview with the Crookes I did in London last week, which is forthcoming on the site), though there was no way you would have known anything was the matter when they took the stage at the Dome Thursday night. Like the consummate professionals they are, they confidently took this opportunity and went for it.

Kodaline Great Escape Dome live

The only other large place I’d seen them was the Thursday night at the Hype Hotel at SXSW this year, having supported the Specials, so the Dome was a major step up. I’m positive thoughts of “what if we don’t go down well in a place as big as this?” crossed their minds, but if Kodaline were worried, they shouldn’t have been. The sound that admirably filled two different stages at Maggie Mae’s and the Hype Hotel in March sounded huge at the Dome, and there were definitely Kodaline devoted in attendance, judging by the frequent, young girl squeals of delight. To be honest, even I was surprised, with each single and song from their previous EPs they played getting incredible response and even forthcoming album track ‘Perfect World’ going over well too.

Everything Everything Great Escape live

Everything Everything are riding high at the moment, having headlined the Arts Academy the second night of Liverpool Sound City, where I’d caught them a fortnight previous. I wondered how this Dome performance would differ from the Liverpool one, and if they could match the energy. Not only did they match the intensity of that previous show, the lighting for their set at the Dome far surpassed anything I could have imagined. You know how Muse tends to go over the top with lasers? The lighting rig for Everything Everything complemented the rhythms of the songs and made for a more complete and entirely enthralling experience. ‘Kemosabe’ in this context was huge; the crowd demanded ‘Cough Cough’ at the conclusion of the encore also benefitted. I don’t even know if I want to see EE in a club again, because I’m not going to ever have the same experience again.

This night, Everything Everything played ‘MY KZ, UR BF’ and oddly, I didn’t react as manically to it the way I expected. No, it was because ‘QWERTY Finger’ made an unexpected appearance in the set list; it’s probably my favourite off ‘Man Alive’ and I didn’t think I’d ever witness it live. Earlier in the day, I had introduced John to guitarist Alex Robertshaw, when I’d learned that they were both from Guernsey. Now I was watching him rip it on his guitar, and I loved every minute of it. If Everything Everything could play venues like Brighton Dome every night, I am positive they would be the next biggest band on the planet.

 

Great Escape 2013: Mary’s initial impressions from Day 1 afternoon

 
By on Tuesday, 28th May 2013 at 1:00 pm
 

The first weekend I was in Britain on holiday in May, I spent covering Liverpool Sound City with John and Martin. Part 2 of my double music festival holiday, then, was to happen 2 weekends later, at the Great Escape in Brighton, my second time venturing to the seaside for emerging talent and burgeoning favourites. I had arrived 2 days in advance so I could get 2 good nights’ sleep in before John arrived, which was probably a good decision because we didn’t sleep much during the time of the actual 3-day event. While the day I arrived was marked by an uncomfortable driving rain and gale force winds that I was sure would blow off the roof of the flat we rented for the week, divine intervention happily allowed us to get away with no brollies or macs during the festival, which was a pleasant shocker to me after getting thoroughly soaked on the first day last year.

But our festival experience didn’t begin so well. I got a frantic text from John earlier in the day that his coat and keys had been nicked in a pub in Lincoln the night before. His train was late and he was pretty sure he was going to miss the one band he was so keen on seeing that first day, Brother and Bones, whom he’d discovered at the Great Escape 2011, and I was sad for him about that. I suspect he will describe the scene to you in his day 1 report, but I kind of envisioned in my head him running around like a crazy person in Victoria rail station, as he managed to not miss his train down to Brighton.

The next thing I knew, that afternoon I was shooting off from the Old Courtroom to meet him at the Hope on Queens Road to see Brother and Bones for the first time. This was entirely unplanned but looking back in hindsight, it was pretty appropriate for my first show at TGE 2013 to be at the Hope; I’d been walking around town that grey and miserable day on Tuesday and lost my hat somewhere during the walkabout, when I ambled down the Queens Road and suddenly it dawned on me what had been doing there a year ago previous. Seeing another band, the Crookes, for the first time.

Brother and Bones Great Escape live

However, I don’t know if it was a problem with the ventilation or what, as it certainly wasn’t hot Thursday in Brighton. But when it came time for the Brother and Bones set, it was hot, sweaty and gross inside the main room of the Hope. It compared highly unfavourably to the Crookes’ 2012 set for that reason alone; it was crowded then, but I don’t ever recalling having to wipe my sweaty forehead even before the band arrived onstage. But John has been banging on about B&B for a long time, so of course as editor I wanted to see what the fuss was about. He described frontman Richard Thomas as “a mad Jack Sparrow”. Ok. Looking at my photos now, I completely understand the description. Musically, the band is a kind of a strange mixture of Biffy Clyro and folk, and unfortunately not really my thing, so I couldn’t really gauge if this was a good set for them or not. Worse, I couldn’t breathe in the room – too many people + heat = disaster – so I had to beat a hasty retreat and leave John alone to enjoy them.

This gave me ample time to stroll comfortably towards a conference panel at the Komedia, or what is now being called Duke’s at Komedia. I should have known from the name alone that there was something terribly wrong. As I walked down Gardner Street, I could see a neon sign of stripey legs hanging from the side of a shopfront. What is that? As I got closer, my heart sank at what was before me. It honestly looked like a sweet shop had exploded, or maybe Nickelodeon had gotten their mitts on the place and decided everything needed to be day glo orange. Goodness. I saw some great bands in the spaces there in 2012 (Juveniles and JD MacPherson, just to name two) and I don’t know how obvious the backdrop is in this video interview, but part of the Komedia’s charm was that the front part when you walked in was a dive-y looking coffee bar, with wood trim that was well worn but loved. You could get a cup of coffee and a slice of cake and sit down with a book on one of the benches and be perfectly happy with such simplicity. The fact that it’s no longer how I remember it in my mind and they’ve turned into a cinema makes me a bit sick inside.

That said, I suppose for the coffee drinking, popcorn and cake eating public, the inside cafe upstairs is a relaxed, if oversanitised place to get a drink or a bit of food before a film. Me? I just went inside there to charge up my phone and pore over my 3-day schedule, and who should walk in but Everything Everything themselves and their entourage. I looked up from my papers and bassist Jeremy Pritchard smiled and waved at me, “Mary! Fancy seeing here. You all right?” It is moments such as these that make me think, gosh, how is this happening? This would never happen in my day job. Just too funny.

Everything Everything In Conversation panel

The band, ahead of their Thursday night headlining slot at Brighton Dome, were getting ready to be interviewed for an In Conversation panel with Xfm’s John Kennedy. I often have this conversation with other journos about why interviews go well – or terribly wrong. While sometimes it could be the fault of the interviewee, if they’re tired or entirely disinterested in the promotion, more often than not it falls on the interviewer to come up with the right kind of questions to engage and challenge the subject and maintain their attention but also to be able to tease out the information that you think your readers and listeners want. I think Kennedy did an admirable job in this case, but it also helped that Everything Everything themselves are generally funny, amiable chaps who are genuinely are glad for the position they’re in and the opportunities they’re given.

 

Video of the Moment #1205: Girls Names

 
By on Tuesday, 14th May 2013 at 6:00 pm
 

Girls Names from Belfast will be appearing at the Great Escape on Thursday, gracing the Fly’s stage at Coalition. Don’t miss them! The band have a new video for ‘Hypnotic Regression’, from their current album ‘The New Life’ out now. It’s sonically so perfect, you’ll just have to listen to below to understand what I mean.

If you recall, I caught three of their band for a chat at this year’s SXSW (listen here) and their first appearance in Austin was at the [email protected] showcase on the Monday.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hheb-HCRHTk[/youtube]

 

Video of the Moment #1197: Kodaline

 
By on Wednesday, 1st May 2013 at 6:00 pm
 

In Kodaline‘s new video for ‘Love Like This’, the band are playing – or trying to play – the song but some female acquaintances get in the way of frontman Steve Garrigan’s banjo playing. Personally, I loved this, as I feel like the girls are doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do to each one of my exes. And what is that, you ask? You’ll just have to watch the video below to find out. Also: lots of close up guitar shots, yum! ‘Love Like This’ the single will be released on the 2nd of June. Their debut album ‘A Perfect World’ follows on the 10th of June.

The band make not one, not two, but three appearances at this year’s Great Escape: they support Manchester’s Everything Everything at Brighton Dome on Thursday night (20.45), make an afternoon appearance at Audio on Friday (14.45) and also appear at the Warren on Friday night (21.30).

 

Video of the Moment #1196: Little Green Cars

 
By on Tuesday, 30th April 2013 at 6:00 pm
 

Little Green Cars‘ new video for ‘Big Red Dragon’ is mostly a performance video, but my guess is that all the on the road / horsing around footage is from their time in America the last couple of weeks. Watch it below.

Their debut album ‘Absolute Zero’ will be out on the 13th May through Island Records; read Cheryl’s review of the album here. Little Green Cars also make an appearance at the Great Escape next month in Brighton.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0tDSaAMWOs[/youtube]

 

Album Review: Story Books – Too Much a Hunter EP

 
By on Tuesday, 30th April 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

Story Books Too Much a Hunter coverFinding their footing with last summer’s single ‘Peregrine’ on BBC Introducing, Story Books follows up with their new EP ‘Too Much a Hunter’, out this week on Communion. Tipped in January in Mary’s TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013, Mary wondered out loud, “Not really sure why they’re not more popular or, frankly, why we haven’t heard of them yet”. Kristofer Harris, Robert Wilks, Joseph Whitnell, Andrew Parry and Jack Tarrant however, did make a splash at this year’s SXSW in Austin playing the Communion showcase and more. We got to catch up with them in Austin too. The now released EP is set to show them in a proper light ready to take the stage.

The EP opens with ‘Simple Kids’ and a sound ever so slightly reminiscent of South Africa’s Civil Twilight, profound and evocative almost like the beginning of a really good movie. The deep piano chords characterize the tune and it crashes in a glorious wrap up with ‘stay close to your troubles don’t let them interfere/with your sense of wonder until it disappears.’ ‘Knot’ ups their game a bit with strummy guitars and a driving beat. It’s also a little more biting in its view of life: “Oh Lord, she chose / she chose the crooked path / from the start she’d never be pure enough / she could be cold as a cave / cold as a cave should be”. Meanwhile, ‘Glory and Growth’ shows off some acoustic guitar skills over an eerie palette of piano and slight distortion. Harris’ voice caresses the lyrics and teases out a story. He is quite hypnotic to listen to. ‘All Those Arrows’ winds up the album with a crashing build showing just a hint of just how good this band will be live.

Supporting such TGTF familiars as Grouplove, Kyla La Grange and most recently King Charles, Story Books is poised to make a splash in the indie alt-folk arena. Catch them at the Great Escape in Brighton 16-18 May. Editor Mary and festival liaison John Fernandez will both be there to greet you (and them) with a hearty hello.

7.5/10

The debut EP from Story Books, called ‘Too Much a Hunter’, is out now on Communion Records. Watch the promo video for ‘Simple Kids’ below. Mary interviewed three of the band at SXSW 2013 last month, and you can listen to the interview here; you can also read her reviews of their live show from the Wednesday and Saturday of SXSW 2013.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKzMJYwiNiE[/youtube]

 
 
 

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