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Preview: Kendal Calling 2014

 
By on Friday, 21st March 2014 at 9:00 am
 

Think of an annual music festival that takes place in verdant countryside, set amongst rolling hills and centuries-old oak trees, featuring a populist main stage, a superbly-programmed and forward-looking new music stage, with jazz, world, dance, and even hidden woodland stages, an exclusive lakeside VIP performance area, and an arts strand curated by a bona fide rock star. Which was voted best medium-sized festival of 2013 (which TGTF can confirm from personal experience – it was). Sound good? You’re thinking of Kendal Calling.

With a heady mix of Mancunians, Glaswegians, and Geordies in the audience, the atmosphere at Kendal is rarely far from party central, but this year’s lineup is shaping up to be the finest yet seen at Lowther Deer Park. The big headline news is that London’s finest flop-haired, council-estate glamourists continue their epic rebirth with their first full summer of festival performances – the first of which is Kendal. Anyone who just a few years ago put money on Suede being the one of the hottest live properties of 2014 would be singing all the way to the bank right now, but it’s true: a new generation of so young beautiful ones are going to be driven star-crazy by the chemistry between us – Europe is our playground and we have the power to stay together. Or something.

Frank Turner (pictured at top) brings his Sleeping Souls to headline Saturday at the Calling Out stage – as Kendal’s most-requested artist, he’ll surely have no trouble in filling the tent, or struggle to exhort a capacious crowd to sing along to his punky, Americana-influenced ditties. A slice of true American chaos arrives in the shape of Reel Big Fish, replete with parping horn section, lots of jumping around, and huge helpings of tongue-in-cheek-and-down-throat ska-punk. Here’s hoping for their cover of A-ha’s ‘Take On Me’ – surely the cue for the Kendal crowd to go pogoing mental.

Those for whom festivals simply aren’t fulfilling experiences without not one but two helpings of Johnny Borrell need look no further. He’s there with old band Razorlight, or what’s left of it, presumably with a “performance as history lesson” ethos, given the band haven’t released a record since 2008’s ‘Slipway Fires’. Perhaps this will please the of-a-certain-age Saturday afternoon main stage crowd, but overall seems a Noughties revival too far. Potentially far more interesting is Borrell’s new project, Zazou: heavy with sultry saxophone and avant-garde arrangements, this is the sound of a former rock star going just that little bit off the rails. ‘Cyrano Masochiste’, anyone? Well worth popping one’s head in for.

Everyone’s favourite postmodern diva Findlay will be there, the ever-underrated Athlete will no doubt remind everyone why they were the sound of 2003 (because they’re very good), and Happy Mondays will no doubt manage that combination of inspired madness and total car-crash that they’ve been known for, well, pretty much forever. Other highlights: Breton will be defining the actual sound of 2014, TGTF favourites Catfish and the Bottlemen will be again proving why they are the future of British pop-rock, and the North-East of England is strongly represented by the beautiful, fragile pastoralism of Lanterns on the Lake, and the beautiful ginger hair of the identical, and identically noisy twins of Gallery Circus, the North-East’s answer to Drenge. Except better. Oh, and Goldie’s DJing.

If you’re within walking, cycling, or hitching distance of Westmorland, Kendal is a summer essential, like a rain cape and warm lager. Except it never rains at Kendal, and the beer is always cold. Honest.

Also headlining the festival will be Brett Anderson and Suede. For more information on Kendal Calling including finding out how to book tickets, visit their official Web site.

 

Jimi Goodwin / May 2014 UK and Irish Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 25th February 2014 at 9:00 am
 

Doves frontman Jimi Goodwin has announced his first full solo UK tour for May, in support of his upcoming solo album, ‘Odludek’. These dates are in addition to his previously announced warm up dates later this month and his support slot for Elbow‘s arena tour in April.

‘Odludek’ will be released on the 24th of March on Heavenly Records. Watch the video for its first single ‘Oh! Whiskey’ in this previous Video of the Moment post.

Tickets for the following dates go on sale this Friday the 28th of February.

Friday 2nd May 2014 – Sheffield Leadmill
Saturday 3rd May 2014 – Liverpool Sound City
Sunday 4th May 2014 – Kendal Malt Room
Tuesday 6th May 2014 – Newcastle Think Tank
Wednesday 7th May 2014 – Norwich Waterfront
Saturday 10th May 2014 – Glasgow King Tut’s
Sunday 11th May 2014 – Belfast Black Box
Monday 12th May 2014 – Dublin Whelan’s
Thursday 15th May 2014 – Cardiff Gate
Friday 16th May 2014 – London Islington Assembly Hall
Sunday 18th May 2014 – Bristol Thekla
Monday 19th May 2014 – Oxford O2 Academy 2
Tuesday 20th May 2014 – Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
Thursday 22nd May 2014 – Colchester Arts Centre
Friday 23rd May 2014 – Birmingham Library
Monday 26th May 2014 – Manchester Gorilla

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlY_fg65CVQ[/youtube]

 

Kendal Calling 2013: Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Friday, 6th September 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

Is it just me or was Kendal Calling 2013‘s Saturday on the main stage “Lad’s day”? The Twang, The D.O.T., even Ash seemed to bring the inner Manc out in everybody. At least Dutch Uncles were there to bring a bit of thinking man’s rock to the party. Is it just me or do Dutch Uncles get better with every viewing? Duncan Wallis (shown below) is a frontman perfectly at ease with himself, proudly showing off his pristine, angular moves, particularly on ‘Flexxin’’, where the famous moves from the video are reproduced even more lucidly onstage. The band display a limber structure within which they explore their compositions, with a confidence only a group who have toured together for countless months can display. And they seem to have avoided becoming bored with each other or their songs, as have the audience.

Dutch Uncles Kendal Calling 2013

The D.O.T. came widely anticipated. A joint venture between Mike Skinner, ex of The Streets, and Rob Harvey, ex of Leeds rockers The Music, promises to bring some urban smarts to indie music, to replace guitars with electronics, but still within a knowing framework that appeals to both indie kids and hip-hop heads. In reality, it all falls a bit flat. Certainly there’s nothing here to compete with the intensity of the previous night’s Public Enemy onslaught, but conversely it would be more exciting with a bit of live instrumentation. Harvey strums a guitar every now and again, but they fail to excite the crowd at all; Skinner’s deadpan sneering doesn’t help, an attitude which apparently carries through to his DJ set later in the evening. There are occasional glimpses of the urban tenderness of The Streets, but glimpses is all they are. There’s potential here, but they need to have a bit of a rethink on how to engage anyone other than diehard fans of both The Music and The Streets at the same time. How many of those can there be?

The most surprising thing about The Twang is that they’re actually still going, given a steady decline in album sales over the past decade, let alone how they’ve managed to bag a decent main stage slot at a big festival. Well, the answer’s in the laddism. They appear to have two singers, plenty of guitars and energy, and some singalong bits – who am I to argue that what they actually need is class and talent?

Tim Wheeler (pictured at top) from Ash is lacking in neither class or talent – it takes class to maintain a brand for 20 years, whilst keeping people interested and even devoted to its music; it takes talent to continue to wield a Gibson Flying V with the sort of aplomb which would make a 12-year-old boy say, “that’s cool”. Both of which are achieved within a few bars of Ash’s set commencing. Moreover, they command the rain: it pours down at the first note of their set, and would continue for 12 hours. Clearly God is a fan. Nobody has really taken Ash’s place: as survivors of the tail end of Britpop, their offer is clearly still relevant today, and not just by way of nostalgia. Their songs are evocative of teenage yearning, of big guitars, and simple, overriding emotions still capable of commanding a big festival stage. Carry on, sir.

Sweet Baboo Kendal Calling 2013

Sweet Baboo’s delicate, witty, poignant Welsh ditties bring us back to the Calling Out tent. Such assertively sweet music from such an unassuming chap is quite the contrast. By the time the set climaxes, the horn section is parping as if Steve Cropper were in the crowd, taking notes. Which, in a spiritual way, he was. To be followed swiftly by Sons and Lovers (shown below), who tread that fine line between cliche and true excellence. In the cold light of day, their Mumford-esque sound is their downfall: inevitable thumping floor toms, incessant quiet-loud-quiet-loud arrangements, and hopelessly romantic themes do them no favours, but on this day in history, Sons and Lovers provide set worthy of headliners. Such are the complex vagaries of live music.

Sons and Lovers Kendal Calling 2013

London Grammar remain to be assessed another day – their autumn tour should set the record straight as to whether they are simply xx wannabes, or whether they have something truly original to offer. Now… it hardly needs stating that there’s more to music festivals than stroking one’s chin at bands. So Saturday night was as good a time as any to relinquish any thought of sobriety, any notion of “reviewing”, and simply have a bit of a party. A date had been made for 10 pm to watch a delightful bunch of ladies called the Hooping Harlots perform a spectacular LED hula-hoop display, with the added bonus that they let any old punter (e.g., me) practice their dubious hula skills with some of their less precious hoops. Even though I can keep it up indefinitely (that’s what she said!) I can’t do anything more exciting than that; the talented Harlots, however, can do the lot – spinning around the wrist, neck, and unbelievably, the shoulder, and swapping between them all with a fluid ease that defies description. Add to that the LED light show within the hoops, and it’s a spectacle guaranteed to scramble already delicate festival minds.

The whole thing took place at the well-named Tipple Taxi, a London cab converted into a bijou drinking den, one of many micro-venues scattered around the site, making an evening stumble around the place into a voyage of one exciting discovery after another – from the Chai Wallah’s tent rising from the horizontal for a bit of a boogie finale, to the lucky dip of sounds that is Riot Jazz. The climax of any good Saturday night at Kendal has to be the Glow Dance Tent, however.

Which is where it should, and does, become a little hazy. There are photographs – oh, what photographs. The essence of the sublime confusion of a properly executed night in the company of dance music is expressed therein. Please take a look. Musically, Krafty Kutz expressed their unsurpassed UK hip hop beats and flow, assisted by A Skillz. Needless to say there was dubstep bass all over the house, the constant battle between vocal lines, sub bass, and 8-bit melodies proving too much to bear for some. Check out the Dirtyphonics remix of Pounding for more information, and to experience the enormous bass which sets the level for a Krafty Kutz experience. The level reaches even higher with the introduction of the mentalist blend of wound-up beats, vocals, and samples that comprises ‘Happiness’. Spotify it out.

Suffice to say by the time Maribou State took over at 2 AM, the tent was in great need of a bit of glitchy, soulful techno to rest weary limbs. But even then, the subtle electronica coalesced into an irresistible hole of bouncing heads and knowing looks as the next hour passed in a haze of exhaustion. We were to stagger, spent and silent, to a wreck of flooded, ransacked tents… but that’s a story for another day.

 

Kendal Calling 2013: Day 1 Roundup

 
By on Monday, 19th August 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

If one was to hold a competition to find the most picturesque view in festivaldom, what would be on the shortlist? Certainly the legendary vista of the entire site from Glastonbury’s stone circle. Perhaps the imposing aspect from underneath Primavera’s vast concrete solar monolith across the Mediterranean sea. Equally as impressive, in a considerably more natural way, is the view just past the entrance barriers into Kendal Calling. The grassy site stretches out down a gentle slope, pocked with multicoloured canvas. Billowy cumulonimbus hang in a vast sky graduated between royal and baby blue, whilst on the horizon sit the imposing peaks of the Lake District. Just into the distance, tantalisingly obscured by trees, can be seen the tents and stages of the arena itself.

The geographical fortune of Kendal Calling doesn’t stop there. Being located roughly equidistant between the conurbations of Manchester, Glasgow, and Newcastle upon Tyne contributes to a heady melting pot of accents from three cultures that, let’s be honest, aren’t renowned for being shy of a bit of a party. And Kendal seems to specifically for their requirements: there’s guitar music aplenty, sometimes with a distinctly ‘laddish’ slant, and non-stop dance music until 3 AM for those so inclined towards a bit of an uplifting boogie. Which, as it turned out, for one night only, was me.

Concrete Knives Kendal Calling 2013

The rest of my time at Kendal mostly was spent at the Calling Out stage, a modestly-sized tent featuring less well-known and more up-and-coming acts than the household names hosted on the main stage. The very first act of the festival were Concrete Knives (pictured above), given a cruelly short 30 minutes in which to get across their funky Gallic guitar-pop. They rattle through several from debut ‘Be Your Own King’, Morgane Colas apparently floating in a self-induced trance when singing. They’re a rare treat, funky, cerebral and humorous all at the same time, and I can’t wait to see them do a full headline set (5/5). Champs have a lovely, summery take on the songwriter duo; something like ‘My Spirit Is Broken’ is just the sort of keening, sweetly-harmonied ditty that you want to hear emanating from a warm afternoon tent (3/5).

Waylayers Kendal Calling 2013

Waylayers turn up the tempo somewhat. Theirs is the sound of guitar songwriting meeting Balearic beats and synths as on the anthemic ‘S.O.S.’, which is dancefloor-worthy even without needing a remix. Harry Lee has enormous physical presence, dominating both the stage and the little keyboard from which he generates any number of uplifting synth lines. His vocals are often the spit of Diagrams’ Sam Genders, while the music treads a similar path to other practitioners of the dance crossover genre such as Friendly Fires; the fact that ‘Fires’ was produced by Ewan Pearson of TGTF former faves Delphic is surely no coincidence. Are they still unsigned? Surely not for long (4/5).

Misty Miller Kendal Calling 2013

“I washed my hair for you / I shaved my legs for you too” – the first couplet of ‘Next To You’ neatly summarises Misty Miller’s brand of guitar-based feminism, and the enormous blues riff which explodes seconds later indicates how serious she is about it. This is properly dirty garage rock, as simple as it gets: two, maybe three chords, drums bashed as hard as possible, and as generous a dose of swagger from the eponymous young frontwoman as one could reasonably hope for. Nothing particularly complicated here, but a generous dose of attitude and a nice loud electric guitar go a long way, and considering Misty is still only 19 years old, this is a particularly impressive performance (4/5).

Clean Bandit (pictured at top) are an unusual proposition, with their uneasy blend of dance music overlaid with a variety of classical stringed instruments and some MCing – effectively an updated version of the Dads’ car stereo favourite ‘Hooked On Classics’. A couple of minutes into this year’s ‘Mozart’s House’ single, the beats stop completely and the strings play a few bars solo, before the inevitable four-to-the-floor kick drum reappears, and it all goes hands-in-the-air again. The MC mines the depth of cliché in his classical music references – staccato, pizzicato, they’re all there, sticking out like four crotchets in a bar of waltz. One can’t help but think that fans of neither genre are served well – do dance heads really want strings all over their music? And it’s a rare kind of classical music fan that thinks, “what this string quartet recital really needs is a nice 909 bassline!” Nevertheless, there is some virtue here – the twin female vocalists give good show, the whole thing could act as a decent, risk-free primer to the charms of dance music for débutantes, and overall it’s all pretty good fun – if you don’t mind a bit of cheese in your mid-afternoon sandwich (2/5).

The Heartbreaks Kendal Calling 2013

Whether or not it’s the fact that Morecambe’s The Heartbreaks are treating Kendal Calling as something of a homecoming gig, what with them being just a quick trip up the M6 away from home, there’s something in the demeanour of Matthew Whitehouse and co. that demonstrates that they’re not just making up the numbers here. They would end up playing three times in the same day, including an acoustic set, but the Calling Out stage set was as good as any place to catch them. Clearly steeped in the aesthetic of the swinging ’60s, in many ways The Heartbreaks are keeping alive the straight pop of the pre-grunge ’90s, with a sweet, upbeat songs about girls. There’s a clear Smiths influence, which is no surprise given the band’s enthusiasm for them, but they come across as far more joyous than the Mancunian miserabilists. If you’re in the market for slice after slice of optimistic guitar pop, The Heartbreaks are who you should be listening to (5/5).

A few minutes in the company of Willy Moon soon assuages any doubts that his underwhelming Liverpool Sound City performance was anything other than representative of the usual standard of his work. His set consists of vignettes of self-aggrandising cliché; he himself is an obsequious musical magpie that steals the shiniest but most worthless musical baubles. For example, a compilation of lyrics from recent album ‘Here’s Willy Moon’ tell their own story:

“ain’t coming back no more / yeah yeah / how you like me now / one, two, three, four / I got what you need / got a strange affliction deep in my soul / I wanna be your man / when I was young my mama said / I put a spell on you”

Make no mistake, the first time these musical ideas were invented, they worked, because they were new and exciting. But to simply rehash them and sell them on as one’s own work, isn’t just plagiarism, it’s insulting the intelligence of one’s audience. Moon has an obvious talent for performance, but a desperate hole where there should be some decent, meaty bits of song – pretty much all of which are under 3 minutes long, and some are under 2. Usually brevity in music is to be applauded, as long as what is presented is an original idea, concisely expressed. In Moon’s case, his are underdeveloped foeti of songs, birthed at too young an age, dressed up in the glitter of production to disguise their weakness (1/5).

Public Enemy Kendal Calling 2013

Public Enemy, on the other hand, have a lot to say, perhaps quite a lot more than can be easily understood on first listen by a white Yorkshireman. The show is highly theatrical, with Flava Flav making an appearance ages after things have got going; in fact it was three songs in, because the photographers were preparing to leave after the customary three songs, only to be called back by Flav because he hadn’t had enough of the limelight – the first time in my experience that an artist has called for more photographic exposure rather than less. And certainly the first time that terms have been overruled directly from onstage. Flav makes an impassioned tribute to the unfortunate black American teenager Trayvon Martin, to whom he dedicates his continuing to wear the clock around his neck. There’s entourage scattered around the stage, seemingly just standing there most of the time, but overall it’s a pretty highly-charged affair, set amongst what it could be said is a fairly inoffensive, apolitical bill. And there’s nowt wrong with that (4/5).

 

Preview: Kendal Calling 2013

 
By on Tuesday, 9th July 2013 at 3:00 pm
 

What do you need to know about Kendal Calling? It’s taking place this year 26 to 28 July and it’s situated in a beautiful part of the Lake District, easily accessible from Scotland, northern England, and even somewhere like Coventry is less than 3 hours away. The entertainment lineup is superb this year, possibly one of the best ever, and the festival has already been dubbed “The Glastonbury of the North”. This may be so, but its sensible size means there’s still a pleasant local feel to the event. The great news for TGTF readers is that at the time of writing there’s still a handful of tickets left for Kendal Calling this year, so let me tempt you with some tasty morsels of what’s in store…

There’s two excellent places to watch bands – the Main Stage with its big names, and the equally promising Calling Stage with up-and-coming and alternative acts. The big headliners appear to come in pairs each night, and Friday sees Chuck D, Flava Flav and DJ Lord taking a brief holiday in rural Cumbria – yes, it’s Public Enemy, fresh from a triumphant Somerset set, looking just as angry as ever, and ready to rip your ears off with their politically-charged flow. And who better to get the first evening’s party started than Basement Jaxx, the perennial pop-dance outfit with a string of hits longer than a wet weekend in Barrow-in-Furness.

For those of a less party persuasion, the Calling Stage has some real gems on the first day. Concrete Knives were twice superb at Liverpool Sound City, and they’re back across the channel for a rare UK apperance with their funk-laden musique raffinée. Foy Vance and his incredible voice will surely deliver a soulful, acoustic interlude, Waylayers add an early afternoon dance vibe with their summery, Balearic-influenced tracks, and TGTF favourites The Heartbreaks (who editor Mary just interviewed in London a couple weeks ago at the Scala) will supply their stylish, upbeat, typically British guitar-pop sound as the sun goes down.

And for night owls, there’s any number of DJ sets, the biggest of which take place in the Glow Dance Tent, where your late-night shenanigans are enhanced by the no doubt head-scrambling presence of LEDs, lasers and enough UV light to bring on cataracts ten years early. Friday will see Oneman, remixer of The xx and TLC and purveyor of minimalist yet grimily atmospheric techno, young Brightonian Dismantle who specialises in “sort of dubstep”, young Lancastrian duo Bondax and their intimate, blissed-out electronica, before climaxing with Artwork, who, as one-third of Magnetic Man, released one of dance music’s biggest albums in 2010.

And then it all happens again on the Saturday! Highlights from the Calling Stage include Welsh art-pop from Sweet Baboo, delicate folk stylings from Fossil Collective, and an opportunity to see what all the fuss is about London Grammar – are they just an xx rip-off or is there something more there? Unmissable on the Main Stage are Mike Skinner and Rob Harvey’s intriguing project The D.O.T.; there’s an opportunity for people of a certain age to rock out like it’s 1996 with Ash, and I Am Kloot bring their delicate songwriting and ensemble melodiousness to life just before Saturday’s headliners The Charlatans (pictured at top) reveal whether or not they’re any good any more.

Sunday is surely the strongest Main Stage lineup – having had to suffer the ignominy of being Tom Watson’s favourite band, hopefully Drenge will play with even more venom and spirit today; and I don’t really need to explain anything about what is effectively a triple-headline bill: Johnny Marr, Seasick Steve and Primal Scream bring the whole affair to a resounding climax. As if that’s not enough, there’s a distinct drum ‘n’ bass flavour to the Glow Tent on Sunday, with Grooverider warming up for none other than Sir Roni of Size. World-class stuff.

And of course there’s stacks more going on around the site. There’s an entire jazz strand called Riot Jazz. Chai Wallahs have their own acoustic and chill out stage. The Houseparty is apparently someone’s front room transported to the middle of a field with loads of random stuff going on: world-class DJs, punk bands, and perhaps a bit of karaoke – and don’t forget Leeds’ Wind-Up Birds – the underground tip for set of the weekend. There’s the Woodlands stage (maybe that’s in, um, a wood?), where all the acts with the best names are playing; the Soap Box, a lighthearted variety show which has previously hosted Howard Marks and John Cooper Clarke; and a tea shack run by Tim Burgess himself! Not forgetting the little ones: there’s the Ladybird area with different fancy dress each day, and crafts and workshops galore.

With so much going on, and the festival capacity limited to just 13,000 people, Kendal Calling is surely every decent festival rolled into one – the music is top-class, but with just a fraction of the crowds which you could expect at a bigger event. As we go to press there’s just a handful of tickets left (go here for more information), so you’ll need to be quick if you want to be there!

 

Bo Bruce / April and June 2013 UK Tour

 
By on Friday, 29th March 2013 at 9:00 am
 

Carrie interviewed the lovely Bo Bruce last week; you can read the entire interview here. Bo will be heading out on a pretty big tour in June, but she has dates in April (London Social), May (Great Escape 2013) and later this summer at multiple music festivals. Tickets to the regular gig dates are on sale now.

Tuesday 16th April 2013 – London Social
Friday 17th May 2013 – Brighton Komedia Bar (Great Escape Festival)
Friday 14th June 2013 – Bristol Fleece
Saturday 15th June 2013 – Manchester Deaf Institute
Sunday 16th June 2013 – Newcastle Academy 2
Tuesady 18th June 2013 – Glasgow King Tut’s
Wednesday 19th June 2013 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Friday 21st June 2013 – Nottingham Bodega
Saturday 22nd June 2013 – Norwich Arts Centre
Sunday 23rd June 2013 – Southampton Joiners
Tuesday 25th June 2013 – Birmingham Glee Club
Wednesday 26th June 2013 – London Bush Hall
Sunday 7th July 2013 – Oxfordshire Cornbury Festival
Fri day-Sunday 12th-14th July 2013 – Kinross T In The Park
Saturday 27th July 2013 – Kendal Calling
Sunday 28th July 2013 – Stockton Weekender
Friday 30th August 2013 – Bingley Live Music Festival

 
 
 

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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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