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Great Escape 2012: Day 1 Evening Roundup – 10th May 2012

 
By on Friday, 25th May 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

For some reason, my phone refused to let me subscribe to the Great Escape text service, and without adequate O2 coverage, I hadn’t had a chance in hell to load the official festival app. In hindsight, either of these may have informed me that the entire Island Records showcase at the Loft featuring Lower Than Atlantis, King Charles (my main interest in this stage, after Tom’s hilarious phone interview with the man) and Tribes had been cancelled. But as I learned over this weekend, it pays to have a plan B. And a plan C and D if you can manage it.

The next closest venue with a band I wanted to see was the Haunt, with Pixie Geldof’s band Violet. During my entire time in Brighton I had nothing but good encounters with punters, except for at this venue. It was supposed to be Avalanche City onstage when I arrived at the venue but seeing that I couldn’t see nor hear very well what was happening up front, I gingerly made my way forward in an attempt to get closer to take at least one photo.

Having been inconvenienced with light shoving and pats on the back indicating someone wanted to go past me in a club for nearly all of my adult life, I was taken aback by one punter’s admittedly semi-drunk but all the same nasty complaint, “are you going to stand there all night?” If you were wondering, there were large spaces in front and back of him (he was standing by the bar) and I had hoped that standing in front of him would encourage him to move back a bit to allow me to get a decent line of sight. Fat chance. What’s even stupider was he left right after the band finished. As the saying goes, “it takes a lot more effort to be nasty than to be nice”, and after having one preferred showcase cancelled that night, I was feeling a bit grumpy and I didn’t need further aggravation.

As the sea of festival-goers parted, I made my way to the front to situate myself in a good position to photograph. Good thing I did this early: who knows if it’s because she’s Bob Geldof’s daughter or people actually wanted to see if she was any good, but I witnessed the largest assemblage of photographers seeing Violet, so much it felt more like a flurry of paparazzi with the continual bursts of flash than a meet-up of run of the mill gig photographers. Whatever happened to, “first three songs, no flash”? Even I observe those rules. Grumble. Thank goodness most of them left after the first three songs; you can tell who’s there for merely professional and not actual music-loving reasons because they bolt even before the third song in is finished.

I suppose I’ve benefited from not having grown up with gossip about Geldof’s daughters and their lives, so I went into this with no personal opinion of her and the knowledge that Luke had seen her at a Guardian New Band of the Day show in April and said she was pretty good. If you were wondering, the girl’s got chops and has a spectacular voice. She opened her set with the single ‘Y.O.U.’, a slow-burning, sultry number, but it’s songs like ‘What You Gave Me’ (video below) that exhibit the soulfulness of Pixie’s voice. Given time and more experience, I think she could become one of the most compelling voices of her generation.

She exudes the sexiness of Marilyn Monroe, yet dressing demurely in a white top and an iridescent long (and not short – shocking!) skirt, indicating respect to both the festival and her audience. Like many of the random revelers I’d see over my time in Brighton, she could have worn a skimpy clubber’s type outfit – one that would have been spread round the internet like wildfire – and yet she didn’t’. It’s a shame in this case that most people will probably not bother to listen to her, thinking that she must only be getting the limelight because of her family. And if you are one of those types, you’re doing yourself a grave disservice. Forget who her father is and follow the talent. Good on her.

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

One band that was on everyone’s lips all weekend was Niki and the Dove, who were scheduled to play at Horatio’s on Brighton Pier at a NME-sponsored showcase. (Note: they ended up cancelling their appearance at Liverpool Sound City due to illness, so I never got a chance to see them. Which is okay because I’m not really a fan of their sound based on the recordings I’ve heard.) Friends, an equally hot commodity but has always sounded to me too much like a Phenomenal Handclap Band imitator, were slated to perform before them. However, I’d been advised by long-time Great Escape gig-goers that if I planned to making the trip down the pier, I’d never get back up the hill in time for anything else. Seeing that it was still raining, and the wind had now picked up, the idea of standing on Brighton Pier, especially in a long delegates queue, wasn’t at all appealing. From debriefings from fellow bloggers, it sounds like I missed a great show. But you’ve got to make tough choices sometime…

Thanks to not being able to check my email, I completely missed the confirmation on Maximo Park press passes for their performance at the Dome, so I decided to switch gears again and head to Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar for New Look, followed by the guys I’d serendipitously seen earlier, Zulu Winter. New Look, not to be confused with the high street womens’ clothing shop, is a Toronto husband and wife team who make an engaging brand of electropop. In the currently crowded electronic market, they came up with their own genre, ‘futurepop’, which incorporates unashamed ‘80s synth stylings (can you say ‘keytar’?) with r&b and dubstep. Interestingly, I saw quite a few couples watching the couple onstage, dressed in matching outfits of white dress shirts and black trousers, grooving with their loved ones to the good beats. Verdict: while they sound pretty good, they risk being forgettable.

Zulu Winter followed shortly thereafter. I should probably mention here that Sticky Mike’s performance space is a basement with badly placed support poles and a low ceiling. Not only is it difficult to see if you’re standing in the wrong place, it’s quite claustrophobic and I can’t even imagine being down there if you’re very tall. The stage is also pretty small; Zulu Winter comprises five band members and keyboardist Dom and his many synths had to be placed off the stage because there wasn’t enough room for all of them. That said, if you’re up front like I was, there is no problem. I’m sure singer Will Daunt will never forget this performance, as a large Norwegian made his presence known by shouting, rather annoyingly I might add, for ‘Silver Tongue’ about 3 times between every song.

Considering they hadn’t even released their debut ‘Language’ yet (it was due to be out on PIAS the following Monday the 14th of May), they played a fun, energetic and well-received set that was not at all hampered by bassist Iain Lock’s foot injury, forcing him to get and off stage on crutches. What a trooper. Below is the opening song of their set, ‘Key to My Heart’. (If you’re wondering, the crazy Norwegian’s hooting can be heard at the end of the video.) Keep an eye on these guys; if the album does well, they could be the next big British indie pop band.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2qgHQRTk6Y[/youtube]

Part of the original plan was to see Mystery Jets at the Corn Exchange, so I trudged back up the hill with renewed purpose. When I inquired about the delegates queue, I was told sternly, “there’s only one line [for everyone, with wristbands or badges]. And it’s one in, one out.” I pressed further on why oh why there wasn’t a delegates queue, I was met with stony silence. I saw the queue going around the building and down the block past the Dome. Not getting in there then. I got into the queue for the Pavilion Theatre in an attempt to get in for Django Django and found myself directly in front of Mike Bradford of the Recommender (it’s amazing how many times you accidentally run into everyone at this festival!), who asked staff what the probability of us getting into the venue that night was. It wasn’t looking good. Instead of getting frustrated, Mike suggested we head down to Sticky Mike’s to round off our evening with some drinks, followed by a performance by White Arrows. If a fellow blogger recommends it, you can’t turn it down.

Oh, White Arrows. The lead guitarist looked stoned as he clicked his pair of claves together. I guess that’s okay, considering “the blackest ‘white’ band”, described by the Owl Mag as making a “psychostropical” sound, were throwing down very tropical yet electronic and funky beats. ‘Coming and Going’ is a good example as any of their jangly guitars paired with a danceable and powerful backbeat. Was it really past 1 AM? Didn’t feel like it.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK7UPhTj6D8[/youtube]

2 AM is probably a good time for bed but somehow I found myself at the very crowded Queens Hotel lobby, surrounded by loud and pissed delegates from all over. Having not eaten anything solid since the afternoon, I also was the proud holder of a large cone of fish and chips procured from the boardwalk, Despite getting frosty looks from hotel security for having brought outside food in, I shared my fish with a very hungry CMU rep who was grateful for some food. That was my attempt to solidify American and English relations for the evening. I said goodbye to my new friends and tucked myself into bed at about, oh, 4 AM? 4 hours of sleep ahead of me? Eep. Well, it’s like Blaine Harrison says in the Mystery Jets song ‘Dreaming of Another World’: “sleep is for the dead”. Right?

 

(Great Escape 2012 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #789: Maximo Park

 
By on Tuesday, 8th May 2012 at 6:00 pm
 

Maximo Park have released the video for forthcoming single ‘Hips and Lips’, which looks into the crazy (and hilarious) world of a Maximo uberfan. Both this single and the new album ‘The National Health’ will be released on the 11th of June on V2 / Cooperative Music.

Thoughts about the title track of the LP are here. Maximo Park headlines this Thursday night (10 May) at the Great Escape, playing the Brighton Dome sponsored by NME at 22.00.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d910sRZgs0[/youtube]

 

Update: The Great Escape 2012

 
By on Friday, 27th April 2012 at 9:00 am
 

Don’t really fancy the unbearable heat of Austin, Texas? Perhaps a great British summer holiday at some kind of seaside resort for your musical holiday needs? Don’t you be looking at Blackpool, don’t peek at Clethorpes and for your own sake, avoid Skeggy at all costs and head on down to Brighton sharpish. Oh and lucky you, you’ve arrived on the week of possibly the UK’s reply to America’s South By Southwest, the Great Escape.

Now while SXSW may be the hippenin’, happenin’ place for new music in America, the Great Escape gives you just as good a line-up, for a far better price, right on your doorstep. (Well, sort of, if you don’t live in Brighton.) With artists like Florence and the Machine and Friendly Fires starting their careers off right on Brighton’s shores, it’s not difficult to see why the Great Escape has such a fantastic reputation in the musical community. Ed Sheeran, Katy B and the Vaccines were all some of the *little* artists to play the festival last year and now, well haven’t you heard, they’ve done quite well for themselves.

This year, the headliners are Maximo Park (Thursday 10 May; pictured above), the Temper Trap (Friday 11 May) and Africa Express Sound System (Saturday 12 May). Lower down the bill up and coming talent from the likes of faux nerd rockers Spector, Camden-based rockers Tribes, as well as established bands like Sheffield’s Crookes and Scots We Were Promised Jetpacks. Newly added artists to the line-up include Scroobius Pip’s buddy Dan le Sac, French Films and We Have Band, who released their new album ‘Ternion’ earlier this year.

So if you fancy some exciting new music on the seaside, then pick up a weekend ticket for the bumper price of just £49.50 or a day pass for substantially less. Visit the Great Escape official Web site for details on tickets.

 

Maximo Park / June 2012 English Tour

 
By on Wednesday, 25th April 2012 at 9:30 am
 

Maximo Park have announced a trio of English gig dates in June. Tickets go on sale Friday 27 April at 9 AM.

Wednesday 6th June 2012 – Birmingham Glee Club
Thursday 7th June 2012 – Manchester Sound Control
Friday 8th June 2012 – London Heaven

 

In the Post #88: Maximo Park – The National Health

 
By on Tuesday, 10th April 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

In the last 3 years since 2009’s ‘Quicken the Heart’, Maximo Park had been relatively quiet. While they were on this self-imposed hiatus, lead singer Paul Smith (pictured above) put out a solo album, ‘Margins’, as well as a photography book. In 2012, Maximo returns with a bright pink coloured album entitled ‘The National Health’, and the title track is our first taster of the new material.

With a relentless speed, banging guitars and piano pair with Smith’s mouth getting a workout in an insistence that “many things will change tomorrow”. At first, I thought they were referring to the NHS, but it appears to be more of a commentary on (and possible indictment?) of the way our very existence is changing and crumbling. The energy of the track cannot be ignored; for sure, this song will be a great showcase for the band in live performance, including their headline performance at Brighton Dome for the Great Escape this year on Thursday the 10th of May.

7/10

Below is a stream of the song ‘The National Health’ and a video the band has provided as an behind the scenes look at the recording of their long-awaited return album, to be released on the 11th of June.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHxYNK2ugGg[/youtube]

 

Bingley Music Live: Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Wednesday, 5th October 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

It’s the second day of Bingley Music Live ’11, the first of two paying days, but at £35 for the Saturday and Sunday, no one’s really complaining. It’s a far cry from neighbouring Leeds Festival as the 15,000 descend back on Myrtle Park, Bingley, readying themselves for a day of sunshine and music.

Due to the excess amount of people arriving in the area, trains are pushed to their limit on the arrivals front and as such, my first train of two for the day was delayed and I managed to miss the first three acts of the day and Dot Rotten is hardly my thing, but when White Denim come on, the fun really begins. They’re showmen at heart, not the most commanding or talkative towards crowds, but musically, showmen that could make most showboating guitarists blush. Their set is half an hour of mostly instrumental which allows the revellers to have a little dance, even if they have no idea who’s on stage in front of them for the most part. After them come another showman in the form of ex-Fratellis’ frontman, Jon Fratelli. Mixing his new solo material with a blend of full electric band and adding in a few ‘telli’s classics such as ‘Chelsea Dagger’ and ‘Whistle for the Choir’, he manages to rustle up a lot of good feeling across the site as people warm to both him and today’s scorching weather.

After a lengthy changeover (Fratelli had two drumkits: two!), it’s Athlete‘s turn to wow. As one of those bands with a fair few songs you know, but not many you associate with the band, the crowd appear pleasantly surprised as track by track they turn to their friends and go “hey, I know this one too!” and eventually surprise turns into genuine happiness as ‘Wires’ brings a heartwarming singalong from the assembled masses.

Mystery Jets bring another big show as they’re now so accustomed to doing. With tracks like ‘Two Doors Down’ through to ‘Serotonin’, and even a track with the Count and Sinden featuring to add a Feeder and Maximo Park. The former bring their latest album alive from what was a pretty average record to being a set of crowd pleasers in the form of ‘Renegades’ and ‘This Town’, whilst the bona-fide hits of ‘Buck Rogers’ and ‘Feeling a Moment’ get the crowd going as if they were back at Skindred’s show yesterday. Grant Nicholas and company have been in one of the most overlooked bands of their generation in my opinion as they’ve lacked complete consistency, but they’ve never been a group to disappoint in the live scenario as it’s constant hits and smiles from the trio. After a mere hour, Feeder’s set comes to an end and everyone brushes down in preparation for tonight’s best dressed headliners.

True to form, Maximo Park frontman Paul Smith dashes on to stage and instantly connects with the energy reserves of Bingley and from ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’ onwards, he’s the most theatrical and enigmatic frontman of the day by far. Almost spitting out some of his lyrics, Smith appears invigorated by his spell as a solo artist and as such, being back with his band appears to have given them a new lease of life. New track ‘Waves of Fear’ blends in with both newer and older material with the likes of the beautiful ‘Going Missing’  and ‘The Kids Are Sick Again’’s “I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again” bringing delight from both performers and the newly found 15,000 strong backing vocalists (the singalong to the former being a weekend highlight). The north eastern band prove that they deserve their billing at the top of the weekend.

With the second firework display in 2 days, Bingley Music Live’s second day is over and the pandemonium is over. Everyone remembers how they fell for the day’s bands and I’m sure I’m not the only one who leaves wondering how I managed to hear so many hits in the space of one evening in West Yorkshire.

 
 
 

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