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(Charity!) Live Gig Video: Gang of Youths’ David Le’aupepe plays acoustic version of Ryan Adams’ ‘My Winding Wheel’ for Bedstock 2018

 
By on Wednesday, 12th December 2018 at 4:00 pm
 

Bedstock touts itself as “the first and only online music festival”. You may be wondering, what’s the fun in that? It’s got a specific purpose: it’s designed for kids who are too poorly to leave their beds and in solidarity with them, musicians have performed on a bed with limited equipment to help raise money for Children’s Cancer Association and their MyMusicRx program. Many artists you’ll know by name have already shown their support, including UK acts The 1975, Aquilo and Jacob Banks. In the below video filmed during his offstage time at Austin City Limits in October, frontman David Le’aupepe of Aussie band Gang of Youths decided to cover a Ryan Adams’ song, ‘My Winding Wheel’ while sat on a bed with his acoustic guitar. Check it out below. You can donate to Bedstock’s efforts through this link; more on Gang of Youths (a band I knew would blow up big) on TGTF is through here.

 

Live Review: IDLES at Dublin Button Factory – 22nd October 2018

 
By on Thursday, 8th November 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Words by Gareth O’Malley

IDLES didn’t make it over here last time they were touring an album, which is why tonight’s set feels like an overdue celebration of last year as much as it does for their breakthrough record ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’. The floodgates open not long after support act Heavy Lungs leave the stage. By the time IDLES arrive on the scene just after 9 PM and open their set with ‘Colossus’, anticipation has reached a fever pitch. The song’s first act is delivered at a pace that seems funereal compared to its recorded counterpart. Then, frontman Joe Talbot counts the five-piece back in for part two and the room finally ignites, the first few rows of the crowd on the floor seeming to move as one. It’s the sort of energetic release the band excel at, setting the bar for what is to come.

‘Colossus’ and ‘Never Fight a Man With a Perm’ are the opening salvo of a 19-song set, quickly followed by the politically-charged ‘Mother’ and ‘Faith in the City’ from ‘Brutalism’. Stage banter is kept to a minimum until the band are sure they have everyone in the room on side. “Are there any scumbags in the audience?” Talbot asks cheekily. A resounding cheer goes up by way of answer before he dedicates the next song to them. It is, of course, ‘I’m Scum’, and by the sounds of things, there are plenty of people here who are “lefty, soft, minimum wage job” as the song puts it. ‘Danny Nedelko’ is dedicated by Talbot to “those people here who are not from here, those immigrants that make the world a better place” before the band tear through the song and are almost drowned out by the crowd in the process. Five mics on stage struggle to compete with a thousand-strong crowd roaring back a song that has seemingly come to mean a lot to people in a very short time.

Everyone in the room seems to have brought their best selves to tonight’s show, with Ireland praised for its selection of ‘really good Dairy Milk’ by Talbot before powerhouse drummer Jon Beavis introduces the deliberately overblown ‘Gram Rock’, a song memorably described as being about “two hedge fund managers doing coke at a funeral”. The motorik grooves and punishing walls of sound of ‘Heel/Heal’, meanwhile, are dedicated to local band Fontaines D.C., with Talbot effusive in his praise of whom he calls ‘the best fucking band in the world’. Evidently, some people were listening, as their own show here next month has since sold out. [It has been announced this week that Fontaines D.C. will be joining IDLES on their North American headline tour next May. – Ed.]

The show rolls along at a clip, with fans as open to the band’s message as they are the musical content. ‘Samaritans’ is introduced as “a song that wants to encourage men to talk about their feelings” before Talbot extends gratitude toward the heaving crowd: “Thank you for allowing us to share our message with you.” The song itself is delivered at a pace significantly slower than the album version, but still goes down a storm.

‘Television’ receives one of the best responses of the night, picking things back up as we head into the closing moments of the set. Things get slightly out of hand on ‘Exeter’, with Talbot all but derailed midway through the song by the sheer amount of bodies on stage. He runs with it, though, and the stage invasion generates enough energy to get through the rest of the set. One stage invader gifts Talbot a scarf (“for those cold Irish nights”, he says, though it’s probably serving him well in Europe) and is then surfed back on to the stage no less than three separate times during their cover of Solomon Burke’s ‘Cry to Me’.

The room is treated to a brief a capella cover of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas is You’ before the set is brought to a close with a frantic rendition of ‘Well Done’ and their traditional set closer ‘Rottweiler’ (“It’s about the horrific right-wing press in the UK … Don’t read the Sun, it’ll give you cancer”). Before they bring the curtain down on their debut Irish headline show in authoritative fashion, Talbot reveals that they’re planning a return visit to these shores sometime in the new year.

No encores, of course – ‘we don’t do them because it’s weird’ – but considering how much of themselves they leave on the stage, they can close shows however they see fit. This might have been somewhat overdue, but it turns out to be well worth the wait. The scramble for tickets for that forthcoming show is going to be brutal.

 

Live Review: The Twilight Sad at U Street Music Hall, Washington, DC – 3rd November 2018

 
By on Wednesday, 7th November 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

The closer we march to Christmas, the quicker the nights fall. On one of these chilly nights, The Twilight Sad descended on the Nation’s Capital to close out their 3-week North American tour with a bang. Despite the chill in the air outside, the basement venue U Street Music Hall played host to a sweaty mass of people eager to catch the Scottish post-punks before they returned home.

At first, I thought it was a strange thing to tour over here so far in advance of the release of their next album, which isn’t expected until early 2019. However, as the set progressed, standing among so many fans and their fervour, the thought evaporated. They were out here because of fan demand; their fanbase has undoubtedly increased since Robert Smith’s personal endorsement of the band and the Cure taking the band on tour with them. Frontman James Graham cracked a joke about us having nothing better to do on a Saturday night than see them but that they were awfully glad we turned up. Laughter ensued.

Since 2007 debut LP ‘Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters’, The Twilight Sad’s sound has morphed and evolved a few times, and the stage setup reflected this. A Macbook and two keyboards would have been unheard of at Twilight Sad shows a decade ago. With a massive back catalogue of tracks across four albums and a host of singles and EPs, there was plenty of material to choose from for their final set on this tour. The evening began with ‘There’s a Girl in the Corner’, its sombre tones opening ‘Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave’, which was met with pretty much universal acclaim when unveiled in 2014.

The Twilight Sad 2018 3

Throughout the set, the band’s trademark distorted guitars and Graham’s cutting, emotional lyrics delivered in his unmistakable Scottish brogue. At times, he looked like a man possessed, spinning like a whirling dervish or even punching himself in the head or chest, all the while the band banged out the hard-hitting tunes. For the long-time fans, older gems like ‘The Wrong Car’ and ‘And She Would Darken the Memory’ that closed the set with a deafening crescendo recalled the days when The Twilight Sad were a best-kept secret. In contrast, newer songs including single ‘I/m Not Here [missing face]’ and ‘Videograms’, whose glittery synths have been likened to that of The Cure’s, suggest the ushering in of a new era for the Scots, during which their music proves more accessible, is imminent. In the crowd, heads bopped, limbs flailed and words were sung along to.

Scottish indie music fans in the room Saturday night were waiting, quite possibly bracing themselves, too, for a particularly heart-wrenching moment that the band have repeated in their live shows over the last 6 months. Since his sad, untimely death by suicide in May, Scott Hutchison’s passing has been an apparition in our lives, a regular reminder of the fragility of humanity and the need for all of us to talk more, listen more and support our mates through difficult times. By playing ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ every night, The Twilight Sad pay tribute to their close friend Hutchison, a song true to form for so many of the songs he wrote, expressing the kinds of things adult men have been told not to say aloud or to others. Graham explained that they needed to move up the song’s placement in the set “for themselves”, presumedly so they could get past it the emotions and get back to the business of playing for us. In the audience, glasses were raised and tears were wiped away.

When it came time to say goodnight, Graham thanked the crowd again for coming to the show and that for sure, they’d be back in Washington in due time. And really, why would they stay away with a turnout like this? Stay tuned for The Twilight Sad’s fifth studio album ‘It Won/t Be Like This All the Time’, which is expected to drop on the 18th of January 2019 on Rock Action Records.

 

Live Review: Dermot Kennedy at Black Cat, Washington, DC – 26th October 2018

 
By on Monday, 5th November 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

I’ve been delayed in writing this, but I doubt it will affect this artist’s meteoric rise. The hottest ticket in town 10 night ago in DC was Dermot Kennedy, making his Washington debut at the main stage of the Black Cat. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Irish singer/songwriter in his early twenties has been receiving plaudits across the board since his awe-inspiring appearances in Austin in March for SXSW 2018, which we previewed with this Bands to Watch. Both Carrie and I were left spellbound at Kennedy’s star turn at Communion’s Friday night showcase at St. David’s Sanctuary, where his soulful voice and booming background instrumentation rang out beautifully, heightened in emotion by the acoustics in the church.

Interestingly, it turns out Kennedy’s reach, so to speak, began much earlier than that. Taylor Swift was an early fan of the Dubliner’s track ‘Boston’, inspired after the city in New England. At age 18, he spent a summer busking, saving money and working towards his first record release. The Tay Tay endorsement likely explains the relative youngness of his fanbase, doesn’t it? Seven years later, he’s on his first significant North American tour, selling out in most markets, and this is merely the touring leg on our continent. Crazily, come January, he’ll be touring in Australia, accompanied by Newcastle’s Sam Fender. You couldn’t find a better pair of thoughtful, young artists, both willing to touch on tough topics in their music, to tour together.

Regardless of how his many fans in Washington found out about him, it was clear from the time I arrived at the Cat that they were very, very enthusiastic. Halfway towards the stage, the bodies were all pretty much packed in like sardines. Shoulder to shoulder, the lack of air got so bad I had step back out of the crowd, something I have only done on a handful of occasions.

As part of an ongoing transition to culminate in the closing of the Red Room Bar and downstairs smaller event room at the end of 2018, the main stage area has been renovated to include a VIP seating area where one of the bars used to be. We lucked out with two chairs in the relocated second bar, which afforded us a view up and over the heads of the assembled crowd. As weird as this felt – I haven’t sat in the back of this space since I was forced to by a friend who came with me to see We Are Scientists in 2008 – it gave me a different, unique perspective from which to enjoy the show and people watch. In honour of my friend Robin who runs the exemplary Breaking More Waves and who likes this format for festival reporting, I’ve written my ‘what we’ve learned’ list from this show:

1. Kennedy hasn’t released a full album yet. However, that hasn’t stopped his fans from learning every word from every song that he’s ever played live. ‘Glory’, which has passed 19 million streams on Spotify, garnered the most fervent reaction, Kennedy extending the song out in response.

2. Some fans who wanted to be closer to a source of alcohol (ha) stood behind us in the bar area. They took photos and videos and screamed and shouted overtures of love, as if we were at a One Direction concert. I repeat: Dermot Kennedy has enthusiastic fans!

3. A lot of couples decided to move back from the crowd, too, but to make out, and quite enthusiastically. I hadn’t thought that Kennedy’s music ran to the amorous end of the spectrum, but there you have it.

While this was only one of Kennedy’s many live appearances on his current Keep the Evenings Long tour, it was without a doubt a very special night for everyone in DC who came out to see him. It’s a memory we will all hold as he moves on his career and to better and brighter things. To read all of our past coverage on him here on TGTF, including a post highlighting his NPR Tiny Desk Concert earlier this year, go here.

 

Live Review: We Were Promised Jetpacks at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 23rd October 2018

 
By on Thursday, 25th October 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Nine years ago, a lifetime ago, Brighton’s FatCat Records sponsored a tour of their then-shining stars from their roster. While the top of the bill starred two bands with more established careers, the opening band was riding high on a wave of hype here in America. The oddly and improbably named We Were Promised Jetpacks were greeted by raucous cheers from our local college students. Sadly, my review of the night for American blog PopWreckoning has been lost to the ether; you’ll have to read about it in this Washington Post Express article instead. No matter: How could I forget the raw energy of the band’s performance, bolstered by frontman Adam Thompson’s shouty, emphatic vocals? I hadn’t seen the band live since 2011, and I’m happy to report following their show at 9:30 Club on Tuesday that the Glasgow via Edinburgh rockers haven’t lost their edge or their penchant for drawing out anticipation through noodley post-rock instrumentals.

Even after four studio albums and numerous world tours, it appears the vocal fan approval continues to be overwhelming to a band as humble as they are. As if time had stood still, Thompson appeared as uncomfortable as he did in 2009, fending off the loud cheering for their songs with self-deprecating barbs and bashful grins. We Were Promised Jetpacks started and remains a band of childhood friends, blood brothers who have remained united following guitarist Michael Palmer’s diagnosis and successful fight against Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In a time when bands don’t have much longevity, a band who’s been around for 15 years and still enjoy being around each other is a satisfying exception from the norm.

We Were Promised Jetpacks Washington 2018 3

There’s been talk that ‘The More I Sleep The Less I Dream’, their first album for Big Scary Monsters released last month, is a bit more polished than what we’re used to from them. I don’t see this as a negative but rather an expected evolution over a decade of making music together. Palmer has said of the LP, “The album is so much about us going back to our basics and relying on our instincts. There’s a range of songs that span everything we do as a band, and we’re the connection between them. It feels like this album is us.”

Going off that, if this new album is a representation of We Were Promised Jetpacks now, then their set list Tuesday night that mixed up the four chapters of their story far could be read as a kind of greatest hits. The visceral rawness of ‘baby’ Jetpacks on ‘It’s Thunder and Lightning’ and ‘Ships With Holes Will Sink’ set against the periods of instrumental goodness of ‘Sore Thumb’ and sheer power of ‘Human Error’ prove what this band is capable of. This is a band who rely on their collective fire power and ability to build a wall of sound, not flashy gimmicks. For punters, watching them is truly mesmerising. When they brought out ‘Keeping Warm’, their post-rock nod to the growing pains of adolescence, someone in the audience shouted, “do it for Scott [Hutchison]!” It was a emotional moment.

We Were Promised Jetpacks Washington 2018 2

There seemed two glaring omissions from the setlist: my favourites ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’ (check out this 2009 Bands to Watch!) and ‘Quiet Little Voices’, with all their enjoyable hooting and hollering, were nowhere to be found. Famously known to refuse to do encores, the band ended with ‘Repeating Patterns’ from the new album and all of us fans dancing something I can only describe as a stuttering discotheque boogie. Instead of feeling cheated, I walked into the cold Washington night with a smile on my face and the comfort that we’ll have this Scottish band and their music for a good while longer. To read any of our past coverage on We Were Promised Jetpacks, check out the articles through here.

 

Live Gig Video: Roo Panes performs ‘Ophelia’ for the Mahogany Sessions

 
By on Monday, 15th October 2018 at 4:00 pm
 

Roo Panes begins a North American tour this Friday, the 19th of October, at New York City’s Le Poisson Rouge. We last wrote about Panes last year when then new single ‘A Message to Myself’ saw the light of day. Read Carrie’s review of that single through here. Last Friday, the singer/songwriter from Dorset released a new single, ‘Ophelia’, taken from his current album ‘Quiet Man’, which was released in June 2018 on CRC Music.

To celebrate the new single, the artist unveiled his performance of the song for the Mahogany Sessions with a full band. Watch the stirring, uplifting performance below. Following the end of his North American tour at Los Angeles Moroccan Lounge on the 5th of November, Panes will embark on an European leg beginning at a sold-out show at Paris Pop Up Du Label on the 14th of November. To catch up on our past coverage on Roo Panes on TGTF, use this link.

 
 
 

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