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Live Gig Video: To Kill a King play ‘Cold Skin’ at Sofar Sounds New York session

 
By on Tuesday, 10th June 2014 at 4:00 pm
 

Something special for your afternoon today. TGTF 10 for 2013 alum To Kill a King played a Sofar Sounds session in New York back in March, and we’ve been given some great video from the session to share with you. The ‘Cannibals with Cutlery’ band are seen here performing ‘Cold Skin’ in the usual relaxed confines of a Sofar session, this time in someone’s cosy flat. Watch the performance below.

All our previous coverage of To Kill a King can be found this way. To date, TGTF has covered Sofar Sounds sessions in Austin (March 2014, during SXSW 2014), Manchester (April 2014) and Philadelphia (June 2014).

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijgDMDTn3YU[/youtube]

 

Secret Sofar Sounds Philadelphia show – 8th June 2014

 
By on Tuesday, 10th June 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

Third time’s a charm, eh? A June day anywhere in the mid-Atlantic of America is usually a hot one, and Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia was no exception. Cheryl and I traveled about 3 hours north from DC to catch last weekend’s Sofar Sounds installment there. As always, punters who had RSVPed had no idea who would be gracing the stage. Er, the front room of a West Philly row house owned by our kind hosts, Tom and Rob. Despite the slightly stifling conditions on a very sunny day in the City of Brotherly Love, all were in good spirits when it came time for the first act to take the stage.

Justin Pellechia is the frontman for local to Philly band Satellite Hearts. But for this show, all eyes were on him and his acoustic guitar, occasionally augmented by friends on electric guitar and bass. He will be releasing a new album in November, and we were treated to songs that will be appearing on that LP.

His songs have unusual song titles – see ‘Meet the Greens’ and ‘Juxtaposition’ – and equally unique lyrics of “candy apple light”, as found in track ‘Smoke and Mirrors’. I’ll admit that when he took to the floor Sunday afternoon, I kind of expected from his shaggy hair to be hearing a lite and acoustic version of the Beatles. But I think Pellechia managed to astonish everyone when he belted out notes in one song like no-one’s business.

From my research on the interwebs, the best I can tell is that The Gallerist is a Philadelphia-based trio led by Bostonian Mike Collins, who sings and plays guitar and banjo. But on Sunday, The Gallerist were just two: Collins and bassist Kai Carter. I suppose depending on your musical tastes, two beardy guys who are sat in front of you can either delight or frighten. Maybe it is different in the UK, where I’ve always felt folk has a better chance at mainstream than here in America, but generally when I’m at home, I equate beard with hipster. Thankfully, Collins and Carter’s well-written songs were anything but and their beautiful harmonies together made for a lovely and far too short acoustic set.

On songs such as ‘Helium’, Collins’ voice in particular has a distinctively wonderful timbre that made me wonder even with support from local radio station WXPN’s The Key, who described the band with the glowing words, “The Gallerist may just be one of the Philadelphia folk scene’s best kept secrets”, why they are still unsigned. Somehow, one imagines they’d be snapped up in a second by an indie like Bella Union if they were British.

The last act of the afternoon were Newcastle’s Little Comets, who were spending their second to last day before heading home to England here in Philadelphia. Despite being known as a plugged in indie rock / pop band, you could argue that the Geordies already had good practise under their belts for the Sofar Sounds setup. Less than 2 weeks prior, at a sold out Academy at home, they played an acoustic set that, judging from everyone I know who was there, was a show for the ages. I was intrigued how these songs I’d come to know and love over years of us supporting the band on TGTF and their many layers – broadcast outward by amplifiers, I might add – would work in the acoustic setting, and which songs from their two albums and multiple EPs they might give the acoustic treatment to.

I needn’t have worried. While the majority of the crowd appeared to be unfamiliar with the band, the music showed Little Comets’ talents well. Quite possibly if you’re listening on record and have the volume turned way up, you might miss out on some really important details about the group that become glaringly obvious when they’re playing acoustic. You really have not lived if you haven’t heard Rob Coles (lead vocals / guitar), his brother Mickey (guitar) and Matt Hall (bass) sing in perfect three-part harmony. For an idea of how this sounds, stream the acoustic version of ‘Salt’, one of their newest songs the band themselves have shared, below. God himself would cry. (The subject matter is pretty heavy and heart-wrenching too; you can read Rob’s words about the song and its sad inspiration on the band’s blog.)

The pièce de résistance, however, was this afternoon’s interpretation of ‘Little Italy’, which I previewed ahead of the release of ‘The Gentle EP’ in late February. There is so much going on in the EP version, surely it would be next impossible to keep the vibe of the original? All of us Little Comets fans have heard the recorded version. But upon listening to the acoustic version live, you realise you’re getting a special gift. It’s like really looking at something for the first time.

 

Secret Sofar Sounds Manchester show – 29th April 2014

 
By on Thursday, 1st May 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

After having attended my first Sofar Sounds show during SXSW 2014 in Austin in March (Carrie’s review and my photos this way), I was eager and raring to go for another one. I thought it was unlikely that there would be one in England while I was over on holiday, but it turned out there was one in Manchester on one of my free nights in the North West town. The whole point of Sofar Sounds is to provide a homey environment – literally: it’s usually done in someone’s home – where music lovers can be introduced to acts they’re likely never have heard of.

In this particular case, it made sense that our host for the evening owned a flat in the Northern Quarter, the hub of culture and all things things cool in Manchester. Cool, however, is probably the wrong word to use to describe the actual temperature in the flat, as Manchester was undergoing an unusual series of sunny, hot for April days, which were fine by me but made a room full of 80 or so people crammed in to watch bands a little stifling.

The first act of the night was Paris born but current Winchester native Josh Savage, accompanied by Jack Williams on guitar and backing vocals. Imagine my surprise when I looked on Twitter to find he was already following me! This kind of gig atmosphere benefits the artists who have good stage presence and can engage the audience between songs, either by speaking to their emotions or making them laugh. Savage has an EP out now that includes both studio and live at for BBC Introducing versions of the song ‘Your Lips’. Now, as you readers know, I tend to get quite emotional in my reviews when a song or artist touches me deeply, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a song with the title ‘Your Lips’ is about longing for someone.

A highlight of Savage’s set was the song ‘Lost in Paris’, which he prefaced by encouraging the audience that if you were ever feeling lost in their life, the way forward is to embark on a journey and live in a new, unfamiliar city, because that’s where you will find yourself. Another highlight was ‘Quatre Épines’; sung entirely in French, it allowed Savage to indulge in the language of his upbringing, managed to bring an unexpected element of romantic and also simultaneously made me wonder if Carrie would have a similar reaction to Savage live as she did with Glass Animals at SXSW. Basically, if you like Ben Howard, curly-haired guys and guys that sing in French, Savage is a no-brainer. I think Howard should be worried about his territory right now.

The next three bands were booked for the same Sofar show to take advantage of the fact that they’d all come over from Wales to do a tour of Café Nerros across Britain together. As an idea for a tour, I thought it was fantastic: three solo artists each unique to each other but also providing each other moral support as they get more experience gigging and spreading the word about their music. The first of the three was Sion Russell Jones, a ginger singer/songwriter from Cardiff who clearly has a good handle on humour. When he came out to play, he reminded me of a kid I went to elementary school with.

The best touchstone I can think of to describe Jones is Simon and Garfunkel; should you seek out his latest album ‘Lost No More’ released in March and listen to ‘Best of Me’, you will hear on record that his vocals are as rich as that of Paul and Art’s decades ago. The last track he played, ‘And Suddenly’, was an ode to the carefree atmosphere of Sunday lunch, including mentions of his mum carving the roast, details of the salad and gravy and being hung over. As we were all seated, the jaunty, fun song begged for seated / chair dancing. Watch a filmed live version of Jones performing the song back in 2010 for Welsh telly below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yD9sWALOuRw[/youtube]

Third act up and second Welsh act was Kizzy, who held the distinction of being the youngest performer of the night. Having just turned 18 a week prior to the gig in Manchester, the bilingual artist in an amazing multi-coloured headwrap sang in a soulful, almost jazzy way of growing up (you see, she’s quite thoughtful and wise beyond her years) and love lost, such as the beauty that is ‘The Starling’, a single that has already gotten BBC 6music and Radio Wales airplay. After looking over her Web site, even if I couldn’t understand the words, I’m kind of disappointed she didn’t sing any songs in Welsh. She did, however, incorporate her heritage in the song called ‘Love Lost Game’, giving us a history lesson, as it was based on an old love story between Siwan (Princess Joan of Wales) and her relationship with the Welsh Prince Llywelyn the Great, Lord of Snowdon.

Sera, the third and final Welsh act of the night, is a singer and guitar and piano-playing artist. Think the piano playing of Sara Bareilles crossed with Joni Mitchell’s songbird twang and guitar playing, with a pinch of the more animated and upbeat vocals of Amanda Palmer (‘Coin Operated Boy’ like), and you’re nearly there. The way to stand out these days if you’re a female singer/songwriter is to be unique, and I don’t think I know any other women who play those two instruments and have such a special voice that I hope comes across as a compliment, but the only word I can come up with that makes sense is ‘precious’. She began with the track ‘Fireworks’, which thankfully sounds nothing like the Katy Perry song of the same name. It reminded me a lot of Van Susans’ ‘Glow’, using the imagery of sparks and chemistry to describe the search for true love.

The fifth and final band of the night was four-piece local Manchester band Thugs on Wolves. The wife of the bass player assured me that despite their aggro sounding moniker, they were not a metal band. (Phew. Somehow I didn’t think a metal band would fit into a Sofar lineup anyhow.) No, they weren’t anywhere near as scary as their band name would seem to suggest. They turned out to be the best band to close the night out with, because not only were they funny with their banter, they also proceeded to give us a foot-stomping, knee-slappingly good time with their music, as in their tune ‘The Laugh of the Jackdaw’, which I’d say was the song of the night. Check out some free tracks from them from this MP3(s) of the Day feature we ran yesterday.

Their lead singer is James Marsden’s doppelganger, but as soon as he opens his mouth, you can hear he’s clearly got folk vocal singing chops. They’re Mumford and Sons but less farm boy and don’t wear tweed waistcoats; they’re Noah and the Whale but certainly not American-sounding (second phew of the night); they’re Fleet Foxes but more like when Fleet Foxes were actually good and not beloved by hipsters. Definitely worth further investigation, as are the other acts appearing this night. Cheers Sofar Sounds Manchester, for such a memorable evening of music!

 

MP3(s) of the Day #825: Thugs on Wolves

 
By on Wednesday, 30th April 2014 at 10:00 am
 

As you might have already read, our tireless Editor Mary is currently in England to cover Liverpool Sound City and The Great Escape. But before all that, she had the opportunity to attend a Sofar Sounds show in Manchester last night. As always with Sofar Sounds, the lineup of bands for the evening was kept secret leading into the gig, but real time sharing on social media was encouraged.


One of the bands Mary heard, Thugs on Wolves, is offering free downloads of three live tracks, ‘Hibernation’, ‘Some Seas’ and ‘The Stages of Dispute’. Preview their entirely modern take on folk music below and name your own price for a download of each song on their Bandcamp.

 

SXSW 2014: secret Sofar Sounds Austin show – 13th March 2014

 
By on Tuesday, 25th March 2014 at 1:00 pm
 

On the Thursday night of SXSW 2014, Mary and I had the unique opportunity to attend a special show outside the confines of downtown Austin. After our separate early afternoon activities, we met up and drove to a farther corner of the city for a Sofar Sounds showcase held in a private home and hosted by the Sofar Sounds: Austin team, which included the evening’s emcees, Amy Langton and Joanna Jurgens, videographer Brian Ferguson and photographer Bryan Taylor.

The stated purpose of Sofar Sounds is to connect emerging artists with enthusiastic new fans via small and intimate performances. The gigs are recorded and shared later with a larger audience, but only a select number of Sofar subscribers are admitted at the live shows. Though the lineup of bands for the evening was secret, we were assured that we would hear some high quality musicianship, so we decided to take a chance and try it out. We weren’t disappointed with the bill we discovered when we arrived, which included two British bands previously covered by TGTF. We were encouraged by the event organizers to share our experiences on social media and we happily obliged, as you’ll see by the tweets we’ve shared below.

The first act of the evening played outdoors in the host family’s backyard, just as the sun was setting. The atmosphere couldn’t have been more perfect for indie rockers Cheers Elephant, who played a cozy set featuring mellow acoustic guitar melodies and sweetly blended vocal harmonies. Fans of West Coast rock bands like Dawes won’t want to miss this band, who are no doubt more energetic in a fully electric context.

After Cheers Elephant’s set, and the sunset as well, we were moved inside the house to hear the rest of the evening’s acts, who had been busy setting up in the hosts’ living room while we were outside. Next up was Lansing, Michigan’s alt-country troubadour Small Houses, known offstage as Jeremy Quentin, who now splits his time between Atlanta and Philadelphia. He was accompanied by an old friend from Austin who was able to step in at the last minute and learn the second guitar parts especially for this private gig. The true magic of SXSW lies in this type of improvisatory cooperation among musicians; we were fortunate to see several examples of musicians’ kinship during the week, and this was indeed a special one. The two men played brilliantly off of each other, trading guitar riffs and countermelodies as seamlessly as if they’d played together for years.

Following Small Houses was folk singer/songwriter Kelley McRae, who performed with her husband in yet another case of exceptional communion between musicians. McRae’s heavenly singing voice was clearly the main focus of the songs in their set, but the couple’s warmth and familiarity allowed them a level of comfort and flexibility not always seen on live stages. Their brand of Americana completely lacks the slick and superficial predictability of mainstream country music, its authenticity shining through the honest lyrics and solid musicianship. I was impressed enough to nab a copy of McRae’s CD ‘Brighter Than The Blues’ after the show was over.

There was a slight delay after McRae’s set, to allow time for British electro-pop group Dems to prepare for what would be a complete 180-degree turn in terms of musical style and mood. More dependent on electronic equipment than any other band on the docket, Dems had some technical difficulties earlier in the day, which left them borrowing an amplifier from Langton for their show. Undaunted, they played an enthusiastic if somewhat unrehearsed set, and if I hadn’t been required to remain seated due to the videography at the secret gig, I would have happily bounced along to their beats. In lieu of that, Mary let her fingers do the dancing on Twitter.

The last act of the Sofar Sounds showcase was The Crookes, whom I’ve now seen a few times, but never quite in this context. Frankly, I had trouble imagining a seated Crookes show, because I always associate this band with joyful, unfettered dancing. But I did manage to remain seated, and I was delighted to hear unusual takes on some old favorite tunes, including George Waite solo on ‘The I Love You Bridge’ and a cover of the Wreckless Eric song and their ‘Maybe in the Dark’ single’s b-side ‘Whole Wide World’. While I gather that these versions are stalwarts for The Crookes on the British side of the pond, they were new and enchanting to this American fan. I smiled through the acoustic version of ‘Afterglow’, even though it left me desperately longing for the full-on electric version; I’d have to wait until later in the week to hear that one again.

Collected donations from this Sofar Sounds Austin show were given to the SXSW Cares Fund, to help the victims of the drink driving incident at the Mohawk the night before.

 

Live Gig Video: Wild Swim perform stripped back version of new song ‘Too Late’ for Sofar Sounds in London

 
By on Friday, 29th November 2013 at 4:00 pm
 

Oxford group Wild Swim have revealed a video from an intimate secret performance in London they did for Sofar Sounds in October. In this video, they play new song ‘Too Late’ in a stripped back way while being surrounded by their adoring fans. Watch it below.

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

 
 
 

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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