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Live Review: The Guardian New Band of the Day Live at Camden Barfly – 14th June 2012

 
By on Tuesday, 26th June 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

If you’re an avid fan of new music like us here at TGTF Towers, you’ll surely be aware of the constant problem we face: there’s just too much of it. Scenes are evolving into separate sub sects that inspires another bedroom artist, then someone throws a synth in to make it ‘electro’ or someone starts screaming to make it ‘core’, and before you know it that band you liked last week are no longer new. It’s no easy task to keep up with the ever-moving entity that is new music, but the Guardian’s Paul Lester has been making it his aim to stay on the cutting edge for around 1,300. His New Band of the Day column has taken Guardian Music by storm and led to a live showcase every few months in Camden, tonight is the third show and the line-up is as eclectic as ever.

Starting the evening is a Canadian-cum-German known as Digits. Despite the downstairs room looking like a primary school disco with the early-showers hanging around the edges, Digits’ moody synth-pop provides a welcome mirror image to the busy High Street outside. The honed ambience drags the slowly filling crowd away from their iPhones to watch the stage as Altman bleeps and hushes his way through ‘Because It’s Wrong’ and ‘So Cold’. It’s not get-up-and-dance music, but it’s as clever and passionate as The Weeknd and as dark as Cocteau Twins. With new EP ‘Where Do You Belong?’ out in July, Digits could find he belongs in London more often.

The first band to invite London upstairs tonight are Seasfire. Continuing from Digits’ emotive laments, the bass-laden electro indie kids are more chill-out than rock out. Vocalist Josh Thorn whispers his words delicately akin to Benjamin Francis Leftwich, while the band pull out the hooky, electronic grooves reminiscent of Everything Everything. Ranging from synthesised highs to dubsteppy lows, Seasfire add so many elements yet they reign it in and keep the sound resolutely soft and unique. Although the odd danceable section does make a leap forward the crowd are simply awe of the band about to steal James Blake‘s spotlight.

Back downstairs the Barfly has managed to cram in more people through the door to see the delightfully hippy the Hall Of Mirrors. With band members spilling off the stage, the harmonious six-piece wail like sirens of the sea, attracting weary travellers into their trap of twinkly instrumentals and Kate Bush-like vocals. The psychedelic antics are like a dream sequence inside a children’s music box that can turn nightmarishly ominous in the blink of an eye. Current single ‘Love Child’ is as quirky and offbeat as you could want but tonight’s audience aren’t all fans of the ’60s.

Late additions to the bill We Were Evergreen are welcoming gig-goers into their upstairs room for a half hour of folky fun. The concept of an upstairs/downstairs system seems to confuse some patrons who either appear mid-way through a set each time or remain on one floor throughout the event – missing half the acts in the process. But those who do make the journey to the first floor are treated to a display of ukulele fuelled summery vibes that Theme Park would be proud of. The trio from Paris have won over some fans through crowd-pleasers ‘Second Hand’ and ‘Vintage Car’. Although the combination of Hawaiian strings and kazoos was too much/little for some of the Barfly tonight, the mood has lifted and it’s time to party.

Closing the downstairs portion of the evening is the minimal maestro Bobby Tank.. As is his namesake, he comes rolling into the fray with tremendous force and gusto, levelling all before him. The underlying sound is ambient and full-on electronica, but with a Macbook and a table full of knobs and switches at his disposal, Bobby Tank introduces hints of glitch, 8-bit and dubstep into his deafening arsenal. As he stands alone on stage with the air growing thick with sweat around him, the front row is alive with arm throwers as Tank’s own jazzy moves infect the crowd. There are times where the music could hit harder and beats drop further, but the overall ambience is so catchy and simple it’s like the soundtrack to the flying level of your favourite Mega Drive game. But once the last key note has rung out, it’s back to the first floor for something more sinister than synth.

Headlining tonight’s extravaganza of new noise is the London-based former Cambridge University student, Kyla La Grange (pictured at top). Her enchanting onstage persona is boosted by the ominous purple lighting and mic stand covered in fairy lights – simple but effective. The haunting pop stylings of ‘Walk Through Walls’ and ‘Vampire Smile’ elevate the five-piece above their peers tonight to prove why they’re headlining (it’s an incredible metamorphosis from the last time TGTF saw Kyla). There’s a spooky feeling in the air tonight as Kyla dances around the stage with the suggestion her performance is some sort of séance to the beyond, coupled with her Zola Jesus-esque vocals it’s hypnotic to behold. If you spot these guys on the bill of any festivals you’re at this year, be there.

 

Live Review: The Guardian New Band of the Day Live at Camden Barfly – 11th April 2012

 
By on Wednesday, 18th April 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

For over 1,200 days now, the Guardian’s Paul Lester has been hunting down the hottest and fastest rising stars in music for his (aptly titled) New Band of the Day column, Such is the success of Lester’s up-to-the-minute scribblings, the Guardian have started showcasing some of the fresh talent on offer. Tonight’s show at Camden Barfly is the second New Band of the Day Live shows and features five names you’ll surely hear more from later this year.

The first name you may recognise from a certain family member. Opening tonight are the gloriously grungey Violet fronted by none other than Pixie Geldof (pictured at top) – yes, Bob’s daughter. Ignore your preconceptions, though, as Pixie delivers a serene dream-poppy performance that wows the audience – even Bob, himself. Similar to Warpaint, Violet’s soft yet powerful neo-grunge drowns the Barfly in a wave of operatic vocals and haunting music through upcoming single ‘Y.O.U.’, ‘Starlight’ and the harmoniously heartfelt ‘Feet First’.

Just a few minutes after Violet finish in the upstairs venue, downstairs the former Magic Number Michele Stodart is treating the sold out crowd of bloggers and blaggers to the Americanised, bluesy stylings of her new solo outing. Dancing between the upbeat and the sombre, Stodart and her minstrels get the floor moving. Slightly. At times it sounds as though you’ve heard the guitar before, but Stodart’s vocal prowess dominates the performance and the addition of a glockenspiel and accordion adds a welcome new dimension.

Back upstairs it’s a rapid change of pace from London’s most energetic two-piece BIGkids. Fronted by another famous daughter, Rosie Oddie (of badger hassler Bill) and featuring Ben Hudson aka Mr Hudson on electrics, this DIY danceathon gets the party into one monumental swing. The infectious, pop rhythms and bouncy beats send the hyperactive Rosie into overdrive, throwing shapes you’ve never seen before! The big band jazz ethic blends with the modern electronic style and funky bass undertone that spreads joy to the masses who are beaming. Tracks such as ‘You Are Amazing’ and ‘Coming Together’ see the dynamic duo firmly press their stamp on the evening, but it’s Rosie’s voice that can straddle the soul diva twang, London rap and overt popstastic loveliness that makes these stars shine bright tonight.

Closing the downstairs section of tonight’s celebration of new music is the only artist with a number one single under his belt – Josh Kumra. Since featuring on last year’s summer fave ‘Don’t Go’ with Wretch 32, Kumra has seen his notoriety spread throughout the UK. Staying firmly in the vein of Ed Sheeran, although his vocal ability has a wider variation, the ‘one man and his guitar’ shtick is beginning to wear thin. However, closing on an acoustic cover of MGMT‘s ‘Kids’ is a real crowd-pleaser that he adapts to fit his own style but manages to keep the original in tact. The audience’s applause appears to both humble and amuse Kumra who is obviously still getting used to the attention.

One singer/songwriter who thrives off the crowd’s energy is another man who has found success through Wretch 32 – Angel. Hit single ‘Go In, Go Hard’ is reminiscent of big players Tinie and Tinchy in its delivery but in a scene dominated by grime, Angel is keeping r’n’b alive. Hailing from Shepherd’s Bush, he’s a favourite with the London crowd tonight, and he knows it. Bouncing around the stage like a powerball in a New Era hat, Angel woos the women in the house tonight with his uplifting, catchy words in ‘Raining Girls’ and ‘Wonderful’. Throughout the set, rows of camera phones litter the eye-line to record what could be one of the most intimate shows Angel plays again. Tonight’s performance elevates the rapper and his crew to the heights of his peers with his multi-layered r’n’b that features wailing rawk guitar, dubstep-friendly bass and a jungle drum beat hidden beneath. All these elements comprise one of the freshest sounds coming out of London today that could see Angel ascend into upper echelon of mainstream music.

 
 
 

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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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