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Top Gigs of 2010: Editor’s Picks

By on Tuesday, 14th December 2010 at 11:00 am

I went to a lot of gigs this year. (If you need the evidence, my gig list is under the cut, click the link further down in this post.) The more amazing gigs you go to, the more difficult it is to choose your top 5 performances for the year. I haven’t taken this task lightly, and without further adieu, here are my top live picks of 2010:

5. Delphic at Washington’s DC9, Liberation Dance Party (Friday 8th October 2010) – Most of my local friends do not share my enthusiasm for gigging – or music, for that matter – so it took a special band to get most everyone I know to DC9 for Liberation Dance Party at the end of the work week.

Washington often gets a bad (and unfair) rap for stoic crowds – I’ve seen far worse in my travels. This night, the DC9 crowd were going mental for the Manchester band’s electropop/guitar rock sound, and I couldn’t have prouder. (Exhibit A: two blokes were stood right in front of James Cook, described by my friend Silvia as “Mister Super Dancer and his 7-foot tall friend” going absolutely crazy, dancing like loons, “it looked like this was the most exciting thing that ever happened to them”. Haha. If you were interested, Mr. SD was later seen picking Rick Boardman’s brain after the show.) I’ll be the first to admit, there is a touch of bitter sentimentality about this gig for me, as for a long while I thought this might be the last dance ever put on at DC9. (DC9 was closed since 15th October after a tragic death [cause of death still unknown] occurred on the street outside the venue. I was really sad about this, because I’ve seen some of the best gigs of my life there. But it looks like the club will reopen on Wednesday [15 December]!)

4. the Futureheads at Washington’s Black Cat (Friday 4th June 2010) – I remembering Tweeting earlier that Friday afternoon about how I was going to see the Sunderland band for the first time that night, and what did I find in my messages but a personal note from Barry Hyde saying, “we’re going to knock your socks off. see you B x”. Being the professional I am, I refused to let that touch of thoughtfulness bias my opinion of the evening, and I really needn’t have worried. They played hit after hit after hit with no signs of the onslaught abating. At one point, Hyde even yelled at an inconsiderate drunk who was causing trouble, and everyone cheered. Well done, Barrington Hydeous! For a while I was almost sure this was going to be my top gig of 2010.

3. the Temper Trap at Boston’s House of Blues (Wednesday 29th September 2010) – You know how sometimes you can just feel greatness? Just two gigs in on a month-long tour of North America, you could just feel that this band from Melbourne, you could feel them at the top of their game. While I wasn’t impressed by the audience reaction and I am sure DC would have given them a better reaction based on their show in April at the 9:30, the sound quality at HOB was amazing. Afterwards, I ran into half of the band, smiles all around. (Who wouldn’t have been happy with a performance like that?) I would love to see them again, but I think their days of playing clubs are over.

2. the Joy Formidable at Washington’s Black Cat Backstage (Thursday 11th November 2010) – Ritzy Bryan knows how to rock it. I mean, I never expected her to go for it as much as she did when the Joy Formidable played DC for the first time last month. WOW. Talk about unleashing pure, unadulterated power. I’d been having such a hohum month that this gig kicked me in the arse and said, you know what? Music – and how you feel it – is what it’s all about. Cannot wait for ‘The Big Roar’ to come out next year, accompanied by full tours in the US and the UK, of course.

1. the Postelles at Washington’s DC9 (18th September 2010) – The Postelles, four incredibly fun guys from New York City who play the most fun guitar pop ever, haven’t even released a full album yet. Like the Joy Formidable, they had nothing to lose and everything to gain by throwing themselves 1,000x into their performance. And judging from the Saturday night crowd assembled to watch them – and go crazy for them – full scale Postellementalism is just around the corner.

After the jump is a full list of all the gigs I’ve been to in 2010 (in reverse chronological order) so you have an idea how difficult my job was to choose favourites. The runner-up gigs (gigs that fell were in my top 10 but did not make my top 5) are also marked.
Continue reading Top Gigs of 2010: Editor’s Picks


Interview: Daniel Balk, David Dargahi and John Speyer of the Postelles (Part 2)

By on Tuesday, 28th September 2010 at 12:00 pm

Daniel, David and John of the Postelles are very funny guys. Here is the second half of my interview with them before they took to the stage at DC9 on the 18th of September. We talk about baseball, football and tv shows. Not very rock ‘n’ roll, is it? Read on. Trust me, it’s an entertaining read.

To read part 1, click here.

Since you mentioned new songs, take me through writing a song, from start to finish. Do you start with a really great guitar riff, an awesome lyric…
Daniel: It depends. It really depends. When we wrote ‘Stairway to Heaven’, we started with a riff. [everyone laughs]
John: Did you know Dan wrote that as a ghost writer?
Daniel: Did you know I’m a ghost? Yeah, it really depends.
John: ‘Let It Be’ started on piano.
Daniel: Yeah, ‘Let It Be’ started on piano. And glockenspiel.
Hey, don’t knock glockenspiels. Glockenspiels are making a comeback.
Daniel: Oh, we use it in a song. We’ve used them before. But yeah…’123 Stop’ started with a guitar riff, ‘Hey Little Sister’ started with a melody…
John: In a dream.
Daniel: Yeah, I had a dream about it. ‘Hold On’ started with…John had his pants off, I remember, and it all came to me.
Wha wha what?
Daniel: You don’t want to know. John had his pants off…
John: …and Billy was playing a bongo solo. And then, the whole album came together the next day. In a dream.
David: We wrote most of the album in one room, all together. We slept in the same house and just played everyday.
Daniel: Kind of? What, did someone sleep outside?
David: No no, we did. No we literally slept, woke up, played, slept, played…
John: Never ate…
Daniel: Ran around a bit…
David: Played some baseball…
Daniel: We did play baseball. Baseball is a big Postelles sport.
David: But we’re very competitive.
Daniel: And we’re very heated.
David: And the guitar player and the bass player are wayyyy better…
Daniel: I play guitar too! [to David] Are you saying me and Billy are bad (at baseball)? Because I will never stop taunting you…
John: [laughs] We’re all equally good at baseball.

Continue reading Interview: Daniel Balk, David Dargahi and John Speyer of the Postelles (Part 2)


Interview: Daniel Balk, David Dargahi and John Speyer of the Postelles (Part 1)

By on Monday, 27th September 2010 at 2:00 pm

Three-quarters of the Postelles (pictured right with their, err, temporary replacement drummer) – Daniel Balk (lead vocals / guitar), David Dargahi (lead guitar) and John Speyer (bass) – had a nice chat with me before they played an awesome show for very vocal, devoted fans at DC9 on 18th September. We talk music festivals, Sane Lowe and what it was like recording their debut album. This is probably the silliest, most fun interview I’ve had yet. Many thanks to Sam and Mikey for helping sort this.

How about you guys introduce yourselves and tell me what you play in the Postelles.
John: I’m John and I play bass.
Daniel: I’m Daniel and I sing.
David: I’m David and I play guitar.
Daniel: [softly, pointing to Billy Cadden, their drummer] And I’m Billy, and I play drums.

I’ve read a couple stories about how you guys got together. Why don’t you tell me what happened, in your own words. How it all happened, how the magic happened.
Daniel: We all met in high school, and I was failing out, miserably. They…John was my tutor, ‘cos he’s really smart…
John: So true!
Daniel: …and so he got me better grades, but I’m so bad that I brought him down. [David laughs] So David was his tutor. And we both brought him down. So we had to join a band because we all failed out.
David: No choice.
Daniel: No choice. Rock ‘n’ roll was the only way out.

How did each of you get into music?
Daniel: I’ve always been interested in music, but it was only when I met them [points to David and John] that I wanted to be in a band. Says Daniel, the singer.
John: [smiles] That’s beautiful.
Daniel: It is, isn’t it?
John: But it’s actually true though. I also was always into music and met Daniel in a closet. And stayed there.
Daniel: [to John] I’m out, ok? I’m out! You’re still in the closet! [looks at David, seriously] What about you?
David: Um… [chuckles] I’m in between the closets…there two different closets!
Daniel: David’s album, ‘In Between the Closets’…
David: I think I always wanted to be in a band until I met Daniel. Then it was too late!
Daniel: But once you get to a certain age, you have to jump in.
John: You have no choice. When you’re 16.

Continue reading Interview: Daniel Balk, David Dargahi and John Speyer of the Postelles (Part 1)


Live Review: The Postelles with Hurricane Bells and Blackbells at DC9, Washington, DC – Saturday 18th September 2010

By on Tuesday, 21st September 2010 at 2:00 pm

The first time I heard the Postelles‘ ‘White Night’, I was in love. The first band I ever fell in love with were the Beatles and the Postelles have this aesthetic that reminds you of the Fabs in their early years, yet getting to hear this band now, just at the brink of stardom, is something truly special. DC9 might not be iconic now as the Cavern in Liverpool (RIP) was in the early ’60s but the Postelles’s Saturday night show just may have been the birth of Postellementalism. (I’m no Stuart Maconie but perhaps that phrase will come into common usage as his ‘Britpop’.) I was so excited about this show that I was a little worried that I might break down in tears or my heart might burst in happiness when I saw them play, as I’d seen them in March opening for Hockey and thought they completely blew the Portland band away.

Funnily enough, the two openers for the evening had names that rhymed with ‘Postelles’. The first (and in my opinion, far better) was Blackbells, an unsigned rock quartet from Brooklyn. In the botanical world, there is no such thing as blackbells, but I think it’s a great name to give to a band, because flowers are beautiful things but in rock music, songs can be beautiful even if they are a little dark and if you will, slightly sinister. At times, they were channeling Led Zeppelin (‘Before the Flood’, ‘Bad Bones’) and great alt-rock bands like (dare I say it) early Oasis (‘Young Again’, ‘This is Home’). I loved how lead singer/guitarist Ben Rice was happy to share the limelight with guitarist Anthony Stella. With bands like this, who needs Kings of Leon?

Next was Hurricane Bells, whose stage setup had an Echoplex box in the middle of the stage. Odd. This New York band plays enjoyable but not particularly extraordinary pop/rock. I was examining the set list at the feet of Steve Schlitz, the lead singer, and he said to me mockingly, “that’s not that interesting. It’s just a guitar pedal.” (Colour me curious, but I can’t be the only punter at shows who wants to look at what songs are on tap for a set.) Unlike the previous band that seemed to be a democracy, it was clear that Schlitz was the star. This is decent middle-of-the-road rock, but there’s something about the way he was squealing on his guitar seemed incongruous. Needless to say I couldn’t wait for the Postelles.

Continue reading Live Review: The Postelles with Hurricane Bells and Blackbells at DC9, Washington, DC – Saturday 18th September 2010


MP3 of the Day #231 (and more!): The Postelles

By on Friday, 3rd September 2010 at 10:00 am

The Postelles are an American band based in New York City who be right at home alongside what Sunderland’s Frankie and the Heartstrings and Sheffield’s Crookes are doing these days: a return to simplicity and what made everyone love rock ‘n’ roll in the first place back in the ’50s and ’60s, yet updating it for 21st century ears. Clear yet catchy vocals, gorgeous harmonies, and great guitars and drumming. I saw the Postelles open for Portland’s Hockey in March and I thought they were stunning. Apparently, the Futureheads agreed with me, taking the NYC quartet along with them on a tour of the UK in the spring. They even played a headlining gig at London’s Koko in May.

What we have for you today is a triple dose of the Postelles: first, their cover of the Buddy Holly track ‘Everyday’, a more streamlined, less geeky version than the original; second, a video of the band backstage at their sold out gig at New York’s Bowery Ballroom in July; and third, their promo for ‘White Night’. Their EP ‘White Night’ is available now from EMI/Astralwerks. Happy Friday!

MP3: The Postelles – Everyday (Buddy Holly cover)





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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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