Wednesday, May 30, 2007
The Rumble Strips / The Little Ones / Pull Tiger Tail / Blood Red Shoes Birmingham Academy 2 Monday 28th May 2007
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Datarock / Velofax / Ottogono / Annuals Friday 25th May 2007 The Rainbow...then the Barfly...I'll explain
Saturday, May 26, 2007
With the clock ticking and the number of bands under my belt standing at 23 it was going to b a busy (and late) night that began with another dash across town to join the queue at Pressure Point (a 250-300 ish venue on the outskirts of the city. We got there at around 6.45, doors opened a little after 7.30...the first real queueing we'd had to do throughout the entire Festival (the point of highlighting all this will become clear later). First up were Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip. For the uninitiated Le Sac and Scroob are a late 20's two piece. Le Sac 'plays' an Apple Mac, Scoobius Pip raps. Scroobius Pip has an impressive beard and a slightly nerdy Essex boy accent. They have attracted a lot of attention for the track Thou Shalt Always Kill. They were, without doubt, one of the highlights of the whole festival. I was kind of expecting 'the hit' to be the only track worth listening to, but old Scroob has a winning way with lyrics (listen to Angles if you get a mo - the English version of Eminem's Stan?) and an even better live 'stylee'. Using the periodic table to illustrate a song was inspired and, like Jeffrey Lewis, the Pip loves flip charts, making the whole gig seem like a lesson in cool. As with Eternal Erection on Day One, purists will probably hate it, but balls to 'em. DLS vs SP are ace...not 'just a band'.
Whilst trying to recover from the majesty of Dan and Scroob (how many different ways can you write their name...fun for all the family on a wet Sunday afternoon) I was clobbered around the head, heart and unmentionables by the mighty, mighty, mighty (god they were mighty) threesome Bonde De Role. Straightoutta Brazil, they rap in a mix of Brazilian, English and gibberish, backed by a mash up of all sorts of tracks (including Europe's Final Countdown...nice), pounding basslines, funkin horns, old skool electro...the whole kit and caboodle (with extra caboodle thrown in). The act is sex soaked, lots of groin grabbing and crotch thrusting, attempts to pull down each others pants...sweat, spunk and rock n' roll. I've not been able to witness CSS live yet, but I imagine they have a similar impact on UK audiences...muchos booty was shaken let me tell you.
Kate Nash next. Slightly more delicate in the flesh than on whatever you listen music on these days, but still glorious. Elements of Lily Allen and Regina Spector but a bit sweeter than both. She played an acoustic version of Caroline's A Victim (my personal fave track) that perhaps hints at her future direction being more traditional than I first expected (the recorded version of Caroline is all electro and shouty). It's early days though...one to watch.
After the reverie of the early acts, it was all getting a bit mellower and Mr Hudson & The Library took it down a notch further. They're an odd proposition really. Quite laid back in places, piano and vocals that reminded me of Thomas Dolby in his less synth moments...then there are some pretty reggae-ish moments, soul stuff...I guess you could call it a melting pot. It confused me a little, but not in a bad way. It was pretty hard following the SacMeister and his Pipness (there's another one) and Bonde De Role too...it was at this moment that I realised I'd seen 26 bands in the last 60 hours or so. Like a kiddie in a sweet shop you get to a point where, even though you love choccie bars, you realise that you're in danger of either being sick or exploding. Mr Hudson coincided with this moment...not their fault, and the reason why I was perhaps less receptive to their music than I could've been. It was also very well performed. Again, this ain't a criticism, but after a lot of 'rawness', the polish just seems a little too clean. Listening back to some of their tracks again (in the cold light of day), they deserve to be one of the sounds of the summer. The Feeling of 2007. Mr Hudson is from dear old Birmingham too...which automatically gets him several brownie points. I'm looking forward to albums two and three 'cos I reckon they're one of those rare bands that could improve with age.
As the band finished the lights went on. S'funny I thought. 'Everyone out' shouted security, 'you've got to leave now'. Now, one of my other reasons for picking this venue for our last night were the triple bill of Spleen, Lethal Bizzle and Black Twang. We'd already had texts telling us that every other venue was rammed. So, if we did leave, that would be it. No more festival and an early night. Many of the audience were happy to leave. Several were not. We joined them in asking why we had to get out. It was down to the organisers we were told. The second part of the evening was a rap gig, people were queueing outside to get in, so we had to get out. If we wanted to get back in again we'd have to queue. Given that we were told there were '2,000' people waiting outside, this seemed an unappealing prospect. Now, I'm a pretty reasonable soul, but if you've paid £40 for your festival pass, queued for nearly an hour to get in and behaved yourself, being asked to leave when the headline acts are about to come on was, well, taking the piss. If people wanted to see the acts in question they should've got there earlier. I wanted to see CSS on Thursday night, I got there too late, so I left and went elsewhere. I didn't expect (nor would I have been happy) if I only got in at the expense of someone else being ejected. Things quickly got heated. One or two people were arguing quite forcefully. I chose the Gandhi approach an just sat down. Pretty much everyone else had left, security approached us and asked us to leave. We refused. 'If you don't, we'll call the police' came their response. Now this is what you call raising the stakes a little. Whilst the world is full of kiddie fiddlers, gun toting nutjobs and people (of all colours, cultures and religions) wanting to kill each other for no reason whatsoever we faced being arrested for paying for our tickets, waiting in a queue and giving all the artists on the bll so far our undivided attention and respect.
'Ok'. I replied. 'You do understand that the police will come and arrest you?'. 'Yes'. This stumped them a little. I think they were expecting me to start whimpering or something, but I felt fairly safe in the knowledge that I had done nothing wrong and that, if they did decide to waste police time, the boys in blue would merely eject me. Lady Baron didn't want to chance it, so I agreed to leave, shook hands with the various security staff who were towering over us and accepted that they were just doing their job. Slowly we wandered downstairs and loitered around a bit as one of the people who had been arguing rather more than us was still debating the toss. He eventually left. we were about to do likewise when the lady who seemed to run the venue came after us. 'Listen' she confided 'you're nice people, stand over there and you can stay in'. Hurrah! Gandhi was right all along! Listen world. Peaceful protest is the way forward. Put down your bombs and guns and sit down on the M25 for a few days. If 10 million people did that I can guarantee their demands would be met a lot quicker than any other means.
We had a nice chat to the security staff who, just minutes earlier, had been threatening to bang us up in the slammer and lovely people they were too. Just doing their job. As was I.
Right, back to the music. I like some rap, dislike other rap (mainly the inane 'yeah, yeah look at the size of my cock' variety). I'm not an expert, but I've enjoyed the few gigs that I have been to. So, tonight I wanted to catch a flavour of some of the best stuff around. Spleen was a great start. French rapper with a real jazzy feel (think a cooler Outcast). Shades of Omar in there too. My musical palate well and truly refreshed. Next up was Lethal Bizzle. Bizzle (like Spleen actually who has collaborated with CocoRosie) has recently hooked up with Gallows. I'm all for this cross genre stuff. Good music is good music. I don't give a damn if it's classical, jazz, metal, rap, Algerian folk...whatever. Anyway, Lethal Bizzle. Garage Rap that's as fresh and of the moment as anything you'll like to find, Bizzle Bizzle got the crowd jumping and we didn't stop. The next time someone gets on your tits go round their house and play the Dickhead chorus (the spoken word bit near the end of the track reveals Mr Bizzle to be an altogether sweeter man than you might expect) outside their house...glorious.
Finally, for the night and the festival itself, band/act number 30! Blak Twang. Mr Twang has been around for a number of years now and raps about loads of different issues...kind of a rap Billy Bragg if you will. He's clearly a deeply articulate and passionate soul and you can't help feeling that if if the government made him Minister for Youth they'd be far less trouble 'inna ingland'. Again he got the crowd jumping from start to finish and some of us ended up sharing the stage with him at the end (me doing that strange bobbing around thing that white guys do whenever they hear rap music...forgive me world).
And that, in a nutshell (albeit a bloody huge nutshell) was that. The Great Escape Festival...great by name and (all together now...) great by nature. Brighton...I will be back.
With the chat finished (for now anyway) I settled down to a trio of French artistes kicking off with Barbara Carlotti (classic French female voice, slightly 60's, a bit like listening to a glass of red wine...I'll leave you to ponder that one). Dominique A was next. Powerfully voiced bald mo fo who did that thing where you record bits of yourself then multi layer it so you end up, in essence, playing with yourself...stop giggling. Can't find a My Space page for him and his site is all in French (quite reasonable really), so I can't track down a track for you to listen to...but if you can...do. I imagine he's more of a live force though. The final artiste Francais was the delightfully named Emily Loizeau, which I think means bird. She has the voice of a bird too. A nice one...a songbird...not a crow or Lesser Spotted Black Backed Gull. She looked as fragile as a bird as well, but, on her last song she came to the edge of the stage and, sans microphone, kept us entranced with a track called I'm Alive. One of those hair on the back of the neck moments. C'est fantastique.
Next one of the funniest and most bizarre interviews in history. Howard Marks (legendary drug smuggler and all round nice guy...no, seriously, he is) and Shaun 'I ingested Factory Records' Ryder. Howard makes his living chatting nowadays but could he get a word out of Shaun...could he bollocks. They spent most of the time looking at each other, once in a while Shaun (who is now 'clean' for reasons he wouldn't divulge) would say 'yeah' or 'dunno' whilst Howard tried every trick in the book to get him to open up. They're good mates so Shaun wasn't being awkward...I just think he hated the whole get up on stage and talk about yourself bit. Very funny for all the wrong reasons.
Young Soul Rebels next (another 'street' gig) this time in Traidshop (a sort of Oxfam). Couldn't see a great deal and old men's cardies don't really do much for the acoustics. They seemed ok. A little ska punk-ish in places. Hard-Fi wouldn't be a bad comparison.
Dashed over to another venue (Brighton just has loads of 'em) in time for a bit of The Pistolas. Like Bloc Party lost in the K-hole. Dancey art punk is, so it seems, the way to describe their sound. Good, strong set, well worth seeing again. Tipped for 2007 too...
Across town to a pub for Sex Panther (sounds like some kind of fetish club for people who dress up as cats and lick cream from...places). Fearsome female punk four piece from Oz who have a delightful track entitled Cuntstruck...one for your granny there. I really liked the Panther, but then I have a thing for girl bands, especially the punk variety. Fair dinkum.
Lawks...this is taking ages to write up...time to employ...ONE LINE REVIEWS! Hurrah for all concerned!!
Help She Can't Swim...no, not an incident off Brighton Pier...a band. Sparky, Bis-like and bouncy, bouncy.
Johnossi...all male White Stripes from Sweden. Rocky, bit blues...very impressive actually.
The Hat...hippy-ish, rap-ish, trip hop-ish, zappa-ish...bits of everything-ish really. Couldn't totally get right into it on the night but warming to it more now, especially the track Open Hearts. Probably not the right venue for them (big crowd of slightly drunk dancey folk). A grower I'd say...balls..that's a lot more than one line...
Finally, for Day Two at least, Kitty, Daisy and Lewis (pictured above). Teenage Anglo Asian 50's rock n'roll band featuring their mum and dad. No, seriously. Sounds bloody weird...is actually bloody great. How people this young get to be this good is a mystery to me. Kitty is now 13, Lewis is 15 and Daisy an OAP-tastic 18. They all seem to be able to play each other's instruments. In fact almost every track saw someone swap something. Listen to Mean Son of a Gun and tell me it doesn't stand up to any of the great early rock n'roll tracks...awesome.
Coming soon...DAY THREE! (can you contain yourselves?)
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
The Great Escape Festival was, well, great. No, make that GREAT. I managed to cram in a mighty 30 gigs and 2 interviews (watching them..not doing them) over the three days. A review (in some form or another) will follow...as will certain liver failure. Not big or clever. This week sees another orgy of gigs (if I go to them all that is... or indeed make it through the night). If music be the food of love...I'm a big, fat biffa.
Anyway, enough of my gibber jabber. Just before The Great Escape (the night before in fact, planning has never been my strong point) there was another kind of great escape (I should write for a free local newspaper or something shouldn't I?) in the form of the mighty Julian Cope (ably supported by opener Dan Whitehouse who I reviewed on this very site just a few weeks ago...lazy? Moi?). Mr Cope is another one of those British legends who we just don't seem to treasure enough. Mad as a badger on acid he may be, but he's done some cracking stuff over the years from the poppy 'smash hits' of The Teardrop Explodes through to the spaced out early solo stuff, back to 'smash hit' territory with World Shut Your Mouth, then all over the shop with heavy metal albums, books about stone circles and Krautrock, autobiographies...now he's writing a musical called A Dick in the Underworld...
He's also been responsible for one of my best ever gigs many moons ago in Wolverhampton (early 90's), but I don't think he's really toured much since then. I heard a bit of him at Glasto a few years ago (he was playing the 'acoustic tent' which was as full as an egg) and he seemed to be doing his best to annoy the audience with some weird folk stuff (although the scrumpy might have just addled my brain a little). Tonight however he was on fine form. Half stand up, half gig he played tracks from pretty much every phase of his career...none of the really obvious stuff, but 'Out Of My Mind On Dope And Speed' got an airing, which is good enough for me. He played a new track too (new to me anyway) called Living In The Room They Found Saddam In, all about the times he spends locked in his little room writing his books, musicals, music and god knows what else. Classic Cope.
Although it was billed as sort of a solo/acoustic show he shared the stage with some impressive speakers...the 'threat of bombast' as he called them. Every once in a while he'd plug himself in and unleash the threat a little bit. Then he'd go into a story about his wife summoning up spirits (the subject of the track O King of Chaos...about a spirit called O...and yes, he's a King of Chaos) or how he's writing a massive tome on Japanese rock music. Then he'd hop onto the mellotron for some spaced out stuff. Back to a story about Courtney Love, a bit more bombast...in fact the whole evening (a value-tastic 2 hours 20 minutes)was a pretty accurate reflection of what make JC such a treasure...you just never know what he's going to do next. If you've not listened to much Cope I can heartily recommend pretty much everything...but start with 20 Mothers...a great mid career (up to this point at least) album that didn't really get the success it deserved. Keep your eyes out for the world premiere of A Dick in the Underworld too...it'll sure beat the hell out of Scooch the Musical (I bet Ben Elton's working on that one right now).
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Anyway, on to cheerier things. I'm off! "Hurrah!" shout dozens...oh alright then 3 or 4...oh bugger maybe even less than that...of devoted readers. But soft, what light on yonder window breaks (nope, no idea why I wrote that either) ? I'm not actually off for good...just off to sunny Brighton for the orgy, literally, of musical yumminess that is The Great Escape Festival. 200 bands, one pair of socks and a Kiss Me Quick hat. I've not been before but it all looks like jolly good fun. Expect a series of random outpourings upon my return.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Anyway, the review. This is the first time in ages I've just gone along to see some bands without really knowing what to expect. In this era of My Space or yours it's just too easy to click and pick...so you could end up missing a great live band just because their demo's a sack of you know what. First up were Strangeways who don't seem to have logged into their My Space page since 2006. I'm guessing they don't gig much at the moment...or maybe they have a virus...perhaps they just can't be arsed. Live they were okay, reminded me a little of a rockier Charlatans in places. There's only one track that you can listen to online and I don't think it's their best...if you read this Strangeways, put some more stuff up you naughty chaps!
Next, The Riptides, who quite impressed me on a few tracks, Give Me a Reason (I think that was the title) was the highlight of a sparky set (yes, sparky) with lead singer Aaron twitching all over the shop like Ian Curtis on acid. If you're going to be a frontman / woman give it a bit of oomph that's what I say, and he did. Musically they have a rocky vibe going on with some electro keyboard stuff that gives it a nice twist (a touch Killers in places). Again, just one track to listen to on ver Space. Again, not their best.
Finally The Ganders. By this point I'd had a half or two (bottles...of red wine) washed down with some glider...so I was feeling in a 'mellow' kind of mood. I was also soaking wet (rain, nothing else, I have perfect bladder control...too much information?)...and a little peckish. So I could've been forgiven for being less than enthusiatic as the night wore on. But The Ganders were an unexpected treat. Good old fashioned (and I mean that in a positive way) blues rock that wouldn't have been out of place on The Old Grey Whistle Test next to Rod and The Faces, Whispering Bob Harris and Shouting Phil Gooseberry (I made one of those up, can you tell which one?). Lead Gander, Daz, has a solid bluesy voice and he's backed by an equally strong musical 'rock machine' (hmmm). Like fellow Brummies, Fillmore Gears, they're tapping into the '70's, but doing it well. Check out Black Sun (Live Demo) for some classic Ganders. In fact you could say (are you ready for this?) they're well worth a...(oh, you've spoilt it now) gander.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
On a vaguely serious note it appears from our chums at Live 365 that a big increase in royalty rates for online broadcasters is threatening to shut down the likes of Destination Doo Wop and Moods of the Moon...which would be a real shame.