Monday, October 14, 2013

Oxjam Brum Takeover 2013, Saturday 12th October – all over the place

On top of the obvious great cause Oxjam Brum’s also rapidly becoming a pretty important showcase for some of the best bands that Birmingham’s got to offer. Inevitably this leaves you spinning around in a vaguely confused state (even before a pint or six) agonising over where to go and what to see. All of the venues are pretty close together so it’s perfectly possible to hop from one to the other but then again I hate walking out of a place just as another band’s setting up...yes, I know I’m a big softie. Still we did take in four venues over eight hours or so, kicking off with the canal boat Frederick and a delightfully ramshackle set from The Bombergs’ front man Rick Wellings. Anyone who can mash up Nick Cave with Take That on a canal boat gets my vote and his cover of Nick Lowes (What’s So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding wasn’t half bad either. 

Off to The Yardbird for some top notch roots reggae courtesy of The Emmanualites and super cool scat soul from Call Me Unique (soon to be seen supporting Jessie J at the NIA). After a quick dash through the drizzle and a chat with a chap in John Bright Street we hit Cherry Reds for the first time. It’s a new place, coffee shop downstairs and an intimate venue up above (full marks for serving Marston’s Oyster Stout too), within which Drakelow played only their second gig to date including a super sweet cover of the Mac’s Everywhere and their own equally good (in my humble opinion) Swallowing Diamonds. After doing some swallowing of my own...damn that Oyster Stout’s good...Racing rocked up. Lordy they’re fun. It’s a bit funky, it’s a bit disco, it’s a bit synth makes you want to wear a white jacket with the sleeves rolled up. Brum’s answer to Chic. Possibly. Good times. Finally (for our time in Cherry Red at least) I Am Anushka (aka Little Palm, aka Anna Palmer) put on another of her “Good grief why isn’t she famous yet?” sets. Playing possibly the only keyboard visible from space (seriously, it’s as long as the Great Wall of China) she defies categorisation but if Bessie Smith and Tori Amos got it probably wouldn’t sound anything like this. I’d love to post up some music...but I can’t find any. How rock 'n' roll is that eh?

Leaving Cherry Reds we decamped for the rest of the night to The Sunflower Lounge and some serious rockkkkkkkkkkkk. As bills go you’d have to go a long way to beat Layers, Youth Man and God Damn in a sweaty basement. Who knows, maybe it was the cause, the atmosphere or simply the alignment of the planets but all three were on particularly fine form this evening. Layers (always a great live act) were the best I’d ever seen them. Smiling like a dude who knows he’s fronting one of the best new rock bands around right now lead singer Lance really went for it this evening, even resurrecting his legendary back flip (a bit of a rarity these days after a slip a while ago nearly left him needing a full set of false teeth). Playing everything from their frankly essential debut EP with a real punch the vocals were impressively strong, all the more remarkable given the fact that he didn’t stand still for more than a couple of seconds, even ending up (as is traditional with Layers gigs) on top of the bar at the back of the room. Lord knows how he's going to do that when they're playing Wembley...

Most bands would struggle to follow them but Youth Man played another blinder. Female fronted rock groups are sadly an all too rare thing but if there’s any justice in the world Kaila White’s riot grrrl on speed vocals and gloriously uninhibited lose yerself in the moment performance should inspire tweenies around the world to incinerate their 1D posters forever. Current single Heavy Rain is like being locked in a food blender with punk’s greatest hits and pulverised into a sticky mess. Yes, that good. 

Completing the evening’s destruction (quite literally) were the slimmed down God Damn (currently reduced to a duo following Dave’s car crash from which he is, thankfully, now recovering from). Ending their set like Sabbath in a bad mood Thom decided to do some minor retuning on his guitar by bouncing it against the ceiling and then finishing off the job on the wall. You don’t see many bands trash their kit these days...but then again you don’t normally see many bands as bust your nuts great as God Damn either. The fact that both Youth Man and the incendiary Layers were every bit as good says a hell of a lot about the state of music in the Midlands right now.

Huge respect to all involved in this event, the bands, the organisers, the punters that turned out in the rain...the crazy dude in John Bright Street...

EDIT: Damn it...forgot to mention Table Scraps at The Sunflower Lounge! How could I? It's my age...I'll be forgetting my name and buying industrial sized boxes of Rennies next. Anyway, Table Scraps. Boy / girl, guitar /, loud, garage rock...eleven (at least) flavours of fuzzed up awesomeness. See them at The Bulls Head this Wednesday (supporting PINS and September Girls). It's literally going to be a pussy riot. Here's a vid...

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