| SXSW 2013 | Sound City 2013 | Great Escape 2013
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“Put on your war paint!” is the rallying call from the rejuvenated Patrick Stump as he bursts onto the stage to the operatic overture of ‘The Phoenix’, inviting a skirmish on the floor of Wembley Arena. And a battle Fall Out Boy did indeed incite: the battle between the post-hiatus and the pre-hiatus. No blood was spilt though (that I’m aware of, as I was in the rather soulless, seated area).
Now as openers go, ‘The Phoenix’ worked incredibly well whipping the masses of pre-pubescent girls and their Dads/chaperones into a living breathing body, swaying back and forth like the tide. Immediately, it was obvious that the fans that piled into the Wembley Arena for the evening’s frivolities had been captivated by FOB’s most recent post-hiatus record; the cheekily titled ‘Save Rock and Roll’. This new audience’s first taste of the Illinois foursome was ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)’ – this was among the songs that FOB’s newly captured audience held dearest. Meanwhile, the old schoolers (present company included), those who were brought up on a strict diet of ‘Take This To Your Grave’ with morsels of ‘From Under The Cork Tree’ and ‘Infinity On High’, were awaiting live staples like ‘Saturday’.
Now it’s the reaction to the set closer ‘Saturday’ that probably epitomised the post- vs. pre-feeling of the gig more than anything. The song that FOB have run out on each and every tour since their inception in 2005 is normally greeted with hysteria, screams and the wetting of pants from the more incontinently excitable among the crowd. As FOB closed out their arena sized big day out with the track, punters meandered to the exits, ignoring the pained screams of Messrs. Wentz and Stump. I expected the kind of mass hysteria tracks from ‘Save Rock and Roll’ were greeted with, not the rather upsetting displays of mass indifference songs from the band’s early back catalogue were instead greeted by.
But with the brief hiatus starving people of FOB-y goodness for a few years, a new audience have been introduced to the band, superseding the old guard, and is that a bad thing? Abso-friggin-lutely not. And the victor between the pre and the post? Neither. While there was a division at the gig, the two factions were joined in unison to anthems like ‘Sugar We’re Going Down’ and ‘Dance, Dance’. The difference was most apparent as the younger amongst the crowd were more inclined to lose their shit to the band’s Foxes’ collaboration than ‘Thriller’.
From the moment the four-piece arrived on stage, shrouded behind their balaclavas (I don’t get it, probably something to do with Courtney Love, mind), the energy was palpable and the set was peppered with a deliciously hook laden selection of songs. One after the other, 16 singalong anthems performed with boundless enthusiasm – the kind of enthusiasm, it seems, you need a small break hiatus to incite.
The break, whilst being a bit sad for an 18-year old John Fernandez, has obviously reinvigorated the band; and it’s obvious from the evening’s set whom has benefited the most from the time alone to ‘reflect’: Patrick Stump. Stump is now cutting his cloth as a bit of skinny, hip-thrusting heartthrob, and from Thursday’s showing, he has all the makings of a legendary frontman.
He has the stance, the outfits, the pipes and most notably the swagger. All night, when he was able to shrug off guitar duties, he strutted around Wembley’s stage like he bloody owned it. Now whilst Pete Wentz may be the poster boy of the band, Fall Out Boy 2.0 is most definitely a beast of Patrick Stump’s creation. Sure, the piano faux-impersonation of Elton John on the aural atrocity that is ‘Save Rock and Roll’ was a low point. But throughout the evening, the energy was palpable, and as frontmen go, Stump is the trailblazer for 2014.
The mid-show mini-set by Patrick, Pete and Joe Trohman was a very Coldplay-ey stadium touch, as seeing the band get ‘Serendipitous’ as hordes of teenage girls screeched aloud was testament to. While it was an interesting change of pace, songs like ‘Grand Theft Autumn’ are made for the electrical treatment and the thudding Wentz bass lines, whilst contrastingly ‘I’m Like A Lawyer’, worked brilliantly as a stripped down number. Put that one in ‘the needs work pile’, boys.
Even with the interlude slowing proceedings down, the highlight of the show ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)’ brought the hysteria back. As a single, on record I thought it was questionable. But undoubtedly after seeing it live for the second time, it’s obvious the song was made for the live arena. From the stage Stump conducted masterfully as tens of thousands of fans joined in unison a chorus of ‘LIGHT ‘EM OP OOP OOOOP’. The show was indisputably a triumph for the band showcasing a dramatic growth in their live sets. There were very few frills and the music – as it should – did the talking for the band.
Now as I was walking to the gig from a delicious Nando’s (other chicken is available and is also delicious), my company for the evening asked me where we were going. As she assumed it was a gig in Wembley Stadium, not the arena. Before the gig, the thought of FOB headlining the stadium seemed a bit laughable to me. Post-show though, it’s not the most bizarre of thoughts that they could be gracing the stage there in the next decade. Maybe then they’ll need some of the bells and whistles (the frills they did without) to go with it? Perhaps when they order the audience to “Put on their war paint!” Stump and Wentz will charge on to the stage with giant paint guns, Billie Joe style?
Stranger things… But for now, Fall Out Boy 2.0 are quite content with letting the tunes alone ‘Light ‘Em Up’.
TGTF loves the North – we love Steven Gerrard, we love The Beatles, we love Alan Shearer, we love The Stone Rose, we bloody love things with gravy on, we even are rather partial to a parmo (it’s covered in cheese and very Northern), so of course, we love Liverpool Sound City. Which, I suppose, means if The Great Escape is the UK’s SXSW, Sound City is the North’s Great Escape. Their mantra? Championing the best breakthrough acts of the year across a variety of intimate and stirring venues, including the strikingly beautiful cathedral, which last year hosted an emotive set by Noah and the Whale, and The Kazimier Gardens, where the festival’s Korean showcase last year was an exciting centrepiece. So, who’s on the bill this year?
They’re probably sick of being known as the band with “that really cute video, which makes me feel sad, then happy, because the man’s face is a bit weird, and Fearne Cotton of the radio mentioned it a lot”. But Kodaline (pictured at top) have in the last year and a half established themselves as an extremely credible Irish alternative to your early 21st century Coldplay – perhaps with a little more sense of adventure – but in essence, the vibes are very similar. They’ll be the star attraction on Saturday the 3rd of May, without a doubt, seeing as they managed to pack a tent at Reading last year. Sound City should be a great chance to get up close and familiar with this group of future stars.
BBC Sound of 2014’s Jungle should be an interesting concept on the Saturday: interesting and a bit peculiar for the fact they aren’t particularly partial to people seeing them on stage, so they usually perform behind a shroud of mist. Barring the shyness, they’re an experimental duo called T and J and their music has mainly been promoted through the extreme viral draw of their first two videos. With the prospect of a live show, the mystery makes them surely an unmissable prospect. Or perhaps a very missable prospect? Who the fuck knows? Just grab a picture if you do…
Stoner-rockers Drenge are performing on the Friday and look an attention-grabbing prospect for mid-festival viewing. They grabbed a lot of hype, perhaps not ‘Vintage Trouble’ levels when they appeared on Jools Holland last year; it was obvious their energy, combined with their raw, rugged riffs would win them some admirers. This is the kind of festival a band like Drenge are made for, and in a close-up and personal venue, expect this double act to incite some carnage.
Last year Findlay grabbed the attention of our very own Martin Sharman and fought her way to the top of our 10 for 2014 poll; now she’s back on the Friday of Sound City. Empowered women of the world, get ready to meet your new champion. Raw, unrelenting and with a siren-like voice that’ll have any warm blooded male ensnared, she is a welcome addition to the line-up.
That’s just a small cross-section of what will be a freaking ace 3 days of new music and if I didn’t whet your appetite yet, you can also look forward to a bit of London based four-piece LSA, dirty rockers Lola Colt or indie-electro-pop trio We Were Evergreen. Liverpool Sound City 2014 has something for everyone and is easily the best route to go down, if you want to spend your 2015 telling your mates: “I was there when they were playing to 50 people in a bar in Liverpool – I was there first”.
For much more about Liverpool Sound City including how to book delegate or punter tickets, visit their official Web site.
Waylayers are like a cool ice bath in the searing heat of Austin, Texas. This London based synth-pop four-piece feel incredibly fresh, as they engulf you in their delightfully chipper electronica beats. Dripping with a subtle sense of euphoria their new track ‘Medicine’ has the kind of hook deserving of top chart billing – especially seeing as everyone is getting a bit bored of being told how bloody happy Pharrell is.
We get it, Pharrell – it’s the absolute tits being you – now fuck off, will you?
In a completely positive fashion, frontman Harry Lee’s vocals remind me of Chris Martin of Coldplay*, inoffensive and unobtrusive whilst wholly compelling in the same chords. The chorus of ‘Medicine’ feels extremely ‘80s and works as an atmosphere builder perfectly. The final 20 seconds of the single seems like it’s dragged directly from the end of a Rick Astley song.
Nostalgia aside, you can immediately imagine this pulsing from speakers as you wade through a sea of dry ice. In tandem with their earlier EP, Waylayers are certainly an interesting prospect for your perusal at SXSW. They’re the kind of cute British boys, ala Two Door Cinema Club (also three band members) who you can imagine the American population will adore.
With that in mind, Saturday the 15th of March at 9 in the evening at Icenhauer’s is a showcase sure to have the industry crawling with their grubby mitts all over this three-piece.
*I really like old Coldplay and I REALLY dislike new Coldplay.
A whacking great 150 new acts have been announced for The Great Escape 2014 this year. The UK’s answer to South By Southwest is situated on the calming, classic British seaside town of Brighton from the 8th until the 10th of May.
Joining Kelis, Royal Blood and Charli XCX on the line-up is first and foremost Mercury Prize nominee Jon Hopkins, whose inimitable take on melodic electronica has seen him work with Imogen Heap and Brian Eno. Breaking out and going solo, we have The Strokes’ guitarist Albert Hammond Jr., who whilst being well known for the exploits of ‘Last Nite’ exploits, is attempting to cut his teeth as a lone performer – what a place to pick up fans TGE is, eh?
One of my picks, of the newly added acts to the bill has to be BBC Sound of 2014 darling George Ezra. His bluesy-melodic pop shows a maturity well past his age, and to hear ‘Do You Hear the Rain’ in a small venue is sure to have the hairs on the back of your neck, not just standing to attention, but saluting and giving a little ‘Ten Hut’ as well.
Close to our hearts at There Goes The Fear is another one of the new additions: Jimi Goodwin, who is best known as the frontman of Doves, he’s another one who only recently has decided to walk the walk of a solo artist, and Brighton seems as good a place as any to see how he is managing on his own.
Other highlights on the bill now are Scots Casual Sex, who will be showcasing at SXSW 2014 before coming out to Brighton, new-age folkers Dry the River, Go Wolf and rap collective Ratking. And last but certainly not least, Wild Beasts will be making a triumphant return to Brighton to headline at the Dome on Friday night, supported by These New Puritans.
To buy tickets and get more information on the Great Escape 2014, visit their official Web site. You can also read John’s original festival announcement here.
Prepare to embrace mother earth: I’m talking grabbing her by the grass skirt, jumping in a big muddy puddle and rolling around until you smell a bit compost-y. Sound like your cup of herbal tea? Get yourself heading down south then, to the land of propa’ cider, tractors and a host of other rural clichés – as 2000 Trees (10-12 July) returns to Upcote Farm in Cheltenham.
Established in 2007, the organisers’ mantra was to ensure they didn’t become everything they had grown to hate – this being the corporate commercial entities which they believed most modern festivals had become – the corporate sponsorships and ‘supposed soullessness’ of most major UK festivals. To do so they’ve kept their event true to its now deeply dug roots:
• Maximum 5,000 people
• Locally produced food and drink
• Friendly atmosphere
• A commitment to stay get as close to carbon neutrality as is humanly possible.
With these cornerstones of the festival set, the rest of the weekend is of course focussed on the best live bands available – with every act being personally approved and vetted by the bookings team before being added to the bill. The fruits of this stringent and possibly unique selection process are an eclectic mix, bringing to Cheltenham some of the most exciting live acts doing the rounds at the moment, from a plethora of genres, folk to funk, rock to rap.
Such is the nature of 2000 Trees line-up, that if you were to put a poster up on the wall, throw a dart at the line-up then throw it again, the artist or band it lands on would bear no similarity to the other. While some festivals may target a specific genre a la Download, Sonisphere, etc., 2000 Trees really does cater for most.
Highlights of the bill have to be led by Public Service Broadcasting (pictured at top) – a band whose live show is best described as an aural assault of post-rock goodness, with smatterings of wartime announcements and Chemical Brothers-ish synths.
Since Trees’ inception, Upcote Farm has been a clamour for a Reuben reunion and a performance from the boys – since that doesn’t seem like it’s coming around the corner anytime soon – ex-Reuben man Jamie Lenman will have to do. Bringing with him an almost cult following, his new groove metal album ‘Muscle Memory’ fully showcases the artists immense creativity and eccentricity.
Prog-rockers Tall Ships are also on the bill and are an act not to be missed. Mixing a huge heavy sound with a distinctly minimalist approach, and in this creating a truly unique live experience. One of my favourites Arcane Roots will be appearing across the weekend too, alongside a favourite at the festival – Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – I mean, who won’t lose all of their shit to ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’, yeah?
To book tickets and get all the nitty gritty details, visit the official 2000 Trees Web site.
Emerging from the smouldering ashes of its Britannic demise, Sonisphere returns after what appeared to be ‘an indefinite hiatus’ year in 2013 – it seemed the inevitable excitement/carnage that ensued post-The Big Four in 2011 was too much for Sonisphere’s Knebworth bash to handle. It was obvious the festival was suffering in 2012: they were in the proverbial doldrums of booking acts, with their top billing going to aged hair metallers Kiss – followed by Queen and Faith No More – I suppose again though, post-The Big Four the question is for any metal band booker, where do we go from here?
In true Fawkes from Harry Potter style though, the festival has spread its wings and is spreading a trail of thrashy fire around Knebworth in preparation for the festivals erstwhile rebirth-as-it-was(ish).
The line-up will cater to both the most seasoned mosh-bandit, to the slighter rocker – anything from your fully kitted out – I’m talking all the clichés, studded jacket, trousers the colour similar to that seen on a solar eclipse and piercings from ear to ear- heavy music fan, to the meekest of rock enthusiast, who furtively enjoys a bit of ska.
To start of proceedings arguably one of the best live acts still doing the circuits, The Prodigy will be kindly falling in line with the phoenix metaphors with their displays of twisted firestarting. While the classics, ‘Firestarter’, ‘Breathe’, ‘Poison’ and ‘Out of Space’ will be sure to whip any crowd into a frenzied mass, it’s tracks like ‘Omen’ and ‘Take Me to the Hospital’ from their most recent record ‘Invaders Must Die’, which are more familiar with the younger generations who will be putting their bodies on the line at Knebworth.
Joining them on Friday’s bill are fresh from the Kerrang! tour band, Limp Bizkit, bringing with them a host of nu-metal nostalgia along with some new material which has even included a collaboration with that stand-up character L’il Wayne. If that’s not your cup of tea, the 5th of July sees THE Iron Maiden appear at Knebworth, supported by the thundering riffs of Deftones and the not-so-thundering-riffs, but wholeheartedly rocking Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls.
Bruce Dickinson’s Union Jack waving exploits not cutting it for you? Thoroughly incredulous towards ‘The Number of the Beast’? Fear not, the thrash on the Saturn Stage will be tantamount to your approval – enter Slayer. I challenge you – nay, I dare you – not to well and truly lose every semblance of ‘your shit’ when ‘Reign in Blood’ drops. They’re an institution before being a band, and if their cult following doesn’t sell out Knebworth alone, Alice in Chains and Metallica (with maybe a less menacing Lars Ulrich pictured at top) should do the trick in equal measure.
Add to that equation, that if you snag a weekend ticket ASAP, you’ll be able to help choose 17 out of 18 of Metallica’s set. So you’ll be looking forward to a Sunday closing set chocked to the block with the hits you want. And really, what else could you want?
To book tickets and more information on Sonisphere as it returns for a new year, visit their official Web site.
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