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SXSW 2014 preview coverage
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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.
It’s a quintessential English experience, walking along the Brighton seafront: eating Harry Ramsden fish and chips and contemplating risking your life/limbs on the suspect fairground rides on the pier. Add to that a veritable buffet of quirky seaside music venues and masses of emerging talent, and you have the ingredients for arguably the most exciting music festival in the UK.
The Great Escape pulls together a collection of music industry big wigs, PR’s, A and R’s and a host of bloggers (myself included) to scurry around the city, in search of the bands which people want to be first in on, just to say “I saw them first, in a 50-capacity venue”.
To name but a bands, who have in their infancy played at the festival – Bombay Bicycle Club in 2008 and 2009, who’re doing stupendously well at the moment, White Lies in their doom rock filled glory in 2008, drum’ n’ bass titans Chase and Status in 2010 alongside darling of the Brits, Ellie Goulding. Add to those names Frank Turner, Friendly Fires, The Vaccines and The Temper Trap, and let’s be honest, it’s looking like the obvious hotbed for breakthrough talent in the past 8 years.
This year it’s no different, with the festival from the 8th to 10th of May showcasing some of the best talent that is breaking out worldwide. Twenty-year old Charli XCX is the next in the line of take no shit-divas breaking into the music scene, following in the footsteps of musicians like Jessie J and, to a lesser extent, Lana Del Rey. While she may not be my cup of tea much like Tom Odell last year, I expect the venue she plays at to have snailling queues reaching onto the seafront, brimming with industry bods doing their level best to get in on the act.
Fresh from the release of EP ‘Devils Rope’ – Hampshire quintet New Desert Blues will be returning to The Great Escape to tell some more of their brilliant noir-indie stories. Last year at The Fishbowl, alongside about forty other Great Escape-ers I was lucky enough to stumble onto these boys – since then, they’ve matured and really nailed down their sound – 2014 is sure to be a huge year stateside and in the UK for New Desert Blues, with The Great Escape and their shows there will be a huge moment for them.
Brisbane three-piece Dune Rats have been causing the equivalent of an internet shitstorm, with catchy tunes like ‘Fuck It’ and ‘Red Light Green Light’ – I mean, who wouldn’t want to go get drunk in Brighton and watch three sweaty Aussies play a song called ‘Fuck It’. They’ll be appearing at the weekend too, but my personal recommendation are a band I’ve been a little bit pant-wettingly excited about lately, for good reason, is Royal Blood: a two-piece with shades of The White Stripes, flecks of Band of Skulls with some less than subtle Queens of the Stone Age and early Muse vibes. Simply unmissable.
Alongside the less established bands, The Great Escape always does it’s best to revisit bands who have done well after the festival – last year we saw the rebirth of Klaxons in all their nu-rave glory. This time around, we have Pulled Apart By Horses are doing the round; since Dinosaur Pile-Up played last year, effectively it’s like an upgrade: the grown up and far more tuneful rockers from Leeds are at the festival to bring some serious carnage to the seaside.
It’s a clichéd level of rhetoric, but in honesty – if you want a taste of everything the industry will be drooling over in the next twelve months and can’t afford the plane fare to South By Southwest, then The Great Escape is, quite simply, the place to be.
To buy tickets and get more information on the Great Escape 2014, visit their official Web site.
Nigh on 100,000 beer-swilling under aged lads and louts in a field – coupled with loud music and flashing lights – sounds like a less than ideal scenario looking at it from that perspective. Flipside: some of the best bands in the world at the moment, playing their hearts out at the festival they all seem to have gone to as a kid.
Every band wants to pull a set that people will look back to and say one of two things: “Fuck, I was there”, or “fuck, I wish I was there”. Reading and Leeds Festivals (this year on the 22nd to the 24h of August) have produced some of the most memorable festival sets of the last decade – Them Crooked Vultures in 2009, Foo Fighters in 2012 and Biffy Clyro’s triumphant headline debut last year, just to name but a few. This festival delivers memories that last a lifetime – whether it’s hailing and raining sideways, or the kind of glorious sunshine which has you reaching for gallons of After Sun – Reading and Leeds are a staple of the British festival calendar.
This year is no different. Whilst Blink-182’s headline set in 2010 was hardly the kind of note perfect spectacle which you expect of acts like Arcade Fire, their set was an emotive, nostalgia-driven, fart joke-driven manifestation. The kind of blast through the hits you want at festivals like Reading and Leeds and with a new album on the horizon this year, we’re sure to be treated a Rock Show Like No Other.
Joining them at the top of the bill are Arctic Monkeys, fresh from a domination of the popular music charts in 2013 with their fifth album ‘AM’. Their Glastonbury set last year was a triumph from the 21st century’s finest likely lads: the set was dripping with hit after hit, hook after hook and the swagger of Turner just shows the frontman he has become. Another behemoth of a headliner.
Lower down on the bill there’s a veritable plethora of new and emerging talent, coupled with some more established stars. Picks of the bunch have to be new boys on the block, Royal Blood, who will also be appearing at SXSW 2014. Their material aired of late has hints of the bass groove you’d expect from a Queens of the Stone Age album, whilst some of the drum beats feel like pre-’Origin of Symmetry’ Muse.
Whilst The Lock Up Stage is no more, Of Mice & Men will bring some metal to the proceedings. For the masses, there’s Radio 1 darlings and TGTF favourites The 1975 and 2013 Mercury Prize-nominated stars Disclosure. Throw into the mix Metronomy and take into account we still have another headliner to announce, alongside umpteen more acts lower down the bill, I know where I’ll be spending my August Bank Holiday. Simple.
Visit the official Reading and Leeds festival Web site here for more information on tickets and such.
It’s a forgone conclusion that the post-‘Poetry of the Deed’ releases from Frank Turner will prove to be inexplicably successful: the man could release a track of him farting to the tune of the Egyptian national anthem, and it’d still inevitably hit the singles charts. Such is the extent of the fandom surrounding the Hampshire-born singer songwriter punk-rock troubadour and any other title that I doth give him.
I’m not talking about the kind of fan frenzy which we see with cretins like One Direction and Justin Bieber, with thousands of tweenagers reTweeting and longing on their every syllable. I’m talking about a near-fanatical following that have grown with Frank Turner, from his Million Dead days, through ‘Love, Ire and Song’ and into the arena-rocking era of Turner of 2014. People who have been through his journey and feel it’s been a trek in which they’ve joined Turner on – he’s their icon, and for good reason.
For the past 9-ish years Turner has been gigging his little English arse off, playing pub shows, festival sets and tours left, right and centre. For it to have paid off in this amount though, is surely something which Frank won’t have predicted – I mean, no matter the success he comes across as the proverbial ‘everyman’ done good. An ‘everyman’ who can force grown-up, mentally-stable women into jittering, jabbering wrecks who are only capable of tears. (I’ve seen it.)
Enter the ‘Polaroid Picture’ EP – a five song collection of classic Frank-isms – the kind of stories and songs which have become Turner’s recipe for success. In opening track ‘Polaroid Picture’, we’re treated to some archetypal Turner nostalgia, backed by a semi-mournful piano melody. We’re then introduced to ‘The Modern Leper’ and Frank’s at his old tricks again, turning the most clichéd of phrases and turning it into gut-wrenchingly yet hauntingly beautiful imagery: “Yeah, I cut off all the good stuff / I cut off my foot to spite my legs.”
That may all seem like the kind of subject matter morbid enough to make you want to lop your own leg off, but Frank still has that sense of fun and whimsy which we’ve seen throughout his career. Case in point is ‘Plea From a Cat Called Virtute’, a song largely centred on a tattoo of a cat on his arm with Frank quirkily singing we should “invite the tabby from two doors down / you can ask your sister if she doesn’t bring her Basset Hound”.
This EP doesn’t just showcase his immense creativity and songwriting, but it’s also a spectacle of how brilliant a musician and artist he has become –captured magnificently in his understated cover of Biffy Clyro’s ‘Who’s Got a Match’ – a cover that if it was performed by one of those joyless pop princesses from One Direction or jailbird Bieber would probably have done the rounds on YouTube so often we’d all be sick to death of it. Instead, we’re treated to a stripped down, Anglicised version of a top, top tune.
Altogether, it is no doubt a meagre offering from Frank, clocking in at around 17-ish minutes. But it’s crammed full of the kind of heart, majesty and immense storytelling Frank is lauded for. Plus on ‘Sweet Albion Blues’ (video below), he mentions pretty much every UK town imaginable which should do well to keep his faithful, swooning fandom alive.
Why? Because on the ‘Polaroid Picture’ EP, he continues to be OUR Frank.
Frank Turner’s latest EP ‘Polaroid Picture’ is out now on Xtra Mile Recordings. Turner is just finishing up a UK tour this week.
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