TGTF will be on a break from 23 November to 5 December. Our festival coverage, including that from SXSW 2017 and BIGSOUND 2017, can be read through here.

SXSW 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Live at Leeds 2016 | 2015 | 2014
Sound City 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Great Escape 2015 | 2013 | 2012

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Video of the Moment #2413: Converge

 
By on Tuesday, 1st August 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

2017 has already proven to be a year that taketh: the deaths of Chuck Berry and Gregg Allman, legends of generations past, plus the suicides of more recent rock royalty Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington. However, 2017 has also already proven that it giveth, too. Following the release of their 2012 album ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’, we thought that might be it for metal heads Converge.

Courtesy of Epitaph and Deathwish Records, the band has released a 7″, 2-track EP. As you might expect, ‘I Can Tell You About Pain’ is a punishing listen, with Jacob Bannon’s menacing vocals just barely rising above the pounding instrumentation. In short, an intense experience and one with lyrics that reflect what I imagine were the mindset of Cornell and Bennington in their final moments. Watch the music video for ‘I Can Tell You About Pain’ below. For more on Converge here on TGTF, follow this link.

 

Deer Shed Festival 2017: Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Tuesday, 1st August 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

Words and photos by Martin Sharman, formerly Head Photographer at TGTF

A rain shower of ferocious but mercifully short intensity awoke all but the most persistent party heads at breakfast time. Saturday is the traditional time when the kids are raring to make a mess and have a party with the smorgasbord of stuff laid on for them, so off we go. There’s crafts galore: painting pots, making milk bottle faces, sewing ra-ra skirts, and creating robot faces out of cardboard boxes. For the little ones, there’s storytelling, and not just your average bedtime effort: this rendition of Bear Hunt ended up in a toddler foam party. Don’t try this at home, kids. Honestly, please don’t. For the older ones, the science tent is where it’s at. There’s countless electronic experiments to take part in, from making basic circuits on cardboard bases, to soldering more complex ones, to taking a screwdriver and a hammer to an enormous pile of obsolete consumer electronics. Music-wise, there was a competition to see who could sing the longest note (I had my eye on the top prize but had to settle for third with 42 seconds), and a multitude of analogue synth and beginners’ DJ classes. The racket from which, as you can imagine, makes the science tent quite an intense experience. Misophonics should steer clear.

Deer Shed 2017

The theme for this year was the Wilderwild, which introduced a completely new area of the festival, devoted to the natural world and humans’ place within it. There was all manner of wild pastimes to have a go at: a stall devoted to a love of hedgehogs, where you could make one out of a pine cone; an actual blacksmith where you could make your own horseshoe in case your steed had lost one; the seemingly innocuous but actually very messy chance to model clay; and a brilliant method of making fire from sticks, which actually works, but is a bit more involved than just rubbing a couple of twigs together. We made a dream catcher. We missed the den building and the live theatre so can only imagine their wondrous delights. In short, what a brilliant and appropriate addition to the festival and one can only hope it becomes a permanent fixture.

Bands-wise, October Drift were impressively active in their morning slot (Teenage Fanclub take note), their proggy songs suddenly jerking into life a bleary early crowd. The Big Moon were brilliant as always and continue the tradition of excellent lady-bands at Deer Shed. Roddy Woomble was the highlight of many people’s weekend with his off-kilter guitar pop.

Happyness at Deer Shed 2017

Stop the press for Happyness. Not satisfied by their performance on Friday night, they were pressed into service for another performance to substitute for a sadly absent booking. And in the flesh they were the best I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen them a lot. In this writer’s opinion, they are the best art-rock band in the country right now; their offering of surrealist, downtempo art-rock is utterly perfect – there was some involvement of the legs from a high-street window mannekin, and of course scalping Win Butler – they’ve added a keyboard player now but still there is no finer afternoon festival experience than the inscrutable minimalism that is Happyness. They don’t seem that happy but that’s how I end up when I see them. Well done.

The return of Ibibio Sound Machine is a glory to behold. Bringing a flash of African colour to the North Yorkshire countryside, their mere presence is a joyous, uplifting affair – add to that that they play a wonderful mashup of traditional African rhythms, funk, soul, and electro, and further still that singer Eno Williams wears shoulder pads so impressive you could serve Sunday lunch on them, and you have the recipe for a classic Deer Shed appearance. Tea time on Saturday is the musical crescendo of the festival for many: either kids for whom bed isn’t far away, or the parents that have to return to the tent to look after them. To experience such a blast of positivity and extroversion should be the way we all prepare for a decent night’s slumber.

[Those averse to a rant, or are in favour or Ms Kate Tempest should skip the next three paragraphs. You have been warned.]

The worst way to be woken from such repose would be by the awful racket that comes out of Kate Tempest’s mouth, so what better way to drown it out than another droning cacophony: that of a heavy rainstorm atop canvas? Which is exactly what happened. For the exact duration of her set – no shorter, no longer – the heavens gave the site a thorough drenching. Deer Shed themselves reviewed her performance as prophetic. How? Their review was written only the day after. Had anything she prophesied already come true? Did she predict the rain? Does a black cloud follow her around? Or maybe she’s prophetic in the more general sense of being a prophet: a modern-day Chicken Licken who’s come to tell us how awful we all are and how shit the world is. According to the festival, being subjected to “an apocalyptic epic poem about the pain and suffering inflicted on the most deprived members of society” is a fun way to spend a Saturday night, and apparently the pouring rain actually enhanced the experience. The sky is falling! Wicked, man! Blame the Tories!

It’s a truism that one person’s champion of the disenfranchised is another person’s dreary propagandist, and for this writer Kate Tempest falls firmly into the second category. So we have a situation exactly like Billy Bragg in 2015: at least half the festival have NOTHING TO SEE at what should be the climax of the entire weekend. Why Deer Shed should repeat the mistake of headlining a divisive, politically-charged, minimalist solo artist who’s made a career entirely out of invoking leftier-than-thou middle-class guilt at the exact time when everyone should be united in one big pillow of funky togetherness absolutely fails to compute. Moreover, Tempest is a hypocrite of the highest order – she moans about “the gulf that separates us” whilst by her own presence creating that very gulf; she quite shamelessly complains about “ugly words in public spaces” – I couldn’t think of a better way to describe her own perverse, monotone streams of consciousness. I come to festivals for respite from the turbulent political landscape, not to have it thrust before me. I come to festivals to experience beauty and optimism; hers is an ugly, hopeless world. Most importantly, I come to festivals to have fun, and Tempest is no fun at all. The triumphs of Darwin Deez, Johnny Marr and Richard Hawley are but mocking memories.

Apparently the reasoning for the Tempest booking is to attract more “young people” to the festival. Which is deeply patronising and didn’t work out anyway: every person I spoke to, of all ages and shoe sizes, could sum up their opinion of Tempest as “meh”. And is it just me, or are there already more children here than at every other festival in the land? Perhaps by young people they mean young adults, in which case I would have thought that that age have ample choice in the festival market, and to try and attract a group who the vast majority of your usual demographic are paying you good money to avoid, would be something of a mistake. The Big Chill tried that and look what happened to them. The “young adult” that I bumped into who was complaining about losing his block of hashish before promptly consuming most of a discarded and grassy cardboard plate of cold pasta with his bare hands could hardly be called Deer Shed’s target market. Stick to what, and who, you know.

At any rate, the potential disappointment for losing a Saturday headliner was tempered by the fact I didn’t have to get wet listening to them, and that the Obelisk stage actually worked this time. By which I mean the post-Tempest brilliance of Aelfen, who are secretly a heavy metal act disguised as a folk band – they started off innocuously enough, but by the end of their set the tent was rocking. Good stuff. Marc Riley took over for a bit, playing a predictable but nonetheless rewarding set of classic tunes: lots of ‘80s, some Prince, Bowie, et al.

And then – stop the press! – some actual DJing from Manchester-based collective Across the Tracks. Of course you never see real vinyl these days, but these guys were the next best thing, beatmatching like the experts they are, wrangling perfect mixes from the tabled Pioneers. For a while the tent was properly grooving and whooping to a very competent house music set, and finally there was a reason for the “Rave” definition that the programme had so tantalisingly promised. Deer Shed was finally letting its hair down, which is really all we ask of it.

As I left the Obelisk tent, the rain was falling. The ground was slippery mud. Tomorrow could be challenging.

Across the Tracks at Deer Shed

 

Video of the Moment #2412: Fall Out Boy

 
By on Monday, 31st July 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

Noughties emo rockers Fall Out Boy will be releasing their seventh studio album in September. Not bad longevity, eh? For the music video for their most recent single from it, ‘Champion’, they convinced a Hollywood A-lister (well, the kid of a Hollywood A-lister, I guess), Jaden Smith, to star in it.

The premise of the story here is pretty simple: virtual reality is the conduit through which we can follow multiple people’s very different lives. The song itself encourages survival, so it’s odd that at the video’s conclusion, Smith uses a baseball bat to destroy the virtual reality console. Maybe it’s more of a figurative message from Fall Out Boy that we shouldn’t be wishing for a life other than the one we’ve been given? ‘M A N I A’ from the band will be released on the 15th of September on Island Records. Past TGTF coverage on Fall Out Boy can be read through here.

 

Deer Shed Festival 2017: Day 1 Roundup

 
By on Monday, 31st July 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

Words and photos by Martin Sharman, formerly Head Photographer at TGTF, except where noted

If last year’s Deer Shed was the impeccably-behaved child who eats with their knife and fork and never speaks with their mouth full, 1 year on that same child is bigger, a bit more difficult to get on with, but still manages to bring joy in virtually unlimited quantities when they’re on their best behaviour. The first signs of growing pains come when we are introduced to a brand new parking field, easily doubling the distance ‘twixt vehicle and pitch. Still a modest trek in comparison to some, but the extra luggage distance is a sure-fire recipe for sore arms. The new field was needed because the camping areas have been enlarged at the expense of parking spaces, meaning that there’s almost too much camping space: there’s acres of room, so nobody has to camp near anyone they don’t want to.

Deer Shed 2017 signpost

It was sunny.

On Friday, the dulcet melodies of Happyness (of whom more later) and Honeyblood (a brilliant two-girl Scottish duo of various grungey textures) spill on the gentle breeze as we have line-of-sight of the main stage from the campsite: such luxury!) But by the time airbeds are firmed, John Shuttleworth is the unanimous choice for first act in person. His deadpan delivery is spot on, as always. The “soundcheck” joke deserves to be repeated at stages across the land, and in his delivery of such postmodern classics as ‘Two Margarines’ and ‘I Can’t Go Back to Savoury Now’ live the ghosts of such diverse entertainers as Les Dawson and Fred Dibnah.

John Shuttleworth by photographer Simon Godley for Deer Shed Festival
John Shuttleworth by photographer Simon Godley for Deer Shed Festival

Kids are dispatched, and it’s time to finally see Teenage Fanclub live after many a year of listening to them on record. I believe they were alive, just, although from the one-dimensional dynamic built from the same metronomic handful of chords played in slightly different orders, it was difficult to be sure they were fully awake. The breathless fanboyism of Deer Shed’s own review tells a different story, but let’s set the record straight here: unless your idea of fun is watching the result of an accountants’ team-building session shuffling around a stage, stick to their recorded oeuvre.

It was still dry.

Teenage Fanclub by photographer Simon Godley for Deer Shed Festival
Teenage Fanclub by photographer Simon Godley for Deer Shed Festival

This was mentioned back in 2015, but it bears repeating now: presumably in an effort to swell the audience for a headliner who needs such assistance, there is nothing scheduled elsewhere on the site during the final main stage band. There was little point in escaping Fanclub so they received the benefit of the doubt and a full viewing in case they got going a bit towards the end (they didn’t). The Obelisk tent is Deer Shed’s traditional late-night party venue, and it kicks off just after the headliners finish around 11 o’clock. Revellers flock there to continue the party, in the hope of a fresh beverage and some tunes of increasing intensity.

The former: yes, the latter: not so much. Bryde is excellent in her own way, with a beautiful breathy voice and songs of drama and poise. I wouldn’t mind her in the sun earlier in the day, but in essence she’s just a girl with a guitar, at gone 11 at night, when there’s nothing else on and everyone wants at least a boogie, basically. And after her there’s another solo singer/songwriter, Lewis Bootle, who I like less. His patois-hip-singing is annoying and falls far short of satisfying an increasingly impatient crowd. They’ve even taken away the piano that’s been in the corner of the bar for Sheds past. Sacrilege! (I’d find it the next day, looking damp and forlorn, abandoned on the grass some way outside the tent. With the lid locked shut.)

Someone faffs around with a mixer for ages and finally, well past midnight, some danceable music comes on. Nothing special mind, just an indie disco basically, but it’ll do. They say you make your own entertainment, however, so meanwhile all number of just-about-remembered faces from festivals gone by are reacquainted, along with some new ones (shout out to Jen, Billie, Alex, Chris, Neil… and all those others whose names I’ve forgotten), so a night in the Obelisk is always memorable. But please, Deer Shed, can you schedule something upbeat every night as soon as the main stage ends? Many thanks.

It still hadn’t rained as I crawled into bed.

 

Single Review: The Killers – Run for Cover

 
By on Monday, 31st July 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

It hasn’t been looking too good for bands from the Noughties. I mentioned in my review of Chris BAIO’s new album that Vampire Weekend are probably done, and The Strokes have been quiet. I thought we could write off The Killers as well, having given up on them after the inconsistent ‘Day and Age’ in 2008. Turns out the band from Las Vegas have a fifth album in them. ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ will be released in September and follows individual band members’ solo and side projects and bassist Mark Stoermer’s break from music to return to school. Two weeks ago, I shared with you the promo video for ‘The Man’, a urban disco-infused thumper of a track that sounded weird for The Killers to me. Shortly after I posted it, I reconsidered, thinking of the annoyingly funky ‘Joy Ride’ from ‘Day and Age’. Maybe they’re just working themselves backwards?

For those of you who think The Killers and disco don’t go together, ‘Run for Cover’ will have you breathing a sigh of relief. Released last Friday, it’s actually sounds like the band have returned way back to their roots. In vocal delivery style, the new single has more in common with ‘Somebody Told Me’ from those nostalgic ‘Hot Fuss’ days than anything in their back catalogue I can put my finger on. The freneticism of guitar notes, followed by bright drumbeats, convey both anxiety and urgency, and the lyrics haven’t even started yet.

It’s a grammar geek’s dream to begin with. Brandon Flowers stretches a rhyme between “progenitors” (when have you heard that in a pop song) and “senator’s”. “What have you gathered to report to your progenitors? / Are your excuses any better than your senator’s?” His tone is accusatory, his forked tongue suggesting his target isn’t any better than that statesman on a pedestal who cheated on his wife and got caught. Ouch. The two pre-choruses conjure images of strong people the protagonist idolizes: African-American boxer Sonny Liston, known to the world for being formidable (curiously, the word for ‘wonderful’ in French) and his mother, strong and resolute, but eventually breaking down: “I said, ‘Momma I know you’ve tried’ / but she fell on her knees and cried”.

Even from these two people who exhibit their positions of strength, the chorus urges us to “run for cover, don’t be afraid of the fear, that’s a played out trap, man / I know you’re not the only one”. Initially, I considered the recommendation curious, as ‘The Man’ who preceded this single was all cocksure. But I don’t think The Killers want us to be scared. While the rapid-fire lyrics of the chorus do give a sense of tumult, a clever use of shiny synths gives this song a special feel, as if it’s intended to inspire action, to protect ourselves and others and in solidarity. Given that some of our American statesmen and stateswomen just voted last week to protect the very healthcare that covers the vulnerable of our country, the timing of this single couldn’t be more perfect. And “He got a big smile, he’s fake news / Just run for cover, you’ve got nothing left to lose”? I’m just going to leave that there and look forward to ‘Wonderful Wonderful’.

8.5/10

‘Run for Cover’, the newest single from The Killers, is out now on Island Records. ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ will follow on the 22nd of September. Catch all of our past coverage here on TGTF on Brandon Flowers and co. through this link.

 

Liam Fray / October and November 2017 UK Tour

 
By on Monday, 31st July 2017 at 9:00 am
 

Courteeners frontman Liam Fray has made a surprise announcement. He’ll be touring the UK in October and November to play an impressive run of acoustic shows. The tour concludes with two hometown shows in Manchester on the 3rd and 4th of November. These shows will allow Fray to go back to the singer/songwriter guise that he began his music career with in earnest in the early days. While the general sale for the tickets to this tour go on sale on Friday, the 4th of August at 9 AM, a presale begins 2 days earlier, on Wednesday, the 2nd of August, at 9 AM.

Thursday 19th October 2017 – Edinburgh Liquid Room
Friday 20th October 2017 – Glasgow ABC
Saturday 21st October 2017 – Newcastle Riverside
Monday 23rd October 2017 – Bristol Thekla
Tuesday 24th October 2017 – Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
Thursday 26th October 2017 – Wolverhampton Slade Rooms
Friday 27th October 2017 – London Koko
Saturday 28th October 2017 – Sheffield Academy
Monday 30th October 2017 – Liverpool Academy
Tuesday 31st October 2017 – Wrexham Central Station
Thursday 2nd November 2017 – Leeds Academy
Friday 3rd November 2017 – Manchester Albert Hall
Saturday 4th November 2017 – Manchester Albert Hall

 
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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 is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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