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Live Gig Video: alt-J perform ‘Left Hand Free’ at the Main Stage at Reading 2015 (Friday)

 
By on Tuesday, 1st September 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

My my, how the mighty alt-J have risen. If you don’t believe me, check out their Main Stage appearance at Reading last Friday, performing the incredibly catchy ‘Left Hand Free’, from their sophomore album ‘This is All Yours’ released in autumn 2014, embedded below.

To watch the promo video for ‘Left Hand Free’ that debuted last summer, head here. Want more on alt-J on TGTF? Right this way.

If you live in the UK, until the 29th of September you have access to over 40 full sets of action from Reading/Leeds 2015 through the BBC’s Web site for the festival weekend. For full details, go here. If you like outside the UK, you’ll be able to enjoy selected highlights from the weekend on BBC’s YouTube channel, including coverage from the BBC Introducing stage.

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Live Review: Life in Film with Broke Royals at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington, DC – 25th August 2015

 
By on Thursday, 27th August 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Back in the spring of this year, London band Life in Film accompanied The Wombats on their most recent North American tour campaign. I’d thought for months and discussed with their frontman Samuel Fry when I interviewed him prior going out to England that I’d missed the opportunity of seeing the foursome play in my hometown at the 9:30 Club, but I learned Tuesday night that Life in Film had to pull out of their expected 9:30 Club date with the Liverpool band, so I ended up not missing it after all. Instead, on a surprisingly pleasant August evening, I saw them headline the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel in Northeast, playing songs from their debut album ‘Here It Comes’ and some newer ones including ‘My Mate’s Car’ that Fry said they wrote in the interim time since missing DC the first time. Having followed the band for the better part of 6 years, I was excited to see them gig to say the least!

Broke Royals at Rock 'n' Roll Hotel August 2015

You’d think I’d be more used to seeing large groups of friends and family showing up to see a local band play, but actually it’s not been my experience. Broke Royals are native to DC and their relatives and friends came out in full force, some of them sporting crowns to go along with the royal theme, clapping and cheering all the way. That’s the way it should be, folks: support means so much to a struggling band. Live, band members Philip Basnight (lead vocals / guitar) and Colin Cross (drums) are joined live by friends on lead guitar and bass. I had to admit I groaned slightly when I saw the appearance of a Macbook next to Cross, but I guess they don’t have the means to get another percussionist or a synth player. Would be worth the expense if they make it to the big leagues, though.

Broke Royals at Rock 'n' Roll Hotel August 2015

There’s no way you could accuse Broke Royals of having songs that all sound the same. This, however, could be a real problem when they shop for a record deal. ‘Hold On’, which Basnight said was for a friend, has an r&b flavour matching well with his winsome smile and all his charm of an aspiring boyband member, while on the almost too sweet ‘So Much to Learn’, his request for the audience for a call and response reaction plays right in boyband territory; his ditching of his guitar to dance on ‘Kill the Camera’ seems to agree with all of this. The easy, breezy pop of ‘About Time’ conjures up for me seeing Jack Johnson out in the sun Sunday afternoon at Roskilde 2010. Confusingly, ‘Trap’ has a harder, almost all enveloping rock sound owing to their excellent live lead guitarist, and they closed the set with ‘Hum’, another anthemic rock number. Will the real Broke Royals please stand up? I’d recommend they choose one direction, even if it is a general one, and stick to it.

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Okay, so I’m seriously confused about what has happened with Life in Film’s debut album. I’m no stranger to tracklistings rearranging when a UK album comes over stateside. Two Door Cinema Club’s debut album ‘Tourist History’ comes to mind. But for the actual list of songs to change significantly? I bought the American version of ‘Here It Comes’ at the show Tuesday, which only has a few songs in common with the UK version I reviewed in April. Funnily enough, the opening track of the American version is ‘It’s What Happen Next That Matters Most’ was their set opener and sounded vaguely Two Door with its melodic guitar. Disappointing for me who is familiar with the UK tracklisting, they chose to omit three of their oldest songs that appeared on the UK version (‘The Idiot’, ‘Carla’, ‘Needles and Pins’) that I was counting on hearing. Speaking to bassist Dom Sennett after the show, it sounds like they’ve closed the book on that era and we might never hear those songs live again.

Life in Film at Rock 'n' Roll Hotel August 2015

That said, there was plenty in their set to be pleased about. ‘Get Closer’, which I imagine will be their signature tune, got everyone jumping and dancing, with its footloose and fancy free feeling, the audience joining in on the repeated shouts of “get closer!” Guitarist Ed Ibbotson’s fancy guitar picking on ‘Anna, Please Don’t Go’ was peerless, allowing Fry to go for a more introspective and softer tone, and the punters responded in going silent so the beauty of the song could shine. Smiling widely after, Fry remarked that we had been the quietest crowd yet for this song on this tour and he appreciated the respect.

Life in Film at Rock 'n' Roll Hotel August 2015

The shuffly bits of ‘Forest Fire’ made more sense to me live than they did on record, suggesting a less pop direction might be where Life in Film could be going in the future. Further, they ended with a barnstormer that I didn’t expect: a cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye’ that concluded with an unbridled display of loudness and energy. It capped off a lively evening of guitar-driven pop and judging from the cheering – not to mention the shots of whisky that made their way to the stage – Life in Film will return to Washington soon and to a captive audience.

After the cut: both bands’ set lists from the night. The UK version of ‘Here It Comes’ by Life in Film is available from ECC Records; the US version is available from Plus One Records. For all of TGTF’s past coverage of Life in Film, go here.

Life in Film at Rock 'n' Roll Hotel August 2015

After the cut: both bands’ set lists from the night.
Continue reading Live Review: Life in Film with Broke Royals at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington, DC – 25th August 2015

 

Live Gig Video: Courtney Barnett and band perform ‘Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party’ outside Camden Town tube station

 
By on Tuesday, 25th August 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

Last week, Courtney Barnett and her live band stormed the area outside Camden Town tube station in north London to do a guerrilla gig and filming. So what was it all for? To produce enough footage for the live promo for ‘Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party’, of course. As you might imagine, with Barnett being such a big indie star now, the noise and hubbub of them setting up grew a big crowd for the actual performance. Watch the raucous impromptu performance below.

‘Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party’ will be released on the 11th of September on House Anxiety / Marathon Artists. For everything Courtney Barnett on TGTF, go here.

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Live Gig Video: Gengahr share video of life on the road during their winter 2015 tour with alt-J

 
By on Monday, 24th August 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

Last week, Gengahr revealed this tour video from this past winter, when they went out on tour with alt-J. It’s backed by their song ‘Trampoline’, which figures on their debut album ‘A Dream Outside’, released back in June on Transgressive Records. (Read my review of their debut here.)

You can catch Gengahr on their headline tour in October in the UK that begins in Brighton on the 6th of October; all the dates are listed here. For more on Gengahr on TGTF, head this way.

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Live Gig Video: Spector perform ‘Stay High’ in front of fans at the 100 Club and Lexington in London

 
By on Thursday, 13th August 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

Spector have announced they’ll be releasing a new single the same day their new album comes out. ‘Stay High’ As described by the band’s frontman Fred MacPherson, ‘Stay High’ “is about keeping yourself distracted while everything around you goes to shit…When all that’s left of your relationship are dates booked on Groupon and your sense of adventure’s dictated by the offers on lastminute.com it’s hard not to want to dislodge yourself from reality permanently.” After witnessing it first-hand for myself and seeing some friends going through a particularly rough patch lately, I can certainly relate.

The promo they’ve filmed for it is culled footage from the band’s shows in London in March at the Lexington and at the 100 Club in April, and the claustrophobic manner in which the footage was filmed makes it feel like you’re right there in the thick of it. You know, when those overly excited fans accidentally push you while they’re dancing, or that annoying git waves his arm in front of your face, obscuring your view for half the show in his overzealousness to connect with the band. Oh yes, live gigs, gotta love them.

‘Moth Boys’, their new album, will be released on Fiction Records on the 21st of August, alongside the ‘Stay High’ single. Catch Spector live on their previously announced October 2015 UK tour, and this month during their series of in-stores and signings (appearances listed below the video).

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Saturday 22nd August 2015 – London Sister Ray Ace Hotel
Sunday 23rd August 2015 – Bristol Head (1 PM)
Sunday 23rd August 2015 – Marlborough Sound Knowledge (5/6 PM)
Monday 24th August 2015 – Wakefield Wah Wah (1 PM)
Monday 24th August 2015 – Leeds Jumbo (5/6 PM)
Tuesday 25th August 2015 – Newcastle Reflex (1 PM)
Tuesday 25th August 2015 – Stockton on Tees Sound it Out (5/6 PM)
Thursday 27th August 2015 – Kingston Banquet Records
Thursday 27th August 2015 – Kingston Banquet Records New Slang (full show)

 

Deer Shed Festival 2015 Review (Part 2)

 
By on Wednesday, 12th August 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

To catch up on part 1 of Martin’s coverage of Deer Shed Festival 2015, head this way.

Saturday at Deer Shed Festival belongs to the kids. The workshops are in full flow, the bizarre moving sculptures are operated to the verge of destruction, and the bubble man does well to escape being trampled to death by a million over-excited feet. As if seen through the eyes of a 3-year-old child, this is what we did: “We went first to the craft and singing tent. We made a bug out of pipe cleaners and some foam. We watched the singing but didn’t join in because we were shy. We found a table with some ink stamps and played with those, including stamping our own arm. We met a friendly but slightly scary man who taught us how to make a really good paper aeroplane. Daddy helped me make it. Then we stood on top of a really high platform and threw the aeroplane down to Mummy. It flew really well!

“We watched some older children make computer-controlled Lego robots that moved by themselves. They looked very exciting! I’ll play with those myself when I’m a bit older. Daddy helped me cut out some cardboard fins that we stuck to a bottle of water to make a rocket. Then a man put it on a launcher, pumped it up and we counted down from 10. When everyone shouted “Lift-off!” I pressed the button and my rocket shot into the air and landed on the roof of the tent! It was the best rocket of all! I’ve still got it in my bedroom.

“We saw a big table full of metal toys that Daddy said was Meccano, and we bolted some bits together to make a flying helicopter chair. Then we played with the bubbles that the bubble lady made. She could make lots of bubbles all at the same time! Then Daddy bought me a bubble saxophone so I could make my own bubbles. Then we were all very tired so we went for a sit down.” Phew. There’s some great stuff for all ages, and particularly for the older kids the wackier sideshows – like the battle game that uses a measure of brain activity to move a ball back and forth – seem particularly unique. And I’d single out Andy Chipling and his expert method of folding a paper aeroplane for giving this particular big kid a skill that I’d always wanted to refine but never been able to. Ten minutes well spent!

At Deer Shed, it’s folly to make a long list of ‘must-see’ bands. Who you can actually get to see very much depends on circumstances, rather than forward planning. One or two of our group ‘saw’ no bands in the conventional sense: there was plenty of music in the background, but they had the good grace to be guided by the needs of their kids, rather than chasing down the music. Having said that, this is how some of the bands went down on Saturday.

In the Lodge stage it was Celtic day. The Pictish Trail is Johnny Lynch, who hails from Eigg and lulls us all into a false sense of security by making his first few numbers gentle acoustic ditties. Which had me reading my programme with incredulity: “This is supposed to have electronica in it!” All good things come to those who wait, however, as all of sudden Johnny breaks out the drum machine and wild synth sounds: add in a dose of surrealist humour and all is well with the world.

Hinds are brilliant on the main stage. The four Madrid girls create dreamy garage songs perfect for languid singalongs…if anyone knew the words. Actually, ‘Davey Crockett’ is pretty simple to sing. And play, by the sounds of its three chords. This sort of thing is widely called lo-fi, although that relates more to the relaxed vibe than any reflection on their sound quality. A lovely slice of sunny Spanish insouciance. All Tvvins are a Dublin trio who make spacey slices of bass-heavy electro-pop. The guitarists comprehensive pedal board tells its own story – the guitar work is heavy on the delay, rapid strums generating a wide soundscape that brings to mind another Edge-y son of Ireland’s fair city. Superb toe-tapping stuff.

It’s tradition not to have rain at Deer Shed, but tradition went out of the window this year as the heavens opened mid-afternoon. Given that two of the stages were under cover meant that, if anything, more people got to see more music. But what of the main stage? If there was any band that could entice punters out from under canvas to have a boggy boogie, it’s Dutch Uncles, and they don’t disappoint. If there’s a sharper band this side of the equator, I’d like to hear them. Duncan Wallis’ remarkable body moves never fail to impress, and he does well to throw them given the increasingly slippery stage. Those that braved the rain were rewarded a couple of songs in with a break in the cloud, waterproofs steaming in the sunshine. I can’t be far off double figures seeing Dutch Uncles now, and every time it feels like a treat. Their music is fractal-like: no matter how familiar one thinks one is with it, each repeat listen reveals further hidden details, whether they be time signature changes, details of instrumentation, or lyrical insights. A fine achievement.

Damien Dempsey‘s none-more-Irish passionate delivery is the discovery of the festival for me, for three very important reasons: 1. You know exactly what he’s saying, at all time. 2. He talks about stuff that is relevant, and real, to everyone who has to suffer the human condition. 3. He means – properly means – every word he sings. He stridently complains about the historical treatment of the Irish (and half the rest of the world) on ‘Colony'; you might not agree with his interpretation of history, but you can’t deny how effective a cheerleader he is for the dispossessed. ‘Serious’ paints a brilliantly-acted picture of a malicious drug dealer trying to convince an innocent to sample his wares in a seedy Irish pub using a narration with a spectacular Dublin accent. Really powerful stuff, with hints of two Bobs – Geldof’s uncompromising attitude and Dylan’s storytelling passion.

And so we come to the pinnacle of the entire festival, John Grant: in his own catty way, one of the least appropriate headliners for a child-friendly festival this side of Marilyn Manson. The entirety of sweary solo début ‘Queen of Denmark’ is devoted to documenting his drug, alcohol and homosexual relationship problems. Granted, this isn’t your usual bargain-bin autobiography, illustrated as it is with beautiful piano playing and lucid wordplay, but still. Thank goodness my kids are too young to pick up on lines like “I’ll sell your Grandma on the street to buy crack”, “that little ass of yours looks just like food”, or crowd favourite “I casually mention that I pissed in your coffee”. What’s that man singing about, Daddy?

What people want as their reward after spending £200 to drag the kids around a field all day is to stand, sit or lie down together in the darkness to something that they know, can sing along to, and can feel good about, preferably something that reminds them of the fun they had in the years BK. Not some lonely chap complaining about his boyfriend’s inadequacies, regardless of how eloquently those sentiments are expressed. After Johnny Marr‘s triumph last year, the hope was that future years would essentially duplicate the pattern for well-regarded contemporary indie band on Friday for men of a certain age, big name from the parents’ past on Saturday for everyone. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Whilst there will have been true fans of both headliners in the crowd, neither were the unifying force that one would ideally want, which is a bit of a shame.

Deer Shed isn’t even close to being all about the music. But the music is an integral part of the experience (and the price), otherwise we’d just take the kids to scout camp and sit around rubbing sticks together and singing Kumbaya. Of course it’s a little churlish to criticise an event that gets so much right, but the headliners have such a dominant influence over the feel of the whole event, who plays at the top of the bill really matters. Having said all that, in 2015 Deer Shed joined the big time – in common with the vastly bigger festivals we all know about, regardless of the headliners, people flock to Deer Shed because they love the vibe, they love the company, and they love the setting – chilled out, friendly, and beautiful. What more could you ask for?

 
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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest tours, gigs, and music 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 idiots.

The blog is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington DC. She is joined by writers in the UK and America. It was started up by Phil Singer in Bristol, UK.

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