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Live Review: Dermot Kennedy at Black Cat, Washington, DC – 26th October 2018

 
By on Monday, 5th November 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

I’ve been delayed in writing this, but I doubt it will affect this artist’s meteoric rise. The hottest ticket in town 10 night ago in DC was Dermot Kennedy, making his Washington debut at the main stage of the Black Cat. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Irish singer/songwriter in his early twenties has been receiving plaudits across the board since his awe-inspiring appearances in Austin in March for SXSW 2018, which we previewed with this Bands to Watch. Both Carrie and I were left spellbound at Kennedy’s star turn at Communion’s Friday night showcase at St. David’s Sanctuary, where his soulful voice and booming background instrumentation rang out beautifully, heightened in emotion by the acoustics in the church.

Interestingly, it turns out Kennedy’s reach, so to speak, began much earlier than that. Taylor Swift was an early fan of the Dubliner’s track ‘Boston’, inspired after the city in New England. At age 18, he spent a summer busking, saving money and working towards his first record release. The Tay Tay endorsement likely explains the relative youngness of his fanbase, doesn’t it? Seven years later, he’s on his first significant North American tour, selling out in most markets, and this is merely the touring leg on our continent. Crazily, come January, he’ll be touring in Australia, accompanied by Newcastle’s Sam Fender. You couldn’t find a better pair of thoughtful, young artists, both willing to touch on tough topics in their music, to tour together.

Regardless of how his many fans in Washington found out about him, it was clear from the time I arrived at the Cat that they were very, very enthusiastic. Halfway towards the stage, the bodies were all pretty much packed in like sardines. Shoulder to shoulder, the lack of air got so bad I had step back out of the crowd, something I have only done on a handful of occasions.

As part of an ongoing transition to culminate in the closing of the Red Room Bar and downstairs smaller event room at the end of 2018, the main stage area has been renovated to include a VIP seating area where one of the bars used to be. We lucked out with two chairs in the relocated second bar, which afforded us a view up and over the heads of the assembled crowd. As weird as this felt – I haven’t sat in the back of this space since I was forced to by a friend who came with me to see We Are Scientists in 2008 – it gave me a different, unique perspective from which to enjoy the show and people watch. In honour of my friend Robin who runs the exemplary Breaking More Waves and who likes this format for festival reporting, I’ve written my ‘what we’ve learned’ list from this show:

1. Kennedy hasn’t released a full album yet. However, that hasn’t stopped his fans from learning every word from every song that he’s ever played live. ‘Glory’, which has passed 19 million streams on Spotify, garnered the most fervent reaction, Kennedy extending the song out in response.

2. Some fans who wanted to be closer to a source of alcohol (ha) stood behind us in the bar area. They took photos and videos and screamed and shouted overtures of love, as if we were at a One Direction concert. I repeat: Dermot Kennedy has enthusiastic fans!

3. A lot of couples decided to move back from the crowd, too, but to make out, and quite enthusiastically. I hadn’t thought that Kennedy’s music ran to the amorous end of the spectrum, but there you have it.

While this was only one of Kennedy’s many live appearances on his current Keep the Evenings Long tour, it was without a doubt a very special night for everyone in DC who came out to see him. It’s a memory we will all hold as he moves on his career and to better and brighter things. To read all of our past coverage on him here on TGTF, including a post highlighting his NPR Tiny Desk Concert earlier this year, go here.

 

Live Review: We Were Promised Jetpacks at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 23rd October 2018

 
By on Thursday, 25th October 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Nine years ago, a lifetime ago, Brighton’s FatCat Records sponsored a tour of their then-shining stars from their roster. While the top of the bill starred two bands with more established careers, the opening band was riding high on a wave of hype here in America. The oddly and improbably named We Were Promised Jetpacks were greeted by raucous cheers from our local college students. Sadly, my review of the night for American blog PopWreckoning has been lost to the ether; you’ll have to read about it in this Washington Post Express article instead. No matter: How could I forget the raw energy of the band’s performance, bolstered by frontman Adam Thompson’s shouty, emphatic vocals? I hadn’t seen the band live since 2011, and I’m happy to report following their show at 9:30 Club on Tuesday that the Glasgow via Edinburgh rockers haven’t lost their edge or their penchant for drawing out anticipation through noodley post-rock instrumentals.

Even after four studio albums and numerous world tours, it appears the vocal fan approval continues to be overwhelming to a band as humble as they are. As if time had stood still, Thompson appeared as uncomfortable as he did in 2009, fending off the loud cheering for their songs with self-deprecating barbs and bashful grins. We Were Promised Jetpacks started and remains a band of childhood friends, blood brothers who have remained united following guitarist Michael Palmer’s diagnosis and successful fight against Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In a time when bands don’t have much longevity, a band who’s been around for 15 years and still enjoy being around each other is a satisfying exception from the norm.

We Were Promised Jetpacks Washington 2018 3

There’s been talk that ‘The More I Sleep The Less I Dream’, their first album for Big Scary Monsters released last month, is a bit more polished than what we’re used to from them. I don’t see this as a negative but rather an expected evolution over a decade of making music together. Palmer has said of the LP, “The album is so much about us going back to our basics and relying on our instincts. There’s a range of songs that span everything we do as a band, and we’re the connection between them. It feels like this album is us.”

Going off that, if this new album is a representation of We Were Promised Jetpacks now, then their set list Tuesday night that mixed up the four chapters of their story far could be read as a kind of greatest hits. The visceral rawness of ‘baby’ Jetpacks on ‘It’s Thunder and Lightning’ and ‘Ships With Holes Will Sink’ set against the periods of instrumental goodness of ‘Sore Thumb’ and sheer power of ‘Human Error’ prove what this band is capable of. This is a band who rely on their collective fire power and ability to build a wall of sound, not flashy gimmicks. For punters, watching them is truly mesmerising. When they brought out ‘Keeping Warm’, their post-rock nod to the growing pains of adolescence, someone in the audience shouted, “do it for Scott [Hutchison]!” It was a emotional moment.

We Were Promised Jetpacks Washington 2018 2

There seemed two glaring omissions from the setlist: my favourites ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’ (check out this 2009 Bands to Watch!) and ‘Quiet Little Voices’, with all their enjoyable hooting and hollering, were nowhere to be found. Famously known to refuse to do encores, the band ended with ‘Repeating Patterns’ from the new album and all of us fans dancing something I can only describe as a stuttering discotheque boogie. Instead of feeling cheated, I walked into the cold Washington night with a smile on my face and the comfort that we’ll have this Scottish band and their music for a good while longer. To read any of our past coverage on We Were Promised Jetpacks, check out the articles through here.

 

Live Gig Video: watch Luke Sital-Singh’s talk and performance from TED2018

 
By on Wednesday, 17th October 2018 at 4:00 pm
 

Back in April, singer/songwriter Luke Sital-Singh was invited to speak and perform at the TEDtalk conference TED2018. From an explanation by Sital-Singh himself, I understand that the husband of celebrated American writer Amy Krouse Rosenthal found incredible solace in Sital-Singh’s song ‘Killing Me’. In case you need a refresher, the inspiration for the English singer/songwriter when writing the song was his grandmother’s deep and enduring love for her late husband. Carrie goes into much more depth on the single; read what she had to say through here.

In the video from the conference in Vancouver back in April below, you can watch Sital-Singh performing ‘Afterneath’ and ‘Killing Me’ with only his own piano notes to accompany his beautiful voice. He also speaks in between the tunes, eliciting laughs when he admits he enjoys a depressing song. Watch, listen and enjoy the stirring performance below. The artist’s second album ‘Time is a Riddle’ is out now on Raygun Music; you can read my review of the long player . For all of our past coverage on Luke Sital-Singh on TGTF, go here.

 

Live Gig Video: Roo Panes performs ‘Ophelia’ for the Mahogany Sessions

 
By on Monday, 15th October 2018 at 4:00 pm
 

Roo Panes begins a North American tour this Friday, the 19th of October, at New York City’s Le Poisson Rouge. We last wrote about Panes last year when then new single ‘A Message to Myself’ saw the light of day. Read Carrie’s review of that single through here. Last Friday, the singer/songwriter from Dorset released a new single, ‘Ophelia’, taken from his current album ‘Quiet Man’, which was released in June 2018 on CRC Music.

To celebrate the new single, the artist unveiled his performance of the song for the Mahogany Sessions with a full band. Watch the stirring, uplifting performance below. Following the end of his North American tour at Los Angeles Moroccan Lounge on the 5th of November, Panes will embark on an European leg beginning at a sold-out show at Paris Pop Up Du Label on the 14th of November. To catch up on our past coverage on Roo Panes on TGTF, use this link.

 

Live Review: Teleman with C.A.R. at Bristol Thekla – 27th September 2018

 
By on Monday, 8th October 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

It took nearly a decade, but I finally made it to arguably the most unusual venue in the UK. It’s not a 19th century Scottish church turned venue, that’s Oran Mor in Glasgow, or a treatment centre for the hearing impaired turned venue, that’s Manchester’s Deaf Institute. No, last Thursday night, I found myself on a decommissioned cargo ship moored in Bristol Harbour to see one of my favourite live bands. The show at Thekla marked the start of a 2-and-a-half week UK tour in support of their latest album ‘Family of Aliens’, released in early September. (Read my review of the album through here.) In a previous interview with Lauren Laverne on BBC 6Music, Teleman mentioned Bristol was always a good place to gig. The city didn’t disappoint them, being the first date on the tour to sell out.

C.A.R. Bristol 1

Chloé Raunet is the one-woman show C.A.R. She’s a French-Canadian based in London and a singer and synth and keyboard player. While she was likely unknown to the majority of the crowd – I know I didn’t know anything about her – her mix of driving beats and oft yelping voice was just the right amount of subversiveness in sound just above the headliners’ own. Her 2014 debut ‘My Friend’ was >described by Dummy magazine as “an electro pop album that’s quite self-consciously weird.” Her follow-up, this year’s ‘Pinned’, stars oddly catchy tunes like ‘Growing Pains’ and the live standout of her set ‘This City’, rich with metallic clanks and her disaffected vocals. Keen on grabbing a free remix of ‘This City’ done by Teleman drummer Hiro? Right through here.

Teleman Bristol 2

As one might expect, the set list for Teleman’s inaugural night for the ‘Family of Aliens’ tour was heavy on tunes from the new LP. Of the three singles that previewed the official release of the album, early calls for ‘Song for a Seagull’ from the audience proved it’s clearly the fan favourite. Bemused but seemingly prepared for this response, frontman Thomas Sanders was quick to quip that we’d get it soon enough. When the moment finally arrived in the set, time seemed to pause: the song has become quite personal to me, and not just because I’m named early on in its promo video. I have been on both sides, having been the untouchable seagull and having been in love with one. There are equal parts of wonderment and bewilderment when you fall in love with someone you can’t fully connect with on an emotional level. I suppose you could argue the song sounds way too happy, but I look at it as an acknowledgement of the essence of love: it’s beguiling and frustrating but ultimately wonderful.

Teleman Bristol 1

The delightful synth bounce in their tunes comes across even better in a live setting. A song like ‘Fun Destruction’ – an examination on the struggle between having a fun, messy night out and then confronting your hungover self in the morning – is ideal for a gig, the ordered and anarchic bits of the song at odds but in a way that works flawlessly. Sanders admitted anxiously before ‘Twisted Heart’ that we were the first people to ever hear it live. While it’s definitely chaotic, it was all too easy and wonderfully so to give in to the chaos and revelry of the night that continued into now perennial live favourite ‘Dusseldorf’. Older beloved tracks ‘Tangerine’, ‘Cristina’ and one-off Speedy Wunderground single ‘Strange Combination’ joined the party, too. When the band finally had to sadly say goodbye, they ended with ‘Not in Control’, its motorik beat and droney nature acting as perfect sendoff. Until next time, Teleman, thank you.

Teleman Bristol 5


After the cut: Teleman’s set list from the night.

Continue reading Live Review: Teleman with C.A.R. at Bristol Thekla – 27th September 2018

 

Live Review: Saint Sister with Marian McLaughlin at DC9, Washington, DC – 21st September 2018

 
By on Monday, 24th September 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Header photo of Saint Sister by Rich Gilligan

If you can manage to schedule it, do yourself a favour and go see a favourite band on either the first night or the last night of a tour. On the last night, you can cheer for them for a job well done for finishing what usually is a long, exhausting campaign to support a new album. On the flipside, on the first night of a tour, it’s nice to champion the people you respect as artists as they begin the process. I’m lucky enough to catch the start of two tours within 1 week this month, the first being Saint Sister’s first-ever visit to Washington Friday night. Ahead of the self-release of the Northern Irish girl duo’s debut album on the 5th of October, Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntyre, joined by a touring bassist/keyboardist and drummer.

The show began with a feeling of déjà vu for me. The previous time I saw singer/songwriter Marian McLaughlin, she was supporting another pair of talented ladies, England’s Smoke Fairies, at the very same venue. The NPR-feted McLaughlin is a stalwart to the Baltimore / DC area scene, having steadily self-released music since 2014. The themes of her upcoming album ‘Lake Accotink’ are how humans interact with the environment and resolving for herself the impact of progress on Earth.

Marian McLaughlin DC9 September 2018

Like the last time I saw her, she performed solo Friday night, though she will be performing with a backing band this week at album release shows this week in Baltimore Wednesday night, the 26th, at Holy Underground and Friday night, the 28th, at DC’s Songbyrd Music House. Swapping between nylon-stringed acoustic guitar, a standing keyboard and one placed at her feet, this was a performance that was anything run-of-the-mill. McLaughlin pays tribute to the beauty of local parks in her new LP: ‘Grayson Highlands’ recalls a hiking trip McLaughlin took there. It’s named after a Virginian state park near the state’s southern border with North Carolina.

From one unique artist to two of them. Saint Sister have showcased twice in the last 3 years of SXSW, which is an impressive feat considering how many hopefuls appear at the Irish version of SXSW, Hard Working Class Heroes, every autumn in Dublin. Incorporating electronic, rock and soul into folk, their self-described “atmosfolk” sets them apart from not just all the singer/songwriters in Ireland but those around the world. For example, how often do you see an accordion and a harp (Gemma Doherty’s primary instrument) at a rock show? Also, I witnessed another specifically Irish phenomenon that Daithi clued me in on 2 years ago: Irish people always show up and support their country(wo)men, wherever they are playing. So the audience was oddly disproportionally full of Irish music fans from university age to way up, and more Guinness was being poured than usual at DC9, though the nectar of the gods were from *gasp, horror* cans.

Saint Sister DC9 September 2018

Saint Sister will be making the grandest of artistic gestures at the end of next week with the release of debut ‘Shape of Silence’, which I have listened to in full and can say is excellent. The album includes songs that have been kicking around in their live sets for a while that proved arresting performed Friday night. On a much simpler, back to basics approach, ‘Corpses’ (previously released through Communion’s Singles Club) featured only Doherty and MacIntyre’s ethereal voices and very gentle instrumentation. ‘Madrid’, on the other hand, is a full band affair, and with its glitchy, syncopated beats, the song feels more modern and miles away from more traditional folk.

‘Causing Trouble’ bridges this seemingly insurmountable divide with soulful, perfectly duetting vocals from the ladies and a sultry beat that’s caused the pair’s music to be compared to that of Massive Attack and Portishead. This ain’t your momma’s folk, that’s for sure. But with Doherty and MacIntyre’s brilliantly complementary vocals underpinning everything, they have the latitude to continue to experiment and create music that is totally their own. With the release of ‘Shape of Silence’, they’re sure to win many new fans.

After the cut: Saint Sister’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Saint Sister with Marian McLaughlin at DC9, Washington, DC – 21st September 2018

 
 
 

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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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