SXSW 2016 | 2015
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When you think of Neverland, you consider the following synonymous: timelessness, youthful vigour and a certain transcendence. In the middle of a forest in Kent, near Edenbridge, Neverland became a reality through the help of Lee and his homegrown festival Leefest 2016. Though the weather was not quite ideal upon first landing, it was far from an issue. The moment you wandered into the main arena, it was clear the only thing that would stop a good time being had would be those adult thoughts that should’ve been, at this point, relegated to the outside world. Neverland’s sole purpose over these 3 days was to be a vehicle for your removal from society and instead to provide you a good time.
Split into three main sections, The Neverwoods (main arena), Mermaids Lagoon (rave central) and Skull Ridge (rock city), you were never far from some form of entertainment. The introductory day, Thursday, saw the smallest of the lineup but definitely the strongest. With only Tootles Circus, your average festival tent, operating as a stage, all four acts were nice and accessible. Peluche and Loyle Carner eased the gaining crowd in, but it was the main attractions of Everything Everything and Ghostpoet (pictured at top) who garnered in the big numbers. With Everything Everything, they perfectly stoked the crowd’s fire and brought their unique blend of rapturous choruses and genre bending music. Conversely, Ghostpoet gave the tent a dark atmosphere with his blend of hip-hop-cum-rock-assault.
Friday brought forth the first full day affair, with Peluche once again kicking proceedings off, but this time on the main stage, aka the ‘Bangerang’ stage. The overall setup of the main arena was easily navigated but with the two stages being centrally located, sound spill was inevitable. Fortunately this didn’t happen frequently, though it’s a dangerous game to play. Highlights from the second day included Corey Fox-Fardell and his brand of songwriter electro melding, which was a particularly pleasant listen whilst grazing in front of the Bangerang stage. Little Simz proved why she is one to watch in the UK hip-hop game, leading the enthusiastic crowd through numerous chants as she dominated the beats surrounding her. In a similar fashion, Roots Manuva brought domineering and commanding beats that just reinforced the entire notion behind LeeFest: you can be who you want, and listen to what you want, as long as you have a good time. Rockers, hip-hoppers and the like were all moving and shaking to the sounds that flowed from the Bangerang stage.
Current London-based pop troubadour Oscar provided his blend of melodic darling instrumentation and baritone vocals. One thing’s for sure, you can’t not have a good time at an Oscar show, no matter the crowd size or venue. Dinosaur Pile-Up sat on top of the kingdom of chaos and noise after a headlining set at the Hook Rock stage in the Skull Ridge. It’s was a venue reminiscent of small clubs, where the noise cascades from all orifices and you’re able to lose yourself in the darkness amongst your other perspiring peers. Barrelling through their grunge/punk hybrid hits, the volume was overbearing at the front. We recommend you watch from a safe distance if you’re stupid enough to forget ear protection (a particular note to self).
The final day started off in stereotypical British style, with grey clouds and intermittent rain, but this didn’t affect the atmosphere. Hannah Lou Clark was a particular highlight: sans band, she used both her pure talents and an iPod to create a wonderfully relaxed and charming environment. Everybody’s favourite indie twosome We Are Scientists provided a particularly raucous set that included singer Keith Murray venturing deep into the crowd during ‘Textbook’, where he proceeded to enlist the help of a particularly fluorescent orange Poseidon who was amongst the crowd. Following these shenanigans was current electro-indie darling Shura, having released her debut album ‘Nothing’s Real’ in July. Delivering a captivating set that never failed to both strike you emotively and melodically, the biggest draw of Shura live is the fact she is clearly there because of the sheer love and devotion for her art. She knows what she likes to dance to and fortunately, we do too.
Originally announced to take place on the Thursday, after a mishap with the programs and the cat being let out of the bag early, the not-so-secret secret set from Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes Saturday evening was the perfect climax to this weekend of escapism and release. The pure fury that comes with any Frank Carter show is cathartic enough to make sure you leave with a weightlessness, one that can only be achieved by taking part in both a circle pit and storming the stage, two things this fortunate writer was seen doing.
After all is said and done, the aforementioned sole purpose of LeeFest was achieved. With pirates and lost boys running around shooting each other with water pistols and climbing aboard the decorative dens around the stages, it was impossible to not get lost in the affair. A festival that catered to both families and those of all ages looking to simply cut loose, the promise this event holds is even grander than its current fasthon. Considering this was Leefest’s largest year yet, the sky’s the limit. And with the lead lost boy at the helm, LeeFest could very well be a major player for years to come.
San Diego noise pop duo Crocodiles have announced a brief run of UK tour dates for this October, just ahead of the release of their 6th LP ‘Dreamless’. Due out on the 21st of October via Zoo Music, the album explores a new, less guitar-based sound, leaning instead on keyboards and a broader sonic palette. “We’ve always been a guitar band and I think we just wanted to challenge ourselves and our aesthetic,” says band member Brandon Welchez. “Only one song has zero guitar but in general we tried to find alternatives to fill that space.” Have a listen for yourself in the video for the album’s first single ‘Telepathic Lover’, just below the tour date listing.
Welchez and bandmate Charles Rowell will cross the pond for four UK dates in mid-October. Tickets for the following shows are available now. TGTF’s brief previous coverage of Crocodiles can be found by clicking here.
Tuesday 11th October 2016 – Leeds Headrow House
Thursday 13th October 2016 – Glasgow Broadcast
Friday 14th October 2016 – Manchester Night and Day
Saturday 15th October 2016 – London Hackney Wonderland
Dublin-based sister duo Heathers have taken a decidedly different turn since we at TGTF heard them live at SXSW 2014, around the release of their second album ‘Kingdom’. Their signature sibling vocal harmonies remain. But in their newest single ‘Call Home’, the sisters Macnamara (Ellie and Louise, if you please) have switched from bright guitar rock to a darker, synth-based rhythmic groove. The new track has already received radio play from Amazing Radio and BBC Radio 1, but if you’ve missed it so far, you can have a listen just below.
The video for ‘Call Home’, directed by Crooked Gentlemen Films, features footage of Ellie and Louise in wide open natural spaces, seemingly without context or direction, perhaps as an illustration of the song’s yearning lyric “I’m searching for somewhere I want to know”. Near the video’s end we catch a glimpse of the sisters in their new musical context, having traded acoustic guitars for a synth keyboard and electronic drum pad.
It’s almost hard to believe that this is the same duo that gave us ‘Forget Me Knots’, but we’ll certainly be following Heathers’ new direction with interest. TGTF’s initial coverage of Heathers, including an interview from SXSW 2014, can be found by clicking here.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 4th August 2016 at 4:00 pm
A year and a week ago, New Jersey rockers Titus Andronicus played a 5-night series of sold out shows at the iconic Brooklyn venue Shea Stadium. The live album taken from recordings from the gig series have now been released on Merge Records as ‘S+@DIUM ROCK: FIVE NIGHTS AT THE OPERA’. To celebrate this momentous release and to provide video accompaniment to the audio experience, the band have also released a full concert film with footage taken from these shows. The live experience has been dutifully “captured in such vivid detail” so that “devotees can relive their favourite concert memories from the comfort of their own homes.” Makes sense to me. Enjoy the full film below. For more on Titus Andronicus on TGTF, right this way, ladies and gents.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 4th August 2016 at 12:00 pm
East of England free spirit Daisy Victoria burst on the scene in 2014 with the well-received EP and curiously titled ‘Heart of Beef’. The ‘Nobody Dies’ EP was released the following year. Both records garnered the attention of Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne, the latter calling her a “rising star”. The solo artist followed that up last summer with single ‘Pain of Dancers’, which our David reviewed here, calling her an “intriguing, gifted young artist”. In 2 weeks’ time, Daisy is releasing another EP, this time with serious muscle behind her in the production department that should interest many an indie fan.
‘Animal Lover’ is the lead single on the new three-track EP. For their newest effort, the goth-leaning Daisy and her songwriting partner and brother Sam worked with producer Dan Austin, a protégé of Gil Norton’s (Foo Fighters, Pixies, Stornoway’s most recent album ‘Bonxie’). Austin had previously engineered and mixed the Pixies’ recent EP trilogy, and of particular interest to us here at TGTF was his production work on Doves’ ‘Kingdom of Rust’ and Jimi Goodwin’s debut solo album ‘Odludek’ in 2014. ‘Animal Lover’ bears little resemblance to Black Francis’ works, except perhaps in whimsical subject.
Already having been compared to Kate Bush and Patti Smith for her unique songs, Daisy Victoria seems on track to becoming the 21st century version of the eclectic storyteller. In her single, Daisy profiles a reclusive lover of said animals but instead of being a Doctor Doolittle, he appears to be more of a David Attenborough version of Jekyll and Hyde. Who else would put cockroaches and caviar together in a blender and press the on switch? As a biologist, I hate to point out the incongruity of Antipodean “koala cubs hanging from the hearth” with American “capuchin monkeys sleeping across his unmade bed”, and I’m almost positive sea cucumbers would have trouble setting up shop in a bathtub. That said, as incredible the stories Daisy Victoria tells, they’re part of a world you want to get lost in.
Thankfully, though, the animals that appear in this song more likely serve as metaphors for what else might be lurking in this man’s mind. Perhaps this is a fanciful take of the story in Blossoms’ ‘Smashed Pianos’ I talked about yesterday? The forceful guitar licks in ‘Animal Lover’ – particularly the jolly introduction – along with Daisy’s operatic singing chops easily take up your attentions if you don’t fancy a delving into the lyrics as I do. Quirky, catchy and memorable, let’s just say we’re keen on hearing the rest of Daisy Victoria’s new EP.
Daisy Victoria will self-release her ‘Animal Lover’ EP on the 19th of August. The title track single is available now. For more on the singer/songwriter on TGTF, including my coverage of her and her band at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015 last October, go here.
Oxford indie folk rockers Stornoway have woven a handful of headline shows into their list of upcoming live appearances. August will see the band play at the Scarborough Open Air Theatre with Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott on Friday the 5th and at the Chase Park Festival in Gateshead on Saturday the 6th. Skipping ahead to October, Stornoway will play the three headline dates listed below, as well as appearing at the Words & Music Festival in Nantwich on the 10th of the month.
Tickets for the following shows are available now. If you’re in need of a Stornoway fix between now and October, you can read back through our extensive previous coverage of the band right back here.
Tuesday 4th October 2016 – Canterbury Marlowe Theatre
Wednesday 5th October 2016 – Leicester Y Theatre
Thursday 6th October 2016 – Bath Komedia