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For TGTF team coverage of Liverpool Sound City 2013, go here.
For TGTF team coverage of the Great Escape 2013, go here.
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By Mary Chang
on Monday, 31st October 2011 at 2:00 pm
Scottish band We Were Promised Jetpacks have played in DC twice before, but this was their largest headlining show to date. Along with them were two bands they were very familiar with – bands they’ve toured with before, but on the other side of the country: Bear Hands from New York and Royal Bangs from Texas. I thought they were unusual choices, given that both of these bands play with keyboards and synths, whereas We Were Promised Jetpacks has the basic rock ‘n’ roll line-up of guitars, bass, and drums. The Jetpacks, known for their loud and rowdy shows, released their second album, ‘In the Pit of the Stomach’, at the start of October on Fat Cat, and this North American tour was the first time they’ve played the new material stateside. (You can read John’s review of the new album here.)
Bear Hands played first. (You can read guitarist Dylan Rau’s answers to our Quickfire Questions here.) It has been 3 years since I heard them on Lammo’s radio programme but I had not had a chance to see them live yet. Surprisingly (for a Black Cat show anyway), they started at their appointed set time of 8:30. Bear Hands is an indie band that I’d best describe as a mix of MGMT (psych rock with wiggly guitars) and Friendly Fires (tropicalia with maracas and lots of drums), just slightly less dancey and maybe a bit more headbang-y? There was one fan there that was an obvious fan of all three bands; he knew all the songs and shouted “I fucking love you!” and “you’re fucking awesome!” at regular intervals throughout all three bands’ performances. Their last song was ‘What a Drag’, the single from 2008 that I’m sure you’ve heard by now. “Long nails… “ wailed *name of lead singer*, leading all the diehard Bear Hands fans down the front to move and groove to their rhythms; it was a great end to an all too short set.
In general, the genre “noise rock” scares me: it conjures up long-haired indie kids that don’t play in tune. Royal Bangs, then, were a surprising exception to the rule. I have been wracking my brain trying to think of how to describe their sound. For starters though, let me begin with something unrelated to their sound, they’re four beardy guys that wear plaid. Thankfully, they sound nothing like Kings of Leon. When they’ve got the keyboards out, they sound like Procol Harum, or maybe Billy Joel if he was cooler. But a couple of their ‘rocking like we just don’t care’ kind of numbers reminded me a bit of Led Zeppelin, particularly the way lead singer screamed his head off. Their drummer Chris Rusk gets the gold star for the hardest working musician of the night; he attacked his drum kit with ferocity, yet the way he was smiling as he did it, you just know he was having the time of his life.
The almost full Black Cat floor waited in anticipation for their heroes We Were Promised Jetpacks. As should probably be expected, songs from their 2008 debut ‘These Four Walls’ received a raucous reception, with a loud roar as the first guitar notes of ‘Keep Warm’, ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’ (video below) and ‘These Four Walls’ were played. This band has toured a lot since the first time I saw them open on a Fat Cat North American tour of 2009 featuring the coheadlining and relative Fat Cat elders Brakes and the Twilight Sad, but the Jetpacks show no sign of compromising on or apologising for their loudness. While marked maturity is not evident on all of ‘In the Pit of the Stomach’, the mostly lyricless ‘Act on Impulse’ was a punishing wall of sound that really has to be seen and heard in person to be believed.
Perhaps it’s because I hadn’t seen a gig at the Cat since April (nearly 7 months prior for the Pains of Being Pure at Heart) but I forgot how great it was to be mere metres away from a guy really going for it on his guitar. Now that I play bass, I was in complete awe watching Sean Smith. The first time I bought guitar picks, I asked which thickness I should get. The bloke at the counter says, “well, it depends on how you plan on attacking”. ‘Attacking’ is exactly what Smith and guitarist Michael Palmer did all night: their motto appeared to be play it fast, play it loud, and play it with feeling.
Highlights of the night included the new single ‘Medicine’ (watch the Video of the Moment here) and ‘Ships’. ‘Pear Tree’, with the lyrics you be the lighthouse / and I’ll be the road…” and other you/me comparisons, was unexpected Scottish soul. Maybe this is an indication of future direction”? Their closing song, ‘Thunder and Lightning‘, was a quiet (for the Jetpacks) and introspective way to end the night.
After the cut: WWPJ set list and more photos.
Continue reading Live Review: We Were Promised Jetpacks with Bear Hands and Royal Bangs, Black Cat, Washington DC – 27th October 2011
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 27th October 2011 at 3:00 pm
Audioscrobbling site last.fm are curating a unique series of ‘Last.fm Presents Live Friday’ gigs to take place at London Garage on the first Friday of the month. The artists invited to participate in these gigs? They’re determined straight from the data in the last.fm hype charts. In other words, music users like you have direct say in who gets booked. Pretty neat, huh? In the coming weeks, we’ll be giving you a chance to win something very exciting: a pair of VIP tickets to the next gig. VIP tickets can’t be bought, so please know that if you are the lucky winner, you are in for something special indeed.
November’s gig, on the 4th of November, stars TGTF favourites Art Brut, supported by the Violet May and the Lysergic Suite. More details about this gig are available here from last.fm.
Do our pair of VIP tickets have your name on them? You won’t know unless you enter. How do you enter, you ask? First, enter your name and email address on the form below. We’ll use these bits to contact you if you’ve won. Then answer correctly this question: who designed and drew the cover art on their latest release, ‘Brilliant! Tragic!’ We’ll pick the winner out of all the correct entries we receive. Simple, yes? Be sure to get your entries in before 12 noon British time on Tuesday the 1st of November, when we close the contest. Good luck everyone!
If you’d prefer to buy tickets to this event, go here. Tickets are £11 plus shipping/handling fees.
This contest is now closed and the winner will be contacted soon by email.
Little Comets are riding high at the moment. Having had a strong summer playing their crowd-friendly music to packed tents, this tour can only be described as the warm-down after a hectic year. Tonight brings the indie group to London and rock’s small to mid-sized stomping ground in the form of the Garage. The show’s sold out for ‘one night in October’, which is testament to the dedication of the fans. Little Comets are, as they say, “a long way from home” and to have such an audience after just one album and 300 miles south of home is some feat for the Geordie band.
That said, there’s a problem with tonight. Little Comets aren’t just far from home, they’re far from what you feel is their comfort zone; they are, for all intensive purposes, a festival band. The likes of Two Door Cinema Club, the Vaccines and Mumford and Sons all fall into this category to a certain extent, as they look and feel more in place on outdoor stages in the sunshine. Little Comets, like these groups, are a tight live act, but they can’t match the atmosphere of a warm field, anthemic sing-alongs and a wellie-based dance in a dark venue.
That’s not to say they don’t try. ‘Adultery’ gets everyone started and unlike in the fields of the summer, everyone seems to know the album tracks to heart as even the least popular tracks from their debut ‘In Search Of Elusive Little Comets’ (Mary’s review here) fill the room. Of course, the big cheers are reserved for the singles though. New single ‘Worry’ gets a bit of a bounce going, but back to back ‘Joanna’ and ‘Isles’ turn it into a party. Hearing a singalong of “my heart is calling out for something way, more, EPIC” before the latter’s chorus is nothing but pleasing to the ears and even the band stop to appreciate. A few more album tracks down the line and we’re almost at the end. ‘One Night in October’ sets up ‘Dancing Song’, which in itself proves that maybe, just maybe, with another album under their belts, Little Comets can break out of the fields and maybe to bigger venues.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 25th October 2011 at 2:00 pm
Sometimes your mates come through with new music suggestions. When I had the blues many moons ago (guy trouble), Nick of Appomattox suggested Metronomy would cheer me up in a pinch. At the time I didn’t really get it: to be fair, it wasn’t until ‘The English Riviera’ this year that I took a closer look at Joseph Mount and his band. They came to Washington the second time in over 4 years this past Saturday and I was quite proud that my town had sold out the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel.
The opener was Class Actress, an American electronic duo from Brooklyn. With a trenchcoat, white shirt and long dark hair, singer Elizabeth Harper was a dead ringer for Tiffany. Seeing that she would wail occasionally against a dance beat, the music was pretty similar too to ’80s new wave. The music was fine but not particularly unique or inspiring: it could have been any singer, male or female, singing along to the good beats.
When I first read about Metronomy on the Web, everything referred to Metronomy being Joseph Mount’s own ‘band’. So I kind of assumed the Metronomy live show would be like a Morrissey gig: the frontman plus a talented but downplayed cast of characters. How wrong I was. Mount was smart to realise early on that he would never be a pin-up, so he lets loose on the kind of falsettos that are generally not advised for men unless they want to be made fun. But forget that: check in your reservations at the door for a Metronomy gig, because you’re in for a night of dancing.
In the live environment he utilises the strengths of his bandmates and Metronomy as a whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. Oscar Cash gets saxophone and electric clarinet solos and Mount is quick to acknowledge him; when he’s not playing one of several instruments, Cash is doing Peter Crouch proud with his version of the Robot. Hilarious. Drummer Anna Prior stands in for Veronica Falls’ singer Roxanne Clifford on the band’s most recent single, ‘Everything Goes My Way’ and she does a great job. ‘She Wants’ followed by ‘The Bay’ is a one-two punch of heaving beat goodness. And speaking of goodness, my goodness: I had no idea Washington would take ‘Radio Ladio’ and throw it back to this band with such gusto, voices shouting back the chorus. Joseph Mount did look a bit bashful when he said thank you to everyone for making the trek out to H Street to see them on a Saturday night, but for us, it was totally worth it.
After the cut: set list and more photos.
Continue reading Live Review: Metronomy with Class Actress at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington, DC – 22nd October 2011
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 24th October 2011 at 2:00 pm
Months ago when the Wombats autumn North American tour was announced, I was even more incredulous when I saw the entire bill for the second gig in DC as the 9:30 Club. The openers were to be the Static Jacks (who I’d seen open for Futureheads and Biffy Clyro last year) and one of my personal favourites, New York’s Postelles. So I already knew with three bands that I love playing on one night was going to be an event of epic proportions. I just didn’t know how big the Wombats were in Washington. The show wasn’t sold out, but I think a lot of curious people showed up last minute, because the venue felt rammed. The ratio was definitely in favour of screaming teenage girls, but it turned out that it worked in favour of the openers.
The Static Jacks were on first. I was sure few people there had heard of them and they would have their work cut out for them. This was the first time I’d seen them since they became signed with American indie label Fenway, where they are labelmates with Doves and the Cribs. It could have been part the great soundsystem at the 9:30 but they sounded so amazingly tight. Just brilliant. It was one of those moments where I felt proud to be a fan early on: to be able to see them progress. There’s no way but up, up and away for this band now. Sing-song ‘Blood Pressure’, a song about the very real angst of growing up, was the highlight of the set for me, though ‘Girl Parts’, with its punk sensibility, got everyone dancing along to singer Ian Devaney’s powerfully delivered vocals. After the show, teenage girls were clamouring to get photos and CDs of their new album ‘If You’re Young’ signed. That was a tearful moment.
The Postelles have a pretty large and vocal university kid-age following in DC, but on this night they probably gained a load more younger fans. After a blinding set from their New Jersey little brothers on this tour, they had to rise to the challenge of getting the crowd on their side. I shouldn’t have worried: the Postelles are consummate performers, singer Daniel Balk getting the whole audience involved with the final refrain ‘Hey Little Sister’, a song which was dedicated to me. (That was all kinds of awesome.) They previewed two new songs, one of which is called ‘Tidal Wave’ and fit perfectly alongside songs from their self-titled debut released this past summer.
And then came the Wombats. This was the first time they’d come to our town but it was obvious as I was waiting in the queue before doors that they had a lot of teenage fans. This was one night where I didn’t have to worry about beer on my shoes. I always wear earplugs to gigs but they were requisite this night, as girls screamed every time bassist/keyboardist Tord Øverland-Knudsen jumped around with his Fender. That man probably sweated off his body weight as he bounced across the stage. (I had an interview with Tord before the show, and the interview is coming soon to TGTF.) In comparison, Matthew “Murph” Murphy was more stoic, the words of songs so beloved to so many of the gig-goers crossing his lips to manic screams of delight. ‘Girls and Fast Cars’ and ‘Techno Fan’ went down superbly, kids pogo-ing as if their lives depended on it.
I should note that the 9:30 Club has a strict crowd surfing policy. Usually. So crowd surfing is unheard of here. After the 10th crowd surfer was carried above and over the barrier and then shooed back into the crowd, I stopped counting. Murph commented they’d never seen crowd surfers at an American show, so I think it’s safe to say that the Wombats are never going to forget this night in Washington. Ladies and gentlemen, I think I’ve found my best gig of 2011.
But the night was not over. Tord and drummer Dan spun tunes at nearby DC9 (where I explained to Tord I’d seen his countrymen Casiokids just the past Monday) and not only did they play some great tunes (M83, Blur, Rage Against the Machine, and Passion Pit, just to name a couple), writer Cheryl square-danced with Dan on the DC9 stage. You can’t make this stuff up, kids. Just a really good night out, the likes that are likely not to be repeated anytime soon.
After the cut: more photos and set lists.
Continue reading Live Review: The Wombats with Static Jacks and Postelles at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 21st October 2011
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 24th October 2011 at 9:00 am
The Chapman Family will be bringing their ‘November Offensive Tour’ to towns across the UK next month. Tickets are on sale now.
This was the info we got from the press release (straight from TCF’s mouths):
This November in homage to the legendary plot of 1605 we will be waging war with the leaders of this country and all the apathetic zombies who have allowed them to fuck us into the gutter. We are declaring a state of artistic emergency from within the “music industry” where creativity, relevance and integrity have been replaced by the banal, the pointless and the derivative. We are raising our colours and heading once more into the breach and seeking out those of you who like us can’t relate to the man sitting at the head of the nations table making decisions that neither help nor represent us or to the artists who claim to be like us and speak for us. Fuck them. This is our opening salvo, our November Offensive. It is a statement of intent and it is just the beginning.
The riots this August proved that if enough people can be mobilised under an ideal then they cannot be stopped. Whether the reasons for the violence and rage felt in our capital and throughout this country were righteous or not is irrelevant, it’s the motivational message that matters. It’s a message that resonated deep within us and it’s the message that has inspired us. We have always striven to be a band that stood for something, to be a band where the word dissonance wasn’t just used as a description of our sound, to be a band that were never afraid to say what we really felt and to never compromise or sell out our integrity. Now more than ever we feel capable of living up to what we always hoped we could be. We’re tighter, leaner and more focused than we have ever been. We have two new family members who share our anger at the present and our hopefulness and optimism for the future. We are reverting back to the DIY ideals that built this band and are taking control of our own destiny.
Just as the plot of 1605 has resonated forever through history so too will this tour resonate forever through our history. It will be remembered as the time we stood up and spoke out against the injustices that we live through in this country every day, against the prejudices of our government and the grinning, flaccid cunt in charge, against the cuts to our public sector which have forced unemployment up to its highest level in 15 years, against the bible bashers and crazed anti-abortionists who want to take away the right of choice from the women of this country, against the openly racist and xenophobic beliefs of organisations like the EDL and the BNP and against the dumbing down and commoditization of art. We have a voice and we intend to use it and we urge you to do the same. Once more into the breach dear friends…
Tuesday 1st November 2011 – Manchester Sound Control
Wednesday 2nd November 2011 – London Wheelbarrow
Thursday 3rd November 2011 – High Wycombe Bucks Uni
Friday 4th November 2011 – Sunderland Sumo @ Independent
Saturday 5th November 2011 – Stockton-On-Tees Georgian Theatre
Monday 7th November 2011 – Leeds Hyde Park Picture House
Tuesday 8th November 2011 – Portsmouth Edge Of The Wedge
Wednesday 9th November 2011 – Cambridge Cornerhouse
Thursday 10th November 2011 – Leicester Lock 42
Friday 11th November 2011 – Cardiff Buffalo Bar
Saturday 12th November 2011 – Bristol Louisiana
Tuesday 15th November 2011 – Bedford Esquires
Wednesday 16th November 2011 – Nottingham Dark Edge @ The Greyhound
Thursday 17th November 2011 – Hartlepool Red Room
Friday 18th November 2011 – Preston Mad Ferret
Saturday 19th November 2011 – Glasgow Art School
Sunday 20th November 2011 – Sowerby Bridge Puzzle Hall
Monday 21st November 2011 – Sheffield Soyo