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By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 11th August 2016 at 2:00 pm
More photos from this show are available on my Flickr here.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there is something very special about witnessing a band from the UK you’ve known and loved for years making a meaningful connection with an American audience. The number present for the Everything Everything show Monday night at U Street Music Hall wasn’t the largest on this short East Coast tour for ‘Get to Heaven’; the Music Hall of Williamsburg gig in Brooklyn last Thursday takes that honour.
Being a DC native, I have understandable bias for shows in my hometown, especially those that elicit this kind of incredible response, and on a Monday night. It should be noted that the crowd was so heterogenous, highly unusual for a DC show usually made up of teenagers and young professionals. Young and old, male and female, regardless of age or persuasion, the devotion expressed to a band making their home some 3,000 miles across the Atlantic was vocal. And loud.
The opening band for the evening was local band Night Kitchen. I think it’s a safe assumption that upon seeing the childhood images of Hungry Hungry Hippos on a band’s EP that the band in question doesn’t take themselves too seriously. In the span of their 30-minute set, beardy, bespectacled frontman and defacto spokesman for the group Jordan Levine cracked a joke about the headliner (“How is everyone everyone doing tonight?”), and extolled the virtues of Thai iced tea (“Make it part of your life!”) and generally made for a light atmosphere that I’m sure was welcome for the youngest of gig-goers.
As for the music, Night Kitchen quickly proved why they were a good fit to perform with Everything Everything. With a similarly eclectic aesthetic, their sound takes cues from indie and funk and their songs have crazy titles. How does ‘title of first track of EP’ strike you? Breaking up their originals was a cover of Gary Numan’s breakthrough megahit ‘Cars’. It was most surprising in that there was no synth present onstage, and yet bolstered by Wyatt ‘T’ Rex’s bass playing, it worked amazingly well. Drummers don’t usually have their own cheering section, but their Emmett Parks did.
2016 marked the year that Everything Everything finally had an American release for one of their albums, for their most recent ‘Get to Heaven’, that had already been unveiled to the British public in June 2015. As long-time TGTF readers know, we’ve had a long affinity for their weird and wonderful music, going back to the 2010 Mercury Prize-nominated ‘Man Alive’. In some ways, you can say we’ve grown up together. They’ve come a long way since their BBC Sound of 2010 longlist nod, yet they’ve maintained their individuality and remained uncompromising about the music they make.
‘Get to Heaven’ is the band’s most outspoken release to date and yet, most songs framed within pop structures, it gets the job done in catchiness while also conveying serious themes. I hadn’t been able to see them play this album properly outside of SXSW 2016 and a support slot with the Joy Formidable earlier this year. This time, playing their first headline show in Washington, the listener was afforded a special peek into this LP, while also being offered choice cuts from their back catalogue. It’s reasonable to expect the kind of enthusiastic reaction from singles ‘Kemosabe’ and ‘MY KZ UR BF’, the latter leading to a mass “whoa-oh-oh” singalong led by ringmaster Jonathan Higgs. The bass-heavy ‘Regret’ and ‘Schoolin’’ bolstered by the impressive chops of Jeremy Pritchard and the last-minute addition of ‘Photoshop Handsome’ to open the encore were nothing short of beautiful.
In contrast, more challenging and less pop album tracks ‘Warm Healer’ followed by ‘Zero Pharoah’ require closer, more intellectual appreciation, the kind of appreciation that is lost on record. Michael Spearman’s atypical drumming on ‘Warm Healer’ don’t follow anyone’s past formula, yet act as a fantastic driver to the song. You can’t help be drawn into the weirdness of the rhythm. The live version of ‘Zero Pharaoh’, which on record left me cold when I was reviewing the album last year, was peerless. Lead guitarist Alex Robertshaw’s guitar lines act as a melodic driving force in Higgs’ analysis of greedy men in power, and it’s a less obvious masterpiece on the album in the shadow of ‘Regret’ and set closer ‘Distant Past’.
Whether it was the emphatic shouting back to Higgs on ‘Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread’ or the awkward boogie to ‘Fortune 500’ and ‘The Wheel’, you couldn’t find a fan in the room who wasn’t jubilantly happy with the band’s performance. The DC gig may not have been their biggest in America yet, but Everything Everything should now have the confidence to undertake a larger tour of our continent the next time they return to our shores. I, for one, can’t wait for their return.
After the cut: Everything Everything’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Everything Everything with Night Kitchen at U Street Music Hall, Washington, DC – 8th October 2016
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.
“I guess it’s something we’ve had to learn, the learning of having to try and fill the room and when it’s an outdoor space, especially a big stage like The Other Stage [at Glastonbury], you have to sort of throw it to the back and exaggerate things a bit more”. Everything Everything drummer Michael Spearman (second anticlockwise from far right in the header photo) is currently discussing the band’s approach to playing festivals, especially after last year’s triumphant set at Worthy Farm. Spearman continues: “we’re still at that quite nice stage where we do sometimes play arenas with other bands or we play a small show, it keeps it interesting to mix it up. I think in general (singer) Jon’s always kind of adapting what he’s doing, working the space with a certain amount of charisma, which we like, [seeing] that in other bands that we see live. Watching Foals [their recent European tour mates] a lot, touring with them, they’re not stood there looking at their shoes, it’s quite an active engagement”.
Watching Everything Everything live is where you see the nature of their sound come to life. A live show filled with presence and projection, the band have no issue in staking their claim. “It doesn’t feel like we’ve trapped ourselves in to like a corner or anything. In a way, we’ve kind of made it so we can be unexpected, and people cannot necessarily know what they’re going to get from us live or on the record, but on the whole, we feel we’ve got a lot of freedom in these different areas”. This is a natural evolution for bands, especially as they release newer material. Elaborating, Spearman offers, “we’ve done three albums now and people know, for better or worse, what to expect with us a little but and I suppose that’s quite liberating in a way. We’ll also tweak the set list maybe a little bit just to make a slightly more direct engagement because some of the very small intricacies can get lost, kind of like in an arena. So I think we’ll always have our essence to us even if we play a totally different set list, we are who we are”.
Everything Everything performing live at the Low Four Studio launch
in Manchester, May 2016 (watch here)
The power of Everything Everything has been strengthening since 2010’s ‘Man Alive’. Last year’s ‘Get to Heaven’ showed the band at their most unrelenting, something that Spearman agrees with. “I think the last record in particular, we didn’t want any let up until maybe the last song, and that was quite a conscious thing. The one before that (2013’s ‘Arc’) was a little bit more evenly paced, it had a bit more sort of time to it”. As their sound develops, so does the approach to give a lot more respect for those aspects that might even go unnoticed. “You know the Coen Brothers [film directors], they always talk about directing a film is totally tone management. You can’t have one scene that’s one thing and another that is too far the other way and still have a constant flow. We kind of think about that, not at first, because that’s just let’s write some songs, and then it just starts to crystallise and take some shape and you think ‘okay, we feel we want to have these songs on the record [and] not those songs’, so that we can do this with the record and that’s quite a nice feeling”.
In terms of the next natural progression to more new material, Everything Everything are already at work. with Spearman not revealing too much. “We haven’t really gotten to the lyrics yet, we’ve started writing, it’s coming quite easily, definitely easier than the last time”. Retrospectively, he remembers the process for ‘Get to Heaven’: “the first few months of the last record was a bit of a slog, and we were kind of starting to wonder what we’re doing. Then we had to sort of discard all of the songs that we had and start again, that was quite tough. This time, we kind of want to have fun with it and enjoy ourselves a bit, and so far that’s happening. We’re trying to be a bit more relaxed and easy going and, not to say the lyrics will end up like that, but in terms of the writing process, we’re trying to not put too much pressure on ourselves”.
This week also sees the band take to North America. With a sound such as theirs, Spearman describes the difficulties in translating such extremities to newer shores. “We’re quite specifically British, eccentric sounding, but I think some Americans like that. We’ve maybe made our lives a bit more difficult by being weirder than some bands, but then we wouldn’t feel like we’re not being true to ourselves. To be honest, we have a lot of work to do in America still, and we love going abroad and playing to different people, but we’re not at the same level that we are in the UK. And that’s okay, but it’s just a case of chipping away at it really.”.
If you happen to live on the American side of the pond, you can catch Everything Everything starting tomorrow night in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Wednesday 3rd August 2016 – The Sinclair – Cambridge, MA
Thursday 4th August 2016 – Music Hall of Williamsburg – Brooklyn, NY
Saturday 6th August 2016 – TIME Festival – Toronto, ON, Canada
Monday 8th August 2016 – U Street Music Hall – Washington, DC
Right. Let’s get something straight right from the start. Deer Shed 2016 was essentially perfect: a wondrous box of delights for young, middle and old alike. Whilst the event has evolved over the years, if someone said, “Freeze. This is perfect. Don’t change anything,” I doubt there would be any complaints. The camping is spacious and quiet. The toilets are clean and useable. The food is utterly delicious. The bar is well-run and well-stocked (some of us still mourn the loss of Ilkley’s Mary Jane, however). The crowds are beautiful and well-behaved… well, at least the kids are. Oh, and someone must have paid the weather bill because the sun shone nearly all the time.
And so we come to the entertainment. Deer Shed is effectively two festivals in one – a box of delightful activities for kids – stuff so unique that they only get to do it here – and a proper music festival for grown ups. We’ll come to the kids’ stuff in due course, but let’s consider the music first. If you think a festival that welcomes so many children just tags on a few bands to keep the adults half-amused, then think again. I don’t know how they do it, but Deer Shed’s music lineup is second to none. A festival of any size would be proud to come up with such a fresh, forward-looking bill. For a modest spot of land in the North Yorkshire countryside, it’s nothing less than a triumph.
By the very nature of Deer Shed, one often has a youngster tugging at one’s sleeve, wanting to go and jump around outside the bubble stall for the hundredth time. The list of missed bands gets longer and longer, but that just makes one even more appreciative of the music one does manage to see. First up for me were Leeds’ Eagulls, whose sound is the natural result of owning several Squier guitars, a floor full of reverb pedals and a record collection largely consisting of the Cure’s more introspective records. I’m not exactly sure what the frontman’s on about, and the whole shebang is based on some purposely obtuse chord progressions. But when it all comes together they create an urgent wash of heady nu gaze that urges you to close your eyes and get swept away.
Friday night headliners Everything Everything have made the inevitable, if not a little unsettling, transformation from regular indie band to some sort of futuristic gospel praise outfit. Singer Jonathan Higgs wears ankle-length robes, holds his hands aloft and teases the crowd with his oblique commentary on the state of everything. He even retreats to his own podium at the back of the stage on occasion, cavorting and exclaiming like a greasy televangelist, except with something better to sell than false hope. A quite extraordinary performance: danceable, unforgettable, slightly disturbing. [Should be interesting to see what the Americans make of them on their first headline tour of America that begins this week. – Ed.]
Saturday dawned with the hazy memory of having an impromptu jam session around the piano in the Obelisk tent. Whether real or imaginary, such late-night escapades are soon forgotten in favour of the promise of a sunny day, and plenty to do with it. FEWS shake off the cobwebs with a pre-midday slot of their driving instrumental post-rock. It’s the sort of thing that you can get lost in, labyrinthine melodies hidden within an incessant motorik rhythm section. Teessiders Cattle & Cane give me a little “festival moment”: the weight of a child on one’s shoulders, bopping away in their own little way to a warm-hearted band… such fleeting yet timeless moments of joy make the grind of life worthwhile. TGTF has come across Misty Miller a couple of times before, and she’s never been the same performer twice. Currently in a goth-inspired phase, her rock ‘n’ roll ditties remain as strong as ever, and her passion for reinvention means somewhere along the line she’s sure to hit on a persona that really propels her into the mainstream.
Somehow I managed to get rid of the kids for an hour or so at this point, and found myself in a state of euphoric peace lounging at the back for Emma Pollock‘s set. Hardly a household name, but her former group The Delgados will be familiar to students of Scottish indie bands, and her solo set was an absolute masterclass in grown-up songwriting. One delightful tune after another fell from her guitar, and backed by an excellent band she was an unexpected treat. Her song about dark skygazing was hugely evocative: a more sublime way to close one’s eyes and lay back in the late afternoon sunshine it’s difficult to imagine.
TGTF raved about RHAIN‘s double performance at Kendal Calling last year, and her set in Deer Shed’s Obelisk tent was the stuff that legends are made of. Her voice is nothing less than astonishing, and the rare beauty of her jewelled songs quickly had the tent full to capacity. Her friends Plastic Mermaids, fresh from their own storming set earlier in the day, backed her for a few numbers, but it’s when RHAIN picks some simple piano chords to compliment her extraordinary vocal performance that really showcases what she is capable of. To witness a musician of such powerful talent in such intimate surroundings is a very rare treat; the electric atmosphere and the standing ovation that followed her performance is testament to the intensity of what she is capable. Utterly, utterly wonderful.
Stay tuned: the second half of Martin’s review of Deer Shed 2016 will post here on TGTF tomorrow. Same bat time, same bat channel.
Do you think having kids means you can’t indulge in a festival weekend of nonstop, top class music, comedy and the odd craft ale? Deer Shed Festival 2016, nestled in the heart of beautiful North Yorkshire, is here to prove that little ones are no barrier to such delights. Now in its seventh year, and having grown bigger and better every year, Deer Shed prides itself on not just catering for kids in one corner of the festival arena, but actually integrating activities and attractions for your offspring throughout the festival itself. Activities break down roughly into Arts, Science, Sporty and Workshops categories, and there’s far too much going on to do justice to here. But here’s a list of the more, ahem, unique activities: Sock Wrestling, Tree Identification, Guerilla Archaeology, Taking Things to Pieces (my favourite!), not to mention loads of kid-friendly comedy and films.
So whilst the kids are busy deconstructing the inner workings of a cathode ray tube, the adults’ attention turns to the music stages. And I can confidently say that no festival has their finger on the pulse of contemporary alternative music as precisely as Deer Shed does. Between their modestly-sized stages, they put on an extraordinarily diverse and beautifully-curated lineup, the strength of which will make even the most clued-up muso stroke his or her beard and exclaim, “Forsooth, whence has this talented beat combo passed me by, for they are excellence personified!” (Translation: there’s loads of brilliant bands, some of which you’ve never heard of.)
There’s a lot of ladies at Deer Shed this year; it might even be the unofficial theme, like Celts were last year. By my calculation, almost exactly half of the acts are either actual ladies or lady-led, which is how it should be, but rarely is. Amongst others there’s Tuff Love, a pair of chiming, Glaswegian ladies with a melodic sensibility; Gwenno, ex of The Pipettes, her of the Welsh-language dystopian album ‘Y Dydd Olaf’; a rare festival appearance from famously reclusive Mancunian groovenik Lonelady; a touch of nu-soul from Mahalia; and Irish ethereality from Saint Sister. Phew.
Let’s turn to the headliners. And if I may indulge myself in a reminiscence, here’s some words from last year’s review (in which I got a bit huffy in parts): “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.” Well, that’s exactly the formula that’s been used this year, and it promises to be a triumph. Everything Everything should need no introduction: now they’ve got three albums to go at, so expect their characteristic jumpy rhythms and highly-strung vocals, perhaps with a bit more guitar than we’re used to if their latest material is anything to go by. Beth Orton is the closing act on the Sunday, and a more gentle and apposite comedown is difficult to imagine. Her dreamy arrangements and almost-whispered vocals became the soundtrack to coming-of-age for a certain generation around the millennium that have all grown up a bit now but still remember fondly those hazy, lazy days.
When Deer Shed management asked on Facebook for suggestions as to future headliners, my answer was clear: Jarvis, Jarvis, Jarvis (I also made this suggestion in my 2014 review). If I’d thought harder, that answer actually could have been expanded to “any former member of Pulp with a decent solo career”, and who better fills that brief than Richard Hawley (pictured at top), Saturday’s main stage main man. He can pick and choose from an oeuvre spanning decades, varying from gentle pastoral acoustica to transcendental psychedelic jams. He’s rapidly becoming one of the country’s most well-renowned songwriters and performers, managing to be both a ‘50s throwback and achingly contemporary simultaneously and effortlessly. It’s difficult to think of a more appropriate talent to be this year’s main attraction… Unless he’s joined by Jarvis, of course!
All in all, it really is no exaggeration to say that 2016 could and should be the best year yet at Baldersby. The secret to Deer Shed Festival? It’s not just for kids.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 7th June 2016 at 4:00 pm
‘Re-Make/ Re-Model’. Or so goes the Roxy Music song. And that other phrase bandied about, ‘everything is old is new again’. But is it really? Some friends of ours in Manchester are giving a new venture a go and naturally, as they’ve taken something from the great North West city and repurposed it and given it new life, we’re all for it.
In a building that dating back to 1956, a new space has been unearthed by local creatives, to be used how it was meant to be used. Formerly an old Granada TV recording studio, it’s now been rechristened and reopened for the benefit of us all under the name Low Four Studio. The plan is to offer high quality music tv out of Manchester and also provide an amazing yet intimate event space, both of which came together when they officially launched the new/old space at the end of May, right as the second May bank holiday was getting into full swing. To celebrate the opening of Low Four, they invited a small group of lucky fans to watch local favourites Everything Everything give the place a proper celebratory atmosphere.
Anyone who is anyone in the music business in Manchester knows who Matt Maxey is, but even I was surprised he was the emcee for the evening. It made me quite sad I wasn’t there to join in the fun at what has turned out to be such a beautiful space. However, we can now relive the night vicariously with a high-quality stream of Everything Everything performing ‘Blast Doors’, ‘Kemosabe’, ‘Spring Summer Winter Dread’, ‘The Wheel’ and ‘Distant Past’ right there at Low Four Studio. It’ll be great to see what Low Four has in store for us in the near future, definitely.
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