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Sonisphere 2014 Review (Part 1)

 
By on Thursday, 17th July 2014 at 5:50 pm
 

From the moment I arrived there was a definite air of nostalgia around the place. Sonisphere is undeniably a festival for a section of the gig-going public, that is too lethargic and stubborn to embrace the pace of change music is making at the moment. They lament the days ska disappeared (if it ever was) from the mainstream music agenda and don the t-shirts of band who are certainly not playing the festival, but they want you to know ‘THEY CARE!’

Underlining the wistful air of sentimentality were ageing veterans of ska Reel Big Fish. They’re a band who knows how to cater for the longingly nostalgic audience, and that’s by playing nothing but the hits. There was only one song from their newest release ‘Candy Coated Fury’, which consequently got the same kind of reaction from the crowd that you would expect if Aaron Barrett came out onstage dressed as Vladimir Putin and started spouting anti-Ukranian propaganda.

The rest of the set was a journey through the nether regions of the California six-piece’s assorted back catalogue, which finished somewhat triumphantly with their rather enjoyable cover of ‘Take On Me’ by a-ha. They received a lukewarm reaction from the crowd for the majority of their set, barring the final cover which provoked slightly more frivolity. (6/10) But, their inclusion on the line-up is one of the things which confuses me about Sonisphere as a festival.

It’s a metal festival, targeted at the black t-shirt wearing population who choose to grow their hair past their neck, swing it around them like a lasso at random times, seemingly to display their dominance as either the smelliest or sweatiest member of any crowd. So what is a ska band like Reel Big Fish doing there? And what have bands like All Time Low and Weezer been doing hanging around the likes of Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth?

Somehow though, when it works, it works beautifully, as the Dropkick Murphys showed later on the Saturn Stage, emerging after a musical prelude that was almost long enough to rival the theatricality of ‘Glastallica’ the previous week. The run-up doesn’t serve to stifle the flow of the show though, as the seven-piece bound onstage like a bag of excitable puppies let loose in the kitchen when you’re chopping the veg for dinner. They aren’t bloody annoying like those puppies though (I’ve got a thing against dogs at the moment as I think I’m allergic, OK?).

Set opener ‘The Boys Are Back’ is flowing with the kind of good cheer you find at your local pub when it’s Irish night and the beer is flowing. Ken Casey has the pride his music enthuses rolling out of him in droves, whilst vocalist Al Barr looks every bit as mean as ever dressed in the kind of polo shirt and cap you see Frodo Baggins wearing in Green Street before he slogs someone right in the gob.

Barr is a marauding presence, as he paces menacingly along the front of the stage, stirring the crowd into a frenzied whirlpool. It’s singalong anthem after singalong anthem from the Massachusetts homeboys. My personal highlight had to be a rip-roaring cover of the traditional folk number ‘Black Velvet Band’, which was furnished with a gloss of punk bite. The audience was joined in unison for the penultimate tune, as they covered AC/DC’s classic ‘Dirty Deeds Done Cheap’, before skipping of the stage to one of their classics, ‘I’m Shipping Up to Boston’.

This all proved to me that you didn’t need to be a roaring, denim jacket wearing, Satan-worshiping metal band to fit in at Sonisphere. You were welcomed with open arms as long as your music had a bit of an edge to it. Dropkick Murphys had that in spades and left Knebworth Park as champions, after a rabble-rousing set that William Wallace himself would have been proud of. (10/10)

Sandwiched in between Reel Big Fish and Dropkick Murphys are titans of sludge, Mastodon, who troop through a set with just enough of their classics to justify a good outing for songs from their new record ‘Once More ‘Round the Sun’. ‘Chimes at Midnight’, ’High Road’ and ‘The Motherload’ sit unobtrusively next to tracks like ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Blasteroid’, as the band take you away to a starry-skied world with their thudding, yet entirely melodic tunes.

At the helm, Troy Sanders conducted the orchestra of majesty behind him, whilst still grasping the 30,000 strong audience within the palm of his hand, from up high on the Saturn Stage. The titanic melodies that Mastodon have made their trademark over the past decade soared out over the fields of Knebworth, drawing in a considerable crowd. They’re the kind of outfit that the smaller bands who graced the weekend’s line-up can watch slam out a set of huge tunes and give them the will to aspire to play higher on the bill. (8/10)

By comparison on the same Stage, Alice in Chains produced an utterly flaccid performance, devoid of any real showmanship. They bumbled through a set which catered for anyone wanting to hear the hits, as ‘Man in the Box’ and ‘Them Bones’ received an airing. For a band gracing the upper echelons of rock royalty, the crowd could most definitely have expected something more than the dour showing they got from the titans of grunge.

Perhaps with all the line-up changes William DuVall and co. have gone and lost what made them so brilliant to watch. Or maybe the four-piece couldn’t handle the almost unbearable rays of the sun beating down from high upon the Saturn Stage. (5/10)

Stay tuned tomorrow for the rest of John’s review of Sonisphere 2014.

 

The BBC at Glastonbury 2014 (Friday): Four Tet performing ‘Parallel Jalebi’ at the Park Stage

 
By on Saturday, 28th June 2014 at 7:30 pm
 

Wherever you will be hanging your hat this weekend, whether you’re joining the sheep at Worthy Farm or you’ve got your feet up in front of the telly, us here at TGTF will have you covered when it comes to Glastonbury 2014. The dedicated people they are, the folks at the BBC will be working all hours during the festival and feeding us live coverage as it becomes available. What does this mean for you? We’ll be passing along all the best bits to you, our faithful readers.

The Park Stage proved itself Friday as having the most interesting line-up of Glastonbury 2014, including Four Tet‘s star turn underneath the stars Friday night. Kieran Hebden brought it with strobe lighting and his eclectic beats, and now you can watch him spin and blip his way through ‘Parallel Jalebi’ below.

For more of the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage online, head this way. Stay tuned for more videos from Glasto 2014 right here on TGTF.

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The BBC at Glastonbury 2014 (Friday): Kaiser Chiefs headlining the John Peel Stage and performing ‘I Predict a Riot’

 
By on Saturday, 28th June 2014 at 7:00 pm
 

Wherever you will be hanging your hat this weekend, whether you’re joining the sheep at Worthy Farm or you’ve got your feet up in front of the telly, us here at TGTF will have you covered when it comes to Glastonbury 2014. The dedicated people they are, the folks at the BBC will be working all hours during the festival and feeding us live coverage as it becomes available. What does this mean for you? We’ll be passing along all the best bits to you, our faithful readers.

Kaiser Chiefs really got around on Friday at Glastonbury 2014. First, they opened the festival at a secret appearance at the early morning time of 11 AM at the Other Stage. Then Ricky Wilson and co. turned up at the BBC Music Tent for this ‘9 to 5′ Dolly Parton cover. But the best was yet to come: a headline slot at the John Peel Stage deep in the heart of the evening Friday night. This is the kind of performance that makes me sad I’m not at Glasto this year. Watch ‘I Predict a Riot’, including a Ricky Wilson crowd dive, below.

For more of the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage online, head this way. Stay tuned for more videos from Glasto 2014 right here on TGTF.

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The BBC at Glastonbury 2014 (Friday): Kaiser Chiefs cover ‘9 to 5′ at the BBC Music Tepee

 
By on Friday, 27th June 2014 at 9:00 pm
 

Wherever you will be hanging your hat this weekend, whether you’re joining the sheep at Worthy Farm or you’ve got your feet up in front of the telly, us here at TGTF will have you covered when it comes to Glastonbury 2014. The dedicated people they are, the folks at the BBC will be working all hours during the festival and feeding us live coverage as it becomes available. What does this mean for you? We’ll be passing along all the best bits to you, our faithful readers.

We all know that Dolly Parton will be playing the Pyramid Stage. Okay, well this is definitely something I never saw coming. The BBC’s Tepee Tent today appears to be their mobile Live Lounge for covers at Worthy Farm, and Kaiser Chiefs stopped in today to do their version of Dolly’s classic ‘9 to 5′. (The band also made a surprise appearance on The Other Stage early this morning.) Watch their cover below.

For more of the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage online, head this way. Stay tuned for more videos from Glasto 2014 right here on TGTF.

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Interview: Fearless Vampire Killers at Camden Rocks 2014

 
By on Friday, 27th June 2014 at 11:00 am
 

With an acoustic gig down and a full blown electric fandango to follow, TGTF seized the opportunity to crack open a cold one (and, not the beer-y kind…) with horror punk five-piece Fearless Vampire Killers at Camden Rocks 2014. The bumpkins from Beccles turned bombastic ball busters with extra bite gave the low down on Katy Perry, festival fun times and inter band rivalry in the shires.

The theme of today is rock music. How important do you believe events like this are to the genre as a whole?
Kier Kemp (KK): Well, I guess I would have to say very important! Specific rock festivals are always important because it’s a genre that gets a lot of bad press, in the sense that everybody is always going on about dying all the time. “Oh, rock’s dead”! That guitar music’s dead, but it never is and just lives on. There are always people that don’t want to listen to fucking Katy Perry… Even though I love Katy Perry, actually. That was a bad example! But, [people who] don’t want to listen to something else rubbish. It is important to have something billed as rock. It’s like: “rock music together, man!”
Cyrus Barrone (CB): This festival is particularly good because it’s got the whole street. So many venues and so many different things going on. You can basically stumble into someone you haven’t known before. You hear something outside, like when we were playing earlier with all the windows open so everybody could hear it. It means that, even if you’re not at the festival, you’re still hearing that rock music’s alive and well in Camden. If I hear a snippet of something, I’ll think “I’ll need to check that out” – that’s the appeal of these types of festival.

How does it feel to be playing in Camden, with such a unique rock music heritage? Do you feed off that a little bit?
KK: It’s pretty cool. We live down the road so it’s not quite as exciting for us…
CB: We’re seasoned!
Laurence Beveridge (LB): We used to play here every month. We had our own club night at a place called Tommy Flynn’s. We played it every month and at the first three there weren’t people there.
KK: They charged 50p to get in. We didn’t want to make money, they just wanted people to come.
Drew Woolnough (DW): We used to flyer around Camden market. Well, not flyers but wax sealed envelopes inviting people to come to the gigs. It didn’t make any difference, but it looked fucking cool.
LB: Every band in London has played a million shit gigs in Camden – write that down!
DW: But, there’ll always be a gleaming gold one, like when we played The Underworld.
LB: Some our best gigs have been in Camden. The Barfly – we sold that out. The Underworld. Where else have we played?
CB: Purple Turtle!
KK: Camden is a place of highs and lows. It’s got that stigma.
LB: We used to be here every night, just trying to meet new people and bands.

What’s your favourite Camden venue?
KK: Of the bigger ones, Roundhouse is an amazing venue. The smaller ones, Barfly, now. It used to be shite but they put a new system in and it sounds good, so Barfly’s good now. That’s where we met our sound technician, actually.

What is it that makes a good Camden venue?
KK: Dirty!
DW: It’s got to be grimy but also sound good. Sometimes you have grimy and run down, which is not good… But, then you’ve got grimy and it’s meant to be grimy. When you walk into The Underworld, you feel this stench – a wave of sweat comes over you, but you don’t mind because you know you’re going to have a good night. We don’t mind smelling of shit. It’s all about the vibes!

Urban festivals, or fun in a field?
KK: I’ve never been a massive purveyor of festivals, just because I’m a pansy and I don’t like being dirty. So, the only way I can survive is trying to be drunk the whole time, so I don’t realise I’m disgusting and horrible.
LB: I think the best festival to play and be at – definitely to play – is Takedown Festival, because it’s fucking brilliant! They just give you loads of booze, and – there’s booze everywhere. You can go anywhere with your booze. It’s all within the university, and it’s so easy to get to. There’s like five stages within three minutes’ walking distance. It’s just a walk through to another room. Just so easy, so relaxed.
CB: You feel so connected. You feel like you really get to talk to everyone. You get to meet all your friends, and talk to new bands.
LB: With most festivals, there’s always the fear of being run over. At a field festival, if you fall over then you just get a bit muddy. If you fall over here, you might get run over by a bus! I did once get run over at Glastonbury. I just wasn’t paying attention. There’s this one road that they’d kind of sectioned off – “This is where cars go”. I didn’t know this, and got run over. I say ‘run over’, he kind of nudged me out the way.
CB: But, you’ve never been run over at Camden Rocks…

Just to stick with the ‘rock’ theme; what inspired you to start making rock music in the first place?
KK: Something random, I guess. It’s kind of what you grow up with to a degree, isn’t it? My Mum was into the old punk stuff. She was a punk back when she was a kid and I just grew up on what they listened to. Then, I guess you just get naturally drawn to that kind of subculture, in a way, because if you’re not – and I hate to say mainstream – but, if you don’t fit in as a person, you often turn to things that also aren’t mainstream.
LB: At the time we were growing up, rock music was really popular. It was in every film – every thing. ‘American Pie’ had this punk rock soundtrack. ‘School of Rock’ had just come out. Everything was very rock orientated.
KK: We had pop punk, and then nu metal, and then emo all within the early years of our youth.
LB: Even hardcore was part of our youth.
CB: You get these massive albums like ‘American Idiot’ and ‘The Black Parade'; even The Killers. They were rock. Everyone had a bit of rock in them.
LB: This is what you did. If you didn’t play football, you were in a band. In our town, Beccles, there was a population of like 6,000. It’s not a big population and there were like fucking 20 bands – and we were all trying to get the same gigs. Even we were in rival bands. Half of the band… they’re two different bands.
CB: We’ve formed an uneasy alliance now…

So, there’s still some general suspicion?
CB: Oh yeah…
LB: Massive suspicion!

 

Preview: Deer Shed Festival 2014

 
By on Friday, 20th June 2014 at 9:00 am
 

Editor’s note: for a flavour of what Deer Shed has offered in previous years, read Martin’s coverage of Deer Shed in 2013 and 2012.

It’s that time of year again when thoughts turn to spending a weekend under canvas, listening to live music en plein air and generally having a good time whilst dodging the rain. But there’s no reason why such enjoyment should be the exclusive privilege of adults – which is where the good people at Deer Shed Festival come in. Their particular brand of genius revolves around providing a surfeit of proper bands so that Mum and Dad can be exposed to a year’s worth of good new music and also have a ramble down their musical memory lane, whilst the children get up to all sorts of shenanigans with drumming workshops, making things out of string, and learning the occasional naughty bottom joke.

Deer Shed’s musical programming has always been high quality and eclectic, and this year promises the same. The general musical theme of each day at previous Deer Sheds has been as follows: Friday is party night, Saturday is mostly guitar-based, with a sprinkling of Dadrock, and Sunday is most definitely chill-out-with-a-bacon-sandwich time. This year seems to our ears a little more guitar-centric than previous, so don’t forget the kids’ ear defenders!

Friday night sees hip-hop making its first Deer Shed appearance in the form of Dan le Sac, bringing beat poetry into the 21st century with the help of his partner in beats DJ Scroobius Pip. Headlining the other stages are perennial indie favourites British Sea Power, and underground darlings Wolf Alice. Try not to miss Toy and Pins either. Saturday is the day where all manner of shenanigans break loose, with a full programme of music only half the story. TGTF’s band picks are Leeds’ Post War Glamour Girls, husband-wife ’80s revivalists Summer Camp, London slackers Happyness, the superb French arch-pop of We Were Evergreen (in a rare return to Baldersby) and the ex-Beta Band Steve Mason, second on the bill only to Johnny Marr, who is sure to warm the cockles of dads of a certain age, perhaps reminding them of that 6th-form disco when they heard ‘How Soon Is Now’ for the first time – and when they still had hair…

But there’s far more to Saturday at Deer Shed than that. In fact, I’d say the kids get the best part of the deal, because while their parents are otherwise distracted, passively absorbing what’s on stage, the kids get to actively participate in some really cool stuff. Let’s consider workshops – the lucky blighters can variously make a castle, a cyborg teddy, a lolly stick trebuchet, a comic book, a princess costume, badges, bracelets, and pretty much anything out of clay. They can learn how to drum, perform circus feats, play the ukulele, and shoot a cocktail stick crossbow. And if that’s not enough they can watch as much slapstick and learn as many naughty jokes about bums that their little heads can handle. Particular standouts from the PG-rated comedy strand include the proptastic Wes Zaharuk, Paul Cookson and ex-Housemartin Stan Cullimore doing kid-friendly ukulele singalongs, and for the little ones a puppet show featuring the adorable Lulu – a sort of emu, but with Rod Hull nowhere to be seen.

Arts activities for adults include a spoken word strand curated by the Guardian’s Dave Simpson – check out ‘The Fallen on The Fall’, allegedly the most Fall musicians in the same room except actually in The Fall, or Saint Etienne‘s Bob Stanley discussing his book ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah': the complete story of the modern pop era, apparently. There’s all you ever wanted to know about The Wonder Stuff, and all you never thought to ask about Bradford’s musical history. If that’s all too much and you fancy slumping down in front of the big screen, there’s time travel-themed movies all weekend, culminating in 1920’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, with live piano accompaniment from the genius that is Darius Battiwalla. Almost worth the entrance fee alone.

Speaking of themes… Friday night sees the Time Travel Party get into full swing. What that involves isn’t clear, but we imagine one of two things – either remembering the date for the future when time travel machines have been invented, then going back in time to attend, or, perhaps the easier option, bring some clothing that was fashionable in the past, or perhaps will be fashionable in the future, and wear that to the party in an effort to convince fellow revellers that you really are from the future. Or perhaps the past. This time travel business gets confusing very quickly. What you under no circumstances must do is attend from both the present and the future – if your two selves meet, the very fabric of spacetime will be rent asunder – an event hardly conducive to a decent party. If anyone needs advising on the tricky details of time travel, no doubt Marty McFly will be on hand to help, and perhaps one or two generations of Dr Whos. Don’t forget to bring your flux capacitor.

Even though Deer Shed offers good value in musical terms even if you haven’t got kids, the whole point of the event is that it’s a place where the little blighters can let off steam and have some fun in a relatively safe environment, with both children and adults catered for in terms of activities. Even though other festivals have their kids offerings, Deer Shed has the need to keep kids entertained woven into its very DNA – it’s something it’s very good at indeed. Added to the fact that it’s never rained at Deer Shed in living memory… what more do you need to know?

 
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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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