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Sonisphere 2014 Review (Part 2)

 
By on Friday, 18th July 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

The first half of John’s Sonisphere 2014 review is here.

On a scout around the site, I stumbled upon the opening few bars of what looked like shaping up to be a storming set from The Bronx. Firstly, I’ve got tremendous respect for a band with the credentials they have, doing their own soundchecks. Small things, but, they weren’t being divas. It’s just cool, OK?

When they indicated they were finishing the tuning and the ‘CHECK, CHECK, CHECKING’, they immediately stormed into ‘Kill My Friends’ with a kind of aggression that turned the sweaty confines of the Bohemia Tent into an altogether more hostile environment. The tent was the perfect environment for their set (or from at least what I saw of it), as it allowed frontman Matt Caughthran to get really up close and personal with the crowd. However, if Caughthran got up close and personal with the now extremely unwashed masses of Sonisphere, then Trash Talk frontman Lee Spielman went that one step further.

The generation gap (and tolerance gap) between bands and their respective fans for acts like Trash Talk and The Bronx comparatively to their older compatriots Metallica and Mastodon was epitomised perfectly throughout Trash Talk’s set. Spielman and co.’s unique brand of vitriolic punk is abrasive and primarily there to offend and shock. So to go along with it, it seems only right that Trash Talk’s live set was a whirlwind of aggression, party drug references and moshing. For the entire set, I was stood next to two 50-year old(ish) metal veterans with Metallica and Iron Maiden logos emblazoned on their t-shirts. During the short bursts of rage-filled lyrics, a look of confusion and puzzlement came over the two gentlemen, as the frontman and bassist threw themselves around the stage in a frenzy. Trash Talk are at the forefront of a new brand of stoner metal, where the live shows are characterised by big, brash displays of bile and vitriol, a far cry from the showmanship of Bruce Dickinson and James Hetfield, but still impressive, if not relatively abrasive.

For most of the set Spielman spent his time amongst the crowd. The masses of snapback clad ‘yoofs’ swinging their arms and elbows around and rarely making any connection with anything but thin air. Trash Talk as a band were summed up perfectly by Spielman himself early on in the set: “Short, succinct and to the point”. With most of their songs played out at around 1-minute long, he wasn’t wrong. The circle pits were the most ferocious of the festival, as Spielman ventured far enough back to find me cowering near the sound desk.

Look, I got ‘all up in his grill’:

It was this sense of incredible crowd participation and the ceaseless energy of the band that made this set one of the highlights of the day for me. Whether their own brand of party-punk would go down well on the main stage at a festival is one thing. But in a crowded tent, Spielman bent the crowd to his will superbly. Which warmed me up for something I’ve been waiting around 6 years for.

METALLICA.

Glastonbury the weekend previous was a huge milestone for the band. Arguably, the claims they had to ‘prove themselves’ at Glastonbury were completely ridiculous. They’re fucking Metallica and they’ve sold more albums than bloody Arcade Fire and Kasabian combined. Plus, name me a person who doesn’t lose all their shit during ‘Enter Sandman’ and I will go and buy a hat, then eat said hat. They answered the critics, sure. But, in doing so, they produced one of Glastonbury’s finest sets, ladened with as many singalong classics that any Chris Martin or Bono could bring.

So returning to a festival where the band will quite literally lauded as gods was going to hardly be daunting for Ulrich, Hetfield, Hammett, and Trujillo. To spice up their most recent tour and give them an excuse to globetrot without another album, Metallica are touring under the banner of ‘By Request’. Meaning we, the peasantry, get to pick the set. That means one thing. The set won’t be littered with random tracks from the deep, dark depths of ‘Death Magnetic’. Instead, it’ll be jam-packed to the brim with hit after hit.

So with the sun still shining down on Knebworth Park and after a sneak peak of ‘Glastallica’, the legendary four-piece strode on stage with a swagger unbeknown to any other act. They’ve conquered Glastonbury and they were about to defeat Sonisphere. Opener ‘Battery’ was met by a tirade of air drumming, which ceased about two and a half hours later when the band finally left the stage.

Every song was belted out with passion and the audience returned the favour by echoing every lyric back at them, from ‘Master of Puppets’, to ‘Whisky in the Jar’, which Hetfield admitted was his favourite song to play at the moment. The best reaction was reserved for ‘Enter Sandman’, as the crowd bounced in unison to the riff that has become synonymous with the band. ‘One’ was played out with a grandeur you don’t really expect at any metal show. However, for me it was ruined by some pillock next to me donning an Adolf Hitler moustache and adopting a ‘Sieg Heil’ pose throughout. Not funny in the slightest.

The gimmick for the day was that one of the songs was picked by the crowd – coming out on top by a whisker was ‘…And Justice for All’ and finishing off the set we had a rousing rendition of ‘Seek and Destroy’, which stopped any early leavers dead in their tracks so they could throw their horns in the Saturn Stage’s direction.

At Sonisphere, Metallica arrived with absolutely diddly shit to prove. Somehow though, they left proving something. So did the new guard, under the guise of Trash Talk, showing they can put on a show.

But, when it comes to stadium rock and getting a mammoth crowd going – leave it to the undisputed kings of thrash.

Well played boys. (10/10)

 

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!

 
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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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