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Deer Shed Festival 2015 Review (Part 1)

 
By on Tuesday, 28th July 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Like the cohorts of children that carouse within its boundaries, Deer Shed Festival grows up perceptibly every year. This time the powers that be had the astute notion to shift the whole affair a week later in the calendar to encompass the school holidays, thus making it much easier for parents with school-age kids to arrive early in the day. A happy by-product was that the festival sold out for the first time. Result!

So by Friday lunchtime, the site was mostly full: an impressive achievement considering the stresses involved in corralling over-excited children. Having said all that, over a Deer Shed weekend one inevitably misses several sets of essential music due to the inconvenient timing of a child needing a toilet stop, meal break, or perhaps having fallen in the lake.

First on the list of oh-no-is-that-the-time-I’m-going-to-miss-them-now sets was Diagrams, who played at the deeply unsociable hour of half past 5 in the afternoon. Luckily, however, our group had decided to camp next to the eponymous Shed itself, which location, apart from having grass rendered pungently musky by the recently vacated permanent residents, had a direct line-of-hearing from the main stage. So I can confidently say that Diagrams’ set was a triumph, Sam Genders’ tales of adulthood working just as well as festival pieces they do being mused over headphones. The songs were a bit beefier played by a live band, which did them no harm at all, and their breezily jaunty rhythms were a perfect way to kick the weekend off.

Black Rivers, a band for one obvious reason particularly close to TGTF’s heart, were up next, and thankfully experienced in person. They really are very much like Doves, except the bass player is now right-handed. So you know what to expect – a touch of bagginess, tinges of electronica, lots of lovely melodies, and they played one or two Doves tunes. You know the one… oh, the name escapes me now…

Parents hoping for their kids to have an undisturbed night’s sleep would have done well to avoid Du Blonde’s ferocious set: all red lipstick, skin-tight leggings and diva attitude, it’s enough to give even big kids some weird, if not unpleasant, dreams. To be fair, in addition to the noisy stuff, Beth Jean Houghton‘s ballads are arguably even stronger pieces of music, so she’s got the bases covered. As reinventions go, this one has been particularly successful. For any fan of the assertive young lady musician – and even though it’s a cliché I have to make a comparison to PJ Harvey – Ms Blonde is officially the Real Deal.

And so we turn leftwards to Billy Bragg. Granted, some people like him, in the same way as some people like cold showers or running marathons. Worthy causes, but are they truly enjoyable leisure activities? Or is the best part about it the smug sense of satisfaction afterwards, personified by being able to wear the t-shirt for the next 5 years? Personally, I can’t stand the chap, what with his clangy Telecaster and unreconstructed Red Wedge politics. And while Bragg is a fair booking at a bigger event, where those of us who gladly left politics lectures behind in our teens can wander off in search of more welcoming, funky fare, to plonk him at the very head of the bill, with nothing else available on any of the other three stages for the best part of two hours, is bad planning at best, and deliberately divisive at worst. None of our group, including one or two whose politics may coincide with that which Bragg espouses, were remotely bothered about his music. Just as we’d been released from the shackles of childcare, there was nothing to party to. Bummer. So a long wait by the bar until…

…the true headliners of the night appeared. Holy Moly & The Crackers are a band whom it’s impossible to dislike, and easy to love. Lead singer and violinist Ruth has beauty in her soul and her voice, the music is a clever combination of traditional English folk and off-beat Baltic rhythms, and it worked perfectly in a packed Obelisk tent, the crowd united by a love of inclusive music and the basic instinct to have a boogie. After an hour of breathtaking hoe-downs, everyone seemed in agreement – that’s how you do a headliner.

Tomorrow at Deer Shed 2015: it’s the turn of the kids!

 

Beat-Herder 2015 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets

 
By on Tuesday, 14th July 2015 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: Beat-Herder Festival 2015 is completely sold out, so beware of dodgy resellers. Information provided in this post is current at the time of posting but we encourage you to visit the official Beat-Herder Web site and keep up to date on their Twitter for news on the event as it happens.

Beat-Herder Festival 2015 starts up this Friday, the 17th of July, in Sawley, Lancashire. We ran a contest for a pair of weekend tickets earlier this month, and now I’ve been asked to provide my best bets for the 3-day event. And without further adieu…

The Lancashire Hotpots
It’s not really a Lancs event with The Lancashire Hotpots. The Merseyside comedy man will be sure to raise a smile with their Northern wit and catchy tunes.

The Lancashire Hotpots will be performing Sunday on the main Beat-Herder stage.

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Leftfield
Some have argued that Leftfield isn’t really Leftfield anymore with the absence of founding member Paul Daley. What cannot be denied is ‘Alternative Light Source’, the act’s first album in 16 years that was released in June, has already made a huge impression on the record-buying public, handily cracking the top 10 of the UK albums chart despite such a long absence. From Neil Barnes, you should expect nothing but bangers.

Leftfield will be headlining the main Beat-Herder stage Sunday night.

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Mr. Scruff
He’s a very funny, tea-drinking guy from Manchester who stumbled into his own eclectic style DJaying from what else, his own eclectic influences ranging from “(in order of appearance) Blues, 2 Tone, Ska, Nasty pop music, Electro, Hip Hop, Soul, House, Funk, Jazz, Reggae”. I think it goes without saying that his will be a very enjoyable set to experience.

Mr. Scruff will be performing at Toil Trees on Sunday.

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Only Real (pictured at top)
Continuing on with the theme of artists not taking themselves too seriously, Niall Galvin aka Only Real will be bringing his sunny ‘Jerk at the End of the Line’ tunes to Beat-Herder. Hopefully the vibes will get the natives to dance as they did at SXSW 2015.

Only Real will be performing at the Jagerhaus (date / time TBA).

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Stealing Sheep
Having released their synth-heavy second album ‘Not Real’ in April, the all-girl trio from Liverpool are no doubt raring to unleash their newest tunes on a sympathetically Northern crowd. Let’s hope they bring along their coloured nylons!

Stealing Sheep will be performing at the Jagerhaus (date / time TBA).

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Live Gig Video: HEALTH play new song ‘New Coke’ from upcoming album ‘Death Magic’ at Primavera Sound 2015 in Barcelona

 
By on Friday, 10th July 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

Just under a month now to go before the release of HEALTH‘s new album ‘Death Magic’, their first in 6 years, on the 7th of August, and we’re about to make your Friday afternoon a little less heinous. The LA experimental / noise band performed at this year’s Primavera Sound 2015 festival in Barcelona, Spain, and Pitchfork were there to film their performance of ‘New Coke’, off the new album. You can watch the performance below.

For comparison, you can watch the admittedly gross promo video for ‘New Coke’ in this previous Video of the Moment feature. All of TGTF’s past coverage on HEALTH is through here.

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Video(s) of the Moment #1844: The Libertines

 
By on Saturday, 4th July 2015 at 10:00 am
 

The Libertines‘ story is one known by many, and those of us who do know it assumed we would never see them ever play together again, mostly owing the co-frontman Pete Doherty’s continuing drug problems and erratic behaviour. Even when the band reunited for a series of shows and Reading and Leeds in 2010, I just assumed those were one offs and merely for the money and nostalgia. So when it was revealed in late 2014 that the original four members of the band – Doherty, Carl Barat (who had been moonlighting with his new band Carl Barat and the Jackals), bassist John Hassall and drummer Gary Powell – had signed a record deal with Virgin EMI and they would record it out in Thailand where Doherty had been receiving treatment in rehab, it appeared a new, exciting chapter for the Libertines was about to begin.

And it has. Foo Fighters‘ Glastonbury 2015 cancellation after Dave Grohl broke his leg at a gig in Gothenburg, Sweden earlier in June left a headliner-sized hole in the Friday night line-up. This allowed for the Libertines to be a last-minute, super secret guest for the night, wowing surprised crowds with old classics and new songs. Below, watch them perform their hit ‘Don’t Look Back into the Sun'; incidentally, it was one of the first songs I ever learned on bass, so it’s an important one to me.

One of the new songs that premiered not at Glasto 2015 but earlier at Holland’s Best Kept Secret was ‘Gunga Din’, which now has a promo video. The bromance between Pete and Carl is back and better than ever, it seems! Watch it below.

‘Anthems for Doomed Youth’, the long-awaited third album from the reunited Libertines, will be released on the 4th of September on Virgin EMI.

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WIN / Weekend festival and camping tickets to Beat-Herder Festival 2015

 
By on Friday, 3rd July 2015 at 11:00 am
 

Following on from our ticket giveaway last month to Soundwave Croatia 2015, we’ve been offered another pair to another great music festival this summer, and we can’t wait to award them to a lucky TGTF reader!

Beat-herder Festival is a festival in Sawley, Lancashire, nestled in the idyllic confines of Dockber Farm. In the past 9 years, they’ve brought all manners of electronic, reggae, drum ‘n’ bass, folk, psych rock and anything in between to their delighted punters, and in its 10th year in 2015, they will be continuing that trend at the event taking place 17-19 July 2015. High up on this year’s bill are electro stalwarts Basement Jaxx (pictured at top), DJ Erol Alkan and Neil Barnes aka Leftfield (who has just released the amazing ‘Alternative Light Source’). For those of you who are more rock inclined, ’90s indie rockers The Levellers will raise a smile, as will Martha Reeves and the Vandellas for those of you nostalgic for a bit of ’60s doo wop (and let’s face it, their song ‘(Love is Like a) Heat Wave’ would be really appropriate right about now).

For this contest, we’ve been given a pair of weekend and camping tickets, which would set you back about £295 before fees if you bought the tickets today from Ticketline. So this is a very sweet prize. And I bet you’re wondering, how do I get my little mitts on these tickets? Stay calm and follow all the directions as outlined below!

First, we’d like you to please give us your full name and email address. Second, tell us which act on the line-up you’re most excited to see at Beat-Herder, and why. (We want to be sure you’re keen enough on coming along that you’ve taken the time to study the line-up poster, naturally!) I’ll have read through all the entries and choose the best one. This is almost too easy, yeah? Just be sure your entry is in to us before noontime Monday 6 July, as that’s when we’re closing the contest. Good luck!

Please note: this contest is only for tickets for entrance to the festival and does not include travel or accommodation, though the camping fee will be included. So please only enter if you will be able to make your own to the festival site if you win. For a feel of what Beat-Herder has to offer, watch the promotional video from 2014 under the entry form.

This contest is now closed. The winner will be contacted by email.

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Liverpool Sound City 2015: Day 3 Roundup

 
By on Friday, 12th June 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Header photo by Niall Lea

As people finally got used to the bizarre layout of the new look of this year’s Liverpool Sound City, the third day had crept up. Brains were frazzled from the night before by the orgy for the senses served up by The Flaming Lips. Revellers who had crept into the city centre to keep the party going after the Lips now had hangovers galore from day 2’s festivities, so the bars were still looking bereft of people on Sunday.

As for the bars, I’ve never seen a festival better prepared. The area was about as long as the similar installations at Reading and Leeds Festivals staffed by just as many luminous vest clad volunteers. Problem was, with just a fraction of the expected clientele walking through, the facilities looked hilariously empty for most of the day. Additionally, planning that saw pints pre-poured for quick service, meant that during the dearth of customers, pints were sitting poured in the baking midday sun. Definitely a decision to review, methinks. Nobody wants a warm pint of Strongbow on the third day of festival if they’re paying through the nose for it.

Aside from logistical issues and the numerous punters moaning and groaning about the health of their legs after an hour long trudge back to their hotel in the city centre, the festival site was a hub of activity on the final day, with the corporate sponsorship’s Red Bull-mobile blasting out crap drum ‘n’ bass remixes of classic tracks as you entered the festival It was a reminder that although until quite recently, the festival had a DIY feeling, everyone has to sell their souls in the end to the corporate monsters. Still, you could be at Creamfields, and count your lucky stars you’re not there.

Because at Creamfields, you certainly wouldn’t be treated to the psychedelic grooves of Moon King, who graced the abandoned warehouse of The Baltic Stage around mid-afternoon as the shroud of grey cloud disappeared from over the site. The Canadian duo of Daniel Benjamin and Maddy Wilde exuded energy and all male eyes were transfixed to the baseball cap-cladded shredder providing the trademark ‘buzz-saw’ guitars, as Benjamin did his best Justin Hayward-Young impression, with about 50% of the balls and swagger of the former. (7/10)

Houdini Dax came highly recommended to me, and with a packed out Cavern Stage to greet me as I arrived, it was obvious I wasn’t alone in hearing of the charms of the Welsh three-piece. From start to finish, the boys exuded an infectious energy to the relatively lethargic crowd, and with a few charming smiles and sing-alongs, they laced the kind of hooks you’ll be humming for days, going down as stern favourites for day 3. Their set closed with ‘Get Your Goo On’: in title it sounds utterly ridiculous, but the song brought a lively 30 minutes to a close with a bit of swagger, some Beach Boys-style call and repeat and at least a 100 new likes on Facebook post set! (9/10)

From melt in your mouth harmonies to a complete disaster was sadly what awaited me with Clarence Clarity. The highly-rated Londoners would probably go down great at a smoky acid-house/post-dub night in Brixton. But, after the splendid chords of Houdini Dax, the semi-glitter pop mash-ups they served in the warehouse ended up sounding like an utter sonic catastrophe. The reverb screamed around the enclosed space and within minutes those without earplugs were vacating the area for something less audibly offensive.

They’ve done their best to sound like a 21st century turn on Outkast, but in doing, so it’s just ended up as a bit of a mess,with Eastern influences mashed crudely into your run-of-the-mill British drum ‘n’ bass. Perhaps this sound would work in a different setting and at another time – but as a prelude to Gaz Coombes, Peace and Belle and Sebastian at about 6 o’clock with the sun still shining, they simply jarred and sounded like a mess. (4/10)

Calming things down on The Atlantic Stage were the gentle tones of Bill Ryder-Jones who cut a lonely figure in the middle of the vast stage. He has all the hallmarks of any 18 year-old music fans crush, with sweeping good looks and swishy hair, plus a moody expression cut upon his face permanently. Sadly, Bill was nothing special at Liverpool Sound City, pumping out a couple of mediocre covers, some staggeringly uninventive, along with three chord originals and all at a pace that sent me daydreaming into thoughts about what delectable burger van food I could chomp on and whether the Premiership season had finished yet. With time I’m sure he’ll find his sound, as his songwriting seemed to hold up, but for now he just felt very vanilla on a day which could have done with some rum and raisin. (5/10)

Now while I was trying to escape Clarence Clarity’s sonic bombardment, I bumped into a young German girl who asked me for tips on who would blow her mind (aside from the obvious), to which I replied the next act on the Cargo Stage, “Findlay is nothing short of phenomenal every time I see her”.

Of course, by doing this, I inevitably delivered the kiss of death to her set.

For an act that normally struts about the stage with an incredible swagger and presence, I was shocked when she delivered a terribly staccato performance, bereft of showmanship and craft. Instead, it just felt like another day at the office. The fierce Debbie Harry-lite figure of Findlay had been neutered and stayed locked behind a set of oversize sunglasses. Whether it was a poorly-thought-out change of tact, to go from ferocious female aggressor to a sultry parlour singer grated on me. Because for the main part, barring from a rousing rendition of ‘On and Off’, she delivered a pedestrian performance stripped of the trademark character I’d promised to my new friend from Central Europe. In fact, it was so disappointing out the corner of my eye I saw the very Fraulein make for the exit after three songs. (6/10) Probably to get a good space for the next band on The Atlantic Stage…

Kings of the indie singalong The Cribs looked every bit the seasoned pros they are compared to some of the green-behind-the-ears acts gracing every one of the stages over the weekend. They easily drew the biggest crowd of the day so far, being probably one of the most recognisable names on the bill, and it’s probably to no surprise as well. Quite easily the three-piece could have turned up, delivered the hits and been on their way with a big smile on their faces – cash in pocket – job done. But instead they threw every bit of themselves into it, to the delight of the Liverpudlian crowd. The three-piece choral harmonies were great and really lifted the entire set, whilst the new poppier material lifted what could have been a bog-standard Cribs set to something far more. (7/10)

In fact, it was the perfect preface to former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes, the penultimate act on The Atlantic Stage. As expected, there were no frills and bells like the night before. No gimmicky matching jackets like Everything Everything and The Vaccines, despite Coombes definitely putting a bid in for Best Dressed Man at the festival with his attire. Instead, one of Britpop’s finest men on stage, guitar in hand, was trying his hand at going solo to good results.

Now, while his second solo album ‘Matador’ may have only debuted at number 18 in the Official UK Albums chart, in circles like Liverpool Sound City he was always going to get far more respect and credence than at another festival. Effortlessly cool and with the gently soaring masterpiece that is ‘Detroit’ in Coombes’ arsenal, he commanded the slowly fading light surrounding The Atlantic Stage. Although there were rumblings of ‘is he going to play ‘Alright’?’, in the crowd after a few of his originals, everyone seemed to settle down to enjoy a true legend of his era going out on his own. (8/10)

From one legend, to another. Belle and Sebastian carry with them the baggage of being cult stars. In fact, it’s difficult to find somebody these days that enjoys alternative music who DOESN’T name an experience watching Stuart Murdoch and co. as one of the crowning moments in their musical history. I waited with trepidation, as I’ve never GOT Belle and Sebastian; they’ve just never managed to excite me in the way I want music to. It’s all just felt like wallpaper–jazzy elevator music to me.

The group of Glaswegians manage to captivate the crowd, myself included, with their phenomenally deep songwriting. ‘Nobody’s Empire’ is a personal highlight, as Murdoch’s intensity is poured into every single lyric, as if he was living the experience right there in front of the crowd. It wasn’t the spectacular of colour The Flaming Lips served up, or the singalong, lad-rock frenzy of The Vaccines. But in their own way, Belle and Sebastian delivered one of the most soulful, warm and encapsulating sets of the weekend. (8/10)

So what did I learn this weekend? Delving into the unknown on highly-tipped acts like The Serpent Power and Clarence Clarity can sometimes be a dangerous endeavour, which can lead to your willy being commented upon on social media alongside pictures of genitals being sent to you. But bands like Houdini Dax, The People and the Poet and Hollysiz can come from left-field sources and end up being the highlights of the festival. That’s the joy of events like Liverpool Sound City and The Great Escape: while you can walk in on some absolute duds, it’s unlikely you’ll have a weekend of it with the sheer glut of musical talent on show. Just work on the stage layout guys, or The People and the Poet won’t be back…

 
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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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