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By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 29th October 2013 at 4:00 pm
One of the coolest new(er) festivals as of late is Festival No 6, taking place in the picturesque environs of Portmerion, North Wales. Daughter performed at this year’s event, and they filmed this video diary to document their day there, soundtracked by current single ‘Amsterdam’, from their debut album ‘If You Leave’ released back in March. Step into Elena Tonra et al.’s touring world in the video below.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 25th October 2013 at 4:00 pm
2013 Reading/Leeds headliners Biffy Clyro asked their fans to send in their best and favourite bits of their own collections of video clips seeing the Scottish band on tour and at festivals this summer. Then they slapped everything together for this one pretty stunning video, allowing the viewer vantage points of the band from both close up and far away, soundtracked to ‘Sounds Like Balloons’, their next single out on the 25th of November on 14th Floor Records. Watch the video below.
‘Sounds Like Balloons’ features on the band’s 2013 ‘Opposites’ double album, which hit #1 on the UK albums chart earlier this year.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 21st October 2013 at 4:00 pm
Stephen Black, beloved to many people including yours truly under his stage name Sweet Baboo, appeared at this summer’s Green Man Festival. If summer is feeling as far away to you as it does to me at the moment – I mean, come on, you walk into shops now and they’ve got Santas and Christmas ornaments on display, it’s ridiculous – this video from August will do you a world of good. Black performing the ultra sweet ‘Motorhome’? Yes, please. (It reminds me of my Scottish holiday in May when I saw the man at the famous King Tut’s of Glasgow and met him as well. Ah, the memories.) Watch it below.
On the most overcast afternoon of Reading 2013, as the sweaty mugginess drips off my nose mixing with the coagulated Gaymers ‘tache forming on my upper lip, I had the fortune of a brief chin-wag with Canadian alt-rockers Half Moon Run. At a rickety picnic table in the mysterious (it wasn’t, but I wish it was) guest area of Reading Festival I parked my bum opposite from two of the band, Devon Portielje and Dylan Phillips. Immediately they struck me as the uber-cool their music suggests they are, shades firmly wrapped around their heads, trendy vests donned – staring back at them they had me: a distended mess suffering from a lack of sleep, the effects of the night before and a serious lack of vitamin C.
Their reaction was to be polite and amicable as anything, a sign of true gents from across the pond if I’ve ever seen it. But I expected a kind of humility from this band, because of where they hail from – Canada, kind of like the USA’s less shouty and brash brother. [I’m trying not to take offence at this. – Ed.] Half Moon Run were typically the British’s view of Canadians, easy going and cool as finely diced cucumbers.
Did they seem out of their depth for a band making their bow at Reading, in their show on the Festival Republic Stage? The crowd was *almost* as packed out as it was for Radio 1 darlings the 1975, which is testament to just how well thought of Half Moon Run are in the UK. Whether that was because one of their songs has been used in the trailer for Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, which looks wicked cool, or for the fact that their inimitable brand of warbling harmonies has struck a chord with UK audiences already, it doesn’t matter. How do they feel about the reception they’ve received in the UK? Devon thinks it’s just great: “I think the audience in the UK have really warmed to us, which is nice as we were a bit nervous coming over here.”
What nerves, as they cruised through their eight song set and a triumphant version of ‘Call Me in the Afternoon’ which had every lyric shouted back from the crowd, to their immense finale of ‘She Wants To Know’. “We’ve been excited about Reading since we knew we were booked for it, as we know how special it is in the UK, and worldwide, it has a great reputation. I mean, doing Glastonbury was obviously very special too, because well IT’S GLASTONBURY! But to play Reading Festival so early on in our career is really, really special.”
After a recent tour with bonafide stars and now (somehow) Glastonbury headliners Mumford and Sons, this Canadian four-piece look set upon perhaps not the same path as the British country rockers, but one which could lead them on the same trajectory, perhaps at a more manageable rate? The boys certainly have their feet on the ground: “Touring with Mumford and Sons was one hell of an experience, coming out for the encore almost every night with them and playing in front of huge crowds like they do. Can we see ourselves doing something like that, one step at a time, please?”
To say Arcane Roots have only just hit the scene would be incredibly naïve. The arrival with ‘Blood and Chemistry’ in 2013 can only be likened in senses of arrival to the impending noise of a bomb whistling above your head and crashing down near you, with the sonic boom passing over you and sending your eardrums into overload. ‘Blood and Chemistry’ has to be described as their breakthrough, but for a band who have been around since 2005, the dues have most definitely been paid by the Kingston-on-Thames hailing three-piece.
I was lucky enough to watch the band at their most raucous and raw, when they played at Liverpool Sound City 2013 at Screenadelica. Our head photographer Martin Sharman, who up to then had been enjoying the acts from a distance, jumped headfirst into the undulating, sweating masses of writhing flesh who were enjoying the heaven for head-banging that was Arcane Roots’ set.
A few months on and they’ve conquered stadiums with titans of progressive rock, Muse and now Daryl Atkins and Adam Burton find themselves face to face with me, backstage at Reading Festival, following a chaotic set on the Lock Up/Rock Stage. Frontman Andrew Groves is busy attending to other media commitments, but that doesn’t keep him away for long.
With the Sunday performance being their first-ever show at Reading Festival it was obvious that drummer Atkins had thoroughly enjoyed the experience: “We played Leeds on Friday which was alright, but with Reading it seems like we are all really happy with it.” To anyone who had the privilege to watch their set, that answer will probably be met with a big shrug and a “well duh!” Why? Well you only had to look on the math-rocking threesome to see the Cheshire Cat-style grins creeping across their faces every time a circle pit opened up.
“It’s really good when people are passionate about our music, they go crazy and they get into it. You can only tell so much when you are on stage, what things sound like. I mean, you have a sort of monitor engineer and a house engineer and we brought our own front of house engineer who mixed the album and knows it well, so it sounded great.”
Bassist Burton chipped in with his perspective on how well the set went, in the tight confines of the Lock-Up, with limbs flailing in front of him: “As long as everyone is having a good time out front and they want to go crazy with the sun out and everything, then we’re going to have fun.”
Normally when you talk to a band after a triumphant Reading Festival set, the answer you’re inevitably given is that THIS was the festival they went to. A kind of Mecca for rockers, misfits and the men and women destined to grace the stages of the future? Not Arcane Roots though. “We’ve never been to the festival, never at all and everyone seems really surprised about it. In fact, the only major festival I’ve been to is the Isle of Wight Festival.” As an islander myself, I resist the urge to gush about proper sand, island life and sheep.
After explaining to the duo of Daryl and Adam that ‘Blood and Chemistry’ has effectively been the soundtrack to the last 2 months of my life, waking me up for those harsh breakfast shifts and delivering a sucker-punch to my eye ducts to remove the sleep dust during the commute to work- we’re joined by a splendidly-dressed Andrew Groves (the nicest man in rock, sorry Dave Grohl).
Andrew is resplendent in the gear he wears for the ‘Belief video’, which if you haven’t watched it yet, is Arcane Roots at their best. We reminisce about how I chatted with Andrew in May at the Great Escape 2013 for about half an hour about how the band’s name came about, how the album came together and why fish and chips in Brighton are fucking great, we move on to more important matters. Namely the burrito pedal, which Atkins explains: “Andrew was probably smiling so much on stage because he found the burrito pedal, which is a pedal for your rack which I’ve invented. You press it and then, WHOOSH out comes a burrito.”
The discussion quickly moves to the festival food of choice, a burrito, a pulled pork baguette? Suddenly I’m explaining to the band how I was watching Green Day on Friday covered in pulled pork and absolutely loving it. Slob rock, people, it’s the future.
Two weeks on from the festival ,and Arcane Roots as promised by the band on site have delivered a succulent headline tour to whet anyone’s appetite and after the experience of playing in stadiums with Muse has galvanised their sounds, can you imagine what the band will sound like in a small club, bar or venue?
Stop imagining. See you in November.
I’ll be in the pit.
With the 5-day hangover building to its climatic crescendo on the Sunday of Reading 2013, I emerged bleary eyed and in no-way bushy tailed from my fungus-ridden excuse for a tent that I called home for the festival. My head was pounding, and the inevitability that I would be off for a stroll to the seemingly-bottomless troughs full of human shit hit me right about the face – the all too familiar scent hitting my nose and immediately frying all of the hairs that laced the inside of my nasal cavity.
With my daily pulled pork baguette (delightfully middle–classed festival truck) bought, as I entered the arena I set about a new music adventure, stumbling into the Festival Republic Tent to watch Aussie indie-pop darlings San Cisco. In direct contrast to yesterday’s new music samplings in the form of Nightworks, San Cisco were tight as a live act and had some real dynamism about their live show, plus Awkward is a tune to boot. Jordi Davieson proved to be an affable frontman, but in drummer and co-vocalist Scarlett Stevens they have a real personality behind the kit. These guys are undoubtedly ones to watch. (8/10)
The Lock-Up Stage is a haven for ear-splitting riffs and circle pits that whir with immense ferocity. So a no-frills, no bullshit rock and roll band like The Virginmarys were always going to feel at home in the tight surroundings of the tent. No light shows, no bullshit, just rock ‘n’ roll was what was contained in this 40-ish minute set. The closer ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ went down stormingly to the crowd who had slowly milled into the tent after hearing the brutal wave of sound emanating from the tent, whilst ‘Just A Ride’ was simply ferocious, head-banging gluttony. (8.5/10)
From a rock show, to a punk rock show, with Massachusetts-based noise-mongers California X in the Festival Republic Tent. On record the band sounded tight and in time with each other, unshockingly. However, in a live setting the set seemed a touch disjointed. Perhaps nerves got the better of the band, all clad in black? The wall of noise that fell upon the slowly dissipating crowd didn’t impress anyone, and while they appropriately turned it up to 11, it seemed it just wasn’t California X’s day. An opportunity missed entirely, for the fledgling punks. (5/10)
Easily one of the highlights of the weekend was this next band, Arcane Roots. Andrew Groves’ cheekiest of cheeky smiles when the drop came during ‘Energy is Never Lost, Just Redirected’ showed just how much the band were enjoying the ensuing mass of circle pits in front of them. Adam Burton’s bass cut through the sprawled crowd like thunder cracks and Daryl Atkins’ drumming was sublime. There was no mid-set lull in their performance, instead a constant roar of frets being shredded amongst an adoring roar from the crowd. To say these guys were destined to play a bigger stage and follow in the footsteps of their contemporaries, of the headliners of the day, would just be stating the bloody obvious… But I will. Main Stage openers next year. (9.5/10)
With a mad dash across the arena, I made it to the Radio 1/NME Tent, where Glastonbury conquerors Haim were setting about their next conquest: a group of around 20,000 hungover 20-somethings. What was the reaction of these gurning revellers to the band’s set? Tittering at Este Haim’s frankly ridiculous face when the bassist concentrated on playing her instrument.
People came expecting the hits that Haim had to offer and were satisfied with early play-outs of ‘Don’t Save Me’ and ‘Falling’, which meant most of the audience could filter out in the direction of Fall Out Boy. But not this reviewer; I stuck it out to the end so I could catch the frankly gorgeous Alana Haim going full rock star and thrashing about on stage. Not exactly the most ladylike of exits from Haim, but definitely befitting the festival they were playing at. However, when what sticks best in your mind about the set is one of the band’s grimaces, it was never going to have been a classic. (7/10)
I joined the pilgrimage to the Main Stage to join in on the worship of the erstwhile stars they have now become, the stars being Fall Out Boy of course. After an electric set in 2009 that had teenage girls crossing their legs in excitement and this one teenage boy screaming every lyric back, it was nostalgia that ruled this day. The hits were rolled out like a red carpet, but it wasn’t Pete Wentz strolling up to the opening of Fall Out Boy 2.0. It was their true frontman Patrick Stump, who after the hiatus has come back re-energised, more svelte and more the frontman he is meant to be, the kind of frontman that the band deserves. Single ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)’ was obviously created for the live arena, as the entire crowd became unified in a kind of hip-hop rock mash-up of arm bopping. However, while Stump looked rejuvenated, it seemed like Wentz wasn’t exactly revelling in the lack of limelight, as he wore a face like a slapped arse for the entire set, until he was released for the crescendo, ‘Saturday’. (7/10)
With a mission to avoid the psychosis-inducing catastrophe of noise that is Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails complete, the headliners Biffy Clyro were gearing up to bring the weekend to a close. The worry with a band that have climbed the echelons of the festival billing, by paying their dues and performing a total of eight times across different stages, is that their sound may not be the BIG sound of a headliner. They may not have the mass appeal of an Eminem, or the tunes and fanaticism of fans of, say, a Green Day.
Within I’d say 30 seconds all worries were dispelled, as Simon Neil announced himself as the headliner to end all headliners. The understated intro of ‘Different People’ with Neil in front of a plain backdrop had all of the hairs standing up on my neck, and as the riff kicked in and the cloth dropped to reveal the album artwork for ‘Opposites’, it was obvious that Biffy weren’t here to make up numbers. They were here to conquer.
‘That Golden Rule’ proved why moshing is fucking ace, a rare playing of ‘Folding Stars’ brought grown men to tears (I had something in my eye, alright?), ‘57’ was a nod to the past in spectacular fashion and ‘Mountains’ was the sing-along that other sing-alongs aspire to.
It used to be the argument that you were either a post-‘Puzzle’ or pre-‘Puzzle’ fan, a pretender/jonny come lately or a seasoned Biffy veteran. But at Reading 2013, Biffy Clyro cemented themselves as festival headlining staples. A headline slot at Wembley Stadium surely waits in the future. Mon the Biff. (10/10)
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