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By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 4th February 2015 at 9:00 am
For the average music festival-goer, summer is their season. For music reviewers like us here at TGTF, May is go time, for it’s the one month of the year starring the most important emerging music events in the UK. We’ve already done initial previews for both The Great Escape (14-16 May) and Liverpool Sound City (22-24 May), and now it’s time to turn our attention away from the Southern seaside and the Northwest to go due east into Yorkshire for the winner of Best Metropolitan Festival 2014 at the UK Festival Awards. Annual event Live at Leeds, celebrating 9 years this year, have just revealed their first list of bands scheduled to perform in clubs, bars and performance spaces on the 2nd of May, the Saturday of the first May bank holiday.
You’ll recognize the bigger names. Oxford’s Stornoway (pictured at top), who announced in January details to their third album ‘Bonxie’ to be released in April, will be raring to go with an appearance in Leeds smack dab in the middle of an already announced UK tour. Carl Barat with his new band the Jackals will be releasing their debut album ‘Let It Reign’ is less than 2 weeks; critics are already saying that it’s Barat’s fine return to form and his best since the ‘Up the Bracket’ days. Emmy the Great, who showed off a brand new, outward-looking side of herself in her latest ‘S’ EP released in mid-January will also appear. Homegrown talent is also represented higher up the bill, with the psychedelic rock of Eagulls and Hookworms sure to please.
Further down the bill are the hopefuls that truly make emerging festivals like this one so special. London electro soul duo Honne, who just played a triumphant sold out show at Electrowerkz last night, are sure to be one of the biggest indie draws of Live at Leeds this year. Pixel Fix from Oxford, who released the fantastic ‘Running Thin’ EP last year as well as hold the distinction of having been chosen as one of four acts on the Communion New Faces tour in November 2014, is another good bet. Hype is building behind Liverpool’s Hooton Tennis Club, having moved up from Edge Hill University’s own Label Recordings onto indie Heavenly Recordings, making them a must see as well. London rockers The Mispers, who have been chosen as main support for Kodaline on their UK tour in February and March, are ready for their close-up too.
Keen? Tickets for the 1-day event in May are on sale now for the bargain price of just £27.50. For more information, visit the official Live at Leeds Web site.
We’ve all done it. Looked at that empty field down the road on a stuffy summer’s day, with a can in one hand and said, “yeah, I could put a festival on and that place over there would be fucking great. All my favourite bands would play, on the cheap of course, tickets would be tuppence and the cider would blow your bloody head off”.
Of course the difference between most people and the legends at 2000 Trees is that they bonny well went out and did it. And do you know what, it’s gone great.
2015 is set to be the eighth year where revellers descend on sleep Gloucestershire for some folk, fun and fornication and a whole whack of the best UK rock you can get your ears around. This year’s event takes place 9-11 July.
The first announcement for this year’s bash sees rejuvenated six-piece Deaf Havana topping the bill to make their bow at the festival. It’s been a while since the band stopped singing about ‘Friends Like These’ and moved on to a smarter, more mature sounding edge. In fact, their most recent record, Old Souls is testament to their transformation, into the UK’s very own Gaslight Anthem. Sure, James Veck-Gilodi may be one of the harder to like frontmen in Britain at the moment, but if one thing has gone down well at Upcote Farm in the past, it’s been a wholehearted, air-grabbing singalong. Just ask Mr Turner, he’s got a camp named after him. With the assets in Deaf Havana’s armada, it’s pretty obvious these guys will go down brilliantly at Trees.
Joining them on the bill are Arcane Roots, who will have likely be releasing their third studio album this year and went down incredibly well at last year’s bash. That aside, they fulfil the criteria for a Trees band perfectly: just under the radar British talent with incredible riffs and even better beards. Leeds trio Pulled About By Horses, another of those bands whose chaotic live show will surely ensure a rapturous reception from the Trees faithful, is also scheduled to appear.
Lower down the bill are the fantastic, Frank Turner-endorsed Solemn Sun who hail from that part of the woods. So you can expect the kind of hometown heroes welcome they’ll get. Tickets are currently £87 for the 3-day weekend plus fees. For more information, visit the 2000 Trees official Web site.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 2nd February 2015 at 9:00 am
Things will be extra celebratory in Brighton this spring. Why, you ask? Judging from the strength of the first announcement released last week of the first 150 bands scheduled to play at the event, The Great Escape 2015 will definitely be partying hard for its 10th anniversary.
The first headliner is no stranger to TGE, having made their Brighton festival debut playing the Komedia in 2013, and fans are already making a huge fuss over American band Alabama Shakes. At the time of this writing, the top-up tickets to their appearance at Brighton Dome on Friday the 15th of May have pretty much been all snapped up, so be quick if you’re keen on seeing them.
Part of the TGE tradition has been to have a partnership with another country to help promote that land’s artists, having partnered up with Australia (2000) and Finland (2014) in recent years, just to name two. Being that this is a big year for the festival, they’ve chosen to use the opportunity to cast the spotlight on homegrown UK artists. The Great Escape has always been one of the best places to see up and coming acts before they hit it big, so expect an even bigger, better group of hopefuls to get their time in the limelight this year.
The first announcement includes some familiar names too. Slaves, who were one of the 2014 summer festival circuit favourites, will be appearing in Brighton. So will Django Django, who will return to the seaside after their riotous, boiling performance in 2012 at the Blind Tiger (which, sadly, has now closed, thanks to a crochety tenant above them). The prolific Dutch Uncles from Marple will also make the sojourn south, sure to be playing tracks from their new album out this month ‘O Shudder’ in Brighton. Derry singer/songwriter SOAK, who has already been announced for the bill at Steve Lamacq’s BBC Introducing / PRS for Music night at SXSW 2015, will also be making an appearance.
But there’s plenty of newer talent that will keep the seaside town abuzz all weekend. Siren Tei Shi, whose ethereal vocals shone on her collaboration with TGE alums Glass Animals on the track ‘Holiest’, will be visiting from Brooklyn and is certain to bring her smooth, chill vibes. Despite their name, Girl Band from Dublin are actually a group of four guys who rock out, and there’s incredible anticipation building for their debut album following on the news they’ve recently been signed to Rough Trade. And probably winning the award for the longest travel route to Brighton, we’ll also be enjoying the melodic rock from Bad//Dreems hailing from Adelaide, Australia.
I’ve merely only scratched the surface on the first band announcement. With more bands to be revealed in the coming weeks, there’s sure to be more gems and surprises to be unveiled, and we can’t wait. The saver festival pass for the full 3-day event costs £54.45; for just the Alabama Shakes headline show at the Dome, it’s £21.45, but if you already have a festival ticket, the top-up will set you back a mere additional £8. For more information, visit the Great Escape’s official Web site.
They’ve been asking if they want to come back all these years, and this week it was confirmed that The Vaccines would indeed be coming back to Liverpool Sound City after a 2-year absence. They’ll be joining Belle and Sebastian and The Flaming Lips at the top of an already incredibly tantalising bill of talent.
The four-piece who shot to prominence of the back of their first album ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’ have barged their way back onto the scene in proper Vaccines fashion. That is, in the form of another 2-and-a-half minute banger, with guitars so fast you’ll miss them if you blink and a chorus as catchy as a cold at this time of year. The guitars are frantic, as they were on all of The Vaccines’ releases we’ve heard up to now, and the four-piece have undeniably stuck to the same formula that has worked so well for them over the last four years.
‘Handsome’ may not have as killer a chorus as ‘Do You Wanna’, but it’s a fantastic pop song with wide appeal, there is no doubt. The new single is released on the 8th of March officially, but is already doing the rounds on social media and the radio, and all around it looks like everybody is pretty happy with what The Vaccines have produced. Will the album be on the same form? Well, from this evidence what can we expect from The Vaccines, more of the same…
As for who’s joining them on the bill at the rejuvenated Liverpool Sound City, which has been moved to pastures anew at the docks, there are some fantastic up and coming talents ready to catch the eye on Merseyside. Female four-piece Dum Dum Girls will bring a bit of shoegaze to the Sound City festival. Math rockers Dutch Uncles have also joined the bill and will be looking to move away from being a festival buzz band and to a group which can really excite people on a festival bill – is this festival the right platform? We shall see.
If overblown hipster chic is what you enjoy , eccentric duo The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger are certainly a feast for the eyes. Whether their off-colour take on psychedelic rock will captivate or confuse, they’re likely to be an interesting draw alongside Roni Size /Reprazent, The Thurston Moore Band, Gaz Coombes, F*cked Up, Evian Christ and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
But with a BBC Sound of 2015 nomination and countless plays of their new single on Radio 1, the act I’m undeniably the most excited about catching a glimpse of at Liverpool Sound City (barring the headliners anyway) are Slaves. Their no nonsense approach on indie rock and incredible tunes like ‘The Hunter’ and ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie’ are certain to draw a capacity crowd to their slot at the festival, and as it did with me at 2000 Trees 2014, they’re almost certain to leave you asking, “Debbie… Where is your car?”
The 6 Music Festival is back! And it’s coming to my town. For two evenings in February, the coolest place for a music lover to be is Gateshead: the Sage Gateshead on the iconic Newcastle/Gateshead quayside, to be precise. Newcastle gets to kick off the event on the Friday night, hosting an opening party at the O2 Academy, the lineup for which is impressive indeed: Interpol, Mogwai, Sleater-Kinney’s first UK performance for 10 years, and the winner of 6 Music’s album of the year, The War on Drugs. Tickets for this will set you back a mere £25, and considering the bill is essentially four headline-worthy performances, that’s impeccable value. The venue capacity is 2,000, and there’s only 1,800 tickets on offer, so all those lucky enough to procure a ticket will get a decent view.
The whole shebang then moves (just) south of the river to the hip and happening borough of Gateshead, which, as everyone in the know has known for a while now, is a far superior place to live and party than its more famous little brother Newcastle. It’s all happening at the iconic Sage, into which the powers that be are managing to cram four performance spaces into its voluptuous, snail-like curves. I’ll give an alphabetised list at the end of this article, but this writer’s picks of the Saturday night are: Kate Tempest and Eliza Carthy, who will bring two stylistically dissimilar but familiarly connected strands of English folk music together in a unique, and uniquely powerful performance; Gruff Rhys, whose latest project American Interior, documenting Welsh explorer John Evans’ epic journey across the eponymous landscape, will surely feature highly; and The Cribs, whose stamina and endurance are second to none, and are still turning out music worthy of a catalogue which extends back more than a decade.
Readers’ attention must be alerted to the capacity of the Sage, compared with the number of tickets sold, so they are prepared what they might get for their money. The Sage is essentially a shell within which two separate auditoria exist: the stunning all-seated Hall One (capacity 1,640), and the much smaller, less formal, standing Hall Two (capacity 400). There’s also a small room called the Northern Rock Foundation Hall, capacity 250. Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that this is a total capacity of 2290, but ticket sales are set at 3,400 – the capacity of the entire building, not just the auditoria. Apparently the concourse will absorb the overspill, which means over 1,000 people milling about outside trying to get to see the show of their choice, although there will be 6 Music DJs on the concourse as well. Just to reiterate, if every ticket holder wishes to see the big headline performance in the main room, less than half will be able to do so. I am prepared to stand corrected on my numbers, but if I’m right I can see trouble, and overcrowding, ahead. The Sage are notoriously uptight about rules – this isn’t your usual free-and-easy gig venue – so expect short shrift from the stewards if the room is at capacity. Also expect white-collar drinks prices, and with a no readmittance policy, it could turn out to be an expensive evening, with no guarantee of seeing the show of one’s choice, albeit with all the falafel wraps one can eat. Caveat emptor.
As long as post-festival drinks didn’t go on too late at the superb Central Bar across the road from the Sage, Sunday dawns with yet another superb lineup of acts, with a flavour not unlike a Glastonbury Sunday: more left-field choices, perhaps established acts that need a bit of a boost. In that vein, picks from Sunday include the vintage post-punk outfit Wire and the vintage post-soul diva Neneh Cherry. Gaz Coombes will bring the newest of his superb solo work, and Public Service Broadcasting will reveal the direction they’ve chosen for album number two.
In summary, this is an impeccable list of acts for what promises to be an exciting weekend on Tyneside. I haven’t even touched on the 6 Music By Day strand, which is to run in Newcastle’s creative hub, the Ouseburn valley, and include interviews by 6 Music presenters with the musicians who are playing later, performances from bands local to the North East, and a record fair. Our cup runneth over! Given the fact that it’s all only 10 minutes on the bus from my front door, I personally couldn’t be happier. Anyone for an after party?
Bands performing at The 02 Academy Newcastle on Friday 20 February from 5 PM:
– Mogwai, celebrating their 20th anniversary this year
– Sleater-Kinney, their first UK performance in almost 10 years
– The War On Drugs, BRIT 2015 nominees whose 2014 album ‘Lost in the Dream’ was 6 Music’s Album of the Year in 2014
Artists and bands performing at The Sage Gateshead across four stages on Saturday 21 February from 6 PM:
– Hot Chip, performing exclusive brand new material for the first time
– Royal Blood, Mercury Prize 2014 and BRIT 2015 nominees
– The Fall
– Jungle, Mercury Prize 2014 nominees
– Maximo Park, local North East heroes
– Kate Tempest, Mercury Prize 2014 nominee
– Gruff Rhys
– Simian Mobile Disco
– Django Django, performing exclusive new material
– Father John Misty
– Ghostpoet, performing brand new material
– The Cribs, performing brand new material
– Villagers, performing exclusive brand new material for the first time
– Ibibio Sound Machine
– Kate Tempest and Eliza Carthy: performing together in an exclusive 6 Music collaboration
– A Northern Soul Night (from 5-10.30 PM), hosted by 6 Music’s Funk and Soul show presenter Craig Charles, with Richard Searling and Stuart Maconie plus further DJs to be announced soon.
Artists and bands performing at The Sage Gateshead across four stages on Sunday 22 February from 6 PM:
– The Charlatans: performing exclusive brand new material
– Jamie T
– Neneh Cherry
– Jon Hopkins
– British Sea Power
– Gaz Coombes
– Young Fathers, Mercury 2014 winners
– The Maccabees, performing exclusive new material
– Glass Animals
– Lonelady, performing brand new material
– King Creosote
– Public Service Broadcasting, performing brand new material
– Unknown Mortal Orchestra, performing brand new material
– Additional DJ sets (from 5-10.30 PM), hosted by 6 Music presenter Nemone, with Richy Ahmed, Daniel Avery, 6 Mix residents Rob da Bank and DJ Yoda, and others to be announced soon.
Tickets for each night of the festival will go on sale at 10 AM across 3 consecutive days: tickets for Friday go on sale on Friday 30 January, priced £25 plus fees; tickets for Saturday 21 February go on sale on Saturday 31 January, priced £35 plus fees; and tickets for Sunday 22 February go on sale on Sunday 1 February, priced £35 plus fees. For more information on the event in Newcastle, visit the BBC 6music Web site. Information on the festival by day will be announced on BBC 6music on Tuesday 3 February.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 22nd January 2015 at 11:00 am
It’s been a great running tradition that the BBC has hosted a night at massive band showcasing festival South by Southwest, and in just under 55 days, the Beeb will be making waves with yet another esteemed appearance in Austin! Taking place on the evening of Wednesday, the 18th of March, at the home of the British Music Embassy for the week, Latitude 30 on San Jacinto Boulevard, the event will no doubt give unprecedented attention to the acts chosen to perform on the night, and we here at TGTF are really pleased we’ll be in Austin for the festivities.
Last night on his evening drivetime programme on 6music, Steve Lamacq welcomed his fellow BBC presenter Huw Stephens to announce the line-up for the BBC Introducing night at SXSW 2015, partnering this year with PRS for Music Foundation, who gives their never wavering support to up and coming UK artists and their developing careers. Who will Lammo and Huw be bringing with them to the big dance in Austin in March? Here’s a rundown, in alphabetical order:
Blossoms – Stockport has the distinction of being the birthplace of Delphic and Dutch Uncles (both via Marple). But in 2015, all eyes will be back on the Greater Manchester town and five-piece Blossoms, putting on the psychedelic mantle that became cool again after the success of Temples last year. Will they surpass the Kettering group’s success in Austin in 2014? We’ll have to wait and see. One thing’s for sure, their name should not lead you to assume they’re fragile Northern flowers: check out the swaggery cool of ‘Blow’.
Gengahr – there always seems to be contention on who will be the next great British guitar band. On the current list of hopefuls, London’s Gengahr certainly have their supporters. They aren’t the hit-you-over-the-head loud kind of obvious guitar band, preferring more thoughtful vocals and well thought out melodies that might bleed over to pop territory. Except they’re quite masterful on guitar: have a listen to ‘Powder’.
Jack Garratt – in case you were concerned that the epic British beard would not be covered at this year’s SXSW, have a look at Jack Garratt think again. But that’s beside the point. What’s far more important are Garratt’s piano playing and deep, soulful voice. One wonders if the Austin event could be his jumping off platform to superstardom as it was last year to Ireland’s Hozier.
Little Simz – it’s probably not a wise thing to ignore Islington’s Simbi Ajikawo. The rapper, who goes by the moniker Little Simz, had her debut EP ‘E.D.G.E’ exclusively premiered on Billboard last summer and has already been noticed by Jay-Z and his crew for her experimental style of rap. And just in case the music thing doesn’t work out, she has acting to fall back on as a vocation: you may remember Ajikawo as the character Meleka in a few episodes of E4’s Youngers.
SOAK – we’re not entirely sure why Derry teenager Bridie Monds-Watson goes by the stage name of SOAK. Her highly acclaimed EP in 2013 was titled ‘Sea Creatures’, so maybe she feels some kind of affinity to the sea and water? What we do know for sure: she’s got an achingly sweet voice, she recently signed to Rough Trade and her debut album for them is expected later this year. Stay tuned for more news on her in the coming months.
Spring King – with a new promo video just uploaded to their YouTube channel 2 days before Huw Stephens’ big announcement, something tells you Manchester garage rockers Spring King are just raring to go to Austin. The aforementioned promo, for the song ‘Not Me, Not Now’, was filmed when the band were in New York City last October for the other biggie American emerging music festival CMJ. Will the prior experience playing for American audiences help them in Austin? We shall see.
To read the official announcement from BBC Introducing, go here.
We here at TGTF will be bringing you even more preview coverage of SXSW 2015 in the coming weeks leading up to the big week in Austin in March. To catch up on any of our past reporting or if you want to keep an eye on our coverage as it continues, head this way.
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