If you’re an avid fan of new music like us here at TGTF Towers, you’ll surely be aware of the constant problem we face: there’s just too much of it. Scenes are evolving into separate sub sects that inspires another bedroom artist, then someone throws a synth in to make it ‘electro’ or someone starts screaming to make it ‘core’, and before you know it that band you liked last week are no longer new. It’s no easy task to keep up with the ever-moving entity that is new music, but the Guardian’s Paul Lester has been making it his aim to stay on the cutting edge for around 1,300. His New Band of the Day column has taken Guardian Music by storm and led to a live showcase every few months in Camden, tonight is the third show and the line-up is as eclectic as ever.
Starting the evening is a Canadian-cum-German known as Digits. Despite the downstairs room looking like a primary school disco with the early-showers hanging around the edges, Digits’ moody synth-pop provides a welcome mirror image to the busy High Street outside. The honed ambience drags the slowly filling crowd away from their iPhones to watch the stage as Altman bleeps and hushes his way through ‘Because It’s Wrong’ and ‘So Cold’. It’s not get-up-and-dance music, but it’s as clever and passionate as The Weeknd and as dark as Cocteau Twins. With new EP ‘Where Do You Belong?’ out in July, Digits could find he belongs in London more often.
The first band to invite London upstairs tonight are Seasfire. Continuing from Digits’ emotive laments, the bass-laden electro indie kids are more chill-out than rock out. Vocalist Josh Thorn whispers his words delicately akin to Benjamin Francis Leftwich, while the band pull out the hooky, electronic grooves reminiscent of Everything Everything. Ranging from synthesised highs to dubsteppy lows, Seasfire add so many elements yet they reign it in and keep the sound resolutely soft and unique. Although the odd danceable section does make a leap forward the crowd are simply awe of the band about to steal James Blake‘s spotlight.
Back downstairs the Barfly has managed to cram in more people through the door to see the delightfully hippy the Hall Of Mirrors. With band members spilling off the stage, the harmonious six-piece wail like sirens of the sea, attracting weary travellers into their trap of twinkly instrumentals and Kate Bush-like vocals. The psychedelic antics are like a dream sequence inside a children’s music box that can turn nightmarishly ominous in the blink of an eye. Current single ‘Love Child’ is as quirky and offbeat as you could want but tonight’s audience aren’t all fans of the ’60s.
Late additions to the bill We Were Evergreen are welcoming gig-goers into their upstairs room for a half hour of folky fun. The concept of an upstairs/downstairs system seems to confuse some patrons who either appear mid-way through a set each time or remain on one floor throughout the event – missing half the acts in the process. But those who do make the journey to the first floor are treated to a display of ukulele fuelled summery vibes that Theme Park would be proud of. The trio from Paris have won over some fans through crowd-pleasers ‘Second Hand’ and ‘Vintage Car’. Although the combination of Hawaiian strings and kazoos was too much/little for some of the Barfly tonight, the mood has lifted and it’s time to party.
Closing the downstairs portion of the evening is the minimal maestro Bobby Tank.. As is his namesake, he comes rolling into the fray with tremendous force and gusto, levelling all before him. The underlying sound is ambient and full-on electronica, but with a Macbook and a table full of knobs and switches at his disposal, Bobby Tank introduces hints of glitch, 8-bit and dubstep into his deafening arsenal. As he stands alone on stage with the air growing thick with sweat around him, the front row is alive with arm throwers as Tank’s own jazzy moves infect the crowd. There are times where the music could hit harder and beats drop further, but the overall ambience is so catchy and simple it’s like the soundtrack to the flying level of your favourite Mega Drive game. But once the last key note has rung out, it’s back to the first floor for something more sinister than synth.
Headlining tonight’s extravaganza of new noise is the London-based former Cambridge University student, Kyla La Grange (pictured at top). Her enchanting onstage persona is boosted by the ominous purple lighting and mic stand covered in fairy lights – simple but effective. The haunting pop stylings of ‘Walk Through Walls’ and ‘Vampire Smile’ elevate the five-piece above their peers tonight to prove why they’re headlining (it’s an incredible metamorphosis from the last time TGTF saw Kyla). There’s a spooky feeling in the air tonight as Kyla dances around the stage with the suggestion her performance is some sort of séance to the beyond, coupled with her Zola Jesus-esque vocals it’s hypnotic to behold. If you spot these guys on the bill of any festivals you’re at this year, be there.
By Luke Morton on Wednesday, 18th April 2012 at 2:00 pm
For over 1,200 days now, the Guardian’s Paul Lester has been hunting down the hottest and fastest rising stars in music for his (aptly titled) New Band of the Day column, Such is the success of Lester’s up-to-the-minute scribblings, the Guardian have started showcasing some of the fresh talent on offer. Tonight’s show at Camden Barfly is the second New Band of the Day Live shows and features five names you’ll surely hear more from later this year.
The first name you may recognise from a certain family member. Opening tonight are the gloriously grungey Violet fronted by none other than Pixie Geldof (pictured at top) – yes, Bob’s daughter. Ignore your preconceptions, though, as Pixie delivers a serene dream-poppy performance that wows the audience – even Bob, himself. Similar to Warpaint, Violet’s soft yet powerful neo-grunge drowns the Barfly in a wave of operatic vocals and haunting music through upcoming single ‘Y.O.U.’, ‘Starlight’ and the harmoniously heartfelt ‘Feet First’.
Just a few minutes after Violet finish in the upstairs venue, downstairs the former Magic NumberMichele Stodart is treating the sold out crowd of bloggers and blaggers to the Americanised, bluesy stylings of her new solo outing. Dancing between the upbeat and the sombre, Stodart and her minstrels get the floor moving. Slightly. At times it sounds as though you’ve heard the guitar before, but Stodart’s vocal prowess dominates the performance and the addition of a glockenspiel and accordion adds a welcome new dimension.
Back upstairs it’s a rapid change of pace from London’s most energetic two-piece BIGkids. Fronted by another famous daughter, Rosie Oddie (of badger hassler Bill) and featuring Ben Hudson aka Mr Hudson on electrics, this DIY danceathon gets the party into one monumental swing. The infectious, pop rhythms and bouncy beats send the hyperactive Rosie into overdrive, throwing shapes you’ve never seen before! The big band jazz ethic blends with the modern electronic style and funky bass undertone that spreads joy to the masses who are beaming. Tracks such as ‘You Are Amazing’ and ‘Coming Together’ see the dynamic duo firmly press their stamp on the evening, but it’s Rosie’s voice that can straddle the soul diva twang, London rap and overt popstastic loveliness that makes these stars shine bright tonight.
Closing the downstairs section of tonight’s celebration of new music is the only artist with a number one single under his belt – Josh Kumra. Since featuring on last year’s summer fave ‘Don’t Go’ with Wretch 32, Kumra has seen his notoriety spread throughout the UK. Staying firmly in the vein of Ed Sheeran, although his vocal ability has a wider variation, the ‘one man and his guitar’ shtick is beginning to wear thin. However, closing on an acoustic cover of MGMT‘s ‘Kids’ is a real crowd-pleaser that he adapts to fit his own style but manages to keep the original in tact. The audience’s applause appears to both humble and amuse Kumra who is obviously still getting used to the attention.
One singer/songwriter who thrives off the crowd’s energy is another man who has found success through Wretch 32 – Angel. Hit single ‘Go In, Go Hard’ is reminiscent of big players Tinie and Tinchy in its delivery but in a scene dominated by grime, Angel is keeping r’n'b alive. Hailing from Shepherd’s Bush, he’s a favourite with the London crowd tonight, and he knows it. Bouncing around the stage like a powerball in a New Era hat, Angel woos the women in the house tonight with his uplifting, catchy words in ‘Raining Girls’ and ‘Wonderful’. Throughout the set, rows of camera phones litter the eye-line to record what could be one of the most intimate shows Angel plays again. Tonight’s performance elevates the rapper and his crew to the heights of his peers with his multi-layered r’n'b that features wailing rawk guitar, dubstep-friendly bass and a jungle drum beat hidden beneath. All these elements comprise one of the freshest sounds coming out of London today that could see Angel ascend into upper echelon of mainstream music.
By Luke Morton on Wednesday, 28th March 2012 at 11:00 am
One of the scariest ideas for a newspaper editor is to let the public into your offices. Just think of the havoc they’d cause? Stories leaked, interviews ruined and coffee supplies exhausted: it just doesn’t bear thinking about. But what if you invited your loyal readers into your hallowed domain and actively encouraged them to get involved and contribute to the success of the stories happening around them. But what newspaper would be daft enough to consider this notion? The Guardian.
This past weekend (24-25 March) saw the Guardian doors flung open for all to see as 5000 Guardianistas filed into Kings Place for two days of eye-opening discussion, heated debate and high quality journalism.
The charismatic, charming and ever-so-slightly odd Grayson Perry took the hot seat in Hall One as he was interviewed by Decca Aitkenhead who took the bulk of her questions from tweets that had been sent in, including one from Grayson’s wife who asked “What’s for dinner?” Grayson talked openly about his influences, the art world and other artists, stating “the only interesting thing about Damien Hirst is probably his bank accounts”. As Grayson answered questions both from Decca and the audience for an hour, he had the room hanging on his every word. Despite being quite media-friendly, Grayson is always a joy to listen to as he describes his relationship with Alan Measles, therapy and Claire. You can watch highlights of the interview here.
It wasn’t long before the Guardian heavyweights arrived at the Open Weekend to show the public how journalism is done. Chaired by Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow, a debate entitled “What does the phone hacking scandal tell us about Britain?” featuring investigative journalist Nick Davies, Tom Watson MP, former Daily Mirror editor David Banks, Guardian journalist Amelia Hill and as a special treat the editor himself, Alan Rusbridger. Tom Watson – who has been at the forefront of the Leveson enquiry – blamed “weak political leadership” from as far back as Thatcher and that there almost certainly had been occasions when MPs refused to speak out for fear of a tabloid backlash against them. Nick Davies – the man who broke the Milly Dowler phone hacking scandal – even suggested that ‘dark arts’ were prevalent in TV news and that we’d have to wait until it came out. At times it was a gang of Guardian journos against the ex-tabloid leader, but even Davies slammed the Guardian for covering the ‘tabloid story’ of Jade Goody’s death. But for an audience of Guardian readers, it was like watching the masters at work.
One of the heroes of the phone-hacking scandal closed the Saturday in an interview with Alan Rusbridger himself. Steve Coogan revealed that overall it cost him £400,000 in legal fees and to gather enough evidence to take News International to court, and he only received £370,000 in compensation, but it was about the principle. Coogan had no qualms about the fact that the stories reported by News of the World were true, but they were “no-one’s fucking business” and that what happened to him wasn’t extraordinary but “typical”. He talked freely about being stitched up by Andy Coulson’s “bad behaviour” and how he was trapped by NotW. Watch highlights of the interview here.
One of the most hyped talks on Sunday was the “Will the internet ever be open?” debate, with guests Richard Allan (director of policy of Facebook in Europe), Rachel Whetstone (global head of communications and public policy for Google) and internet boffin favourite Clay Shirky (professor at NYU). China and Iran’s internet policies dominated the discussion as each of panel gave their thoughts on an internal internet and censorship. There was a definite degree of animosity between Allan and Whetstone and the audience were very aware of the online privacy issues that Facebook is the poster child for. Allan tried to quash these stories by explaining they don’t sell personal data, targeted advertising could go to all people of the same age with the same interests, but advertisers don’t have your personal information. This still didn’t settle with the audience.
For something musical (don’t forget you’re still readingTGTF), the Guardian’s music editor Caspar Llewellyn Smith hosted a discussion on “Music’s global revolutions” with guests DJ Abrantee, editor of fRoots magazine Ian Anderson, co-founder of Africa Express Ian Birrell and DJ/producer Johan Hugo, part of the Very Best. The primary theme of the talk was that African music, especially traditional music from Mali and Madagascar. As western music tries to reinvent itself and bands keep trying different things, bands such as Vampire Weekend are notable for being influenced in their later material by African tribal beats. Hip hop too has made itself known across the globe with different countries and institutions stamping their own sound firmly on it. But it’s the traditional, original sounds from traditional African instruments that impress these seasoned musical aficionados and are keen to see more African artists gain more exposure in the UK. Make it happen, people!
There are already rumours of another Open Weekend happening next year and if so then try your hardest to get there. Where else can you find some of the best journalists in the UK – arguably the world – under one roof, ready for your questions and input? The Guardian.
By Luke Morton on Tuesday, 21st February 2012 at 11:00 am
Next month the prestigious Guardian newspaper will be opening their hallowed doors to the public for the first time ever. Ordinary Joe Bloggs can wander freely around the Guardian building interacting with journalists, columnists and general industry bods alike. Throughout the weekend there’ll be a whole range of lectures and workshops led by some of the biggest and most important names in quality journalism. So here are TGTF’s top picks for the weekend…
The incredibly witty and nihilistic G2 columnist Charlie Brooker is answering questions put to him by the audience. With a number of hit BBC Four (and sometimes BBC Two) TV shows under his belt and one of the Guardian’s most popular columns, this is surely going to be one of the highlights of the weekend. It’s a great opportunity for any fan of the acerbic writer to have their questions answered and learn from the metaphor master.
The Guardian’s Pop Quiz with John Harris
Music critic extraordinaire John Harris will be presenting an “eight round interactive spectacular” with full audio and visual effects. With questions written by a journalist who’s been published in Q, The Rolling Stone and Mojo amongst others, you’re going to need a truly musical mind to conquer this quiz.
Marcus Mumford (Mumford and Sons) interviewed by Laura Barton
Despite being in a band that splits opinion here at TGTF, seeing the frontman of one of Britain’s biggest folk bands being interviewed by the fantastic Laura Barton will definitely give some pointers to wannabe music journalists in the audience (ourselves included).
Music’s global revolutions, chaired by Caspar Llewellyn Smith The Guardian’s Music Editor chairs the debate that asks where western music can go from here. Will it embrace music from other continents or evolve in its own narrow-minded way? Hear from Choice FM’s Drive Time and Afrobeats host DJ Abrantee, the co-founder of Africa Express Ian Birrell and the Senegalese singing supremo Baaba Maal. A talk guaranteed to provoke thought and intrigue throughout the mainstream music scene.
How to DJ with DJ Yoda
Voted by Q as “one of the top ten DJs to see before you die”, DJ Yoda will be giving budding turntablists valuable advice from his 14 year career. Also in attendance will be the team behind Malawi’s Lake of Stars festival. If you’re a fan of scratch DJing, mash-ups or just spinning records to have a good time, this ‘How to’ session has something for everyone.
How to blog
As a user of the internet you probably have/had a blog. If you’re not a blogger but want to get involved with the world of user generated content and don’t know where to start, look no further than the panel of freelance writer and blogger Cath Elliott, author Owen Hatherley and the editor of political blog Liberal Conspiracy, Sunny Hundal. If you’ve got something to say but don’t know how to say it, this is the talk for you.
Unfortunately the Guardian Open Weekend is now sold out, but if you were lucky enough to buy tickets then get yourself along to the above events. From the narcissistic nature of Charlie Brooker to the DJing wizardry of DJ Yoda, it’s popular culture at its best.
By Mary Chang on Friday, 3rd February 2012 at 9:00 am
Ever wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes behind the broadsheet newspaper? Just yesterday it was revealed that the Guardian, incidentally a national publication whose music department has recognised our hard work here at TGTF, will be allowing the public behind their previously closed doors to find out.
This 24-25 March at their offices in King’s Cross, London, the Guardian will be holding their first Open Weekend, giving people the opportunity to participate in lectures and debates by their editors, writers and columnists, as well as outside speakers from Egypt, India, Pakistan and the U.S. This event is a great extension to what the Guardian already does in its online presence: engaging the public in their unique, collaborative way.
Over 200 sessions will be offered to participants, ranging from topics from Hackgate to the current global economic climate, from the future of the NHS or David Cameron in politics to (ooh!) the kind of thing that makes us hot and bothered, like Guardian writer Laura Barton in conversation Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Sons, discussing their band’s upcoming album release. Like food, sport, cartooning, crosswords, fashion? Have kids who have curious minds? This event has got you covered. This blog post can’t do the Open Weekend’s programming justice, so we invite you to read the official press release on the Guardian Web site or watch the informative video below.
Day tickets are available for Saturday at £40 and Sunday at £30, and a weekend pass costs £60. Passes allow access to all festival sites and activities, but you will have the opportunity to reserve tickets for up to four programming sessions starting the 1st of March. Children under the age of 16 can attend the festival for free, provided they are accompanied by a paying adult. One adult may bring a maximum of two children, and please note that children’s passes must be booked online at the same time as the accompanying adult making the purchase. You can purchases passes at this link.