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Live Gig Video: Jonathan Douglas and Si Todd of Boy Jumps Ship play acoustic version of ‘Still Alive’ at Sonisphere 2014 for Gibson

 
By on Thursday, 24th July 2014 at 4:00 pm
 

Newcastle’s Boy Jumps Ship have shared this live acoustic performance they filmed at this year’s Sonisphere for Gibson Guitars; it stars lead guitarist Jonathan Douglas and frontman/guitarist Si Todd. ‘Still Alive’ features on the band’s ‘Lovers & Fighters’ EP released in June and out now on Rude Records. (Read my review of the EP here.) Watch the performance below.

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Live Review: Royal Blood with Spirit Animal at DC9, Washington DC – 20th July 2014

 
By on Tuesday, 22nd July 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

Despite what some people think, seeing a band at SXSW might not be the best experience you have with them. Maybe the mix wasn’t right, or it was being squished in like sardines among people who may or may not have cared to see the band in question back in March of this year for SXSW 2014? Whatever the reason was, I just didn’t enjoy myself seeing Royal Blood during their slot at the BBC Introducing showcase at Latitude 30 Thursday night, compered by my famous friend Steve Lamacq. However, this past weekend I was granted a far better opportunity to see the Brighton duo tear it up at intimate venue DC9, one of my favourite places to see up and coming bands play. I’m almost not sure if we are to call Royal Blood “up and coming”, as they’re already signed to Warner Brothers, which seems to suggest superstardom is just around the corner.

Opening hearing a couple of tracks from the opening band Spirit Animal online, I thought their sound would be a dreadful mismatch to Royal Blood’s ‘take no prisoners’ approach to hard rock. Oh, how very wrong I was. Upon reading the bill weeks ago, I was first questioning, why was a random New York City band come in Washington to play a one-off show with an English band they’ve never met? Turns out it wasn’t so random at all: the band are actually originally from DC and just have decamped to the Big Apple, presumably for a better shot at professional success. Second question, how does an analogue synth-playing band fit at all with the ethos of a band like Royal Blood? The Moog in question wasn’t so much ‘played’ was mostly banged by frontman Steve Cooper, who was otherwise mostly singing, jumping and showing his line dance moves (I’m being serious about this last one).

The connection sonically with Royal Blood is on their sometimes hard rocking guitar, delivered by epic beard-sporting bassist Paul Michel and lean and mean axe-playing Cal Stamp. I say sometimes, because this band changes direction from song to song, which keeps things extremely interesting, and they can get away with this, because Cooper is charismatic to pull this off and lead his troops to victory. Their general genre is rock, but they incorporate elements of funk, which make a lot of their music capable of inducing shape throwing. In no song of theirs is this funk more evident than set opener ‘Radio Brain’, which is a whole lot of fun while Cooper jumped around like a bull in a china shop. No, I lie. ‘Best One’, also on their EP ‘Kingdom Phylum’ (you’d think they named this to appeal to a biologist like myself), is another funkadelic storm. Spirit Animal, in essence, provided an upbeat audience warm-up for the headline set. The funk and catchiness of their songs will serve them well, and I foresee this band doing very well in the near future. (I’m not even considering the fact that Cooper and I went to rival county high schools.)

Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher certainly earn their keep. The two powerhouses come together to create such a commanding presence as Royal Blood live, I can’t imagine seeing anyone else gig in the near future who could rival what I witnessed Sunday night. I can’t emphasise enough how wowed I was by the sheer muscle of Kerr’s masterful bass playing and Thatcher’s bewildering drumming on display. I’m a bass player and when I wasn’t headbanging (yes, I am 5’ 3”, tiny and Chinese, stop laughing and don’t judge), I just stared, mesmerised as Kerr’s left hand moved fluidly up and down the neck of any one of his three guitars. If I am to keep this review clean, the only way I can describe Kerr’s playing, in a word, is awesome. If you don’t play bass (or any instrument for that matter) and have always thought that there is no way a bass player can dominate on melody on a song, think again.

Kerr is charismatic, but in a less conventional way: for the masses that make their way every summer to Download and Sonisphere, it seems he is the no-brainer choice for their next frontman hard rock god, wailing on his bass with monster riffs while also holding court with his seemingly out of control in their power yet (surprise!) melodic vocals. This is the difference – and it’s a massive one – that makes Royal Blood special and stand out from the rest of the hard rock pack. Indie music lovers who might not identify as headbangers won’t be able to stay away once the Brighton duo’s memorable choruses get stuck in their heads (see ‘Little Monster’, ‘Come On Over’).

But let’s turn back to the drums for a moment. I watched Thatcher pummel his drum kit into virtual submission, hitting it so hard that after just three songs in, he had to grab another pair of drum sticks, as there was nothing left of the ones he started with but dust and pathetic shards. (Pathetic shards he handed over, very kindly, to a grateful female fan before starting into the next song, I might add.) As he delivered his searing beat contribution to last song of the night ‘Out of the Black’ with rapid fire precision, I couldn’t help but smile and think that if the late John Bonham is watching, he is delighted that someone is continuing in his footsteps. After the show, I said hello to the guys and they were some of the sweetest musicians I’ve met. I hope, sincerely, that I have not ruined their street cred with this revelation; I only bring this up because they seem oblivious of what effect their music has on their fans.

You want to place a bet on the next biggest hard rock act to take over the world? Look no further. My money’s on Royal Blood. And it couldn’t happen to nicer guys.

After the cut: Spirit Animal and Royal Blood’s set lists.
Continue reading Live Review: Royal Blood with Spirit Animal at DC9, Washington DC – 20th July 2014

 

Live Review: The Antlers with Thus Owls at Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, AZ – 17th July 2014

 
By on Monday, 21st July 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

Barely 2 weeks after arriving in a new town, having relocated from the Gulf Coast of Florida to the Desert Southwest, I found myself becoming further acquainted with the western end of Interstate Highway 10, driving the 2 hours from Tucson to downtown Phoenix to see The Antlers at the Crescent Ballroom. It seemed fitting that my first trip to a new venue also involved two bands who were both relatively new to me. I discovered The Antlers at the recommendation of our own editor Mary, who asked me to review their recent album ‘Familiars’. (As usual, her sense of what might be my cup of tea was correct. Read the review here, if you haven’t already.) Support act Thus Owls, was completely unfamiliar, except for a quick glance at their Facebook page before I set out for the evening.

Thus Owls at Crescent Ballroom 17 July 2014

Montreal-based Thus Owls is a Canadian-Swedish hybrid based around husband and wife pair Erika and Simon Angell, who are, respectively, Swedish and Canadian. The band’s name is admittedly a bit of an enigma, and Erika Angell took several occasions to remind her audience of it, assuring us that it made sense in their minds when they chose it. Their sound is an appealing blend of fragile Scandinavian etherealism and weightier guitar rock, focused around Mrs. Angell’s delicately beautiful singing voice and flavored with dashes of interesting instrumentation, including one percussion instrument that I was unable to identify.

Erika Angell and percussion instrument

Thus Owls’ set consisted almost exclusively of songs from their newest album ‘Turning Rocks’, beginning with the title track. The only exception was the exquisite art song ‘I Weed My Garden’, from 2012 album ‘Harbours’, where Mrs. Angell took the opportunity to display her singing voice its fullest effect. She mentioned near the end of the set that the songs on ‘Turning Rocks’ were inspired by stories her grandmother had told her, specifically closing tracks ‘As Long As We Try A Little’ and ‘Smoke Like Birds’. (If you’re interested, ‘Turning Rocks’ was released worldwide in April on Secret City Records and is available on Spotify.)

The audience at the Crescent Ballroom had gradually filled in during Thus Owls’ eight songs, and where I had enjoyed a comfortable amount of personal space at the beginning of the show, I was packed in tight by the time The Antlers took the stage. The hipster college crowd was clearly more familiar with the headline act than I was, judging from the snippets of conversation I overheard, including one person’s self-proclaimed confession that she was “a sucker for a concept album”. She had well and truly come to the right place.

The Antlers opened their set with the opening 3 tracks from the current album ‘Familiars’. The expansive ‘Palace’ was quite literally breathtaking, and from there the band swept without pretense into ‘Doppelgänger’ and my personal favorite groove, ‘Hotel’. I was a little surprised to hear ‘Hotel’ so early in the set, but it turned out that ‘Familiars’ would be more than adequately represented later on.

Peter Silberman of The Antlers 17 July 2014

The set touched on The Antlers’ back catalogue in the middle of the show, including ‘Drift Dive’ from the 2012 EP ‘Undersea’ and 3 songs from their breakthrough album ‘Hospice’: ‘Kettering’, ‘Sylvia’ and a particularly moving performance of ‘Epilogue’. The band played straight through most of the set list without banter, except for the occasional “thank you” from frontman Peter Silberman. They were very deliberate about the proceedings, apparently intending their set to be a continuous sort of Gesamtkunstwerk à la German Romantic composer Richard Wagner.

Unfortunately, the youthful audience were antsy to hear their favorite hit tunes, and a bit of heckling interrupted the flow. A beautiful flute interlude by touring member Kelly Pratt was marred by a punter’s mocking, and multi-instrumentalist Darby Cicci was enthusiastically complimented on his “amazing” hair. Silberman eventually gave in and acknowledged the distractions, sensing, I assume, that this was the only way to make them stop.

Kelly Pratt with The Antlers 17 July 2014

The set proper was symmetrically bookended by the 3 closing tracks from ‘Familiars’, played through without interruption and building to a massive climax at the end. It wasn’t really until this point that I noticed the intensity of Michael Lerner’s drumming, and I was struck again by the sensitivity of his performance in songs that could easily be overwhelmed by too much percussion. All four musicians created a spot-on delivery of the arrangements that worked so beautifully on the album, particularly the extensive brass, which was shared between Pratt and Cicci on either side of the stage.

Darby Cicci of The Antlers 17 July 2014

After the aforementioned heckling, I wasn’t 100% sure that the band would play an encore, but as it turned out, the songs that the crowd had been yelling out for were reserved for last. ‘I Don’t Want Love’ and ‘Putting the Dog to Sleep’, both from 2011 LP ‘Burst Apart’, were the best received songs of the night, even inspiring a bit of singing along from the more dedicated fans at the front of the stage. I didn’t know the lyrics myself, but I found myself succumbing to Silberman’s darkly emotive singing and making a mental note to listen back to the older songs that had brought The Antlers here in the first place.

The Antlers at Crescent Ballroom 17 July 2014

After the cut: the Antlers’ set list.
Continue reading Live Review: The Antlers with Thus Owls at Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, AZ – 17th July 2014

 

Live “Gig” Video: Bombay Bicycle Club’s hilarious advertisement for December 2014 Earl’s Court gig

 
By on Friday, 18th July 2014 at 4:00 pm
 

I wasn’t sure where to put this on TGTF, as we usually don’t advertise one-off shows, but this was too funny not to share. Bombay Bicycle Club, who earlier this month made the possibly career-chafing comment that they might never play stadium shows again, seem to be doing some damage control.

They’ve gone to the trouble of producing this video to advertising their show at London’s Earl Court on the 13th of December looking back from 25 years into the future, enlisting the help of friends including their lighting tech Squib Swain (in 2039 as a rock historian) and Elbow‘s Guy Garvey, starring as their fan club president. It’s very Rutles-esque. Prepare yourself for belly-aching laughs and watch the video below. Note: avoid if you don’t want to see bass player Ed Nash’s bare behind.

And don’t be confused: tickets to their Earl’s Court show are on sale and are available now.

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Live Gig Video: Teleman and Tom Vek perform at Sofar Sounds London session

 
By on Friday, 11th July 2014 at 4:00 pm
 

Last month, TGTF favourites Teleman (pictured at top) and Tom Vek appeared at a Sofar Sounds session in London and the fine folks from the living room gig organisers have released some great video from the night. Watch below as Teleman perform single ’23 Floors Up’ from their amazing debut album ‘Breakfast’ (reviewed here) and Vek breaks out ‘Trying to Do Better’ from his latest album ‘Luck’ (reviewed here).

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Live Review: Glass Animals with Vedas and Tei Shi at U Street Music Hall, Washington DC – 8th July 2014

 
By on Thursday, 10th July 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

Electro psych and soul outfit Glass Animals are on their first headline tour of America. It’s the dead of summer here in Washington – the mercury hit 35 C before it started raining on unfortunate punters queued outside of the U Street Music Hall before doors opened – and yet somehow, on their first visit to DC, the Oxford band managed to crank the heat way up inside the cavernous basement venue during their sweltering, groovy set Tuesday night in the Nation’s Capital. No mean feat, considering earlier in the same place when it was empty, I had wrapped my Union Jack scarf around my icy shoulders to try and warm up in the air-conditioning. No such warmth needed once the place was rammed, with the show selling out just minutes before the first band was due on.

Electronic duo Vedas – singer Alex Lee on electronics and synths and Andrew Monbourne on drums – are local to DC; we posted their EP ‘Exhume’ back in April when it was released. The duo were a last-minute addition to the line-up and served as a nice, light aperitif to the evening’s proceeding. In hindsight, the choice made perfect sense, as Lee’s dream poppy vocals are delivered in a falsetto, not entirely unlike those of Glass Animals’ frontman Dave Bayley, who also favours a falsetto on certain tracks. Also, their style was in some ways similar to the second opener, Tei Shi.

The stage was crowded with setups and instruments from all three bands on the line-up and for Vedas’ set, this included electronic tea lights and a distinctive old-fashioned looking lamp that happened to be sat right in front of us. I have to give props to both musicians, as while they initially looked a bit daunted by the size of the crowd they had to play to, they took it in their stride, with Lee confidently announcing that they had never played to so many people and this was an amazing moment for them; this almost elicited a tear from me. Bless. This kind of music dictates confidence and there’s no room for weakness in ethereal music: ‘Cairo’, their closing number, was breathy and dreamy as it is on record.

Tei Shi, aka Valerie Teicher, is originally from Bogota, Colombia and was raised in Vancouver, Canada, but like so many indie artists, she now calls Brooklyn home. The Glass Animals – Tei Shi connection was obvious to fans of both bands: they are already friends, with Tei Shi having recently collaborated with the Oxfordians on their track ‘Holiest’, which appeared on their ‘Gooey’ EP released earlier this year. In June, Teicher appeared at Toronto’s NXNE festival, and she performed at both of Glass Animals’ All Things Go gigs in New York City and DC this week.

She’s an interesting character, coming on stage in a filmy lacy blouse and bright green trousers. Hmm, ok, sort of a boho vibe? Besides her guest vocals on ‘Holiest’, I didn’t know anything about her, so I was going into her set cold. Like Vedas before her, the songs earlier in her set had a dreamy quality to them, as she emoted while pressing buttons on sequencers on a table in front of her, backed by a synth-playing guitarist (wielding a six-string axe) and a drummer.

However, when her music’s mood dictated it – when things got more soulful, the sound louder and more beat-heavy, and admittedly, more to my liking – the blouse was shorn, revealing a tight-fitting top that would have made Beyonce proud. I’m mentioning this, because while she covered Mrs. Carter’s ‘No Angel’, she insisted directly after that when she saw Sasha Fierce live in concert in New York this week, she would not feel worthy of having covered it. Why? Own it, girlfriend, because the DC audience clearly has your back on this one. Irrefutable evidence of the heat inside of U Hall was the sudden disappearance of her drummer’s glasses near the end of her set; his lenses must have fogged up! He later revealed post-show that he’s near-sighted but could still drum without them on. Thank goodness for us.

There is something about the sound of Glass Animals that, depending on the vibe of a song, will make me want to break out certain arm gestures or move my hips in a certain way. It’s almost involuntary now. (I must be quite amusing to other motorists as I’m listening to ‘Zaba’ on the commute home on the motorway each evening. Children point at me and laugh. I am okay with this.) There were so many people there Tuesday night, I felt like a packed-in sardine. The girl who suddenly appeared next to me mid-set with her boyfriend and their bumping and grinding to the music, um… I want to make it clear that while I’m an appreciator of sensual music, well, there are some things that cannot be unseen. Eep. I mentioned this couple to Dave after the show and he replied with a laugh, “yeah, strange things happen at our shows…” So maybe this is just par for the course for a Glass Animals gig these days. It was our Carrie who first said at the band’s debut at SXSW this year that theirs was baby-making music. Whatever floats your boat. Or increases the world’s population, I suppose…

At the same time though, I can’t help but feel really happy for their sudden seemingly overnight popularity here in the States. As an American who happens to be the editor of a music Web site, I’ve often been surprised by what kind of music starts selling like hotcakes and what doesn’t. However, when it comes to Glass Animals, I’m not surprised, given what songs are always on the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100: urban, soul and/or hip hop tracks. It’s only a matter of time before the Oxford band’s music takes its rightful place on mainstream radio here.

In the meantime though, it’s great to be able to see this band in such a relatively small place perform their thrilling live show, which ends up being quite different to the experience you get listening to the album. The melodies are the same of course, but everything’s turned up to 11, making everything feel more muscular, more kinetic. If you haven’t seen their BBC Introducing performance of ‘Hazey’ at Glastonbury yet, you really should: with less dreamy sassiness compared to and an acute absence of the finger snaps present on the recorded version, it’s a tambourine dream, with frontman Dave Bayley starting with a frantic shaking of the instrument in front of guitarist / synth player Drew MacFarlane before bounding forward, teetering and bopping around on stage like an over wound-up toy. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The headline set began with what was a deceptively gentle haze of sonic power, easing us in with older number ‘Psylla’ and fan favourite ‘Black Mambo’. While we didn’t have palm trees like their Southbank Centre Meltdown show in London last month, the strobe-y lighting that wasn’t great for photography did add a party atmosphere that was second to none. While us here at TGTF were in the know about the Kanye West ‘Love Lockdown’ cover ages ago when the four-piece were in Australia, it appears many people weren’t until the BBC recorded the band playing it at Glastonbury, including Clash Magazine. Let me just tell you, everyone down the front lost it when the song appeared in the set. Absolutely mental. I don’t think most people were ready for it. As should be expected, worldwide internet sensation ‘Gooey’ was another crowd favourite, the peanut butter vibes oozing all over the entire place while bodies inevitably bumped (mostly not accidentally, I reckon) in the crowd. Current single and upcoming EP title track ‘Pools’, with its joyful beats and Bayley’s charming lyrics, left quite the impression on punters to close out the night on a high note. (No pun intended.)

I thought about the time we were stood in front of them on the last day of SXSW this year at the British Music Embassy and everyone was relatively civilised when they broke out this song. Well, ladies and gentlemen, say goodbye, because those days are over. Glass Animals and their sultry blend of electronics and r&b are here to stay. You’re either getting on this train, or you’ll be left behind.

After the cut: Glass Animals’ set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Glass Animals with Vedas and Tei Shi at U Street Music Hall, Washington DC – 8th July 2014

 
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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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