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Dot to Dot Festival 2016 in Nottingham (Part 2)

 
By on Tuesday, 7th June 2016 at 3:00 pm
 

Part 1 of Rebecca’s coverage of Dot to Dot Festival 2016 in Nottingham is here.

I’d heard a little bit about Rat Boy (pictured above) before the festival, mostly in comparison to Jamie T. After taking a break following EKKAH’s performance, and waiting for The Rubens to start, I decided to head into Rock City’s main stage to see what the hype was about. What I found was a frenetic crowd, evidently having the time of their lives, and I discovered that the Jamie T comparisons weren’t too far off. Rat Boy’s performance was raw and charged, with his music drawing together all manner of influences from hip-hop to punk. For someone so young, he’s managed to amass an impressive number of animated fans.

Catching The Rubens meant a trip down to the Rock City Basement, one of my favourite rooms that I visited due to the lofty ceilings and coolness of the air. The Rubens had travelled all the way from Australia and seemed pretty amazed when they found out that there were no Aussies in the considerable Dot to Dot audience. They seemed to genuinely love being up on stage, playing a number of their indie-bluesy tracks, including their popular single ‘Hoops’.

I arrived early at The Bodega, where I was planning on watching the start of Palace Winter’s set. As I arrived, Girl Friend were just finishing up in the packed out bar, and I felt a little disappointed that I hadn’t made it sooner to catch more of their energetic set. I headed upstairs to watch Palace Winter play in front of a moderately-sized crowd. Their melodic, balmy indie synth style was atmospheric and engaging, and I would have been happy to stick around for the full set, but I only ended up sticking around for the first three tracks.

As I wandered back across town, the plan was to see The Sherlocks next, where they were playing at the Rescue Rooms’ Subculture Live Stage. Despite being from my hometown, I’ve never the band play live, and I was looking forward to getting a chance to finally see them in action at Dot to Dot. By the time I arrived, however, the room was packed out and I popped my head through the door but couldn’t get close enough without getting bashed every time someone came into the room. It was a shame I couldn’t get in to see them, but a great sign for the band and their increasing popularity.

After deciding that I’d be unable to get a decent spot for The Sherlocks, I headed to Rock City’s main stage to watch Mystery Jets. I’d recently caught the band for about 15 minutes at Live at Leeds, so was very excited at the prospect of seeing them for a little longer this time around. They played a balanced mix of old and new songs, including the older ‘Serotonin’, ‘Elizabeth’, the newer ‘Blood Red Balloon’ from current album ‘Curve of the Earth’, and of course, the classics ‘Young Love’ and ‘Two Doors Down’. There were points during the set when the crowd, who had been in incredibly high spirits throughout the entire set, were jumping up and down so enthusiastically that I could feel the floor move beneath my feet, which were incidentally stuck firmly to the sticky floorboards. It was a great atmosphere to be a part of.

I left about 15 minutes before the end of the set, and headed back into the Red Room of Rescue Rooms to watch the last band on my schedule for the day, King No-One. When I arrived the band were in full swing and lead singer Zach Lount was twirling the microphone stand across his shoulder, evidently having a great time. The band’s star-spangled indie rock sound translated very well to their live performance; fans of their music should definitely check them out in the flesh if possible. The set ended with Lount firing a confetti cannon into the cloud, which was a fitting end to a great day.

Pretty much every band that I saw during the day was a perfect example of why, whilst music sounds great on Spotify or on your record player, you just can’t beat it live. Dot to Dot is a great example of how you don’t always have to travel across the country for the big festivals to have a truly great experience. There’s so much going on in your own city or neighbouring ones that you might not aware of. It’s really worth supporting these smaller city events because we’ll bet you’ll find more than a few new favourite indie bands to follow.

 

Dot to Dot Festival 2016: writer Rebecca’s best band bets

 
By on Friday, 20th May 2016 at 11:00 am
 

Dot to Dot Festival 2016 will see a number of new and established acts descend on the cities of Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham during the second May bank holiday (27-29 May). The festival will be in each city for 1 day only and will showcase a number of the best acts from the surrounding area, as well as the likes of big names like Mystery Jets, The Temper Trap and Augustines who will play at each city over the weekend. For editor Mary’s preview of the weekend’s action at Dot to Dot, check out her post here.

I honestly found it tough picking out just a selection to recommend ahead of the festival, but here are some acts (in alphabetical order, mind) to catch if you find yourself heading to Dot to Dot:

Ardyn
Ardyn are a brother and sister duo from Gloucestershire whose atmospheric pop is otherworldly, with singer Katy Pearson showcasing her powerful vocals on the newest release ‘Over the River’. Their previous stuff is gentler and more stripped back, but no less impressive. They’re sure to be an act to catch.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBNbgeWGmeM[/youtube]

Ben Caplan and the Casual Smokers
With an unusual, old-world sound that feels more suited to bluegrass era, Ben Caplan and the Casual Smokers is the touring name given to the folk singer/songwriter from Canada and his band. Caplan released his second album last year, ‘Birds With Broken Wings’, and will be touring throughout the summer in North America and Europe. With his eccentric look and his throaty drawl, Caplan is described as “a madman and an earnest poet” on his Web site. Sounds like the recipe for a fascinating performer.

EKKAH
EKKAH are Rebecca and Rebekah, a funky disco-pop duo from Birmingham. Their track ‘Last Chance to Dance’ feels a bit like Haim and Jamiroquai were merged together in some bizarre but highly successful experiment. They released single ‘Small Talk’ earlier this year, a bright, glittering synthpop number that is well worth a listen.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLpjPgn3nQs[/youtube]

Haus
Haus are a five-piece from London with an indie-synth sound, citing rock, hip-hop and electronic influences. They released two singles in 2015, ‘Haze’ and ‘Blinded’, and have a number of festival dates across the UK this summer, in addition to Dot to Dot.

Into the Ark
Into the Ark are for those that prefer something a little softer, with gently strumming acoustic guitars and soulful vocals. From south Wales, the singer/songwriter pair met through their love music and have an EP scheduled for release in August. Their debut ‘Right Track’ gives you a taste of what they have to offer.

King No-One
In a similar vein to Haus, King No-One are an indie rock group but from the North (York). Their music is bold, glitzy and punchy. The Northern group’s latest single ‘Stay Close’ has an addictive rhythm and is a great indie summer tune. The song also features an interesting break towards the end (with a pithy monologue!), before returning to the chorus once more.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5wq6i03THc[/youtube]

Palace Winter
Palace Winter are a synthpop duo from Copenhagen, whose latest single ‘H. W. Running’ is atmospheric and smooth, with a momentum layered with a pleasing synth composition: it’s very easy to get into and I can imagine it being a good accompaniment for a morning jog or a late night at the club.

The Rubens
The blues-rock band The Rubens have been around since 2011 and are signed to Ivy League Records back home in Australia. The band have a following on their native continent but will be appearing at both The Great Escape and Dot to Dot halfway across the world to share their music. The band released their second album ‘Hoops’ last year, and they released their third single from the album, ‘Hold Me Back’, earlier this year.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hs58pcvDsXA[/youtube]

The Sherlocks (pictured at top)
The Sherlocks are a Northern foursome, who have recently been travelling further afield after building a loyal home support around Sheffield. Their latest single ‘Last Night’ is a punchy indie tune with a catchy chorus and guitar hooks aplenty!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Bvg1rokCEA[/youtube]

Will Joseph Cook
Will Joseph Cook is a fresh-sounding singer whose single ‘Girls Like Me’ has an upbeat feeling that is positively contagious. From Tunbridge Wells, the singer is gaining momentum with a couple of his songs reaching a couple of million plays on Spotify. If you’re a fan of upbeat, sunshine pop that begs to be danced along to, Will Joseph Cook might be the one for you.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJ66D7TcEWU[/youtube]

Regardless of which day you attend the festival you’ll be able to catch the above, plus a wide variety of up-and-coming regional acts too. Tickets are still available for each city of the festival, so head to Alt Tickets to purchase your own for this upcoming bank holiday weekend.

 

SXSW 2013: Day 5 afternoon – Aussie BBQ taster at Maggie Mae’s and Captiva Records showcase at the Rooftop at 6th – 16th March 2013

 
By on Thursday, 4th April 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

If you are still standing after 4 straight days of punishing your body with running around, gigs and libations at SXSW and are no worse for wear, then you deserve a gold star. I’ll be the first to admit, Friday night…er, in the wee hours of Saturday morning I didn’t crawl into bed until about 6 AM after a very enjoyable night of dancing and boozing, having been taken out as a very special guest by some boys in a band I’m fond of. Ahem. I won’t embarrass by naming them but they know who they are, and if you are reading this my friends, that was truly one of the most fun nights of my life. Cheers for that. I owe you one when you make your first triumphant visit to DC.

I had such a good time on Friday night and gosh darn it, it was my last full day in Austin on Saturday the 16th, and I was going to give myself the gift of a nice lie-in. I had been invited to see Dan Croll at noon, but my argument was that he was going to be at Liverpool Sound City where we’re having a stage and I’d have a chance to see him then, and since he now has an American record contract (so I heard?) I will see him on this side of the pond eventually anyway.

I had made a promise to Larry and Johnny of our friends the AU Review to check out the Aussie BBQ this year, since I didn’t have time in 2012, so I stopped into Maggie Mae’s, where I was overwhelmed with all the Australian talent that was going to be showcased across the three stages there. I used to think the Brits were the only country to have an awe-inspiring presence at SXSW, but Australia makes good work of taking up the entire last day of the festival to showcase their country’s musical best. See all of the AU Review’s excellent coverage of this year’s Aussie BBQ, as well as previous years, through this link.

Bearhug Aussie BBQ SXSW

After popping my head in to say hello to Larry between his very busy schedule of video interviews, I went looking for Johnny, who was tasked to take photos of bands on all three stages. When I couldn’t find him, I went downstairs to enjoy a bit of Bearhug, an alt-rock band from Sydney. Kind of slacker rock / Lemonheads sounding. Then I went upstairs to catch a bit of indie band the Rubens, who I saw at the triplej Unearthed night at the Oxford Art Factory during ARIA Week in Sydney last November. I was hoping to see if I would change my mind on them, given that they were playing in an entirely different environment. Nope. ‘My Gun’ still sounds cheesy and a poor man’s Oasis. Sorry, guys.

After a brief catch-up, some laughs and hugs and wishes for each other for safe travels home, I was off to my next destination. Emails had flitted back and forth in my inbox the previous night before and after I caught some shut eye, and suddenly I found myself being invited to see a couple different bands at a free showcase on Sixth Street. As fate should have it, all three of the bands happened to be playing at the same exact showcase being put on by Captiva Records, a music promotion and indie record label based locally in San Marcos, Texas, taking place on the Rooftop at 6th. I am not sure who decided which bands would play on their afternoon shows that went on all week, as at least on Satruday there was no emcee present or anyone who looked like he or she was running the show. Whoever it was though, he/she did an impeccable job of choosing some great artists to play, especially on the Saturday.

Kitty Clementine SXSW

I was proud of myself that I arrived in good time before I really needed to be there. What I found when I arrived was Australian singer Kitty Clementine, who self-proclaims to be a “big mouth wee belter from down under” on her Web site. Her outfit was vaguely Mad Max apocalypse meets Lady Gaga, which I suppose was appropriate as she found herself using the raised platform in this outdoor atrium-cum-rooftop, writhing against one of the tent poles. I’m no feminist but just…ugh. Please don’t. It makes me take you even less seriously. Her vocal styling was like she was trying to be Amy Winehouse, but Amy has nothing to worry about: it felt like an imitation, and not a great one at that.The guys in attendance appeared to appreciate the sexual writhing around though, with some of the bands I knew joking that they should include some pole dancing routines in their sets. (Just for the record, it didn’t happen. Phew.)

Story Books Captiva Saturday SXSW

The next band was Kent’s Story Books, who if you recall, I saw on the Wednesday night Communion showcase at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop and then interviewed three of the band on Thursday at Blackheart. The show at night was miles away from this last hurrah for the band, playing in the sunshine. I guess you could say that the Austin sunshine is something magical indeed. Their keyboardist Andrew was even wearing sunglasses for the entire set. (Well, almost. Afterwards he said, “I tried, but they kept slipping off my face”. And it’s the trying that counts.) ‘Simple Kids’, from their debut EP ‘To Be a Hunter’ on Communion to be released on the 29th of April, is a melancholy number about young love and how Kris Harris insists, “stay close to your troubles, don’t let them interfere/ with your sense of wonder, ’til it disappears”. Which is what being young and falling in love is all about, right? I think though in Story Books’ case, what got punters into the band was the reckless abandon in which Harris and guitarist Jack Tarrant banged on their guitars. No, sir. This is not just a folk band. Cross those words out and write underneath “rocking out band with folk tendencies”. That’s more accurate.

Knot
Simple Kids
Furniture and Things
Peregrine
To Be Good
Glory and Growth
All Those Arrows

By nature of being close to the action, a good proportion of bands showcasing at SXSW every year happen to be Texan bands. Such was the case with the band up after Story Books, called In the Works. Later that night, I had a run-in with one band members’ parents on 7th Street; his mum recognised me from the venue, asked me why I was photographing all the bands, then asked me (putting it mildly) to write nice things about him on here. Er…

In the Works SXSW

Okay, so here’s my entirely unbiased opinion on this band after hearing them play. Point #1: I don’t know how long they’ve been together or have known each other, but it doesn’t engender much confidence if when you’re playing SXSW, you have to make a point to acknowledge that your next song “is an original”. This made me think most of their arsenal is made up of covers. Huh? Point #2: I didn’t find anything particularly exciting or noteworthy about their set. They’ve also got a vague country/western twangy vibe, which generally doesn’t go down well with me. The good news though is, the band are still in university and have plenty of time to find their sound – or rather a unique sound that will set them apart from any other American band from Anytown, USA. I wish them luck.

The Crookes Captiva Saturday SXSW 1

And then for the third time in 24 hours, it was again Crookes time. It was their fifth and final show of this SXSW and well, it’s like they say: go big or go home. Guitarist Tom Dakin and singer/bassist George Waite were dressed in colourful shirts they’d purchased in Austin; Tom’s, with a tropical flower theme, was most appropriate for playing a gig under the gaze of late afternoon sun. Out the gate they played ‘Where Did Our Love Go’ with so much gusto, it probably caused this neck ligament accident reported a couple days ago on Twitter. On behalf of America, I wholly apologise to the band and the whole of England for any injury caused by SXSW. But it was a wild week of shows, wasn’t it? Trust me, I know. I almost got impaled by George’s wayward mike stand. Last year I had a close call with one of Cashier No. 9‘s guitars.

The Crookes Captiva Saturday SXSW 2

I’ve questioned the wisdom of posting a video of mine of them playing ‘Backstreet Lovers’ because you can hear me singing along a little bit too loudly. There is also a lot of arms and legs flailing from the vocal Crookes’ American fan contingent described previously in Friday night’s review. Our crowd’s singing along was even more evident during the Crookes’ foray onto the atrium platform to perform ‘The Cooler King’, with Tom quipping and pointing at all of us, “you’re our official back-up section!” But what was more important was the amount of cheering and hollering the band got not from us, but from people who had just a half-hour before had never heard of the Crookes before. Maybe this best exemplifies why SXSW is like Christmas to music lovers: keep your ears open, take a chance on a band playing in the sun on a rooftop, and you might just have stumbled on your new favourite band.

Where Did Our Love Go
Maybe In the Dark
American Girls
Sal Paradise
Sofie
Afterglow
Backstreet Lovers
The Cooler King (on top of the atrium riser!)

The Ghosts SXSW

After the sweat-athon that was the Crookes’ set, there was a brief changeover before the Ghosts, who became the last band I would see at SXSW. They’re a project that was started by Alex Starling, who was a supposed “secret” fourth member of the all too short-lived Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, who disbanded following their singer Charles Haddon’s tragic suicide at 2010’s Pukkelpop in Belgium. Out of tragedy, Starling didn’t wallow in his sorrow long. He regrouped, joined forces with drummer Ian Palmer, then headed west to North America to pick up some additional band members.

There’s a roughness, a hardness to their sound, relying on guitars, synths and drums to make something like single ‘Everything Will Do’, with sections loud and punishing like Led Zeppelin’s height of grandeur, interspersed only slightly softer moments. At other times, they’re definitely channeling the most fun aspects of ’80s New Wave dance (have a listen to ‘Underrated’), and as a connoisseur of that era, I can appreciate this fully. It’s definitely a unique style, and I’m glad it just so happened that I got to see them at the conclusion of my SXSW 2013 experience.

 

SXSW 2013 Australian band tips from The AU Review

 
By on Thursday, 28th February 2013 at 11:00 am
 

We made friends with the lovely folks of the AU Review at SXSW 2012, so it seems only appropriate to ask their Head Photographer Johnny Au for his best tips for Australian acts not to miss at this year’s event. Check ’em out from the links below and where possible, we’ve linked to their SXSW 2013 features on the AU Review’s Web site and my live reviews from ARIA Week 2012 in Sydney. Thanks Johnny for your great tips!

Alpine – read part 1 of the AU Review’s From 360 to WIM: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

Ball Park Music

Emma Louise – read part 3 of the AU Review’s From 360 to Vaudeville Smash: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

Flume – read part 3 of the AU Review’s From 360 to Vaudeville Smash: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

Georgia Fair – read part 3 of the AU Review’s From 360 to Vaudeville Smash: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

Glass Towers – read part 4 of the AU Review’s From 360 to Yolanda Cool: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

Henry Wagons

Jack Carty – read part 5 of the AU Review’s From 360 to Yolanda Cool: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

Jackson Firebird – read part 5 of the AU Review’s From 360 to Yolanda Cool: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

Jonathan Boulet – read part 5 of the AU Review’s From 360 to Yolanda Cool: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

People of Letters

San Cisco – read my review of their support slot with the Vaccines in early February in Washington here

Seth Sentry

The Audreys – read part 1 of the AU Review’s From 360 to WIM: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

The Beards – read part 1 of the AU Review’s From 360 to WIM: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

The Falls – read part 3 of the AU Review’s From 360 to Vaudeville Smash: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here; read my review of their performance at the MGM and SPA showcase during ARIA Week 2012 through here

The Rubens – read my review of their performance at the triplej unearthed showcase during ARIA Week 2012 in Sydney through here

The Trouble With Templeton – read my review of their performance at the MGM and SPA showcase during ARIA Week 2012 in Sydney through here

Vaudeville Smash

 

TGTF Does ARIA Week 2012: triple j unearthed Showcase at Oxford Art Factory featuring The Rubens, YesYou and Asta – 27th November 2012

 
By on Tuesday, 4th December 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

I am well familiar with triple j: it seems every year in January, right when festival season is in full swing in Oz, the best indie bands from all over go through the Aussie radio station’s hallowed doors for sessions and interviews. I already kind of guessed their importance like Radio1, but I was told by many an ARIA Week punter that if a band wants to be a success and make it out of Australia, they must have triple j’s support. In October 2011, triple j launched a sister station, available only digitally, called triple j unearthed, and as you can probably guess from the name, they are all about finding the best new up and coming bands. My second night of bands in Sydney were three acts that have all received the triple j unearthed stamp of approval. The night was emceed by triple j breakfast hosts Tom (pictured below) and Alex (pictured at top).

The first act up was Hobart, Tasmania’s Asta, aka Year 12 singer Asta Binnie, accompanied onstage by bespectacled DJ/producer Kel. (Cue thoughts of Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid of La Roux.) There was no way you could ever miss the blonde Asta in the outfit she chose that night: a black top, a faux jewel belt and exceedingly bright gold lame hot pants, which starkly contrasted her super red lipstick. With the hot pants, my initial thought was, oh no, not another Florence and the Machine! Thankfully though, Binnie doesn’t shriek like Welch, and maybe Welch has gotten less bashful and more comfortable in her role as frontwoman after two albums, but Binnie exhibited no inhibitions at all while she sang. And she plays guitar! Take that, Flo.

She must have been picked up by triple j unearthed very recently, as she commented that this was her first ever Sydney gig. (Consider that if you are not from the city, it’s the equivalent of a small town British band playing in London, or a small town American band playing in New York City.) In honour of the momentous occasion, she dedicated the song ‘It Starts with You’ to the audience, explaining she never would have gotten anywhere without triple j unearthed or the fans who listen to her on the radio. The tunes that closed out her short set, ‘I Need Answers’ and ‘Is Anyone Out There?’, highlighted that despite the teen image she projects in her clothes, lyrically, she’s at least trying to delve into deeper subjects.

Absent so far from my ARIA Week experience was strobe lighting, which was to come in the form of YesYou’s set. They’re a synth pop production duo from Brisbane, and evidently, they already have a lot of followers. They garnered massive cheers came from a cover of SBTRKT’s ‘Wildfire’, which saw their unnamed female singer invoking the blue eyed soul from deep within. But the loudest applause came with final song ‘Frivolous Life’, which featured a surprise live vocal appearance by Marcus Azon of established Sydney tropical dance band Jinja Safari. From what I’ve read, this duo rarely does live appearances, so I felt very lucky indeed to have been present for one of their rare live performances.

I learned about the Art Factory’s stage curtain the hard way – by getting clocked in the head with it when the curtain was closed while the stage was set up for the headliners The Rubens from a New South Wales village called Menangle, who I really didn’t take to. (Seriously though, is there a need for a curtain for a 600-capacity venue with a medium-sized stage? It’s not like there is going to be a super sophisticated lighting rig back there.) When it was time for them to go on stage, the curtains parted and I thought the girls next to us were going to lose it. The Rubens have a laddish vibe to them, which I suppose makes perfect sense for a guitar rock band, but I’ve probably heard – and passed over – too many UK guitar bands for not being unique enough. (The next night, I saw another rock band at another venue that I thought was head and shoulders much better, so stay tuned…)

Set opener ‘Best We Got’ uses Oasis-styley “lalalas”; ‘My Gun’ made me think of Noel’s ‘If I Had a Gun’. Those of you who know me personally know I usually stick it out down the front for the entirety of a show, even if I’m not a massive fan of all the bands playing that night. But by then, the venue was completely rammed and it didn’t seem right for me to be so close when there were kids in attendance who absolutely adored these guys.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours 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 no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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