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Deer Shed Festival 2018: Friday Roundup

 
By on Monday, 30th July 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

No sooner had we arrived on site at Deer Shed 9, son one, having attended a Deer Shed every one of his 7 years, declared he had his first wobbly tooth. And so we add another ‘first’ to the many that Deer Shed has provided over the years. Every parent will share the excitement tinged with a pang of sadness that this momentous moment brings. It represents the end of the first stage of childhood. With the arrival of the new denticulus, they will never again look the same. Yet no parent would wish their offspring to remain permanently young. To fulfill their potential, they must grow up. One’s only wish is that they retain what makes them truly themselves as they do so.

As it turned out, exactly the same sentiments could be held about Deer Shed’s growth in 2018. Instead of a new tooth, they have a new field: what luck that a second natural amphitheatre exists to the north of the site, and many an experienced Deer Shedder was to be found wandering around confusedly in the vicinity of where the main stage, big top and helter-skelter used to be, it slowly dawning that that silver edifice in the distance near the car park was, in fact, the newly-relocated main stage.

Sadly, that meant a number of dearly-held Deer Shed locales simply ceased to be. The Obelisk tent and its associated gate is no more, perhaps due to its rather exuberant dampness in the rain last year. Those of us who tend to camp on that side of the festival had a lot further to walk to get to the main stage. And there was no point in strolling alongside the lake, because there was no access to the festival that way, either. There was a lot more fencing directing people hither and yon, whereas previously the arena was just one big circle and you could pretty much go where you pleased. The reward for such palaver was a 25% increase in space for the same number of people.

So. We mourn the loss of Deer Shed’s baby teeth…. Done. Let’s see what their new gnashers are made of.

Hyde Park Brass are first up, and also almost the last. They’re intertwined around this year’s festival like ivy around a tree. Here they were in the tiny pallet stage, and slightly more subdued than they would be on latter days. Pop brass is becoming more of a thing these days, and HPB remind me a fair bit of the incredible Riot Jazz Brass Band of Kendal Calling fame. Every good brass ensemble needs a festival residency, and these guys are no exception.

If you close your eyes – and forget they’re from Leeds – Mush are Lou Reed fronting Pavement. Their 10-minute epic ‘Alternative Facts’ has a slacker undertow with punky icing, and when lead singer Dan’s not speaking in tongues, he’s all wry humour and casual delivery. Single ‘Comment Section Creeps’, of which a limited edition 7” is sadly sold out, is a cutting social commentary on the dehumanising liberty of posting on the internet anonymously. Probably.

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whenyoung are a trio from Dublin whose uptempo 3-minute pop nuggets hint at the time just before Britpop became a dirty word, yet shot through with a slew of Edge-isms in the guitar work. ‘Heaven on Earth’ has a boxy, chorused tone evoking U2’s earliest, New-Wave influenced work, and ‘Pretty Pure’ has the classic tropes of dotted delay and infinitely sustaining guitar notes. There’s an innocence in Aoife Power’s sweet vocals, not to mention a generous helping of fellow countrywomen Sinead O’Connor and Dolores O’Riordan, so it’s only half a surprise when they launch into a note-perfect rendition of The Cranberries’ ‘Dreams’. Touching, appropriate, bittersweet.

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It doesn’t take long to realise that if this weekend’s bands are anything like the quality of HMLTD, we’re in for a veritable treat indeed. Clad in all manner of leather, fishnet, tartan and makeup, their stage presence is off the scale, and the music not far behind. 2017 single ‘To The Door’ is like The Stooges covering one of Ennio Morricone’s more outré spaghetti western themes, but with a dubstep coda. Eh? ‘Satan, Luella, & I’ evokes a she-devil, a proposition, and gore but is lyrically optimistic and life-affirming. What?! For all their aesthetic outrageousness, which cribs heavily from theatrical Eighties’ glam like Adam Ant, there’s an underlying understanding of songwriting which gives the entire package credibility. Properly breathtaking.

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Drenge have matured nicely since I last saw them at Live at Leeds in 2014. Then just a brotherly two-piece, now they have both a bassist and a chap on ‘things’. They pull off a headline set with skill and good grace, and even have a laugh at wearing comedy air tanks consistent with Deer Shed’s ‘Making Waves’ theme. Material like ‘Bloodsports’ has lost none of its power through familiarity, and new single “Before the War Begins” reveals a simple, honest clarity of purpose reminiscent of the Manics at their best. Completely devoid of histrionics, clad plainly in comparison with the extravagance of an HMLTD, they nevertheless still pack a devastating punch.

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And that’s it for Friday. There were DJs until half 2 next to the excellent bar, TGTF needed all possible energy to prepare for Saturday. More tomorrow.

 

Live Gig Video: Mansionair share arresting live performance of single ‘Technicolour’

 
By on Wednesday, 18th July 2018 at 4:00 pm
 

Sydneysiders Mansionair began July with another live performance video. Those boys really like the colour white: back in February, they unveiled this live video for single ‘Astronaut (Something About Your Love)’ filmed in Berlin and surrounded by white walls. In ‘Technicolour’, they’ve chosen to perform in a white room and in white clothes, with some short, darker, choice colour-swathed moments. It’s another feather in the cap for the Australian trio, sounding like what has become classic Mansionair: the driving melody and mesmerising percussion combine with frontman Jack Froggatt’s painfully emotional vocals in this arresting performance. ‘Technicolour’ is available now from Glassnote Records. For all of our past articles here on TGTF on the Aussie group, go here.

 

Live Gig Video: Hudson Taylor share live version of ‘Feel It Again’ at Dublin Olympia

 
By on Tuesday, 17th July 2018 at 4:00 pm
 

Irish duo and brothers Hudson Taylor have a new live video for us this. We previously posted an acoustic version of single ‘Feel It Again’, which the pair released to the wild in late 2017. Now, they have an even more special live version of the same song, filmed in the venerated Dublin Olympia. Having seen the Staves there 3 years ago, I was able to experience the beauty of the historic theatre in the heart of Ireland’s capital first-hand. In this live video, whether you’ve been to the Olympia yourself or not, you can feel (no pun intended) the energy from the performance, as well as all the famous acts who have passed through the Olympia’s doors and played on the very same stage. Watch the performance by Hudson Taylor from March below. The duo have a whole host of summer festival appearances to come in July and August. In the autumn, they’ll be Hozier‘s special guest on his autumn American tour, then go on their own UK headline tour in November; all of their live dates can be found on their Facebook events page. For more writings on the talented Irish act here on TGTF, use this link.

 

Live Gig Video: Fatherson share ‘Making Waves’ from upcoming third album ‘Sum of All Your Parts’

 
By on Tuesday, 26th June 2018 at 4:00 pm
 

Scottish trio Fatherson have a new album out this autumn. To preview the upcoming LP, they’ve unveiled ‘Making Waves’, which shows a definite change in direction for the Scots. Frontman, guitarist and famous beard owner Ross Leighton explained the song “defined how the album would sound” and it being a “heart on your sleeve slacker tune with a tonne of groove.” Slacker is right: the guitars are loud on this new song, and with the muscle of the track, it’s no wonder that when it came time to present the song to the public, they would use a physical way to convey its feeling. In the video, the three-piece are performing the song indoors, accompanied by an interpretative dancer. Watch the video below. ‘Making Waves’ will appear the band’s third studio album ‘Sum of All Your Parts’, which will drop on the 14th of September on Easy Life Records. To read our past coverage on Fatherson, come through.

 

Live Review: Ciaran Lavery with Dustin Furlow at Jammin’ Java, Vienna, VA – 21st June 2018

 
By on Monday, 25th June 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

It isn’t too often that I attend a seated show. As some of you know, Carrie is the singer/songwriter wonk on staff, not me. I’m used to standing in front of loud amps for whichever pop, rock or electronic gig I’ve chosen for the night. I felt pretty much out of my element, but perhaps this is me turning over a new leaf. Are laidback coffee shop gigs in my future? Have I ::cough:: gone soft? I’ll chew on that thought another time.

I arrived just as American Dustin Furlow began his set. He’s from Virginia Beach, pretty much on the opposite side of the state, but of course not as far as the Northern Irish headliner had to travel. Furlow is an award-winning singer/songwriter, billed as one of the most accomplished in Southeastern Virginia. Something that is nigh impossible to reproduce as other club shows is that gentle, priceless intimacy between artist and fan in a place like this. There’d be a sense of awkwardness in those clubs from both parties if a story like Furlow’s about his drunk on bourbon, shirtless father floating in water, the inspiration for ‘Cherokee Lake’, was told from the stage. And yet, when the story is told at Jammin’ Java, it is a touching tale.

Dustin Furlow Jammin Java 2018

I admit to writing off most singer/songwriters if the melodies and lyrics they offer are weak. What became clear through the two instrumentals in the set alone is that Furlow is a virtuoso on acoustic guitar, something rare and not applauded in popular music these days. Watching his fingers dance across the fretboard was pretty incredible, and this is coming from someone who gave up on guitar because remembering the chords was too hard. When he sang, a surprisingly soulful voice came out on songs like ‘Evergreen’ from his 2017 EP ‘Solo’ or a jaunty cover of the Lindsey Buckingham-centric Fleetwood Mac foot-stomper ‘Big Love’ to close out his set.

TGTF have had wonderful opportunities to cover Northern Ireland’s Ciaran Lavery the last few years, mostly around his appearances during SXSW 2016 and 2017. I wonder why the alt-folk troubadour from the village of Aghagallon isn’t a household name yet like Frank Turner. For me, there are two things that make Lavery stand out head and shoulders above everyone else: his emotional, honest lyrics delivered in a gorgeous Irish brogue. Pretension doesn’t exist in his songwriting, as each tune shows Lavery’s heart on his sleeve.

Ciaran Lavery Jammin Java 2018

Early on, he impressed with the rawness of social anxiety chronicled in ‘Shame’ on his 2013 debut LP ‘Not Nearly Dark’. This past spring, he released ‘Sweet Decay’, his third studio album; at this show, he described how writing with others and having to worry about their opinions as an uncomfortable situation. You couldn’t hear this at all in the a cappella version of the title track he delivered stood in front of us, all in white as a model of vulnerability with aplomb. Lavery’s piano cover of The National’s ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ was an unexpected triumph, finally making the song palatable to me. ‘Wicked Teeth’, a song about going to the dentist (allegedly!), comes across sweetly, revisiting the theme of vulnerability and combining it with love and desire.

Between songs, he seemed entirely relaxed, as if he was giving us a performance in his front room for his best mates. When he asked if anyone in the crowd wasn’t from DC, an audience member yelled, “Dublin!” Lavery chided him with, “you know, I recently played there and with my whole band, you didn’t have to come this far!” Laughter. His story about his trip on Aer Lingus to the States and his difficulty in using their thin, tiny provided blanket was relatable to those of us who have attempted this during a transatlantic flight. Good-natured snufflings abounded. This is a down-to-earth guy with an honest heart and eager to talk to strangers in bars. If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the North American towns he has left on his tour of our continent through the start of July, spend an evening being spellbound by him and his music. He plays tonight at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto.

 

Live Review: ONR. with CrushnPain at DC9, Washington, DC – 15th June 2018

 
By on Monday, 18th June 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: now more than ever, if you haven’t got a song that pulls the listener in and keeps their attention for more than 30 seconds, you’re sunk as an artist. On the more positive flipside of that, if you are a good songwriter and can write the kind of compelling song that stays with the listener, this talent will pay off massively in terms of getting your music paid attention to. Singer/songwriter Robert Shields, who now performs under the moniker ONR. (pronounced “honour”), is definitely one of the latter. In various projects and under various guises, he’s been quietly honing his craft, which has led to a major label signing last year, after Capitol Records industry bods heard his particularly strong demos.

It’s still early days for the Dumfries-via-Glasgow Scot and his live band: there are only a handful of ONR. singles out to date. An American tour this month, comprised of support dates with SXSW 2017 breakout American star Mondo Cozmo and their own headline dates, is, then, this continent’s first live taste of what amazing things Shields and co. can do. The support dates were announced first and I assumed I was out of luck, as the closest show to me was New York’s Mercury Lounge and on a Wednesday night. To my great excitement, headline dates were soon added, including a stop at my favourite intimate venue in the city of all, DC9, and late on a Friday night to boot.

CrushnPain Washington 2018 2

Two local acts preceded the Scottish band’s performance. My friend and I were too late to see electronic band Honest Haloway, but we arrived in time to witness one-man band CrushnPain. Looking remarkably like a bespectacled close Irish friend of mine, producer Austin Gallas looks unassuming behind two synths and a remarkably small set of controllers. Don’t judge a book by its cover: I was surprised and happy to enjoy his catchy jungle beats as he threw himself into his music. I bopped my head and moved my body to music that was better than some electronic acts I’ve seen at SXSW and The Great Escape. He rarely sang, but when he did, the vocals were dream pop variety and repetitive. To be fair, dream pop lyrics run a spectrum from ephemeral and intentionally lacking substance to floaty, yet thought-provoking. If he was shooting for the former, mission accomplished.

Recall that the first time I saw ONR. was last month at the massive Paganini Ballroom upstairs at the Old Ship Hotel. It was Friday night at The Great Escape 2018, and a massively promoted BBC Introducing showcase at that. Contrast this reception to ONR.’s shows in America, where Shields is largely unknown and without national backing. I have no doubt the Mondo Cozmo support appearances allowed him and his band the opportunity to win over audiences who might never have found his music in the first place, and these kinds of opportunities are priceless to artists debuting in new territories. The majority of acts from Britain have taken those tentative first steps in the Home of the Brave early on in their careers. Those coming to the headline shows are likely to be the true music discoverers, the open-minded people who click on the Related Artists tab in streaming services and are voracious to check out new artists who aren’t on everyone’s lips yet. These music fans are smaller in number but I’d argue they’re far more important in helping to break new artists than they are ever given credit for.

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These were the fans who were treated to a full-scale, major club-like show in the 200-capacity DC9 Friday night. As mentioned earlier in this review, there are a precious few ONR. songs released, so I think everyone knew the set would be short. Shields and his band delivered an energetic performance, Shields as animated and bounding across the stage with gusto as he did in Brighton. Quick tempo tunes, including driving single ‘Love in Suburbia’ released on the day of the show (watch the promo video at the bottom of this post) and ‘American Gods’ released in February, gave the band quite a workout. A comparison of these to the slow burner 2017 single ‘Jericho’ highlighted the versatility and power of Shields’ voice.

They closed with ‘5 Years Time’, the combination of the vulnerability of the lyrics with the commanding instrumentation providing the ultimate showcase for the stadium-worthy bombast Shields has built into ONR.’s songs. I’m taking the strength of these early singles and this charismatic performance in DC as reliable indicators that ONR. will become a household name soon enough. Just you wait. Check out my interview with Robert Shields at The Great Escape 2018 through here. More photos from this gig are on my Flickr.

ONR Washington June 2018 1

 
 
 

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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 was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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