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Standon Calling 2012 Review (Part 1)

 
By on Thursday, 16th August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

A 7-year quest to experience Fat Freddy’s Drop live for a second time is almost at an end. In just a few minutes, they will take the stage in the closing performance of an intriguing and enthralling Standon Calling 2012. Even though it was the New Zealand dubsters that had initially piqued my interest in making the 400-mile round trip to Standon, with the benefit of hindsight there is far more to this festival than the headline bands, strong though those may be.

In the preceding 3 days, I have shared the festival with Frankenstein’s monster, numerous wild animals, several air stewardesses (including one with a suspicious 5 o’clock shadow), and the old guy from Up. I have had a contact print family portrait made on a large-format camera, learned the finer points of craft brewing and autopsy (not at the same time, thankfully), shared in the jingoistic delight of watching the GB team win six Olympic gold medals in one glorious day, and delved into the intense backstory of a rehabilitated fraudster. Not to mention one or two memorable musical performances.

First impressions are mixed: the car park is a stubbly field of fibrous stalks which make a horrendous racket underneath the car (as does the eventual exit, the descent of which features a particularly acute angle; the exhaust pipe only just survived). One only wonders what the driver of the ground-hugging 1970s Porsche 911 Cabriolet parked a few cars away made of it all. It’s but a short trek to the entrance, the elevation of which gives pause to survey what’s laid before us.

Nestled into a natural sun-gathering bowl of sweeping farmland, which, if found in the Loire Valley, would be priceless vineyard real estate: the entire site can be seen from end-to-end, making it seem impossibly compact considering the promised delights. Once down in the bowl, there is a lot more space than met the eye just minutes before, and plenty of room in Quiet Camping – although the postage stamp-sized sign gives little confidence that it will be truly quiet. An incorrect assumption, as it turned out.

There’s no finer feeling than one’s first performance of a freshly-opened festival, and Mary Epworth is more than up to the task, her local brew of surprisingly-noisy-at-times folk-prog, combined with her striking looks (tall, flowing blonde locks, giant caftan, autoharp) are a potent combination in the breezy sunshine. A post-set wander confirms the site to be modestly-sized but packed with interest. In addition to the main stage, there’s the smaller Cow Shed stage (yes, in a cow shed), and a funky disco next to the pool, with cocktails and sausages (but not cocktail sausages) for sale.

Yes, there is a swimming pool here, because this is basically a Lord’s back garden that they’ve let the party animals of Hertfordshire loose in. There’s a beer tent dressed up as an old-school pub, adjacent to the little folk tent which will feature heavily over the weekend. The only misstep is the dance stage, which is slap bang in the middle of everything, rather than tucked away in its own space; whilst this does lend a focal point to after-hours activities, the deep bass and foundation-shaking beats have a tendency to overpower the smaller areas; the Folk Stage was particularly badly overrun by the sort of speed garage that was fashionable for 3 days in 1998.

Hours can pass in dream-like reverie simply observing: fake monks vie for dance floor space with beglittered bodies in swimming trunks; a man has combined a tricycle with a piano and pedals around the site playing honky-tonk for tips; people pile into hammocks strung between fake trees. When it’s time to return to reality, Casiokids are playing a party-electro set on the main stage. Coming across as the genuine bunch of geeks that they undoubtedly are (not a single one can dance convincingly), their tunes are just the thing to turn up the wick as twilight approaches. The standout track is ‘Olympiske leker’, a musical tribute to the Olympics, with all 26 events given their own little musical riff; the sports are announced in Norwegian, but enough words are recognisable (diskos, maraton) to make the whole thing jolly and relevant. [Download this song from this previous MP3 of the Day post. – Ed.]

Thence to Beardyman, the clean-shaven Londoner whose set is essentially a history of dance music as reproduced by one man’s voice and loads of computers. A deep vein of sardonicism runs through the performance; each song is dwelt on for the least time possible, various wry comments indicate that Mr. Beardy is only just on the right side of boredom, and there’s some downright rum moments such as the ‘Happy Birthday’ tune for one of his mates, and the subsequent invasion of the stage by a number of randoms in character suits, a la Flaming Lips. Good to see Muppet Beaker making an appearance, though. Eminently danceable and technically impressive though his set is, there’s always the suspicion that the performer is having the last laugh over the audience.

From there on in, things go the way of all good first nights at festivals: blurred and random. After studiously checking for consistency numerous samples of the excellent Meantime Brewery Pale Ale, your correspondent bumps into several members of the local band Maddox, hailing from the rock ‘n’ roll metropolis that is Stevenage. Set the task of staying up until Shy FX’s set commences at 2 AM, what better to do than debate the state of modern music, attempt to tell an original joke (failure), and perform some amateur mind-reading (success). By the time the D ‘n’ B started, the quality of banter was so high (in all senses of the word) that nobody was paying much attention. Cheers, lads.

Stay tuned for the second half of Martin’s review of Standon Calling 2012 appearing on TGTF tomorrow.

 

Preview: Standon Calling 2012

 
By on Wednesday, 4th April 2012 at 9:30 am
 

Inaugurated as a live event in 2004, Standon Calling festival (3-5 August 2012) sites itself in the very heart of London dormitory country. Residents of such well-known local commuter-belt yet perfectly Albion towns such as Stansted Mountfitchet, Theydon Bois, and Bishop’s Stortford combine to provide the perfect location for moneyed, cultured, and totally up-for-it party animals to indulge in an exclusive festival that is making a name for itself on the number of Brit and Mercury awards its prior headliners have won. On the strength of that legacy, expect these guys to make a name for themselves in 2013…

Actually, Death in Vegas have been making a name for themselves since 1994, and hit the big time with Iggy Pop collaboration Aisha in 1999. Still going strong, having released ‘Trans-Love Energies’ last year, the band have a full diary for 2012, and could see them re-establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the dance/rock genre.

Beardyman (pictured at top) brings his superhuman beatboxing and surreal humour to the Friday headline slot. On the verge of genuine household name status, the bearded one is sure to have some special treats up his sleeve (his aim is to “destroy people’s minds”) before the whole festival goes nuts for the Friday night rave.

It’s difficult to imagine a more appropriate headliner to close the festival than New Zealand’s Fat Freddy’s Drop. Their laid-back dub-inspired antipodean funk is a rare sight on these shores, and with a full 90-minute set, heads are sure to be gently soothed back into shape from the weekend’s madness. Look out for the trombonist’s snake-hipped dance moves…

Other TGTF favourites gracing Standon this year include Field Music, Stealing Sheep, Willy Mason, !!!, King Charles, previous Bands to Watch Golden Fable and many more. With the promise of a treasure trove of delights including an actual swimming pool, a nightclub in a cow shed, art installations, and a reputation for one of the best fancy dress days going (this year’s theme is “Journey to the Ends of the Earth”… just where did I put my Indiana Jones fedora and whip?), Standon Calling 2012 looks set to be one of the star turns of this year’s festival circuit.

Super early bird and regular early bird weekend tickets are sold out; however, weekend tickets at £99, 2-day tickets at £78, a Friday day ticket at £25, and Saturday or Sunday day tickets at £39 each are still available. Get all the details from the official Standon Calling Web site.

 

Preview: Coachella 2011

 
By on Friday, 28th January 2011 at 11:00 am
 

Coachella, America’s second music festival of the year (after Ultra in Miami in March), will be taking place 15-17 April 2011 this year in its usual spot in Indio, California. The line-up was announced last week, with mixed reactions from fans and music reviewers alike. The headliners will be Kings of Leon (Friday the 15th of April), Arcade Fire (Saturday the 16th, pictured above), and Kanye West and the Strokes (Sunday the 17th).

Far more interesting are some of the bands in smaller type. Take for example the reunited Suede (well, the second incarnation of the Britpop group, anyway) and the return of Duran Duran, minus Andy Taylor. Then consider the acts that are well known in the UK but will be debuting (if I’m not mistaken) in the States, at most definitely in front of their largest American audiences to date: Magnetic Man and Beardyman on Friday; Scissor Sisters and the Joy Formidable on Saturday; and Tinie Tempah, Plan B on Sunday.

Tickets for the 3-day event cost $281 (approximately £178 at the time of this writing) before shipping and handling, and includes a $3 charity fee and a $9 facility fee. For more information on tickets, visit the official Coachella Web site. For the complete line-up, you can read the official Coachella line-up poster.

 

Skins UK Tour / January 2011

 
By on Thursday, 23rd December 2010 at 9:30 am
 

We’ve just received word that there will be a Skins-themed tour next month. The eight towns that have been chosen for the gigs are the hometowns of each of the eight new characters in the E4 teen drama. You can get tickets from the Skins official Web site (you must be at least 18 to register for these). Bands participating in this tour include 10 for 2011 bands Mona and Trophy Wife (pictured above).

Wednesday 19th January 2011 – Bristol Syndicate (Morning Parade, Bombay Bicycle Club DJs, Wilder)
Thursday 20th January 2011 – Swansea Monkey Café (Katy B, Nero DJ, Jagga)
Friday 21st January 2011 – Hereford Saxtys (Kissy Sellout DJ)
Saturday 22nd January 2011 – Ashford Liquid Envy (Devlin)
Tuesday 25th January 2011 – Edinburgh Caves (Kid Adrift)
Thursday 27th January 2011 – London Coronet (Pulled Apart By Horses, Mona, Midnight Beast)
Friday 28th January 2011 – Brighton Pier (Morning Parade, Beardyman, Doorly)
Saturday 29th January 2011 – Oxford O2 Academy (The Wombats, Trophy Wife, The Good Natured)

 

Interview: Beardyman

 
By on Thursday, 25th November 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

Starting off small, beatboxing to his friends, Beardyman has become one of the hottest properties in underground music. His unique way of performing with looping sounds, manipulating his voice and using an endless supply of electro gear has gained him a cult following. Next year he is finally releasing his debut album, read below to find out more from this truly original artist.

For those who haven’t heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
It depends on the gig really, so it’s hard to say. I make live music, of many different genres in many different styles, all live, using about half a ton of synthesizers, sound-loopers, FX units vocal manipulation tools and other things. Generally I sway towards dance music genres. I started out as a beatboxer but I now incorporate so much technology into my shows that you could hardly call it beatboxing anymore.

Most of the sounds in my shows come from my mouth and are manipulated live to become what ever I want them to be. It’s at times comedic, at times ridicu-sick, at times disgusto-bad, at times trippy and psychedelic.  I take people on a musical journey when I play, from hip hop through jazz, gabba, techno, drum ‘n’ bass – not in that order. It depends on the night, I play whatever are the most popular underground genres in whichever country I’m in at the time.

You’ve been on the live circuit for a while now, why has it taken so long for an album?
I’ve been touring pretty much constantly for the last five years so it’s been hard to find the time to record. But more importantly, I’ve been looking for a way to capture the vibe and the flow of what I do live. It’s only recently that I’ve finally found ways to record, letting my creativity flow uninhibited into the computer multi-tracked and fully editable.

The technology just hasn’t been there until recently, and I wanted it to be right, no reason to rush something out for the sake of it. Pretty much the whole album’s been made by jamming out ideas using live-looping which has enabled me to plough through uninterrupted recording/composition sessions without having to stop and think about what I’m doing and whether it’s necessarily the ‘right’ thing to do. I think conscious thought gets in the way of the momentary truth you spit out when you’re improvising. Subjective truths are short lived.

Continue reading Interview: Beardyman

 

New festival for London: iTunes festival at ICA

 
By on Tuesday, 12th June 2007 at 3:24 pm
 

Imogen HeapThose lovely people at iTunes have set up their own “festival” in the centre of London to take place at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) throughout July, with a raft of the best in current bands playing each night.

iTunes will be recording each of the shows and are planning to make songs from the shows available via their music shop. The ICA holds about 350 people, making the shows exceptionally intimate.

The bands include, in date order:

Mika supported by Leon Jean-Marie (1)
Crowded House supported by Justin Nozuka (2)
Travis supported by The Hoosiers (3)
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club supported by Nine Black Alps (4)
Groove Armada supported by Mutya Buena and Beardyman (7)
Ash supported by Ben’s Brother (8)
The View (9)
Imogen Heap supported by James Wolff (10)
Editors supported by GoodBooks (11)
Scott Matthews (12)
Athlete supported by Tiny Dancers (13)
Paolo Nutini (14)
Gianna Nannini (15)
Ludovico Einaudi supported by Dhafer Youssef (16)
The Bad Plus supported by Rebekka Bakken (17)
The Pigeon Detectives supported by The Rakes (18)
Beverley Knight supported by Raul Midón (19)
Stereophonics supported by Little Man Tate (20)
Jamie Scott & The Town (21)
Wir Sind Helden (23)
Amy Winehouse supported by The Rumble Strips and Remi Nicole (25)
Just Jack supported by Mr Hudson & The Library (26)
Jack Penate (27)
The Maccabees supported by Goldspot (28)
Duke Special supported by Tom McRae (29)
The Coral supported by Candie Payne (30)

Tickets will be given away free via radio, TV stations and band and fan websites. The specific details of which will be announced soon. Some tickets are already available from the itunes festival website.

Photo taken from Mteson’s flickr stream.

 
 
 

About Us

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.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it.

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