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Single Review: Drenge – Bonfire of the City Boys

 
By on Tuesday, 11th December 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Words by Gareth O’Malley

It’s been a while since Derbyshire-based trio Drenge have graced our ears with new material, but they have plenty to come. The band broke their silence at the start of the year with a tour announcement, their first since wrapping up their commitments for sophomore album ‘Undertow’. Their comeback ‘Autonomy’ EP was released in October, with the title track set to appear on their forthcoming third album ‘Strange Creatures’ due next February, along with their latest LP offering ‘Bonfire of the City Boys’.

On the violent, snarling beast of a track, Drenge sound considerably heavier than most will remember them. Rob Graham’s stuttering bassline guides the track through its first verse as lead singer Eoin Loveless’s rapid-fire, spoken word delivery takes centre stage. A palpable sense of tension hanging in the air as he speeds through two chaotic verses: “There are millions of people out there: fucking, fighting, eating and sleeping / And we are not one of them, oh no / We are the fly in the ointment / The hair in the food / The snag, the catch, the conundrum.”

The first verse gives way to a juddering guitar riff that helps to alleviate the tension for a brief moment, before returning in full force after the song builds to a shout-along chorus defined by its searing intensity. Its 4 minutes seem to pass in a flash, the trio indulging themselves in noise rock and offering us a red-hot taster of the new record. ‘Bonfire of the City Boys’ should do a lot to alter people’s perceptions of the band; far from the middle-of-the-road indie rock of their contemporaries, the trio have set their sights on making a real statement and aren’t pulling their punches. Hopefully the new album will be a similarly ferocious affair.

8/10

‘Strange Creatures’ will be released on the 22nd of February 2019 on Infectious Music. A UK tour in March and April will follow the album release. More on Drenge here on TGTF is available through here.

 

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.

Mush Deer Shed 2018 01 Friday (landscape)-1597

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.

whenyoung at Deer Shed 2018 01 Friday (landscape)-1700

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.

HMLTD Deer Shed 2018 01 Friday (portrait)-1877

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.

Drenge Deer Shed 2018 01 Friday (landscape)-2076

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.

 

Interview: Eoin Loveless of Drenge

 
By on Monday, 25th January 2016 at 11:00 am
 

If they aren’t already, Sheffield-based Drenge are a band that should be on your radar. The trio from Castleton, Derbyshire, have been gaining a significant amount of traction over the past 3 years since the release of their self-titled debut: a raw, grunge filled masterpiece Cobain himself would be proud of. They’re now heading out on tour again, as part of the NME awards tour alongside Bloc Party, RAT BOY and MC Bugzy Malone, and in support of their second record ‘Undertow’, a more polished, but still savage sophomore statement. Ahead of the tour, which starts in Cardiff this Friday, the 29th of January, I had the opportunity to speak with vocalist/guitarist Eoin Loveless about changes to Drenge’s music going forward.

The addition of bassist Rob Graham, a long time friend and figure in their career, has allowed the Drenge sound to progress from a monstrous duo to a mammoth trio. This is something Eoin felt necessary: “It’s not really a band if there’s only two people in it…if there’s one person playing on a stage, then it’s just them playing music, if there’s two people playing music then it’s just two people playing with each other. But if there’s three, you need to start lending your hearing around the room a bit more. That’s where I think the traits of a band, like listening and being aware of what’s going on around you musically, that’s when those skills tend to get tested”.

‘Undertow’ is a cleaner effort, for lack of a better word. While their self-titled debut saw a new dawning for grunge/punk, 2015’s ‘Undertow’ built upon this, seeing the sound become more monstrous and, at times, sinister. In terms of contextualising the second record, Eoin came up with a rather pleasing metaphor. “Think of the first record like a car, and then the second record like a polished car…the next car/album will have…hydraulics…” Though there are currently no plans for the follow-up to ‘Undertow’ as of yet, they’re definitely on the horizon.

Lyrically, Drenge have always had a certain appeal with the way they convey their message, utilising both religious and carnal symbols in their writing. Though in terms of self-appreciation towards his skill, this is where Eoin struggles. “I kind of lose a relationship with [the lyrics] through over-performing … like the lyrics for ‘Nothing’ (from ‘Drenge’), I don’t think are particularly good, but when we play it live I’ve discovered that the way that they’ve been written, the syllables and the harshness of the sound all sits together and now whenever we play it live, I kind of scat it, so I’ll take syllables and hold them back and drop them in the space where they’re supposed to go next.”

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

For the past 3 years Drenge have been a constant presence on the Glastonbury lineup. 2015 saw them appear as a secret act on the Williams Green stage on the first day of the festival. When I ask him about the possibility of playing this year’s event, Eoin considers this. “If we did it this year, it would be 4 [times already], we’re probably not allowed! I think there’s some rule that unless you’re Billy Bragg…I think Mumford and Sons did it 7 years on the trot, and you know you don’t want to end up like that, do you?”

Last year’s festival was a unique opportunity to witness someone who is undoubtedly one of the current generation’s musical focal points, Kanye West, someone the band had met previously after their appearance on ‘…Later With Jools Holland’. “I’m a huge Kanye fan”, admits Eoin. “I listen to like his new tracks three times a day. I think he’s exceptional and vastly underappreciated…we’ve got a great artist on the planet and a lot people aren’t willing to take him seriously.” On the Kanye set itself, “That’s one of the main reasons we chose to do the show”, Eoin confesses, laughing. “I went and thought it was amazing, but people really weren’t into it…I think one of the delusions people had if they were at the festival was that Kanye was performing to them, but he wasn’t. He was performing to the world’s media.

Those who have been following Drenge from the beginning may remember at their earlier shows in 2013, they would distribute a self-made zine titled ‘Blood & Milk’, the initial title for the self-titled album cut ‘Backwaters’. Though there are no plans to resurrect this perfect piece of audience engagement, they have are plenty of other ideas that they’d like to put into action. “I’ve been thinking about…doing a podcast, where I could go around and talk to other bands about stuff … If I can find an interview where one of my favourite artists is being interviewed by another musician, then you get a level of reference points that I can relate to as a musician. I can also relate to the fact that because they’re not guarded, because it’s not an interview scenario, and they’re not worried there words will be taken out of context. I think there’s a lot that me and Rory (brother and bandmate) want to do that exits out of the music that we make.”

Many thanks to Ian for arranging this interview for us. ‘Undertow’, Drenge’s second album, is out now via Infectious Records; for more on the Sheffield group on TGTF, head here. Catch them on the NME Awards Tour starting this Friday through mid-February.

 

NME Awards Tour / January and February 2016

 
By on Wednesday, 4th November 2015 at 9:30 am
 

The NME Awards Tour 2016 has announced alt-rock quartet Bloc Party as its headline act, with support from Sheffield rock duo Drenge, hip-hop punk artist Rat Boy and Manchester grime musician Bugzy Malone.  Bloc Party last played the NME Awards Tour as newcomers to the scene way back in 2005.  Their new LP ‘Hymns’ is due for release on the day the tour begins, and they will be performing some of the new songs live for the very first time at these shows.

As we saw in 2015, the city of Austin, Texas is once again a primary sponsor of the NME Awards Tour 2016.  In addition, all tickets will include a 50p donation to the Teenage Cancer Trust.  Tickets for the following shows will be available for general sale this Friday, the 6th of November 2015.

Friday 29th January 2016 – Cardiff Great Hall
Saturday 30th January 2016 – Southampton Guildhall
Monday 1st February 2016 – Bristol Academy
Tuesday 2nd February 2016 – Nottingham Rock City
Thursday 4th February 2016 – Newcastle Academy
Friday 5th February 2016 – Glasgow Barrowland
Saturday 6th February 2016 – Manchester Academy
Monday 8th February 2016 – Leeds Academy
Tuesday 9th February 2016 – Cambridge Corn Exchange
Thursday 11th February 2016 – London Brixton Academy
Friday 12th February 2016 – Birmingham Academy

 

Drenge / January and February 2015 English Tour

 
By on Friday, 19th December 2014 at 8:00 am
 

Sheffield rock duo Drenge have just announced their first live shows of 2015, leading into their NME Awards Show appearance in London next February. Tickets for the following shows, including headline dates in Leeds and Manchester, are available now.

Drenge released their self-titled debut album in August 2013. You can read Martin’s Bands to Watch feature on them right here.

Monday 19th January 2015 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Tuesday 20th January 2015 – Manchester Deaf Institute
Thursday 12th February 2015 – London Tufnell Park Dome (NME Awards show)

 

The BBC at Glastonbury 2014 (Friday): Drenge play ‘Bloodsports′ at the John Peel Stage

 
By on Friday, 27th June 2014 at 10:00 pm
 

Wherever you will be hanging your hat this weekend, whether you’re joining the sheep at Worthy Farm or you’ve got your feet up in front of the telly, us here at TGTF will have you covered when it comes to Glastonbury 2014. The dedicated people they are, the folks at the BBC will be working all hours during the festival and feeding us live coverage as it becomes available. What does this mean for you? We’ll be passing along all the best bits to you, our faithful readers.

Time for a bit of moshing, you say? Then you’re ready for this live video of hard rocking duo Drenge performing ‘Bloodsports’ for an up fer it crowd at the John Peel Stage earlier. It lasts less than 2 and a half minutes, but I don’t the Beeb will mind if you queue it up several times in a row, would they?

For more of the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage online, head this way. Stay tuned for more videos from Glasto 2014 right here on TGTF.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tya_IyVirj0[/youtube]

 
 
 

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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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