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Live Gig Video: Two Door Cinema Club share ‘Lavender’ from Alexandra Palace in February 2017

 
By on Thursday, 27th April 2017 at 4:00 pm
 

Northern Irish indie rockers Two Door Cinema Club are currently on the road in America, have just done the second weekend of Coachella last weekend, playing on a bill before Bon Iver and Lady Gaga. It’s good news, considering this interview with DIY last year suggested they might have killed each other over creative and personal differences. Thankfully, they took time off from the road and each other, which seems to have re-energised them.

In October 2016, they released ‘Gameshow’, their third album, which showed flexing their experimental muscles. This was to varying degrees of success, which you can read more about in my review of the long player. What is not up for contention is how beloved they are in England, which shows through in this live gig video of ‘Lavender’ they have shared from their London Alexandra Palace show to close out a UK tour in mid-February earlier this year. Watch it below. You can read through all of our past coverage of Two Door Cinema Club – and there’s a lot, because I’ve been writing about them since 2009! – through here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKuGBLw71g8[/youtube]

 

Live Review: Bell X1 with Vita and the Woolf at Lincoln Hall, Chicago – 25th February 2017

 
By on Wednesday, 1st March 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

Last weekend, I left sunny Tucson behind for a quick trip to Chicago, and I almost regretted my choice as soon as I stepped off the airplane. After a long stretch of unseasonably warm weather, the Windy City had reverted to its usual for February: cold and, well, windy. Luckily, the gig I was in town for turned out to be well worth both the travel and the winter chill. On Saturday night, downtown Chicago’s Lincoln Hall played host to Irish rock trio Bell X1, who have added a very distinct measure of warmth to their live sound on their current American tour, in support of last October’s LP release ‘Arms’.

Vita and the Woolf internal

The opening act for the evening, Vita and the Woolf, take their moniker from the romantic affair between early 20th century authors Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. The band Vita and the Woolf are officially a duo consisting of singer and Jennifer Pague and drummer Adam Shumski, but on this particular occasion, they brought along guitarist Dane Galloway as well. With Pague doubling on keyboards, the three of them created a surprisingly full and forceful live sound. Pague’s singing has been compared to that of Florence (+ the Machine) Welch, and while Vita and the Woolf didn’t quite match that heady level of power and mysticism, the potential is certainly there. If that sound is up your street, keep an eye out for Vita and the Woolf’s debut album ‘Tunnels’ later this year.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/2Wy9NCOifjQ[/youtube]

From the moment Bell X1 first took the stage, it was clear that something different was afoot for them. Bass player Dominic Phillips was situated at the front of the stage, an unusual position for him in my experience, but an effective one as the band opened with a soft-spoken trio version of ‘Bad Skin Day’. The recorded version of this song is quite complex, but the band pared it back to its bare minimum here, and the lyrics and vocal harmonies were notably more exposed.

Dominic internal

The reason for Phillips’ stage positioning became more apparent as the band continued through their naturally ‘Arms’ heavy set list, joined by touring members Rory Doyle on drums and Glenn Keating on keys. The new songs have a deliberately soulful simplicity about them, and a heavy emphasis on the rhythmic groove. Phillips’ bass lines were more in the forefront of the sound, most notably in recent singles ‘The Upswing’ and ‘Out of Love’, which took on more personality in live performance than in their respective recordings. Older favourites ‘Eve, the Apple of My Eye’ and ‘Flame’ were similarly streamlined, and these refined arrangements were both interesting and surprisingly engaging.

My gig mate for the evening described her impression of the show as “like Bell X1 smoking pot”, while I dubbed the sound “r&b twice-removed”. Either way, the predominant mood for the evening was very mellow, a bit slower and more relaxed than I might have expected. This new vibe was perhaps slightly uncomfortable due to its relative novelty, but overall, it’s a good look for Bell X1, and it worked brilliantly in the favourable acoustics of Lincoln Hall. It’s also worth noting here that the overall sound in the venue was fantastic. The volume, for once, wasn’t overwhelmingly loud at the front of the stage, which greatly benefitted the sound clarity of the individual instruments and vocal lines. (Bravo to sound engineer Phil Hayes and the sound crew at Lincoln Hall.)

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They say that time flies when you’re having fun, and this show seemed to fly by quickly for everyone involved. After playing their American hit ‘The Great Defector’, frontman Paul Noonan apparently forgot that it was to be the final song in the set proper. “Oh, yeah, we’re going to play this game,” he said, acknowledging the awkwardness of leaving stage ahead of the perfunctory encore. The band didn’t keep us waiting long before they returned for a gentle version of ‘Careful What You Wish For’. This was followed by an expanded rendition of ‘The Ribs of a Broken Umbrella”, which gave Rory Doyle (who has also toured with Hozier) a perfect opportunity to show off his impressive skill and rhythmic precision on the kit. Bell X1 have found themselves a regular and dependable show closer in ‘The End is Nigh’, whose lyrical question “or will the wrong guy get the codes?” feels somehow more compelling in the present day than it did when the song was released back in 2013.

Rory internal

Bell X1 will be wrapping up their American tour as this review goes to press, but if you’re on the other side of the Atlantic, keep your eyes open for possible live dates this summer. The band are currently scheduled to play the Summer Series at Trinity College in Dublin on the 8th of July, with Scottish alt-rock band Frightened Rabbit. You can look back at TGTF’s extensive past coverage of Bell X1 through here.

After the cut: Bell X1’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Continue reading Live Review: Bell X1 with Vita and the Woolf at Lincoln Hall, Chicago – 25th February 2017

 

Output Belfast 2017 Music Conference and Showcase Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Tuesday, 28th February 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

To read the first half of my roundup on Output Belfast 2017, click here.

Between the daytime seminars and the evening gigs was the perfect time to grab a bite, and head over to the Oh Yeah Centre for a drink and a chat. Networking is key at these events, so why not spark up some conversations and elaborate further on some of the points made throughout the day The speakers were done for the day, the bands were getting ready for the evening shows and everyone else had time to kill. If you found yourself at a loose end, you could have popped to a little room to the left of the front door to the Oh Yeah to catch a stripped back set from Beauty Sleep ahead of their gig at The Dirty Onion.

At 8 PM, the evening’s events kicked off, and with some truly amazing acts. Ryan Vail was one of the first to showcase his fantastic new bespoke live, audiovisual show, which he created in partner with Plume Studios, AVA Festival and Generator NI. Enclosed in what looked like a cage of coloured vertical lights, Vail stood alone on a backlit stage, casting a dark and ambient silhouette across the venue like a physical representation of Vail’s heavy and intricate music. A huge overhead screen projecting real-time outdoor scenes of forests and skies Plume Studios shot themselves, altogether creating an incredible performance made possible by a great network of contacts only found at Output.

The great thing about Output is the wide variety of eclectic artists they book each year. If Ryan Vail lighting up the MAC isn’t your thing, you could also catch theatre pop artist Sullivan & Gold at the Black Box Café, “decent folk” singer/songwriter Robyn G Shiels upstairs at the Duke of York, or indie rockers Junk Drawer at Voodoo. At any given time, there was always an incredible selection of artists to choose from, including some of this year’s SXSW artists New Portals, Silences and Jealous of the Birds. Belfast’s own Robocobra Quartet, another SXSW 2017 showcasing band, landed a play of their song ‘Correct’ on Daniel P. Carter’s rock show the following Sunday night, off the back of their show in at Output.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-SfI3WC0iA[/youtube]

In the midst of running from venue to venue, trying to catch as many bands as possible, I managed to score some personal highlights, dark, electronic pop outfit Hiva Oa being one. They took the stage following Junk Drawer’s grungy, fuzz-infested rock and gave all that they had. Hiva Oa produced a huge sound consisting of tight drum grooves, experimental synths and melodic vocal melodies, which presented a interesting blend of electronica, hip-hop and alt indie that kept the crowd moving from start to finish. The band left their first single ‘A Great Height’ until the end of their set, which was close to shaking Voodoo to bits. Chris McCorry’s heavily distorted synth entered like an approaching stampede, before Christine Tubridy’s pounding drum groove acted like a pacemaker that could set everyone’s hearts to the same beat. Unfortunately, it was harder to make out Stephen Houlihan’s topline; however, as he swayed and stumbled around the stage, it all made for an equally engaging aesthetic performance.

Joshua Burnside was another highlight of the evening. I had caught him 2 weeks previously in Derry. when he played with a full band. His stripped-back set in Black Box Café was equally as astonishing, if not more as when I first seen him. Burnside beautifully serenaded a room filled with people with just his guitar and the exceptional Rachel Boyd on violin. Aside from the cheers between songs, the place was silent, which only added to the fragile atmosphere Burnside created with his songs. One song in particular that I felt hit home to a lot of people that night was the recent, unscheduled release of the politically-orientated ‘Red and White Blues’. Although it is a political song, it speaks from a deeper place relating to Burnside’s own upbringing and family history, with the idea that politics – particularly Irish right- and left-wing politics – is adversely affecting the way some people think and their freedom of speech and abstract thinking. When he performed this track at Output, he had complete attention of his audience, as if the whole conference’s attendees stopped to hear his words and melody. As he strummed the last chord, the room once again erupted in awe and approval. No matter what your views are, it is a beautiful song.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r14gjSvy8ZI[/youtube]

As it was my first year attending Output, I admit it was a little overwhelming. From the minute, you enter the MAC for registration, there is an awareness of being surrounded by top industry professionals. However, once I understood that everyone was there for the same reasons, mainly to network and grow their relationships within the industry, I felt a true sense of community. It helped that the importance of relationships and support in the community was often touched upon in many of the seminars, and in Bob Lefsetz’ case forced onto many of the attendees this year. For musicians/bands, PR and management companies, producers and even a few academics, Output Belfast is without a doubt the perfect place to be for anyone involved in the Northern Irish music industry.

Editor Mary Chang contributed to this report.

 

Output Belfast 2017 Music Conference and Showcase Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Monday, 27th February 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

As the dust settles on the 4th annual Output Music Conference and Showcase event, I’m taking a look back over my experiences at the event. This is to give you, the readers, insight into the important messages and valuable lessons I acquired throughout the day, as well as outstanding performances. This was the first covered by TGTF; in the past, TGTF’s words on Northern Irish acts was mostly restricted to showcases at other festivals, such as in Carrie’s coverage of the Output Belfast afternoon showcase at SXSW 2016. Like that event, this year’s Output Belfast was sponsored by Generator NI and Belfast City Council.

This year, Output was held within the oldest part of Belfast city centre, the Cathedral Quarter. It’s a small area in the southeast section of the city packed with fantastic architecture, cosy pubs and underground music venues that lace the narrow cobbled streets and alleys. Named after St. Anne’s Cathedral that still stands here, the Cathedral Quarter was once home to trade and warehousing particularly within the linen and shipbuilding industries. Now it is the cultural hub of Belfast, with a rich music and arts scene that attracts so many people that the bars, venues and even streets are always thriving. No better place to hold Ireland’s leading music industry networking and showcase event, if you ask me.

Throughout the day, seminars and master classes were held in The MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre) and the Oh Yeah Centre. If you’re an attendee, the daytime programming offered a chance to soak up any and all information, advice and personal points of view from the abundance of industry professionals assembled. Before 1 PM it was possible to catch Crispin Hunt (British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors and cowriter with Florence and the Machine and Jake Bugg), Lee Denny (founder of Kent music event Leefest) and Amy Lamé (London’s first ‘Night Czar’) during the opening address. Moving to another floor of The MAC, you had the option sitting in on either a pitch and sync talk with Simon Pursehouse of Sentric Music; a production seminar with Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey), Liam Howe (Ellie Goulding) and Rocky O’Reilly (Start Together Studios); or a meeting with the performance rights organizations PRS, PPL, IMRO, MCPS and BASCA.

I opted for the Metal Machine Music talk on artist and business development in rock and metal hosted by Daniel P. Carter, host of BBC Radio 1’s Rock Show, promoter of famed Belfast venue The Limelight Joe Dougan, Head of Marketing at Red Essential Ali Tant and artist managers Ian Rendall (Making Monsters) and Ally McCrae of Two Up Management. The speakers discussed matters relating to the development of the rock and metal scene, what it takes to break into the scene and maintain your success, the importance of hard work, supporting one another and being in control of your work and career. The speakers painted a picture of a tight-knit community within the rock and metal scene by sharing the understanding that being supportive, genuine and respectful of the people in the industry, as well as applying honest hard work with belief in your art, will do more favours than anything else.

These became overarching themes throughout the day. In other sessions and even in the lobby of the MAC where people gathered between talks, a sense of community and support was evident and hugely encouraged. For example, during the Country 2.0 seminar Milly Olykan (Festival and Events Director at The O2) Stuart Banford (Downtown Country, Northern Ireland’s only 24/7 digital country music station), Lynne McDowell (Country Music Association) and Iain Snodgrass (Universal Music Group) discussed similar topics but instead in relation to country music. It seemed no matter what genre of music you listen to, or what area of the industry you work in, the key messages about the pathway to success are the same.

This year’s keynote was an hour-long discussion with esteemed music commentator and analyst, Bob Lefsetz, presented by Mark Gordon of Generator NI. Lefsetz has been an active member of the music industry for over 30 years. Though he began as an entertainment business attorney, Lefsetz slowly moved into the field of analysing and commentating on the music industry. He created and published his own magazine called the Lefsetz Letter, which he eventually put out online for free. He is renowned for his forward-thinking ideas and rational statements towards music, the industry and those within it, and at this year’s Output all those present witnessed this firsthand.

Listening to Lefsetz speak on the music industry sounded as if he was expressing his hatred towards it. He delivered a passionate and intriguing discussion about his beliefs in regards to the music industry: his comments could have been mistaken as negative, but in fact he was purely being realistic. In his own words, “don’t sugarcoat it”. Through his work as an attorney and the Creative Consigliere for heavy metal band W.A.S.P, Lefsetz knows the music industry is a cutthroat business where artists often get taken advantage of. He was able to give advice by relating to his own experience by pointing out the errors a lot of people make and even provided solutions to difficult situations. Throughout his discussion, he covered a wide spectrum of important topics including the use of social media and its algorithms to assist in driving PR and advertising campaigns, the importance of and differences between Spotify playlists vs. top chart playlists, niche marketing, targeting specific audiences and energising those who can spread the word. He said he accepts and confirms sexism and racism exist but that neither should matter, and that hard work and hustle is more important and that bringing up a person’s gender or race is an excuse for “not being great”, clearly something that can be a bone of contention. Similar to the guiding principles presented in the Metal Machine Music session, Lefsetz expressed the importance of relationships in the business and how he believes they are more powerful than money. With a lot to say and a very charismatic and expressive personality, Bob Lefsetz was an intriguing, engaging speaker. He was an excellent conclusion to the daytime schedule, and next up was the evening events.

Editor Mary Chang contributed to this report.

 

The Dears / February 2017 UK Tour

 
By on Thursday, 23rd February 2017 at 9:00 am
 

Montreal husband and wife duo The Dears will be touring the England and Wales this weekend and into early next week, playing their first UK shows in 6 years. The four UK live dates are in support of the pair’s latest album release ‘Times Infinity Volume One’, out now on Dangerbird Records. The album is part of a two-volume series, the second half of which is titled ‘Times Infinity Volume Two’ and due for release later this year.

Frontman Murray Lightburn says of the 2-year long project, “Putting these two records together was like solving a puzzle: Volume One was about finding the edge pieces while Volume Two was about the middle pieces. It was very difficult to wrap one’s head around at first, but by the end of production, it just became easier and easier. It’s a metaphor for life, and our life’s story.”

You can watch The Dears’ brand new video for album track ‘To Hold and Have’ just below the tour date listing. Tickets for the following shows are available now.

Friday 2​4th February 2017 – Cardiff Globe
Saturday 25th February 2017 – Bristol Fleece
Sunday 26th February 2017 – Leeds Brudenell
Tuesday 28th February 2017 – London Village Underground

[youtube]https://youtu.be/7RaU6DNBRxU[/youtube]

 

Live Gig Videos: Blossoms perform ‘Honey Sweet’ and cover 50 Cent and Wham! in the Radio 1 Live Lounge

 
By on Thursday, 16th February 2017 at 4:00 pm
 

It’s good to be Stockport, Greater Manchester group Blossoms. The band have been nominated for the British Breakthrough Act at this year’s BRITs, and there’s still time to get your vote in for them (or whichever of the nominees you prefer) through here (UK residents only) before next week’s awards show. As a part of a special week at the Radio 1’s Live Lounge, as the radio station is celebrating the BRITs, they invited Blossoms in yesterday as award nominees in to play a song of their own, plus as is standard for all their Live Lounge performances, a cover.

Choosing to do a cover of 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’ mashed up with Wham!’s ‘Careless Whisper’ has been controversial for their fans (if you question this, just read the comments section here from their Facebook), but what is not at all controversial is their performance of ‘Honey Sweet’, featured on their self-titled album released last summer. Watch both performances below; you can listen to the Radio 1 programme for the next 28 days via Radio 1’s Web site. ‘Blossoms’ is out now on Virgin EMI, and my review of the LP is through here. I’ve written a fair bit on the North West band here on TGTF, and you can catch up on all our past coverage on them if you head this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qP67vNvB0gg[/youtube]

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hjN889WEbQ[/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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