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Liverpool Sound City 2013: Martin’s Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Friday, 17th May 2013 at 1:00 pm
 

More of Martin’s high-res photos from day 2 can be found on his Flickr.

Bands of the day: Concrete Knives, Wolf People, Melody’s Echo Chamber

Venue of the day: Screenadelica

One not-to-be-underestimated benefit of an event being held in Liverpool is the impressive situational architecture. I chose a hotel based entirely on cost and availability, and yet it boasted a fine view of the Mersey estuary and is continuously watched over by that Liver bird which is unfortunate enough not to have a sea view. There’s few things more inclined to soothe a music-induced foggy head than a bracing Atlantic breeze and a frozen berry smoothie, both of which are liberally on offer on the Albert Dock; head duly cleared, there’s still a few hours to kill before play recommences – a tour around the Tate Liverpool and a few frames of World Championship snooker fill the gap admirably.

There’s a distinctly Asian flavour to this year’s event – delegations from Korea (of which more tomorrow) and Taiwan are in town, and are plugging hard. Echo are the first Taiwanese band I come across. They’re technically excellent rock musicians, and enjoyable to watch, but there’s little distinctive personality to be discerned in this brief meeting. Perhaps they’re better at copying a western style than coming up with one of their own. Another slight disappointment is L.A. band Hands – pre-event research had revealed them to a promising, if slightly pretentious act; today, their sound is mostly lost in the cavernous Garage, and no amount of optimistic gyration from Geoff can save the day.

Concrete Knives Liverpool Sound City 2013

The second French band of the weekend are Concrete Knives, and they continue the French theme of pure excellence. Theirs is a delightfully retro jumble of danceable grooves, funky breakdowns, and singalong choruses. Morgane Colas deadpans into the microphone, breaking into precise little dance moves when the occasion demands it, her slight frame booming out a powerful vocal, dominating the delicious noise the band pumps out. Despite (or perhaps, in an oblique way, because of) their Normandy roots, the band sing and title their songs in English, with just the right amount of evocative Gallic accent to spice their singing with a romantic otherness which suits the material perfectly. Most of recent album ‘Be Your Own King’ is played, climaxing with the swaying Truth, its loping beat building into a kitchen-sink crescendo which brought that rare, unique hair-stands-on-end moment which always happens at some point at a music festival. They played a second set later in the day to a dusky Kazimier Gardens, which managed to be even more funky impressive, with the entire crowd dancing and whooping by the end. These are the band of the festival for me.

Best Friends Liverpool Sound City 2013

My first venture into the Kazimier itself, which turns out to be a superb old-school auditorium with delightfully odd black-and-white handmade woodwork, is for Sheffield surf rock four-piece Best Friends. In the interests of full disclosure, in advance I decide I’m predisposed to feel an affinity for the band because the lead singer shares my surname of Sharman, but there’s plenty more to like about them besides that. There’s an endearing warmth to their ocean breeze of fuzzy guitars and circular chord sequences that charms the crowd and enchants the neutral observer. Wasting Time, with its memorable riffs and football-terrace chorus demonstrates just how tuneful their arrangements can be, but elsewhere there’s a sour undertow of dissonance that prevents everything getting too sickly, like a slice of lime rammed into a bottle of lager. Take your Best Friends to the beach.

Wolf People Liverpool Sound City 2013

The Kazimier, with its slightly tired retro ambience, is the perfect environ in which to experience Wolf People, who, from their first note to the last, transport everybody to an incense-fugged basement club in west London, circa 1971. Theirs is the world of paisley kaftans, flared jeans and beards; their sound is that of the classic folk-prog-rock power quartet, guitars intertwining – sometimes harmonising, sometimes octaving, sometimes complementary, sometimes in battle. Vintage fuzz tones abound, guitar solos are long and unashamed, the rhythm section grooves like a bastard, and the lyrics… whilst there’s a possibility that they’re not about goblins, wizards and faire maidens, by rights they really should be. Wolf People are one of the finest rock bands I’ve ever seen, and a must-see for anyone with even a passing interest in the influential late-60s/early-70s psychedelic scene. A song like the superbly-named ‘When the Fire is Dead in the Grate’ encapsulates practically an entire genre in one brilliant many-movemented beast. A great opportunity to experience one of rock music’s finest hours for those who missed it the first time around.

Still in the Kazimier is the third and final French act of the weekend: Melody’s Echo Chamber (pictured at top) trade in beautiful, dreamy ditties in the vein of classic French chanteuses such as Francois Hardy, updated with modern arrangements; there’s bits of electronica in there, some found noises, and a persistent, driving guitar. Sometimes they descend into beat-infused chaos, but always maintaining the pretty, ’60s-tinged melodies. I should have stayed for the whole set, but Melody’s lament at missing Unknown Mortal Orchestra got the better of me so I crossed the road to catch the end of their performance. I’m not sure whether my expectations were unfairly high, but the subtleties of their act were either lost on me, or not present at all, comprising as it did long episodes of Ruban Nielson rocking out on his Fender Jag-Stang and not a great deal else. Possibly a deep-seated familiarity with latest album II would have helped decipher it all, but at this late hour none of it seemed very impressive.

To Screenadelica, and what is basically an unused low-ceilinged office building housing a music poster exhibition, with a stage seemingly plonked in one corner. The ceiling is of low, broken tiling, the lighting is exposed fluorescent tubes which conspire to bathe the room in an unflattering, green-tinged blankness. Such a disconcerting environment makes a perfect post-apocalyptic backdrop for the heavy rock bands which are in residence all weekend. An impromptu meetup with Mary and John of this parish meant we all had the good fortune to catch a mental set from Arcane Roots. You never know where you are with these guys – one minute they’re all sweet, delicate vocals over a charming, chiming guitar line – but in the blink of a distortion pedal later, they’re shredding your face off and roaring down your throat. Comparisons with Biffy are unenviably inevitable, but Arcane Roots do carve a niche all of their own, and their directness and energy is a welcome change from the more cerebral fare on offer earlier. As an aside, what gives with what bands are playing and wearing these days? All the pop acts are wearing rock band T-shirts (viz Bastille, Ilona et al.), and the rock acts are wearing suits and shirts and playing Fender Telecasters. When did a Tele become a heavy metal guitar? How I long for the days of the bepointed Japanese Superstrat to return. Perhaps a fashion revival waiting to happen?

It falls to Future of the Left to finish the night. It’s past 1am before they even start setting up, which may be why Andy Falkous is even more grumpy than usual; the sardonic wit which often lifts their uncompromising set is buried deep under a layer of gritty condescension tonight. Even though on record their well-crafted, often surreal lyrics lighten the heft of the music somewhat, tonight subtlety is exchanged for impact, which matches the raucous crowd’s mood perfectly. The Thatcher-baiting is getting old now, however – if this is the future of the left, then it looks and sounds very much like a repeat of the past couple of decades – and the ensuing yawns are too emphatic for your correspondent to resist. I retire home to rest in peace.

 

Liverpool Sound City 2013: John’s Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Tuesday, 14th May 2013 at 3:00 pm
 

Header photo by TGTF Head Photographer Martin Sharman

Home-grown boys Alpha Male Tea Party’s set started abruptly, causing the amassed gaggle of hipsters to spill their cans of Tuborg. The three-piece. who could only be described as being dressed like male ejaculate, ripped into their set with a wave of screeching guitars passing over the crowd in Screenadelica, a venue which did its best to remind you of a scene from any poor horror film, but with more attractive artwork.

They busted out the hits, including that well-known tune ‘Bill Paxton is a Fucking Clogger’, which saw the band’s bassist pull an assortment of serial-killerish faces which the arrayed photographers ate up glutinously. The instrumental heaviness seemed to translate well on the audience that had gathered and for a band with obviously very little touring experience; they acquitted themselves well with some well-crafted riffs from their diminutive Alex Pettyfer-lookalike frontman. Their live set is similar to the frantic chaos of a Pulled Apart by Horses set, but the tunes unlike PABH aren’t there yet. Ones for the future, perhaps? (7/10)

Struggling to follow up to the lunacy of Alpha Male Tea Party were Luxembourg’s (supposed) finest Mutiny on the Bounty whose opener can only be described as an overegged tribute to the original Power Rangers theme tune. Normally from me that would be a compliment, especially if the band were looking for that kind of nostalgic comedy. Alas, MOTB were not aiming for that level of self-depreciating comedy and instead embarked upon an almost entirely instrumental set of wonky riffs and constant panning to the crowd.

At one point the band’s lead guitarist who was sporting the look of the day, a well-coiffed boutique moustache, pled for the crowd to come closer. A few obliged, but it was an indicator of how little the band’s peculiar metal-math-rock stylings were endearing them to the Sound City punters. (5/10)

A change of scenery then to Liverpool Sound and Vision, where alongside watching the acts, you can get a freshly made stone-baked pizza, as if the music wasn’t enough! This was to see The Pukes who are an 11-piece band, fronted by eight female ukulele players who played a hilarious assortment of punk covers and their own material.

They freely admitted that the gaggle of people standing between tables and by the bar were in fact the youngest crowd they had played to ever. The lasses fronting the unique outlet emitted a very ‘70s punk revival feel, whilst the crowd really got on board with what they were trying to do. The band didn’t exactly cover any untouched ground, no boundaries were broken and the time signatures were as ordinary as Jeff down the pub on a Saturday. But it was good fun, nothing sordid, seedy or particularly rude. Just a ruddy good time and some punk rock. (8/10)

To close the stage at Sound and Vision were a personal favourite of mine, Dingus Khan from Essex, whose music was first billed to me as “the missing link between Blur and Slipknot”. With a billing like that, it was obvious that their live show was something to behold. And with three bassists and three drummers in such a small space, the sound they made was nothing short of catastrophic. For one I was surprised that the building held up under the aural assault it was being pelted with.

Sound problems dogged them at the start, but instead of going all diva on the soundman the affable chaps of Dingus took it in their stride and powered on through a half hour set of immense bass chugs and oddly relatable songs. From the start lead singer Ben Brown relays to the crowd, “if this sounds abrasive and weird, we’ll have done it just right”. Weird, it does sound and abrasive, well, it’s not the kindest on the ear I suppose, but the songs and the pure rock ‘n’ roll attitude of the boys combines for a show of unknown excitement. Songs like ‘Knifey Spooney’ from their new record ‘Support Mistley Swan’ were barrels of fun, whilst frontman Brown continued to accentuate their eccentricity by climbing tables and singing without a microphone. To finish the gig of a bout of coordinated dance moves from the Khan boys was a classy end to a genuinely fun, over-the-top gig, with the best bit of whistling since Peter, Bjorn and John’s ‘Young Folks’, which whilst not being tunefully spectacular, left everyone with a firm grin affixed to their chops. (9/10)

The less said about Unknown Mortal Orchestra (pictured at top) at the Garage really is the better. For a band so hotly tipped to fall so flat, really is a surprise. What’s likeable about them is a mysterious factor to me and it seemed anybody in the half-filled Garage as when each song ended their seemed to be a pause to look around to see if anybody else was going to gratify them with applause. To me that is not right, but further investigation may be necessary to discover to what extent this band blows. (4/10)

As the night entered the wee hours and the 3rd turned to the 4th, attentions turned to Screenadelica again for Arcane Roots, whose new album ‘Blood & Chemistry’ is pulling up trees for their brilliant take on alternative rock. Arguably, they are the first band who properly gets the crowd into what you would expect from a rock band, which is of course a swaying mass of flailing limbs, windmills and the occasional mosh pit.

Frontman Andrew Groves is resplendent in an elegant suit jacket and his almost soprano tones are close to a screech as he channels all his energy into a wild riff ridden set, intermittent with screams from hairless bassist Daryl Atkins. Their frenetic set features big hits like ‘You Are’ and caters for the casual audience well enough for them to have earned a good few new supporters as they leave the stage to be replaced by the behemoth that are Future of the Left. (8/10)

Future of the Left are outstanding from start to finish, with ‘Small Bones, Small Bodies’ apparent as one of the biggest tunes of the entire festival, even in one of the smaller venues that the festival is being hosted at. The fans throughout go utterly ballistic, even to the point that one of the members of Dingus Khan who shall remain unnamed gets a little too excited, crowdsurfed then almost pulled a light fitting off, before being restrained by security and knocking one of them over.

As the hordes in front of the stage get within touching distance of ‘the talent’ on the pedestal, lead singer and post-hardcore hero of banter Andy “Falco” Falkous diffuses the crowd with his indescribable wit and guile. The set overall was a triumph, with the band’s stock as diehards of the scene truly nailed down in front of the swirling mosh pit. (9/10)

 

Split Festival 2012: Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Monday, 1st October 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Missed Martin’s field report of the Saturday of Split Festival? You’re in luck; read it here.

Where Saturday at Split Festival 2012 was noisy in the main tent and more subtle in the other, the situation is roughly reversed on Sunday. Field Music turn in a lithe, precise set on the main stage. Since this writer has, more by coincidence than anything else, seen them four times this year so far, I can safely say that they are better every time, and have never played the same set twice. A hometown gig is always a bit more special, and the crowd are duly appreciative.

Saint Etienne’s comeback continues apace – Sarah Cracknell looks glorious, her sparkly mini-dress picked out by a central spotlight, and she sounds just as good. In a set heavy with material from this year’s ‘Words and Music’, the synth-pop sound is just as present and correct as in years gone by. The volume and tempo is gently increased as we proceed, Cracknell elegantly gyrating, flourishing a feather boa. Close your eyes, and new songs like ‘When I Was Seventeen’ can make you believe it’s 1992 again; Neil Young has never sounded as warmly glorious as when they cover ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’.

A guilty candy-floss pleasure compared to the gristle of Future of the Left, whose noisy Welsh surrealist punk deafens everyone in the small tent. Andy Falkous, drenched in sweat, screams out such deadpan masterpieces such as ‘Sheena was a T-shirt Salesman’ and ‘Failed Olympic Bid’. The humour perhaps isn’t immediately apparent, but the skit climax, “if Margaret Thatcher was alive I’d ask her what her favourite film was” surely clinches the deal.

What’s the point in running a festival if you can’t headline it yourselves? After last year’s absence, The Futureheads are back with what is essentially a greatest hits set. They kick off with the superb ‘Beeswing’ from this year’s a capella album ‘Rant’; four-part harmonised vocals have always been an essential part of the ‘heads sound, but this song, shorn of any instrumentation, demonstrates just how accurate and heartfelt they can be with just four voices.

But it’s not long before the electric guitars come out, and the band rattle through the best bits of their back catalogue, climaxing with a majestic ‘Hounds of Love’. The audience are enraptured throughout, as well they might be: this event is more than just another show, it’s a celebration of Sunderland, its people and its music. And on the evidence of Split 2012, Sunderland is in very rude health indeed.

 

Beacons Festival 2012 Review (Part 2)

 
By on Wednesday, 29th August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Part 1 of Martin’s review of Beacons 2012 can be read here.

What more can be written about Wild Beasts’ ability to headline? Their double-headed fantasia redefines the potential of a modern group of musicians. The risk of repetition is one worth bearing in order to quote a phrase written about their headline performance at Constellations in Leeds last November: “To see a capacity audience in a large room transfixed by such intelligently-written and expertly-executed pop music is a wondrous thing.” To which I would add, the material is so familiar now that the crowd effortlessly sing along pretty much all the way through. Which seems natural, until you ponder the meaning of such lyrical masterpieces such as “I was thrilled as I was appalled / Courting him in fisticuffing waltz”; words worthy of Raffles the Gentleman Thug himself. The world of performing arts waits with baited breath the arrival of a fourth Wild Beasts album.

As these things are wont to do, Sunday dawns even later with the kind of melancholy that only pervades the final morning of a weekend-long shindig. What finer prescription for such malaise than a swift dose of Frankie and the Heartstrings? As my erudite companion opined, if these guys had been around 10 years ago, they’d have cleaned up, what with their jaunty melodies, whip-smart pop arrangements and a classic frontman in Frankie Francis. Their frequent appearances on the festival scene are considerable consolation.

There is no photograph of The Wave Pictures because they were so good I couldn’t drag my attention away from them to fiddle with a camera. Operating for an impressive 14 years, time has not dulled their appeal; quite the opposite: the trio are telepathic in their delivery. Whether it’s that, the clarity of the ideas contained within the casually-delivered lyrics, or perhaps the guitar which spans basic root chords and then veers off into advanced soloing in the blink of the eye, or most likely a superb blend of all three, something really clicks with these guys. Singer David Tattersall can’t help the smile creeping across his child’s face, as if he’s heard the secret of the world – and everything’s going to be OK. Like the day of meeting someone who you’re going to spend the rest of your life with, no doubt there will be many more performances by The Wave Pictures – but nothing beats the first time.

From which planet is Willis Earl Beal? Certainly he has a considerably other-worldly manner which suggests someone not quite 100% Earthling. The intensity of his performance does nothing to dissuade this notion. Accompanied by a reel-to-reel tape machine, Beal prowls the stage, howling complex, inscrutable notions to primordial beats. He wraps up by removing his thick leather belt and whacking his chair by way of improvised percussion, before swaggering offstage. He didn’t actually say, “Take me to your leader”, but one has the impression that’s what he’s thinking. [I’m not sure what to make of him either, but he is a protege of Richard Russell’s, so on that alone, he comes well recommended, doesn’t he? – Ed.]

I have it on good authority that Patrick Wolf, on grand piano and violin-as-held-like-a-guitar delivered his arch-pop with aplomb, and that Toots and the Maytals wrapped things up with – what else! – a reggae conga. And that was that. The end.

This is Beacons’ first year as Beacons – those in the know will have attended a smaller but no less vibrant event on roughly the same site called Moorfest from which Beacons has grown; yet more will have been as bitterly disappointed as the organisers were when last year’s event was cancelled due to apocalyptic flooding. Thusly, Beacons 2012 represents the culmination of many years of hopes, dreams, and the odd scary moment – the product of such a recipe was an event which had no airs or graces at all in its delivery: it simply put on top-quality entertainment in a decent bit of the countryside, and invited the punters themselves to be its beating heart.

If you sat down and thought about it for a bit, you could tell this was an early, perhaps even naïve, event – the main arena had a vast central space with nothing in it (where was the eponymous beacon?), I found programmes for sale on the last day at the back of a tent, and stuff like signage was a bit hit and miss. But by ‘eck and by gum, what am I blathering about? It’s refreshing to experience a festival that puts all its effort into the essentials, even if that means the details are a bit rough around the edges. Details can be bought, but good taste in music cannot: for that reason, Beacons deserves to flourish. And with every ticket for 2012 sold out, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t. Not even the weather.

 

Beacons Festival 2012 Review (Part 1)

 
By on Tuesday, 28th August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

There’s nothing quite as much that embodies the soul of festivalling than a humble handful of tents in a muddy field, preferably in a salt-of-the-Earth part of the world like North Yorkshire. Which, thank one’s lucky stars, is exactly what was offered by Beacons 2012 in Skipton. Certainly there were fringe events aplenty, and no less than three inflatable structures on which the young, or even perhaps the young at heart, could variously bounce and slide. But for those of a more musical bent, the sheer quantity and quality of angry, soulful, cerebral, and simply downright deafening music on offer was too much to resist. So, with practicalities out of the way first (food – adequate; beer – plentiful and cheap; cocktails – strong and immaculately-made; camping and toilets – well, at least there were some), let’s move onto the music.

Friday looked like belonging to the smaller Noisey/Vice stage, packed with trendy guitar-toting freaks from dawn ‘til dusk. But first up was Veronica Falls on the main Stool Pigeon stage. Their faux-naïf guitar jangle was helped by the natural reverb of the tent; the girl-boy vocals of James Hoare and Roxanne Clifford a natural, distinctive pairing, easing the crowd into the weekend. ‘Right Side Of My Brain’ features the word “beacon” in its lyrics. Neat, huh?

Pins must make all the bands who struggle around the circuit for years, never making it big, green with envy. Lucky if they’re into double figures in terms of live shows, and only the odd limited edition tape to call a release, their influence in terms of pixel inches belies their young status. And in all honesty, they deserve it. The four ladies look great, the sound is warehouse-bare and won’t win any awards for virtuosity, but there’s plenty of edge and aloof attitude – exactly as it should be.

Gross Magic are somewhat more confusing. Their release ‘Teen Jamz’, whilst noisy in places, carries a ’70s glam-rock subtlety that appears almost entirely lost in the live performance, which is a deafening electric guitar onslought overlaid by a reed-thin voice. What is clear is that single Sam McGarrigle is desperate to transport himself back to 1990 Seattle and ingratiate himself with that scene – backwards baseball cap, half-mast pyjama bottoms, shuffling gait, faux-Transatlantic accent – he should fit right in.

Roots Manuva need no introduction. Rodney Smith’s lithe, languid, baritone flow has been leading the way in thoughtful urban music for years now. Tonight he pulls out all the stops – three MCs, full band, tight as a conga skin. There’s such a concentration of ideas that you really have to know the material or pay extremely close attention to the lyrics to fully appreciate – and when a tent is as jumping as this, that’s a tall order.

If anyone was wondering, from first-hand experience the main arena closed at 3 AM…but the tiny open-mic shack was still inviting weary musicians to knock out a song or two into the wee small hours. Just the thing to ease fragile heads into action on Saturday morning were conceptual electro-folksters The Magnetic North [pictured at top and appearing to be what Erland and the Carnival get up to on their day off, plus a female singer. – Ed.] Their magnum opus is Orkney Symphony, an aural tour of the northern Scottish island. And truly magnificent it is live too, the midday timing belying the subtle beauty on offer both in the music, and in the opinion of my male companion, also their auburn-haired lead singer.

Cass McCombs brings a touch of chilled Americana to proceedings. In fact, a touch too chilled – one gets the impression there’s some serious talent up there on stage; Cass has a lovely delivery and some great material – but they play it very cool. Which is all very well in the early afternoon drizzle, but one is left with the impression that one of those vintage Telecasters just wants to let rip into a 2-minute solo.

If you like noisy Welsh socialists making a racket, Future of the Left are for you. Musically as subtle as a brick to the head, and on first listen just as enjoyable, there is commendable anger and surprising depth of ideas on offer here. At times a touch too keen to rely on tired tropes like the North-South divide and knocking capitalism and Americans to really move the game on, but at others there’s a nice touch of working-class surrealism – like The Manics covering Eric Idle.

Ghostpoet is snapping at the heels of Roots Manuva, and quite rightly so. Musically more down tempo and glitchy, vocally he’s right up there with Mr. Smith, in terms of delivery and flow. There’s more considered storytelling going on here, there’s more space for the rhymes to breathe, and he seems to be creating the lion’s share of the music right there on a few synths. Romantic, grounded in day-to-day life, this is a deeply relevant and even moving set.

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

 

2000 Trees Festival 2012 Roundup: Day 2

 
By on Monday, 30th July 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

After the torrential downpour of Friday night, the camp site at 2000 Trees is awoken to the unmistakable proggy hum of Antlered Man inside The Cave. The London four-piece have been touring the UK and Europe for the past year promoting their unique blend of experimental rock ‘n roll. The touring seems to have paid off in terms of spreading the word as the tent is almost half-full at the ungodly hour of midday. Treating the hundreds of muddy revellers to the best bits of ‘Giftes 1 & 2′ including ‘Platoono of Uno’ and ‘Misruly Roo’, it’s the anti-race opus ‘Surrounded By The White Men’ that excites the senses and really gets the adrenaline pumping for the day ahead.

Over at the Main Stage the sun is emerging from the clouds, as Warwickshire rockers Sharks blast into the fitting ‘Arcane Effigies’. The smiles are out and the multiple layers of waterproof clothing are finally being stripped by the justly large crowd that is amassing for Sharks’ accessible, modern slant on ’70s punk. Comparisons to The Clash are lazy but just – front man James Mattock stands at the front of the stage, reminiscent of a 21st century Joe Strummer but with vocal leanings toward Morrissey. The anthemic ‘It All Relates’ is the first real singalong of the day with the 1000-or-so fans basking in the sun and filling their lungs with the cleansing countryside air – and stomach with Badger’s Bottom cider.

Back in The Cave it’s time for a visceral battering from London’s Bastions. It’s a very loud, very sharp blast of ear-piercing ferocity to a circle of die-hard fans and hardcore enthusiasts. The pumped up quartet throw themselves around the stage and into the crowd, whipping up a muddy frenzy inside the marquee. Rushing through ‘Visitant’, ‘With Love’ and a mind-blowing rendition of ‘Grief Beggar’, Bastions prove themselves worthy of their place mid-way through the day and as one of the best hardcore bands in Britain.

Over at the third stage, dubbed the Leaf Lounge, are a band who have played every single 2000 Trees festival since it began back in 2007. Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun have been making friends in all the right places, particularly folk rock hero Frank Turner. A favourite of anyone who has ever attended this humble Cheltenham festival, the local lads have packed out the tiny tent with many standing in the flood of mud outside. The deafening renditions of ‘New Natives’ and ‘Waitress’ from the stage and crowd alike ricochet off the inside of the tent, deafening the tightly-packed crowd and spurring on the party. A short set this late in the day, but everything you could have wanted.

Sub-headlining the Main Stage are a band that 2000 Trees have been trying to book since the beginning. Pioneering post-hardcore outfit Hundred Reasons might not have released a new LP since 2007, but that doesn’t matter. This evening they’re bringing their breakthrough opus ‘Ideas Above Our Station’ to a packed Main Stage that has turned into a swamp over the weekend. Entering the fray to rapturous applause, the Aldershot mob dive into ‘Kill Your Own’ and ‘No Way Back’ with pure energy and the genuine feeling they’re happy to be back. However, the intensity fades away all too quickly as the former chart-bothering quartet slip into the motions and appear to lose the initial drive and passion. Of course the big hits still hit hard and ‘If I Could’ proves a particular highlight with 2000 20-somethings recalling their angst-ridden youth for a few minutes of delightful shouting. As the last note of ‘Avalanche’ rings out the crowd disperses with the odd mutter and moan, after years of waiting it finally happened – but it was meant to be so much more.

Closing the -da2y extravaganza of British musical beauty are the Welsh noiseniks Future of the Left (pictured at top). Their amalgamation of post-hardcore, noise and ballsy rock ‘n roll is heartstoppingly loud and charged with unadulterated rage that drowns the mud-caked onlookers. Opening on the powerful ‘Arming Eritrea’, Andy Falkous’ unmistakable yelling echoes inside The Cave, forcing its way out into the night. Following on in quick succession with ‘Small Bones Small Bodies’ and ‘Sheena is a T-Shirt Salesman’, the fists of fury are getting their nightly work-out in the ever-growing mosh pit.

Falkous is on top form with his irreverent humour and dry wit receiving a wholesome airing, making full use of the C word from start to finish and not giving the smallest of fucks what anyone thinks. Throwing in a couple of Mclusky numbers makes for a unique setlist that risks losing attention from fairweather fans, but ‘Robocop 4 – Fuck Off Robocop’ (tonight dedicated to Andre the Giant) comprises of everything Future Of The Left represent – it’s chaotic, funny, stilted yet perfectly structured. Closing on ‘Lapsed Catholics’ the dazed crowd stagger back to their tents in the pitch darkness of Upcote Farm with bleeding ears and rattled bones. The Cardiff collective prove themselves worthy of a headline set with a Main Stage quality performance. If they return for 2013, it can definitely be bigger and better…and louder.

 
 
 

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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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