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Standon Calling 2012 Review (Part 2)

 
By on Friday, 17th August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Saturday at Standon Calling 2012, and a frozen smoothie gives potentially life-saving succour whilst ensconced in the Little Den, Standon’s kids’ area. A lie-in means baby massage and reggae nursery rhymes were missed; still, the tent is blessed with loads of playthings for little ones and is refuge from the midday rainshower that’s becoming a Standon tradition. But there’s plenty of toys for grown-ups too. Double Negative dark room have set up an example of the rare and elusive dark-tent, and are offering free portrait prints.

As one who has gone no further in analogue photography than home-developing the odd 35 mm film, the opportunity to see every step of the process that would eventually give rise to an A4-sized contact print is too good to pass up. The camera is as tall as a man, and exposes directly onto paper using powerful flash. That paper is developed, and the resulting negative is in turn exposed onto another piece of paper, giving rise to a positive image. One is allowed to agitate the developing trays oneself, and the image which emerges before one’s very eyes is quite magical – no two are the same, and mine came complete with wash marks and my own fingerprint on the border. Super.

Musically, the heart of the festival is the Folk Tent. Showcasing the finest in Anglian rockabilly, acoustic, and the occasional Anglophile American (yes, that’s you I’m talking about, Willy Mason), the vibe was eclectic yet accessible. Worth the entrance fee alone, this stage’s proximity to the pub, the fine lawn outside, and the swimming pool just around the corner meant it displayed the purest Standon vibe all weekend. Highlights include Delerium Tremens, Beans On Toast, Keltrix, Vardo and the Boss, and The Barker Band.

Better even than the music on offer, was the opportunity to chill out on a finely-cut lawn, fake statues scattered about, watching infants both young and old enjoy a couple of days of freedom from statute. Worth its weight in gold. Stealing Sheep, BigKids, King Charles and Field Music were all good value on the main stage, yet nothing could be more exciting than the almost half-hour effort of Mohamed Farah in winning the 10-kilometre run by the fabled country mile. To cries of “Go, Mo!”, and various choruses of “God Save the Queen” and “Rule, Britania”, the sweeping consciousness was one of the triumph of many years’ accumulation of aspiration, perspiration, and inspiration.

There was plenty of parallel perspiration at Revere’s performance at the Cow Shed stage. Singer Stephen Ellis is wrapped up warm in a tightly-buttoned black tunic, and virtually overheats as the set progresses, attacking his lyrics like they were mortal enemies; the string duo of cello and violin add a touch of glamour and depth to the epic tunes – and was that a Mumford up on stage just then? Ellis challenges the audience to respond, clambering onto the barrier and exhorting for all he is worth, and he is rewarded with rapture. The show ends with a note of genuine violence as Ellis smashes his guitar onto the pianist’s keyboard, which goes crashing to the ground – there’s a flash of enmity, then suddenly the stage is empty. If there were medals for intensity, Revere deserve to win gold.

Sunday dawned with the traditional downpour, yet it cleared bright just in time for Lips Choir. A west London group of singing women with no audition policy, this was the perfect Sabbath performance – as spiritual as any denominational service occurring simultaneously up and down the country, with the worship of pop music, rather than God, at its heart. Later there was a dog show, the second run of Standon’s own Olympics, and the highlight of my own weekend, and what put the whole event into perspective: an interview with Hon. Alexander Thomas Trenchard. Should any of our readers be unaware, Standon Calling is held within Standon Lordship, the family seat of 3rd Viscount Hugh Trenchard. Alex is his son and was jailed for 10 months on 3rd February 2011 for defrauding his employer, Tesco, out of £355,000. His parents repaid the money.

Alex expanded upon the story: the 2008 Standon Calling lost money, and he had no other way of paying the most pressing bill – that of security – than by using his company credit card. Several bills proceeded in the same manner, until a full 2 years and countless sleepless nights later, Tesco deigned to check their statements. This was the point Alex was asked to clear his desk, charged with fraud, and sentenced to 30 months at Her Majesty’s pleasure at Milton Keynes jail. After a brief and loving relationship with cellmate Paddy (it cumulated in a clinch summarised by Alex as “a combination of a Judo bout and a Scissor Sisters gig”), Standon Calling 2012 sees the return of the man who conceived the event as a barbeque for friends back in 2001, paying the ultimate price for his ambition. Your intrepid correspondent asked why it took Tesco 2 years to realise what was going on (“They trusted me, and I abused that trust”) – and whether the global grocer offered a plea-bargain event sponsorship deal so he could avoid jail (“I don’t think that would have worked”).

Such sentiment explains everything: the free use of the pool, the superb efforts of those in fancy dress, the willingness of so many to give so much of themselves just to prove that Standon is not simply the pipe dream of one privileged boy, that it can wash its face financially, and come back just as strongly after the ultimate setback. As Alex says, Standon has found its niche, and long may that niche prosper.

The Skints bring their UK street reggae along for a welcome chilled out mid-afternoon skank… Sunday night crescendos with the appearance of Fat Freddy’s Drop. The presence of musicians that have travelled from the opposite side of the globe is testament to the power of music to bring every disparate strand of society together – and the crowd make their appreciation heard.

FFD are essentially a funky vehicle for their brass trio to show off their chops, and that brass trio is essentially a vehicle for Hopepa the infamous bone man – the tracksuited, paunchy trombonist whose impossibly fluid frame skips across the stage, grinding and parping such that the cold reaches of the cosmos can feel his “rambunctious carry-on”. His is the culmination of a decade of hope, and when we pack up and head north in the cold reality of morning, Hopepa is the man who carries our dreams with him.

There is nothing like Standon Calling. It has its quirks, it has its foibles, it has a dedicated following of fans, and it has a deeply passionate team at its heart. I came for one headliner, but I will return in tribute to the place, the people, and the music. Standon on the shoulders of giants, indeed.

 

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.

 

Interview: Jimmy Lopez and Joe Lussa of The Audition at Slam Dunk South Festival

 
By on Monday, 11th June 2012 at 11:00 am
 

At a festival packed with American pop-punkers from top to bottom, I caught up with Jimmy Lopez and Joe Lussa from The Audition at this year’s Slam Dunk South for a quick talk about leaving Victory Records, their new EP and having legions of female fans.

You played Slam Dunk North yesterday, how was that for you?

Jimmy: Fun, man. It was awesome. It’s my first time here in the UK. Everything’s backwards like driving, but I like it.

Joe: He’s new, it’s his first time over here. But it’s our first time playing back in the UK for a few years, and it was awesome. The kids seem to be excited.

You’re playing alongside some pretty big bands in pop-punk, how does it feel to be a part of such a line-up?

Joe: It’s awesome. A lot of our friends are here so that’s cool – bands like Taking Back Sunday and Every Time I Die are bands we grew up listening to, so it’s cool to be playing the same festival as them.

You do festivals differently in America than the UK…

Joe: Well, these are definitely bigger than Warped Tour, I’d say.

Jimmy: Especially now.

Joe: As far as festivals go, we don’t do too many, but when you’re over here a lot of it is festivals, which is awesome because I enjoy festivals more than a regular tour. I like being around people and playing outside – it’s a lot of fun.

Do you prefer UK or US festivals?

Joe: UK. Always.

Your new EP ‘Chapter II’ came out in America a few months ago and it’s out in the UK on the 11th of June, can you tell us a bit about it?

Joe: We just tried to go back to the old style of the band, combining the sounds of the first two records together so we can give the fans what they know the band as. The other records were a lot more ‘poppy’ than the rock that we like to play.

This is an EP but you haven’t released a new album since 2010, are there plans for a new album?

Joe: There’s a lot of songs we have written that we didn’t put on the EP but we’ll probably end up writing instead and making it fresh instead.

How do the crowds like the new material?

Joe: The response has been good and it’s nice to be able to play those songs and have kids already know the words.

Jimmy: It was cool when they started singing along. I think that was probably the loudest crowd since I’ve played with them – even in America.

You left Victory Records 2 years ago, how has it been since you decided to go alone?

Joe: It’s nice, we don’t have to answer to anybody. It’s better because when things happen for the band we know it’s our hard work that’s paying off, it’s not the record label that’s getting these things for us. We have a great agent and manager so they help out a lot but it’s definitely nice to be a free agent and know that whatever songs we really like will be the ones that we release. No-one else can say “We’d like you to do something else” or “We’d like you to take a different route”, we can just release what we want to release.

Is it something you’d advocate? Would you encourage bands to go it alone?

Joe: It depends on what kind of band you are; if you’re a real pop singer, a record label is going to be your best bet. The bands and the connections they have to put you on the giant tours and you need that promotion. But I feel the internet is a very viable option now, you can do a lot of promotion for free yourself. If you spend enough time you can do really big things on the internet. So if you can do it and you’re willing to put the work in, it will pay off in the end.

There’s a lot of girls here wearing Audition t-shirts and there’s always loads of girls at your shows, what is it about your band that attracts women primarily?

Jimmy: This guy right here (laughs). That and the dancey type groove we have going on.

Joe: I think a lot of it has to do with how we are as people. People see that we just have fun when we play and when they see us off stage they see we’re just hanging out with everybody. We’re very approachable people having fun with everybody – drinking and partying. It attracts people to hang out with us because we want to hang out with everyone else as well.

Finally, if the world ends at the end of 2012, what’s the last thing you’re going to do?

Joe: I’m going to make a billion dollars then buy a spot on the spaceship to the next planet.

Jimmy: I’ll rob the richest man in the world. I’ll rob Jimmy.

Joe: He’ll go the illegal route. I’ll make my millions, then he’ll kill me for it.

 

Interview: Sam Carter and Tom Searle of Architects at Slam Dunk South Festival

 
By on Friday, 8th June 2012 at 11:00 am
 

At this year’s Slam Dunk South Festival I caught up with Sam Carter and Tom Searle from the Brighton bruisers Architects for a quick talk about guest vocalists, the departure of guitarist Tim Hillier-Brook and tripping on DMT.

You played Slam Dunk North yesterday, how was that for you?

Sam: We really enjoyed it. Really fun.

Tom: Like we’ve been saying to everyone – we get here at 10.30 in the morning to sound check, so it’s a long day of keeping your energy levels up before you go on stage for an hour. But the crowd was amazing and that’s what’s important.

How does it feel headlining the second stage?

Tom: It’s really nerve-wracking, I’d rather be lower down. I don’t like the pressure of watching all these bands getting great reactions all day, so you feel the need to justify your position on the bill. I’d rather go on with low expectations. I’m not complaining because it’s awesome, it’s just a bit nerve-wracking for me.

It’s justified, though, you have become much more popular over the past year. What do you think the catalyst was for that?

Tom: Just good songwriting (laughs). We’ve never really had any gimmicks, none of us are poster boys, we’re normal people – there’s nothing particularly flashy or fancy about us. We just write music and put out quite a lot of music, and I think that’s it. There isn’t really a trick for us.

I’ve spoken to bands recently who’ve said there’s a heavy resurgence occurring in music, would you that’s true?

Tom: I wouldn’t know in England because when we first started out touring there was a much bigger community of British bands. If there was a festival like this there would have been five or six heavy bands on it from England, but today there’s only two – us and While She Sleeps. The rest of the bill is American and Canadian, so I’m not sure to be honest. It comes and goes, though. In 2 years’ time there might be loads, then 2 years later there might be none.

Your new album ‘Daybreaker’ is out tomorrow [out now on Century Media], can you tell us a bit about it?

Sam:  There’s some tracks on it. There’s some heavy songs, melodic songs… We worked really hard on it and we put a lot of time into it. I just can’t wait for it to come out and be able to play a bunch of them live and tour the record.

Have you got a tour coming up to support it?

Sam: No. (laughs)

Tom: As of August we’re going to do all the touring everywhere in the world that will take us. But I understand the idea of going straight out on tour as soon as you release a record to support it, but it’s cool to give it a few months for people to listen to it, then we can go out and everyone knows all the songs. That’s more fun.

Your album also features Oli Sykes (Bring Me the Horizon) and Jon Green (Deez Nuts), how did you get those guys on board?

Sam: It features Drew from Stray from the Path as well. We toured with Jon in America and we just loved the dude so much he had to be on the record.

Tom: He has so much much enthusiasm about our band and is so supportive. And we all love the guy.

Sam: We were listening to ‘These Colours Don’t Run’ as a demo that had the heavy bit at the end, and I went outside with Jon afterwards and said, “your voice would be sick on the end of that”, and the whole tour he kept saying, “you won’t let me do it, you won’t let me do it,” and then his part is just so heavy. And Oli, we’ve known him for years and I sang on [Bring Me the Horizon album] ‘Suicide Season’, and we were trying to find a record to get him on and this was the right one. Drew as well we’ve known for years, he’s one of my favourite vocalists so to get him on the record is amazing.

Tom: It’s cool to be able to collaborate with friends who you have mutual respect for.

Is there anyone you’d want to collaborate with?

Tom: We’ve had Andrew from Comeback Kid, Greg from Dillinger Escape Plan, then these guys on this record. But I don’t know, there isn’t anyone that I’m like “god, I’d love to have them on this record”. I’d say someone like Chino Moreno from Deftones, but all the people that have sung with us support our band and have an active interest in the music we write, so if we got someone who didn’t have a clue who we are it would miss the point.

Sam: One of my favourite singers at the minute is James from Deaf Havana. I think if we were going to get anyone else it would be him – he’s so talented. He’s like Jon, we all love him as a dude.

‘Daybreaker’ is the last record to feature Tim, how’s it been since his departure?

Tom: We haven’t done an awful lot since. We had a practice yesterday with Josh who’s filling in and he nailed it so that was easy. We’re just getting on with it, you know? It’s always difficult when someone leaves a band they’ve been in for so long, but it’s not the end of the world. We all live in the south coast round Brighton, but he left a while ago to live in London, so even when he was still in the band we didn’t see him much when we weren’t on tour. When we go home we all go our separate ways a lot of the time anyway, but he’s doing a new band and I understand it’s going quite well.

You released ‘Devil’s Island’ as a single last year and the video features footage from the London riots, what’s your opinion of the social situation a year on?

Tom: Obviously there’s no riots going on but that doesn’t mean the underlying causes aren’t still there. I think as long as we have any sort of capitalist system in any society there’s going to be inequality. The people at the bottom who have fallen off the cut who haven’t got lucky or haven’t been given the opportunities that other people might have received, I think it can come down to things like race, sadly. So the problems are still there they will probably not be addressed. Things aren’t great.

Did you hear we came second to last in Eurovision yesterday?

Tom: Does that mean we’re the second worst country at making shit music? So we’re the second best at making good music? I’d like to think that might work.

But would you guys ever enter Eurovision?

Sam: No.

Tom: Not even as a joke. I have zero interest in all of that.

Finally, have you heard the world is ending at the end of the year?

Tom: I’ve heard about it yeah, but they’ve found out that the Mayan calendar is wrong and it started at a different point, so the year 2012 isn’t this year 2012.

If the world did end, what would be the last thing you’d do?

Tom: Probably just get together with loved ones and have a drink or something.

Sam: Have a drink, probably have a few cigarettes – it’s not going to make any difference is it? If there’s any drugs around probably take a load of them as well.

Tom: I’d probably try to find some DMT. Just seriously, seriously trip on DMT.

Sam: Then when the world actually ends you’d be tripping so hard.

Tom: When you die, DMT is naturally released in your brain so it’s a double dose. That’s how I’d do it.

Sam: The world’s ended, but you’re still tripping out.

‘Daybreaker’ is out now on Century Media records.

 

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.

 

Hadouken! / September and October 2009 UK Tour

 
By on Thursday, 23rd July 2009 at 11:59 am
 

Hadouken! have announced a string of tour dates for September and early October. Catch them at the below tour dates:

Tuesday 22nd September 2009 – Derby Students Union – The Academy
Wednesday 23rd September 2009 – Manchester Moho Live
Friday 25th September 2009 – Liverpool O2 Academy
Saturday 26th September 2009 – Preston 53 Degrees
Sunday 27th September 2009 – Norwich Waterfront
Tuesday 29th September 2009 – Hertfordshire University The Forum
Wednesday 30th September 2009 – Leeds University Stylus
Saturday 3rd October 2009 – Birmingham Custard Factory
Sunday 4th October 2009 – Sheffield University – The Foundry

 
 
 

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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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