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Luke’s Alphabet Tour – O: Orange at Islington O2 Academy – 26th July 2012

 
By on Thursday, 9th August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Remember when pop-punk was huge? About ten years ago you couldn’t move for Blink 182, Sum 41 and Offspring fans in their brightly coloured hoodies and crazy hair (as long as it abided by school rules, of course). However, we must remember that music is constantly evolving, and a decade later there simply isn’t a buzz around these fart-joke-loving pogo merchants.

That said, one of the biggest of the pop-punk bunch are playing one of the biggest venues in the UK. Although, they were supposed to be. Unfortunately, Blink 182 cancelled their appearance at London’s O2 arena so it is up to LA’s Orange to pick up the pieces at the O2 Academy Islington.

Don’t fool yourself, though. The 10,000 fans with Blink tickets have not descended on Islington this evening. In fact barely 50 members of the pop-punk contingent made it out tonight. But just with so many things in life, it’s not the size that counts…

Tonight’s crowd are as sprightly as it’s possible for a 14-year-old to be on a Thursday night. Jumping, shouting and arm flailing are must-have moves in your arsenal for an Orange gig, and certain areas of the audience possess huge stockpiles of these party weapons. The four men on stage are also packing heat for an evening of elation, but unfortunately they don’t back it up with musical prowess.

Staying at the poppier end of pop-punk, the Californian quartet are on a headline UK tour after previous success supporting the likes of Zebrahead and Bowling For Soup. Frontman Joe Dexter riles the crowd with his best Billy Joe impression and a bucketload of “whoas”, “yeahs” and “heys”, but it’s a situation of style over substance. The PG-rated performance ticks all the boxes in the foundation exam for How To Excite Already Excitable Teenagers, but it doesn’t go any deeper than the paper-thin surface hiding the mediocrity.

Dexter is the face of the band and the girls love him for it, leaning over and peering into their eyes making them weak at the knees during ‘Resist’ and ‘Hold on to Your Heart’. But the ‘Orange salute’ – also known as the OK hand gesture – is another example of shoehorning in more gimmicks to try and make themselves more appealing, and hiding the overarching dullness. Something the crowd aren’t wise to, but it’s only a matter of time before this new strand of pop-punk fizzles out before they get a glimpse of the O2 arena.

 

Live Review: Milo Greene with Family of the Year at DC9, Washington DC – 24th July 2012

 
By on Tuesday, 7th August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

In 2011, I covered this gig by the Civil Wars and was delighted by the support band. Fast forward nearly a year and that support band, Milo Greene, is now selling out venues as they travel through their own headlining tour. They made a triumphant return to Washington, DC playing to a sold out crowd at the intimate DC9 nightclub.

Starting out our night was the California-based band Family of the Year. Although they seem to fall into the current crop of folk bands, Family of the Year rocks much harder than your standard folk band. Yet, with an acoustic guitar out front, it’s got a bit of that folkish feel. I’m just happy to say that this band plays a great set from gentle, sweet tunes like ‘Heroes’ to the rocking ‘Diversity’. Playing mostly songs from their just release album ‘Loma Vista’, Joseph Keefe (guitar and vocals), Sebastian Keefe (drums), Christina Schroeter (keys), James Buckey (guitar) and Alex Walker (bass) got the crowd dancing with their bouncy, carefree songs. But it was ‘St. Croix’ that made me grin as they channeled, just for a moment, TGTF darlings Two Door Cinema Club with their “oh, oh, oh“ bit. Seriously, go listen. You will have the opportunity to see this band quite soon as they are playing Reading and Leeds on the BBC Introducing Stage. With a couple of other UK and European dates as well, I again predict good things for this band that I first saw playing support.

With the stage so tiny, I worried about how Milo Greene were going to carry out their trademark instrument shuffling. They slid into their set with ‘Cutty Love’ with one set-up and before the next song was underway, their first transition was complete: guitar to keys, keys to bass, bass to banjo. With nary a flub throughout the night, this band has clearly become very well polished during their short stint in the national public eye. Indeed, band members Robbie Arnett, Marlana Sheetz, Andrew Heringer, and Graham Fink share nearly all the instruments and vocal duties. “Four of us were lead singers in our previous projects, so we really have no focal point, no lead melody writer or lyricist. Everything is Milo,” Arnett claims. Only Curtis Marrero remains stationary at his drums.

I was thrilled to see the instrumental ‘Wooden Antlers’ was still on the set list – not many bands have the courage to have instrumentals on their albums, let alone in their live shows. Even though the album came out only a week before the gig, the crowd teemed with singalongs. The unforgettable melodies and catchy lyrics were sung back to the band, complete with harmonies from the couple next to me. Both meditative and swelling, Milo Greene’s live set sweeps you into a feel-good place that you want to go on and on.

It also seems that I was quite correct in originally tipping the song ‘1957’ as their breakthrough tune. Not only is it their first single, it’s the song they have chosen to end their set with. With supreme confidence in it, Arnett turned the mic out towards us for the ending chant “I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go, I.” With grins all around, the band watched as their creation was belted out back at them.

As the set wound down, Fink revealed that they were going to have to leave quite quickly at the end of the gig because they needed to get to New York City to set up for their ‘Late Night with David Letterman’ performance. (You can watch this performance below.) This is indeed a huge coup for a small band in America. While they do not currently have dates scheduled for the UK at this time, I won’t be surprised in the least to see them head over in the spring.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sp-FRU6YwrM[/youtube]

After the cut: the set lists.
Continue reading Live Review: Milo Greene with Family of the Year at DC9, Washington DC – 24th July 2012

 

Live Gig Videos: Bombay Bicycle Club preview new songs at New York City’s Webster Hall

 
By on Monday, 6th August 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

A fan at the sold out Bombay Bicycle Club show at New York’s Webster Hall last week filmed some of the new material the band have been airing on their current North American tour. You can watch two of the songs, ‘It’s Alright Now’ and You Carry Me’, below. One thing that is clear from these videos? Lots of percussion on the new album. Enjoy.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVafx9SvqDE[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cj6Z8V7iKt4[/youtube]

 

Luke’s Alphabet Tour: N – Nite Jewel at London XOYO – 18th July 2012

 
By on Monday, 6th August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

It’s the middle of the week and XOYO is pretty much empty. There’s the odd rogue gig-goer here and there but in the main is a desolate, dimly lit room with a smoke machine. This isn’t a negative comment toward the calibre of tonight’s headliners, but generally Londoners don’t arrive at venues until absolutely necessary – usually just in time for the bill-topper. Opening the show are the spectacularly harmonic Magic Eye who open proceedings with their ambient electronics, followed by Nicholas Krgovich‘s dreary one-man r ‘n’ b display that fails to rouse much excitement before tonight’s headliners.

Nite Jewel (the band Krgovich often samples for) drift onto the stage with an air of nonchalance and calm. The crowd has slowly grown throughout the evening but only now does it look anything resembling busy. The petite Ramona Gonzalez stands in front of her troupe, her rousing vocals every bit as powerful and operatic as Zola Jesus. The lo-fi, haunting indie has attracted a cult group of fans outside of their native America and London (especially this Shoreditch venue) heed the call.

The single ‘One Second of Love’ is laden with catchy harmonies that move the front rows, but Nite Jewel also fuse elements of post-punk, ’80s synth-pop and new wave to create their haunting sound. Unfortunately, there’s more to gripping music than taking influence and Nite Jewel struggle to truly resonate with tonight’s audience. Tracks ‘Another Horizon’ and ‘Into the Dark’ start the swaying with Kyla La Grange style downtempo whimsy, but Nite Jewel appear as nothing more than hipster bait that 99% of us probably aren’t cool enough to ‘get’. Instead what you do ‘get’ is a fairly standard showing from a band who should be capable creating more of an atmosphere to more people.

 

Live Review: A Silent Film with Anchor & Braille at Rams Head Tavern, Annapolis, MD – 23rd July 2012

 
By on Friday, 3rd August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Mark my words, A Silent Film is going to hit it big in no time at all. For whatever reason, this Oxford band has gotten some serious traction in the United States that, as of yet, eludes them in the majority of the UK. I saw them play last week at Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis, MD. It’s a bit of an odd venue choice for a band such as this, because it’s all seated. At tables. Serving dinner. In my opinion, it’s a rare gig that is suited to the dinner theatre style, but it’s the right size for many an up and coming band. Sadly, this night, I was forced to suffice with some very serious chair dancing, as I have been told by management to *sit down* here before.

Starting the night off was the side project of Anberlin lead singer Stephen Christian. Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, Anchor & Braille regaled us with songs much different from the fare offered up by Anberlin. More toned down and acoustic, Anchor & Braille allowed for the quiet passion that infuses the music. Christian moved from acoustic guitar to keys and back, but I thought the stronger songs had him sitting at the keyboard. Likewise, the music grew in strength as the set progressed with ‘In With the New’ and ‘Goes Without Saying’, both songs from their newest album being the strongest of all the songs. For only being the third gig they’ve played with this line-up, Anchor & Braille played a tight set and delighted the crowd with a sound that built to a satisfying close. The new album ‘A Quiet Life’ is out now on Tooth and Nail Records.

A Silent Film are currently touring America to support their new album ‘Sand & Snow’, which was released in June. However, this album won’t be released in the UK until next year. My interview with them from earlier this week here explains why. Several of these new songs, however, will be familiar to fans since they were in rotation at their gigs a year and a half ago, such as ‘Let Them Feel Your Heartbeat’ and ‘Reaching the Potential’.

The band have become incredibly accomplished with their performance style and stage presence. Lead singer Robert Stevenson, pleads and reaches and succeeds in making you a part of the story he tells with his words. Drawing you in, Stevenson implores, “Do you remember what you wanted to be? Do you remember how you used to feel?” And you know instantly what it was you wanted back then. Moving effortlessly from keys to guitar to mic-in-hand frontman, Stevenson easily fills the space at the front of the stage specifically left clear for him to maneuver. And strut he does, every outstretched hand, every piercing gaze into the audience connects you all the more.

‘Story songs’, as Stevenson calls them, are a favorite with the band. This is most clearly illustrated by the album’s lead single ‘Danny, Dakota & the Wishing Well’. Recently voted as the mtvU’s Freshman Video of the Week, this sweeping Grand Canyon-focused video is currently in rotation on MTV. Still focused on the center of the stage, drummer Spencer Walker is both the backbone of the band and a seriously fun drummer to watch. Playing one of his favorite live tracks, ‘Firefly at My Window’, he had the entire audience nearly bouncing out of their seats with that infectious beat. Animated as he is talented, Walker makes every attempt at stealing the show from Stevenson. But in reality, they are simply a well-oiled machine playing off each other to the delight of front row punters familiar with their repartee.

Flanking the showmen at the center of the stage are Ali Hussein (bass) and Karl Bareham (guitar) providing balance and weight. Being sat on the left, I got to experience some of the strongest bass lines I’ve heard. Songs like ‘This Stage is Your Life’ and ‘Queen of a Sad Land’ really highlight Hussein‘s skill and brilliance. Boring bass lines can make you forget a bassist is there, but not Hussein. He may have a low key presence on stage, but his influence is well evident. Karl Bareham, just as sedate in his playing style, makes the music soar. Equally happy to leave the spot light to the frontman, Bareham attacks his guitar with talented intensity. His strong presence in ‘Sleeping Pills’ remind you this is not a piano rock band, guitar is of utmost importance.

For the encore, they thrilled us with the highly-sought after b-side ‘Snowbirds’. “How pretentious are we that we only have it on vinyl?” quipped Stevenson. After another few songs, they wrapped up their set and left nearly everyone breathless for more. Luckily I get to see them play one more time before they disappear back across the Atlantic. So my advice to all of you when they do get back home, make the effort to catch one of their shows. You won’t regret it!

After the cut: A Silent Film’s set list.

Continue reading Live Review: A Silent Film with Anchor & Braille at Rams Head Tavern, Annapolis, MD – 23rd July 2012

 

Live Gig Video: The xx play ‘Angels’ for Conan O’Brien

 
By on Thursday, 2nd August 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

A short while ago, Mercury Prize-winning London trio the xx appeared on the American late night show of Conan O’Brien, where they played ‘Angels’. Watch the performance below.

You can read Braden’s assessment of this first real peek into the band’s second album, ‘Coexist’, which is out on 10 September on Young Turks, here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDjRRuHN8HI[/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 was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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