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Norwich Sound and Vision 2015: Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Thursday, 15th October 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

After a fantastic lineup of bands on the first night of Norwich Sound and Vision 2015 Thursday, I was raring to go for another round on Friday. Of all the artists to appear at the event in East Anglia, the one I wanted to see most and had marked with big red asterisks on my schedule for my time there would be appearing at the Norwich Arts Centre that night, so I was very excited.

EKKAH, Hannah Lou Clark and Lonelady @ Norwich Arts Centre

Regular readers of TGTF know that I enjoy a good dance band that I can shake a tail feather to. So I was delighted to see EKKAH – made up of two Brummie girls named Rebecca Wilson and Rebekah Pennington, naturally – up first at the Arts Centre. Loudly self-described on their Facebook page as purveyors of “DOWNTOWN DISCO”, they didn’t disappoint with their colourful live presentation, which included the girls on vocals and their own instruments (Pennington on guitar and Wilson on keyboards), backed by an energetic band to give their sound added oomph that filled the venue well.

Ekkah live at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015

EKKAH’s songs have a sultriness that Donna Summer would approve of on ‘Figure It Out’. Yet there is plenty of glittery pop and r&b referencing in their music that make them totally relevant here in 2015. Even if they did a cover of ‘Forget Me Nots’ by Patrick Rushen (aka where Will Smith lifted a catchy line for ‘Men in Black’) while I was rushing out of the room to catch a glimpse and earful of my next band. They’re on tour in the UK now through November and have a bunch of festival appearances lined up, so you really have no excuse not to see them live.

A famous friend in London pointed out to me that in another life, Hannah Lou Clark was the mastermind behind FOE, a weird misfit band she fronted several years ago that both John and I adored, so no way was I missing her latest solo venture. I got a chance to see FOE perform to a packed upstairs space at LIFE club at the Great Escape 2012 during my first visit to Brighton and was reasonably impressed, so maybe my expectations were placed unreasonably high?

Hannah Lou Clark live at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015

Unless I feel moved emotionally by their music, I usually palm off the singer/songwriter artists to Carrie, because unless someone has an amazing voice or has some unique characteristics that set them apart from their contemporaries, they all start to sound the same to me after a while. Unfortunately for her, Clark played after EKKAH, so going from a full band with coloured lights and sparkly presentation to a single woman with a guitar onstage with no other backup couldn’t have provided more contrast. She had local support in the audience, having released her ‘Silent Type’ EP last year on Norwich label Gravy Records, whom she thanked and then got whoops of cheers in response. ‘Kids in Heat’, which appears on the EP, was a good effort live, though I couldn’t help wondering that if the volume was louder and/or she had a full backing band behind her, the effect would have been that more arresting. Guess we’ll see where she goes with it.

In London just days before, I was asked by a radio presenter mate of mine who I was most excited to see at Norwich Sound and Vision. “LoneLady. I was so upset when she pulled out of Live at Leeds.” “Was there an explanation of why? Hmm, well, she’s a fragile flower…” That isn’t how I pictured Julie Ann Campbell from Manchester at all. So I have to admit I was happy to be right, when I finally saw her onstage at the Arts Centre wielding a guitar, wearing in a dark jumper with what appeared to be a Sesame Street-themed alphabet jumper and “BEAT” emblazoned on it in coloured letters. Ha!

Lonelady live at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015

I had several conversations in Austin this year with male electronic artists and how there are so few female ones that have been able to rise above and become prominent on the scene. Just by name, ‘LoneLady’ seems to evoke this disparate nature, that what she is does is different and unique, separate from everyone and everything else, and this difference is refreshing. The unrelenting beats of current radio single ‘Silvering’, with its staccatoed guitar notes, couldn’t be beat (no pun intended), while the funk of the earworm that is ‘Groove It Out’ never lets up either, which worked well to get punters moving under the cover of darkness. I didn’t leave disappointed.

PINS, Beach Baby and Black Honey @ The Mash Tun

I’ve never been a fan of PINS. When their star first started to rise, I had a listen to their early stuff and was nonplussed by it. Okay, so it’s lo-fi with guitars, and it’s nothing special. What exactly wasn’t I getting? The clue probably was that it was the kids who were responding to their music, as it completely passed me by. Or at least now I can say I think I was searching too hard and looking for the wrong thing in them. When I finally saw a whole set by them in Norwich, it finally clicked for me like it had when I saw the Vaccines play live in DC 2 years ago.

PINS live at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015

While there’s an attempt at aloofness on the lyrical delivery on one of their earlier hits ‘Girls Like Us’ and more recent song ‘Young Girls’ (gee, notice a trend?), this isn’t the kind of music you should be taking a magnifying glass to, or to have some deep emotional bond to either. It’s the kind of music you jump up and down with your friends when the band invite you onstage to do so, which several very excited fans – both girls and boys – got to do with much glee. If you can leave your pretensions behind at the door, you can have a pretty good time getting drawn into the world these girls have created. (You might not even have a choice: I was invited by their lead singer to stand close to her while they performed, but I got away with not doing so as I was taking notes!)

Continuing the fun at the Mash Tun were London band Beach Baby, who are currently in New York this week. This should tell you something about the hype behind them; until I saw them on the bill for Norwich Sound and Vision, I’d never heard of them but apparently their cool factor must be up to 11 if they’ve already made it out over here for CMJ, including two shows at Baby’s All Right, aka where the most hyped UK bands always seem to land first when they come stateside (Glass Animals would have played their first American gig proper there last May if Dave Bayley hadn’t fallen ill).

Beach Baby live at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015

As you might rightly guess from their band name, their sound is pretty surf-y, with plenty fanciful guitar work and a disaffected vocal suggesting they’re so cool, they’re over themselves already. I suppose this is a good way to think, to be egoless, as they already have two massive (drunk) fans in Norwich: danced like no-one was watching, the pair stood near the singer and kept yelling “mega!” at him all night. To his credit, the band’s singer took this ball and ran with it, humouring them, saying they were going to name their next single ‘Mega’ in their honour. Snort.

My final band of Friday night were initially another mystery to me too, but they turned out to be so much more than I had expected. Although they’ve been trying to maintain an aura of anonymity in a way similar to what Mancunian recluses WU LYF were doing back in the day, after their appearance in Norwich, Black Honey can hide no longer. The Brighton group have that scuzzy, lo-fi sound that is all the rage these days with the indie kids. But the difference with this band over many others of the same genre – even PINS can’t compete on this level, I don’t think – is the charisma of their blonde, bass-playing frontman Izzy B. Phillips.

The way she talked to the crowd, it suggests she doesn’t really give a monkey’s, which is subversive in a Johnny Rotten kind of way, but it’s also oddly endearing. I don’t think it’s an act; when she told the audience they had new t-shirts for their current tour and they were selling them after they got offstage, she reminded everyone that, “you know, we need to eat.” Within the confines of lo-fi, the elements of psych and surf rock are there, and I can even hear a bit of No Doubt and Wolf Alice when Phillips puts her guard down long enough to expose her softer side, if only briefly. Oh boy, did the kids go mental over Black Honey, cheering and screaming for them after every song. If their first reception in Norwich is anything to go by, this band has got it in the bag.

Oh, and they also have a stage prop (unfortunately, I did not get a photo of him). A lawn flamingo, oddly named Jerry. You work that one out. Poor thing almost got his head bashed in by one of their guitarists, overexcited by the gig. Hope they have a spare…

 

Live at Leeds 2015: Editor Mary’s Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Thursday, 7th May 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Part 1 of my Live at Leeds coverage is this way. For more of my photos from the event, check out my Flickr.

After the highs achieved and all before the 5 o’clock hour at Live at Leeds 2015, I suppose it was inevitable that there would be some kind of letdown ahead. Any music writer will try and map out a reasonable festival schedule that doesn’t have you running yourself ragged, but that too is an inevitable part of the festival experience for us, whether we’re in Austin, New York, Sydney, Liverpool or Brighton. However, the one thing you can never really plan for technical difficulties or cancellations.

There was no mention at all on her Facebook page – and the complete lack of a Twitter account didn’t help either; take note, bands: your fans really do want to know if you’ve decided to pull out of a major event – so it was with much disappointment to learn at the press area Saturday morning that Lonelady, the only show I had pencilled in at the Belgrave Music Hall and the main electronic draw for me all day, had been replaced by someone else. I will say that the sting was slightly taken off by the Patty Smith’s Dirty Burgers Chris and I had eaten there for lunch, as they were without a doubt some of the most delicious burgers I’ve ever had.

In my mind, it was to be left to Worcestershire’s astronomyy to pick up Lonelady’s slack and bring out the beats. I will say first that I have no idea about all the specs and details it takes to run a music venue, but the HiFi on Central Road certainly upset a whole lot of people Saturday in Leeds. What should have been a huge celebration of all things electro and soul in their basement venue turned into a massive problem, which I should have guessed when I ran from the Academy down to the club and astronomy hadn’t even started performing yet. After waiting probably an additional half hour after his appointed starting time, venue staff announced astronomyy would not be going on at all. Boos and jeering began and sadly, it would not be the last of such at the HiFi.

I used the downtime to visit with my Wakefield friend Matt Abbott, a friend of mine who formerly made a name for himself in music as the wordsmith behind Skint and Demoralised, is now a spoken word artist, performing as part of A Firm of Poets, who were at the featured lineup at the Black Swan, part of the Fringe portion of Live at Leeds. I mention the Fringe, as even if you’re skint (no pun intended) or don’t fancy paying for a wristband to Live at Leeds proper, there is still plenty on in town during the weekend that’s free and open to the public if you fancy it.

After we said our goodbyes, I thought it would be a good idea for me to head up to A Nation of Shopkeepers to see what the fuss was about BAD//DREEMS. I have pretty bad claustrophobia – I famously requested my biology midterm exam seat assignment in a university lecture hall be changed one semester, as I had been given a desk directly next to a wall – so this turned out to not be ideal for me at all; the place was packed, which was great, but after I had successfully passed the event bouncer who let me into the place, I found myself pinned in from all sides from people either trying to get drinks from the bar or those who refused to be kind and to make way for anyone else.

I suppose it’s your right to be territorial if you’ve gotten to a venue early and wish to stay, but some people were getting very tetchy and unhappy and it got to the point where I felt like I was going to faint and I had to leave. I did hear BAD//DREEMS’ music through a window outside and I very much enjoyed the guitar rock I did hear. If anything, the crammed in like sardines atmosphere suggests that the people of Leeds were very keen on seeing and hearing the Aussie band play, which is really fantastic for a band so far away from home. They’ll be in Sheffield tonight (the 7th of May) at the Rocking Chair, and I hope I get out of the airport quick enough to see them.

A return to the HiFi to see electro soul duo Honne and their full band setup including a bass player, drummer and a backing singer was worth the wait. However, because of the delays introduced by the astronomyy set that never materialised, the entire day’s lineup was delayed, causing some already drunk by then Yorkshire youths to start acting up, shouting insults in Honne’s direction. I feared a riot , which wouldn’t have been great since the HiFi space is in a basement, so you’ve really got nowhere to run.

Thankfully, they were able to get their act together (literally) and played a truncated yet satisfying set, including the Hype Machine favourite ‘Warm on a Cold Night’, which I imagine will be the song all of their fans will request for years to come. The equally soulful ‘All in the Value’ was another set highlight. Seek out their just released this week EP ‘Coastal Love’ on their own Tatemae Recordings.

As I was stood down the front for Honne, I couldn’t help but fret that I really should have left in the middle of their set to get to Leeds Town Hall for Dutch Uncles, who released their third album ‘O Shudder’ in February. If I’m entirely honest, I was hoping for an appearance of Muncan alongside frontman Duncan Wallis for the track ‘Decided Knowledge’. While I was fretting, I was scanning Twitter to see if there was any point to head there, figuring that the Cribs’ appearance later in the evening likely meant there’d be a massive queue for the hometown boys. Someone had posted a photo of the queue already forming hours ahead of the Cribs’ set, so I skipped them in favour of food, which is a necessary part of festival life, even if you have to force yourself to eat!

Trudging back up to A Nation of Shopkeepers, I arrived at the venue in the middle of a set by all-girl group Jagaara from North London. Punters were gushing over their music, which doesn’t sound all that unique to me: guitars, electronics, female voices, this is well-trod upon ground, folks. I guess I’ll have to investigate them more to form an educated opinion.

I was really at Shopkeepers for Boxed In, whose appearance at Blackjack London and AIM’s Friday night showcase at SXSW 2015 was super fun. I, along with Boxed In mastermind Oli Bayston, were about to be bowled over by the reception in Leeds. I spoke to several people in the audience prior to their set and they all said they had Boxed In’s debut album released last year and couldn’t wait to see the band perform. (Bayston and co. weren’t supposed to be my last band of Live at Leeds; I had intended to stay for the last band Real Lies. But due to technical difficulties at the venue and nearly an hour of waiting after Boxed In, getting my ears pummeled by squeals from the speakers that weren’t supposed to happen and no actual music, I called it a night.)

Running just a mere 5 minutes behind schedule, as soon as Bayston played his first keyboard note, the crowd turned the place into a vibrant dance party. The irrepressible rhythm of ‘Foot of the Hill’ encouraged the ladies to my right to do the dance equivalent of Peter Crouch’s robot moves, arms and legs flailing; ‘Mystery’, the Boxed In radio hit everyone was waiting for caused everyone to shake their tail feather.

As someone who spends a good part of her time trying to promote dance music as a fellow fan, to be able to witness such a spectacle and with so many people enjoying themselves watching a electropop act was equal parts validating and exciting. Fantastic. What a wonderful way to end my first Live at Leeds experience. Fingers crossed I will return next year!

 

Live at Leeds 2015 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets

 
By on Thursday, 2nd April 2015 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: as with all of festival previews, the information we post here on TGTF on Live at Leeds is current at the time of posting, but we encourage you to check in at the Live at Leeds 2015 official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Wristbands for the festivities in Leeds on Saturday the 2nd of May are still available at the bargain price of £27.50. More information on where you can purchase your tickets in person or online is available here.

Under top secret cover earlier this week, TGTF were given the Live at Leeds 2015 band schedule before its official release this morning. We’ve had a read through of the massive schedule, and in this post, editor Mary Chang offers her best bets for the festival in this Live at Leeds 2015 preview post.

Get Inuit
Eskimoes aren’t known to be all that musical or quirky, so imagine my surprise when Kent’s Get Inuit was both. They have a single called ‘Dress of Bubble Wrap’, for god’s sakes. And it’s amazing in its pop brilliance. Like your indie pop / rock a little off-kilter with loads of great guitars and titles like ‘Cutie Pie I’m Bloated’? (I’m not kidding.) This is the band for you.

Get Inuit perform at the Key Club at 3 PM. Past TGTF coverage on the band is this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__wF1ciSmxs[/youtube]

Pixel Fix
2014 was a good year for Oxford’s Pixel Fix. The indie pop trio from Oxford released their ‘Running Thin’ EP in the summer, featuring the ultra catchy ‘Lungs’ and the smooth jam ‘Change This’. In terms of touring, they got to gain many more fans supporting Cheltenham TGTF Bands to Watch success story Young Kato on their spring UK tour, and then later on in November, they were chosen for Communion Music’s New Faces tour. They might be playing an absurdly early time in the afternoon, but I view this positively: you have a better shot of figuring them into your schedule.

Pixel Fix perform at Leeds Uni Mine at 3:30 PM. Past TGTF coverage on the band is this way.

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

Stornoway
No strangers to major tours and festivals, arguably Oxford’s biggest band of the moment Stornoway come to Leeds to promote their new and third album ‘Bonxie’ (out on the 13th of April on Cooking Vinyl), their first with an outside producer (Gil Norton, who has worked with the likes of Pixies and Foo Fighters). And the results are spectacultar: early taster tracks like the reflective single ‘The Road You Didn’t Take’ and the upbeat ‘Get Low’ prove while beefing up their pop sound, they’ve been able to keep the harmonies and wittiness they’ve always been known for.

Stornoway perform at the Academy at 4 PM. Past TGTF coverage on the band is this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTN1L-eyUAk[/youtube]

Astronomyy
As an editor by trade, I’ll usually scoff at song titles and band names that are purposely misspelled. However, in my research ahead of SXSW 2015, the Worcestershire musician’s music truly impressed me and enough for me to put him on my must-see list for SXSW 2015. All was well until he broke the news to me that he wasn’t coming to Austin. (Cue sadface.) To my delight though, he’ll be in Leeds to drop his chill, surf guitar-laced, r&b infused tunes. A recent collaboration with London singer Denai Moore on the track suggests he’s poised to be the next big, in-demand, young producer in the UK.

Astronomyy performs at the Hifi at 4:45 PM.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQs9hco8HVw[/youtube]

BAD//DREEMS
Certainly winning the award for having travelled the furthest for Live at Leeds, Adelaide, Australia band BAD//DREEMS come highly recommended from many Aussies I met in Austin last month. They’re a guitar band with ‘Dumb Ideas’, out to have a good time and they want to bring you along for this loud, raucous ride. Bring marmite, I’m sure they will be wanting some. They also mentioned to me on Twitter about wanting crumbed sausages…I don’t know if Leeds has those but I guess if all else fails, bring some Greggs.

BAD//DREEMS perform at Nation of Shopkeepers at 6 PM.

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

Honne
London soul / electro duo Honne will have a reason to celebrate at the festival – just 2 days after, they’ll be releasing a new EP on their own new record label Tatemae Recordings. EP track ‘Coastal Love’ has already passed 4,500 likes on Hype Machine, and the song follows the already great success of their first track released to the wild, the super sexy ‘Warm on a Cold Night’. Get on this train before it leaves the station without you.

Honne perform at the Hifi at 6:45 PM. Past TGTF coverage on the duo is this way.

LoneLady
In Manchester, the shadows of electronic heroes New Order still haunt music makers, but it’s about bloody time for someone else to bring the city fully into the 21st century. Enter musician/producer Julie Ann Campbell, who records under the name LoneLady presumably to emphasise this is her project and hers alone, because we all know there are some very backward thinking men in this business who think it’s impossible for a woman to do all of this. (Sad, really…) ‘Groove It Out’ is getting a lot of radio airplay at the moment, and deservedly so for its ineffable catchiness and yes, sick groove.

Lonelady performs at Belgrave Music Hall at 7 PM.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlFe8yfYSHw[/youtube]

Tom Williams
Though he’s more famous for his band of brothers, their “Boat” and the three albums to their name, Tom Williams decided last year during the down time of recording of their third band LP to start writing a new set of songs fit for an acoustic setting and strike out on his own in a new stripped back endeavour. Just released last week, his debut release as a solo artist, the ‘New Guitar’ EP, places the focus back on Williams’ songwriting talent, guitar chords and the rich timbre of his voice.

Tom Williams performs at Leeds College of Music Recital Hall at 10:30 PM. For past coverage on Tom Williams and the Boat, head this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-9Q_HP9ZWc[/youtube]

New contributor Chris Donnelly’s Live at Leeds 2015 preview with his best band bets will be posting shortly here on TGTF.

 
 
 

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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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