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Live Review: ONR. with CrushnPain at DC9, Washington, DC – 15th June 2018

 
By on Monday, 18th June 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: now more than ever, if you haven’t got a song that pulls the listener in and keeps their attention for more than 30 seconds, you’re sunk as an artist. On the more positive flipside of that, if you are a good songwriter and can write the kind of compelling song that stays with the listener, this talent will pay off massively in terms of getting your music paid attention to. Singer/songwriter Robert Shields, who now performs under the moniker ONR. (pronounced “honour”), is definitely one of the latter. In various projects and under various guises, he’s been quietly honing his craft, which has led to a major label signing last year, after Capitol Records industry bods heard his particularly strong demos.

It’s still early days for the Dumfries-via-Glasgow Scot and his live band: there are only a handful of ONR. singles out to date. An American tour this month, comprised of support dates with SXSW 2017 breakout American star Mondo Cozmo and their own headline dates, is, then, this continent’s first live taste of what amazing things Shields and co. can do. The support dates were announced first and I assumed I was out of luck, as the closest show to me was New York’s Mercury Lounge and on a Wednesday night. To my great excitement, headline dates were soon added, including a stop at my favourite intimate venue in the city of all, DC9, and late on a Friday night to boot.

CrushnPain Washington 2018 2

Two local acts preceded the Scottish band’s performance. My friend and I were too late to see electronic band Honest Haloway, but we arrived in time to witness one-man band CrushnPain. Looking remarkably like a bespectacled close Irish friend of mine, producer Austin Gallas looks unassuming behind two synths and a remarkably small set of controllers. Don’t judge a book by its cover: I was surprised and happy to enjoy his catchy jungle beats as he threw himself into his music. I bopped my head and moved my body to music that was better than some electronic acts I’ve seen at SXSW and The Great Escape. He rarely sang, but when he did, the vocals were dream pop variety and repetitive. To be fair, dream pop lyrics run a spectrum from ephemeral and intentionally lacking substance to floaty, yet thought-provoking. If he was shooting for the former, mission accomplished.

Recall that the first time I saw ONR. was last month at the massive Paganini Ballroom upstairs at the Old Ship Hotel. It was Friday night at The Great Escape 2018, and a massively promoted BBC Introducing showcase at that. Contrast this reception to ONR.’s shows in America, where Shields is largely unknown and without national backing. I have no doubt the Mondo Cozmo support appearances allowed him and his band the opportunity to win over audiences who might never have found his music in the first place, and these kinds of opportunities are priceless to artists debuting in new territories. The majority of acts from Britain have taken those tentative first steps in the Home of the Brave early on in their careers. Those coming to the headline shows are likely to be the true music discoverers, the open-minded people who click on the Related Artists tab in streaming services and are voracious to check out new artists who aren’t on everyone’s lips yet. These music fans are smaller in number but I’d argue they’re far more important in helping to break new artists than they are ever given credit for.

ONR. Washington June 2018 4

These were the fans who were treated to a full-scale, major club-like show in the 200-capacity DC9 Friday night. As mentioned earlier in this review, there are a precious few ONR. songs released, so I think everyone knew the set would be short. Shields and his band delivered an energetic performance, Shields as animated and bounding across the stage with gusto as he did in Brighton. Quick tempo tunes, including driving single ‘Love in Suburbia’ released on the day of the show (watch the promo video at the bottom of this post) and ‘American Gods’ released in February, gave the band quite a workout. A comparison of these to the slow burner 2017 single ‘Jericho’ highlighted the versatility and power of Shields’ voice.

They closed with ‘5 Years Time’, the combination of the vulnerability of the lyrics with the commanding instrumentation providing the ultimate showcase for the stadium-worthy bombast Shields has built into ONR.’s songs. I’m taking the strength of these early singles and this charismatic performance in DC as reliable indicators that ONR. will become a household name soon enough. Just you wait. Check out my interview with Robert Shields at The Great Escape 2018 through here. More photos from this gig are on my Flickr.

ONR Washington June 2018 1

 

Great Escape 2018 Interview: ONR.

 
By on Thursday, 7th June 2018 at 11:00 am
 

The Paginini Ballroom of the Old Ship Hotel in Brighton is one of the more atmospheric places to play during The Great Escape Festival. This is where I find myself sat next to Robert Shields, the Scottish mastermind behind the electropop act ONR. (pronounced “honour”). “I can’t remember having played a ballroom before”, he says. “My ballroom dancing days were a long time ago, so…” he quips with a grin. Shields and his band have just come offstage following their set at the BBC Introducing showcase Friday night during The Great Escape 2018. I ask him how it felt to be so high up on the stage, far above the crowd. “I loved it! I absolutely love being so high up, it brings out of your inner rock star!”

It’s good to be Shields at this very moment. Things with ONR. have moved rapidly, and even Shields himself acknowledges the flight path for him and his band has been highly unusual. “It was so bizarre because I was literally signed off the back of a couple of demos. It was the weirdest thing. There was no live show at that point, no production, no nothing. I hadn’t played a show, I didn’t have a Facebook page, it was so embryonic. Everyone really believed in these two tracks. It just went from there.

“The beauty of doing it that way is that you can give yourself time: there’s no pressure to fulfill anything, so you can take your time to cultivate the music and [ensure] the production is on spec and strategise what’s going where. So I’ve been really lucky to be able to do that as well. A lot of artists are out there chasing the next single or are on tour, so to be allowed that time has been amazing.”

ONR. at Paginini Ballroom, Great Escape 2018

How Shields describes it explains well why, at least over the last year, there’s been a minimalistic approach with ONR.’s social media channels. Everything has been monochrome. As mentioned in this SXSW 2018 Bands to Watch piece, his face wasn’t even revealed until this past February. “For us, we wanted to keep it small to begin with and very Joy Division-like, nondescript and mysterious. So hopefully, when the bigger songs start to come out and the bigger production start to evolve, then that look will evolve with it as well, and you’ll start to see colour behind it. That’s the idea, at least. I’m a big fan of the image of everything matching an artist’s evolution.” It’s a fascinating idea and something to look forward to.

Hearing the irrepressible, electronic bombast of the ONR. songs released so far – including first single ‘Jericho’, ‘Five Years Time’ and the more recent ‘American Gods’ – it comes as a major surprise that electronic was not Shields’ favoured genre until relatively recently. “It’s odd, because I’m a keys player. It’s like my thing. I’ve always used synthesisers and been into them. But I think almost because of that, I rebelled against myself for a while and got into ‘New New Wave’, like Interpol and that kind of stuff. So I came back to electronica through David Bowie’s ‘Scary Monsters’ and Gary Numan.” Bowie, he says, is his biggest musical influence, with quite the legacy to look up to.

One of the most daunting things for an electronic act to sort out is making sure the live show provides the kind of experience worthy of the music on record. Given that I felt their live performance this evening was even more powerful than the songs as they are presented and available now on streaming services, I wanted to know his philosophy towards delivering a live experience. “I like of the idea of it [of ONR.’s sound as] as being as big as a rock band. That’s the kind of upwards scale that I want to be able to have, and that totally works for that [gigs]. With the production and the recordings, you have more freedom to ebb and flow there. For a half-hour set, you really want to go in and hit people between the eyes. We’re still building it, and that will evolve again and again, and we’ll never stop evolving.” The massive stage at the Paginini Ballroom allowed for Shields as frontman to roam across its wide expanse and play to the audience, and you could tell he was massively enjoying himself the entire time.

So how did this priceless BBC Introducing slot come about? “It was great, I really didn’t expect it to be honest. It was a real bolt from the blue. We’ve been lucky to put things out. Then I heard [Vic] Galloway on BBC Radio Scotland played one of my tracks, which is amazing. From that, it just really snowballed.” To elaborate, ONR., along with acts Alacai Hartley, Mahalia and Ten Tonnes, were asked not only to appear in Brighton but in a series of shows advertised as the UK-wide tour for the Biggest Weekend UK Fringe that took place days before the second May bank holiday, culminating in key appearances bank holiday weekend. “Then a couple weeks later there was talk about this show, and this little BBC [Introducing] tour that came after, and finally we got the call that we were playing Biggest Weekend in Perth as well, so it’s five BBC Introducing shows back to back.” Shields is so humble, he’s quick to point out his luck. “I know so many incredible artists from BBC Introducing, the uploading is so insane, to have made the cut, it’s great.”

ONR. at Paginini Ballroom, Great Escape 2018

Electronic music is one of the more detail-minded of today’s genres, but Robert is well-equipped in personality to handle this. “I think people would call me a perfectionist. I would call myself a control freak, absolutely. I absolutely love being in control!” How does this go over with his bandmates, who all hail from his current hometown of Dumfries? He’s eager to give them kudos. “My band are the most patient people in the world because I am not the easy taskmaster. It’s little things. It’s not like I never turn off. I just like things to be right. With electronica, you have to be careful, it’s all triggers and timings, so you have to be on it.”

I finish our interview asking Robert what’s the biggest aspiration for success he has with ONR. “It’s hard. When I was a kid, I would have said absolute superstardom. No questions asked. All the time, like the Flintstones, it’s always playing somewhere. A few years ago, I probably would have said that, too.” He laughs, probably at the folly of youth, then turns to a slightly more serious tone. “But to be honest, we want to get it [their music] to people who love it. See crowd reactions, and see people really connect to the music. It does mean a hell of a lot, it really does. You can see it. So to take it out to different places is a massive ambition of mine, to bring it to different countries, and hopefully it connects the same way there as it does elsewhere. That would be the big thing.”

What’s eminently clear is Shields’ eye on the prize and his willingness to work hard to get where every musician dreams of. “I have no lack of ambition, I totally want to push it as far as I can. I’ve been doing this for a while. I feel like I’ve served the apprenticeship, I’m ready to go. It feels good.” We here at TGTF are right behind him.

Robert Shields and ONR. begin their string of North American appearances tomorrow night, the 8th of June, with a headline show at San Francisco PopScene. The next ONR. single ‘Love in Suburbia’ will be out on the 15th of June, the same day they’ll be in Washington, DC at DC9 (yes!).

 

Great Escape 2018: Day 2 Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Wednesday, 6th June 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

It was good to take a breather with my friends the Orielles because I was about to embark on the hardest walking period lined up in my Great Escape 2018 schedule. Thanks to Google Maps, the walks I took were more picturesque and slightly less bad than I had expected. Discovering a leafy, pedestrian-only lane on the way to the Green Door Store made walking up and back down down to the sea a total of four times made me forgot how much my feet were burning. Almost.

I was eager to see Declan Welsh and the Decadent West in action. While there’s been a proliferation of politically-minded punk bands in England, if the same thing is happening in Scotland, I’ve clearly missed it. Like my good friend Matt Abbott, East Kilbride’s Welsh is a poet at heart, having taken up the causes of socialism and supporting Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn. Just as one might expect, he began their set alone with a poem dripping with emotion and vitriol. Welsh later made the audience laugh with his best attempts in Spanish language delivered with a Scottish accent before he and his band launched into ‘No Pasaran’. Introducing the LGBT and sexual liberation anthem ‘Do What You Want’ as “a sex-positive song”, Welsh sent the audience into a bit of an amusing tizzy, the tune beginning slowly before becoming a wailing guitar number.

Declan Welsh and the Decadent West Friday the Great Escape 2018 2

Coincidentally, the next act I would see was also Scottish. I noticed this year’s Great Escape Festival was largely devoid of electronic acts. If this trend continues, it makes me less likely to attend in the future. ONR. (pronounced “honour”), Robert Shields with this band, was on the top of my list of acts to see at SXSW 2018 (see preview here), so when he cancelled his band’s appearances last minute, disappointment doesn’t even begin to cover it. When I saw ONR. added to the BBC Introducing bill Friday night, it felt like a reprieve. Back down at the Old Ship Hotel, a mass exodus from its upstairs Paginini Ballroom followed the set by the showcase opener Leicestershire soul singer Mahalia, spilling out onto Ship Street. Yes, I arrived too early. No way was I going to miss this.

The disappointment of ONR.’s absence in Austin was wiped away, evaporated by the powerful spectacle of this very performance Friday night. Having seen The 1975 here in 2013, right before they hit it big, it’s an important venue to me, a place where British acts play before they become musical giants. You’re inside the Old Ship Hotel, a Grade II-listed building built in 1559, watching a band perform on what is probably a centuries-old stage but with 21st century equipment and lighting. For the bands, it must be like performing in an old church, history speaking from its walls and feeling history being made while onstage. Perhaps I’m being dramatic, but it does feel extraordinarily different to see a band here than any other place in Brighton.

ONR Friday the Great Escape 2018 2

Under a dizzying light display, Shields followed his bandmates out on stage to deliver a commanding performance worthy of the bombastic pop hits he’s written under the ONR. name. The power of the beats and synth-driven instrumentation matched Shields’ booming vocals. 2017 debut single ‘Jericho’ is a masterclass in how to write a pop song: slow burn them with a verse, then knock ‘em up over with the muscle of the chorus. The ONR. set closed out with ‘Five Years Time’, with its anthemic, thunderous choruses. BBC Introducing describes them playing their newest single ‘American Gods’ at the recent Biggest Weekend as “stadium-ready rock”: whatever you want to call it, this is massive stuff. ONR. are currently in America, due to play shows supporting Mondo Cozmo and their own headline shows on both of our coasts over the next fortnight: all the details are through here.

Sticking with the Scottish theme and buoyed by the energy of the ONR. set, your intrepid music editor went back up the hill and back to the Green Door Store for Rascalton, another one of my festival tips. Their style of high-octane, melodic guitar punk was just the ticket, ‘Lust’ being an example of a less than 3-minute long tour de force. Seeing three Scottish acts calling Glasgow (or close) home back to back, it’s heartening to see that there’s no Glasgow ‘scene’ or specific sound, but rather musicians who are committed to writing music their way and aren’t bound by what the often clueless pundits back down in London think is hip now. I’m going to guess one of the band member’s mams was down front, wailing, dancing and waving her arms about and, well, if you can’t get excited about your son’s band doing well, you’re clearly doing it wrong.

Rascalton Friday the Great Escape 2018 2

I didn’t have the luxury of pogoing on my sore feet like her, so it was time to go back down again to the Old Ship, finally getting to see Ten Tonnes. I’d run into him earlier and he’d remembered me earlier from when I interviewed him at the Twix showcase at SXSW 2017. His recent songwriting collaboration with ex-Kaiser Chiefs Nick J. Hodgson on single ‘Lay It On Me’ left me less than enthused on what looks like a more poppy direction.

However, after seeing it live, I think I’m having a change of heart. I watched his fans go absolutely mental, dancing to this very song at the Paginini Ballroom. What do I know, eh? As he and his band performed ‘Silver Heat’ at a frenetic pace, I was transported back to that outdoor stage at Lustre Pearl on the day before the single was released when he performed it alone. The set ended up with the winsome ‘Lucy’ and its “Luc-EE! Oh oh oh oh!”s ringing in my ears. I think I’ll always prefer the more bluesy, rockabilly version of Ethan Barnett, but I will take him and his music however it comes packaged to me,

Ten Tonnes Friday the Great Escape 2018 1

At this point, I’ve been reduced to crawling up the hills of Brighton, this time to make my way to the Hope and Ruin, previously known to me as the Hope. Following queueing outside and watching a belligerent smoker almost get into a fight with one of the bouncers, I’m finally let in. The downstairs area has been turned into a tropical-looking DJ room for the Great Escape, a partly dismantled piano greeting you presumably supposed to pass for high art. Upstairs, I arrived for the last few songs by South Wales post-hardcore (what does that even mean?) band Dream State.

This would be a time when having the knowledge of by either former TGTF rock writers John Fernandez (now at the BBC) or Luke Morton (now at Metal Hammer) would have come in handy. I was reminded reading one time on TWLOHA about how despite the aggro look of the bands and their fans, the hard rock community is, surprisingly, one of inclusion and support. Packed in the room like sardines, you could feel the crowd shift, everyone craning their necks to watch female lead singer CJ roam across the long stage, engaging with fans. While I sincerely wondered how CJ wasn’t ripping her vocal cords as she screamed, her emotion, backed by her bandmantes’ blistering rock was palpable, fans shouting for more. I fully admit screamo and emo et al. aren’t specialties of mine, but any good music critic worth his/her salt knows when they’ve witnessed heart and passion.

Braden and I were reunited when he joined up with me to watch Cassia (see my tip on them prior to Live at Leeds 2018 through here). As mentioned previously, there were PA issues at the Killing Moon and LAB Records showcase at the Hub that day. The Macclesfield band with huge hype already behind them were due to open that showcase. As you might expect, this show at the Hope and Ruin, their only other appearance they had scheduled in Brighton during the Great Escape, was rammed with their fans disappointed in the earlier set.

Cassia Friday the Great Escape 2018

I’m going to guess that if you’ve heard of Macclesfield, it’s probably because of Joy Division or Peter Crouch. Cassia seem poised to change that. I don’t think anyone would associate the North of England with tropical music, so their brand of trop-pop sets them apart from virtually everyone else, save perhaps London’s Kawala, who were also in town for the Great Escape. With no windows to prove we were actually in Brighton, Cassia’s sunny, guitar-driven tunes brought us to an island paradise we didn’t know we needed. Easy to consume light fare ‘Out of Her Mind’ was perfect to end a long day of walking and bands.

For more of my photos from Friday at the Great Escape 2018, go here.

 

The Great Escape 2018 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets

 
By on Tuesday, 8th May 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: as we always recommend in all of TGTF’s festival previews, the information we post here on The Great Escape 2018 taking place next week is current at the time of posting. We strongly encourage you to check in at the festival’s official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Three-day wristbands for the event in Brighton 17-19 May are still available at the price of £70 plus handling if purchased online; delegate passes that include both access to the daytime industry convention and all music showcases are available at the price of £275 plus handling. More information on where you can purchase your tickets in person or online is available from The Great Escape official Web site. If you’d like to read my previous, more general preview of The Great Escape, it’s through here.

As mentioned in part 1 of my Live at Leeds best bets preview, and alluded to in part 2 as well, there are quite a few acts that appeared this past weekend at Live at Leeds and/or Liverpool Sound City that will also be appearing next week at the Great Escape in Brighton.

Bad Sounds (Friday 11:15 PM, Horatio’s)
Black Futures (Thursday, 9:15 PM, Green Door Store)
Boy Azooga (Thursday, 12:00 PM, Latest Music Bar; 2:00 PM, Dr. Martens stage; 9:15 PM, Patterns upstairs)
Cassia (Friday, 12:45 AM, The Hope and Ruin)
Hollow Coves (Thursday, 12:45 PM, Komedia Studio Bar and 10:15 PM, The Old Courtroom)
Knightstown (Saturday, 12:15 PM, One Church)
Lady Bird (Friday, 2:15 PM, Dr. Martens stage and 10:15 PM, The Walrus)
Rascalton (Thursday, 1:00 PM, Horatio’s [Showcasing Scotland stage]; Friday, 10:15 PM, Green Door Store)
SHEAFS (Saturday, 8:45 PM, The Hope and Ruin)
The Ninth Wave (Thursday, 3:30 PM, Horatio’s [Showcasing Scotland stage]; Friday, 9:30 PM, The Haunt; Saturday, 10:15 PM, Marine Room [Harbour Hotel])
The Orielles (Thursday, 2:30 PM, Beach House and 9:00 PM, Horatio’s)
Tors (Friday, 6:45 PM, St. Mary’s Church)
Vistas (Saturday, 2:30 PM, The Hope and Ruin)
whenyoung (Thursday, 6:30 PM, The Haunt)
Zapatilla (Thursday, 10:15 PM, The Walrus)

SXSW 2018 (or earlier) alums: Here’s a list of artists we either saw in March in Austin (or even in previous years) who we enjoyed AND/OR we previewed ahead of the festival -AND- will also be appearing at the Great Escape. They’re sorted by alphabetical order, as some of the acts who are bigger draws are appearing more than once, so organising the list by first appearance may not necessarily be useful to you.

All Our Exes Live in Texas (Thursday, 12:10 PM, Komedia [Aussie BBQ stage]; Thursday, 10:15 PM, Latest Music Bar)
Dermot Kennedy (Thursday, 9:00 PM, Wagner Hall; Friday, 4:00 PM, Beach Club; Friday, 10:00 PM, Sallis Benney Theatre)
Dream Wife (Thursday, 8:45 PM, Beach Club)
Her’s (Friday, 1:00 PM, Beach House; Friday, 10:15 PM, Horatio’s)
IDLES (Thursday 10:00 PM, Beach Club)
Jealous of the Birds (Thursday, 9:15 PM, Bau Wow; Friday, 2:00 PM, Jubilee Square)
Jerry Williams (Thursday, 7:45 PM, Hope and Ruin; Saturday, 12:30 PM, Komedia Studio Bar)
Joshua Burnside (Friday, 1:30 PM, Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar [Output Belfast stage]; Saturday, 12:15 PM, Latest Music Bar)
Let’s Eat Grandma (Friday, 9:15 PM, The Old Market)
Lo Moon (Friday, 8:30 PM, Coalition)
Mansionair (Thursday, 9:15 PM, Komedia)
ONR (Friday, 8:30 PM, Paganini Ballroom at the Old Ship Hotel [BBC Introducing stage])
Pale Waves (Thursday, 7:00 PM, Wagner Hall; Thursday, 11:00 PM, Horatio’s)
Rachel K Collier (Friday, 12:20 PM, Latest Music Bar [Horizons / Gorwelion showcase)
Sam Fender (Friday, 2:30 PM, Patterns upstairs; Friday, 8:00 PM, Sallis Benney Theatre; Saturday, 1:30 PM, Komedia Studio Bar)
Stella Donnelly (Thursday, 8:15 PM, Komedia; Friday, 7:45 PM, Unitarian Church; Saturday, 1:20 PM, Dr. Martens stage)
Superorganism (Friday, 10:15 PM, The Old Market)
Ten Tonnes (Friday, 6:30 PM, Coalition; Friday, 10:45 PM, Paginini Ballroom at the Old Ship Hotel [BBC Introducing stage])
The Homesick (Friday, 2:30 PM, Komedia Studio Bar; Saturday, 10:15 PM, Green Door Store)
The Spook School (Thursday, 12:15 PM, Horatio’s [Showcasing Scotland stage]; Saturday, 8:30 PM Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar)
TOUTS (Thursday, 8:15 PM, Patterns upstairs; Friday, 3:30 PM, Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar)

::gasps:: Okay, so now that we’ve gotten all those shining stars with loads of potential out of the way, I’m going to focus on five additional acts in this post. I’ve chosen those from the pool of acts appearing at The Great Escape but who did not appear at Live at Leeds last Saturday.

Basement Revolver (indie rock / lo-fi; Hamilton, Canada; 2:15 PM, Green Door Store; 6:15 PM, Patterns upstairs)
One of the upshots of attending The Great Escape is that it has arguably the most international line-up of any emerging music festival in the UK. Female-fronted Basement Revolver is one of a handful of acts having travelled thousands of miles to Brighton, besides the Aussies, of course. Bringing their reverb-heavy guitar chords and the sweet voice of Chrisy Hurn, they’ll have two chances on Thursday to wow Brighton crowds.

CRIMER (synthpop / dance; Switzerland; Thursday, 10:15 PM, Bau Wow; Friday, 1:30 PM, Bau Wow)
You a fan of Depeche Mode’s beats and Dave Gahan’s sultry drawl? I’m gonna put it out there and say you’re gonna love CRIMER from the Continent. The Great Escape blurb presumably supplied by him describes his look as pure boyband, but don’t let his hair parting put you off. Seems a bit strange that they have him on early Friday afternoon (I’d suggest you see him on the Thursday night instead) but hey, maybe he can turn Bau Wow into a sweaty disco before the 2 o’clock hour. Wait and see!

Declan Welsh and the Decadent West (punk; Glasgow; Friday, 12:30 PM, One Church and 7:15 PM, Green Door Store; 9:15 PM, Marine Room [Harbour Hotel])
I think it’s come time in this list to bring in something more subversive. I guess I don’t think of Glasgow as being very punk: perhaps it’s because both times I’ve visited, everyone’s been super nice to me, including the very large man with a very large ginger beard who shared a table with me at Nice and Sleazys. But I digress. Quoting their TGE bio directly, “Donald Trump and Theresa May watch out! The Revolution will be well dressed and speaking in Glaswegian.” RAWR.

Franc Moody (funk / dance; London; Friday, 2:40 PM, Beach House)
Not a guy from France, phew! No, Franc Moody is a London collective bringing da funk and da dance to Brighton’s seaside. Apparently they have been doing this for a while, in so-called ‘infamous’ (::giggles thinking of Three Amigos:: ) warehouse parties in Tottenham. Friday afternoon at TGE is oddly full of dance acts, so I can only hope that no matter what the weather, Franc Moody (and everyone else for that matter) can manage to get bodies bumpin’ before official wine o’clock.

Saint Raymond (pop; Nottingham; Thursday, 3:30 PM, Marine Room [Harbour Hotel])
This singer/songwriter has already been out on the road with the likes of Gabrielle Aplin, Ed Sheeran and HAIM, so it shouldn’t come as much surprise that Callum Burrows’ style of music is firmly in the pop genre. Burrows blends a synth-driven ‘80s sound with feel good pop lyrics. Apparently in the early days back home in Notts, lazy journos compared him to local acts Jake Bugg and Dog is Dead. No more.

 

Live at Leeds 2018 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets (part 1)

 
By on Monday, 30th April 2018 at 11:00 am
 

This year’s Live at Leeds 2018 best bets preview will be longer than past years because a lot of the acts (more than in past years, I reckon!) will also appear at Liverpool Sound City or The Great Escape, or both. As a result, I listened to ever band on the Live at Leeds schedule, then cross-referenced the lists so you, the music discoverer, can find them at another event if applicable. The Great Escape will take place in Brighton in 2 weeks’ time, and I am planning to post a Great Escape-specific best bets that will pick up anyone exemplary that I wouldn’t have written about here if they aren’t appearing in Leeds. Hope that all makes sense! If you’d like to read my previous, more general preview on Live at Leeds 2018, follow this link.

Please note: as we always recommend in all of TGTF’s festival previews, the information we post here on Live at Leeds 2018 is current at the time of posting. We strongly encourage you to check in at the Live at Leeds 2018 official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Wristbands for the event in Leeds this Saturday, the 5th of May are still available at the bargain price of £36 plus handling if purchased online; early bird and VIP tickets are now sold out. More information on where you can purchase your tickets in person or online is available here.

SXSW 2018 (or earlier) alums: Here’s a list of artists we either saw last month in Austin (or even in previous years) who we enjoyed AND/OR we previewed ahead of the festival -AND- will also be appearing at Live at Leeds this coming Saturday. For your convenience, I’ve listed them in order of appearance on the day so you can slot them into your growing schedule.

IDLES (12:00 PM, Wardrobe [Dr. Martens stage])
Superorganism (2:45 PM, Stylus [The Independent stage])
ONR (5:00 PM, Lending Room)
The RPMs (5:00 PM, A Nation of Shopkeepers [Too Many Blogs stage])
Dermot Kennedy (6:00 PM, Academy [Leeds Festival stage])
Sam Fender (6:15 PM, Stylus [The Independent stage])
Stella Donnelly (7:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])
TOUTS (7:00 PM, A Nation of Shopkeepers [Too Many Blogs stage])
Fizzy Blood (7:15 PM, Key Club)
Spring King (7:15 PM, Leeds Beckett main stage)
Ten Tonnes (7:30 PM, Leeds Church, Dork stage)
Yak (8:30 PM, Wardrobe [Dr. Martens stage])
Blaenavon (8:45 PM, Stylus [The Independent stage])
Her’s (9:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])
The Vaccines (9:00 PM, Academy [Leeds Festival stage])
Wildwood Kin (9:00 PM, Leeds International Spiegeltent)
The Xcerts (9:30 PM, Key Club)
Pale Waves (11:15 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])

Apollo Junction (electropop; Leeds; 12:00 PM, Trinity stage)
This band from North Yorkshire have been knocking around for the last 6 years with their brand of electropop and somehow, I have only discovered them now. Precious little is available online about them but according to this article, they enjoy Yorkshire Tea and fat rascals at Betty’s, which wins them bonus points in my book. Check them out before an A&R stumbles on them and they get whisked off to bigger venues.

The Orielles (garage rock; Halifax; 12:00 PM, Holy Trinity Church, CLASH stage)
We’ve featured The Orielles over the last 5 years on TGTF, so you’re probably wondering why would I include them here. They released their debut album ‘Silver Dollar Moment’ in February on Heavenly Recordings, and the LP has received accolades, including from The Guardian (“this album is a masterclass in how to produce guitar music that feels anything but futile: by making it specific, strange and superior to much of what’s come before.”). We knew them before they was and now you can enjoy them as a special guest at Live at Leeds. NB: They will also be appearing at Liverpool Sound City later on Saturday at the District and The Great Escape in a fortnight’s time, performing twice on Thursday the 17th of May.

SHEAFS (rock; 1:00 PM, Hyde Park Social Club)
The River Sheaf flows through Sheffield, so I’d fathom a guess that this group of Sheffield Hallam University graduates named themselves after it. This is a band with that snotty punk attitude and muscular guitar rock to back it up. They’ve been selling out venues in the UK and across the Continent, and it seems this is merely the beginning for them. NB: They will be performing at The Great Escape Saturday night the 19th of May at Hope and Ruin.

Tors (folk; Devon; 1:00 PM, Chapel)
Changing gears to a more conventional singer/songwriter outfit, my ears happened upon Tors, a quartet from Devon who amIACre miles away from the region’s most famous musical export Muse. Equally adept at a cappella four-part harmony and sweeping, guitar-driven, folky soundscapes ala Fleet Foxes and Goldheart Assembly, they’re for those interested in a slower, yet richer musical experience. NB: Tors appear Friday night the 18th of May at St. Mary’s Church at The Great Escape.

The Snuts (rock; Whitburn, West Lothian; 2:15 PM, Key Club)
I imagine most bands from Scotland are asked if they are from Glasgow or Edinburgh. The Snuts are from Whitburn, West Lothian, smack dab in between the two. I reckon they must favour Glasgow, as they’ve named a song after it that’s already hit over 440,000 streams on Spotify. No wonder: they’ve got that feel good guitar rock vibe going that everyone loves. Well, most everyone, right?

Black Futures (rock / electronic; London; 3:15 PM, Key Club)
Love psych rock? Love electronic? Hate that the two genres are never together in one band? Fear no more. Black Futures from London are a duo that have somehow successfully melded the two, giving each its due. A band after my own heart. NB: Black Futures will appear at the Great Escape Thursday the 17th of May at Green Door Store.

Hollow Coves (folk; Brisbane, Australia; 4:00 PM, Leeds International Spiegeltent)
Folk duo Hollow Coves will be travelling quite a distance for Live at Leeds. They hail from the hometown of BIGSOUND, the picturesque Queensland port city of Brisbane. You can expect angelically beautiful harmonies from the acoustically inclined folk duo. NB: Hollow Coves will appear twice on Thursday the 17th of May at the Great Escape.

Knightstown (electronic; Brighton via Glasgow; 4:00 PM, Headrow House [NME stage])
In a previous life, Michael Aston was a freelance composer and the keyboardist in C Duncan’s live band. Over the last few years, he’s been making music of his own under the name Knightstown. Aston’s swirly, emotional falsetto vocals float over his electronic compositions, drawing him favourable comparisons to Jamie Woon. He’ll provide an atmospheric performance that will be in sharp contrast to most of the other performances in Leeds on Saturday. NB: He will perform Saturday the 19th of May at The Great Escape as part of the FatCat Records showcase.

The Indigo Project (indie rock; Leeds; 4:00 PM, Stylus [The Independent stage])
I always like a good local band getting the opportunity to showcase at the festival in their own hometown. The Indigo Project are also no strangers to Live at Leeds, having played the event last year. Jangly, bright guitar pop guaranteed to bring a smile to everyone’s face.

whenyoung (pop-punk; London via Limerick, Ireland; 4:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])
Pop-punk may have been borne out of the Noughties, but it’s still alive and kicking. Female-fronted whenyoung, Irish transplants in the Capital, recall the peppiness of Avril Lavigne while sitting nicely alongside acts like Dream Wife and False Advertising. NB: whenyoung are scheduled to play at the Haunt on Thursday night the 17th of May at the Great Escape.

Lady Bird (punk; Kent; 4:15 PM, Key Club)
Slaves and Drenge got the party going on political punk a few years ago, and the UK has never looked back since. With IDLES and LIFE performing at back to back SXSWs the past 2 years, it seems likely that their buddies from the South East, Lady Bird, will get an invite to Austin soon enough. Signed to fellow Kent natives Slaves’ Girl Fight Records, their future in releasing the kind of informed punk they want is bright. NB: Lady Bird appear at the Great Escape twice on Friday the 18th of May.

Tremors (synthpop; UK/French band based in London; 4:30 PM, Brudenell Social Club Community Room [DIY Neu stage])
Tremors are two Englishmen and a Frenchman from Marseille who somehow came together with the notion that they were going to meld French electropop and New Wave and they were going to do it on their own. So far, they’ve only released a series of singles, including this year’s two heart-pumping tunes, ‘Technicolour’ and ‘Broken Glass’. As an unashamed fan of synthpop in all its guises, Tremors are a unique curiosity worth your time at Live at Leeds.

Stay tuned for the next part of this preview on Live at Leeds 2018. Hopefully tomorrow!

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2018: best bets among UK electronic artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Thursday, 8th March 2018 at 11:00 am
 

In terms of the SXSW shouts this year, the field of UK representatives in electronic music is stronger than ever. For starters, despite only sending a handful of acts to Austin this year, Wales admirably has two of the most intriguing electronic acts set to appear from all from the UK. House producer and DJ Doc Daneeka, who now calls Paris home, is named after a character in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. That’s certainly worth a drink and a chat in Austin, methinks. His 1-hour mixtape ‘WALK.MAN’ has delighted dance fans with its varied textures and interesting drops. Singer and electronic artist Rachel K Collier is a rising star from the coastal town of Swansea. Through Grimes’ sharing of her own terrible experiences, we know how difficult it can be for women in the electronic genre. Collier is, then, an important inspiration to young girls everywhere who are keen on getting involved in electronic, as she proves it’s not only entirely possible for a woman to break through in this genre but you can also have fun doing it and in the way you want to.

Moving our way up to Scotland, we’ve got a trio of all-caps acts to introduce you to. I featured Dumfries-bred ONR. (pronounced “honour”; pictured at top) in his own Bands to Watch preview last week. He’s been a difficult man to unmask, literally. To be fair, this might have been his intention all along, to let his music and sounds speak for themselves so we wouldn’t get sucked into his appearance or his backstory. Needless to say, at least for myself anyway, the mystery swirling around Mister ONR. has lead to my anxious anticipation of seeing him perform at SXSW. Professional and personal partners LAPS (short for Ladies as Pimps) and all-male band LYLO are both from Glasgow, yet they couldn’t be any more different. LAPS’ 2016 EP release ‘WHO ME?’ mixes their dancehall and dub influences that sound incredibly unique coming out of Scotland’s cultural capital. LYLO, on the other hand, are a synthpop group who also revel in reverb and the occasional saxophone solo.

Moving our way around and down to the big smoke, where you’d expect a lot of electronic acts to hail from, or at least be making their first career moves from. Megan Markwick and Lily Somerville, electronic duo IDER, received a shout from SXSW last year but could not come then. So it’s really great that they’ll be making their way to Austin next week. We featured the videos for their past singles ‘Learn to Let Go’ and ‘Body Love’ on TGTF, two songs I’ll be looking forward to hear them performing. With a less shouty band name, soulful cousin duo Otzeki originally from East Anglia will also be making the journey to Texas. Earlier this week, we posted this feature on the electronic-inclined pair, who will be previewing their upcoming debut album ‘Binary Childhood’ to be released on their own label Discophorus in April. Along with three other acts, I also previewed their appearances in Austin in a brief write-up in the the Music Bloggers Guide to SXSW 2018, which you can read through here.

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2018 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook or official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

 
 
 

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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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