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Preview: Deer Shed Festival 2013 (Part 2)

 
By on Thursday, 27th June 2013 at 9:00 am
 

We’ve already previewed the extensive small- and big-kid friendly activities available at Deer Shed Festival 2013, but what of the music? Featuring full 2 days of music (Friday evening, Saturday all day, and Sunday afternoon), and a smattering of stages, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill enormo-fest, and is all the better for it. The entire card is quality, but here we run down some of the highlights of Deer Shed 2013’s music offering…

Friday night sees a clash-tastic triumvirate of triumphant talent. Edinburgh festival favourites Tubular Bells For Two take over the In The Dock stage all night – for those who haven’t heard, TBFT are Aussies Daniel Holdsworth and Aidan Roberts, who have taken it upon themselves to recreate Mike Oldfield’s multi-layered masterpiece Tubular Bells in its entirety, complete with a home-made set of the eponymous melodic percussion. An inspired booking, and a rare opportunity to catch TBFT in the fresh air.

Gaz Coombes proved with his diverse work with Supergrass that he’s one of the finest songwriters of his generation; his solo album ‘Here Come The Bombs’ superbly reinforced that reputation. He’s just put out a new double-A single: ‘One of These Days’ is a typically bittersweet string-enhanced 4 minutes of slow-burning goodness, marking an intriguing move into gentle electronica stylings; ‘Break the Silence’ is a more upbeat synth-led stomper with hints of Supergrass’ superb 2004 orphan release ‘Kiss Of Life’. Which all bodes well for the second album which is rumoured for imminent release.

In a fairer world, Gaz Coombes would be the highlight of the evening. But if Coombes’ star is still developing, Edwyn Collins’ is a full-on supernova. There’s no need to go over the old ground of his medical history (if you need the details, see here), suffice to say that Collins’ personal story is as remarkable as his music. His 2010 LP ‘Losing Sleep’ gathered my Writer’s Choice for a Mercury nomination that year; this year’s release ‘Understated’ continues his output of smart pop-soul, hinting obliquely at his trials, but mostly simply affirming the human condition in matchless, witty style. A true legend, revered warmly by industry and fans alike, and a great way to wrap up Friday night at Deer Shed.

Saturday afternoon is folky and soulful. Tynesiders and Craig Charles favourites Smoove and Turrell (John Turrell is the male voice of Charles’ Fantasy Funk Band) are perfectly timed to get the crowd into a groove; Zervas and Pepper soundtrack dreams of shimmering open plains and dusty roadhouses; To Kill a King purvey that keening, yearning folk-rock sound that has such broad appeal these days that will surely make them a highlight of the day for many.

Elsewhere, Spring Offensive bring their suave Oxonianisms to the In The Dock Stage. If you like atmospheric, emotive guitar music, and wish you had seen Radiohead live before they released ‘The Bends’, the Spring Offensive are not to be missed. Neither are The Phantom Band, whose sound genuinely defies classification. There’s detailed multi-movemented arrangements, pepperings of atonality, a touch of ‘Green’-era R.E.M., and even the hint of properly heavy guitars on occasion. Very difficult to describe, which means that they’re very clever indeed. Worth being acquainted with beforehand, but will reward the effort live.

Darwin Deez has a lot to live up to – the punditry casually bandy around names like Beck, Prince, and Hendrix whenever he’s mentioned. Yes, Deez displays a loose, carefree obscurantism that Beck would be familiar with, but there’s little evidence of the epic sweep of Prince, or indeed of Hendrix’s Stratocaster majesty. Perhaps his live show will answer the doubters. But most excitingly of all, Saturday night finds The House of Love on the main stage. Surely the most underrated band of the pre-Britpop era, The House of Love’s self-titled meisterwerk contains future echoes of The Stone Roses, James, and both Oasis and Blur, and without whose influence British pop music would surely have taken a different, and undoubtedly inferior, path. Despite such achievements, in comparison with their peers they remain relative unknowns, with founding member Guy Chadwick carving a second career fitting sash windows. The story of the band is no less remarkable than their music, featuring personal acrimony, heavy drug use, mental problems, countless spin-off side projects, and the inevitable ritual burning of banknotes – enough to fill a decent book, one would imagine. Will The House of Love find their final redemption in their reformation and release of new material? Will Deer Shed be where it all finally comes together? One waits with bated breath.

After the excitement of Saturday night, Sunday is wind-down day. The Unthanks bring to life the North-East’s history of heavy industry and hard living with ‘Songs From The Shipyards’, and band-of-the-moment Public Service Broadcasting (who we caught last month in Newcastle) offer a similarly historical yet rather more lighthearted take on this island’s history with their audiovisual tour-de-force. On the main stage, we have chilled-out ambience from AlascA, knowing ensemble wittiness from Moulettes, and the acoustic finale belongs to the avuncular King Creosote, who has a challenge on his hands to match the vertical, punch- and love-drunk ambience of last year’s Cherry Ghost set.

If it had escaped your notice, this is just part of what’s on offer at Deer Shed Festival this year. Take a look at my Part 1 for a roundup of the crazy catalogue of activities to lose yourself in. Tier three tickets are still available from from the official Web site – but probably not for much longer!

 

Luke’s Alphabet Tour – D: Django Django at London XOYO – 27th February 2012

 
By on Friday, 2nd March 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

As the sun sets over London the mid-week gig goers begin to leave their flats and head toward the vibrations. Tonight’s gig at XOYO is sold out and there is an abundance of music lovers loitering across the road hoping to attract a tout or seduce the door staff for free entry. The headliners of this jamboree are the Scotland via England indie-electro boys, Django Django. Having released their debut self-titled album last month, tickets for this subsequent tour are proving to be hot property.

Before the 800-strong crowd are treated to the electro vibes they crave, openers Omnivore Demon take a different slant on experimental. Featuring three members of Glaswegian indie rockers the Phantom Band, the collective on stage are a completely different affair by being wholly improvisational in their performance. Covering their faces in towels the band make an instant statement which is complemented by their ominous, groove-laden beats that often verges on the noise rock scene. As a trio the band don’t have a vocalist and are more of a post-rock outfit, but are less This Will Destroy You and more Lightning Bolt. The Mastodon-sized riffs, pounding drums and various squelches, bleeps and blips from the synthesiser create such a racket XOYO doesn’t know what to make of it. But it’s bloody good.

Once Omnivore Demon have finished annoying the majority of the audience, the room (well, the first few rows) comes to life after Django Django take to the stage after an excessive 30-minute interval between acts. Complete with full light show the party starts with a Kraftwerk-esque synth beat that gets the fans bopping and dancing how only a London crowd can – awkwardly. Despite London’s inherent fear of dancing at gigs, the Scottish lads give it their all and put on a five star show. Various images encircle the stage such as ‘smiley’ that was synonymous with the 90s rave scene, but 20 years on it’s comforting to know the simplicity of the image oversees the complexities of how electronica has evolved.

Despite the upbeat nature of the set, the crowd here tonight only really elevates for the big numbers. ‘Waveforms’ receives a fantastic ovation as the laser show kicks in and the stomping beat shakes the walls. There’s a slight air of early Metronomy during the instrumentals and the crowd are lapping it all up, begging for more. The highlight, though, surely has to be single ‘Default’ that opens the dancefloor and the lungs of Django Django’s southern contingent. For a band who are still fairly unknown – generally speaking – tonight has been a monumental achievement. With quite a few festivals booked already this summer, the band are ready to skyrocket in 2012.

 

Tramlines 2011: Day 3 Roundup

 
By on Tuesday, 16th August 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Fortunately, the weather once again holds out on Sunday as thousands of music fans flood into the centre of Sheffield for the last day of Tramlines 2011. By early afternoon, venue capacities become how many people will fit and still be able to get to the bar and the main stage has a steady moving queue. For this reason, I return to the New Music Stage, which today is curated by local screamo/hardcore group Rolo Tomassi. The band have great taste, as the first band I see are Brontide, proper post-rock that appears to convert those present who weren’t already fans. 65daysofstatic are amongst a group of local bands to really bring this genre to the forefront of new rock music so it’s great to see Brontide get such a good billing in the city centre.

Later, London group Three Trapped Tigers also grace this stage but I decide to go for another Tramlines speciality in the form of the Busker Bus. Created and curated by local band Bromheads, the busker bus (crowd shown above) takes punters on a trip across Sheffield (and back) with the benefit of artists playing a gig at the same time. I arrive just in time for today’s special guests, the Everly Pregnant Brothers (photo below). Playing their third set in as many days, the Yorkshire band are comprised of about 10 ukulele and other small instrument-playing middle aged men. Sounds like a recipe for disaster right? Actually, it’s brilliant and quite refreshing to hear a band play a version of Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’ with all of their own words, whilst a hundred people crammed onto public transport all “fafafafaafa”-ing along. At the stop, everyone’s off and they manage to out-Sheffield Jarvis Cocker at his own song as the group play ‘Common People’ before going into the pub to play another set whilst the bus riders get back on and back to the centre. Next up on the bus are late additions and ever popular Johnny Foreigner. Playing some quieter tracks ahead of their main stage show later today, ‘I’ll Choose my Side’ is put alongside an as of yet, unnamed track to treat those present.

Upon being returned to the city, I head straight for the main stage. After featuring a selection of pop from Olly Murs and Pixie Lott yesterday, as well as Joshua Radin and Guillemots, today’s line-up is distinctly more electric guitar-friendly. I arrive in time to catch the Phantom Band’s sound make its mark on the city and with dedications to any single-malt drinkers in the crowd (sorry security, you missed my flask), the band bring a slightly synthesized and electric folk blended set of tracks to the main stage. The second and much larger set of Johnny Foreigner’s day comes in replacement of their fallen friends: “to anyone at the back who’s confused, we’re not Frankie and the Heartstrings,” explains front man Alexei. Playing to a crowd the size of “an entire tour” the band (pictured below) play tracks that are nearest to being the ‘hits’ collection and do it well. Scatterings of fans across the crowd appreciate to start, many more are dancing, a little, by the end. Even new song ‘Electricity vs. the Dead’ leaves fans seeming quite happy with the progress the band have made.

It’s the hit makers up next though. The Futureheads bring a set list that’s been tried and tested for months in similar billings to Sheffield and get everyone doing “the bouncy bounce” which is effectively jumping in time, as well as constructing mass sing-alongs for ‘The Beginning of the Twist’ and the ever popular Kate Bush cover of ‘Hounds of Love’. It’s the kind of music festivals like Tramlines exist for.

Not that it stops there though, because this evening’s headliners have even more crowd pleasers. Ash (pictured at the top of this post) open with ‘Girl From Mars’, reminding everyone just what a tour de force they’ve been since day one and now with the added sound of Russell Lissack (Bloc Party member two of my weekend), they’re sounding even more like a band worthy of headlining such an event. Their set features all the expected hits, some recent singles from their ‘A-Z’ project and even covers of ‘Teenage Kicks’ and Weezer’s ‘Only in Dreams’ alongside set and festival closer ‘Burn Baby Burn’. What a way to close a festival!

Tramlines probably should have some sort of limits and caps, but I’m not sure there’s a way to implement that without ruining so much about what makes it incredible. Hundreds of bands playing a mass array of free live music can only be good in my eyes. Until next time, thanks Sheffield.

 
 
 

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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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