Archive for July, 2009

23
Jul
09

Excuses, excuses!

I’m dog-sitting over the weekend and I’ve had something of an irritating week so far, so I’m giving myself a few days off. If anyone happens to go to any of this weekend’s gigs and fancies scrawling a few words I have a few freebie CDs to give away in return, and normal service will be resumed next week.

21
Jul
09

UK Subs + Support (the Box, 19-Jul-09)

Having spent the best part of the day with Chloë’s band and crew pouring a steady stream of booze down my throat, making it to the crowded Box in time to catch openers Hated ‘Til Proven was something of a miracle but somehow I managed it, and good thing too as they kicked some serious ass.  They’ve tightened up massively since I last saw them, and their hardcore-punk-with-a-hint-of-metal sound has improved immeasurably, belting out a succession of 90-second lessons in tight riffs and screaming vocals.

Next up were The Targets, who brought a slightly more melodic but no less powerful flavour to proceedings, and their unassuming appearance belied the true nature of their act.  Packing one hell of a punch, this is a hard-working band that anyone with any sense should go and see as soon as they can.

When the Subs hit the stage the crowd exploded into a furious sea of bodies, and "Grandpa Punk" Charlie Harper showed that qualifying for a bus pass doesn’t mean you have to stop ripping it up.  Although they’ve changed their lineups more often than some people change their undies the basic Subs essence remains, and I’ve never seen such an enthusiastic crowd at the Box; stand too close to the stage and you risked being sucked in to the throng of pogoing and angry moshing — I’m no spring chicken, but judging by the age of some of those involved I suspect local osteopaths have been doing a brisk trade this week!

 

21
Jul
09

What’s coming up this week?

I’ll start with a reminder that the Brunswick reopens on Thursday 23rd, with music from the HMV Band, and on Friday you can see Rhythm Zoo, and just round the corner in the Express Firestorm will be giving it another bash on Saturday.

Friday night The Lockdown headline the Box’s indie night, with support from Bad Attitude, Secret Fiction, and User Friendly, and on Saturday Sheffield’s Laruso bring their eclectic bag of rock-tricks to town, supported by Troops of Mafeking, Distorted Eyes, and Heartless.

At the M-Club you can catch Athlete on Friday but they don’t have their usual Wednesday night cheapy listed, so whether it’s going ahead as usual I can’t be sure.  (Last week’s is still listed, so I suspect some sort of admin error…)

At the Limey on Thursday Four Fighters do their best Foo Fighters impersonation, on Friday there’s a Dead Ringer for Meatloaf, the clinically dour shouldn’t miss Saturday night’s tribute to Joy Division, and on Sunday Dirty Little Minds bring their self-described blend of filthy lows and cheesy highs to the stage.

20
Jul
09

Chloë/Whatfest

As I suspected rain aplenty was one of the overwhelming features of Whatfest, turning a large portion of the site into a sitcky mire.  It didn’t quite plumb the depths of Glastonbury or Reading in their damper years, but by Sunday morning many revellers had thrown in the towel and beat a hasty retreat or migrated to the marquee stage in an attempt to keep dry and relatively mud-free.  This was only its second year, but it’s shaping up to be a pretty solid event — while it’s not big enough to pull in big-name acts there were still a few familiar names on the bill, and the relative lack of scale adds to the appeal; the bigger festivals are, I think, getting too big (and too expensive) and they’ve lost a lot of their charm.

Of course the main reason I was there was Chloë’s appearance on the main stage on Sunday, and the hardy souls who braved the weather were treated to another outstanding performance from the hard-working Crewe four-piece, who continue apace with their quest for world domination.  With some great songwriting behind them they’re rocky enough for rock fans and poppy enough for pop fans, and it’s all held together with Chloë’s phenomenal voice; I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s seen them perform and not been immediately taken.

They do have their detractors — every time Jules mentions them a fight breaks out — but having seen them several times I think the music speaks for itself, so do yourselves a favour, check out the gig guide on their website and go and watch them play!

After the gig a not inconsiderable quantity of beer was consumed, then a few of us staggered to the Box to watch UK Subs cause mayhem so once I’ve nursed my hangover into submission I’ll get round to doing a write-up…

18
Jul
09

Flux + Support (Box, 17-Jul-2009)

As I may have stated (ad nauseum) indie isn’t really my bag (unless you’re talking Ned’s Atomic Dustbin or Carter USM or any other proper indie band) but I missed Flux at Whatfest and having heard good things about them I thought I’d make an attempt to get to Indie Night at the Box, and it turns out it was well worth the effort and has renewed my faith in Friday night.

The crowd size at the Box is, more often than not, a little on the disappointing side, so it was nice to see a higher body-count than usual; far from a capacity crowd, but still a respectable turnout.  Things kicked off with Insult to Injury, a neo-punk outfit with a tasty line in lyrical-but-non-melodic vocals, catchy riffs, and an edgy sound that had unholy but engrossing echoes of CBGBs-era NY hardcore with a whiff of the Streets. I’m no expert on the genre, but if they were indie then I’m a Dutchman!  (Om te verduidelijken, ben ik niet Nederlands!)

Calling Shotgun were next, and like their predecessors they were decidedly non-indie; if I were forced to pigeon-hole them I’d go for thrash metal, minus the spandex and stupidity, and with a bit more ear for a tune. Rapid-fire riffery, tappity-tappity solos, and scorching vocals formed the body of a high-energy set that showed a great deal of promise of things to come, and despite looking like James circa 1990 they were anything but miserable.

Act three, the late booking of Birmingham’s Greenwood Park, combined blues with the stoner-rock sounds of Monster Magnet, and the resulting fuzz was a joy to the ears — it was the perfect slow-motion soundtrack, managing to find the perfect blend of head-noddery and repetition with a sense of melancholy joy (a confluence best experienced when sat in the sunshine, chronic in hand).  Birmingham may be a far cry from LA, but if this is anything to go by the two are more similar than one may think.

Although described as indie, headliners Flux were again not a band I’d consider placing in that genre; modern indie, to my ancient ear, is self-indulgent, whiny, and faintly irritating, attributes that are as far as it’s possible to get from Flux without falling over.  Not as heavy as metal, not as spiky as punk, they had a sound and an energy that can only have been achieved with a lot of hard work and raw talent; the fact that they managed to sound fresh despite this being their second gig of the day speaks volumes!

All in all, this was the least indie Indie Night in a while, and an encouraging sign of things to come — great bands, reasonable crowd, and a lively atmosphere.

16
Jul
09

Right, listen up…

As I’ve had a few complaints recently (publicly via the comments, and privately via email) I thought I’d clear up a few things:

  • Everything here is my opinion; as such you’re free to disagree with it, but by the very nature of opinions they cannot be wrong so there’s little point emailing me and calling me all sorts of names.
  • If you do want to disagree with something I’ve said then by all means do so, but do it in a constructive fashion — calling me names or slinging insults a) makes you look stupid, b) pretty much invalidates any genuine point you may have, and c) is just plain rude.
  • Like everyone else I have personal tastes, and this will obviously have an effect on how much I enjoy any given gig. I always try to make any such bias clear, though, so it should be easy for anyone to take this into account when forming their own opinion based on what I’ve written.
  • If I don’t like something, I’m going to say so; what would be the point of anyone reviewing anything if they weren’t permitted to give their honest opinion? If every review I wrote was positive then I’d be lying from time to time, at which point it’s difficult to trust anything I write — how do you separate the “positive because I liked it” and “positive because I’m lying” reviews?
  • I’m not just some random guy with a big mouth, and I’ve been involved in live music (both as a performer and behind the scenes) for more years than I care to remember, but to some extent I’m not sure why this is important.
  • Just in case it wasn’t clear I’ll reiterate: this is my opinion. I will do my best to avoid being rude, I will try and keep any criticism polite and constructive, and I do not expect everyone to think the same way I do, but if you want to disagree then please try and hold yourself to the same standards.

Ok, you can go now.

14
Jul
09

Whatta gwahn! (Updated again)

The biggest thing coming up in the area is Whatfest this weeked; a selection of decent bands playing, and there should be something for everyone.  One of my local favourites, Chloë, will be taking to the stage on Sunday, so here’s hoping the weather holds.  (As a general rule of thumb, if I go to a festival it’ll rain so make sure you take an umbrella and some wellies!)

Fear not, though; for those of you stuck in town, all is not lost!

It’s indie night at the Box on Friday, and on Sunday punk legends UK Subs will be ripping it up; I’m too old to pogo any more, but it should be a good night.

At the M Club on Wednesday it’s the usual offering (and remember, kids, it’s only a quid!), on Saturday you can catch the Salford Jets, and next Tuesday will see the arrival of the one and only GLC (you knows it, bra!) — seems that since posting this the Jets gig has vanished and GLC has been postponed until December.

There’s plenty on offer at the Limey; on Thursday U2 II do their thing, Friday offers a tribute to the masters of the 3-chorder with John Coghlan’s Quo, Saturday provides an homage to the ska stylings of UB40, and on Sunday classic rock sounds will be provided by Broken and Already Gone, both of whom did a sterling job supporting Warrior Soul last week. Even better, Thursday and Sunday are free admission, so at £2 a pint you’re in for a cheap night out.

On Saturday night at the Imp you can catch covers band Back2Back; as always, free admission and a friendly atmosphere!

I’ll be heading in to town later to find out what’s on at the smaller venues, but one thing’s for sure — nobody has an excuse not to see at least one gig this week!