Monday 23 June 2008

Wee Pop: The Darlings, The Mexican Kids At Home, Little My, The Just Joans - The Enterprise

Moments later on the other side of town, I wander into The Enterprise in Camden. the street outside was packed, but inside its kinda quiet, three barmaids leap to my service. Upstairs the venue is packed.

On stage are two people, The Darlings, a singing ukelele girl and a hairy egg-shaker chap. They sounded a little like Hello Saferide. I only caught the last three songs of their set, which is a shame cos amongst their recorded output, they have the best cover of AC/DC's You Shook Me All Night Long, which I've probably missed. I'd been listening it on iTunes all weekend.
Its sweet but generic music.

Next up are a really hairy five piece, The Mexican Kids At Home. They had one of those sitting on a wooden box percussion chaps, its been months since I saw one of them. There was a twee gentleman too, playing melodica, harmonica, keyboards and occasionally "doo doo doo" backing vocals. Topped off with boy and girl harmonies they were ace.
Rather looking forward to seeing them at Indietracks, sunshining, crowd of hundreds.

Its odd, its a really comfortable crowd compared to earlier today. Lost Music, Wee Pop, Pocketbooks, Just Joans, Bobby McGees, them French kids, Bowlie folk from last night. My nerves have calmed and I feel serene.

Its been an unsettled couple of days on the internet, my naked bike ride photies getting hundreds of views on Flickr, my art website rocketing up the Technorati authority rankings, then my origami video on BoingBoing. I've reached the top or at least the upper reaches, there's no more I can do. It does nothing for my tangible self-esteem.

Next on stage, the penultimate band of the night, Little My. Tonight they are a seven-piece, and they wear animal costumes. The bunny on bass is particularly cute. They sound a little like Bearsuit, but without the mania. Some of the songs are pretty neat and would be good listening on the coach home.
I think though, they sound too much like they're used to playing with loads of folk on stage.

One extra thing in their favour, they're bitter about not playing Indietracks and bitterness fucken rocks.

Then finally, one of the most eagerly awaited bands of the indiepop scene, The Just Joans. The buzz of anticipation in the crowd is palpable. I'm biased mind, I've seen them from the start, Adam J Smith passing me their demo cassette, the first gig, a sell out show in a tea room in Glasgow, bursting into London last year. I've seen them get better and better, more confident, more comfortable in their skin.

They're a six piece now, Fraser on bass, Doug on keyboards, Chris on lead guitar and sometimes accordian, Rowan on percussion, sharing vocal duties with Katie, and centre stage, David Pope.
A fine set, with new songs and old ones, polished so they sparkle. The songs are getting better than the old ones.

They have a new EP out on Wee Pop, new songs, "What Do I Do Now" will stick in your head for months, how do we pencil them in for T in the Park '09, joined on stage by Louise Wener. And their even newer song, "You're not gonna pull" is going to set the indie dancefloors on fire.
They name-checked me, they name-checked me. Thanking Thor and Camila from WeePop for their breakfast, and Trev Lost Music for putting on the gig, and then me. My eyes welled up, I was gonna start greeting.

Its been one of those weeks, its been one of those weekends, its been one of those days. But the Just Joans, they made everything okay.

The Darlings
The Mexican Kids At Home
Little My
The Just Joans

Sunday 22 June 2008

LOLRUS ILX festival: The Red Bulldozers, Pinefox - The Windmill

The shitting Lolrus ILX Alldayer. Its too warm.

Father, my soul is lost, deep inside there is furious anger and bitterness. I am in foul mood. This you already knew, but just to be crystal clear, unlike the usual stodge of my prose, I ouht to explain, in detail.

I am pissed off for the following reasons:-
  • Ken was clear to stress that The Red Bulldozers start at 5pm, it is now half past. I'd been swimming naked with friends in Camden Lock and had to leave them early to be here.
  • I was stood at the bar for a long time in urgent need of a drink and the lone barman missed me a few too many times.
  • I could have sworn this was supposed to be a free show, but alas I was mugged for a fiver and now have not enough money to buy a drink
  • The club night last night, HDIF, was shit for the second month running, the music was shite, the dancefloor was full of people standing and talking and the girls were intimidating
  • Folk spreading shit about me on the internet
  • Stress at work
  • I appear to be invisible
  • My trusty black leather jacket is falling apart
  • This fucking notebook
  • My finger hurts
  • And this one time I discovered that if I search for my name in google, but spell it with a 1 instead of an l, there were folk talking about me on ILX

I'll do a pie chart later to illustrate how much each of these things have pissed me off right now.

Thank fuck I get to blow this joint and head to the Just Joans gig later, even then, they're playing the cunting Enterprise. This shit never lets up does it.

Time passes and there's still no sign of the cunting cockknocking Ken Reddozers playing. However, here's a picture Ken drew of me and him spunking over Rosie Rabbit. The mind boggles.

Christ I need a piss. I should have gone in Camden.

Its not all gloom and doom and trouble. Tricity Bendix led me away to a small park nearby where there was actually a real life windmill. A windmill in the middle of London, and a fine looking windmill too. I took photies.
Back at the venue, food is coming out of the barbeque and there's some band on stage soundchecking. They have flutes and sound like fourth era B&S.

Soon they fuck off and make way for Red Ken's Cockdozers, well, just Ken stood centre stage with his guitar, waiting patiently for his laptop to reboot.
There was banter, awkward self-aggrandising banter that the crowd just ate up. Crowd of familiar internet folk and folk from other bands.

My natural shyness keeps me from mingling and also these moodswings are playing hell with my ability to communicate.

He did a rather fun re-working of Johnny Cash's Jackson, but about Brixton, and his evergreen Christmas song, "Christmas So Cold", that went down a treat. This could almost be the hotest day of the year.

Its a quick changeover for the next band, catching off gurd the folk out back, snacking on the barbeque and the folk out front enjoying the sunshine. Not sure who the band is, the band list has gone to shit and I could have sworn some of them stormed off refusing to play.
They're a five piece with keyboards and flute. A bit Rick Wakeman prog rock with what sounds like the singer from Butcher Boy and Moody Blues epic adventure of the mind.

I feel immensly uncomfortable and leave.

The Red Bull Dozer s

Tuesday 17 June 2008

Rip It Up: Pocketbooks, Davey Strange, Goodnight I Wish, Harvey Williams,The Postcards, Lodger, Theoretical Girl - The Socia

The Londonist website has a weekly gig round up, all the must see shows of the forthcoming seven days, with ticket prices from £8 (Pete and the Pirates) to £45 (Yazoo). This grossly misrepresents live music.

Tonight I am at The Social for Rip It Up, the Edwyn Collins/ Orange Juice tribute night, entry is 50p.

First on are Pocketbooks with a cover of "Consolation Prize". Andy the singing chap is a bit more fey than Edwyn was, and over on guitar Ian really gets into his guitar noddling. When they finish, the audience rise as one with the muttered cry of "What? Only one song each?".

How long ago was that Stephen Merrit / Magnetic Fields tribute night? That was a fair three songs each, it gave the bands time to find their groove. I'm apprehensive about the rest the night now.

I've just bought me a new notebook to write these reviews in, and have just given myself a papercut.

Davey Strange is on stage next, I don't know what the song is. I only know two Orange Juice / Edwyn Collins songs, maybe two and a half; Rip it Up, Girl Like You, and that Adidas one.

'Goodnight I Wish' were on next, a two piece, took ages to set up.

I just realised, my mobile phone is out of battery and I've no memory card in my camera, so no blurred black n white piccies tonight. Its all a bit of a shambles.

Not only are the bands all playing one song sets, but there's a 20 minute changeover time. Luckily some bands have dropped out, otherwise we'd be here all night.

Next up is Harvey Williams playing Dying Day. Tender keyboard /piano driven number, from a bearded seated gentleman. Kindof slow and not sure now it fitted with the faster songs DJ Ian from HDIF played before and after.

There's a familiar crowd in tonight, all HDIF, indiepop and Twee Ass-Fuck.

Ooh, next band have a quick turn over time, two guitars, bass and drums. They are The Postcards, playing Consolation Prize, mincing it up with spot on Edwyn vox. A bit boomy bass heavy where I was stood,but it was too crowded to move about much.

Not convinced by this new notebook, recycled paper, from Paperchase / Borders on Oxford Street. The paper's too dark to see writing on when I'm lurking in the shadows of a gig and the covers are too floppy to rest on. They flex unless you're resting on a hard surface. There's fucking hundreds of pages mind, so I could be stuck with this for a while.

The Lodger, have travelled all the way down from Leeds to play their one classic Orange Juice song, Can't Help Myself. Last time I saw The Lodger was at The Windmill in Brixton, it wasn't my cup of tea so I retired to the beer garden to chat to Tricity about Bowlie and ex-girlfriends spreading rumours.

Tonight though, its a spot on cover, with guitar all ajangle like the past 25 years were but yesterday.

Somewhat surprisingly the final act on stage tonight is Theoretical Girl also doing a cover of Can't Help Myself. I find myself wondering what happened? How come no one did Girl Like You or Rip It Up, or thatone about Adidas shoes. Did all the bands just assume someone else would do them and avoided the obvious? Was it a conscious effort to avoid the crowd pleasing favourites? Didn't anyone want to please the crowd?

Theoretical Girl's version was a shimmering backing tracked take on it with the girl playing a chorused up twelve string electric and jousting with her own pre-recorded backing vocals. It sounded like a misty dream sequence.

Ian HDIF and Twee Ass-Fuck DJs are pencilled in to take the crowd to closing time so I make a sneaky getaway, with a mind to record my own Orange Juice cover... here

Davey Strange
Goodnight I Wish
Harvey Williams
The Postcards
The Lodger
Theoretical Girl

Saturday 14 June 2008

HDIF: Darren Hayman and Jack Hayter, The Voluntary Butler Scheme, Saturday Looks Good to Me - Luminaire

I'll cover the overarching LNFGIES narrative later in the review, just be patient.

I wandered into the pub to see Ken from The Red Bulldozers getting a big jug cocktail with three straws for rapid consumption, on the telly the Netherlands just scored against France, and a few minutes later, outside, I meet my friend Paul from the Martial Arts, who bears news that world domination is one step closer, The Plimps were played on Radio Six earlier, just after The School (download snatch MP3 here)

Inside the venue, The Voluntary Butler Scheme is on stage, an array of keyboards and synths and half a drum kit obscuring a lone floppy haired chap doing warm and tender tunes, sounding a little bit one man bandish, especially when he pulls out a uke and a kazoo.
Okay, at first I wasn't so taken, but the last few songs were pure genius with a loop pedal. Some folk do loop pedals badly, but VBS is this century's answer to Beck, but dub, comedy, novelty and blues. Elements of White Town maybe, and judicious use of novelty toy effects.

The last song was brilliant, the throbbing blues run through, with the devil in the oven and a droning bass around the 5Hz bowel loosening frequency which will never be audible on MP3 or your iPod headphones.

Chatting with Paul about the next steps in world domination, persuading Londonish promoters to take them onboard perhaps. The room is filling up, folk off of the internet are nearby and the Wee Pop gang are in the room.

Saturday Looks Good To Me
on next, a wee bit too loud and the mix was a bit off when we stood at the back, but Paul dragged me into the warm embrace of the music at the front. A three piece guitar/keyboards band, wholesom and much like you'd expect a Hefner support act to be.
Sorry to be a pain, but a few songs in, I noticed something which probably happens all the time, but here its one of two overwhelming things I noticed during the set. The guy singing rests his nose on the microphone. Look out for it if you ever see Saturday Looks Good To Me. Like I've seen singers jam the mic into their gobs, but I've never noticed the nose thing. The next song they played after I noticed this bears heavily the phrase '...everybody nose...'

The second overwealming thing of the thing, was nothing to do with the band, I was glancing about the stage, how although it was raise, there were steps leading downwards to it, I don't know why, but it reminded me of The Cathouse in Glasgow. And I remembered the last time I was there, Nastily was my companion and there was chaos in the shadows. We'd just been to see 300 and it was the start of our relationship.

All ages ago now, and miles away.
Darren Hayman and Jack Hayter take to the stage to play Hefner songs. Regular and dedicated readers of this blog will already be familiar with my previous Darren Hayman reviews here and here, there's a bit of a continuing narrative.
I stand near the front blocking the view of the folk behind, and although I there are many fine songs, I don't engage. I recognise the odd song, but this is essentially a Hefner greatest hits set, for the fans, for the folk who saw them countless times and bought countless EPs and albums. The sing along and notice when Darren forgets his lines, they cheer when he plays their favourite songs.

After the show, there was to be a How Does It Feel club night, but most of the crowd wander off, and whilst some stick around nursing their drinks, they too drift away until the DJ kills the music, and there are less than a dozen souls left.

To my right is Paul from the Martial Arts and his friends, and to my left are some friends off of the internet and the girl.

The Voluntary Butler Scheme
Saturday Looks Good To Me
Darren Hayman

Wednesday 11 June 2008

Carlotti, The Getaways, The Pretty Suspects, The Black Lies - Catch

Left the house fucking furious, the anger and passion in my veins, it would shade Steppenwolf and Heathcliff both. I can't escape from whatever feelings, emotions and memories are in my head, I can only distract myself.

Three possible gigs tonight, Tasty Fanzine at The Good Ship, The Gresham Flyers at The Buffalo and The Getaways at Catch. Of the fist, I'm not sure of the connection with Tastyzine, but despite the gig being walking distance, I don't want to endorse that product, of the second, there is no way on earth being there tonight could ever improve my mood.

Wondering about how the 42 day vote went in parliament today, and why are terrorists special. What about psychopaths and serial killers, folk who really enjoy murdering people, acting on their own , they could claim a higher death toll, are they exempt from being held for 42 days without charge? What if they really like killing people.

Christ, my hands shaking almost too much to write.

Only one viable option for tonight, The Getaways. How did they even get on my radar? barely registers them. The internet has them playing lots of gigs, but only two songs on their myspace page, none for download. I'd doubt their very existance if not for Jaz's review.

Hey, anything to take my mind away from what's rattling my nerves.

Gah, racing out of Old Street underground, almost crashed into my first girlfriend from ten years ago, my first heartbreak. Eye contact, shock and I sprinted away.

Doors had just opened when I arrived, its quiet and the guiness I asked for looked like no guinness ever should, black straight from the tap and no visible head. I suspect this is the sort of London bands gig that MJ Hibbett was talking about last night.

Crikey, every girl in the venue has exactly the same accent.

Its an hour after the advertised doors time and nowt is doing yet. Nearby there's a girl with a BBC branded tape recorder and mic. What the hell do I have to do for my MacGuffin?

Carlotti on first, a five piece, Keamy from Lost is the lead guitarist and singer, Pete Townsend or Wee Patrick on rhythm guitar, Count Fuckular from Extras on bass, keyboard player and drummer tucked away. Rather fine mod blues, Joe Kane and The Getset Go would appreciate. They really kicked into high gear halfway through with the epic 'Faceless Angels', scaling Mansun-like heights, and I could barely believe my eyes when the Keamy pulled out a mandolin for their last song.
I never saw Nathan Barley, but there are people here dressed up kind of funny, weird hair and stripey tops. Who actually won the art school wars of the mid-decade.

You know when you meet a really angry guy in the pub, but you realise he's not really angry, just dead enthusiastic, then later you find yourself next to him in a stolen car, ram-raiding an out of town Marks n Spencers cos you'd mentioned your gran needed new clothes, The Getaways would be playing on the radio.
Rhythm guitarist looks like he only narrowly missed getting into the Bejing Olympics rowing team, there's always London 2012.

They were more rhythmy than the first band, sounded a little like Northern Uproar, the leery harmonies and swaggery guitar.

Towards the end a baldy bloke jumped on stage, waving a fist in the air and singing along before smashing pint glass into the space in front of the stage.

A little honesty here perhaps, there's about half as many people were for The Getaways than for Carlotti. Cuter dancing girls by the side of the stage, mind.

The Pretty Suspects singer looks more like the chap from The Mighty Boosh than the guy last night. Snarly John Lydon Sex Pistols vocals but with more New York / New Wave soaring guitars. It was more a like a party than a fight, especially when yer man leaps into the crowd with his microphone.
The crowd at the front seems shorter and there's a little too much mincing to the cameras for my tastes.

On last are The Black Lies. All leather jackets and white T-shirt and too fucking derivative. Maybe just a fraction more derivative than the rest of the evening's bands, but in the space in front of the stage there are two guys dancing, making shapes for real, but the sort of dancing I do when I'm taking the piss.
The crowd look the oldest I've seen all night. It's weird the way the crowd varies over the course of the evening, different folk for different bands.

Black Lies look like this band we supported once at Glasgow Cally, I can't for the like of me remember their name, but they went on to the success of having their album reviewed in Q magazine.

The Getaways
The Pretty Suspects
The Black Lies

MJ Hibbett, Jim'll's Brain - The Lamb

Think, think, think. How can I write a review of the actual gig, rather than just channeling my own idiocyncratic iconoclastic channeling of relationship insecurities? Have I already gone too far with two occurances of the word "I"?

There are thirteen people in the room, and a mob of hundreds outside in the street, drinking. Of the thirteen, around five are female, divided broadly evenly between blonde and non-blonde, but a clear trend in polka dots. Of the men, two wear beards and a broad two thirds wear shirts. On the whole, the crowd age range is mid-twentes to late thirties.

MJ Hibbett has tuned his ukulele and kicks off with a song from his Rolling Stone Album of the Year album which hasn't been performed live for seven years. Its alright.

There follows a song about the pretension of the low end hi-fi industry, a wonderful song called "Red & White Sockets".

Next up is Jim'll's Brain, reminds me of a chap from The Mighty Boosh, starts with a song called "Picture in the NME", which played on acoustic guitar, was really nice and make some members of the audience feel warm and fuzzy inside, you can tell by looking and from the minor chords in the chorus. It finishes on a neat unbacked guitar solo.
Second song, "I wish I had legs like Elvis" with dancing, sounds a little like one of the better Oasis B-sides, that little descending guitar line they used to use to tug heart strings.

An 80's electro-rock song, covered acoustically. Robbie from IoMoPS would appreciate it as it came up in our cover version tennis game a few years back. Outside, a high speed police chase with sirens ablazing serves as an excellent middle eight. Police chases, much underused as middle eights.

Is this working? Going through every single song? Have you, dear reader, formed an impression of Jim'll's Brain?

Ooh ooh, little spikey shards of Pete Green, if you love Pete Green, you might live Jim'll's Brain. Sweet and homely acoustic guitar noodles, wonderfully eccentric.

After a short piss/beer/fag break, Hibbett launches into Gay Train, with it classic 'Fresh Prince of Leicester' intro.
Ooh, its a bit special tonight, a few songs he doesn't play live so often, and the banteris on top form. "Bands from London are shit".

A few brief sprints through riffs for his Edinburgh Fringe show. He's almost perfected it but could have taken advantage of someone's mobile phone ringing far more than he did.

Here's the flyer, its going to be very good

Actually it was rather jolly to hear some of the anecdotes, I was nearby when they happened, hundreds of miles away in another place, another girl in my head.

One of the things that I always foeget about these Totally Acoustic things is they're early doorsish, start at 7:30pm and over by 9:30pm and I haven't quite figured how to fit in dinner. So every month, I have my two or three beers on an empty stomach, it goes straight to my head and I go silly.

Last time, I got so silly I escaped during the piss/beer/fag break, phoned Interflor via 118 and ordered flowers for a girl. More of that sort of thing.

MJ Hibbett
Jim'll's Brain

Sunday 8 June 2008

The Pete Green Corporate Juggernaut, The Kabeedies, The Bobby McGees - The Buffalo Bar

Pete Green is a fine chap, commonly found playing solo acoustic sets of happy Midlands-based happy sparkly songs, but always low down on the bill. Figuring this was due to his playing solo, he sold his soul, recruited a band and changed his name to The Pete Green Corporate Juggernaut.

Tonight, somewhat ironically, they are first on the bill. I missed a couple of songs, stumbling in late cos a road was closed and I had to park miles away.
Same songs, with a meatier backing. More like you'd expect a Pete Green band to sound like than a band playing Pete Green songs. Does that make sense? Imagine a band, any band, now imagine them playing Pete Green songs, The Pete Green Corporate Juggernaut doesn't sound like that, they sound like Pete Green as a band.

I'm unconvinced until "Everything is going to be sparkly" which works really well as the band are used to punctuate the song rather than play it. 'More of that sort of thing', I thought, until their last song, which sounded almost exactly like early Sultans of Ping FC playing Pete Green song. Now with that sort of direction the 'Corporate Juggernaut could end up headlining.

Free CDs on the door, from The Gresham Flyers and tonight's second band, the Kabeedies. I wasn't too impressed with them last time, a chronically short set at The Social, but Thom Gresham Flyer swears by them so maybe I'll see their magic tonight.

I get a better of them this time, wee bouncing spinning girl on vocals, sandwiched between her axe-wielding brothers, righty with a half length guitar strap and lefty with a three quarter length bass strap, and rather surprisingly, Orlando Bloom, the actor, on drums.

A fun-filled yelping set, with the sort of smart haircuts the Glasgow art school crowd would love. The Kabeedies would make a fine support act for Franz Ferdinand four years ago. As it is, they're going to have a hard time re-igniting the angular, unison yelps and stabby guitar fires of old. They ought to tell more people about Orlando in drums. He's very good, faster than you'd expect.

Not so pleased with the Bobby McGees, the over reliance of their songs which are introduced with the lines "You know when your girlfriend...", this makes me feel uncomfortable.

This is why I don't write reviews for The List or Time Out. From that what do you think the Bobby McGee's sound like? See, it tells you next to nothing about the band, and just shows too much of me.

For most of their set I was pondering if I were to write a six song set to play in a shadowy corner of Indietracks, whilst there'd be a great song in "moaning that after I appeared on The Culture Show, loads of old chums got in touch to say hey, and it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling, the girl who I still dream of never got in touch, so it was hardly worth it at all", the rest of the songs would be similarly ex-girlfriend based, so I'd better abandon the idea and just learn a load of friends cover versions.

The Plimptons, The Squid, The Murderburgers - 13th Note

We'd been watching Twin Peaks:Fire Walk With Me beforehand, me, Nat and Del with a few bowls of mousaka.

When we arrived at the 13th Note, unlike gigs in London, it was only £4 in and you get a free CD, there was already a band on stage, either The Murderburgers or The Squid. They were fast energetic and punky, whoever they are.

Robbie is here, he wasn't impressed. I don't think my comrades were really that into the band, with quotes along the lines of "erm... non-existant", "Really good - according to Jason's girlfriend, I didn't really see them myself", "Nice haircuts, they smelled nice, very fizzy."

There's a lot of people I recognise here. Its been almost a year since I moved away from Glasgow, but folks from bands are still folks from bands:-
Robbie from IoMoPS
Paul Puppet from Scunner
Man Down Door
Joe Kane
The Owsley Sunshine
The Drive Carefully Crew
Billy from The Electroluvs
Soares and Paul from The Original Plimptons
Brendan from Teenage Fanclub
Wee Man from NEDS Kru
Dave, Chris, Katie and that wee guy from The Just Joans
Sophie from The Second Hand Marching Band
Natalie and Holly from Red Rocket
Jason and Craig from The Getset Go
Del from Linospankdiamond and the Syphilitic Bananas

A screen and projector are set up and after a few technical difficulties ironed out and pre-spiel by the director, the new Plimptons video is shown

It completely blows away any Plimptons video I've ever made, and in the words of Robbie "They have a sure-fire hit on their hands". If he's convinced then it must be right. What do you think?
Plimptons hit the stage, old songs and new songs, drummer Rowan's finished her tenure with them and after a final run through of Banjology, she leaves the stage and is replaced by Tommy from Los Destructos.

Ooh, Jason videoed the whole show, I hope it ends up online.

The Plimptons
The Murderburgers
The Squid