Made the pilgrimage to one of South London’s key music venues last night. Always a good relaxed atmosphere the crowd is primarily made up of the bands themselves and there nearest and dearest. It turned out that I was only one of four people who actually bought a ticket in advance. That’s just my upbringing and FOMO kicking in I guess.
I went primarily to see the Pit Ponies, who hail from Upminster. They played there more well-known tracks from their first album which was fine by me as last time I saw them they were playing with some new tracks which I hadn’t really heard before. The vocalist has a recognisable distinctive vocal style, which is reminiscent of early Bowie ( circa London boys) or possibly or Anthony Newley. They write strong songs addressing the trials and tribulations of life with some endearing twists in such songs as “Mountains” or “Furies” which demonstrates a good level of maturity and have a certain anthemic quality.
Support for the evening was quite eclectic, although the Windmill’s house policy is to try and curate like minded bands.
Honkies ,who I think are local, are in the mould of Fat White Family or Goat Girl strongly favouring a country vibe , re invented for urban living. Strong bass lines drove all the songs and although first on had the largest crowd. Are they the next big thing? There association with two of the bigger bands in this musical niche is partly due I think to common management or at least the ability to leverage the ongoing band promotion. They had an enthusiastic following and their music is infectious and I think has the ability to be a grower. More research needed.
Second band on stage were No Friendz, a band led by Angus Knight ,who also plays in Meatraffle. No Friendz provide an outlet for Angus’s alta ego , with an opportunity to raid the dressing up box of the early 70’s they have style and attitude, in the spirit of New York Dolls or Iggy. I think its a healthy aspect of the current music scene that musicians are prepared to experiment ,work with other bands Songs such as “No Friendz” and “I saw Shonen knife” pay a certain level of homage to Iggy Pop’s “No fun” and Ramones buzz sawing guitar in “you’re gonna kill that girl” respectively.
I’m not suggesting there is anything wrong in this and a certain level of reference to your influences can be considered as the sincerest form of flattery. They have swagger and presence and it will be interesting to see how this project develops over the next few months.
Last band before the headliners were Chupa Cabra from Wales. They are a three-piece with a rock solid drummer who perfectly complements their catchy pop driven sound. Visually you could mistake the front men as a young Jam, in hair style and dress. Still youthful they played a tight set and got the audience moving and warmed up for Pit Ponies.
As usual band changeovers and the sound quality was slick and well balanced, certainly from an audience perspective. Good night out and I would certainly see any of the bands on offer again.
Seen the Pigeon detectives a couple of times before and the Little Comets a good few times more over the years. Managed to miss the first support so lets move on.
First saw Little Comets at a Ben and Jerry sponsored mini festival in Clapham a few years ago. They were pretty young then and the opening act if I remember correctly . But ever since I think they have retained a small but loyal following. They write good tunes with progressive lyrics that demonstrate a strong social conscience. They have a recognisable guitar sound which on recent outings has been consigned to the back ground a little as they have developed their musical style and moved away from jangly guitars to a more mature fuller sound.
I haven’t tired of them yet and look forward to seeing them again. They did a forty minute set but they have plenty of strong material from their four albums.
By comparison the Pigeon Detectives are not such a thoughtful band but a celebration in undeniable exuberance. The first album” Wait for me” is undeniably their best and they powered through it tonight despite the vocalists leg mishap a couple of nights back on the tour. We were entertained by a number of anthemic 2 minutes 30 second singalongs such as “Romantic Type” and “I’m not sorry”which were then interspersed with some B sides and rarities in order to pad out what is only a 33 minute album.
The crowd reacted with suitable enthusiasm. Quite a young crowd considering they have been performing for 10 years there was encouragement from the band with comments such as “best crowd on the tour “. True or not it was suitably lively as the band continued the adrenalin fuelled tracks from the album.
In all honestly I probably wouldn’t have bought tickets if it hadn’t been from the support from Little Comets but it was clear the majority of the crowd had come to relive past glory with the Pigeon Detectives.
Koko is a great intimate venue with its tiered viewing areas it still retains a huge amount of its original character and music hall looks. I just arrived in time to see the support-Baba Naga. They were a good choice creating a good lead in to the main event. Their guitar driven inward focussed ,shoe gazing style was the perfect run up to the main event. They layed down a wall of sound for 30 minutes which had a semi hypnotic effect.
Following a 30 minute gap The Horrors appeared pretty much on time and played for a straight hour. I’ve seen them about 4 times i think now. Unfortunately I didn’t see them playing songs from the first album and they avoided them here playing songs from the new album V and from the previous three albums. Live they are much rockier than on vinyl, CD,download etc. The bass really drives some of the songs and alternates between various styles including funk and possibly a little reggae. Overlaid on this are rock solid drumming and swirling guitar , whilst the keyboards punctuate and deliver some of the most characteristic and recognisable elements of Horrors tunes.
The Horrors have missed their time I feel. The post-punk and gothic nature of the first album replaced by more experimental musings , which probably lost a lot of early fans, does not seem to have continued to develop. My expectation was a journey like that undertaken by the likes of the Cure or even David Bowie on their first few albums, constantly re-inventing themselves and challenging the audience. But that’s not happened here in my view.They should be able to sell out Koko a couple of times over. They are an extremely competent group , great execution of their songs , maintaining a little roughness in the live show.
But somehow for me they lack some emotion or real connection with the audience. Can’t quite put my finger on it and I think its unfortunate as they have taken risks and been creative but it hasn’t really paid off.
Interesting to see what happens next.
Placebo were part of the musical decade that passed me by (young family etc) and it was interesting to contemplate that Placebo were the contemporaries of the likes of Oasis,Blur and Suede. Got a spare ticket at the last minute and so I didn’t have much emotional investment in this one. The queue to get in was around three sides of the block on this sold out evening but got in within about 30 minutes. Speaking to a fellow punter it was his band of choice as a 13 year old living in his bedroom and I think that was the rump of the audience.
The original three piece band had expanded to at least six members on the night, although it sometimes felt like more as they injected a big sound to many of the numbers. Sometimes” less is more” and I think that might have been usefully employed in part with the performance. They exhibited that tight confident application of a band that has played these songs countless times ,although I felt they approached them with appropriate enthusiasm ie they didn’t appear to be rushing through a greatest hits outing.
They received a rapturous reception from a good natured and adoring audience. Brixton can sometimes get quite aggressive when its packed to the rafters and people are literally standing out at the far bar. The set included many but not all iconic singles and they played a good 90 minutes without it seeming to long.
Only real criticism is that the encore of Nancy Boy lost something in the production and fell foul to not following “the less is more” principle. It was the song I was most looking forward to and was not crisp enough.
Enjoyable outing and got a few more at Brixton in December so better get used to the place
Missed out on seeing Shame at the Scala last Wednesday so when I saw they were playing a free set in Camden got a ticket pronto. I saw Shame last March supporting the Fall and thought they had potential . So interested to see them 18 months later and was pleased to see that although they have developed musically and in performance terms they have lost all their rawness . I think there was a maximum 60 people in attendance. Drinks were free and they played a 40 minute set with no prevarication. The vocalist spent half the show bounding around in the audience and they are a band who firstly look like they are enjoying themselves ( due to the small stage they struggled to stay within its perimeter) and secondly showed 100% commitment to the audience and venue, when they could have felt it was a little beneath them after being at Scala. Good band worth seeing and create an enthusiastic connection with the audience.
Yak and Support from Skinny Girl Diet and Hotel Lux at the Village Underground 16/10/2017
Sometimes a bit tough to get yourself out on a school night , particularly on a Monday. This was the fourth time of seeing YAK and admit due to the lateness of the hour didnt stay until the end . They were loud but not as ear splitting as when I saw them at Scala and Dingwalls back in 2016.
Support came from Skinny Girl Diet who I’ve not seen until now, despite the fact they have been on the circuit for a few years now. A strong twosome they make a full sound with just guitar and drums . Good band live , I downloaded their last album but up to now don’t think it lives upto their live sound. I would go and see them again to triangulate my thoughts and see if in a different environment .
Bottom of the bill was Hotel Lux, who had a busy week as they were off to support Shame on the 18th at Scala and HTMLD on the 20th. They were interesting band in early stages of forming their stage personas. In the style of the Fall in some respects with a vocal style that was more sneering than singing ( not a criticism) its hard I think to create a rapport when your first on the stage. Interested in hearing more so I’ve book marked an outing to see them headline at The George Tavern on 17th November in Limehouse. One to watch possibly.
The mighty Cabbage back in London playing a new venue for me. This is my third time of seeing and they played a couple of new songs amongst the many familiar tunes. They are maturing quickly as a band, the overall sound is getting that really tight feel based on plenty of playing live. Some rough edges are now disappearing which has its pros and cons. The other aspect I noticed is they are starting to extend and experiment with some songs adding false endings etc. There is no doubting their musical development and the quirkiness and variety of the songs remains. I just hope they dont completely discard the original roughness which endeared them to their early audiences .
Support came form two bands. First up were Proletariat, who also hail from Manchester. This is not a criticism but they provided the audience with a boys with guitars performance which demonstrated some good songs, which I subsequently have listed to via a free CD given away at the gig which was really good. I also bought a T-shirt as nice design. So Im vested in these guys so I wish them the best. Very young band and need to find their niche as in current political climate they have the name that might take them far, despite their being a couple of other bands around with the same name.
Second support was from Queen Zee and the Sasstones. This band takes you back to Glam with post punk leanings, with an in your face front person who engaged with the audience , daring you to dance , as the band laid down some heavy backing. Definitely seek these guys out again. I’ve listened to some of their stuff to triangulate my opinion and currently the live show is far more powerful than their recordings. The band are energetic proponents of the diversity agenda with a positive message and outlook.
Went to see the Phobophobes for I think about the 7th time now. They were launching new single “Where is my owner”. Nice small venue in Elephant st just outside Elephant and Castle station. Phobophobes played a really strong set and they are one of the bands who I have broken my three live shows and then move on rule over.They mix up a number of musical styles making them their own and have strong lyrical content. I believe Steve Lamacq commented on Radio 6 that the latest single could have been written by Nick Cave as a Christmas single. These guys deserve to be way bigger than they are but on the other hand like other music snobs I want to keep them as my guilty secret.
Support came in the shape of local band( I think) Famous who take the idea of anti fashion back to the likes of Mark .E .Smith. Tortured vocalist gave it his all against strong backing from the band. Like to see more of these guys to get a better opinion but they opened the evening really well with confidence and guts. With a diminished audience at that point I felt they did really engage the audience. One to watch for me at this stage.
Second support ,from Glasgow ,were The Ninth Wave who had travelled down that day. Interesting visually , main vocalist and lead guitar were very 1980’s , whereas the drummer and keyboard player had a current indie look.Not sure if this comment has any relevance but they almost looked like two bands from my perspective. I think they have a signed record deal and their sound shows some evidence of maturity. Female vocals were strong and complemented the male vocalist nicely on shared vocal duties . who do they sound like. a little like Pale Waves ,listening to them on Soundcloud . So you could say they do have the right mix of an indie attitude and commercial sound to get exposure .
In conclusion good night out. Good support bands and Phobophobes get stronger each time out.
Managed to get tickets for the third night of five with the Mystery Jets playing Seratonin. Not my favourite album of theirs but it brought back memories of seeing them at Somerset House a few years ago which was a really good show based strongly on the Seratonin album at the time.
The Garage is of course a good stripped back venue (only 600 capacity) allowing you to see bands reasonably close up. Have to give the Mystery Jets kudos for choosing such an intimate venue but based on the fact many fans seemed to be buying tickets for all five nights have to question their pulling power these days.
I had forgotten how 80’s influenced this band and this album are but some very anthemic songs with strong melodies and sing along choruses ( as demonstrated by the relatively youthful crowd singing along to all the tracks). I was expecting a bit more emotionally from this “Jetrospective” but didnt really feel it in that way. Thought it was played well but expected a little more power from whats is a seasoned band at this point. Highlight of the album for me is “Melt” which I would say epitomizes the strong points of the Mystery Jets- melodic, sing along choruses and generally upbeat and optimistic, even if many of their songs espouse the frustrations of searching for love.
Had a great and interesting night out at this central London students Union location close to Regents Park. In pursuit of promoting my blog made an effort and spoke to a few people over the course of the evening.
Realistically the people I spoke to are already bought into the idea of seeing new younger bands but hopefully by comparing experiences we can expand the cause a little. Met a nice couple from Walthamstow ( sorry did’nt get your names) who had pretty much come on spec, Gary from Hartlepool who had come down for the day and was following Trampolene ( the headliners) and introduced myself to a guy called Dave who I had seen the previous week at the Selfridges event. Between the bands had some good chats .
In terms of the bands on offer I had gone to see Calva Louise , who started proceedings, and were great as per my previous two viewings. Good chemistry between the band, some catchy songs and plenty of power in the delivery. Didnt really understand why they were first on as they surely deserve to be further up the bill.
Next on were Breed, who had a couple of technical difficulties ,but were quite heavy which seemed to be appreciated by the audience with plenty of respectful head nodding . They were boys with guitars with suitable swagger and attitude, encouraging the audience to come closer.
Third band were False Heads who were a three piece indie . Played a strong set and listening back it was pretty loud (now I know why my ears were ringing) Check them out at :https://www.facebook.com/FalseHeads/videos/vb.300650261291/10152651756726292/?type=2&theater . I think like Trampolene they have been supporting recent Libertines tour.
Headliners were Trampolene who I was looking forward to after sampling a fair amount of material on youtube. Played some of their what I would call more popular and anthemic tracks interspersed and introduced by some poetry. Been compared to the Arctic Monkey’s and I would say that’s an apt comparison. They also clearly associate with the Libertines in terms of style.Again a strong boys with guitars vibe with self belief and take no prisoners energy.
In conclusion for an £8 ticket you got access to four really strong bands who all entertained and did a great job despite a relatively small audience (50% capacity at most) which is disappointing when music venues are under pressure. We need to spread the word and get people supporting these younger bands.