Archive for May, 2011

Camden Crawl 2011: Day Two

1st May 2011

Well rested, showered and fuelled by ‘full English’ we set out for more exploits in Camden for day two of the crawl.

Kicking off today’s live music extravaganza was the ever reliable grunge revivalists Dinosaur Pile-Up. We have long been admirers of these boys performances and today was no exception. Their big dropped D riffs boomed out livening the early crowd and treating them to a dose of cheery nirvana-esque rock with plenty of catchy melodies and a tonne of chugging rhythm guitars. We were lucky to be treated to some older gems in the shape of Opposites Attract, new material which sounded great, as well their bigger numbers such as Traynor. A cracking start to yet another sunny day.

Dinosaur Pile-Up

From here we mooched over towards the Summer Sundae Special Edition event out on the sun soaked Roundhouse Terrace, only to find Dry The River limbering up. After fighting through a sea of promotional material being thrown our ways we settled and enjoyed what was a mellow laid back folk set. In the sunshine it sounded excellent, the violin especially making an impression. Yet with mellowness comes bliss, and with bliss comes sleep…which is not the greatest asset for a band. One for throwing on the stereo for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Dry The River

The mood swing between these and our next band was colossal. Somewhat strangely ,the crowd were packed in tight for the emergence of NYC’s latest hardcore punk exports Cerebral Ballzy. Their “I don’t give a flying F**k” brat attitude and a love of black flag et al seemed to cause more headaches than circle pits, with the non-receptive crowd. They missed about as much as they hit as their front man ran amok through the crowds inciting foul language and generally causing havoc. Musically this wasn’t a great performance even though there were a few decent hooks hidden in there. Their lifeblood is to make loud and supremely fast punk to get knotted to…on this count they succeeded greatly.

Cerebral Ballzy

Indeed the reason for the indifference was plain to see once Cerebral had left the stage. Currently riding a huge over inflated wave of hype are the hip hoppers Odd Future or OFWGKTA (I did wonder what young heavily made up teenage girls were doing at a hardcore punk gig). I departed, but Mr. Flowers stuck around…

Meanwhile…I continued my search for cool new music and found a jazz musician playing what looked like a carpenters saw. I promptly turned around and stumbled by chance into the Vox busking sessions to catch James Page. This young acoustic strummer had plenty of melody in his heart and honesty in his lyrics. Tales of london life and what else…girls, were lively and highly enjoyable. This was a tough/drunk crowd to perform for plus all the while having a multitude of technical difficulties, he showed his spirit and professionalism to battle through admirably.

James Page

After a huge trek out to Kentish Town, we were glad to find a band about to begin in the Bull & Gate, this was Five Working Days. A triumphantly jubilant set of rockabilly/ska pop later, we were smitten. It was lively and highly entertaining in this tiny pub corner. It’s a surprise they all managed to fit in really! Stuffed full of a good “cockney knee’s up”, we headed into the Forum for what turned out to be a rather costly mistake.

Five Working Days

Frankie & The Heartstrings failed to appear at their appropriate stage time, we consulted the schedule…yup this is right, we agreed! A quick foray into the twitterati revealed more disappointing news. Frankie & his Heartstrings were at home and were never scheduled to play the Sunday! Bad form Camden Crawl!

Still we had Benjamin Leftwich Francis to enjoy instead. After 10 minutes of boredom inducing folk crooning I departed, more than a bit saddened!

The Phantom Band

Heading back into Camden central (by bus this time), I found myself in an almighty queue to get into the Proud Galleries, for one of the big highlights of the festival. After the floodgates opened I somehow found myself down the front! Sporting a look of bewilderment and smugness, I settled down to watch The Phantom Band after a slightly awkward Q&A session from Radio Ones new music maestro Huw Stevens. A very eclectic set followed with plenty of blips and bops overlaying their already well stacked guitars and melancholic yet purposeful vocals. They made big powerful atmospheric indie rock with effortless ease, without really having to strain. Playing a wide variety of quirky instruments they managed to squeeze out melodies from all angles. Never losing track of the main melody was key to their success, as it was these that formed the heartbeat of their songs amongst their proggy sidesteps. A great little set of diverse rock!

Graham Coxon

The venue had long been full to capacity, turning away latecomers because next on stage was the true British guitar legend, ex-Blur guitarist and accomplished solo artist, Graham Coxon. Meekly shuffling onstage it was apparent he wasn’t here to mess around as he and his ample sized band quickly hooked up their huge effects pedal boards to their Marshall’s and begun to ring out crunching power chords galore to the delight of the fans.

Sporting his trademark stripy Tee and Glasses, Coxon & Co got quickly into their stride playing brilliant upbeat rock numbers from Love Travels at Illegal Speeds including Don’t Let Your Man Know, Standing On My Own Again & I Can’t Look At Your Skin each teeming with energy and pulse racing urgency. The business of getting the crowd onside was complete, thus the set spiraled into a swarm of new material, many of them debut’s including City Hall, The Truth & a cracking little punchy  number Running For Your Life. These new tunes were catchy and enjoyable pop-centric rockers, showing promise for his upcoming album.

He was joined on stage by Shingai of The Noisettes in a striking (and short) red dress, providing vocals for another new tune Billy Says. As Graham himself put it in the Q&A, “I get a lot of stick for my singing…It’s nice to hear my songs sung by a girl, gives it a different feel”. We agree. This bluesy number was ace and vocals were soulful and bright, adding a totally new slant to Coxon’s usual monotone fare. A few more newbie’s later the set was wound up with the euphoric rocker Freakin’ Out to end with a bang. This was a great intimate gig packed with classics and new tracks alike. A very rare opportunity to catch a legend doing what he does best!

Coxon and Shingai

We hightailed it to The Black Cap for our final band of this years Crawl, Johnny Foreigner. Opening with an A Cappella verse from the front pairing of this lively trio, they soon clattered their guitars and spliced riffs with rhythms forming a jubilant racket of insistent indie rock. Again new material took the forefront, but these tunes were like all JF tunes…exciting and exhilarating. The pairing of boy girl vocals is always at the heart of their shows and this was no exception. Highlights came in the shape What Drummer Get (from their latest EP sold as a Frisbee!!), Eyes Wide Terrified & the irrepressible Salt Pepper & Spinderella. Their onstage presence and artistic backdrop (courtesy of a mac, a projector and a white bed sheet) were great, as their bantered with the crowd and produced a livewire performance of the highest quality.

Johnny Foreigner

This year’s Crawl far outstripped last years in terms of quality acts, performances and thankfully…weather. Let’s hope they can maintain the trend for next year!

Camden Crawl 2011: Day One

30th April 2011

A thankful DiR.net team headed out from HQ without the hassle of tube engineering works halting progress. Shortly after departing, we arrived, acquired our wristbands and were already enjoying our first band. Its great when things just work isn’t it!

The schedule was typically full of prime time clashes, but the addition of The Forum (hang on isn’t that Kentish Town), had added another headliner sized venue to the already bursting seams of the Camden Crawl + Kentish Town. We studied this at length in the blazing sunshine to the backdrop of Heights on the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage. These agro-metallers were adept in fashioning walls of chainsaw guitar buzz, which when cranked up made for some cool amped up soundscapes. The screamed vocals were below average however and failed to leave an impression.

Heights

Staying put we were ready for the dance-punk of Turbowolf! Thankfully their vocalist had improved since the last time we saw them (here), but it was still more deciphering rather than listening. His energy and enthusiasm cannot be faulted, his gypsy punk attire could. Backed with electro soaked guitar riffs with metally tendencies and spiky synths this band were on top form, kicking out huge melodies and thumping bass which had even the grandpa’s an head banging. An early contender for highlight of the Weekend for sure!

Turbowolf

Due to P Moneys no show we were ready for Pendul…sorry, The Qemists! After nestling in near the back of the crowd, I was astounded at just how loud their engineer was pushing the sound system. Even people south of the river were wondering “what’s that racket?”. As it transpired, their huge Drum n’ Bass madness was pushed a tad too much. A huge Crack” signaled a muted 15 minutes as they blew a fuse, much to my relief. They restarted somewhat quieter and were much better. Its amazingly hard to enjoy something blowing a hole in your ear drums! Entertaining? yes, original? not quite. The guitars were understated and the bass/bass/snare drum beats wore thin all too quickly.

The Qemists

After a short break we returned to find the punk pop delights of Attack! Attack! rounding out the day schedule on the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage. This was by far the most accomplished set of the day. Polished pop songs with clouting guitars and plenty of vocal hooks were worthy of a much greater crowd. Still we really enjoyed this well crafted, catchy little set from these welsh boys!

Attack! Attack!

With a total of 16 venues hosting shows at 19:15, it’s beyond belief how we ended up watching such utter drivel next! The offenders were Glaswegian noise rockers Divorce. From their stage presence you felt like they were being forced to play against their will (I’ll excuse the drummer, he was quite likable, thus in the wrong band!). Their antagonistic apathy wreaked of attitude problems as they generated mere nonsensical noise from their guitars. Nothing of value came from the vocalists lips except silence! Here incessant thrashing and vocals which can only be described as squawks were utterly dreadful! They clearly thought that they were playing groundbreaking art rock….in reality, it was plain awful!

Divorce

What followed at the Barfly was much brighter, if a little more agro-centric. Turbogeist‘s speed punk was really quite good! Fast and furious riffs with poppy sprinkles gave it a really edge as you could both rock out and toe tap at the same time. In amongst their set were some belting tunes, such as Alien Girl, that sparked chaos in the mosh pit. I say mosh pit, this was all out macho man pinball! It even managed to fill 90% of the venue. The remaining 10% wincing at every clout while secretly hoping the next one to fly out, does so not near me! A frenzied set which was both dangerous and fun!

Turbogeist

Hawk Eyes (or the band formerly known as Chickenhawk), played an absolute blinder in the Underworld tonight. Aggressive alt metal was met with equally approving head banging as their hard hitting riffs and super technical fretwork took centre stage. This was not for the faint hearted as they blasted through most of their debut album including tunes such as NASA Vs ESA, Scorpieau and Son of Cern. We were even joined in the crowd by the lead singer who despite being the occasional scream merchant, has an impressive set of pipes! One to rock out to (without fear of flying bodies).

Hawk Eyes

Rounding off the night we ended up in the Jazz Cafe for the return of Dananananaykroyd. With a tiny stage for their bouncy frenetic live shows it didn’t take long for the singers to leap into the crowd, instantly sending camera bulbs flashing (guilty your honour) as their antics continued. Mr. Flowers even got a high five! Without their new album being out yet, much of the show was new to us, yet the songs on offer were as cheery as ever mixed with dazzling guitar work and their trademark dueling vocals. One new single i picked out Muscle Memory was an all out pop song with a catchy melody and bags off off-kilter kookiness which makes they so great to listen to.

Dananananaykroyd

More than any other band I’ve seen, Dananananaykroyd really look like they are having an absolute blast all the time, cracking jokes, bearing grins as wide as the Cheshire cat and bantering with anyone who dares. Their energy is totally infectious! Even when during one song both guitars and one mic malfunctioned. To their credit, they carried on regardless and had a little chuckle about it afterwards!

Free Hug, enroute to Hi-Five Mr Flowers!

So it was with some older tunes Black Wax and Pink Sabbath did Danananananaanana… bid us farewell this evening. They rounded off what was a great day one, for a festival whose crowning glory (of a shower and a cooked breakfast) was yet to come…oh and tomorrows lineup is pretty awesome too! Stay Tuned!

Trail Of Dead @ Electric Ballroom

16th April 2011

The double gig header for this week was concluded with another trip to Camden, only this time it’s straight to the Electric Ballroom early doors in order to catch the bands (damn Friday night scheduling). Upon arrival we were bombarded with epic noise rock coming from Asobi Seksu, who seemed to be doing quite well in drawing in the already ample crowd.

Asobi Sesku

Catching the end of the set, they played with plenty of shoegazy fuzz factory loaded guitars and scratchtastic fretting. But it all fell apart when the female vocalist opened her mouth to deliver weak and whiney vocals. Good thing there weren’t that many vocals then hey!

Rival Schools

After a long time away Rival Schools had returned to the UK with their first new material in 7 years since their lauded debut United By Fate. They have clearly spent time honing their songwriting as these new tunes were mature, melodic and catchy. The performance was one of professionalism. All in all a fairly standard run through of their material. Good, but left a little hole where the excitement should be. Front man Walter Schreifels warm vocals and his intimacy with the crowd, initiating plenty of banter showed a confidence which even went so far as breaking out a cover by request. To the cries of “FREEEEEBIRD!” came a rendition of the first verse/chorus of Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead Or Alive…they definitely have a sense of humour. Set highlights included the delayed drenched riffs of 69 Guns, the heaving opener Wring It Out and sing-a-long indie classic Used For Glue. On the whole, a rather enjoyable set.

…And Now You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, to quote their full moniker do not do half measures. Neither do they like the phrase ordinary. Whether is the band name’s, their energy or the ethereal sonic experimentations they manufacture they are far from your average Joe’s. Kicking off their set they launched into a seemingly endless stream of melody and progressive rock greatness backed with more rise and falls than the south downs. After later checking up (setlist.fm) it seems this was the 16min album closer Strange News From Another Planet from latest LP Tao of the Dead, just how any middle of the road band would start their set, right?

And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead

Follow this with a seamless melody of cracking indie rock tunes from the same album including The Fairlight Pendant, Ebb Away and Summer Of All Dead Souls, you have the first half over within the blink of an eye! ToD have a great tendency to produce beautiful slow drifting instrumentations which lull your senses, taking you into a dreamlike state of mind. Yet they manage to never over do it (70’s prog a no-no), bringing back the main riff at just the right point to kick you up the ass with full blown amped up clout.

ToD were hitting the right notes with the crowd by playing moving on to some older material which sparked both moshs and sways in equal proportions. In rather ToD like fashion, their lead singer and drummer swapped for some of tracks which tended to be heavier and punkier.

Switching it up

These Texans take no prisoners no matter who is on vocal duty and it’s their genre bending, outright refusal to conform, while creating unique and exciting prog which sets them apart and above all who try to rival them. A great performance from true rock heavyweights.

The Jim Jones Revue @ KoKo

15th April 2011

From the get go this evening, it was clear we had taken more than a couple of steps back in time. Slicked back haircuts, leather jackets and vintage dresses galore…we had landed in the 50’s! With rockabilly’s as far as the eye could see we headed down to catch the sole support act tonight, Lewis Floyd Henry.

Lewis Floyd Henry

Floyd was a tad more modern in his musical style. His one man band hopped forwards just 10 years in fact, as he blasted out 60’s roots blues, with mesmeric results. He was a totally charasmatic, instantly likable figure with quirky tendencies and a real sense of humour. As he stomped on his tiny little bass drum and cymbal combo he crashed out some fittingly retro fuzzed up bluesy riffs with personality! Think Seasick Steve in session with The Black Keys.

Burn Pram Burn…

His stage present was magnificent and the crowd were waiting with baited breath on each of his lyrics, whether they were faux conversations with himself or modern tales of life and love. I especially enjoyed his song about driving down the M4, dialogue with other motorists, genius stuff. This man truly loved the blues, pouring raging highs and sombre lows through his every chord, harking back to blues legends of the past. Plus just in case you were thinking about forgetting about this set…Floyd proceeded to set alight to his amp onstage in spectacular fashion (which coincidentally was wheeled in and out in a ramshackle old pushchair).

The Jim Jones Revue

The feel good nature of the evening continued as The Jim Jones Revue took to the stage and immediately proceeded to blast out 50’s bar room blues in the most fuzzed up, damn right rock n’ roll manner ever! The retro effect soaked vocals were rasping as they cut through the honky tonk adrenaline piano shots, tight rifffing and wailing guitar solo’s. This was an all out assault on the blues and they absolutely nailed it! From the first chord to the last, their scuzzy blues had everyone twistin’ and shoutin’, as they danced the night away. No Pogoing, No Moshing,…only jiving!

They rampantly plundered their way though a set with the enthusiasm of a band 20 years their junior which took the best from their back catalogue including the energetic High Horse, sing-a-long Shoot First, ferocious Dishonest John and the chaotic Elemental.

I must say I haven’t had so much fun at a gig for a long time. All it took was some middle aged men with a love of Jerry Lee Lewis and flat out rock transporting us back to a true 50’s rock and roll dancehall. Their performance was a joyous celebration of the blues as everyone, young & old had an absolute blast. There was barely a soul present without a huge grin on their face!

Jim Jones

It’s no wonder then this band thrives on their live reputation….. They are simply fantastic!