So here we found ourselves once again - the happiest spot on the planet .........
EOTR is often cited as 'a music lovers festival’. I've not been particularly comfortable with that descriptor and the rather pompous picture it conjures. But this weekend I think I was able to rationalise it. Bands play all weekend across four stages (two outside, including the sizeable Woods Stage, and two in tents) but such is the nature of the exciting line-up every arena empties out after each act. There is no sense here of people camping for the day in a given spot just to wait for that night's headliner; everyone simply seems too excited about what is happening elsewhere. And there's lot's to sample from an eclectic mix of music to the stunningly beautiful gardens, literary and cinema arenas or simply the gin hut or cider bus for a chill-moment.
For the first time this year bands played on Thursday evening on the main Woods Stage, with The Shins headlining. This really helped elongate the festival - let's hope this becomes an established feature.
This years event was a little rain affected. There was a downpour Saturday afternoon which meant we got a soaking during the beautiful Meilyr Jones set on The Garden Stage - but absolutely worth toughing it out in the wet for such an accomplished artist. Heading back to the tent for a change of clothes and to recuperate meant we had to forsake Local Natives.
Fortunately the site drains well so the need to wade through mud was restricted to just a few particularly well-trodden areas. Later that evening the crowds were back wandering around, all smiles and not a single moan to be heard - oh well, this is a music-lovers festival.
Across the weekend we saw 30 bands.
Teleman - Woods Stage. One of our favourite bands kicking off our favourite festival. Opened with live favourite 'Sweet Combinations' followed by a good showcase of their latest album Brilliant Sanity
John Johanna - Tipi Tent. Repetitive guitar work accompanying a drum machine. Bluesy tunes, almost spiritual in places
The Shins - Woods Stage. What is it about Portland that allows this otherwise un-noted city in Oregon to produce so many sublime indie bands? This was The Shins first show in 4 years. It didn't sound like it. Arguably the perfect EOTR band. Played the wonderful 'Phantom Limb' second song in followed by a set featuring many tunes from their 'Chutes Too Narrow' album. Four song encore. Marvellous
Roddy Womble - Woodland Library. Humble and self-deprecating, the Idlewild lead singer was talking about his book Instrumentals and his current life that sees him living in a 90-strong community on Iona. Good news is that Idlewild is still an ongoing entity, with new album and gigs over the next 24-36 months
Amber Arcades - Garden Stage. Female lead singer and jangly guitars. Good set of pop tunes. Rockin final number
Weaves - Big Top. Shades of Beth Jeans Houghton in lead singer Jasmyne Burke’s vocal. Strokesey guitar provided the backdrop for this Toronto 4-piece. Lyrics were laced with sexual tension. Others were more graphic ''When I was 15 I was living in a shit-hole...."
Martha Ffion - Tipi Tent. Supported by a 4-strong band which Martha introduced as The Homemakers. As she took to the mic she pointed out 'if you were expecting Martha, the punk-rock band from the North East, we aren't them ..... we wish we were". Delivered a good set of non punk-rock. Lyrics in stark contrast to the more edgey previous band: "when I was 15 I burnt my diaries, when I was 15 I burnt my record sleeves"
David Brewis - Tipi Tent Bar. Stopping for a quick bite of lunch were able to spend time listening to one of the Field Musicbrothers. Like Roddy Womble earlier in the day, he eschews being in the spotlight but quietly admitted he does get a real buzz on the odd occasion somebody stops him in the street and tells him how they'd enjoyed a recent show. DB also revealed the rest of Field Music were in a broken down van with all their gear on the A34, all this just hours before they were due on The Garden Stage
U.S. Girls - Big Top. The first I saw this band (earlier this year at Primavera Festival) I thought it was a 2-girl collaboration. Today Meghan Remy was quite clearly leading the show, though still with 2 girls with beats and loops. My earlier recollection was also of a frothy fun-filled performance; today quite the opposite, dealing with rape and other highly emotive topics. But not without humorous moments including sporadic appearances of a guitar-touting cowboy. Costume changes aplenty including nun head-dresses for the last number followed by getting re-dressed to exit the stage.
Whitney - Garden Stage. Julien Ehlrich (Unknown Mortal Orchestra) centre-stage on drums and vocals together with guitarist Max Kakacek (Smith Westerns). Today supported with a 4-strong band. Included a Dylan cover 'Tonight I'm Going Home With You' in their 50-minute set.
Anna Meredith - Big Top. AM on keys, clarinet, drums and vocal - plus tuba, two bass, drums and guitars. The ensemble provided superb harmony-rich orchestrations, but later in the set an opportunity for a 'sweaty dance'. Interesting backdrop throughout - an image of a red and yellow cat which was static apart eyes blinking intermittently; replaced by a similarly coloured snail that moved across the screen, and finally a frog with a pointy tongue (or was it a lizard?).
Money - Big Top. As foreshadowed earlier, Field Music were late commencing their set so we got in early for what promised to be a highlight of our agenda, Money. The refrain "There will be music all around, When they put me in the ground" set the tone for a customary haunting set. Best set of the day and a highlight of the weekend..
Animal Collective - Woods Stage. A long awaited appearance at EOTR from this interestingly bedecked band standing in a row across the stage. For me it was Kraftwerk without the kraft.
Shura - Big Top. Electro-based pop. Shura on keys front centre. Guitar and bass on either side, drummer behind. Somebody said she has shades of Kylie. Agree.
Beak> - Big Top. Electro kraut rock - delivered in excellent style
Darren Hayman - Woodland Library. As well as playing recorded extracts from his 'Thankful Villages' album, we were treated at the end to 3 songs sung live. These are stories and songs you can hear countless times without tiring of them
Younghusband - Big Top. Fuzzy guitars; west coast sounds. Played two slower songs in the middle of their set otherwise peppered with tunes from their 'Drones' and 'Dissolver' albums
Meilyr Jones - Garden Stage. Supported with his excellent band (featuring Euan from Younghusband) this set was simply brilliant. During one song Meilyr dropped vertically from the stage as if through a trap-door. We were pretty close and it looked impressive; I guess there were people further back to whom he would simply have disappeared. Marvellous fun in the rain.
Martha - Tipi Tent. Their lyric 'Blisters in the pit of my heart' summed up this raucous nu-punk from Durham. Androgynous guitarist had his hair in pig-tails. Shared most of the vocals with the other guitarist creating a Billy Bragg soundalike in places. 'Curly & Raquel' was introduced as a song inspired by 'the greatest romance of the 20th Century'. Liveliest band of the weekend including a mosh-pit for 30-somethings and the odd crowd surfer.
Goat - Woods Stage. Fantastic costumes - allowed us to step momentarily into a Womad-infused world
Steve Mason - Big Top. Our plan had been to watch the first 20 minutes and then go to see 'Fews' - but one look at each other during the opening chords told us that wasn't likely to happen. The sound was so good; band so good; Steve M so good - we went nowhere.
Ezra Furman - Garden Stage. The Saturday night clash was always going to be one to grapple with (Ezra v Bat For Lashes). We always said we would go with flow, and hearing BFL already in full swing with songs from recent 'The Bride' album we plumped for Ezra. Wearing the now customary dress he delivered a superb mix of his classics and tunes off his new covers EP, starting off with 'Teddy, I'm Ready To Rock And Roll'. Excellent
BC Camplight - Tipi Tent. Wonderfully orchestrated tunes. One's to follow up on
The Big Moon - Tipi Tent. This band always look like they’re having so much fun. The bands stunning appearance was enhanced further today by one of the band members playing the set in the EOTR post-man uniform. 'Formidable' was once again a stand out song between their lively single releases.
Seratones - Tipi Tent. From Louisiana. Occasional hints of deep south but in reality these were simply excellent guitar songs with vocals delivered by a vibrant female singer.
BE - Garden Stage. Introduced by a soundtrack of bee calls with an enlightening description of the many and varied sounds. The band then took to the stage to play recently released 'One' album with the bee soundtrack accompaniment. Spellbinding in parts. Rather like early Floyd, 20 minutes of admiring the musicianship earning you the right for the 'hairs standing up on back of neck' moment at the crescendos.
Pinegrove - Tipi Tent. US six-piece. Summery, quirky tunes. Think Paul Simon with occasional Beach Boys thrown in. Time changes that really kept the interest.
Dr Dog - Woods Stage. Americana indie/Country. 10 years since we first stumbled across this band. Wonderful to see they'd not slipped completely off the radar.
Bill Ryder-Jones – Garden Stage. A great set, shades of Pernice Brothers in some of his numbers. Possibly a 45 minutes would have suited rather than the allotted hour.
Flamingods - Big Top. In terms of football formations: first half: 2-4; second half: 1:5. Manic tunes with a Latin under-groove. Lead Singer jumped the barrier in last song. As the crowds parted I managed to grab a leg and with assistance from an initially unwilling crowd we got him to surf to victory.
Broken Social Scene - Woods Stage. Another coup for this festival. This seven strong band were playing for the first time in 5 years. Today with 4-man brass section and guest female vocal. Great to hear some of the BSS classics
King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard - Big Top. Like buses, bands with two drummers are scarce, but to the old adage two came along at once this evening. KGATWL Are a seven-strong outfit playing manic tunes with elongated bluesy guitar breaks
Thee Oh Sees – Garden Stage. Second band running with two drummers, and didn’t they generate a fantastic sound. A real crowd-pleaser. Played old numbers plus a good selection off recent album ‘A Weird Exits’.
Thank you End Of the Road. Early-bird tix already in the bag for next year !!
Our tenth trip down to Dorset for the End of the Road festival, the Eleventh edition of this ever growing boutique affair. Not much to report site wise, a few cosmetic changes but mainly the same set up as recent years.
A main stage start on a Thursday this year meant that the majority of the weekend crowd were there on Thursday night to enjoy a crack set from Teleman followed by a re-generated Shins back on stage for the first time in a very long time. An excellent set as they have a catalogue of wonderful tunes, we even got, ‘Chutes Too Narrow’.
It’s a pretty grey weekend weather wise but Amber Arcades bring some sunshine with their dreamy Scandinavian indie. Dawn Landes and band plays a set of great tunes and looks in top form and over the "break-up album" phase. Fiery Furnace, Eleanor Friedberger, played a lo-fi indie set on her birthday.
Margo Price is on the main Woods Stage, which was introduced a few years back at the same time that the bigger bands arrived at the festival and the capacity was increased. For what the Wood Stage lacks in ambiance the artists themselves create unique musical vistas. The vista for Margo Price and band is Nashville in the rain. A great set of modern day C&W.
Stealing Sheep replace Omar Souleyman and play a great set at short notice, they look like a female Kraftwerk on stage I must say. Now into the evening session and Field Music, running late (van broke down, borrowed equipment etc), are still sound checking when the set should start, but once they get going it’s a superb set.
Phosphorescent plays a one off set on the Garden stage as the night draws in followed by, an outstanding set from Cat Power, what a voice! Later night shows in the Tipi tent from Mothers and Big Thief and both are excellent. Mother’s hypnotic and intense, Big Thief, bright and sparky.
The majority of rain falls today but before the heavy downpour arrives, there is time for breakfast with Wilco, well, a playback of the new album ‘Schmilco’ and a chance to chat with the neighbours. A fine record by the way.
Julia Jacklin, a Caitin Rose like singer/songwriter from Oz is in fine form with a full band, in the Tipi tent. A real find is Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker, a folk duo recently signed to Rough Trade Records. Ben play guitar and Josienne, with a dry dark sense of humour sings. Absolutely wonderful, look out for the new album this autumn.
Meilyr Jones storms the Garden stage before the rain hits which means it’s back to the tent for some shelter and red wine. By the time Local Natives hit the Woods Stage at 5.30pm the rain is still coming down but, these guys from L.A. soon have us forgetting about the weather as they pile massive energy into their set. The band have not been around for three years so, all these classic songs from the first couple of albums sound fresh as does the new material. A brilliant hour and oh ... the rain has stopped!
Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop played a lovely set accompanied by some coordinated wildfowl on one song. This is followed by M. Ward and band in full rock n’ roll mode and again an ace set. Our headliner tonight on the Garden Stage is Ezra Furman, who has been playing sets around the festival since Thursday evening. Ezra tonight is in fully focussed, rock n’roll mode and with his band, The Boyfriends, plays an outstanding set.
Tonight’s late night show is an hour in the company of Wild Beasts in the Big Top tent. a nice surprise appearance from these, previous festival headliners.
A nice dry and sunny day at last as Sunday dawns and Pinegrove from New Jersey are an ace early find. slightly Pavement like this a a great band destined for bigger things. The Blind Shake deliver a raw rock n’ roll set on the Big Top stage.
Bill Ryder-Jones in the mid afternoon sunshine is in fine form with his ace band along side and still in a Neil Young and Crazy Horse frame of mind. JD McPherson is a sonically loud rock-a-billy dude in full flight on the Woods stage followed by a 20 piece? Broken Social Scene who flew in for just this set and where heading back to Canada the day after. A sense of occasion was in the air and the band delivered a great set to an adoring crowd.
Tonight’s headliner on the main stage is Joanna Newsom. In fact with nothing else on any other stage at the same time, she is the true End of the Road headliner for 2016 however, like chalk and cheese, before Joanna, it’s Thee Oh Sees on the Garden Stage. A psychedelic 3-piece from San Francisco, these guys just blast the audience off their feet for a hour. a tour-de-force of a gig unlike any other band delivers at this moment in time. A stunning highlight of the festival.
A total opposite and it is the divine Joanna Newsom, for the second time left stranded on the Woods stage on a cold dark chilly night. Sitting in a concert hall her music is stunning. In a cold dark field, at the end of a long festival (with nothing else to watch) it’s just not been thought though it seems.
11.15pm and Teenage Fanclub are on the Garden stage and the festival end in fine style.
This is the festival for us that always draws a big group of friends so, is a constant on out festival calendar .... roll on 2017!
If you were looking to have a new and eclectic festival, who better to curate it than a respected and influential independent record shop, ( hello, Drift Records!) and where better to house it than a hippy intellectual enclave in the south west (yes, that is you, Totnes!) .
It’s near the sea, so the three lovely record shop organisers called it Sea Change – motto, I Can Sea change. I knew it was to be a special weekend when we woke in the bijou campsite in the dairy fields of Dartington estate to find a table laden with free tea, coffee, milk and flasks of hot water. Then Bob the Community Bus arrived to take us the short trip to town.
The five diverse venues were mostly close together in the High Street, where every other shop is a cool café or organic eatery. The opening ceremony was led by Ways with Weirds, two poets who really are undertakers. It had a death and rebirth theme, in the little used Civic Hall where Blondie and 90s raves once shook the tiles from the ceiling – now reborn with a line-up so diverse that even I could not appreciate all of it... full of new discoveries whose records Drift liked and had connections with.
A full-on Membranes rock show was preceded by lead singer and writer John Robb being interviewed about his love of science by John Duran of the Quietus, who later curated a stage in the S Devon Arts Centre featuring his mates like Teeth of the Sea and Bo Ningen...you get the picture. Incidentally, Teeth were so powerful my friend ran out screaming during the first number, joining several other deafened partners on a big leather sofa outside next to a ping pong table.
One of the finest venues for both architecture and acoustics was the 13th C St Marys Church (no bands til 4pm on Sat because of a wedding, when the large festival Bar Open sign was discreetly replaced).
Highlights here were 20 year old Holly Macve from Yorkshire who walked up from the train station with her guitars and sang just like Loretta Lynn, Alasdair Roberts in a trio with Stevie Jones from Sound of Yell and Alex Neilson of Trembling Bells, and James Yorkston with Jon Thorne from Lamb and the stunning voice and sarangi playing of Suhail Yusuf Khan from New Delhi, as heard on their hypnotic and emotional album Everything Sacred.
James then went on to tell anecdotes from his life and two books as part of a spoken word bill in the Birdwood House art gallery.. and then played acoustic solo at a perfect venue, the tiny but welcoming New Lion Brewery.
New Lion had brewed some special beers just for the festival, including British Sea Power IPA (100 numbered bottles – I drank no. 22!), named for the headliners and big name draw who packed out the final session at the Civic Hall. Totnes has two other breweries, including brew pub the Barrelhouse who hosted great dance music with Bizarre Rituals and guests such as Neil Landstrum of Planet Mu and the wonderful Throws, made up of the founders of folkpsych favs Tuung. The two singers played opposite, staring into each other’s eyes.
Perhaps the best new discovery of the weekend was Ultimate Painting, one of several acts referencing the 60s, in this case the Beach Boys and the Byrds. Shame I missed them solo on New Lion’s intimate staircase. Other highlights were BC Camplight roaring out his soulful songs in a big black hat and coat with a bottle of red wine in one hand and a keyboard in the other, and 30Lbs of Bone playing his sad slow laments to a seated Civic Hall. Then it was rocking out with Brighton’s version of the Beautiful South, Pure Conjecture, featuring new Heavenly artist Rose Elinor Dougall.
Come rain, wind, storms, sunshine, blue or grey skies, the middle weekend of August brings us The Green Man Festival, in the glorious setting of the Black Mountains in South Wales.
This year it’s the 14th edition of the festival. A festival that is special in the calendar mainly for the laid back, chilled, mixed ages and general happiness of the people attending. Thursday this year, sees again a fine line-up to wet the taste buds for the weekend ahead.
First on the Far Out Stage ( bigger tent this year) are Cigarettes after Sex from Brooklyn. Slightly National like in style these guys are excellent. Deep, dark songs from next year’s debut LP sound very promising indeed.
Next up it’s King Glizzard and the Lizard Wizard from Australia who nearly blow the roof off the tent on the first evening. Psych Rock at its finest.
Final band of the night is Wild Beasts, the biggest Thursday headliner the festival has had. The band back with a new album, ‘Boy King’ are in fine form and play a full 90 mins set.
First up on the Mountain (main) Stage is Tony Njoku, winner of the Green Man Rising competition. An excellent voice mixed with Synths make for an interesting sound. Palace Winter, a Copenhagen rock outfit seem polished and able to blow the cobwebs away! Always a good sign.
Next a band that certainly fit into that category are the 9 piece O’Hellos from Austin, Texas. Absolutely fabulous, full of life, full of fun and great songs! Ex- Megafauna man Phil Cook gives us an accomplished set of great songs and chat before it’s off the the Far Out tent for the legends that are The Membranes. Suitably shell-shocked post gig we head for Georgia band Mothers who took to the Walled Garden Stage having switched slots with Emma Pollock .
The band highlighted their set with a number of songs from their latest album 'When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired', which has received rave reviews from critics. Whilst you may not find their show full of party central songs, their sophisticated songwriting was evident in their 30 minute set. Showing just why their band are gaining an up and coming following.
Julianna Barwick is someone you always want to listen to lying on the grass with your eyes shut. Magnificent! Next it’s The Mountain Stage for local hero Meilyr Jones who was excellent with great songs and lyrics. Then comes veteran U.S. indie band The Miracle Legion. Mark Mulcahy and co delivered a great set in the pouring rain to an enthusiastic and very wet crowd.
Oh Sister, another Green Man Rising band were something special on the Rising stage. Very soulful and great musicians ... a Brit Warpaint in the making. Throws were surprisingly loud on the Walled Garden stage ... excellent songs created during a winter in Iceland apparently.
Early evening now and Connan Moccasin takes to the Mountain stage with the evening sun shining bright and warm. It takes a while for the band to warm up, but when they do, wow! Suuns clash with Jason Isbell but with the staggered stage time we get 20 mins of this superb band, after which the aforementioned Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit play a storming set on the Mountain stage.
Dark now and it's White Denim who get everyone bouncing before it becomes a choice of James Blake or a re-formed Lush. We opt for Lush and get a Shoegaze, Brit pop history lesson. Brilliant!
I See Rivers (Staves like) start the day off beautifully. Sea Pinks from Belfast raise the pace with their bright sparking indie tunes followed by Fews, a Foals like band finding their feet fast. BC Camplight and band have a sunshine set on the Walled Garden stage, which is great fun as is, the ever delightful Emma Pollock, who is always someone to make the sun shine.
The Weather Station, Canadian Tamara Lindeman and band play a sublime set in the Walled Garden. Shut your eyes and think Joni Mitchell and you have it. Joan Shelley also guested on one song.
The Magnetic North with Simon Tong, Hannah Peel and Gawain Erland Cooper plus strings are magnificent, again on the small Walled Garden stage. Both their albums get a good look in during the hour long set. A real highlight of the weekend.
Night time and Edward Sharpe and his Magnetic Zeros get the Mountain stage crowd on their feet and dancing. A brilliant frontman and equally brilliant band, turn a large crowd into a club!
Laura Marling played a wonderful set as headliner but, this wonderful set was more suited to a concert hall. As a Saturday festival headline set it didn’t really work, the crowd seemed pretty deflated after the exuberance of the Edward Sharpe show.
They didn't use video screens on the side of the stage, which meant that those on the slopes around the stage and at the middle / back of the flat area in front of the stage lost their connection with the artist. The same thing happened with Tindersticks earlier in the evening and Neutral Milk Hotel a few years ago. Laura played some beautiful music, but with warning of 55 mph winds due overnight, we chose to trudge back to our tents.
No obvious major tent damage after a second night of storms! Sunday was dry day for the most part and very warm. A real great find and opener on the Mountain Stage at midday was Margaret Glaspy, a real gritty singer/songwriter from Red Bluff, California and now based in New York. A real one to watch!
Daniel Norgren from Sweden leads a 3 piece band with heavy Neil Young influences, a great grungy hour in the sunshine. Gengahr are up next, songs form the new album due next year sound good as does the more established material.
Ex-Woods man Kevin Morby plays a blinder in a very warm Far Out Tent and he is followed by a dose of prog psych from The Besnard Lakes. Back to the Walled Garden for some tropical pop from Black Peaches after which the garden becomes rammed as a massive crowd squeezes in for Whitney. A real hit of the weekend, the band suffering from a long night partying still provide a fun packed show of songs and banter. Guitarist Max Kakacek and drummer Julien Ehrlich have really hit a rich vein of form with this band. There are autumn UK dates, so check them out.
Down to our final two bands of the festival. Warpaint, perhaps played the most fluid set of the whole festival. This band have such a brilliant vibe about them. The music each member plays just flows together between the four of them to create a groove laden whole. Outstanding set and again they have Autumn UK dates scheduled.
Unfortunately Warpaint clashed with Ezra Furman, who from comments of those smiling people coming out of the tent after the gig, put on the most talked about set of the weekend. End of the Road beckons for our Ezra live experience!
The legend that is Grandaddy wound up the festival for us in fine style. Pushed for time they still completed an hour long hit laden set to the joy of everyone present.
The burning of the Green Man and speculator fireworks ended the 14th edition of the Green Man festival which was a real joy to attend.
A lovely sunny day for strolling between the five locations up and down Mare Street, Hackney that comprise this festival. The venues are all indoors and are dispersed along a mile-long stretch so a bit of planning is needed. Key thing for us is not to be too ambitious given the requirement to build in 'moving about' time, but at the same time we wanted to take in all five venues which we managed to do.
Good quality street food on offer and plenty of craft ale from local micro-breweries. So with all that, mixed with an eclectic band line-up we couldn't really go wrong.
Gabriel Bruce - Moth Club
Our favourite small venue in Hackney and this was a must-see act for us as well. Particularly good quality Hackney Golden Ale was consumed as we sat in the bar area of this social club awaiting proceedings to begin.
Gabriel Bruce can be best described as 'effortless rockin', his dark brown voice never showcased better than in second song 'Sacred Heart'. Supported with a four-piece band, together they got funky on 'Kurt And Kanye’. Finished with 'Come All Sufferers', title track from Gabriel’s forthcoming album (I confess I thought the song was called ‘Come on Suckers’ until I saw the set list)
Japanese Breakfast - Oval Space
Perhaps I'm getting to be a grumpy old man but I get increasingly irritated at events like this when stage schedules run a long way out of time. This band were second on this stage but (not their fault) were a full 50 minutes late starting. This feels like uncaring disregard for the paying customer (there are other bands I could be seeing!.... or perhaps I should just chill out a little).
At 3.35 the band were ready to go but were looking non-plussed toward the sound desk. At this point I had two templates in my head for this mini-review: (a) ‘....resulted in making what might have been an enjoyable set a rather tepid affair’ or (b) ‘.... but it was worth the wait as this exciting US band blew us away....’
First song in was definitely option A, but things picked up massively as the set progressed and I'm glad to say option B prevailed. This was their first visit to UK. Pop tunes in Alvvays/Sunflower Bean vein but with a thumping beat. The fifth song was sung solo by lead singer Michelle Zauner. Interestingly she seemed most at home on this number; shades of 'See Of Bees'. Unfortunately the guitar sound was out of kilter with the vocal suggesting an acoustic accompaniment might suit it better. Final number went electro a la Polica.
Michelle Zauner is a talent to watch, not necessarily, I suspect, within the confines of this band.
Let's Eat Grandma -St John's Church Hackney
This venue presents a slightly sorry picture. A cavernous building but with a ceiling sadly discoloured from water penetration. Still has the trappings of a working church but the pews all taken out, so unusually for an ecclesiastical venue this is an 'all-stander'.
Let's Eat Grandma are two 17 year old girls from Norwich, Rosa & Jenny. With matching waist long curly hair you'd be forgiven for thinking they were sisters. Having seen pictures of them before today but without hearing their material I was expecting an angry punk-edged shout-fest. This was nothing of the sort. This pair produced sounds of a maturity that belied their years. Supported by a drum machine they both skipped between multiple instruments: keys, glockenspiel, sax, mandolin, guitar and recorder - all complementing the vocals which they also shared.
A few songs in, the drum machine was ditched for real drums, once again both taking a turn. But this was the one area I feel they over-stretched themselves. It felt like wasted energy that might have been put to better use expanding on the quirky synchronised dance-moves that became an increasing feature as the set progressed.
A wonderful performance though surprisingly not the most striking we saw – this was to follow at the Brewhouse....
Drones Club - London Fields Brewhouse
The performance that blew us away most today. As we came out of the Brewhouse bar heading to the small auditorium we followed the band as they exited the 'Band Dressing Room' area. They were bedecked in jump suits all with multi-coloured burkah-style head-dresses. Put me in mind of Devo in their pomp.
As the band went into their first dance-groove electro tune two other (presumably female) band members, similarly attired with only their eyes visible through their head-dress, came toward the stage and proceeded to dance in front of the stage, where they remained, beguiling throughout.
Two of the band members revealed their faces as the set progressed but the remainder remained unidentified. A great spectacle.
Bleached – Mangle Club
Jennifer and Jessie used to be ‘Mika Miko’. Now the band is three girls with a dude on a drumkit which was bedecked with flowers. Girl punk in sensible shoes
Gengahr – Mangle Club
Delivered excellent renditions of songs mostly from their excellent 2015 album ‘A Dream Outside’. Set included three new tunes, played with perhaps a tad more energy. Most interesting was titled ‘Mallory’.
Yak – Moth Club
Missing their usual bass player, tonight’s line-up included Leo of Gallon Drunk on bass. Plus guests Jono (Jagwar Ma) and Jay (Tame Impala) on guitar. This auspicious line up played guitar heavy tunes with plenty of electro keyboards interlaced, all complemented perfectly by sax interludes.
From previous experience of this band we knew the crowd was likely to be ‘lively’; and as expected a mosh started from the opening chords. As drink became spilt on the dance-floor area it became like an ice-rink and in the second number two girls fell backwards to the floor, limbs akimbo. Singer Oliver Burslem wasted no opportunity to max out on this opportunity, leaping from the stage to lay backwards on top of them, hampering their efforts to get up - playing thrashing chords on his guitar all the while.
This was the first of multiple forays into the audience through this vibrant set that comprised songs of 10-12 minutes in length with drum/bass/sax solos aplenty. Fantastic stuff – by the end we were battered and exhausted in equal measure, and wet with beer, water and sweat. An appropriate state to catch the train home with whistling ears....