Interview – Massive Wagons

Massive Wagons – Interview with Tina Sherwood 

Hey, Massive Wagons!

Live from Call Of The Wild Festival, 2022

When offered the chance to chat to the fellas from MW, it was an opportunity not to be missed.

So when my turn came to meet with frontman, Barry ‘Baz’ Mills & Adam (one of the two Thislethwaite brothers in the band), I wanted to open with something a little different:

In the band, who has the most massive wagons?’ leaving it intentionally ambiguous to allow the conversation to take its natural course.

Needless to say, it did set the tone for the remainder of the interview and I never really did discover the answer; amusingly, I was rather wary of where to point the camera during their live headline performance in the evening though!

Amenable to the last, the guys chatted about the UK and European dates coming up this year. Travelling through Germany, Finland, Switzerland, the Massive Wagons experience will be rolling across Europe bringing the band’s particular brand of showmanship and sound to new and established audiences alike.

For the Wagons themselves, they see GrasPop Metal Meeting 2022 in Belgium as a particular milestone on their extraordinary journey, taking the stage alongside some of the greatest bands of our time, this year including Iron Maiden, Volbeat, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Alice Cooper … and Massive Wagons. A dream line-up.

Massive Wagons are well and truly on a roll. I wish them all the luck in the world.

Go show ‘em, guys!

Massive Wagons

Interview and photos by Tina Sherwood at All The Ts Photography

23rd May 2022

Preview – Dot to Dot Festival

Dot to Dot Festival, Bristol 28th May / Nottingham 29th May 2022

Perhaps in response to our wonderful range of weather, something the UK does really well is an urban festival. Having been around since 2005, Dot to Dot Festival is no stranger to the platform, and is set to present another sterling line-up of musical talent to the streets of Bristol and Nottingham at the end of the month. Both cities have a range of big and small venues hosting shows, allowing for the opportunity to select from a strong choice of acts and genres.

For Dot to Dot 2022 there’s an impressive list of breakthrough artists included who, by the end of the year, are likely to be gracing much bigger stages. This includes… (deep breath)… Keg, Lime Garden, Honeyglaze, Bob Vylan, BDRMM, Powerplant, Retro Video Club, Prima Queen and many more.

Already established on the live circuit, the likes of Squid, Ghetts and Alfie Templeman will also be performing. There really is loads to pick from – see the poster for more details with further announcements still to be made.

We’re looking forward to sharing our highlights with you soon, and if you haven’t got your tickets yet, there is still some limited availability here.

Dot to Dot Festival

Words by Siobhan

18th May 2022

The Great Escape Festival 2022

The Great Escape, Brighton, 12th-14th May 2022

After three long years, The Great Escape returned to Brighton, a showcase for new music like no other as every corner of the city is only a pebble’s throw from the next venue. With hundreds of artists playing daily, it’s impossible to capture more than a fraction of the festival. Given that its whole ethos is about discovering new music of every kind from the local, national and international scene, and that we’re always looking to do the same, we’re bringing you our highlights and putting the spotlight on five featured artists from varying genres who we feel deserve to be shouted about. Inevitably there are others we would’ve liked to meet and feature too, but there’s always another time.

So, 3 days of sunshine, over 450 artists on the line-up (not even counting all the Alt Escape shows), 54,842 steps walked, and it all kicked off with the chance at last to catch Fräulein play one of their many sets of the weekend at Queen’s Hotel. An assured start to the day, and already bumping into friends old and new.

The variety of what was available to see on both the main and Alt stages didn’t take long to surface as we caught new to us She’s in Parties (Unbarred) and Tony Njoku (Shortt’s Bar), then later the awesome Pozi, who received loads of support from the crowd as they deftly tried to battle through really painful sound issues at Revenge.

Across the course of the weekend there were some incredible solo artists to witness too; on point electronica from Michael Georgian at The Pipeline, a heart-warming set in the gorgeous surroundings of St Mary’s Church from Douglas Dare, and a slick prowl around the Coalition basement with Sinead O’Brien.

Always bringing a bit of fun to the table, excellent stuff as expected from The Bug Club at Brighthelm, and if there’s a vest to be ripped you can rely on Priestgate to do the honours, frantic as ever in their animated performance at Unbarred.

Medicine Cabinet made their mark with a strong set, a big crowd and a plastic sword that can only ever add value at One Church, and the wonderful Audio Books once again gave a masterclass in playing live at Horatio’s Bar.

Well, we promised you featured artists and here they are. In no particular order, we think there’s something here for everyone. Check them out if you haven’t already and let the memories of the weekend soak away the blisters on your feet ( a beautiful picture to paint I know, you’re welcome).

deep tan

Intriguing, enchanting and with stabbing riffs that demand a space to stay rent-free inside your head, London based deep tan are amassing a following and lots of media interest, but are still way less exposed than they deserve to be. Not surprising that those who were watching for the first time immediately asked when they could see them again, and those who weren’t present at Shortt’s Bar who I spoke to later in day were genuinely annoyed that they’d missed them.

There are bands that sound good on record and there are bands that hit the nail on the head when they play live. A thing of joy when the two collide, deep tan do both consistently and faultlessly. Their latest EP diamond horsetail is out now – dip in and be prepared to stay for a long swim.

C’est Karma

Hailing from Luxembourg, C’est Karma offers up a heady mix of electronic music coupled with vocals that range at times from frenetic to blissfully peaceful, a touch reminiscent of Sugarcubes era Björk, updated to reflect the skills of an artist who can grab your attention with just themselves and a table of tech onstage.

Addressing the gender gap and the joy that comes from a bowl of pasta (two pretty serious issues, let’s be honest), Karma seems wise beyond her years. With a calm and unassuming presence, she comes to life on stage at Brighthelm and is definitely one to watch. New EP Amuse-Bouche has just been released, get ready to be impressed.

Banji

On their first trip to Brighton, Dutch four-piece Banji are here to provide a big old dose of indie, tinged with a soulful undertone and the energy of a freshly opened can of summertime. The breezy exterior belies some deeper lyrics though, as they sing about the pressures of existence amidst pop art style explosions of samples and Devo-esque production.

Their debut album Freshcakes is due for release via PIAS Recordings in October and, judging by the reaction from the crowd at Latest Music Bar, they’ll be very welcome back for their second visit to the city to play it, whenever that may be.

Honeyglaze

Managing to combine an incredibly accomplished sound with a clear enjoyment of what they do, South London trio Honeyglaze are not only riding the crest of a wave of super talented breakthrough artists, they’re sitting right up there taking the reins. There are sprinklings of spoken word in their tracks but without the reliance so many bands hold to this, Anouska’s vocals are more than able to command the spotlight, a pure sounding hybrid of Alvvays and The Long Blondes with the class of both.

Their set at Unbarred was seamless, their self-titled album is out now and frankly, it’s just really, really good. Absolutely would recommend and it feels like this is just the beginning of something that will only get better and better. A happy discovery.

VLURE

It likely won’t come as a huge surprise to anyone who knows me who our last featured artist is. Dispelling the theory that you can have too much of a good thing, I headed down the pier to catch up with the inimitable VLURE before their set at Horatio’s Bar.

Confirming that they would only be playing one set at TGE “to keep it special”, we talked about the huge wave of musical talent coming out of Glasgow, something it’s always been famous for but seems right now to be unstoppable. “It’s a comparatively small city so it’s easy to get involved” they tell me, noting that lots of the current legion of bands all practice at Axiom and all support each other with lots of “healthy competition” (they’re heading to see their friends in Medicine Cabinet over the weekend). Then there’s a wealth of local venues to take your first steps in – Broadcast, The Hug and Pint and Nice N Sleazy to name a few.

Their previous visits to Brighton have undoubtedly been memorable for anyone attending their gigs but what’s their impression? With reference points ranging from Nick Cave’s 20,000 Days on Earth to how cold the floor is at Green Door, it’s good to know we’re not just known for Quadrophenia Alley and sticks of rock. Hopefully, the weekend will treat them well enough that they’ll want to come back soon. Check out their aptly named Euphoria EP.

The venue is justifiably rammed as they finally come on stage. It’s late, it’s hot, the performance is once again vehement in its total commitment to make sure each and every person in the crowd is immersed in a feeling of complete elation. No blood to my knowledge but certainly plenty of sweat and tears. 

I asked them how they do it, how they make every show more of an event than the last and there’s a fairly simple answer. “It’s just the way we do things, that’s who we are. That’s what it’s all about – just getting in front of people and giving it everything we have every single time, we can’t do it any other way”.

In an industry that encourages artists to saturate the market as they blindly covet the  momentary rush of a top three chart position, it’s easy to forget that music is about more than just money or status. It’s about what it means to people, how it makes you feel, how it cuts into your heart and lets you forget about everything else just for a few minutes. In a world of fakery and pretence, this is what matters, this is real… this is VLURE.

To all at The Great Escape, to all the artists featured and to everyone we met along the way, thank you for the past few days – see you next year, go get some sleep now.

The Great Escape

Words and photos by Siobhan

16th May 2022

DIY Alive Festival 2022

DIY Alive, London, 23rd April 2022

It’s always good to see a new festival staking its claim in the ring and, given their record for championing new music, the prospect of DIY Magazine as a contender was always going to be intriguing. The inaugural DIY Alive took place at the weekend at East London’s Oval Space, ably flanked by great venues at The Pickle Factory and Canvas across the road and Space 289 a few minutes walk away.

As you’d expect, an eclectic line-up to choose from. Our day got off to an impressive start with locals Human Interest, the rhythm section a shining light for the laid back vocals – an energy akin to The Cramps without the psychobilly twang, and who doesn’t love a standing drummer?

Next, to the main stage to witness Chilli Jesson’s new incarnation and material. Interesting to see how he’s starting to develop his own brand away from past indie classics. A solid crowd response to an early set, and a nod to the past for the old faithful fans, closing with Best of Friends. 

With their contemporary take on a contorted dystopian world, Legss felt like the perfect fit for the festival, starting with more familiar tunes then drifting into newer material. By the end your eyes were torn between watching them or watching the front rows trying to jump in time to awkward drum patterns and time signatures – that’s what happens in dystopia.

Continuing their whirlwind of shows, Baba Ali have honed a slick performance, their blend of soulful vocals against a rock/electronic background a thing of beauty. Understated but impossible to ignore, a welcome addition to any line-up.

Something different as the DIY Alive experience included workshops and in conversation events alongside the music. Anyone who’s read Baxter Dury’s book Chaise Longue will know it’s full of tales of growing up in what might seem like a pretty bohemian world but, as he says, you don’t know any different when you’re a kid. There was plenty of opportunity for this to be an uncomfortable chat as a keen to please audience seemed ready to laugh at his every word, maybe not gauging that some of the stories might be funnier from the outside than in. Dury however took control and guided the tone of the discussion graciously, sharing glimpses into his upbringing, his love for Kendrick’s music and much more. An easy raconteur for sure, hopefully there’s another book in the offing. (I’d love to hear someone interview him without mentioning you know who just once).

And then VLURE. It never gets easier to describe VLURE playing live without sounding like a gushing child. The intensity and intimacy of their set, whatever size venue they’re in, makes for a very special experience. The relatively small stage at Space 289 never really caused a concern as so much of their time is spent in the crowd anyway. At this point, they’re so good it feels like the only people VLURE have to outdo is themselves… and still they do it every time. A band with a seemingly limitless ceiling; it’s tantamount to watching a block of flats being demolished. If it didn’t feel genuine it would be weird, but there’s no shadow of insincerity here. Euphoria indeed.

Over at The Pickle Factory, Jessica Winter once again wowed with her off the scale vocals. For self proclaimed sad music, what she produces makes people surprisingly happy. It can be difficult to compete as a solo performer with a backing track, but it says a lot when just you, your keyboard and laptop still stand out against a backdrop of full bands.

Back at Oval Space, no surprise that Shame drew the biggest crowd. Amidst extensive touring, they’re well versed in whipping up a crowd frenzy, and despite it being hard to be a bigger band nowadays, they’re still gaining fans to surf across and taking the most likely to cause a moshpit award.

Time for one last set and, from the get-go, Audio Books sounded like the best of Chris and Cosey, while displaying a persona and performance all of their own. Captivating dark techno with lyrics spat like a challenge, they couldn’t have done a better job to round off the night and the encore, though a thing less prescient these days, was well deserved. Some like to mosh, others like to dance – if you’re a dancer head for Audio Books.

Day 2 looked set to be just as enjoyable with more fantastic breakthrough artists – Fräulein, Keg, Phoebe Green and Lily Moore to name a few.

Big thanks to DIY for having us along. Their plan to bring ‘the spirit of DIY Magazine to the heart of East London’ an unquestionable success – look forward to seeing what next year brings.

DIY Alive | DIY Magazine

Words / Photos by Callum / Siobhan

25th April 2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landlubber Music Festival 2022

Landlubber Music Festival, Barnsley, 9th April 2022

A brand new grassroots festival emerged from the depths of the pandemic during April. Situated in the fantastic Birdwell Venue, just off the M1 at Barnsley, this event was Quality (with a capital ‘Q’) from start to finish. The venue, recently refurbished, has outstanding sound and lighting, with live screens throughout the venue, so you never need to miss a thing!

Looking down the programme of artists, you just knew this would be a fantastic day! Opening act, Canadians In Space, were hilarious! They would have benefitted from being further down the list for a greater audience, but they were playing more than one gig that day. Do check them out: tremendous musicians, but their songs are laden with a good old Yorkshire sense of philosophy, leaving the audience with some fantastic earworms that might get you slung out of the supermarket if you were singing them aloud!

Huddersfield Alternative Grime Rock band were also moving on to another gig, this time in Mamchester. Loud, energetic and with a conscience, these guys were in complete contrast to the previous act, a real selling point for future events: a broad selection of genres.

In contrast again came 15-year old Dan Ottewell-Naish, a young man so clearly inspired by The Levellers. What a talent he is! Great songs. Great guitar playing. Huge stage confidence! A really humble young man off stage. Lovely to see!

The wonderfully named Frank Grimes and The Disasters (a Simpsons reference) continued the diversity with their Punk/Pop/Rock set, reminiscent of bands such as Green Day, The Offspring and Smashing Pumpkins.

Warsop’s Caution Horses played a great set, even though they were a man down, followed by more Warsop talent, the very funny and entertaining Star Botherers.

The final 4 bands of the day can all be found in the same circuits. Firstly, the wonderful Celtic Punk Black Water County, filling the stage with that wonderful penny whistle sound that makes you want to swing a pint and jump up and down!

Following on, came Sheffield new favourites, Shanghai Treason, described as ‘Yorkshire Flatcap Punks.’ Their front man, vocalist Sam Christie, was largely responsible for the whole event , so he fully deserved all the accolades that day!

Penultimate performers were the raucous Roughneck Riot, from Warrington. They filled the stage with energy and angst and Punkish excitement!

The Barstool Preachers gave a phenomenal performance of Ska and Punk to close the day. Their frontman, TJ McFaull, strides the stage and delivers with passion and vehemence the band’s tirades against the injustices within society.

This was a day with a social conscience. A day full of top music, with musicians of all ages having their say and entertaining a welcoming crowd.

All credit to Sam Christie of The Gig Cartel and his team at The Birdwell for putting on one hell of a show! Bring on the next one!

Landlubber Music Festival

Words and photos © Tina Sherwood at AlltheTs Photography

16th April 2022

Preview – The Great Escape Festival 2022

The Great Escape, Brighton, 11th – 14th May 2022

Returning after the enforced pandemic hiatus, there is much anticipation for this year’s Great Escape. As regular and makeshift venues fill their stages with a huge variety of artists, Brighton will once again become the focus of emerging musical talent from around the world. And looking at the line-up for 2022, this is going to be a very welcome comeback.

With an already solid base of acts in place, The Great Escape have just announced 180 more, including Rachel Chinouriri, Goat Girl, Crows, Kid Brunswick and NOAHFINNCE. With the likes of Bob Vylan, English Teacher, Fat Dog, Fräulein, Pozi and VLURE already in the mix (and that’s just a tiny selection of the 450+ artists confirmed so far), careful planning and your best walking shoes are going to be essential.

And whilst you’re there, away from the regular tourist trail there are heaps of great independent shops, cafés and bars to check out.

Take a look at the full line-up in all its glory, grab your tickets on The Great Escape website and we’ll see you by the seaside very soon.

Words and photo by Siobhan

5th April 2022

 

 

 

 

Preview – DIY Alive Festival 2022

DIY Alive, London, 23rd & 24th April 2022

Championing new music on stage as opposed to on the page, a new event comes to the capital next month. DIY Alive promises ‘A weekend of live music, talks, workshops and more, bringing the spirit of DIY Magazine to the heart of East London, it offers attendees a chance to celebrate new music and explore the creative industries surrounding it. A collaboration with Oval Space, the festival will take place across four venues and Oval Park in late April 2022’.

With lots of breakthrough artists performing, including Breaking Glass favourites VLURE, Keg and Fräulein, and ‘In Conversation’ slots with Self Esteem and Baxter Dury amongst others, this looks set to be a great couple of days. Shame (Sat) and Lily Moore (Sun) take the headline slots.

Full details and tickets here

Words by Siobhan

14th March 2022

 

Icebreaker Festival (Winter 2022)

Icebreaker Festival, Multi-Venue Southsea, 29th January 2022

I maintain that in the UK, January is a great time for indoor festivals. There’s the post-Christmas lull, an inexplicably long month that goes way beyond its alleged 31 days, and just a general sense of being cold and looking for a fresh start to the year.

Year on year, Icebreaker responds to this beautifully – something to look forward to, a lovely warm atmosphere and always some new artists to discover alongside some familiar and already favourite faces.

My day started with Temples of Youth (above) sounding incredibly polished, with or without the requested reverb that eventually made a guest appearance late in the set. An acoustic set from Joe Johnson (below) also proved to be a welcome way to ease into the day.

One of the joys of this festival is that it’s not just multi-venue but also multi-genre so I often find myself seeing artists I probably wouldn’t catch otherwise, and I was grateful for the introduction to the jazz-infused sounds of Maple Sky (below).

Having made their live debut at Icebreaker two years ago, it was great to see a packed Wedgewood Rooms for Fast Trains (below) as they made the transition to the main stage look easy. Look out for their return to the Wedge in April.

Albert Road edging onto Elm Grove in Southsea is well established for these kind of events now, hosting a number throughout the year with a wide array of pubs, cafes and of course the jewel in the crown that is The Wedgewood Rooms all taking part. There’s no ignoring that there were issues with the door staff at one venue, which was a huge shame and quite unprecedented so unexpected for all. However, I understand that this is being addressed so won’t dwell on it here. It’s fair to note that generally and elsewhere, everyone involved was welcoming and friendly, as has always been my experience at Icebreaker, and they shouldn’t be tarred with the same brush.

More new acts to me included slick electro-rock outfit Dronningen (above) and Van Gosh (below and header) who ran away with the best-dressed award, their costumes only momentarily distracting from the fact that they’re actually really accomplished musicians.

In what was undoubtedly the hottest venue on the street (felt like in the world at the time to be honest but that may be a minor exaggeration), Beige (below) played a great set of hazy rock filled tracks at Back to the Belgrave – previously Acapulco, previously Al Burrito, always very hot in there whatever it’s been called!

For those with a penchant for glam and The Slits, Brighton’s Slant provided just the thing (above and below right), and local alt rock band Broken Links (below left) made a big impression on a big stage.

And a happy way to close my night was with the fabulous Arxx at The Fox (below and centre above), a powerful duo prepping with lucky star jumps, playing a stomping set and getting a deservedly appreciative response from the crowd.

Every festival has its niche, and for Icebreaker the opportunity to showcase unsigned acts is always one that it takes to the max. Here’s hoping that the planned summer event will be able to go ahead this year. Thanks to all involved for another top day out.

You can keep up with Icebreaker events here

Words / photos by Callum / Siobhan

4th February 2022

Rockaway Beach Festival 2022

Rockaway Beach, Butlin’s Bognor Regis, 7th-9th January 2022

Planning a festival for early January with the very real possibility of venues being closed again after Christmas has to be a fairly onerous task. Getting safely into the new year with no restrictions announced would seem a good reason to breathe a sigh of relief, but then to have artists dropping out on a daily basis due to positive testing takes things to a whole new level.

There were points in the run up where it looked like Rockaway Beach wasn’t going to make the finishing line this year but, despite the odds, it proved to be a gamble that paid off. Some inspired last minute substitutions were made and the crowd embraced the changes in good spirit. Here are some of our best bits…

Big slots at Centre Stage on Friday were filled by Buzzcocks (replacing The Futureheads) and Do Nothing (subbing for Working Men’s Club), sandwiching a tricky set from Tricky. A more than solid start to the weekend with much audience appreciation.

No tents to pitch or portaloos to queue for at Butlin’s, and after a night in your chalet or hotel room of choice, there were plenty of highlights on both stages throughout Saturday.

Italia 90 have clearly kept up momentum during lockdown, drawing old fans and winning new ones with an early slot at Reds.

Maria Uzor (one half of Sink Ya Teeth) was an unexpected yet memorable surprise, showcasing glitchy electro-soul with hooks and melodies aplenty.

And darling of the London scene Nuha Ruby Ra proved that her performance works equally well on a bigger stage as it does in a smaller setting, making the most of the light show and never using one mic when two will do.

It’s probably unavoidable that some people will come to see Imperial Wax to check out what some of the ex members of The Fall are up to. The reality is that you very quickly lose the need to make comparisons as they really are a strong enough band in their own right, their musicianship highlighted by overcoming technical difficulties with ease and making the set look effortless.

Another very late addition, Crows pulled in a big crowd who will doubtless be pleased to hear that they followed up their Butlin’s trip by releasing new music and tour dates.

Thankfully one act that didn’t cancel was the incomparable JARV IS. Always one to walk his own path, Jarvis Cocker has become cemented in modern day culture as a storyteller extraordinaire; who else would you find headlining in a beige velvet jacket throwing mini Bountys into the crowd while chatting about Shirley Bassey? An expert in giving the crowd exactly what they want but very much on his own terms, this was undoubtedly the biggest draw of the festival, and rightly so.

Rockaway Beach certainly have a knack of scuppering any chance of a lie in, kicking off Sunday with TV Priest waking everyone up with an animated set turned up to the max, their energy only surpassed by their gratitude for the equally lively response from the early risers.

Another crowd favourite, Hull’s bdrmm continued the clever pick me up to battle Sunday fatigue with their well honed mix of hazy shoegaze lifting the late afternoon timeline.

For a band that’s spanned decades, A Certain Ratio still sound surprisingly fresh, with tracks like Lucinda sounding as good as ever and new vocalist Ellen Beth Abdi fitting in perfectly. With much dancing in the room, it’s fair to say there was plenty of movement with no room for improvement.

In a fine way to end the weekend, Porridge Radio took to the stage. The transition from small, quirky DIY band to festival headliner isn’t an easy one to pull off but they managed to retain the feeling and nostalgia of performances of old, while impressing their newer fans with tracks from Mercury nominated Every Bad.

And that was that, festival complete. Talking about being at home at Christmas, Jarvis told us that he said, “We’re supposed to be playing this concert but it’ll never happen”. Happily he was proved wrong as it turned out that the ever changing line up added some spontaneity to the already eclectic proceedings. With amusement arcades, silent discos and DJ sets into the early hours, Rockaway Beach really is a festival experience not quite like any other. See you next year.

Rockaway Beach

Words / photos by Callum / Siobhan

17th January 2022

 

 

 

Mutations Festival 2021

Mutations Festival, Brighton, 4th – 7th November 2021

The past eighteen months have been tough on the music industry and, along with the hit to musicians in not being able to play live, many independent venues have struggled to stay afloat. Bringing an abundance of current and breakthrough talent to Brighton, Mutations Festival offered up the chance to take in four days of live music and support a whole heap of local grassroots venues at the same time.

With some tough clashes to choose between, we started Thursday in style with Holiday Ghosts, opening proceedings in the shadow of the pier amusements at Patterns. Singing songs about the city you’re in was as good a way to kick things off as any, and the standard was set for what was to come.

Moving across to the largest venue on the agenda, Chalk played host to the ethereal songs  and bitter-sweet musings of Bill Ryder-Jones. A world away from the TV advert-friendly indie pop of his days with The Coral (though still repping them on his guitar strap), Ryder-Jones has proved to be an accomplished writer, singer and producer. His set could have been twice as long and still not long enough. Closing the first day, This is the Kit filled the room with the sounds of enough instruments to start their own music shop and an ambience that would send everyone home happy and ready to return for more.

Left: This is the Kit, Top Right: Holiday Ghosts, Bottom Right: Bill Ryder-Jones

Friday night and the lights were low, and in a nice touch that ensured Hove wasn’t left out of the picture, the evening’s activities moved across to The Brunswick and The Old Market. Highlights at The Brunswick included Hull’s Low Hummer, wearing their indie hearts firmly on their sleeves, they have a new album release if you’re inclined to hear more. Glasgow two-piece Memes engaged the crowd with their charm, energy and Hazmat suits, ending with a singalong to a German techno track, as you do. Folly Group had to take a short intermission for a guitar string break but picked things up and made a strong impression.

Along the road at The Old Market, the ‘main house’ drew in a big crowd as soon as doors opened. Hotel Lux took starting position, their brand of nonchalant Dr Feelgood-esque contemplations well received by likely a different audience to usual. Next up, Billy Nomates seemingly actually has lots of mates who knew her songs word for word and bounced off her vigourous performance. The biggest pull of the night came in the form of Mr Maserati, king of the migraines himself, the inexplicably charming Baxter Dury. For no discernible reason abandoning his trademark suit for a full camo and goggles ensemble, Dury entertained as only he can, a set showcasing most recent album The Night Chancers while incorporating a string of old favourites and new songs alike. The suit returned with his encore, the crowd had a party, Friday night ended well.

Top: Billy Nomates, Left: Hotel Lux, Right x 2: Baxter Dury

A full day on Saturday began by confirming Keg’s status as ones to watch, except ironically not every could get in to watch them as their reputation meant there were queues up the stairs to The Folklore Rooms to see them. It’s testament to the quality of a band when they sound as good from outside as they do inside the room; their charisma, humour and stacks of energy warrant the hype. And for those who missed out, there would have been photos but it was so packed and hot it fogged up all three available camera lenses.

A trio of recommended acts followed at The Albert, a tight squeeze for the frenetic pace of TV Priest, a very welcome return for the slick post-punk of Social Haul, and a thankfully rescheduled set from Famous who are clearly not as famous as they should be. In the midst of this veritable hat trick of musical delight, back at the Folklore Rooms, Legss were possibly one of the only bands that were ready to start early and had to wait, winning over the room once things got going with their raucous South London vitality. After a quick break, it was back to Patterns to catch some wit and riffs from Mush, followed by current 6 Music darlings Yard Act at Chalk.

TV Priest

Left: Mush, Top Right: Famous, Bottom Right: Yard Act

Social Haul

And so we made it to day four. An early start paid off as we were treated to a spiky yet enchanting performance from deep tan at The Albert, a welcome calm before the beautiful chaos to follow as Lynks took centre-stage at Chalk. Never one to forget their mask, Lynks put on a show that was far from your regular Sunday afternoon entertainment, complete with adroit choreography and guest vocals from Barbara the table. Imagine if you’d come to Mutations and missed Lynks, that would have been a great shame indeed.

deep tan

Left & Top Right: Lynks, Bottom Right: deep tan

The rest of the day kept the stakes raised high, continuing with an immersive set from Nuha Ruby Ra at Komedia Studio. A late start but definitely worth the wait for PVA – having seen them before in multiple venues, Chalk seemed like the perfect fit and they once again balanced keeping existing fans happy whilst doubtless picking up new ones along the way.

There were all kinds of good things happening at The Umlauts’ slot at Patterns, an art school project with the potential to become a masterpiece, check them out if you get the chance. And later on the same stage, way more established but still sounding fresh, Big Joanie supplied a lovely atmosphere, some great tunes and a message of inclusivity to lift the spirits of anyone who may have been flagging.

Left: Nuha Ruby Ra, Top Right: The Umlauts, Bottom Right: Big Joanie

Finishing up at Chalk, Scalping managed to speak volumes whilst only playing instrumentals, silhouetted on stage and painting pictures not just with projections but also the intricacies of their music. This was followed by BEAK> playing their blend of reverb heavy, synth driven tracks to a full house, and we ended the weekend with lots to reflect on.

BEAK>

It’s heart-warming to feel like live music is a normal part of life again, there are stacks of good bands and artists to see, and we can only be grateful that all the venues involved survived the non-year that was 2020. All in all, Mutations was a treat for many reasons, and we’re already looking forward to seeing what they do next year.

Mutations Festival

Words / photos by Callum / Siobhan

10th November 2021

Psyched Fest 2021

Psyched Fest, Albert Road Southsea, 18th September 2021

It’s a big deal for a small festival to have to postpone but Psyched Fest came back with a bang on Saturday, showcasing a wonderfully diverse selection of artists at The Wedgewood Rooms, Edge of the Wedge and Lord John Russell on Southsea’s Albert Road.

It seems like recent Alcopop! signings Keg stole the show for many, the majority of those we spoke to on the day citing it as their favourite set.

Other stand outs at The Wedge/Edge were Nuha Ruby Ra, Baba Ali and, as could be expected, the unstoppable bounce of PVA.

Along the road, Lord John Russell had an eclectic mix on the line up, including strong sets from Fast Trains, Dad Hair and Platypus Complex pictured below.

Psyched Fest has always been a great place to discover emerging artists and catch up with some favourites you’ve see before – having seen virtually no-one for 18 months, this was especially welcome this year. Just some of our highlights in this area came from Ghost Car, The Early Mornings, Barbudo, English Teacher, Web and Modern Woman.

Sadly, this was the last scheduled Psyched Fest, however Nicki and all those involved can be rightly proud of what it achieved and the legacy it leaves behind. Signing out with Billy Nomates on the main stage is no bad way to go.

Psyched Fest 2021 was presented in conjunction with Strong Island Recordings, Honeymooner Records, Mix It All Up, Calamity Cratediggers and Missing Promotions, with visuals by Innerstrings.

Words / photos by Callum / Siobhan

20th September 2021

 

 

Victorious Festival 2021

Victorious Festival, Southsea Common, 28th – 29th August 2021

Sunshine, live music and a whole bunch of happy people gathered by the seaside for a long awaited return to festival life at this year’s Victorious. With a stack of great artists to choose from on the line up, the weekend was a huge success; check out our gallery below for a selection of the delights on offer …

Black Honey

The Lathums

Noon Garden

Idol State, Porridge Radio

The Clockworks

Glasvegas

Kawala

The Mysterines, Fugitive Orchestra, Me and the Moon


Nile Rodgers and Chic

Fontaines DC

Manic Street Preachers

Early bird tickets for Victorious 2022 are on sale now here

Words and photos by Siobhan

3rd September 2021

Psyched Fest – Preview

Psyched Fest – 18th September 2021, Southsea

With a little under six weeks to go, preparations are firmly in place for the return of Psyched Fest, championing underground and emerging artists across multi venue stages in Southsea.

The event never fails to draw a strong selection of artists, many of whom are on the edge of jumping to much bigger things. This year’s line-up sees another plethora of names to watch out for including PVA, Nuha Ruby Ra, Keg and Vlure, with Billy Nomates headlining at The Wedgewood Rooms.

There are still tickets available at the ridiculously cheap price of £24. Rest assured there will be acts playing here who you’ll pay more than that to see on their own within the year; don’t miss out on this if you can make it.

The festival will take place across 5 stages in collaboration with local promoters including Strong Island Recordings, Honeymooner, Calamity Cratediggers & Mix It All Up, and £1 from each ticket sold goes to Music Venue Trust.

Tickets available here

9th August 2021

Icebreaker Festival 2022 – Applications Open

As live music is starting to find its way back into our lives, it’s a real pleasure to see some events that have been sadly missed making plans to be back on the map soon.

The Portsmouth/Southsea area is home to a surprising number of festivals of all shapes and sizes, each with their own unique offer. Icebreaker Festival has established itself as a showcase for a hotbed of new talent, and provides an opportunity to catch a huge range of artists in smaller, intimate settings amidst a really friendly, supportive atmosphere. Favourite performances from the past couple of years have included Drusila, The Howlers, LibraLibra, The Isle of CC and Fast Trains; a veritable mix of something for everyone. Full details of how to apply to play are in the press release below, so if you’re unsigned but unforgettable, you know what to do.

Press release:

Applications are now OPEN for the South’s largest unsigned metropolitan music festival. Icebreaker Festival, situated on the vibrant streets of Southsea, will be taking place in the Winter & Summer of 2022 and is welcoming original artists/bands of any genre to apply. It has been a devastating year for live music but all this time spent at home has cultivated an abundance of creativity that festival organisers are eager to showcase.

Please visit www.icebreakerfestival.com and follow the application links. Each applicant is reviewed by the festival organisers and the colourful and eclectic line ups have developed themselves with the incredible amount of talent submitted through the application process every year.

The award-winning festival will host over 100 acts across 8 stages in multiple venues on Albert Road and Elm Grove with wristband entry.

7 years ago, local promoters, musicians & DJs came together to form the annual winter event, created to celebrate the unsigned music scene at a time of year which previously had been very quiet in the thriving coastal town. Over the years the festival has not only allowed artists to perform in front of eager crowds and gain media attention, it has also provided a platform for discovery. You might attend the festival as a punter or an artist, but you will leave the festival as a fan of a band or artist you may have previously never heard of.

You can check out our reviews from Icebreaker 2019 and Icebreaker 2020 here.

Words (excluding press release from Icebreaker Festival) and photos by Siobhan

30th July 2021

Open Letter to Festival Bookers

It’s hardly news that most of the big festival line-ups consist largely of the same white men who’ve been on the same line-ups for the past 10 years or more. However, the last week has seen this amplified in a way that even those preferring to ignore the fact would have been hard pressed to miss. It’s not even apologetic in its approach, described in The Guardian by Maxie Gedge, UK project manager of Keychange, (the PRS Foundation’s initiative encouraging music festivals to pledge to commit to line-ups featuring 50% women and gender minorities by 2022) as “a statement of exclusion”. And yet, those tired old responses keep churning out, as a quick glance through Twitter attests.

‘I just don’t see gender on stage’
‘Gender doesn’t come into it for me. I like what I like’
‘It’s about making money, if they drew they’d be on the lineup’
‘They probably just booked who was available /who they liked, wouldn’t read anymore into it’
‘Name me a female singer who could headline a major festival’

OK, let’s take that last one first. There seems to be an idea that if you can’t provide a headliner then what’s the point? But no-one goes straight to headliner status, everyone has to build up to that and often, that’s where the huge gaps are. A case in point, Dials Festival puts on an event in Portsmouth with a great diversity split and all the stages are busy all day long. So there I am at Dials in 2018, it’s early in the day and I pop in to see a band called LibraLibra, no idea who they are or what they sound like but I’m at the venue next door so figure I might as well give it a go. What happens next is that their music and performance blow me away and I unwittingly stumble on a new favourite band. I include them in my review, I make a note to try and see them again and I recommend them to friends. Clearly, I’m not the only one as the following year they’re back at Dials, much higher up the line-up. A few months later they play at Icebreaker Festival, another local event with an inclusive billing, and this time they’re on the main stage at The Wedgewood Rooms. Last October, when there was a tiny window where socially distanced gigs could happen, I saw them headline Brighton Dome. You see how this works, it’s not rocket science. You wouldn’t put off having driving lessons because you couldn’t take your test on the first one, you shouldn’t avoid having a gender mix on your line-up because you may not have a headliner yet.

LibraLibra from the top at Dials 18, Dials 19, Icebreaker 20

Back at Icebreaker, someone I know mentions that they’re off down the road to see The Isle of CC. Again, I don’t know their music but I trust this person’s judgement so tag along. And again, am so glad I did as the soulful, immersive tunes and vocals leave me with a warm glow and remind me to move outside my obvious genre choices more often. Aside from making recommendations here, my point is that because those bookers bothered to vary the dynamic, they created better festivals for everyone with no debate about the talent on offer.

The Isle of CC, Icebreaker 20

But where are these women who could draw a crowd for the top spot? Well, tour ticket sales suggest that people will pay good money to see Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, Skunk Anansie, Nadine Shah and Paloma Faith to name a few. What’s that, some of those are hardly contemporary? May I present this year’s players… Duran Duran, Stereophonics, Snow Patrol, Liam Gallagher and yes, even Catfish and the bloody Bottlemen. Need to fill some spaces elsewhere on the bill? How about you let The Kooks and Scouting For Girls have a day off and call up Dry Cleaning, The Nova Twins, The Orielles, Grace Petrie and Celeste? (Am sticking with UK artists here as the decision as to whether international travel can happen any time soon is still, ironically, up in the air. If you add in overseas acts there’s loads more big names to mention).

As much as I don’t want to take away from the gender issue, it’s really important to also acknowledge the imbalance in other areas too. Where’s the POC representation, the LGBTQ+ acts, the disabled artists? If we’re fighting for equality let’s not lose sight of the wider picture. I love this clip of Bowie being interviewed on MTV back in the 80s and using the moment to raise the question of racial diversity on the station in the most beautifully eloquent way, a fine example of how we can all use our situation to influence change, even if it’s about something that doesn’t hold us back personally. You may well have seen it doing the rounds a while ago, it’s worth another watch.

In a world where you can be the interviewer, blaming the lack of diversity on others and convincing yourself it’s not your problem, or you can be David Bowie, seeing the reality of what goes on outside your privileged bubble and challenging the status quo… be more Bowie.

And who knows, if the big festival bookers took a positive lead on this and made some changes, maybe the doubters would see gender on stage – in all its glory being amazing and brilliant. Maybe they would still like what they like and it would include some brilliant new black artists they’d never had the good fortune to hear before. Maybe, as the artists became better known, they would draw more ticket sales and maybe festivals could book who’s available and on their wish list and it might reflect more than just white men whose 10 year old indie haircuts and parkas are starting to look just a little bit dated now. So yes, of course you should book musicians based on their talent, just please take your blinkers off first and see the vast range of talent that’s out there to choose from. We can all do better. We can all make it better.

Words and photos by Siobhan

29th March 2021

Festival Memories

Someone with heavily tattooed legs wearing DM boots, shot from the shins down

Missing live music, missing being able to plan for summer festivals and ticking off the indoor winter festivals that we should already have been to? Here are some reminders in pictures, in black and white for now, but see you down the front in full colour when it’s safe again…

The Sound of the Crowd

Puns In Buns and Meals on Wheels

The holy trinity of spacemen, tents and fairground rides

Don’t forget the little ones…

…or the compost toilets and dancing security

Hands in the air (not so easy if you’re a T-Rex)

Who knows what the rest of the year brings but, when the time comes, imagine how amazing it’ll be to tread the fields again – take care till then.

Words and photos from 2000 Trees, Victorious Festival, No. 6 Festival and Always the Sun © Siobhan

29th January 2021

Tour of Wales / Taith Cymru

An electric guitar leaning against a stool plus details for the Tour of Wales (Taith Cymru) streaming events for Independent Venue Week

Tour of Wales / Taith Cymru (Independent Venue Week 2021)

This time last January, preparations were in full swing for a flurry of gigs across the UK to celebrate Independent Venue Week. This year a more innovative approach is required and as ever, Horizons (the music project from BBC Wales and the Arts Council of Wales) has stepped up to support and promote breakthrough artists from the current Welsh music scene. Each day this week, the team will be broadcasting sessions from a different grassroots venue, bringing a cross section of musicians and genres.

Weekday performances come from hip hop artist Mace the Great, country singer Jodie Marie, rock band Those Damn Crows, R&B singer Faith, urban brother & sister Leila McKenzie and K(e)nz, singer-songwriter Rona Mac, lo-fi / spoken word artist Ennio The Little Brother, blues rock pairing Alffa, electro pop artist Malan, new duo Body Water and a solo performance from Gwilym frontman Ifan Pritchard. Additionally, the weekend brings more Welsh rock from Holding Absence on Saturday 30th and Junior on Sunday 31st.

Tour of Wales / Taith Cymru is supported by Creative Wales and BBC Introducing and the venues taking part are Le Pub Casnewydd / Newport, Sin City Abertawe / Swansea, Queen’s Hall Arberth / Narberth, Galeri Caernarfon and Neuadd Ogwen Bethesda.

Sessions will be broadcast at midday each day this week, starting today, so set your alarm for some lunchtime tunes and check out the wealth of talent on display. It’s so important, now more than ever, that we keep supporting musicians, venues and everyone involved in the industry, and this will serve as a sweet reminder why. You can tune in here.

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Words by Siobhan

25th January 2021