Exhibition – Masculinities: Liberation through Photography (Barbican, London)

Exhibition, Barbican Art Gallery, London, 20th February – 17th May 2020
Masculinities: Liberation through Photography 

Header photo: Rotimi Fani-Kayode – Untitled, 1985
© Rotimi Fani-Kayode, courtesy of Autograph, London

Across society there are many traditions and expectations; how we look, think and behave are all subject to comment by the press and the opinions of others on social media. Thankfully, views from the past about what should be perceived as ‘masculine’ are being challenged and are changing as a result. Still, there is huge disparity in this between different cultures and backgrounds and the chance to consider this in visual form makes up the subject matter for a new exhibition at The Barbican, opening its doors in February.

Photo: CatherineOpie – Rusty, 2008
© Catherine Opie, coutesy of Regen Projects, Los Angeles
and Thomas Dane Gallery, London

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography features a wealth of big name photographers as well as some newer names in the arena. Having begun to take photos as a child with a gifted Kodak Instamatic, LA based Catherine Opie has risen in stature to exhibit in galleries across the US and internationally, her portraiture and social commentary shots famed around the world and now displayed here. Also included is the work of Rotimi Fani-Kayode. Arriving in Brighton as a child having fled the Nigerian civil war, he went on to study photography in New York before returning to the UK to produce an esteemed body of work, both technically and socially, before his death in 1989. He is quoted as saying, ‘On three counts I am an outsider: in terms of sexuality; in terms of geographical and cultural dislocation; and in the sense of not having become the sort of respectably married professional my parents might have hoped for. Such a position gives me the feeling of having very little to lose’; a statement that underlies the essence of this exhibition as it sets out to encompass masculinity in all its forms and realities.

Photos: Left – Hal Fischer – Street Fashion: Jock from the series
Gay Semiotics, 1977/2016
courtesy of the artist and Project Native Informant London
Top right – Catherine Opie – Bo from ‘Being and Having’, 1991
Collection of Gregory R Miller and Michael Wiener
© Catherine Opie, courtesy of Regen Projects, Los Angeles,
Thomas Dane Gallery, London and Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York
Bottom right – Sunil Gupta – Untitled 22 from the series Christopher Street, 1976
courtesy of the artist and Hales Gallery
© Sunil Gupta all rights reserved, DACS 2019

Details from the press release below:

‘Barbican Art Gallery will stage Masculinities: Liberation through Photography, a major group exhibition that explores the ways in which masculinity is experienced, performed, coded and socially constructed as expressed and documented through photography and film from the 1960s to the present day. The exhibition brings together over 300 works by over 50 pioneering international artists, photographers and filmmakers such as Laurie Anderson, Richard Avedon, Rineke Dijkstra, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Peter Hujar, Isaac Julien, Annette Messager and Catherine Opie, alongside a lesser-known and younger generation of artists including Cassils, Sam Contis, George Dureau, Karen Knorr, Elle Pèrez, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Hank Willis Thomas, Karlheinz Weinberger and Marianne Wex among others.

With ideas around masculinity undergoing a global crisis and terms such as ‘toxic’ and ‘fragile’ masculinity filling endless column inches, the exhibition will chart the representation of masculinity in all its myriad forms, rife with contradiction and complexity. Touching on themes of patriarchy, power, queer identity, race, sexuality, class, female perceptions of men, heteronormative stereotypes and fatherhood, the works in the exhibition present masculinity as a largely unfixed performative identity shaped by cultural, political and social forces, with photography and film central to the way in which masculinity is shaped and understood.

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography is part of Inside Out, the Barbican’s year-long programme exploring the relationship between our inner lives and creativity.’

Photo: Peter Hujar – David Brintzenhofe Applying Makeup (II), 1982
© 1987 The Peter Hujar Archive LLC
courtesy of Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography runs from 20th February – 17th May 2020
Barbican Centre, Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS

Opening times: Sun-Wed, Thurs-Sat 10-9, Good Friday 10-9, Easter Monday 10-6
Standard tickets Mon-Fri £15, Sat-Sun £17 – please check the website for concession prices and for further details of this and other exhibitions before visiting

All images and exhibition details are reproduced with permission from The Barbican and are copyrighted as credited

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Unconnected to the exhibition but a valuable resource for those who may need it, The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is leading a movement against suicide, the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK and the cause of 18 deaths every day. Their website advises, ‘Anyone can hit crisis point. We run a free and confidential helpline and webchat – 7 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone who needs to talk about life’s problems’. If you need to speak to someone or would like to support their cause you can find CALM here.

Words excluding press release by Siobhan

21st January 2020

 

Preview – Urban Festivals 2020

While the whole of the UK seems to be fighting with Storm Brendan (a rather friendly moniker for endless downpours and winds that blow you off your feet), thinking about outdoor festivals may not be top of your agenda. However, the rise in popularity of the multi-venue city festival offers the opportunity to plan some outings that don’t involve taking a tent along. We’ve picked out 5 across the UK that are well worth putting in your diary…

Stag & Dagger – Edinburgh 2nd May, Glasgow 3rd May

Picking up steam and recognition every year, Glasgow’s Stag & Dagger takes place across venues in a compact area of the city centre in early May. With much more to come, acts confirmed so far include the eclectic mix of Shame, Ezra Furman, Hockey Dad and Vanishing Twin. This year sees the festival extend to Edinburgh the same weekend for its own event, line up to be announced imminently.

Stag & Dagger Glasgow  /  Stag & Dagger Edinburgh

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The Great Escape 13th – 16th May

The prototype of urban festivals, Brighton’s The Great Escape has been a fixture in the city since 2006. It’s by far the biggest of this kind of event and plays host to hundreds of artists from around the world. Given the extent of the venues involved it’s helpful to have some local knowledge or test things out with a dry run as you can cover some serious distances over the few days. The line up is still in progress; some of those already confirmed are Lazarus Kane, Girls in Synthesis, Molly Parton and Sinead O’Brien.

The Great Escape

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D2D – Manchester 22 May, Bristol 23rd May, Nottingham 24th May

Dot to Dot takes its line up to 3 cities in 3 days, making it a bit more accessible to more people with less travel. The lucky locations are Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham and this year a collection of venues across each of them will play host to the likes of Easy Life, Gracey, Spacey Jane and Drug Store Romeos plus many more to be announced.

Dot to Dot Festival

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Dials Festival – Portsmouth, 3rd October

Heading towards the end of the year for the next two which may seem a long way off but past events suggest they’re definitely worth a bookmark. First up, Dials Festival has built up over the last few years into an established showcase for a whole range of genres and talent. Raising funds for charity partner Solent Mind, this is music with awareness and that combination is surely something worth celebrating. Keep an eye out for announcements throughout the year.

Dials Festival

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Swn Festival – Cardiff, 16th – 18th October

Wales’ first and biggest multi venue metropolitan event, Swn Festival returns to maintain its reputation for bringing new music to the fore, with many past performers having gone on to much bigger things. Details of this year’s line up will emerge in the run up to the festival and you can sign up to their newsletter now to receive updates.

Swn Festival

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Words by Siobhan

16th January 2020

Preview – Icebreaker Festival

Icebreaker Festival, Southsea, 25th January 2020 

Back in its regular January slot, Icebreaker Festival once again brings a plethora of new musical talent to Southsea’s Albert Road and Elm Grove, putting on over 80 artists in 1 day at 7 venues in the area. With a wide range of genres included in the line up, there’s an opportunity to discover some new favourites live and that’s just what we’re hoping to do, as well as catching up with some acts that are already making waves.

Returning after strong performances at last year’s event, look out for some lively desert rock from The Howlers (Wedgewood Rooms) and soul-infused garage from Currls (Edge of the Wedge).

Highlights at other local festivals this year, it’s also great to see mighty art punks LibraLibra and electro duo Drusila on the bill – both on the Wedgewood Rooms stage; neither of whom should be missed.

A few more recommendations for the day come in the shape of…

– Blues-soaked rock from local favourites The Stone Birds (The Wine Vaults)
– 90s influenced grunge-rock from Dutch Mustard (Edge of the Wedge)
– Some lovely laid back soulful sounds from The Isle of CC (The Wine Vaults)
– And what looks set to be a blow the roof off performance from indie punks Glossii (The Deco)

We’ve added tracks from all the artists mentioned to the playlist below so you can listen at your leisure…

*Edit – sadly, it seems that Glossii have decided to call it a day and won’t now be appearing but give their music a listen anyway and keep an eye on new projects from band members*


Check out the full line up complete with stage times for each venue on the Icebreaker website.

Words and photos by Siobhan

7th January 2020

2020 Vision – Six of the Best

And so as we leave 2019 behind and head into a new year, who should you be keeping your eyes and ears open for in 2020? We’ll be continuing to highlight new music as we discover it; for now here are six of the best bands we saw for the first time this year and would highly recommend…

Deux Furieuses 

With second album My War is Your War firmly on the critically acclaimed shelf, powerhouse duo Deux Furieuses look fully set for bigger things to come. Their songs are confrontational yet accessible and they can play a band twice their size off the stage. Check out the video for Let Them Burn here.

Deux Furieuses

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Dry Cleaning 

While spoken word has taken centre stage this year with many bands, there is something different about Dry Cleaning’s sardonic compositions and delivery – captivating live, their debut EP Sweet Princess was released in August. Catch their take on the changing face of the monarchy with Magic of Meghan below.

Dry Cleaning

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Italia 90

Keeping the spirit of punk alive with a glut of dirty guitar breaks, Italia 90 have been building their material and stage presence for some time now. The result is an unexpected melee of brash social commentary with tunes that will stick around in your head for a long, long time. Latest EP Italia 90 III is available now; listen to Road to Hell here.

Italia 90

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Lazarus Kane

In September, Lazarus Kane burst into our psyche with scorching track Narcissus, an indicator of plenty more genre-crossing tracks full of electro disco beats and a faux southern drawl all adding to the creation of the artist’s character. The music alone is enough to muster intrigue as to what comes next – listen to Narcissus here.

Lazarus Kane

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The Ninth Wave

The ethereal world of The Ninth Wave is definitely worth taking a plunge into. With double vocals and synth-laden guitar riffs calling The Cure and Magazine to mind, their live sets are a compelling experience. Their status is heading skywards with debut album Infancy cementing their reputation as an accomplished and innovative act to be reckoned with. Check out the video for Human Behaviour here.

The Ninth Wave

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Walt Disco

To close the list an absolute gem of a band, Walt Disco grab the very best of 80s’ glitz and glamour and take it to a new sharp-edged level of flamboyance both musically and theatrically. There are undeniable echoes of the past with notes of The Associates and Siouxsie / Budgies’s kitscher side project The Creatures, and a live performance that you’ll miss at your peril. Watch the video for recent single Dancing Shoes below and keep this band very firmly on your radar.

Walt Disco

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Words and photos by Siobhan

30th December 2019

Book Club – Tim Burgess: One, Two, Another

Tim Burgess: One, Two, Another

’Life’s a bag of Revels, I’m looking for the orange one’ (Polar Bear, 1995)

If you’ve seen Tim Burgess playing live, solo or with The Charlatans, you’ll know that it’s inevitably a happy experience. It looks like he loves what he does, like it’s still fresh, still surprising, and that’s infectious. It’s no secret that things haven’t always been plain sailing but his performing, and now writing, is approached with an honesty that is refreshing and endearing; if this was a tale of fiction you’d be rooting for the lead character to come out on top. As it is, it’s real life and the same applies.

With the release of his third book One, Two, Another this week, we get another opportunity to jump into his world and hear the stories behind the lyrics. Covering over 70 tracks spanning his career, each set of lyrics is followed by a personal annotation of their background, some funny, some sad, some a gift to the trivia collector, all painting pictures that together form a fascinating diary of the last 30 years. Having covered the autobiographical element in his first book Telling Stories, then delved into his love of vinyl and record shops in Vinyl Adventures, Tim takes us behind the scenes of the words that we’ve all come to know and love, citing influences from Bob Dylan to Wu-Tang Clan.

Tim recalls reading the printed song lyrics in Smash Hits (a ritual familiar to all those of us growing up before Google became a default) and the process of writing and hearing people’s reactions to the end product, saying, ‘My songs have recurring themes: love, loss and euphoria, and many are dreamt up as smiley, throwaway oysters. But I never know what the pearl is until the audience sing along with me.’

There are many pearls in the catalogue and it’s great to read about everything from the trips across the States to the northern nightclub bouncers that all played a part in creating some of his best loved songs across the years. As you read the book you’ll want to dig out your records and fall into the safety net they offer, pulling in your personal nostalgia and memories of times past and loved ones lost and found to match his stories. There’s a lot of truth in the lines:
‘Here comes a soul saver
On your record player
Floating about in the dust’
(Here Comes a Soul Saver, 1995)

A past Record Store Day Ambassador, collaborator with his peers (he speaks in the book of achieving his ambition of working with Paul Weller on Spinning Out) and a constant champion of new artists, Tim’s more recent tracks and albums on his own and with The Charlatans play just as important a role in the story – and who knows what the future memories from these will be?

2017’s Plastic Machinery contemplates the feeling of being pulled into the political quicksand of the current climate:
’So, let’s just run
Even if only in our heads
Leave all of this behind
Unless we could stand still’
With his immediately recognisable guitar riffs featuring on the track, Johnny Marr comments, ‘Tim Burgess is a crusader and vinyl’s epic voyager. He knows why pop’s art, a culture and a cure. Learn and listen. He knows good things.’

Johnny’s right – clear your Sunday afternoon, dust down your turntable, grab a copy of the book and enjoy.

One, Two, Another is published by Little, Brown UK on Thursday 14th November 2019

Words by Siobhan

12th November 2019

Exhibition – Photography Season (National Museum Cardiff)

Exhibition – National Museum Cardiff, opening 26th October 2019
Photography Season 2019 -2020
– ARTIST ROOMS: August Sander  
– Bernd and Hilla Becher: Industrial Visions
– Martin Parr in Wales

Launching its new photography season, National Museum Cardiff opens its doors to a trilogy of exhibitions featuring four of the most respected and influential photographers in their fields, each with distinctive and recognisable styles and an underlying honesty in their work.

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August Sander was an early proponent of taking portraits which truly represented the subjects without ‘tricks and effects’ to create an accurate record of people living and working in Germany. In today’s environment his style would be seen as reportage with no filters. Sander is quoted as saying, ‘By sight and observation and thought, with the help of the camera, and the addition of the date of the year, we can hold fast the history of the world’.

Photo: August Sander, Secretary at West German Radio in Cologne, 1931

Press release excerpt:
‘ARTIST ROOMS: August Sander presents over 80 photographs by August Sander (1876-1964), one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. The portraits are drawn from Sander’s monumental project, People of the Twentieth Century, through which he aimed to capture a true portrait of the German nation and of the time. Sander photographed people of all ages and backgrounds, from farmers, policemen and politicians to bricklayers, secretaries and artists. His subjects, always anonymous, are titled by profession or social class and categorised into 7 distinct groups; The Farmer; The Skilled Tradesman; The Woman; Classes and Professions; The City; The Artists and The Last People.

ARTIST ROOMS is supported by Arts Council England, Art Fund and Creative Scotland and is jointly owned by the National Galleries of Scotland and The Tate. The exhibition has received additional support from the Colwinston Charitable Trust.’

26th October 2019 – 1st March 2020

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Applying a similar philosophy to Germany’s industrial architecture, Bernd and Hilla Becher were aware of the evolving face of the horizon as developments in technology changed things forever. Bernd noted that he ‘was overcome with horror when I noticed that the world with which I was besotted was disappearing’ and the couple set about recording as many structures as they could to preserve knowledge about them.

Photo: Bernd & Hilda Becher, Blaenserchan Colliery, Pontypool, South Wales, 1966

Press release excerpt:
‘Bernd and Hilla Becher: Industrial Visions brings together 225 photographs by Bernd and Hilla Becher, two of the most significant artists of the 20th century. Since the 1960s their work has reinforced photography’s international currency as art. As founders of what is now known as the ‘Düsseldorf School’, the Bechers influenced a new generation of artists including Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Thomas Ruff and Thomas Struth.

For over 50 years, the Bechers collaborated on a project to document industrial structures across Europe and the USA. Their photographic inventory included winding towers, blast furnaces, cooling towers, gasometers, grain elevators, water towers and lime kilns. In 1965, the Bechers made their first visit to Wales and returned in 1966 after receiving a British Council Fellowship. Based at a campsite in Glynneath, they explored the south Wales valleys and made an extensive series of photographs that now stand as monuments to a lost world of labour that were once central to the social fabric of industrial communities.

The exhibition is co-curated by Dr. Russell Roberts and has been kindly supported by the Colwinston Charitable Trust and the Henry Moore Foundation.’

26th October 2019 – 1st March 2020

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The third exhibition features the sardonically sincere pictures of Martin Parr, one of our finest photojournalists with an eye for capturing the wit and charm in an everyday scene. His approach, he says, is that ‘With photography I like to create fiction out of reality. I try to do this by taking society’s natural prejudice and giving this a twist’. His twist results in a series of photos that, while adding in the unexpected, draw memories and emotions that are vivid and real.

Photo: Snowdonia, Wales, 1989 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Rocket Gallery

Press release excerpt:
‘Martin Parr in Wales features photography by Martin Parr, one of the most influential and prolific photographers working today. Over the last 40 years, he has recorded people, places and cultures in the UK and beyond, exploring themes of leisure, consumption and communication. His humorous and affectionate portrayal of modern life has changed the way we understand society and its many nuances.

Parr has always been drawn to Wales, having lived just over the border in nearby Bristol for 30 years. In that time, he has undertaken several editorial and cultural commissions, covering subjects from working men’s clubs to coal mining. This exhibition brings together, for the first time, a selection of Parr’s work in Wales from the mid-1970s to 2018. His photographs – many of which have never been exhibited before – explore different aspects of Welsh life and culture, from male voice choirs and national sports to food, festivals and the seaside.

This exhibition has been developed in collaboration with Martin Parr. It has been kindly supported by the Colwinston Charitable Trust.’

26th October 2019 – 4th May 2020

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Photography Season 2019-2020 runs from 26th October 2019 – end dates as listed above for each exhibition

National Museum Cardiff, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NP
Opening times: Tues – Sat 10-5, galleries close at 4.45, open most bank holiday Mondays, closed  25th – 26th Dec and 1st Jan
Free entry – please check the website for further details of this and other exhibitions before visiting

All images and exhibition details are reproduced with permission from National Museum Cardiff and are copyrighted as credited

Words by Siobhan (quoted sections from official press release)

23rd October 2019

Book Club – Brett Anderson: Afternoons with the Blinds Drawn

Brett Anderson: Afternoons with the Blinds Drawn 

Taking a second plunge into the publishing world, Brett Anderson returns with his follow up memoir to its precursor Coal Black Mornings. Where his debut focused solely on the days before he was hurtled into the public eye as Suede became an improbable household name, Afternoons with the Blinds Drawn brings the next stage of the story, with a brutally honest look back at the band’s spiral to success and the pinnacles and pitfalls that inevitably came along for the ride.

Although he said this was the book he wouldn’t write, the opportunity for people to hear his own view rather the sensationalist click-bait of the headlines has brought about a change of heart. Brett describes reflecting on the period as akin to watching someone else living your life, noting that ‘it’s remarkable how hindsight can lend a clarity that at the time was beyond you’.

The book avoids the often touted glamorous tales of the music world as he talks of journeys supplemented with Silk Cut, Walkers crisps and Batiste dry shampoo. Something that is demonstrated often however is his love and respect for his bandmates past and present, whilst acknowledging the at times difficult relationships therein. The irony of recording Stay Together whilst the connection with Bernard Butler was starting to crumble is not lost; appearances on Top of the Pops and in puppet form on Spitting Image offer reminders of how Suede managed to break through to the mainstream despite, or perhaps because of, their insistence on doing things on their own terms.

© Phillip Williams 

For the music fan there are deep forays into the writing, production and performance of the songs. It is interesting to note the desire, even early on, for every musical footprint to be noteworthy, resulting in what he describes as ‘exiling classics to the wastelands of the flip side’ – the likes of My Insatiable One, He’s Dead and My Dark Star all allotted to what for most artists would be the lower echelon of the B-side. There is a clear understanding that whilst a flurry of hype will propel you into the public eye, it won’t hold your place if there is no substance to follow the fanfare.

The story can’t be told without addressing the demons of addiction that could so easily have dictated a much more desolate outcome. Again, there is no glamour or glitz attached to this period as Brett recalls ‘the substances becoming slowly harder, the evenings becoming slowly more humourless, the chances of escape from it all slowly less likely’. Thankfully there was an escape and there was enough strength in Suede as a collective to continue and move forward.

There are lighter notes throughout the book and times filled with humour and positivity. As a south coast dweller, it was lovely to hear mention of an early show at The Joiners Arms in Southampton, where Brett felt there was ‘a moment’ and recalls it as a pivotal point where the band and crowd were in the same headspace, feeling the same thing, the role of the audience so important in making everything worthwhile. (Happily, The Joiners hasn’t met the fate of many an independent venue and still exists to offer opportunities for smaller bands to play and build into something much bigger).

The book takes us to the break-up of the band in the highly anti-climactic setting backstage at The Graham Norton Show, a mark of success for some, the end of the road for Suede – in this innings at least.

© Pat Pope

With chapter names like Dogshit and Diamonds, Crouchenders and Anything can Happen in Life, Especially Nothing you know this will be no run of the mill music biography.

The leap from lyricist to author doesn’t always run smoothly but Brett has a natural skill for storytelling; he’s a compelling raconteur, a graphic scene-setter. The book offers a point of detailed reference for fans, and for any reader an insight into the disequilibrium of a band trying to make a dent on a music scene flooded with Britpop and imported rock ballads. If we didn’t know to some degree what happened next it might be a somewhat despondent ending. However, now that we’ve felt the aspirations fired by the Coal Black Mornings and spent disordered Afternoons with the Blinds Drawn, perhaps Brett will take us along on the next part of the journey and we can witness the evenings of Suede’s story in book number three…

Afternoons with the Blinds Drawn is published by Little, Brown UK tomorrow – 3rd October 2019

Photos with permission of the publisher and copyright of the photographer named

Words by Siobhan

2nd October 2019

 

Preview – Dials Festival

Dials Festival, Portsmouth, 5th October 2019

The summer festivals may be safely tucked away but there’s no shortage of indoor events to look forward to, with the added bonus of not having to worry about getting sunstroke or washed away in the rain. Starting the winter season off in style, Dials Festival is back with another fine line-up, all hand picked from a huge pool of new and emerging talent to make up a really well thought out mix of artists and genres. Held at The Wedgewood Rooms and surrounding venues on Southsea’s Albert Road, this year’s headline slot is filled by The Blinders, bringing a phenomenal live reputation and plenty of searing post modern anthems, their set will undoubtedly be a highlight of the day.

Returning from hugely popular sets in 2018, it’s great to see LibraLibra and Fake Empire back on the bill. Both bands took early slots last year but pulled in the crowds and made big impressions – both well worth checking out.

The rest of the line-up looks equally appealing, some acts I know, some I don’t… yet. Having attended all the Dials events so far I can honestly say I’ve found new favourite bands every time and am looking forward to history repeating itself once again. Three of the best come highly recommended in the shape of menacing melodies from the mighty Madonnatron, pure disco-infused indie from Walt Disco and an intense hit of raw punk from Luxury Apartments.

Aside from the artists, Dials is once again supporting and raising funds for Solent Mind, a much needed and utilised local charity. There is no doubting that music can give a massive release from mental health issues and the pairing of Dials and Mind is one that makes perfect sense. If you haven’t got a ticket yet there are limited numbers still available at the incredibly cheap price of just £20. There’s just a month to go so make plans, get along, support a great cause, come and say hello then find some favourite new bands of your own.

More info from Dials Festival here

Words and photos by Siobhan

5th September 2019

 

Preview – Victorious Festival

Victorious Festival, Portsmouth, 23rd – 25th August 2019

Since its beginnings in 2011 at the Historic Dockyard, Victorious has grown in numbers and stature every year, now transforming Southsea Common into an enclosed festival village each August bank holiday weekend. The scope of the site allows for multiple stages, food and retail vendors and activities for all ages, making this a really family friendly event.

Last year’s event saw the sun setting over the fitting inclusion of Beach Boy Brian Wilson on the main stage just a few hundred yards away from the seafront. Earlier highlights included an impressive set from PINS, plus crowd singalongs with Happy Mondays and a stand out performance from The Cribs.

This year’s headliners cross genres nicely with indie favourites Two Door Cinema Club on Friday, drum and bass from Rudimental on Saturday and the legendary New Order closing on Sunday. Other big names playing across the weekend include The Specials, Doves, James Bay, Lewis Capaldi, Clean Bandit and The Vaccines. But keep some time free for the smaller stages and event tents. Check out a heady fusion of jazz hip hop from Omar Baba at the People’s Lounge on Saturday, Isle of Wight style psych from Plastic Mermaids at the Castle stage on Sunday, a great mix of artists at the World Music stage plus there’s the Comedy Tent, Literacy Live and lots for families with children to do elsewhere in the festival.

Providing excellent value for money, you’ll often pay less for a day ticket to Victorious than it would cost just to see one or two of the bands playing. And there’s no disputing that they have one of the best locations going on the edge of the beach with a castle, museum and skate-park all on site.

Remaining tickets and full details are available here – book now for a bank holiday trip to the seaside with a difference. There’s just a month to go so be quick!

Words and photos by Siobhan

23rd July 2019

Preview – 110 Above Festival

110 Above Festival, Twycross, 2nd – 4th August 2019

You have to wonder how much longer 110 Above Festival can be touted as ‘indie’s best kept secret’ as word continues to spread about what a great event it is. Now in its 10th year, there is no let up in the array of hugely popular artists playing, but the limited capacity of around 1,000 people and intimate stages on site will ensure that this remains a slightly more up close and personal experience than many other festivals. Set on the outskirts of Twycross on Gopsall Hall Farm, this year’s headliners tick the full set of indie boxes with new music from Swim Deep, the continuing rise of Pale Waves and the wonderfully named Eel Pie Island’s best known export, Mystery Jets.

The rest of the line-up is equally worthy of your attention – we had a chat with four acts you’ll be glad you didn’t miss over the weekend – look out for CHILDCARE, Hunger Moon, The Tin Pigeons and Hey Charlie…

CHILDCARE

For anyone just discovering the band, tell us a little about CHILDCARE and your music… 

We’re quite simply the best south London capslock soft-core psych quartet who are also running a revolutionary wellness campaign around.

Your album Wabi-Sabi has just been released to much acclaim – how long has it taken to put together and how does it feel now it’s out in the world?

It’s been a really long process actually because I kept thinking we weren’t ready to record an album. It was only when Emma (bassist) sat us all down and we listened to about 50 songs we’d recorded over the last 3 years that we realised it was probably time to put an album out. Now that the album is out fans are being healed all over the world.

Over the last year and through this summer you’re festival regulars – how does playing festivals differ to playing gigs, do you get a different reaction?

Festivals are fun because the crowds tend to be bigger, it’s glorious walking round on the grass in the sunshine and bumping into and watching other bands, but the gigs themselves are never as intense and focused as single shows.

What can people expect if they catch your set at 110 Above?

They can expect poise, personal glory, Chinese finger cymbals and hips.

And what else is on the horizon for CHILDCARE?

Continuing our Get Well Soon campaign, this will involve live healing at shows including the Radio 1 stage at Reading and Leeds, on a tour in September and at our biggest headline show to date, Scala in London in December. We’ll also be taking our Personal Glory™️ retreats round the country – events where we impart our twisted versions of mindfulness, meditation and yoga on fans.

Facebook    Spotify

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Hunger Moon

Photo © Laura Chen

Can you give us a quick intro to the band and your music?

Absolutely, we’re James and Natalie and we’ve been writing songs together as Hunger Moon since December 2017. We describe our sound as ‘melancholy alt pop’ and draw our songwriting inspiration from the world around us, from emotions to, more recently, current affairs.

Your latest single Honey is getting great reviews, how did the song come together and how does it feel to read people’s reactions to it?

Yeah, we were discussing only today how crazy the response to the track has been. We’re getting people around the world popping up on our socials now, and have had such a great response from radio and blogs already. It’s a really great feeling to know that something you’ve built from nothing is connecting and reaching not only with friends and their friends but with complete strangers too. We’ve been growing as an act with every release, and it really feels like the momentum is too.

What can everyone look forward to if they come and see you at 110 Above Festival?

Our usual set of emotional alt pop bangers. We love festivals as they’re a chance to play in front of completely new people in new places, so that always feeds into the adrenaline of our performances. We love meeting new people, so we’ll be looking forward to having a chat too.

If you were putting on your own festival and had no restrictions who would you choose to play alongside and headline?

We love Amber Run, if it wasn’t for those guys we wouldn’t be making music together, so we would definitely pick them. Aurora, Stereo Honey, The National and Radiohead would all make appearances too.

And what’s next for Hunger Moon?

We are playing a handful of festivals this summer before heading over to Europe for a week to play some dates in late September / early October. New music will hopefully follow!

Facebook    Spotify

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The Tin Pigeons

Say hello and tell us what it’s essential to know about Tin Pigeons…

Hey! Fraser and Thom here from Tin Pigeons! We think its pretty essential to know that we make music you can bounce to! Who doesn’t love a good bounce?

You’ve been described by BBC Introducing as ‘one of the best festival bands we know’ – what did you do to deserve such an accolade?

This comment came after we were named as Radio 1’s track of the week so they were showing us loads of love which was amazing, we just try and have as much fun as possible at our shows, and try and get people to dance along with us!

What have you got planned for your appearance at 110 Above?

We have been recording loads so we’ve got some brand new, hot-out-the-oven tunes to smash out!

Which other artists have you been listening to lately?

We have a load of mates all making music that we LOVE – we’ve been listening to loads of our good pal Lauran Hibberd who is sick!

And what does the future hold for the band?

More music! Working on touring plans for winter, then more studio time and new releases out very soon!

Facebook    Spotify

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Hey Charlie

© Victoria Holmgren 

Introduce us to Hey Charlie and your music…

We are a pop-rock band combining crunchy guitar riffs with sugar pop melodies. We manage, book and style ourselves and are trying to challenge the expectations of what it means to be a band in 2019.

What’s your desert island disc (ok, you can choose 2 each)?

Jimmy Eat World – The Middle
Neck Deep – in Bloom
The Band Camino – Daphne Blue
Bloxx- Headspace

Any top festival tips?

Talk to strangers and go see a random band you don’t know.

What’s in store for your set at 110 Above Festival and who else is playing that you’d like to see?

We have a new guitarist! So you can meet her…
We can’t wait to see Bloxx and Indoor Pets!

And what’s happening for the band in the coming months?

We’re touring the UK in July which we’re super excited about! We’re writing a lot of music at the minute and planning on getting in the studio over the summer.

Facebook    Spotify

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Lots more information and remaining tickets for 110 Above Festival available here – be quick to get in on that best kept secret…

Photos reproduced with artists’ permission

17th June 2019

Preview – Y Not Festival

Y Not Festival, Pikehall, 25th – 28th July 2019

It’s incredible to think that Y Not started life as a house party and is now heading into it’s 14th year as one of the largest UK festivals. Set in the rolling hills of the Peak District, this year sees as impressive a line-up as ever of big names from the indie, rock and alternative world – expect huge performances from headliners Elbow, Two Door Cinema Club and Foals across the 3 days.

Elsewhere, the Giant Squid stage hosts a brilliant line-up including two Dublin bands that  everyone’s clamouring to see in the shape of Fontaines DC and The Murder Capital – if you haven’t been able to pick up tickets for their live shows recently this is a great chance to catch them. On the same stage, soak up some acid-washed fuzz from Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, look out for some uncompromising lyrics and jagged refrains from the excellent Hotel Lux and don’t miss the powerhouse cacophony that is Demob Happy – always a set to remember.

Check through the full line-up poster to see the complete array of artists playing over the weekend, along with top names from comedy and The Nighthawk Cinema offering some downtime from the music on site.

Remaining tickets and all the other information you need can be found here.

Words and live photos by Siobhan

6th June 2019

 

 

Preview – 2000 Trees Festival

2000 Trees Festival, Cheltenham, 11th – 13th July 2019

In the thick of the flurry of summer festivals all boasting the same acts, headliners and promoters, 2000 Trees stands apart as a fiercely independent option for fans of all things rock, indie and alternative. Setting up its annual home at Upcote Farm in the Cotswolds, the festival is the perfect size to walk easily from stage to stage, catching your favourite acts and chancing upon something new on the way. From crowd-surfing in inflatable dinghies to chilled acoustic sets in the woods, you’ll see it all here in the midst of one of the friendliest atmospheres you could wish for.

This year’s headliners include Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls, You Me at Six and Deaf Havana and there’s much more to see elsewhere on the bill – amongst many others, we recommend that you enjoy some gratuitously dark art-punk from Lice and a head on crash into raw garage rock from their Bristol neighbours, The St Pierre Snake Invasion. The ever popular Martha always bring the happiest fans to the table with their angst-filled pop riffs and expect a very warm welcome back for mighty rockers Pulled Apart by Horses, who have been known to climb a tent pole or two mid set in previous years. 

If you need a break from the music, this year also sees an new area devoted to spoken word, talks, poetry, podcast recordings, debates, workshops and comedy.

Tickets for 2000 Trees 2019 are selling fast – to get yours and for more information about the festival check the website here –  don’t miss out!

Words and photos by Siobhan

31st May 2019

 

Exhibition – Iconic Bowie (Dimbola Museum & Galleries)

Exhibition, Dimbola Museum & Galleries, Isle of Wight, 7th June – 18th August 2019
Iconic Bowie

From the flame-haired glam and stacked platforms of Ziggy Stardust to the stark, dark persona of the Thin White Duke, David Bowie leaves an imprint of creativity, experiment and style that defies convention and comparison. A pioneer musically and visually, his imagery is instantly recognisable and has opened doors for future generations to have the confidence to be themselves, whatever that means and however it looks.

A new exhibition celebrating Bowie’s remarkable contribution to the world will be opening its doors at the Isle of Wight’s Dimbola Museum & Galleries just in time for this year’s festival-goers to drop in. The show includes photography, painting, vinyl art and sculpture and takes a look at some lesser known local connections as well as housing pieces from established industry contributors. It looks set to be a fascinating visit.

Bowie © Terry O’Neill

Details from the press release here:

Iconic Bowie is a major retrospective of the extraordinary life of David Bowie. A journey in which the Isle of Wight witnessed his first public musical performance at a Corf Scout Camp, Shalfleet in 1958 and Bowie’s last UK live show headlining at the Isle of Wight Festival in 2004.

Iconic Bowie showcases both stunning and intimate portraits of Bowie by some of the world’s greatest photographers. The photographs, from the extensive Iconic Images archive, were taken over his phenomenal 50 year career and draw into focus the remarkable contribution Bowie made to culture, music and art. These portraits contain rare moments, the force of Bowie’s unique nature and his personality on film. Each image is an illuminating artefact of one of the greatest artists that has ever lived.

‘Great portrait photographers do a rare thing through extraordinary alchemy that renders light, exposure, emotion, soul, sorrow, joy and beauty forever fixed in time. Iconic Bowie contains images that startle the world and provide an illuminating insight into the astonishing career of David Bowie.’ (Brian Hinton, Chairman of Dimbola Museum and Galleries)

There is a brilliance in capturing the sound, spirit, aesthetics and unearthly metamorphosis of Bowie. The Iconic Images archive is one of the biggest collections of David Bowie imagery under one house. Terry O’Neill, Kevin Cummins, Markus Klinko, Justin de Villenuve, Milton H Greene and Gerald Fearnley all had important roles throughout the visual life of this singular artist. Through the collective lens of these creative photographers, a true visual image of Bowie the artist was realised.

Kevin Cummins first photographed Bowie on his Aladdin Sane tour of 1972- 1973, went on to photograph and be influenced by him throughout his career and can remember the effect of seeing Bowie on stage… ‘I went to see David Bowie when I was in my teens. I had never seen anything like that on stage and I had seen various things which were all very flashy and very showy. Now, it may seem normal but at the time nobody really had that kind of theatricality in rock ‘n’ roll.’ (Kevin Cummins)

Bowie © Kevin Cummins

To celebrate Bowie’s influence on art and culture, Dimbola has invited contemporary British sculptor Guy Portelli to curate an artists’ response to Bowie in the Charles Hay Gallery. The collection, featuring artists Keith Haynes, Chris Myers and Guy Portelli, will show artworks inspired by the music and iconic imagery of David Bowie.

Exploring the Isle of Wight/Bowie connection there will be a rare display of ephemera tracing Bowie’s early footsteps on the island. These include copies of The Bowie Bureau (1977-1982), a magazine produced by two long-standing friends and sent from their Ventnor home to destinations throughout the world as well as adverts from Bowie’s three early appearances at Ventnor Winter Gardens with Davy Jones & the Lower Third in the summer of 1965.

The exhibition is kindly sponsored by Wightlink, Solo Agency, Style of Wight and The Seaview Hotel. All exhibition images are limited editions and available to purchase.’

Iconic Bowie runs from 7th June – 18th August 2019 

Dimbola Museum & Galleries, Terrace Lane, Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight PO40 9QE
Opening times: 7 days a week 10 – 5 – please check the website for admission prices and further details of this and other exhibitions before visiting

All images and exhibition details are reproduced with permission from Dimbola Museum & Galleries and are copyrighted as credited

Words for introduction by Siobhan

21st May 2019

Preview – Portsmouth Psych Fest

Portsmouth Psych Fest, 4th May 2019

Only a month away, Portsmouth Psych Fest returns to The Wedgewood Rooms for its third outing on 4th May. From the outset the festival has been steadfast in booking some very special line-ups, with previous years featuring Bo Ningen, The Wytches, Hotel Lux and Black Midi amongst a long list of other established and breakthrough acts.

Spread across two stages, 2019’s headliners are Yak, who will be joined by a host of local and international artists making up an event not to be missed. The best recommendation would be to see everyone on the bill. Here is our pick of just a few artists to look out for on the day…

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Sleep Eaters

It’s time to discover that you need country garage in your life. The South London five piece won over new fans with their live performances supporting Drahla last year and head back out on the road with them in May.

Sleep Eaters    Listen here

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The Howlers

Dark garage rock of the finest calibre, The Howlers are unsurprisingly sparking the interest of the music media. Now signed to These Bloody Thieves, look out for new music soon.

The Howlers    Listen here

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Los Bitchos

Fresh from supporting Bill Ryder-Jones, Los Bitchos will be showcasing their hybrid of Peruvian instrumental Cumbia influenced garage psych. Bring your dancing shoes.

Los Bitchos    Listen here

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Drusila

Keep those dancing shoes on for Drusila. Full of energy and explosive synths, the Portsmouth locals are fast making a name for themselves, bringing electronica bang up to date.

Drusila    Listen here

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Snapped Ankles

If you prefer your music delivered by woodland tree creatures then Snapped Ankles are here for you. With their new album Stunning Luxury described by The Line Of Best Fit as ‘music to soundtrack the apocalypse’, make sure you catch them and hope, for their sake, that it’s not too hot.

Snapped Ankles    Listen here

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Portsmouth Psych Fest takes place on 4th May; remaining tickets are available now from just £17 – don’t miss out

Words and photos by Siobhan

4th April 2019