Archive for the 'gigs' Category

The Head & the Heart, Manchester, November 6, 2011: How to lose fans and alienate bloggers

the head and the heart live in ManchesterFor those of you who follow me on Twitter, you may have witnessed some or all of an exchange between me and a couple of fans of The Head & the Heart, a band we saw opening for My Morning Jacket last night (6th November).

When we turned up to the venue, The Ledge went to the bar and I wandered down to the front – there was loads of space. Having seen The Head & the Heart at Latitude and found them boring in parts, but with moments of potential, I thought I should give them a second chance. We knew they’d be on early. As early as doors and with maybe 20 people in the Manchester Academy 2 and space at the barrier, a woman immediately started hovering about, bumping into me.

When I turned around, wondering why she felt the need to violate my personal space when she could easily have stood at the barrier elsewhere, she asked who was the opening band.  I told her, and she said “Oh good.” Then she asked who I’d come to see. I pointed out that it was a My Morning Jacket gig and she seemed surprised I wasn’t there for The Head & the Heart – even though 15 seconds earlier she’d seemed unaware they were opening. I told her no, I’d seen them before and found them a bit ‘meh’. The following exchange then ensued:

Woman: Are you American?

Justhipper: Yes.

Woman: Are you from Seattle?!?!

Justhipper: Erm, no.

Woman: Oh. That’s too bad.

Justhipper: I’ve not flown over for this gig, if that’s what you’re asking.

She then turned around and began hanging over an American guy stood to my left.

About this point a host of people turned up, all of whom were wearing matching Head and the Heart fanclub bracelets (admittedly, at first I thought they were MMJ fans and we were going to have an unpleasant 3 hours) and started cloistering around us, talking shite and jostling for position – despite the fact that only about 40 people were in the room at this point. I’m sure some of them were even arguing about who should be allowed to stand closest to the band.

This was, to say the least, somewhat annoying, which is the point that I tweeted about it. I’ve been subjected to the internet fanclubs of a few bands of late, and frankly, it’s really f***ing annoying that they seem to think that use of a band’s website and a few pounds for a newsletter and a membership badge gives them proprietary rights over the band (Hold Steady fanclub, Unified Scene, I’m looking at you! You’ve ruined 3 gigs so far for us with physical violence and talking! At least one long-term fan I know won’t go to Hold Steady gigs anymore because she’s so fed up with dealing with crap from you, the fanbase.)

A few songs into the set and I decided that I had been right about the Head and the Heart, they were a bit boring, somewhat twee, and not worth much more of my attention. I may have tweeted to that effect.

When I got home I found that the band had retweeted me twice – one of the tweets was the one complaining about their fanclub – and this it seems was fuel to the fire of the True Fans. While the band may have done it to be funny, to the rabid and the insane fan, trying to impress with loyalty, this was merely permission to troll me. So now I’ve had 2 fans hassling me all day today – as if this haranguing would do anything to change my mind.

The thing is, although the band may have been taking things in good humour, they’ve mostly just stabbed themselves in the foot, because what they’re doing is encouraging their fanbase to compete for attention by being nasty to critics – whether innocent tweeters expressing an opinion, bloggers or journalists.

They’re suggesting that the way to be a good fan is to take a fascistic view of  anybody expressing a contrary opinion. I’ve seen it before – one need only read any messageboard associated with Suede to see the carnage, bad feeling and general unpleasantness it propogates amongst music fans who should be united over a common interest. It’s hard enough to be a “fan” when other fans constantly question your right to be there – it makes it 10x worse when the band are seen to be suggesting that fanhood requires that extra step of stamping out disbelievers and critics.

What I would say, Head & the Heart, is it’s hard enough being a young indie band struggling to get yourself heard over the din of jaded cynics like me. Maybe you should think hard about the sorts of fans you want and the tone you want to set for them – do you want people who enjoy your music, introduce new listeners, turn up to gigs and dance or people who act like an advancing army, competing for your attention and determined to prove their loyalty by destroying everyone who isn’t in the club? I’d say the latter isn’t going to do much to help you gain new listeners – and they may even put some off.

Posted by JustHipper on 7th November 2011 at 10:23 pm | comments (66)
File under Gig-goer of the Week,gigs,hold steady.

Justhipper’s Top 13 Gigs of 2008

Well, here’s my list of my favourite gigs of 2008. Why 13 you ask? Cause I couldn’t pare it down to just 10, especially once I got past the first 8. In any year where I hadn’t seen Leonard Cohen for the first time ever, the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds gig we saw recently would probably have been at #1, but this was a special year for music because not only did Leonard Cohen return to playing live, but the gigs he was playing were absolutely magical. Anyway, here’s the list:

  1. Leonard Cohen @ the Opera House, Manchester, June 18, 2008
  2. Leonard Cohen – “Tower of Song”

  3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds @ the Apollo, Manchester, November 25, 2008
  4. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “We Call Upon the Author”

  5. Rage Against the Machine @ T in the Park – I’ve only just realised we never reviewed T in the Park 2008, which is a shame because we saw some great sets there! RATM were unexpectedly brilliant. Here’s my review of their Leeds Festival performance.
  6. Rage Against the Machine – “Take the Power Back”

  7. The National @ All Tomorrow’s Parties, May 17, 2008
  8. The National – “Start a War”

  9. Eels @ Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, February 27, 2008
  10. Eels – “Railroad Man”

  11. James @ Liverpool University, April 12, 2008
  12. James – “Waterfall”

  13. REM @ T in the Park – Again, we didn’t review this, but we did review the REM gig at LCCG on August 24.
  14. R.E.M. – “These Days”

  15. The Hold Steady @ Manchester Academy 1, December 10, 2008
  16. The Hold Steady – “Killer Parties”

  17. Robert Forster @ the Royal Northern College of Music, September 21, 2008
  18. Robert Forster – “If It Rains”

  19. My Morning Jacket @ Manchester Academy 2, June 27, 2008
  20. My Morning Jacket – “Aluminum Park”

  21. Band of Horses / The Cave Singers @ Manchester Academy 2, February 24, 2008
  22. The Cave Singers – “Seeds of Night”

  23. Daniel Johnston and Friends @ New Century House, Manchester, July 24, 2008
  24. Daniel Johnston – “Rock This Town”

  25. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone @ Charlies, Manchester, March 13th 2008
  26. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – “Don’t They Have Payphones Where You Were Last Night”

Posted by JustHipper on 14th December 2008 at 6:53 pm | comments (6)
File under gigs,Lists.

The Indie Cred November Gig Run-Down

Right, I know we’ve gone quiet here over the last month. You’ll have to excuse us a bit. Our relatives over the pond have had some rather distressing things going on so we’ve been away for a bit and focused on other stuff since we returned. We have, however, been to a few really great gigs recently which have proved far more than a welcome distraction from things.

We enjoyed Fleet Foxes at the Academy 2 on November 9th, although we were rather jetlagged so we stood right at the back and heard more than we saw. The harmonies sounded fabulous as always. We were back down at Club Academy on the 18th to see Low play their Christmas gig. The first half of the set was mesmerising and the second half – all Christmas carols – was surprisingly good. They were accompanied by the opening band (who were pretty good too) and it was quite a celebration – especially for a Low gig.

For a complete change of pace we went to see Fucked Up at the Roadhouse and their ear-splitting hardcore and jovial attitude was intense and highly enjoyable. They’re so much more than just a noisy hardore band. Their opening act was great as well, although I didn’t catch their name – they sounded like all the best bits of Guided By Voices, Dinosaur Jr., Husker Du and the Pixies.

Tuesday the 24th of November was Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds night down at the Apollo. Nick Cave is many things but boring is never one of them. The band were on fine form and delivered an angry, noisy set with, well, many of my favourites. I enjoy “God is in the House” more every time I see it live and “Red Right Hand” and “Stagger Lee” were spectacular as well. “I Call Upon the Author” was a welcome new addition, even if he did truncate it a bit. Opener Joe Gideon and the Shark were quite a revelation. Forget the fact that they had some great Fall-inspired tunes, the Shark was great to watch on stage.

We followed up Nick Cave with Frightened Rabbit at Moho Live. The less said about this one the better. I was exhausted and falling asleep on my feet as they didn’t go on stage til midnight and the sound was awful. Pity because they’re a great band and I’m pretty sure that The Midnight Organ Fight will be in The Ledge’s top 10 albums of 2008, I haven’t worked mine out yet – it could make that list too.

Sunday, November 30th saw us down at the Manchester Evening News Arena for Leonard Cohen. While it wasn’t as good a gig as the one we saw at The Opera House over the summer, it was still fabulous and he’s finally stopped introducing the band every 3 minutes. “Famous Blue Raincoat,” “So Long Marianne” and “Tower of Song” were divine and listening to him perform “Hallelujah” with so much heart makes me wonder how Simon Cowell dare defile it by forcing his new pop muppet to cover it in time for Christmas.

On 4th December we were back at the Roadhouse for A Place to Bury Strangers, Ten Kens and Lowline. We were only really familiar with Ten Kens. Lowline were worse than expected sounding at times like Oasis covering Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and at other times like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club covering Oasis. Mostly they were non-descript and extremely boring. Ten Kens have put out a great album recently and I was really looking forward to them so I was bitterly disappointed to find that the muddy, murky sound in the Roadhouse really ruined any chance we had of enjoying their performance. They were trying hard in front of a crowd that were disinterested (except for one guy punching the air in the front row – you know who you are and you know we know who you are, even if you didn’t notice us on the night and we were being anti-social). They have what can only be described as a very full sound, there’s few gaps, and the distortion caused by the volume being too high and the mix being all wrong meant it just sounded a mess and it was hard to tell which song was which. We were exhausted and grumpy and left, not bothering to watch A Place to Bury Strangers.

Saturday 6th December was the welcome return of The Wedding Present who always deliver a good show. I quite like their newest album, although The Ledge is underwhelmed by it, but we both had fun jumping about to some classics and to some new tracks. Plus they finally did a Cinerama song off their first album – which is my favourite Cinerama album. The opening band, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart were charming enough that we bought their album. On the night they sounded like the perfect accompaniment to The Wedding Present’s jangly guitars. On record they’re more like Belle & Sebastian gone C86. Either way is not a bad way to be.

This week, on 10th December we’ve been over to the Academy 1 to see The Hold Steady, who were on fine form yet again with a brilliant set – far better than the gig they did at the Academy 2 earlier in the year, in fact. Pity the ever-growing crowd is also growing ever less agreeable – 2 days later and I still have bruised ribs from the couple who trampled and physically removed a 7 stone girl from beside me and tried to do the same to me. However, the band were faultless and new tracks such as “One for the Cutters” and “Magazines” slot in well next to old classics like “Positive Jam” and “Charlemagne in Sweatpants.”

Then last night , 11th December, I drove over the Pennines to see James at the Leeds Academy (formerly the Town & Country) deliver a rather unusual but highly enjoyable set. It was great to hear “Stutter” dragged out from the depths of the back catalogue and I’m still surprised by how much I love their new material.

So, that’s us mostly caught up. We will be producing some top 10 lists before the end of the month and hopefully back to business as usual sometime in January. The Ledge might even force himself to review the Stereolab gig he’s going to see next week. Maybe.

The Indie Cred Manchester Gig Guide: 7th-13th July 2008

Summer In The Park Festival
We’re saving all our gig-going energies for T In The Park next weekend but there’s much going on in Manchester this week with plenty of bands on the T bill doing the rounds.

On Tuesday, Interpol, who were a massive disappointment the last time we saw them at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, hit the Apollo with Ladytron in tow, while on Wednesday, Cardiff indie poppers The School play the Night & Day with an excellent support bill, including local bands Amida and the much-touted Cats In Paris, as well as the excellent Rosie Taylor Project. I’ve never heard of The School before but, from what I can hear on their Myspace page, they sound like they know their way around a Belle And Sebastian record or two. Also on Wednesday, Austin, Texas garage rockers-du-jour White Denim play the Roadhouse.

At the Roadhouse on Thursday are the excellent Jaguar Love, whose Take Me To The Sea album is an absolute joy to behold. Unfortunately we’ll be on our way up to Scotland by then so we’ll also miss the Transgressive Hot Summer Tour at the Night & Day on the same night which features Jeremy Warmsley, Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man and Liam Finn, among others. If neither of those tickle your fancy then get yourselves down to the King’s Arms in Salford for Simon Connor‘s EP launch party which features support from The Bangs, who we highly recommend, and only costs £3 to get in to.

On Saturday and Sunday the inaugural Summer In The Park festival takes place at Platt Fields. Manchester needs a new festival to fill the considerable void left by the disappearance of D:Percussion from the schedules and Summer In The Park looks like it might just fit the bill. It’s billed as a food and drink festival so while there’s an excellent music line-up, including I Am Kloot, The Earlies, Magic Arm, Liam Frost, Stephen Fretwell, Lucy And The Caterpillar, The Bottomfeeders and Gideon Conn, some of the city’s finest eating establishments will be setting up shop for the weekend, including Grill On The Alley, MosoMoso, The Northern Quarter Restaurant, Tampopo, Evuna, Chaophraya and Carluccio’s, to name but a few. It’s £9 for a day ticket and £17 for a weekend pass and it almost makes me wish that we weren’t heading up to Scotland this weekend. Let’s just hope the weather holds out for all of us.

Posted by The Ledge on 6th July 2008 at 10:47 pm | comments (3)
File under gig guide,gigs,interpol,manchester gigs,simon connor,summer in the park,the bangs,Uncategorized.

The Indie Credential Gig Guide: 30th June – 6th July 2008

The Cave Singers
We’ll be taking it a bit easier this coming week after this weekend’s exertions, details of which should be up in review form in the next seven days or so. Still, it’s another pretty good week for gigs in Manchester.

Aussie electro poppers Cut Copy play the Night & Day on Monday night while on Tuesday we’ll be at the same venue to see the excellent Cave Singers, whose Invitation Songs album is one of our favourites of the year so far. Also on Tuesday you’ve got the pick of the Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Academy 2, Leeds psyche rockers The Music at the Academy and Athens, Georgia garage rockers The Whigs at the Roadhouse.

On Wednesday Beck pops up at the Apollo, presumably pushing his forthcoming Modern Guilt long player. We wouldn’t have minded going but tickets were somewhere around the £45 mark, which is just ridiculous. It’s most probably sold out anyway, and the excellent Yeasayer are in support so it will probably be a very good night.

Hoary old new wave rockers the New York Dolls are at the Academy 3 on Thursday. We saw them at the Move Festival a couple of years and weren’t too impressed. Friday sees Why? play the Roadhouse in a gig rearranged from early June after illness put paid to their whole UK tour. Also, Idlewild play the Ruby Lounge where they’ll be supporting themselves with a 30 minute acoustic set before playing a full set of b-sides and rarities. For die-hard fans only, then, and probably well sold out.

Not a great deal going on next weekend, however, although Air Cav launch their new single, the double A-side “Embers/Picking At The Bones”, at Urbis on Saturday night with support from the likes of The Answering Machine and Rochelle. It’s £6 to get in and the bands start at 9pm.

Posted by The Ledge on 29th June 2008 at 4:05 pm | comments (5)
File under gig guide,gigs,manchester gigs,the cave singers.

Gig Review: Bob Mould @ Manchester Academy 2, 24th May 2008

Bob MouldThis really should have been done about 2 weeks ago, but we seem to hit blogger-burnout around this time every year, no matter how good our intentions. We are trying though.

In any case, we went down to see Bob Mould at what we thought would be a small gig in the Academy 3 and turned out to be a half-full gig in the Academy 2. Nevertheless, it was an enthusiastic crowd that greeted the ex-Hüsker Dü legend when he emerged onto the stage. About 30 seconds prior to his appearance, The Ledge had leaned over and told me that he would do some Hüsker Dü tracks but I shouldn’t expect anything from his days in Sugar. The Ledge is aware that my first experience of Bob Mould was when Sugar released Copper Blue and that I’m far more familiar with that album than with any of his other output. In any case, The Ledge was mistaken because Bob opened with “The Act We Act” off Copper Blue, following it up with no less than four other Sugar songs, including “Hoover Dam” and “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” over the course of the set.

He also played one of the few older solo songs I know, “I See a Little Light” which is on an old cassette compilation someone gave me when I was at university. It’s acoustic on my cassette, but this was a storming rock number. Most of the songs were storming rock numbers. The 2 or 3 ballads actually lagged quite badly although overall the set was what The Ledge called “relentless” as the band tore through song after song with almost no between-song banter.

It was exhausting to watch but enjoyable as Bob Mould did not stop grinning through the set and the older crowd, obviously fans from his Hüsker Dü days, were ecstatic, if not particularly energetic. The set made me wonder if Bob Mould isn’t the American equivalent of David Gedge – innovative but over time unsurprising, at the early forefront of his indie scene but playing to smaller and smaller crowds of balding men while still producing the same catchy, melodic, jangly rock and intriguing lyrics as ever. Plus there’s something I find extremely appealing about his voice. Bob Mould certainly writes some charming love songs and delivers them with all the emotion of a 20 year old with everything to prove.

When the Hüsker Dü material finally appeared, even to my pathetically untrained ears it was obvious, especially as the crowd finally started moving, rather than just waving their arms and mouthing the words. It was quite a moment, being in the presence of a man who’s been such an influence on a lot of bands I love, watching him play the songs that made him so influential. I’m really glad we were there.

Bob Mould – The Silence Between Us

Sugar – Hoover Dam

Posted by JustHipper on 10th June 2008 at 10:19 pm | comments (11)
File under bob mould,Gig Reviews,gigs,husker du,manchester academy 2,mp3,Reviews,sugar.

If touts are entrepreneurs then that degree I bought online makes me a doctor.

So it seems that Glastonbury only sold 100,000 of 137,000 tickets when they went on sale over the weekend. Now this could be because of the horrible lineup (Jay-Z? Really? Ugh.) – not that a bad lineup has ever stopped people in the past. It could be because of the weather – but the weather is vile almost every year. Or, perhaps, it could be that the new anti-touting measures have worked and we’ve seen what the actual demand is instead of the fake demand created by touts and people trying to make a fast buck off other music fans. Considering that Reading/Leeds, T in the Park and V Festivals all sold out immediately, I’m thinking it’s that last one myself.

For better or worse (it’s looking like for worse at the moment), we purchased T in the Park tickets. Unlike last year, when we managed to get 1 ticket between 3 of us, this year we managed to get 4 tickets between 3 of us. Why four you ask? Well, you could only get a maximum of 2 and 3 of us wanted to go. To avoid last year’s problem we opted to try for 2 from each household. It worked. The number of people who did the same is probably pretty high. We offered our spare to a friend who accepted. Most people will have gone straight to eBay. If touting were illegal, this dilemma may not have occurred. It would also have prevented the several hundred tickets that were on eBay within minutes of the festival selling out being on there at outrageous prices. Or the hundreds that will be sold via eBay, Gumtree and other, similar sites and through dodgy ticket resellers between now and mid-July.

When hundreds of tickets go on sale every day, it suggests that an extremely large percentage of the tickets for T in the Park (or any festival or major gig) are going to touts, not to fans. So people aren’t getting the helpful opportunity to buy tickets from resellers when they miss out because they didn’t know something was on sale or couldn’t get to the phone or computer, they are being forced to buy tickets this way because touts (and we mean you, music fans who are selling your spares above face value, as well) are cornering the market and artificially driving up ticket prices.

Now, Word Magazine had an interesting suggestion which they claim will sort everything out without the need for legislation – just don’t buy tickets at inflated prices. But can you imagine being a 16 or 18 year old who’s missed out on getting a ticket to the gig or festival you’ve been dreaming of for months or years, finding out all your friends managed to get those tickets and then being faced with the dilemma of paying 2x, 4x or even 6x the face value but not missing out or staying home and feeling like a social outcast? It’s not going to happen.

With the kids starting to go to gigs now for the first time having this scenario as the norm, they will just accept it and nothing will change. If anything, it will get worse – and the bands and artists aren’t even benefitting from this. The touts are actually making more money per ticket than the artists are in many cases. If you consider that a £30 ticket to the Manchester Apollo for the Arcade Fire was selling for a couple hundred pounds, you have to wonder about a government commission that tells us that these people are offering a useful service when what they are really doing is making a living by being disrespectful to the artists and disrespectful to the fans. These people take pride in contributing nothing to the betterment of society and instead would rather make a living off other people’s hard work instead of their own. To me, that behavior is not only unethical and greedy, it’s highly anti-social.

Word Magazine suggested that maybe touting agencies should be required to pay royalties to the artists. Well now, that won’t make them raise their prices further, now will it?

When you consider that the ticket touting, ahem, reselling industry makes a living by trying to disguise the fact they are resellers, offering tickets for sale that have not been bought yet, and is full of companies that take people’s cash and never deliver, you have to wonder that the government has not cottoned onto the fact that this is not legitimate business any more than the spam emails we get from “universities” offering degrees and the ones offering prescription drugs prescribed “legally” are legitimate businesses.

When will the people who make the laws wake up and see that they should be encouraging entrepreneurship and community, not greed and laziness? Make touting illegal.

Oh, and if you miss out on tickets, or you end up with spares, please use Scarlet Mist.

Posted by JustHipper on 8th April 2008 at 9:07 pm | comments (7)
File under ebay,gigs,Rant,stop touting,Tickets,touting.

Gig Review: Nada Surf and Rogue Wave at Manchester Club Academy, February 22, 2008

Zach Rogue of Rogue Wave live in ManchesterBack in November or so I bought a pair of Duffy tickets for a gig at the Ruby Lounge on the back of “Rockferry” which I’d had the privilege of having about 18 months to get to really love. Subsequently she performed on Jools Holland and was, shall we say, unimpressive – not because she doesn’t have a great voice, but because the songs were such bland soul-by-numbers tripe. The Ledge immediately said he was not going to watch Duffy as he’d been iffy on the idea anyway. I still thought there was hope, I mean if she has one song the calibre of “Rockferry” then perhaps there were more. Of course, then I noticed that Rogue Wave were opening for Nada Surf. That did it. Despite only knowing one Nada Surf song – their MTV novelty hit from around 1996 called “Popular” – I told The Ledge I’d put the Duffy tickets up for sale at Scarlet Mist and we could go see Rogue Wave, who had left us both gutted when they’d cancelled their previous (and only) tour date here in Manchester, leaving us wondering if they’d ever make it to the UK.

So, I, at least, was excited to finally get to see Zach Rogue and band as their second album, Descended Like Vultures, never fails to make me smile through the soft, lilting harmonies and Shins-esque guitar lines. The first album isn’t bad either, although it is a bit more naive and simplistic. In any case, we got to the venue early and a small group of people were already clustered near the stage, at least one of them in a Rogue Wave T-shirt purchased from the merchandise stand. While The Ledge was queuing at the bar I made my way forward where a very nice bloke noticed me behind him contemplating where my best view would be and kindly moved behind his friend so I could get close enough to see the stage.

Rogue Wave live in ManchesterBy the time Rogue Wave emerged on stage there was a reasonable crowd, and the number of people singing along and the sheer volume of the shouting suggested that quite a few people had done the same thing we had – come down to see the opener. While the sound was the usual muddy mess that you get in Club Academy most nights, the band were on good form and much louder and rockier live than on record. Like many slightly twee acts, they bolstered the sound a bit live to make it louder and noisier so that it would fill the room a bit more, and it worked, for the most part. I was fascinated with bassist Patrick Abernethy’s upside down bass – he’s left-handed so he’s restrung it rather than buy a left-handed bass.

The short, 30-minute set consisted of about half new songs from an album that has yet to be released here in the UK (and which, sadly, was not on sale on the night) and older material. We were chuffed to hear “Publish My Love,” “Bird on a Wire” and the standout track from the first album, “Every Moment.” For much of the growing crowd, the highlight appeared to be the appearance of Nada Surf’s lead singer, Matthew Caws, to sing on one of the new songs. For me, though, the highlight was “Bird on a Wire” descending madly into everybody on drums and percussion, including Nada Surf’s drummer, Ira Elliot. Only 7 short songs later and with the promise they’d be back in May, Rogue Wave departed all too quickly.

Nada Surf's Matthew Caws on stage with Rogue WaveAfter Rogue Wave, The Ledge and I debated whether we should move back and let somebody more familiar with the band’s back catalogue to the front or whether my being able to actually see the gig would alter my perception that much. We decided to stay put, at least for a little while, as staring at people’s backs and getting jostled by people going to and from the bar never makes for much fun, and I am glad we did stay where I could see.

As for Nada Surf, I expected late-90’s-style American college drone rock, but they were far poppier and perkier than that and were actually pretty upbeat, chatting between songs to a crowd that (mostly) knew every note. They are, quite simply, probably a great example of the classic American indie-pop, college-radio-friendly band of the sort that I remember from my university days back in Boston, before that short period where everything sounded like Stone Tool Pearl Garden in Chains, and their sound certainly blended well with the live version of Rogue Wave. While the one song I knew I knew unsurprisingly did not make the set, I did recognise at least one other, a love song that The Ledge reckons was probably used in a film or TV show as he recognised it as well. The band chatted with the crowd and were pretty entertaining, but the set was very long – running towards two hours – and by the time they left the stage the first time, both The Ledge and I were exhausted and felt we’d had enough as listening to a band with whom you’re unfamiliar for that long becomes more of a chore than a pleasure, so we abandoned the gig and headed off for some food. Overall though, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Nada Surf are more substantial than “Popular” and probably worth further exploration.

Rogue Wave – Every Moment

Rogue Wave – Publish My Love

Nada Surf – Popular

Nada Surf – See These Bones

Posted by JustHipper on 25th February 2008 at 9:57 pm | comments (1)
File under cancelled shows,Gig Reviews,gigs,mp3,nada surf,Reviews,rogue wave.

Gig Review: Laura Veirs at Manchester Night & Day, February 5, 2008

Contrary to popular opinion amongst my friends (and perhaps anyone who’s read my gushing endorsements of The Decemberists), I bought my first Laura Veirs album, her current one, Saltbreakers, not because she duetted with the lovely Colin Meloy, but rather because a friend whose taste in music I trust said it was a fantastic album. It is. While I had previously avoided her studiously as I thought she might be another one of those boring, faux-quirky female acoustic singers with whom we have been assaulted over the last 18 months, much to my chagrin; it turns out she writes lovely songs that mention water somewhat regularly and that she has a very pleasant, soothing and friendly voice.

So, we took ouselves down to the Night & Day expecting a pleasant evening – which is pretty much what we got.

The opening act was Clyde, a singer-songwriter from Seattle who sings in a band called Your Heart Breaks. I listened to a couple of their songs on MySpace prior to heading down to the gig and they were warm, quirky, lo-fi numbers that reminded me of the Moldy Peaches in tone, if not in content. Funnily enough, Clyde mentioned being friends with Kimya Dawson, formerly of the Moldy Peaches. In person she was warm, funny and very self-deprecating and if lyrically some of her songs were a bit lacking, she made up for it with enthusiasm and some very entertaining storytelling. I was smiling when she left the stage and feel like I really should go back to the Your Heart Breaks MySpace page and download a few tracks.

We were expecting Laura Veirs to be touring with a full band, as Saltbreakers has a lot of instrumentation on it, but it seems we missed that jaunt a few months back and this time she was on her own, because, she told us, she likes to see how the songs stand up alone occasionally. They sounded lovely, in fact. Despite some problems with her monitors, she put in a faultless performance that even saw a couple of songs on the banjo and some old folk covers as well as a set covering not only her most recent album, but all the ones before it that neither I nor the The Ledge have heard. That is, all her albums except the first one which she reckons is a bit crap as she was still learning her trade at the time. The audience were entranced by her, with a gaggle of young women at the front of the stage singing every word along with her.

The only problem, really (apart from someone standing nearby who really needed a stick of deoderant and the omission of “Drink Deep” from the set), was that not knowing most of the songs meant I couldn’t fix on the lyrics very easily and so the overwhelming experience was her voice, which doesn’t really change much from song to song (not that it would without effects which would kind of defeat the purpose of an acoustic performance), and the melodies which started to blend together without the help of a range of instruments to give the songs musical depth and variety. I don’t think this was an issue of songwriting but rather my lack of familiarity with the songs. A full band would have kept my attention better and given me more to hear and see.

On the whole, however, Laura Veirs put in a great performance and is clearly a songwriter whose back catalogue is well worth exploring further.

Laura Veirs – Nightingale

Laura Veirs – Drink Deep

Posted by JustHipper on 10th February 2008 at 8:44 pm | comments (2)
File under female singers,Gig Reviews,gigs,Laura Veirs,mp3,night & day,Reviews,Your Heart Breaks.

Gig Review: 30 Seconds to Mars at Manchester Academy 1, 27th January 2008

In what is possibly not an auspicious start to the gig-going for 2008 I attended my first emo gig since about 1996 (back when emo bands played church basements full of straight-edged teenagers and didn’t wear eyeliner), using a spare ticket that Bricking Chick had for 30 Seconds To Mars, the band fronted by none other than Jordan Catalano out of the TV show My So-Called Life. Most of you probably know him as Jared Leto. Having only a vague idea that the band play some sort of predictable emo rock, I was, I must admit, tempted enough by the notion of being able to gaze up at the rather nice looking Mr. Leto that I completely forgot about the last time I saw a rock band fronted by a Hollywood leading man – Keanu Reeves and his band Dogstar who were the laughing stock of Glastonbury in 1999 because they were so abysmally awful.

This was nowhere near as bad as that Dogstar performance. Thank goodness.

For starters, Jared Leto can actually sing. In fact, his voice reminds me a lot of that of Ed Kowalczyck of +Live+ whose first two albums are pretty good. 30 Seconds to Mars are actually pretty competent musicians who do a very good job of entertaining a crowd. While the songs were pretty derivative and the set contained far too many ballads, their music was in no way offensive or off-putting. It just wasn’t particularly memorable. On the whole, though, I liked the louder songs well enough and was somewhat amazed by the fact that this was more of a “rock” show than the Marylin Manson gig I attended back in December (which really was just theatrical pop). The only real downsides were the fact that we couldn’t get close enough to the stage to really see the band and the between-song banter which was just pathetic. Apparently a song which Bricking Chick informs me they wrote two years ago is actually about their trip to China they took last month which was, it would seem, “life-changing.” Whatever.

The highlight of the night was not actually the band, though, it was the teeming masses of 15-year-olds who were in the crowd (whose parents were queuing to collect them at the end of the night). They were brilliant. They were enthusiastic, they were screaming like the girls in those old videos of The Beatles, and I swear that the four girls in front of us, kitted out not only in 30 Seconds to Mars T-shirts and hoodies but also bags and wristbands, were crying at one point. Maybe the choice of band is a bit poor, but hopefully with that enthusiasm for their music in a couple of years they will have developed a taste for something a bit more challenging and unusual. The fans of today’s manufactured rock may well be the people buying records by the next At the Drive-In, Trail of Dead or even Mogwai.

So, musically, not as good a beginning as 2007, but still a hopeful start to 2008.