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ATP Pavement, Day 3, May 17, 2010

Day 3 of ATP began at 8am with the guys in the chalet next door singing along to Flight of the Conchords very loudly (and out of tune). Not quite the morning lie-in I was hoping for, but it at least had us out of bed early enough for The Ledge to watch Neil Young’s Greendale on ATP TV and for me to get my hands on an elusive copy of The Observer – something which usually proves difficult at Butlins.

Tim Chad and Sherry @ ATP 2010 curated by PavementBy early afternoon we were ready for some music so we headed up to Centre Stage for the entirely unironic ’70’s country soft rock stylings of Tim Chad & Sherry, featuring members of Silver Jews and Lambchop. It was, umm, well….what I fear the next My Morning Jacket album is likely to sound like. I hope not. It’s a huge step backwards in the evolution of music and one which makes me think of rednecks in pickup trucks drinking Bud Light in their white string vests in the summer Atlanta heat.

Next up was Wax Fang on the Main Stage. Not knowing what to expect after the brilliance of their version of Purple Rain, I can’t say I was particularly smitten. It seems Wax Fang are a little more interesting as Prince and the Revolution than as themselves. It was perfectly competent anthemic rock – but I don’t find competent anthemic rock all that inspiring. We quickly abandoned it to head upstairs for The 3Ds – one of those Flying Nun bands that The Ledge has been dying to see for about 20 years, and one of the few who had so far eluded him.

The 3Ds @ ATP 2010 curated by PavementI was expecting a jangly Flying Nun band heavily influenced by Sonic Youth. I could hear the jangly guitars, but the Sonic Youth influences were masked by the sheer volume of the sound the 3D’s were making. I was quite amazed that they appeared to be a band comprised of a guy found drinking cider in the park, my 50-something 6th grade English teacher, Mrs. Ruffin, and a guy who failed an audition for The Ramones. They sounded great, however, taking us right back to the great lo-fi, guitar-driven indie rock of the late ’80’s/early ’90’s. They weren’t particularly charismatic, but they have some great, immediately catchy tunes.

After the 3D’s, we headed back downstairs to watch The Dodos, a band we’d enjoyed at the Night & Day about 18 months’ ago, but whose new album we’ve not heard. The previous performance was sat down and very folky. Yesterday they were, despite being an acoustic guitarist, a drummer and a xylophone player, incredibly rocky. The new songs sound very similar, if harder, than the old ones, all slightly off-beat indie pop. I enjoyed ‘Jody’ off their first album, but as we wanted to catch a bit of Boris performing Feedbacker, we departed about halfway through for Centre Stage.

Imagine my dismay when on the way up we spotted the signs for Steve West of Pavement giving a course on stone masonry at the “Bob the Builder Stage.” We were already too late! Pavement had joked about it the previous evening, saying they wanted a masculine masterclass to counteract Kelly Deal’s knitting masterclass from the previous year. We thought it was just a joke. Oh well. Only at ATP…

As for Boris, they were rather boring. I think The Ledge enjoyed the 15 minutes we watched, but I thought they would be a bit less by-the-book post rock. I hate post rock.

The Clean @ ATP 2010 curated by PavementDownstairs we found a good spot to watch The Clean, the other Flying Nun band that The Ledge had been waiting 20 years to see. They were even better than The 3Ds – catchy, immediate and full of smiles and friendly banter. I must admit that here at Indie Credential Towers we have a serious soft spot for post-Smiths, melodic, lo-fi, guitar-driven indie rock and this fits the bill 100%. I always love The Ledge’s old Flying Nun albums and I’m baffled at how The Clean have eluded me for so long. They were perfect!

The Fall @ ATP 2010 curated by PavementFinally came the day’s headliner, The Fall, always an interesting, if somewhat difficult live act. I’d only seen The Fall once before when they were an hour late on stage and a complete shambles live. It was a terrible gig which hadn’t made me want to see them a second time. However, I’d heard some reports of great recent gigs, so we decided to give it a go and were not disappointed. Although we only recognised one song, Festive 50 winner ‘Theme from Sparta F.C.,’  the driving, repetitive guitars and keyboards kept us mesmerised, despite the lack of familiarity. Mark E. Smith and band tore through the 70 minute set without pause and a rapt, but subdued crowd, at least where we were standing.

Our final set of the weekend was a brief trip back up to Centre Stage to watch The Raincoats who sounded pretty much like I expected – quirky, friendly post-punk female pop songs which, at least to me, seem to be a huge influence on Fiery Furnaces. We were so exhausted by this point, however, that we abandoned the set for a pizza, a glass of wine and our beds, wary of the long drive in the morning.

So, another May, another triumphant ATP and one that has left me extremely excited for our return for Bowlie 2 in December.

Wax Fang perform ‘Take Me With U’ at ATP

Posted by JustHipper on 17th May 2010 at 6:05 pm | comments (90)
File under all tomorrows parties,atp,dodos,Festival Reviews,Flying Nun,john peel bands.

Gig Review: A Day At The Races Festival, Moho Live & The Night & Day Café, Manchester, 2nd August 2008

Things didn’t start too well for the inaugural A Day At The Races festival the Saturday before last. After the band that prompted us to buy the tickets in the first place, Frightened Rabbit, pulled out a couple of weeks before in order to play The Big Chill, Elf Power became the band we were really looking forward to seeing. On arriving at Moho Live just after 4pm we found out that they too had pulled out. At least we get to see Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, I thought (the two bands clashed on the schedules), but no, they too had disappeared from the line-up. Schedules were re-arranged and Calvin Johnson’s festival opening set was put back an hour to 5:30pm, giving us an hour’s wait in the bar.

Calvin Johnson @ A Day At The RacesCalvin Johnson, formerly of Beat Happening, played solo acoustic and unamplified to a decent sized crowd of early birds, not taking the stage but playing on the floor of the venue in front of the stage as the crowd formed an intimate semi-circle around him. He was clearly unphased by this set up and regaled us with the occasional amusing anecdote and found time for a few songs, none of which I recognised – I only own one Beat Happening album – but all of which were pretty good and in a folksy singer-songwritery vein, with his rather wonderful deep croon often overpowering his scratchy guitar work.

David Thomas Broughton @ A Day At The RacesThe non-appearance of SKWBN gave us the chance to see David Thomas Broughton for the first time after he had been drafted in as a replacement, presumably at short notice. So, we headed off to the Night & Day only to find that they weren’t letting people in, even though it was 6pm and Broughton was on at 6:30, and there were a few people already inside. About 40 people waited for half an hour to get in, during which time there was a brief, but heavy, downpour. Once inside, the unassuming Broughton treated us to a highly entertaining half hour of oddball folkiness, building up improvised atonal loops and offering pleasingly nasal old school English folk vocals, when he wasn’t banging his head against the microphone or wandering into the crowd and scaring the locals.

It was at this point that JustHipper, who had been feeling pretty ill for the previous few days, decided to throw in the towel and make her way home to a warm sofa and last week’s “Gossip Girl”. This strangely coincided with the point at which I really started to enjoy the evening. Long-time John Peel favourites Bearsuit were great fun in their superhero costumes, their vibrant Welsh indiepop coming in somewhere between Gorkys Zygotic Mynci and Los Campesinos, but certainly much better than the latter who where so disappointing at T In The Park recently that I had absolutely no intention of catching their set at this event.

Jeffrey Lewis @ A Day At The RacesNext, Ólafur Arnalds‘ blend of chamber music and electronica was frankly a little boring so I set off early back at Moho Live to see Jeffrey Lewis, who put in perhaps the outstanding set of the day. It was the first time that I’d seen him but I kind of knew what to expect – repetitive hooks, dense, funny lyrics – and he certainly delivered the goods. New song “I Preferred Herman Dune With Two Brothers In The Band” set the standard – and sounded not unlike something Herman Dune themselves would write – while “Back When I Was 4” and his cover of Crass’ “Big A, Little A” were also great, though not as good as the excellent “Creepiing Brain” which had Lewis flicking through a huge comic book as the song went along, unravelling the story in graphic as well as musical form.

Múm @ A Day At The RacesI arrived back at the now sweltering Night & Day in time to catch Adem put in a stellar cover of Low’s “Laser Beam” and, though I’d never had any intention of catching any of his set, found myself a little disappointed that he’d clashed with Jeffrey Lewis.

Then it was off for a quick kebab before returning to see Icelandic popsters Múm end the day’s proceeding with a wonderfully feelgood set of summery electronica. If I say they fell somewhere between Sigur Rós and Stereolab then JustHipper won’t feel the slightest tinge of regret on missing most of the day, though I have a sneaking feeling that she’d have really liked them. Anyway, though things didn’t look too promising at the outset, A Day At The Races turned out to be a thoroughly good outing.

Video: Bearsuit – Foxy Boxer, from their set at the Night & Day

Posted by The Ledge on 12th August 2008 at 11:01 pm | comments (5)
File under Festival Reviews,Gig Reviews,john peel bands,night & day,Reviews,video,youtube.

Gig Review: The Wedding Present, Manchester Academy, 26th October 2007

The Wedding Present setlist for Manchester Academy gig on 26th October 2007I’ve grumbled about my advancing years on this blog in the past and, thanks to evenings like this, I’m totally over it. The Wedding Present’s latest tour is in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the release of their classic debut album, George Best, an album I remember buying 20 years ago and one which has clearly stood the test of time.

It seems that many of the band’s erstwhile fans have also stood the test of time as the “newly refurbished” (portaloos, entrance through a gap in the hoardings, only one bar open) Academy was packed to its shiny new rafters with fortysomethings intent on reliving the glory days of a nascent British indie scene. As the band launched into the opening “Blonde” from Seamonsters – and I don’t think I could have chosen a better opener myself – thus the crowd launched into each other, bodies flying up and down, side to side, large bodies mostly, fortysomething years of chips, beer and Sunday morning fry-ups; a huge, heaving, fleshy quagmire.

I stayed on the periphery at first, fending off elbows and shoulders as a sublime Brassneck increased the intensity before a new song (which may have been called “I’m Always Like This When I’m Drunk”) and a Cinerama number calmed things down a little. A couple of songs later and it was time for the main event of the evening. A girl in a rabbit costume holding some large numbered cards lead a countdown and produced the final card showing the George Best album cover. It took four words from David Gedge – “oh why do you…” – to convince me to join the throng. It was a reaction I had not anticipated and one that I barely seemed to have control over, but it was the right thing to do. Having seen The Wedding Present almost 30 times, the first being way back in May 1986 when they supported James at the Leeds Ritzy, I’ve done some serious moshing to these songs in the past but nowadays at other gigs I feel quite self-conscious about letting myself go in the company of (usually) much younger audience members, afraid that I might look like a dad dancing at a wedding, or throw my back out, or both. In a very good-natured crowd of people of roughly the same age this didn’t seem to be a problem and the rest of the gig was a blast as the whole of the album was played out in order.

David Gedge is the only remaining member of the band from 20 years ago but the current line-up did a fine job of producing what were pretty faithful renditions of the originals, which meant plenty of the Weddoes’ lightning fast guitar strumming, which is always a wonder to behold, though I do miss the days of Gedge and Pete “Grapper” Solowka egging each other on to go faster still. Pretty much all of George Best was a highlight but while I’ve heard old favourites like “A Million Miles” and “My Favourite Dress” plenty of times before it was the less fêted likes of “Shatner”, “You Can’t Moan Can You” and the utterly brilliant “Anyone Can Make A Mistake” that made my night. Listening to these songs again and its fairly obvious that Gedge is master at what he does. The lyrics – simple thoughts, conversations and observations – fall effortlessly into the melodies with nary an awkward rhyme or poor scan. The songs are genius in their simplicity and in these times where the likes of Alex Turner, Lily Allen and Kate Nash (for fuck’s sake!) are celebrated for their (often extremely dubious) lyrical prowess, one wonders what the reaction to George Best might be had it come out in 2007.

The gig was rounded off with a frantic “Kennedy” and then “Flying Saucer,” by which time Gedge’s voice was close to collapse, as were much of the audience, and they called it a day, leaving us trawling our failing memories for the year that Bizarro was released. And Seamonsters

The Wedding Present – Shatner

The Wedding Present – Anyone Can Make A Mistake

The Wedding Present – You Can’t Moan Can You?

Gig Goer of the Week part 8: The Wedding Present, George Best Anniversary Tour

Last night we took ourselves down to see the Wedding Present on their George Best 20th Anniversary tour. Now, I have a funny relationship with the Weddoes. I have seen them live repeatedly and always enjoy the shows, but I never listen to them on CD. So I’m an anomaly in the crowd in that I do genuinely love them, but I don’t know the song titles (with a few obvious exceptions) and I don’t know the words. Not that this has anything to do with anything though.

I tend to like Wedding Present crowds in that they’re all about 10-15 years older than me, they are rabid fans and even though the mosh pit is pretty intense, it’s also pretty friendly. Last night, when my friend and I decided to risk the barrier, we were taking this fact as a given. As always, however, there’s always one (or 2) idiots…. The girl stood to the left of my friend was so drunk before the first of two opening bands even finished that she could barely stand up and was slopping her pint all over herself. Nonetheless she demanded more and off to the bar her suffering boyfriend went. When she demanded another, while clinging onto him for her life, however, swaying and banging into my friend, he finally refused. A fight ensued and she stormed off. He let her go and we ended up getting eased into where she was standing by the crowd. Her boyfriend didn’t make a move to stop it. When she came back about 20 minutes later, still angry and with another drink (how she got served is beyond me), the poor guy ended up having to move back, from his really great spot, to appease her. Frankly, he should have told her to piss off, as there is no excuse for that level of inebriation that early in the night, and there is no excuse for letting your inability to know your limits ruin other people’s night. I can’t imagine she lasted more than 2 songs into the main event.

Naturally, the moment they moved a group of big guys replaced her. We were a bit worried, although I figured they weren’t jostling, so they’d probably be fine, just enthusiastic. And then their single female friend turned up with a bag slung across her front that I swear must have contained a small child it was so large. On top of this monstrosity she’d put her jacket because gosh she couldn’t affect her outfit by tying it around her waist. As The Ledge had abandoned us to chat to some other friends who were a bit farther back, we had no protection between our backs and heads and the world’s largest handbag. The thing is, moshing bodies aren’t so bad. People on the whole don’t want to batter you in a pit and most of the pushing is down to people landing funny and the dancing, not deliberate attempts to injure or remove you. But when you wear a bag while jumping up and down the bag flies upwards and outwards and pretty much batters anyone nearby in a way you falling against them slightly does not. So there we were as the band came on being beaten with a handbag that actually weighed more than I do. Luckily for us, the other physics rule governing handbags in a mosh pit was in our favour – bag on string gets caught between moving bodies and inevitably it goes in one direction while you go in another. So she didn’t last long.

This is where the fun really started though as the band launched into the start-to-finish delivery of George Best: we were suddenly swamped by men, much bigger than us, about as enthusiastic as a crowd gets, and all jumping up and down with gusto. Now, there’s nothing quite like the experience of being in a friendly pit and this was no exception. Hands came round us at the barrier as people tried to stay afloat, apologies and promises to make sure we didn’t fall, giants tapping me on the head to tell me how “hot” the bassist is, blokes screaming the words and punching the air. It hurt like hell but the number of people around me (and it was changing rapidly as everyone fell about) who kept trying to keep me on my feet is one of the things that makes the bad people and idiots at gigs stand out so much. The press during “Kennedy” at the end was possibly the most physically painful thing I’ve ever experienced at a gig (and I can feel it today as I type this, it feels like I’ve been kicked in the chest), but someone had hold of me the whole time, and after the show everybody around us was apologising for pushing and asking if we were ok, which makes a huge difference in the atmosphere and the quality of the whole night. When you’re in a crush by the barrier watching something that unites everybody in the room, why would you be a selfish fucktard when you can spread the good atmosphere by being friendly, aware of others, and part of what’s going on around you, rather than being there in spite of it?

It only takes a little consideration, some kindness to your gig neighbours and the realisation that everybody is there for the same thing to make the difference between a good gig and a bad one, and sets a really good fanbase apart from, well, a fanbase that no band deserves.