Archive for March, 2006

Gig Review: The Foundation featuring Nephew & Being 747, Dry, Manchester, March 24, 2006

I am always skeptical about going to local gigs featuring only unsigned bands which take place in dingy basements – especially dingy basements that I did not know existed. I know Dry used to feature bands regularly, but this was before I ever moved to Manchester. However, when the prospect of seeing Nephew again arose, especially as we managed to miss out on their gig a week earlier due to a plumbing disaster at home which led to lots of water everywhere, a very cold house and a very stressed out The Ledge, we were both keen to see what they’d been up to and what, if anything, had changed besides their lineup.

The first band on were called something like the Pixie Slits or the Pickup Sticks or the Pathetic Crisps or something vaguely like one of those guesses. I honestly have no idea and as we missed all but 3 of their songs, if they introduced themselves when they first came on stage we did not hear it. More’s the pity as they were fairly good. They sounded like they’d grown up on 1990’s American indie rock like Nirvana and Pavement and would be right at home on the typical American indie rock station. It felt very familiar to me but nonetheless sounded quite good and they certainly looked the part. I was surprised because I’d expected the first band on in a venue like that to be shambolic. At least that’s what past experience of these sorts of shows has comprised. Unfortunately we didn’t get asked to join their mailing list and while we did see a list of band names on the way out I was very tired and it just did not register so I guess I’ll never know – unless someone reading this can tell me.

Next up were Nephew with their new bassist. I keep forgetting between shows how epic and dynamic they sound. For some reason I keep expecting much more quiet bits but last night I got more loud bits. It was absolutely soaring. Although the vocals were a bit drowned out in the mix, the violin and mandolin sounded beautiful and the riffs kept coming, much like target practise, hitting square in the chest and causing gasps of delight. The first time we saw them I thought they sounded a bit like The Unbelievable Truth. The second time they made me think of Elbow. Last night, although I can still hear bits of both those bands in their melodies and delivery, they struck me as pretty much unique, all full of forceful, fluid melody and sincerity which could fill a stadium given the chance, although I do prefer the more intimate setting myself. When the media finally catches onto this band I’m sure they’ll be massive.

Third on the bill were the rather oddly named Being 747. They set up their instruments wearing overcoats and ties, looking like they’d come from work at the bank. Just before starting to play they traded the overcoats for white lab coats and lab safety goggles. We’re still not sure why, but it made us think of Clinic and was mildly amusing. It might have slightly detracted from the fact that they write some pretty good songs. There was one about ordering prescriptions on the NHS and one about monkeys and evolution, maybe that’s what the science lab gear was about, I don’t know, but they seemed to be fairly straightfoward punchy Britpop. They seem to have been around a while and were talking about their new album so I suspect the next stop is a closer look at their website to see what the deal is, and to maybe hear some more songs. Unfortunately, last night, the drummer, Paul, was quite visibly feeling very unwell and they had to cut their set short. I’m sure we’ll catch them around again though for a proper set.

The final band looked like a bunch of schoolkids fronted by a twenty-something hippy. I thought they introduced themselves as The Nigellas but it was something different but similar sounding. Again, I can’t quite remember. We only lasted 2 songs and a half though. The vocals were abysmal and it really seemed a mishmash of too many things. They went from sounding like Editors/Bloc Party to sounding like Ash to sounding like a lot of shouting. Honestly, I don’t really care what they were called based on what we saw. I did feel bad because everyone left after Being 747, and I suspect the promoter knew this would happen and put them on at the end, but as with all new bands I guess it’s a part of paying their dues and hopefully their catalogue and their performances will improve over time. The Ledge did reckon their drummer was very very good.

On the whole I was pretty impressed with the range of bands, especially as I was not expecting much, which only leads to my growing belief that we should spend a lot more time at these small, local gigs because we’ll probably discover some really great stuff.

Posted by JustHipper on 25th March 2006 at 3:29 pm | comments (5)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

XFM Manchester: An Apology

We at The Indie Credential do hereby apologise for a post that went up a couple of weeks ago that suggested that with the launch of XFM Manchester our great city might be getting the radio station that its rich heritage of alternative music deserves. Oasis, Coldplay, Richard Ashcroft, Oasis again, Corinne David Gray, U2? We were sooo wrong. Sorry.

And now we can’t even get the superior XFM London on DAB anymore. Damnation!

Posted by The Ledge on 24th March 2006 at 6:15 pm | comments (8)
File under Random comment.

Gig Review: Battle, Manchester Night & Day, 5th March 2006

Battle at the Night & DayOn Sunday night we headed back to the good old Night & Day to see our third gig of a busy weekend. We saw Battle at the same venue about six months ago and they were excellent, but I hadn’t really heard much of them in the interim so was interested to see how they had progressed.

First up, well, second up as we missed the first band, were The OnOffs, the first band I’ve seen to bear a passing resemblence to the Arctic Monkeys, their singer looking like a cross between Alex Turner and snooker star Ronnie O’Sullivan. They are a three-piece and sound very much like (This Is The) Modern World-era Jam. This may have been The Jam’s most fallow period artistically but The OnOffs put in an entertaining set nonetheless and impress with their extremely accomplished musicianship, the aforementioned singer/guitarist playing like Weller at his peak, even nicking his “News Of The World” guitar solo in homage.

Not much seems to have changed in the world of Battle, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as they’ve yet to put out a full length and have only a couple of singles to their name. Their audience has grown – there were at least twice as many people down as last time – and the band definitely sounded tighter and more focused than before. I felt familiar with much of the set, even though I’ve only seen them twice before, which is a good sign, means they’ve got catchy tunes. Debut single “Isobelle” is still a big crowd favourite, “Tendency” still sounds like “A Forest” by The Cure, “Demons” sounds like Bloc Party covering The Lightning Seeds. And they all still sound great. Singer Jason Bavanandan was as restless as ever, barely uttering a word between songs but giving everything during. The final two songs were the best of the night: “Takuya” saw Bavanandan and James Ellis trading choppy guitar licks before descending into a furious mantra; “Children” was the perfect closer to send everyone home happy, save for the lack of an encore.

Hopefully Battle can continue to develop at their own pace and won’t be thrust headfirst into the spotlight and be headlining the Apollo any day soon like Bloc Party and Editors before them. They’ve got an album due in the summer and, on this evidence, it could be every bit as good as the debuts of both those two bands.

Posted by The Ledge on 9th March 2006 at 10:22 pm | comments (7)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

News: XFM Manchester to Launch March 15th

For anyone who didn’t already know, XFM are launching a Manchester station on frequency 97.7FM on March 15 at 8am. You can vote now to select the first track they play.

Here at Indie Cred we’re hoping to hear “Hit the North” by The Fall for what should be obvious reasons. Oh, aren’t we clever.

We’re really looking forward to having a local station that not only plays decent music but that can also help promote the great bands and venues around the region. XFM puts on a lot of shows and club nights in London, a city already bursting with places to go and things to do, and it will be nice to see them add some heavy promotion to what goes on in the northwest of England and maybe draw the professional music journalists out of their cosy, London-centric world to see how the rest of the country does things.

Posted by JustHipper on 7th March 2006 at 9:22 pm | comments (3)
File under News.

Gig Review: Death Cab for Cutie, Manchester Academy 1, March 3, 2006

Death Cab for CutieI’m going to get this out of the way at the start: I hate the O.C. I mean that with all my heart and soul. Okay, it’s great hangover television on a Sunday afternoon, but for what it’s done to the state of indie gigs, I really really really really wish a horrid pox on the houses of everyone involved with that insipid program.

Two years ago, Death Cab for Cutie were playing a not-quite-full Academy 3 to an adult audience that didn’t shriek like crazed Westlife fans whenever Ben Gibbard took a deep breath. Last Friday they had sold out the Academy 1 and they were playing to an audience of 14-year-olds who did shriek like crazed Westlife fans every time Ben Gibbard took a deep breath. The row of parents’ cars dropping off and picking up was testament to the the ages of the new additions to the Death Cab cult.

Now, I’m not saying in any way that teenagers discovering a great band like DCFC early is at all a bad thing. Nor am I saying that it’s a bad thing that DCFC are now reaching more people. However, I could do without crowds that aren’t used to leaving the house without adult supervision behaving like, well, children and shrieking like cats in heat because the lead singer twitches an eyebrow. I would also prefer smaller gigs as going to the Academy 1 is a risky proposition – stand at the barrier and be deafened by the speaker stack or crushed to death by youngsters who think moshing is a death sport, or stand further back and see nothing and still be deafened by what is often very bad sound. I’d always rather be seeing bands at the Night & Day or the Academy 3. I will give the newly acquired young fans this much – they did seem to know every line to every song. I would suspect, however, that this is a result of illegal downloading and it probably hasn’t swelled the bank balances of either Barsuk Records or Death Cab themselves.

As for the show itself….

John Vanderslice opened and he seemed a nice enough fellow. I’d read his name somewhere on Pitchfork and he sounded pretty much like you would expect a band opening for DCFC would sound. If I hadn’t been anticipating the main performance so much I’d have more to say about him I’m sure. He did invite the entire crowd out for a curry after the gig. I doubt he had many takers as it would have been past most of the audience’s curfew.

Death Cab emerged to “Marching Bands of Manhattan” and promptly played a series of absolutely classic tracks including “We Laugh Indoors,” “The New Year,” “Soul Meets Body,” “A Movie Script Ending” and “Title and Registration.” The first half of the set, in fact, was absolutely perfect. They even included my favourite ever Death Cab song, “Photobooth.” The second half of the set was rather more obscure, including some early tracks and a dedication to the man who both booked and housed the band the first time they ever came to Manchester, a good five years ago. The latter half of the set included lovely renditions of “Different Names for the Same Thing, “What Sarah Said,” “I will Follow You Into the Dark” and “The Sound of Settling.”

Now, I’d seen DCFC a couple of times previously and what always stays with me about them is their sincerity and their sweetness. Now, maybe they had “rocked out” during previous shows but that didn’t particularly remain in my memory of those gigs if they did. Friday night, however, on a big stage which looked half empty, they owned the room. They were outgoing, they were energetic, they moved around and they were full of noise and huge, noisy guitar riffs. The Ledge commented when I remarked that Death Cab were not meant to “rock” that if they had played the songs on Plans like they had played them live, the album would make much more sense to him, as he’s not a massive fan of the squeaky-clean production. I can see where he’s coming from. I wouldn’t have thought the songs would work like this but they sounded massive. They played a blinding gig and seem to have expanded their sound very successfully to fill the ever-increasing size of the venues.

They left the stage to the shout of “See you in April” at which time, should there be another tour announced, I can only hope that it will not involve having to brave the talking hordes that frequent the Apollo and that they can somehow manage to equal yet another fabulous performance which has left me still smiling four days later.

Posted by JustHipper on 7th March 2006 at 8:07 pm | comments (14)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: Calla, Liverpool Academy 3, 4th March 2006

Saturday night’s little sojourn to Liverpool was an experience, though not one I’d particularly want to repeat too often. First we went to the wrong venue; there are two Academies in Liverpool: one on Hotham Street, where we’d been a couple of times before, and the other at the University Union, opposite the Anglican Cathedral. They are completely separate entities; how retarded is that? We went to Hotham Street, the gig was at the Uni. No worries, it was only a short drive to the Uni and we made our way inside and eventually managed to find the Academy 3 through the labyrinth of disco halls and corridors. The gig was advertised as a 10:30pm start as part of a “club night” and we arrived in time to see the last song of the first band, The Early Years, who made little impression with their hazy, effects-laden guitar drone. The venue was a small room with a bar and it seemed that people who had turned up for the big smarty-pants disco in the nearby hall could wander in and out at will, which meant that half the crowd was made up of girls in short skirts and high heels and white-shirted men, none of whom had the slightest interest in live music and all of whom stood gabbing to each other at the bar while the rest of us tried to listen to the bands over their racket. Which was a shame for BC Camplight, who I missed when they supported The Boy Least Likely To last week at the Night & Day and who were rather good last night: a sort of barstool indie band with some excellent pop tunes and quirky arrangements built around the marvellous piano work and distinctive vocals of head honcho Brian Christinzio. They fought bravely against the tide of chatter but could muster no more than a smattering of applause from the few of us who listened.

We’d been wanting to see New York slowcore trio Calla for some time now but this was neither the time nor the place. Though Aurelio Valle’s stellar guitar work drowned out the cacophony coming from the bar area for most of the performance, it was during the quieter, atmospheric passages, so important to the band’s sound, that the performance suffered. Most of the material played was, I assume, from their new Collisions album (I’ve not heard it yet) and sounded louder and livelier than most of their stuff that I have heard, which, given the circumstances, was a good thing. They did play the excellent “Strangler” from Televise and departed abruptly shortly afterwards having been on stage for little over half an hour. Desperate calls for an encore by the watching few, about 20 of us, were sadly ignored, which didn’t surprise me as the band had looked thoroughly pissed off all night.

So, a disappointing night played out in the shittiest of shitty venues populated by wankers who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a gig by a band of the calibre of Calla, many of whom were probably not even aware that they were even at a gig. Had the band been booked into a decent venue (the other Liverpool Academy for instance) at a decent time (ie. not 1am on Sunday morning) then things would surely have been different. Hopefully the rest of the tour went well for the band and they’ll come back and play Manchester again on a night that doesn’t clash with any other gigs we might be going to.

Posted by The Ledge on 6th March 2006 at 10:52 pm | comments (7)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.