Trial and Error All-dayer

October 19, 2016

I’m not going to say too much, not least as I missed most of it.

Sanctuary.  Basingstoke.  Sunday 16th October 2016.  LOADS OF BANDS.  Cos I am so busy and important I missed most of it.  Thanks to Stefan Powell for organising, and well done all involved for the cash raised towards CDH UK.

I saw three bands, and they’re all bands I have seen before.  Space Church had just started when I arrived.  I really like them.  I recommend the album.  Highly.  They prove that you don’t need noise noise noise to make challenging music.  They prove that you can mix things up and still sound like a proper band.  The only downside is the set-list seems to stick too close to the album… are you not writing new stuff?  Why not chuck in the odd older song?

Warren Schoenbright.  I like them.  I love the drummer, I like the bass.  There’s two things I don’t particularly like, both of which say a shit load more about me than they do WS.  (1)  I love noise, but I love songs too.  WS don’t much do songs.  (2)  The third member.  Laptop and other hardware.  I have no problem with bands not being fully live with real instruments all the way… but I don’t like not knowing what someone is doing, and I also think – probably completely illogically – that if you’re gonna stick a computer on stage then get the fucking thing to do everything for you.  Press the fucking button and let it do its thing, then remove the laptop from the (non-)stage at the end of the set.  Stand next to it if you want.  Do a bit of fiddling if necessary.  But spending all set fucking around with shit that should be done by the computer also sat right next to you – what a waste of time.  Anyway, as I say, that’s my problem not theirs.

Slug13.  Nice.  Really nice.  I’ve started checking out more of their music online and its damn good.  I don’t really now what more to say.  The vocals were (very) quiet, the songs were loud.  They remind me massively of Mudhoney as I’ve said before, but that’s much more down to the fact that I love Mudhoney and I don’t know as many of the other bands who were around at the time as I should, both those that were grunge and those that shared elements of the grunge sound.  Should probably start with Tad and The Jesus Lizard – I like it when bands help you with their influences.  Never really listened to Tad apart from the odd song on John Peel back in the day.  I have “Head” on vinyl, but it hasn’t had a play in probably 23 or 24 years.

The Pooh Sticks – Cinnamon

October 16, 2016

Does pop get any better – I love this noisy little pop masterpiece so much –

Sonic Boom – Angel

October 11, 2016

Such a beautiful song, IMHO –

Vox Starstream

October 5, 2016

Not the new one, the original.  Yesterday I posted a link to a Spacemen 3 live vid.  Sonic Boom was playing a Vox Starstream a bit like this.

A photo –

A demo –

Vox were fucking cool in the 60s –





Spacemen 3 – Live in Germany 1989

October 4, 2016

I just cannot express how much I love this band.  On record they are incredible, with a wide variety of sounds and songs.  This is a reasonably recent upload to youtube of them playing live at the peak of their powers.

OK, I buy that they’re not to everyone’s taste.  Some people just don’t get stuff that challenges them.  But if you like psychedelia, or shoegaze, or space rock or drone music or minimal music or heavy distorted guitars or heavy music or anything at all experimental then you MUST find yourself a spare hour and listen to this –

Skinny Girl Diet – Pretty Song

October 4, 2016

Collapse Board made it song of the day.  I’ll give it an early ‘song of the year’.  Really fuzzy, grungy post-punky pop.  Or something.  Fucking outstanding –

Must explore them more.

Reminds me a bit of this –

Th’ Faith Healers were a damn fine band.  They got even better when they got more krautrock.

Gigs in Surrey and Hants – week commencing 3rd October 2016

October 3, 2016

What a week.

Wednesday at the Boileroom… the mighty Wire, genuine post-punk legends, appearing alongside Space Church who are, erm, genuine?  Only teasing lads, Well worth going to see the mighty Space Church too.  “Songs To Punch Nerds To” is awesome.

Thursday – Typical Hunks (yes, just yes) at the Whitehouse Studios in Reading –

Friday at the Lounge Bar in Alton – Grits, Princess, Camcorder, Trevor’s Head.  What.  A.  Line.  Up.

Saturday.  Secret Black Boyfriend and Princess (and a band I don’t know) at the West End Centre.  Nice.  Very nice.

If you can’t be arsed to leave Guildford then Musician’s Against Homelessness night again at the Star on Saturday – The Bronsons and The Dabhands look like they’d be worth checking out.  And its charidee, or so Smashy and Nicey told me.

What have I missed?  Unfortunately I can see myself missing the f’ing lot.  Got a load on, and the one I definitely can’t do is the one I’d most like to see – Wire and Space Church.

The Telescopes, Flavor Crystals, Sterling Roswell – London Fields Brewery, 22nd September 2016

September 24, 2016

The gig was a microcosm of my greatest loves and pet hates in music.  Not a bad venue, shame that East London = hipster = we must serve pale ale = we must not serve anything else.  Seriously, the whole pale ale / IPA thing… yeah, I can see why the odd place would specialise.  Yeah, I can see why places would serve it… but why do places think IPA = we must not serve anything else, after all what if the hipsters accidentally bought a stout or a more traditional English bitter and simply EXPLODED?  Anyway, I dunno what I’m on about really, the venue had some alright-but-expensive-tasting, expensive lager… it was their bar round the corner that had less choice on tap.

Anyway.  Sterling Roswell.  Former Spacemen 3 drummer.  The Darkside alumini.  On vox and guitar with a drummer and keyboardist.  Slow start, pretty weird songs, really simple guitar parts, sounded OK.  But as the set progressed it got better and better.  The cover of Girl by Suicide was great.  I can’t really describe it.  A band who clearly have their musical roots firmly in the pre-shoegaze world.  It would probably be fair to call it 60s psychedelia that has taken numerous 70s influences… and kept progressing.  Last 3/4s of the set I really enjoyed.  I’ve never loved the Darkside but I bought the records back in the day and sure as hell like them.  Spacemen 3 are up there in the two best bands ever.  I have to hang my head in shame at my failure to follow Sterling Roswell’s career over the last 20-plus years.  To be put right.

Flavor Crystals.  The first thing to make clear is that I enjoyed the set, would happily see them again and would probably enjoy their records.  But they just don’t excite me.  I will file them in a box marked “Ride, Slowdive, Chapterhouse and all the other bands that get tagged shoegaze and couldn’t easily get tagged anything else”.  They take MBV as a template and layer sound.  Great, I like that sort of thing.  But you can make so much more interesting psychedelia…

The Telescopes are, with the aforementioned Spacemen 3, the other half of my Top Two favourite bands of all time list.  I haven’t seen them for a while, which makes it even harder to know what to expect.  Back when I first saw them live they were a 5 piece.  For the last 15 or 20 years they’ve been Stephen Lawrie and Jo Doran, then more latterly Stephen Lawrie and others.  It can be anything from One Unique Signal acting as Lawrie’s ‘Scopes and playing the old songs pretty faithfully, to Lawrie and Briget Hayden on their hands and knees with a mass of FX, guitars and assorted weird shit to play with.  Tonight it was a five piece band including Lawrie on vocals as usual.

How here’s where my review just steps up a notch in competence.  I might have been a bit pissed.  I might have been simply blown away by the music to obscene proportions.  But they played for however long and it was just the most incredible psychedelic, heavy, feedback-driven sonic mayhem imaginable, to the point that I genuinely don’t remember hearing a song I knew.  Definitely heavier and more full on than when OUS fulfilled the role.  Online the next day there is a clip of them playing a track from their first album (and the one that means most to me) – how the absolute fuck can I see a band I love, enjoy them massively and not recognise the songs?  There really isn’t much more to say, they are awesome after all this time.  Still.  They continually re-invent and change and push new boundaries, yet come back to many of the same musical themes and songs and keep an old fan like me interested.  I just cannot speak highly enough of them.

Oh yeah, Stephen Lawrie solo acoustic.  That’s another string to his bow – these songs sound just as great played on a single acoustic guitar.  Genius.

Bridget Hayden

One Unique Signal

The Telescopes

Sterling Roswell

Flavor Crystals

Joe Nichols – Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off

September 14, 2016

Oh no Joe…

The Tuts at Undercover

September 12, 2016

The Tuts experience of Undercover was a long way from good.  You can read about it on their Facebook page.

Dr Lucy Robinson’s piece here is geat –

Your Punk Politics Will Be Privileged…

I am quite deliberately not going to talk about what happened on this blog.  What is without question is that the organiser is ultimately responsible for the whole event and security in particular, and part of being responsible for a whole event is planning for all of the things attendees might do.  The second thing that is without question is that The Tuts singer-guitarist was left bruised and the whole band very upset.

Even in the hypothetical situation of an full independent investigation [as if] placing significant blame on the band – a hypothetical situation I have no reason to believe is true – the promoter still has lessons to learn.  By definition.  That to me is a big part of what makes the whole story so depressing.  The Facebook comments – many of which could be taken word for word from ‘Derailing for Dummies’ [an essential read for anyone who doesn’t wish to be an arsehole unnecessarily] – are depressing to put it mildly.  But perhaps what is worse is the fact that I get the sense that the lessons of Hillsborough have not been learnt – certainly not by the commenting public.  Bear with me.

I am not an expert of the Hillsborough enquiry.  The basics of the situation were that there was a tragedy at a football ground where 100 or so people lost their lives.  The police blamed hooligan supporters.  Eventually – 25 years later – the truth came out – the crowd behaved as crowds behave and the police were found to be at fault for making very bad decisions. Crowds cannot recognise the crush they are part of and all just stop and walk away so everyone is safe – crowds just do not work like that however much we wish they did.  Police can (or at least should) recognise that opening gates to allow a massive crowd into an already crowded enclosed space is extremely dangerous (as evidenced by the outcome).

It seems to me that even if we were to offer considerable sympathy to the anti-Tut side of the argument, the facts are that a promoter and his security team have left the band very upset.  So upset that they are prepared to call him out even though they probably knew that he’d have a load of supporters justifying his behaviour and reminding them to stay in their place and shut the fuck up otherwise they won’t get gigs.

I think that there is a very strong parallel here – even if we accept the Undercover supporters’ version of events, then the organisers still have questions to answer because there is nothing in either side’s account of the story that could be seen as beyond the reasonable anticipation of the organisers.  If MI-5 thought Undercover was a hotbed of terrorism and sent in 500 armed police to arrest everyone I would understand that Mick Moriarty did not have a plan to deal with it.

Someone [female 5’2″ in this case] [alledgedly] drunk and being a bit boisterous is very very predictable at a punk gig.  That person being left bruised and very upset can only really be reacted to in a handful of ways by the organisers.

“We don’t want bruised and upset people at our gigs, so we have to learn from this and see how we can improve our procedures and behaviours next time to minimise the chances of it happening again.”

“We don’t care if our customers and/or bands are left bruised and upset.”

“We do care if our customers and/or bands are left bruised and upset, but only if they’re sober.  Drunks don’t have the same rights as sober people.”

Personally I don’t like the latter two responses.  I hope that Mick Moriarty will come up with his side of events.  No matter what he says I find it very unlikely I will have sympathy with him unless he can show how he is going to learn from this.  It may be that the Tuts have things to learn as well, but “when you get drunk you lose your rights” should not be one of them.