It’s that time of year again, the time to eat, drink and be scary, yes, Halloween is upon us. It’s a confusing time really; we spend all year telling kids not to take sweets from strangers and then for one night a year actively encourage them to go out begging for treats. How odd. Sadly the age-old traditions of guising and party games have been replaced by the veiled threats of trick or treating. But if you want to avoid yet another corporate Americanisation of our heritage the solution is easy. Instead of being besieged in your own home as hordes of pre-teen terrors demand sweets with menaces, just head off out to the sanctuary of a gig, this week there is no shortage of them.
Tonight for instance we have a cornucopia of acoustic acts for you delectation, or otherwise put…. there are shed loads of acts to watch. The usual Songs of Praise night at The Victoria sees the welcome return of Charlie Bath, think Dallas Green meets Carole King, aided an abetted by her regular City Marshall collaborator, Simon Law. Up from Cardiff is minimalist troubadour Joshua Caole, who ploughs a furrow that runs from contemporaries like Ryan Adams past Gram Parsons and Hank Williams right back to the sounds of the Jim Crow South of post Civil War emancipation. Opening up the night is romantic balladeer Billyjon.
The Rolleston plays host to three acts that graced the stages of this years Swindon Shuffle Festival. Anyone who missed Antonio Lulic then should catch him tonight. Sounding like a solo Brian Fallon or even Bruce Springsteen, only from England’s fashionably impoverished North-East, this is an artist who has the songs, the stage presence, the banter and the charisma, it is only a matter of time before he is being hunted down by the industry bigwigs, trust me. Support comes from Racket front man Plummie and the musical ethereality of Faye Rogers.
For something completely different, Three Minute Tease rock back up at The Beehive. Backed by the rhythm section that made The Soft Boys and Robyn Hitchcock’s Egyptians the icons of underground music, psychedelic pop warrior Anton Barbeau’s brings the soundtrack to his crazy world back into town. Think Cope, Partridge and Barrett and you get the idea.
Apart from the macabre, carnivalesque, gypsy folk of Buffo’s Wake at The Beehive on Friday, everything else gets a bit loud and shouty, that’s a good thing right? At the Rolleston, Control The Storm (pictured) will be delivering atmospheric, dynamic, melodic metal where their concentration on song crafting doesn’t come at the expense of power and aggression. Support band, Endeavour go for the more frantic technicalities of progressive metal.
Over at Riffs Bar and there are more big and Byzantine sounds courtesy of Acts of Brutality, the oddly named A Fist Full of Foozy, Back Pocket Prophet and Harmony Disorder. What normally happens is the line up changes drastically by the time this goes to print and all the new bands on the bill moan at me for getting the facts wrong, so check the website every fifteen minutes for updates.
You can round your evening off with The Nightshift at The Furnace, where DJ Dust and Tom Himself will be spinning Industrial, Goth, Electronica, Darkwave and other strangeness, so it will probably look like the nightclub scene in Blade II!
On Saturday The Victoria has quite a line up. Headlining, Josie and The Outlaw are all about the 50’s rock and role vibes, whilst The Racket bring their usual blend of wonderfully punked out indie chaos to the stage. With the big sound of SkyBurnsRed and the strange quantum-glock and even stranger time changes of Super Squarecloud, it’s a brilliantly eclectic mix.
Elsewhere it is all about the Halloween party proper. The 12 Bar is being taken over by South West Hardcore with a Pirate vs. Ninja theme and music from Under Godless Skies, Kill The Conversation, Deliverance and Without Consequence. The Furnace, meanwhile, has gone for a Burlesque Metal night with music from In The Absence of Light and The Hotel Ambush.
I urge you all to be at The Beehive on Sunday afternoon for a band that I can’t recommend enough, Port Erin – imagine if Radiohead toyed with jazz and folk as well the usual rock dynamics – these guys are just great. Also falling into the highly recommended category is the show at The Victoria later that same day. Alice Offley launches her latest album spearheading a night of wonderful harmonies and delicate sounds from Jazz Morley and The Black Feathers.
As the week peters out there is still some great music to be had. On Tuesday it comes in the form of Canada’s blues icon Frank Cosentino with support from The Graveltones and The Peace Pirates at The 12 Bar and on Wednesday it’s Teenage Kicks Halloween Party at The Furnace with Roads to Nowhere and Days of Juno.