Another week and yet more bad news on the music front. Last time I reported that The 12 Bar had shut it’s doors, possibly for the last time as a music venue; this week it was announced that after three very successful years, the biggest cultural event in the local calendar, The Big Arts Day, is also calling it a day. A sign of the times no doubt, but maybe such things are a signifier of major shifts in our habits. Like the transition from physical formats to digital downloads, maybe the live experience itself is no longer seen as an particularly relevant experience. People seem more and more inclined to engage with music via the celebrity stacked medium of television in the comfort of their own homes rather than make the effort to go out and watch bands performing at the grass roots level, the place where every band, no matter how big, originated. So it sort of begs the question, where now for live music?
Whilst you ponder that you can still catch some good music around the town. Tonight (Thursday), for example, sees the welcome return of Witney’s finest yob savants, Black Hats. Imagine what The Jam might sound like if they had carried on evolving through the breakthroughs of modern technology and changing pop fashions, visit The Victoria tonight for a glimpse of that possible scenario. Support is the raw, visceral and unadulterated rock and roll of Nymph and kicking things off is Babies vs. Rabies who having risen from the ashes of Mr Hello and His Honesty Club are sure to throw a musical curve ball. For something more sedate, Claude Bourbon will be at The Beehive delivering his trademark weaves of folk, blues, and jazz, classical and eastern acoustic vibes.
On Friday, Riffs Bar have The Sanity Days, Severenth and Twisted State of Mind gigging in aid of International Heavy Metal Day, which is confusing because not only is heavy metal the one genre that there is no shortage of in Swindon, but also the official day is actually on the 12th. Still time to set up a Tibetan Acid Jazz day to rival it. No? Pity! The Victoria are hosting its annual tribute to John Lennon and The Beatles with the likes of Nudybronque, Aural Candy, The Suspicions, Mr Love and Justice and The Starkers providing their renditions of his songs.
The Furnace is celebrating all things youthful, indie and slightly experimental around the edges. Headliners The Debuts, despite their age, have a wonderful washed out and slightly cinematic post-punk feel mixed with more contemporary markers. The Jefferson Brick are the sound of indie exploring some of it’s more warped undercurrents whilst Korim Miah and With Felix push the night’s sounds into some interesting guitar-electro-pop territory.
If you have been anywhere near the internet in the last 4 months you must be aware that Kiss tribute, Dressed to Kill are playing The Furnace on Saturday whilst upstairs in The Rolleston Missin’ Rosie will be doing what they do best. For those not in the know, what they do best is mix high energy Celtic folk with a driven rock sound, sort of a West Country Flogging Molly if you like.
In aid of Help for Heroes charity and more specifically to honour the memory of Paul Dolphin there is a twin venue music event taking place, firstly at the MECA and then going on till 6am at SUJU. 10 hours of music in the form of 30 live acts and DJ’s and all for a very good cause.
The Beehive offers something a bit more old school for its Sunday afternoon session. Jim Reynolds is fine purveyor of blues, ragtime and old-fashioned ballads and is at turns, laconic, wistful and pensive and tongue in cheek.
More acoustic music in the form of The Stripped Back Sessions at The Victoria on Tuesday featuring Kitchen Sink Dramas, Nick Parker and Reichenback Falls, who is often compared to Sparklehorse, Iron and Wine and Bonny Prince Billy, three acts that surly must pique the interest of any music fan.
Finally the week rounds out at The Running Horse on Wednesday with the vocally gorgeous, dark sonnets of The Black Feathers and funkier acoustic sounds of The Right Hooks.