With a record number of, mainly, original music gigs taking place this week, I am going to forego the usual meandering introduction and just jump straight in. And I’ll start at The Victoria, the main cause of such a glut of new music descending on the town. Tonight is the first night of Vic-Fest, a four-day celebration of original bands, each night curated by a different local promoter and varying in its target audience.
Laura Kidd aka She Makes War played for Songs of Praise as a solo act getting on for a year ago and now as part of her national tour she brings the full band show back into town. Her breathtakingly honest gloom-pop, distils a creative punk spirit and is the perfect headline for this night of alternative sounds. Tour support, Forgery Lit add a dirty, grunge blues to the night and the alt-country punk of Coasters will be lapped up by fans of such bands as The Gaslight Anthem.
Whether you catch Robert Brown fronting Smouldering Sons or solo, as he is tonight at The Beehive, there is so much to enjoy in the blends of Americana, blues rock and folky vibes that dance around this musical creations.
Friday at The Victoria and Fairview Promotions take us down a reggae path. Backbeat Soundsystem take a traditional reggae vibe, inject it with funk, dub and ska and then kick it up into a higher gear to create a bass driven party groove. Festival favourites Dub The Earth and King Solomon Band deliver fresh takes on the genre and openers The Nomarks offer a more ska based set to kick off the night.
Back at The Beehive and the folk ‘n’ roll of The Model Folk, a beautiful cacophony of wheezing harmonium, scratchy washboard, throbbing double bass and various acoustica, create a very different, but just as brilliant, party soundtrack. Midway between those two venues, some wonderful singer-songwriter sets can be had at The Regent courtesy of Drew Bryant and Nick Felix and if classic rock and metal standards are more your thing, then Bad Obsession at The Rolleston is the gig for you.
Day three at The Victoria, or Saturday as the rest of us call it, really steps things up a gear and showcases the best new bands at the harder end of rock. It’s always a pleasure to watch The Manic Shine (pictured) not just for their technical expertise and the sheer infectiousness of their songs, but also because they manage to give a lesson in stage performance than many bands would be wise to take note of. They are joined by Vault of Eagles who play a wonderfully primal brand of twisted rock that falls somewhere between The Bad Seeds and P J Harvey. Punk and metal fuse together in The Graphic’s warped art attacks (check out their video The Kid….do it now!) and local support comes from local rising stars, Ghost of Machines and stalwarts The Starkers.
It is quite apt that in a week that marked 15 years since we lost the lyrical genius, singer, artist, actor and madman, Ian Dury, that The Blox, a tribute to his years fronting The Blockheads, are playing at The Rolleston. Expect all the caustic wit and kitchen sink wisdom, not to mention exceptional musicianship that made the original band so…well, original.
If you are after something altogether more funky then, Funk’daMental play funk and disco classics at The Swiss Chalet and the after party tunes can be found at Level 3 as Beats and Bars mixes live acts with DJ’s to showcase the best of the current wave of hip-hop acts.
Sunday at The Victoria rounds off with a night of metal courtesy of Dredded Vyrus. Main act Skreamer manage to combine the grandeur and pomp of classic metal with the primal growl and speed of its current direction whilst Antoinette offer a more contemporary post-metalcore sound. Belial and Ursus open the night’s proceedings.
It’s blues and R’n’B (the boogie guitar sort not the lip synched, dance routine sort) all the way with Built For Comfort at The Rolleston and punk, ska and new wave covers are to be found at The Swiss Chalet with Operation ’77.
At The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday hosts ex-Haiku frontman Phil Cooper and his Neil Finn comparable musical earworms with a rare, short set from the mercurial Adam Crosland to kick the night off.