They say that nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. 35 years ago I was a thin, nerdy, bespectacled college kid unaware of the wealth of post-punk creativity which was about to wash over me during the next ten years but most importantly XTC’s seminal English Settlement had just hit the shops. Blimey, tempus does indeed fugit and creativity is indeed the watchword this week, as quantity and quality are both present in spades.
Some tough choices for the original music fan present themselves tonight with three great gigs on offer. At The Beehive you can immerse yourself in the wonderful blend of folk, blues and world vibes of Lewis Clark and The Essentials a band that weaves classic sounds and forms into modern takes on some seminal sounds.
Thought Forms is that rare thing, a local band made good, sonically progressive yet with a following that goes beyond cult status. Their building blocks are compelling atmospherics, widescreen cinematic soundscapes and yawning chasms of noise, they are visceral and immediate whilst being loose and experimental and it all happens at Level III. Hound on The Mountain play the role of perfect support act.
At The Victoria things get similarly experimental but in a more direct and shouty sort of way. Martyrials re-invent the role of keyboards in the psychedelic punk oeuvre, Ghost of the Avalanche make Misfits-esque extreme noise-pop, GagReflex take a progressive-punk line and Sickones play short, sharp incendiary Hardcore.
And that’s only Thursday.
The weekend starts properly with another visit to Level III on Friday and a showcase of new, happening out of town indie. Smooth Ends is an international collective based in South London and taking indie down some chilled and accessible routes via their “cream-pop” sound. Beach For Tiger effortlessly blend psych, pop and ambient indie sounds and opening the night is the more angular and post-punk derived indie-pop of Big Happy Forever.
Sam Walker is a flurry of electronica, percussion and guitar work that wanders between the frantic and the floating, the urgent and the ethereal, not only great to listen to but a fantastic experience seeing it being created before your eyes, provided that your eyes happen to be in The Beehive.
The Victoria has the welcome return of the Doors Alive and their tribute to the dark, acid tripping psychedelic-blues of the Lizard King and his musical shaman and furious blues-rock classics are also on offer at The Queens Tap courtesy of The Lewis Creaven Band. Last Call will be at The Swiss Chalet for an evening of contemporary rock covers.
Paul De Bello has worked with many of the greats of his chosen genre, from Adam Bomb to Steve Adler to Michael Monroe and he brings his take on four to the floor, groove driven, sleazy rock to The Rolleston with his band Doberman. Alt-rock and Indie covers will be found at the Groves Company Inn, in the form of No Middle Ground.
Saturday is all about rock too. Green Day and Ozzy Osbourne are being paid tribute too at The Victoria and The Queens Tap respectively with old-school rock and metal covers being delivered to The Swiss Chalet via Rorke’s Drift.
Shepherds Pie is at Level III for another blistering night of music: it is big and it is clever, probably the reason why they are one of the highest regarded bands on the rock and metal cover circuit. They are joined by My Own Ghost (pictured), all the way from Luxemburg; dynamic, anthemic rock writ large and Stroud’s Live Rounds who’s brand of metal blisters with formative New York street punk era swagger.
The day of rest is anything but especially with the line up at The Victoria. Sunday sees With Ghosts (is there a ghost theme this week?) and Over To You’s pop punk plus post-hardcore from Edenfalls and Young Kings for a night of big, energetic and euphoric sounds.
For fans of rootsy, bluesy, lap guitar, Sunday is also a bit of a treat with two chances to catch Hiproute’s Jim Blair, firstly at The Lazy Sunday Afternoon in Savernake Street Community Hall with Canute’s Plastic Army and Mr. Love and Justice and then later that same day at The Tuppenny with fellow acoustic troubadour Barney Kenny.
With less space available than the inaugural meeting of the I Hate Piers Morgan Society, I will quickly mention a night of ambient trip hop with Dutch artist Alcuna Wilds and Bristol’s We Are Strangers Minds at Level III on Tuesday and All Ears Avow’ s tour rolling into their home town for a gig at The Victoria on Wednesday.
Phew, that’s quite a week!