Tag Archive: 12 bands of christmas


12279087_999483660093982_8296826872183162800_nTo quote the venerable Sir Noddy of Holder…”It’s Chriiiistmaaaas!” ‘Tis the season that conjures up so many wonderful images, clichés roasting on an open fire, TV adverts featuring useless dads, stressed mums and heart-tugging sentimentality set to a minor key rendered indie classic. It is the season that sees Barry from Human Resources on his yearly trip to the pub in his wacky matching tie and socks and his desire to show everyone else how to have a good time. But thankfully it is also a season when live music is in the ascent and very little of it is playing the seasonal card, thankfully. So with more to fit in than a (insert Christmas cliché here) it’s on with the snow….I mean show.

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1380749_832890343422733_1288878591824317191_nSo here I am once more, (extra points if you can guess which debut album starts with those lines) writing the intro to the last  but one column of the year and a time to look back before moving forward towards the empty canvas that is 2015. As I repeatedly mention putting on live music these days is an increasingly difficult activity. The certainty of people willing to pay to see a band or turn up in sufficient numbers is something slowly being eroded by free access to music via downloads, streaming, TV, not to mention all the financial demands that a night out requires. So with that in mind I want to thank everyone still doing their best to keep live music on the Swindon map. To the venues, the bands, the engineers and most of all the punters who have turned up, supported and especially if you have bought merchandise and helped keep the bands fed and watered.

 

So where does it go next? Who knows, but as long as you all keep doing what you have done we keep the spirit alive and who knows next year might be when it all turns around. That’s something to aim for anyway. So for now I will leave you with the round up of gigs and knees-ups to take you through to Christmas in …well if not style, certainly with a smile on your face.

 

Starting in the usual place, the first of those party activities comes in the guise of Songs of Praise End of Year Shindig at The Victoria. For this final show they have lined up a whole pack of familiar musicians who have been an integral part of the Swindon musical story and reassembled them into new bands for this one off show. You won’t know quite what you are getting but you can guarantee that it will be totally unique and top quality.

 

More familiar territory is being explored at The Beehive with the cool swing and R’n’B vibes of The Teddy White Band, possibly the best thing to come out of Swindon since Diana Dors.

 

The party music really kicks in on Friday and what better way to celebrate than with the punked out Celtic folk of Missin’ Rosie (pictured) who are on crowd thrilling duties at The Rolleston. More exotic but no less rumbustious (good word) folk music can be found at The Beehive with the Balkan inspired Model Folk. The puntastic S-Hit 5 have their annual seasonal do at Riffs Bar and at The Victoria you can catch Oasish and Stereotonics paying tribute to…well, it shouldn’t require much imagination to work that out.

 

If you want something cool to take you into the early hours then slip on your dancing trousers and party away to Afrobeat, Funk, Hip-Hop and much more at Level 3 with DJ Mosco’s Christmas party night. Dress code is white.

 

Another stalwart event of the season talks place at The Victoria on Saturday as The 12 Bands of Christmas sees a dozen local original bands forego their usual genres and compete to perform the most unusual, out of character or downright silliest covers they can think of. Previous years have seen the Blowbacks turning Cliff Richard’s Devil Woman into a feedback-drenched tribute to Sonic Youth. Matt Kilford abandoning his usual restrained approach and screaming, “Lick my legs!” when covering PJ Harvey’s ‘Rid of Me’, and Si Hall somehow matching the stratospheric range of La Roux. You have been warned.

Another chance to throw caution to the wind and party like a loon is The Bassett Bulldogs FC gig, not only open to all and sundry but also featuring the talents of avant-garde, indie-popsters, Nudybronque, the solid rock riffs of Edenfalls and the social commentary of troubadour Worried About Mike. Other options are rhythm ‘n’ booze mayhem at The Castle with The Hamsters From Hell, a tribute to classic rock with Shepherds Pie at The Rolleston and function band Paradox at The Swiss Chalet.

 

More familiar sounds on Sunday with The PreFab Four recalling The Beatles at The Swiss Chalet and Interlight playing classic songs from across the decades at The Victoria. But if you really want to party there is no better way to celebrate than with the punked out Celtic folk of Missin’ Rosie…hang on didn’t we do this already. Anyway they are at The Beehive.

 

Anyway, what every you chose to do this week, keep flying the flag of live music and have a great run up to Christmas.

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Library - 48So, it’s coming to that time again, the race for the coveted Christmas number one spot is upon us, or as it should be known, the inevitable public pedestal for Cowell’s latest crooning cash cow. You almost feel sorry for Joe McElderberry, being usurped by those nasty Rage Against The Machine fans and their shouty, sweary anarchist sentiments. You could argue that all these “let’s stick it to Simon” campaigns designed to overturn his god given right to be the Christmas number one puppet master, is just as orchestrated and convoluted as the thing it is protesting against. Maybe, but this year there is a really good alternative.

 

Gaz Brookfield has released a special version of his song Diet of Banality in an attempt to add a bit of spice to the race for the top spot. Imagine if this years Christmas number one was a rant against all those previous style over substance tunes and their dance routines, skimpy outfits, gimmicky rap-middle eights and the like. Oh the irony! Well if you all head over to Gaz’s website, Amazon or iTunes you could be part of the best piece of seasonal satire and festive japery the charts have witnessed in a long time. Do it!

 

Talking of japes, The Victoria has three less than serious acts for you tonight. Dole queue hero and anti-PC rapper Devvo headlines with the boy racer Chip Daddy and the best/worst cover band of them all, Kova Me Badd, also on the bill.

 

The Beehive hosts Sophie’s Xmas (as opposed to  + vent Sunday or E-ster, I suppose) Charity Bash which in the usual eclectic style of the venue will feature fire jugglers, street magic and music from Doeser, Missin’ Rosie, Erin Bardwell Collective to money for Swindon Sands.

 

Younger fans are being catered for at The Furnace in the form of Teenage Kicks Christmas Special (part 1), which has a wonderfully experimental undercurrent. Tides of Change deliver alt rock with a pop punk vibe, Sasquatch Walk does a neat line in jazzy punk disco and With Felix adds in some ambient electro-indie. Make sure you check out openers The Weekend Effect, I was really impressed with their rapped up indie groove. Interestingly enough there isn’t going to be a Teenage Kicks Christmas Special (part 2) but then I guess if the world is ending there really isn’t much point.

 

To celebrate our imminent doom on Friday (unless the Mayans got it wrong…my, won’t we look foolish?) There are a couple of Apocolyto-parties going on. At The Victoria, party band Breeze will be providing the soundtrack whereas The Furnace has one amazing line up for you. Briefly it goes like this, The Racket – elegantly wasted gutter anthems, Nudybronque – intelligent, intense and fired up pop, The Rhubarbs  – The Beatles on Speed, The Street Orphans – slick, sophisticated indie, SkyBurnsRed – searing and dark alt-rock with a classical sweep and The Fixed – exuberant indie.

 

Other parties come in the form of Slagerij’s very messy Christmas at TP’s; ska-punk mayhem from one of Swindon’s success stories and taking Hell Death Fury, Escape From ’98 and The Useless Eaters into oblivion with them.

 

The Beehive goes down a slightly more sedate path with the fiddlesome roots rockers State of Undress. If our are a fan of The Albion Band, Fairport Convention or even The Strawbs then this is for you.

 

Saturday brings along the annual musical curveball at The Victoria, The 12 Bands of Christmas. Each band gets to do two covers; the more out their usual comfort zone the better. Previous years have seen the Blowbacks turning Cliff Richard’s Devil Woman into a feedback-drenched tribute to Sonic Youth. Matt Kilford abandoning his usual restrained approach and screaming, “Lick my legs!” when covering PJ Harvey’s ‘Rid of Me’ and Si Hall somehow matching the stratospheric range of La Roux. Need I say more?

 

 

After the bizarre offerings of that you may want to find some nostalgic, late night comfort at The Furnace when DJ Dust will be hosting one of his irregular Level 3 reunion nights. Party like its 1993 all over again, Kurt is still alive and Strictly Come Dancing is still eleven years in the future.

 

Finally Sunday afternoon at The Beehive brings a wonderfully pairing of bands and not just because they share a drummer. Rumour Shed plays music that is wonderfully chilled, reflective, richly poetic and quietly majestic. Accompanying them are The Shudders, a band just beginning to get back into their stride after too long away and guaranteed to make you want to bop, boogie and booze in equal measure. And it’s all free.