Tag Archive: great nothing (the)


1012956_904802992877241_2155179617826228911_nWe need to talk about Kanye. Now I’m not saying that he is personally responsible for a decline musical creativity but he certainly is a symptom of the way the modern music industry works. If the benchmark for “creative genius” (his own words) is an autotuned, vocoder drenched, bad karaoke routine set to samples and a brief duet with Lee Nelson, then is it any wonder that truly original music is currently playing a back foot, defensive stroke? If this is what it takes to be one of the biggest, and biggest selling, acts on the planet then it makes you worry for the integrity of music in the near future. Doesn’t it?

However you could argue that the root of new musical developments comes from revolution against the mainstream. Folk music, jazz, blues, rock ‘n’ roll, punk, hip-hop, all began as the sound track to musical (and often social) revolution, so maybe future musicologists will thank Kanye for being the catalyst for change, though not in the way the self appointed musical messiah would have hoped.

But enough of the ivory tower endof the industry, what about the grassroots? Well, we are on much safer territory at The Victoria tonight when SNDubstation break out their infectious dub, reggae, and ska and fuse them into a highly energetic live show. Support comes from Conway, a band coming from similar genre-stock, so get your dancing trousers dusted off and start the weekend in style.

The big news for Friday is the launch of a new venue. The Locomotive in Fleet Street is opening its doors once more, this time as a dedicated music venue and making sure this first night goes with a bang, Interlight, one of the best cover bands on the circuit, will be providing some choice musical cuts to get the party rolling.

The Victoria will also be providing something a bit special as The Tribe (pictured) launch their new e.p. The Rise of The Tribe. Having caught their launch gig at the end of last year I can honestly say that what they do is second to none as a live experience. A solid reggae and funk core overlaid with hip-hop and dance grooves, soulful vocals and staccato rap deliveries. Add Melbourne based rapper, Lotek, into the equation and you have a gig hipper than a bearded guy with a lumberjack shirt and fedora drinking espresso from a jam jar whilst writing a food blog.

The rest of Friday takes a more cautious creative line with Bootleg Floyd over at Riffs Bar playing songs from Animals, Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here and The Killertones providing a tribute to the best of the ska and 2-Tone genres at The Swiss Chalet. For a more genre-hopping, chronologically fluid experience you have Hyperbolics at The Castle and The Great Nothing at The Rolleston.

Saturday’s original offerings cater for the rock crowd – The Damned and The Dirty and The Starkers at The Victoria offering classic and grunge centred songs respectively and At The Rolleston, Innes Sibun’s high-octane electric blues make a welcome return. Below at Level 3 you get the best of both worlds with Transmission, a tribute to the bleak but beautiful soundscapes of Joy Division with support from nu-gazers Sahara Heights whilst Distant Echoes remind us of The Jam’s past glories at The Swiss Chalet.

The second night of The Locomotive’s opening weekend plays host to Alter Chaos who pick out the best music from the last 40 years of rock to entertain you and if something of a more Caribbean origin is to your taste then the Shocks of Mighty DJ’s at The Beehive will be just what you are looking for.

Final mentions of the week are for Ray Jones at The Castle on Sunday and at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday Jack Moore performs a frenetic acoustic set, which references everything from Gogol Bordello to Queens of The Stone Age.

541616_722774127841154_9155324037417470323_nThe F-word has been raising its head again, favouritism that is. Of course it is only natural that I have more to say about the bands and venues that I see as moving music forward and this article is based around my personal recommendations for gig goers, but in an effort to provide what some would see as hopefully a more balanced piece I have widened the scope this week to include some of the venues who don’t always make it into the column and to show a broader view of the wide and varied array of music taking place right across town.

 

Before I do so though I just want to go off on a slight tangent and give a mention to Madame Renards Mini Fringe Festival, which is underway in venues across town. Although a theatrically centred event some of its shows do wander into more musical realms, as well as dance, cabaret and even some slightly surreal territory. Do check out their schedule, as there really is a lot of amazing underground entertainment to be found.

 

So, at The Beehive tonight Bob Bowles performs delivering bluesy and accessible guitar, a soulful vocal and showing why he is one of the most popular local bookings. With all the talk of politics in the run up to the general election, Kitchen Sink Drama’s who play there the following night are a very apt booking. A vehicle for Steve Leigh’s poignant songs; expect sideswipes at politicians, thought provoking takes on the attitudes of modern society as well as dexterous playing, all proof that the protest song isn’t completely dead.

 

Also on Friday, all things eighties can be found at The Victoria courtesy of Syntronix. A tribute to the day-glo, synth-pop era of music and a good excuse to get the leg warmers, shoulder-pads and jumpsuits out one more time and dance like a loon to everything from Duran Duran to Flock of Seagulls. At The Rolleston it’s covers from the seventies to the present day with The Great Nothing.

 

 

Saturday is usually the day when the bigger tribute bands roll into town and this week is no different. Formed from the ashes of previous Black Sabbath tribute bands Blag Sabbath and Snowblind, Sabbotage offer one of the best renditions of the music and performance of the Ozzy Osborne era. They can be found at The Victoria. The Secret Police, the longest running Police tribute band will paying similar homage to their own musical heroes at Riffs Bar.

 

Imagine if you will that The Beatles had formed in the mid seventies amidst the punk boom. Okay, got that? Imagine that they are also partial to classic rock. Throw in the idea that they are based in Turin. Put all that together and you have The Beat Holes. Iron Maiden riffs driving McCartney’s finest creations, John Lennon re-imagined as a Motorhead fan, The Beatles as a scuzzy garage rock band. It’s all at The Rolleston on Saturday.

 

As mentioned earlier going slightly off the usual path reveals a wealth of other options. At The Queens Tap, Alter Chaos will be playing across the genres , everything from 70’s to the present day and new covers band Capella can be found at The Ferndale Club. Zing can be found at The Swiss Chalet armed with a select musical arsenal including classics from the likes of Kings of Leon, Killers and Stereophonics whilst at The Castle, Monkey Dolls offer a scattergun of great indie, rock and punk selections and Penfold will be bringing their eight-legged party machine to The Royal Oak, so something for everyone there.

 

On Sunday the gorgeous sound of Mississippi Delta comes to The Beehive courtesy of Barney Newman whose banjo and guitar salvos will have you convinced that you can taste mint julep in the air and hear the great river in the distance. This is authentic roots blues at it’s finest.

 

At to wrap up in our usual location, the final mention of the weeks is for Lucy Kitchen (pictured) at The Roaring Donkey. Self confessed “folky-bird” her music conjures words such as enchanting, ethereal, delicate and beautiful and it is no surprise that she has made it to the final eight to play the Emerging Talent Stage at Glastonbury this year. I can’t recommend her music highly enough.

993496_10151749777031146_1227491858_nSo there I was looking for inspiration to write this opening paragraph, trawling the Internet for interesting facts from which to spring into wondrous literary prose or at least amusing anecdote. Sadly, for all it’s billions of facts and articles the internet doesn’t seem to work like that and most of the information to be found between the postings of cats who look a bit like Hitler and the latest Justin Bieber antics seem an exercise in pointlessness and posture. I say most, as there were a few interesting nuggets to be found. For example did you know that David Bowie invented Connect 4? Air conditioning is actually helping to prevent global warming by cooling the earth. The fact that Mount Rushmore resembles famous American presidents is pure coincidence. Chicken pies actually came before the egg sandwich.  114% of the statistics found online are exaggerated for comic affect. Some of these might not be true, it’s like Abraham Lincoln famously said at Gettysburg, “not all quotes found on the Internet are accurate.”

With that in mind the best place to find out what is going on musically is here. I have done all the rigorous checking for you and can assure you that this 100% accurate, subject to change, the information given to me by promoters, the fickleness of musicians and natural disasters!

Tonight at The Victoria, Songs of Praise throw another loud and shouty collection of bands into the mix. The AK-Poets will be gracing the headline spot for their trade mark show of riotous, razor wire rock ‘n’roll riffing, meticulous melodies and more alliterative descriptions than you can throw a thesaurus at. Support is courtesy of the wonderfully named punk ‘n’roll outfit, Molotov Sexbomb and the opening salvo comes hard and heavy from Headcount. Old school rock and roll is back on the menu it would seem.

Something a bit more soothing can be found at The Beehive as Mambo Jambo mix up roots and world music styles into a cultural diverse musical odyssey. If something altogether funkier is your thing then The Soul Strutters at Baker Street is the place to be.

On Friday we have offerings that run from the sublime to the ridiculous. At one end we have Metalhead playing rock and metal classics at The Victoria and at the other it’s Showaddywaddy at The Wyvern Theatre. Blimey! In between those extremes you can find the eerie, understated acoustica of We Ghosts at The Beehive, whilst The Rolleston opts for fired up electric blues-rock with Keith Thompson and his band. Keith has worked with everyone from a pre-Motorhead Mick “Wurzel” Burston to Ruby Turner so musical quality is guaranteed.

Out at Riffs Bar the regular acoustic session features Jenny Bracey and Last Flight Home.  After trawling trough the copious amount of information on offer for this gig I can tell you that the former is a singer-songwriter and the latter is a new musical vehicle for Missin’ Rosie frontman Joe Rendell. That is all.

It’s the usual pre-dominance of standards and nostalgia on Saturday with a couple of exceptions. Towing the line are 1000 Planets at The Victoria with a set of punk, goth and new wave blasts from the past, The Great Nothing play rock classics at The Rolleston after which if you move down stairs to Basement 73 you will get another set of classic rock and metal from Dodging The Bullet. Meanwhile, at The Greyhound you will find Bombshell playing, wait for it….rock covers, anyone see a pattern forming here?

If you are looking for something to break the cycle, Splat The Rat play Folk Beat at The Castle, a blend of modern folk acoustica put to a world music back beat.

Also moving to the beat of their own drum is Nudybronque who launch their new e.p. at Riffs Bar.  After months holed up in a secret location in Old Town they have emerged with a more diverse sound, a raft of great songs, a shiny new CD and the same brand of charisma, lunatic charm and stage presence that got them noticed in the first place. To help them celebrate the night they have invited some of their favourite acts to join them. The Get Outs will play punked out rock, The Interceptors, infectious ska and Faye Rogers provides a gentle acoustic start to the evening.

More delicate acoustic sounds can be found at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday in the shape of tousle hair troubadour Billyjon.

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January is always a difficult time to try to get people along to gigs, well, at least the sort of gigs that I go to. But it got me thinking about just how important a crowd is to a musical event. Sure, everyone wants their band to be able to pull in the numbers but really, as with many thing…size doesn’t actually matter. You can still make history without an audience. How many people saw The Sex Pistols at The Lesser Free Trade Hall, the gig that took punk beyond its London art college roots….about 40? (Although I have personally met about 120 people who claim to have been there.) There were only 12 people at the last supper, well, thirteen to begin with. Half that number witnessed the Wright Brothers first flight and Archimedes was alone in his bath when he made his greatest discovery. No, not soap on a rope!

 

It’s not the size of the crowd, it’s the power of the event, so do something brave, original, extravagant, boundary pushing and truly entertaining. Something that people will take notice of. Write your own footnote in the music history book. Do something new; don’t just copy what has gone before. Who wants to live in a world that runs on plagiarism?  You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…errr, hang on!

 

Anyway, a quiet week but here it is.

 

Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight has a bit of a vicious edge. Strength In Blunders headline, a three piece sitting on the cusp of punk traditions and new wave experimentation, more Husker Du or Magazine than first wave Brit punk. Support comes from Honesty a band evolved from Frome’s riotous assembly, Haters…remember them? And opening up the night are local alt-rockers Tides of Change.

 

A couple of wonderfully original shows are on offer on Friday. Firstly at The Victoria, The Shudders grace the stage with their musically eloquent combinations of alt-country, lo-fi rock and wonderfully melodic and infectious tunes.  Support is from El Born (pictured), an evocative, heart on sleeve, London, alt-rock band just heading out on a UK tour and offering a Café Nero style loyalty card leading to free gig entry. Interesting! Opening the night is looping, electric guitarist Johnny Lucas who you may remember from his summer anthem Lilo, a song that would even have the most stalwart Goths taking off their nu-rocks and playing Frisbee on the beech.

 

Over at Riffs Bar Benji Clements will be playing his trademark mashed up and funked out standards and originals, an artist who does a neat line in sassy soul and bluesy acoustic grooves. Also on the bill is Ella Martini a young singer with an equally soulful pop vibe.

 

The next part of the column is what I call the “that was then…and this is then as well” section, as everything on offer is a cover of or a tribute to something that you are probably already familiar with. So in brief, also on Friday at The Rolleston regular fixtures The Great Nothing offer a wide range of iconic rock tracks from across the years, followed by Dodging The Bullet the next day who play classic rock covers.

 

At The New Inn on Saturday you can catch punky-ska classics from Operation 77 and at The Victoria there are tributes to Hendrix and Cream.

 

And that is it apart from a solo appearance from David Marx (minus his regular AK-Poets) at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday. A wealth of songs that you might not get to hear from the full band show, interspersed with stories and humour. Not a bad way to round the music week off if you ask me, and in a way by reading this article you did ask me. So there!

Library - 176Another one of those musical embarrassments of riches weeks, so it’s straight on with the show for a change.

Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight plays hosts to two of its favourites. Headlining are Witney’s Black Hats and if you have ever wondered what a band like The Jam would be doing today given the new musical fashions and technology they would have absorbed and embraced, then these guys might just be the answer. Support comes from chaps of the moment Nudybronque who make the sort of disposable underground pop that you will want to keep forever.

More rootsy offerings can be found at The Beehive where duo, Two Man Ting, an offshoot from Afro-dance favourites La Cod Afrique, mix bright, looping guitar with djembe rhythms to make wonderous world-pop creations. If blues is your thing, young electric blues rockers, Retramantic are at The Rolleston.

The word legend is banded around far to readily these days, but in the case of The Victoria’s Friday night booking it really does apply. Still regarded as the number one sixties soul man, Geno Washington (not a tribute, your actual, real Geno Washington) still knows how to put on a great show, and anyone who inspired a Dexys Midnight Runners song has got to be a legend in my book, even Jocky Wilson, who also heavily influenced the band Darts. Possibly.

The Furnace is playing hosts to a group of bands who are shaping the current face of rock. SkyBurnsRed don’t even have time to type the spaces between the words in their band name but play grunge meets alt-rock with a classical sweep, raw, emotive, aggressive, elemental, dark and sensuous. The Manic Shine also return armed with a second album just brimming over with great tunes and infectious grooves, think classic rock guitar icons being mixed with sub-prog, indie-dance and techno and all delivered with an intensity that has made their live shows legendary. Middlenamekill and Tides of Change kick the night off.

Elsewhere The Great Nothing offer The Rolleston a different take on retro-rock classics or you can opt for old-school rock and roll with Josie and The Outlaw at The Beehive  – miss this show and you can catch them at The Rolleston on Sunday.

Something to shout about again on Saturday at The Furnace as Old Colours bring their gorgeous, cinematic pop-folkiness to bear and if their last show there is anything to go by then it is going to be a real treat. Dub vibes come courtesy of Salisbury’s Badrat and opening the night are Armchair Commitee and Charlie Bath.

I’m resorting to using the “L-word” again as new-wave pioneer Wreckless Eric rocks up at the Rolleston aided and abetted by his wife Amy Rigby (pictured). The combination of the Stiff Records stalwart and the New Yorkers effortless pop (just check out Dancing With Joey Ramone from her back catalogue) makes for a finished sound that is as wonderful as it is unexpected.

It’s covers at Riffs Bar with the Hi-fidels, but my tip is get out there early enough to catch support act NewQuay Times who mix covers and originals in a set that conjures the likes of Lone Justice, Tom Petty and even Throwing Muses.

It’s Sunday and its time for: Warning, warning, gross nepotism alert!! Right you have been warned. At the Beehive afternoon session Driftwood Fairy have popped all the way over from Berlin to deliver some quality folk-rock. The nepotism bit comes when I tell you that none other than Rich Millin, ubiquitous drummer, tutor, connoisseur of three for a tenner wines, friend and twit is at the kit. Not only will you get some great music, I’m sure it is going to be a messy sort of re-union.

Fans of more traditional folk music will want to keep Tuesday night free as Jamie Smiths Mabon bring original Celtic folk to the Arts Centre. On Wednesday there is a bit of a tussle going on for the acoustic fans. The ever-popular Running Horse Sessions will be playing host to Ethemia, a brilliant duo, with an effortless stage presence reminiscent of the recently defunct Civil Wars. Meanwhile, almost every other acoustic act in town is at The Furnace for Teenage Kicks Acoustic Spring Break, no space left to list them all, I’ll leave that up to you.