Tag Archive: youngbloods (the)


Library - 97There was an interesting debate online the other day that centred around the age old problem of punters not supporting gigs, the same “use it or lose it” clichés being thrown around as well as the usual one-upmanship of how some people want to be seen as being  more passionate about music than others. One thrust of the argument tried to lay the blame squarely on the punter along the lines of “we are putting these gigs on and you are not attending, it’s your bad” (as they say in US teen comedies.) However, this if we build it they should come argument is, in my opinion, all arse about face (as they say in UK radio farming dramas.) Even in financially tough times, if you put on a gig that is attractive enough to the punter, then people will turn up. The point I think that was being missed by the opposing camp was that a lot has changed since they were young, finger on the pulse, gig goers. People don’t access their music in the same way anymore; there are so many free alternatives available in the comfort of your own home to actually going out to a gig. Music is all over the TV, sites like Spotify gives you free access to a lot of music, the internet allows cottage industry bands to get their music directly to the punter (hence the demise of HMV, who, to be fair, must have seen it coming) maybe attending live gigs just isn’t that important to a lot of people as it was ten or twenty years ago. Maybe it’s as simple as the people moaning about no one attending the gigs they are putting on, are simply billing the wrong bands! Does Tesco attack the man in the street for buying Sainsbury’s products? No they do some research and try to create a more appealing product.

So what happens if you put the right bands on? Well quite a lot. My own night, Songs of Praise had a pretty good turn out considering the weather and the post Christmas financial crash that most people are feeling. Original music on a Thursday night is always tricky round here so to get 30-40 people in was very pleasing. Rock music might seem to have been done to death but there are still some great bands putting a different edge on things. Openers Adepto Futui (pictured), now  playing in a classic three piece formation managed to mix self-deprecating between song banter with some blistering raw electric blues that would sit quite happily alongside your Jon Spenser Blues Explosion collection. Up all the way from Cardiff, Spyglass played a polished set of alt-rock that married the density of grunge with some aggressive classic rock grooves and headliners SkyBurnsRed did their usual line of effortless rock, classical sweeps, dark and atmospheric songs and funky leggings.

The following night The Furnace also proved that if you do it right, then people will take notice. I got into a bit of bother a while ago when I suggested that the venues break with its old associations is both painful for some and totally necessary. In fact what I said exactly was:

I’m glad to see that The Furnace is getting its act together again. More gigs seem to be taking place and more diversity within those bookings is most welcome. Gradually shaking off its creatures of the night association has not been easy on the DJ’s and promoters who have been driving the change, but hopefully those Buffy The Vampire Slayer fixated, pretend pagan, narrow minded, goth-metalers who bemoan the loss of their lair, but who in reality never supported in particularly great numbers anyway, will now be relegated to the chat rooms and forums where they can ritually curse the new direction and bitch about the old days viewed through blood-tinted spectacles.

 

A barrage of abuse followed mainly from people trying to defend their rose-tinted image of Level 3. You don’t have to tell me about those days, I was there. A lot! Yes it was great, yes it was busy but the important word if WAS. If you want to re-capture those days you have to re-create it with the tools available and that’s what tonight was all about. The new tools in this case lay largely on the pop side of indie. Two local openers set the scene, Salute The Magpie who channel the spirit of The Smiths via more recent Indie sounds such as The Maccabees, and the wonderful cinematic folk- pop blends of indie soundscapers, Old Colours played to the biggest crowd of the whole night. The headline acts have just come to the end of a national tour and even though they are not the biggest names to have passed through the venue since the change of management, they still managed to keep a reasonable amount of the crowd after the local interest had left the stage. Pop used to be a dirty word but Portia Conn and her band play the sort of pop that easily dispels the generic travesties of the past, auto-tuners and clichéd dance routines. Instead we are reminded that pop can produce soulful and fresh music played with style by wonderfully charismatic live bands. Whoddathoughtit?

Young Kato splice rock and pop and create the best of both worlds with the attack, attitude and drive of the former and the fun and melody of the latter. And although the crowd had dwindled somewhat by then, those that remained were there to have a good time and bounced along to their effervescent tunes, in fact it was a capsule moment of what had been taking place all night as the gig had attracted a slew of hip popsters and cool indie kids out to have a good time. A sea of funky hats, ironic knitwear, skinny jeans and future-retro styles flitted about the room, a splash of fun and colour where not so long ago you would only have seen an ocean of black. It also became the focal point for a gathering of the great and good of Swindon and muso spotting from bands old and new became the order of the day. In my i-spy book of ligging and name checking, I managed to tick off a couple of  The 211, a Youngblood, an Off Chancer and even got extra points for a good chat with the boy racer himself, Chip Daddy.

To paraphrase Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park “Music finds a way” Even in these difficult times, the audience is out there. There was a time when maverick promoters could afford to run the line, I’m giving them what they didn’t know they wanted, fine when there is an excess of disposable income and people turn out in larger numbers. For now it’s all about giving the punter what he wants and understanding that if people aren’t turning up to shows that you are putting on, the answer to the problem might lie closer to home than you realise.

I think I have worked out my problem with cover bands. Whilst watching the incredible Super Squarecloud last week, a Damascene moment occurred. We live in an age where music seems hell-bent on a nostalgia trip. In a previous column I pointed out that the 60’s had psychedelia, the 70’s had disco and punk, the 80’s hip-hop and the 90’s rave, but since then what? If contemporary music is content to plunder the past to a lesser or greater degree, then cover bands are a pure slice of well worn déjà vu. Fine if you want to live in the past, and we all need to visit our youthful memories from time to time but it doesn’t really further the cause of music. What we need is the opposite …err, avant verrais? Jamais vu? I don’t know, I’m still struggling with English! That is why bands such as Super Squarecloud and Crash and The Coots are so important to the local scene, wonderful slices of forward thinking weirdness that push boundaries and create unique yet accessible music along the way. So it’s vive la difference as they say across the channel and here’s to creativity.

And if you ever thought that everything that could be done with rock music has been, then you need to be at The Victoria tonight. Up from that London, The Manic Shine infuse their music with the influences of their diverse cultural heritage and the result is a glorious blend of punch and panache; classic rock riffs, atmospheric dynamics, driving back beats and a bunch of great songs. Support comes from Ataraxis Vibration, the natural successor to the likes of Hendrix, Cream and Free plus Streetfight Silence’s more pop-punk vibe.

In The Beehive’s continuing quest to become a Canadian colony, yet another of its musical emissaries takes up residence there tonight. David Celia is a frequent visitor to the place and his elegant and humorous brand of songmanship is always well received. The Divine Comedy with maple syrup!

Two options for the loud jumpered, knit your own yoghurt brigade…or folk fans, as they prefer to be called. Folk in the Bar at Riffs is a open mic session, for a more formal experience the Urban Folk Quartet will be mixing British traditional themes with global influences at The Arts Centre.

The big noise for Friday is at The Furnace with their Halloween special, which will be powered by the sound of Swindon’s finest indie rock. Infectious, groove driven pop comes courtesy of Nudybronque, with Secret Lives and The Fixed playing the part of perfect support bands.

The 12 Bar also goes for the younger and brasher end of the musical market, but as usual are not big on information. Whilst I can tell you that headliners Days on Juno are a must for anyone who likes hook laden pop-punk in general and Fall Out Boy in particular, all I can tell you about support band The 39 Steps is that I read John Buchan’s classic novel of the same name many times as a kid. Riffs Bar also opts for the pop-punk with Running From Zombies and All Action Hero but again there is no information on the website. (Come on guys, meet me half way!)

Saturday sees a bonfire party at Riffs Bar with yet another Burlesque show to go alongside rock covers from Chiller. Some of you are too young to remember the days before the by-laws were changed to ensure that at least three burlesque shows were held in the parish each week, I some times miss those days, or as we used to call it…last year.

The Arts Centre offers up another inspired booking with the bluesy, folk-pop of Lotte Mullan, imagine the delicacy of Janis Ian mixed with the nouse of Joni Mitchell, gorgeous stuff. At the Rolleston “theatrical” cover band The Atomic Rays will be covering the classics and they come with an endorsement from Radio 1 DJ Edith Bowman, make of that what you will.

Global journeyman, Renny Field, will be impressing The Beehive on Sunday with his trademark uplifting and lyrically engaging songs for the afternoon session and that evening The Rolleston has the Mason-Dixon line colliding with the M4 corridor to shape the inimitable mix of southern blues, R’n’B and gospel that is Pignose.

Pignose’s Pete Cousins can also be found at The Victoria on Tuesday supporting Grandpa Banana. As guitarist with seminal San Francisco Bay Area folk rockers, The Youngbloods, Banana is rightly considered an icon of California bluegrass and old time rock and roll, to catch him playing a free gig is something not to be missed.

The week rounds off on Wednesday with even more Bluegrass this time in the form of Riffs Bar’s weekly jam and at The Running Horse more acoustic goodness courtesy of Sam Eden and the vocally harmonious Ethemia.