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PS12

If it's the last weekend in May, then it must be time for me to go to Primavera Sound! Barcelona's premier eclectic music festival, or as I like to call it, only semi-jokingly, my annual trip to Spain to watch Shellac. It seems like I've been going forever now, but when I tally up, I think this year is only my sixth visit. Enough for the memories to blur together somewhat; I'm starting to find navigating around the site confusing; each year there is a gradual migration of stage locations, and a subtle shuffling of stage names.

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You can buy early-bird VIP passes shortly after they confirm the dates for the festival, which is far in advance of any lineup announcement. These sell for around the same price as the eventual full festival pass, but confer various privileges to reward the faithful. This year, I was finally smart and planned ahead. and I got us a pair back in July. Ah, hubris. Subsequently we fell pregnant, and had a baby just four weeks before the festival, making a mockery of my forward planning, and invalidating our usual routine of attending as part of an extended family holiday. I ended up scaling my visit right back down to a quick in-and-out just across the festival days, and after a couple of potential takers for my second ticket fell through, I ended up attending on my own.

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It turns out Barcelona is still pretty much my favourite place on earth. In a break from the usual routine, I was staying in a hotel out close to the festival site, at the far end of the Avinguda Diagonal, rather than an apartment somewhere more central. The facilities nearby are pretty excellent, if a little characterless, with the large modern Mall development el Diagonal Mar providing pretty much every consumer amenity you might need, including free Wi-Fi. It's still easy to reach central Barcelona on transit during the sociable hours of day, and it solves the problems associated with picking a time to leave the Festival, and locating a means of transport home, once you hit the small hours of the morning on the weekdays. Door to door from the festival to my hotel was a leisurely ten minute walk.

bathing areaGood festival shoesblue wall, yellow wallnice brandingslogangothicsluiceweatheringtaggedInside the glass prism, a motorway

Once again I had a really good time. I had a few reservations heading in. Last year was a bit crowded, and occasionally hard work. Being on my own was is a bit weird. I've done stints working away from home, but they aren't like this. Luckily I did find some people to talk to at Festival; I enjoyed the chance to spend some time with Matt and Anne, and I also bumped into a few friendly groups by chance; Mike and the Canadian islanders, and those nice chaps from Leicester from the Jeff Mangum queue. Hello to any of you who find your way to reading this!

The upside of attending on my own, it meant I was able to watch lots of bands. I overdid things  a little on the Thusday, watching upwards of twenty acts in a session stretching from 4pm through to 4am. I subsequently found myself flagging a little through the middle of the session on the Friday, and finally found a happy balance for Saturday. Weather was excellent, probably the hottest Primavera I've attended. I even managed a mild sunburning on the elbows on Thursday, and I rarely sunburn. The VIP passes turned out to be a good bet – subsidised bars, segregated rest and food areas, and easy access to the indoor concert hall for the posh gigs.

Access grantedView from a canopyA nice spot for parrakeetsFundacioMuseumTownhouseGatewayWindows 11MagickalGira !

Shellac completely owned it, once again. Year after year, always different, always the same. My other musical highlights were Kleenex Girl Wonder, Spiritualized pulling "Electric Mainline" out of the back catalogue in the middle of a perfect festival setlist, the pro-celebrity karaoke festival of the Big Star's 3rd tribute ( Mike Mills! Norman Blake! Ira and Georgia! Alexis from Hot Chip! ), and I need to pass out a special mention for the marathon Cure set. A bedrock foundation act from my indie disco days, they played a 30-odd song set of old fanservice and hit singles, and I nodded along from the VIP lounge, surprised by how much of it I recognised, given that I own precisely one Cure LP ( Disintegration, naturally ), and one single ( Inbetween Days, I'm predictable like that)

Here's everything I saw, replete with aribitrary ratings :

Baxter Dury ★★  Afghan Whigs ★★  Wilco ★★  Franz Ferdinand ★★  Death Cab For Cutie ★  The xx ★★  Spiritualized ★★  La Estrella De David ★★  Pegasvs ★★  Iceage ★  Grimes ★★  Danny Brown ★  A$AP Rocky ★★  Peter Wolf Crier ★★  Field Music ★★★  Kleenex Girl Wonder ★★★  Dominant Legs ★★  Bombino ★★  Lovely Bad Things ★★  Other Lives ★★  The Cure ★★  Afrocubism ★★  I break horses ★★  Dirty Beaches ★  Sleigh Bells ★★★  Nick Garrie (plays "The Nightmare of J.B. Stanistlas") ★★  Jeff Mangum ★★  Big Star's Third ★★★  Picore ★  Orthodox ★★  Sharon Van Etten ★  Justice (live) ★★★  Beach House ★★  Neon Indian ★  Demdike Stare ★★★  Shellac ★★★  The Pop Group ★  Atlas Sound ★★  Michael Gira ★★  Milagres ★★  Jenn Grant ★★  Cadence Weapon ★★

 There weren't too many low-lights. Occasional bar queues. The subsidy at the VIP bars meant that the occasional drink bought outside of those enclosures had a costly sting. A couple of occasions of queuing; to collect the passes, and to get a ticket for, and then gain access to the limited entry Jeff Mangum show. Aggravating cancellations , Björk, Death Grips, Sleep and Melvins – acts I wanted to see, and in the case of Sleep, probably my ideal of the biggest single draw of the festival. Luckily I'm a veteran, pragmatic festival-goer, I don't place too much weight on being able to see individual acts. If I hadn't already seen Sleep at ATP vs Fans:2, I might perhaps think differently.

Leading up to the festival I had been wondering if it was going to be my last year at Primavera. Logistically it's growing more awkward to arrange, I've been a serial attendee for years, and sooner or later the charm should wear off. The inaugural edition of the Portugese sister festival had been catching my eye, And then everything worked it's usual magic. I plan to head back to Barcelona for 2013 if I can. Maybe I'll see you there.

posted Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 21:23 by cms in gigs, photos, travels | 2 Comments »

Empire of pornographers

The New Pornographers are in the UK this week, playing Bowlie 2, and more pertinently a show this Thursday, at what is apparently now called the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire. What is more exciting is that this is their first time over here with Neko.

Here's a lovely interview with Carl about it. I have a ticket for Thursday night in my INBOX.

posted Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 22:39 by cms in gigs, music | 1 Comment »

Barcelona, again.

Back at the start of the summer, I went back to Barcelona, for a second visit to the very wonderful Primavera Sound festival. I travelled with the rather pregnant Mrs S., and (Uncle) Danny came along for the latter half of the stay, and also joined us for the festival.

Barcelona is still a marvellous city, and Primavera is still my favourite rock festival. While we were out there, Barcelona FC won the champions league. I can't pretend that I have any sympathy, interest, or even understanding of football, but I really enjoyed the electric city-wide atmosphere on the day; silent, tense and concentrating, as countless viewers watched the televised match, suddenly punctuated by sighs and unison cheers as chances were missed, and goals won; culminating in the riot of celebration erupting from every door and window onto the streets when the final victory was realised.

The festival was another success. The personal highlight, for me was the chance to finally see Lightning Bolt, unusually for them, an on-stage performance, that was one of the most exhilarating live shows I have ever seen. Shellac, playing again on the same ATP stage as last year, as good value as always, another chance to see Oneida, and sample some of the "heritage" acts, giving it some legend, like Sonic Youth, Throwing Muses, and Neil Young. A suprisingly energetic Michael Nyman band set in the indoor auditori was an unexpected highlight, as were a couple of new-to-me performances from Andrew Bird, and Gang Gang Dance. I was amused by Sunn O))), but sadly unable to persuade either of my companions to stay and watch more than ten minutes of their set.

More disappointing were Marnie Stern, who I'd been looking forward to seeing again, seemed to be suffering from terrible sound and equipment problems, Deerhunter transforming a great album into a weak coldplay-lite live experience, an uninspired and frankly routine Art Brut performance, and a generically dull Jarvis set.

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It turns out that I edited and uploaded my photos to flickr shortly after returning to the UK, but what with all the busying and rushing around re-organising and home renovating, I seem to have forgotten to switch the set to public, at least until now.

posted Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 20:51 by cms in gigs, music, travels | Comments Off

Fever Ray, O2 Academy, Bristol

I've not posted a gig write up in a long time. One day I might get around to post-documenting some of the backlog. However, here's something very fresh.

Last night I went to see Fever Ray. Fever Ray is the assumed band name of Karin Dreijer Andersson, one half of the strange and compelling Swedish brother-sister art-electronica duo, The Knife.

The ticket price for this one was fairly steep. Seventeen pounds is a lot to ask for an debut act, on a Bristol weekday evening. Knowing the Knife to have something of a penchant for staginess and performance statements, I figured that the cost of admission might indicate a more elaborate performance spectacle than the routine Academy show. It wasn't a terribly full crowd, which may have also had something to do with the ticket price. Luckily my expectations of an interesting presentation were met, more than satisfactorily.

A stage swathed in as much machine-made fog as I've seen since I last watched the Sisters Of Mercy, decades ago. For readers unfamiliar with the Sisters' stage ouevre, let me clarify; this means a lot of fog. The five-piece band only identifiable as bizarre silhouettes suggestive of a dark circus. Improbably tall hats, shadowy pierrot faces, frock coats, hunched shoulders. Karin, stage center shrouded in an enormous cowled cloak, the headress simultaneously suggesting fur and antlers and briar-hedge basketwork, her peculiar outline only really humanised by oversized white gloved hands. During the second song, she cleverly unfurled her cloak a little, a sudden backlight creating a surprising stained-glass panel effect that seemed to shine from inside her.

The whole performance was a meticulously staged progression, slowly opening up the initial murk. At the start the overhead fog was scissored dramatically by a pair of slow moving laser beams. By the second song, they'd each expanded to a pair of fan shapes. Later on these picked up oscillating movement, and eventually traced out colour shifts in the waves of fog. Within the on-stage gloom, the odd sight of a dozen or so standard-lamps, pulsing away in time to the beats through thick lampshades. I didn't have my camera with me, although I expect it would have struggled to capture any of this well. Quite a few people have submitted photos of previous shows to flickr.

As the show progressed, the stage was slowly up-lit from the back with soft blue and yellow glows. The cloak was shed, placed on a stand just behind front of stage, it still loomed, like some kind of shadowy spirit-familiar. Gradually we could see a little more of the performers, jigging around, wildly shaking shamanistic totem-sticks, pounding away on congas and toms, yet still the lighting and smoke effects kept them essentially obscured and anonymous.

The short set stuck solidly to the album, without encores, which was fine by me. My attention didn't wander, nor did I tire of standing in place. My only complaints would be with the slightly murky sound, which isn't that unusual for the Academy, and that the music didn't really connect as terribly live, aside from the vocals; pitch-shifted, yet weirdly still human and very real. I think this was probably down to a combination of the very programmed sounds, and the distancing effect of the theatrics. It was something more like watching a stage-show display set to a musical playback, than a rock music show. I took it as an opportunity to watch something a little out of the ordinary, and enjoyed myself.

The album is ace, and I recommend it to anyone. You can find it on spotify.

The video for "Triangle Walks" gives an impression quite close to the live show. There are some other videos available on the band site which give a good sense of the Fever Ray aesthetic.

Triangle Walks from Fever Ray on Vimeo.

posted Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 13:45 by cms in gigs, music | Comments Off

More tomorrow's parties

As I mentioned earlier, just as I was preparing to head out for Release the Bats, an email came in advertising a once-in-a-lifetime, never-to-be-repeated, world-exclusive, miss-it-at-your-peril set of performances by a reformed Sleep, at one of next May's ATP weekenders.

Now I'm old and cynical enough to realise that very few things are truly never-to-be-repeated one-off exclusive shows in the world of Rock n' Roll, but I am keen on Sleep, and ATP surely know how to run a memorable event. I've always been intrigued by the idea of one of their Minehead weekends, it seems eminently possible that it's a great deal more civilised than the more traditional tents, rain, and cider circuit. It didn't take me that long to make the plunge and book a chalet for two. Team Strickland are going to Butlins!

Aside from Sleep on the bill, we have long-time house favourites Spiritualized, crazy art-rockers Devo, experimental hip-hoppists AntiPop consortium, post-punk legends Young Marble Giants, and several others I don't yet know adjectives for. The more interesting thing about the lineup is the fact that 50% of the lineup will be chosen by popular vote by the ticket purchasers. That means me!

There's a cunning twist. No doubt intended to mix things up, and keep it fresh. You're not permitted to vote for acts that have played an ATP UK festival before, at least not initially. This makes life decidedly more tricky. Lots of my no-brainer instant first choices are on the exclusion list. I shall have to work a little harder.

dEUS and A.C. Newman have to be definite votes. St. Vincent would be good. Angels of Light, Midlake, Wolf Parade, Swan Lake ? Ratatat ? Sufjan might be a populist choice. I'd love to see Morton Valence again. Black Affair or the Aliens? Maybe I could gamble a vote on a reformed Beta Band. Decisions, decisions…

posted Monday, November 24, 2008 at 22:09 by cms in gigs, music | Comments Off

ATP: Release the bats 2008

After falling head over heels for the ATP stage roster, and having my mind blown by Shellac at Primavera this year, It took me about five minutes to sign up for this Halloween show, in London with Shellac headlining. Literally five minutes, the serial numbers on my tickets were #00002 and #00003.

Held at the Kentish Town Forum, which I think used to be the Town and Country club, a venue I was last in to watch the final incarnation of Green On Red in something like '91. Nothing much changed about the place, and I was quite happy to note that there was plenty of milling around room at an event which I think was sold out, indicating a sane crowd capacity limit, a novelty for a London venue.

A varied lineup of bands, the evening kicked off with Lightning Bolt, an outfit I know very little about. Apparently they played from the stage floor, surrounded by the first 500 punters in the queue. Followed by Pissed Jeans a band I narrowly missed seeing at Primavera, but am moderately curious about them, chiefly due to their revolting name. Sadly I didn't show up until just after they'd finished their set this time, as well. Perhaps I am fated never to see them play.

There was a nice atmosphere for the themed night. The crowd was mostly dressed up in halloween garb, plenty of monster makeup and fake blood and wounds. Some of them seemed scarily over-refreshed to me, at least for such an early point in the evening. There were monster mannequins propped up about the place, and model ghouls with flashing eyes suspended over the stage. Most of the bands had gone to great lengths with their fancy dress. Mrs. S. was wearing bats in her hair, but I'm afraid that I let the side down somewhat, opting merely for some magnificently spangly silver glitter shoes.

First act up after we arrived were Wooden Shjips, who played agreeably spacy drony krautrock, which managed to keep my interest through to the end of their set, always a good sign for that style.

They were followed by Om, who I find marvellously impressive. They didn't seem to feel the need to dress up at all, but this was perhaps mitigated by the fact that their doomy Sabbath sludge metal stylings rather suit the spooky halloween monster vibe without them having to try any harder than usual. The most fascinating thing to me about Om is just how much of a great metal-ish sound they manage to summon up as a duo – just a Rickenbacker bass, vocals, and a tricksy drummer. My attention did wander on occassion, but when I found myself locked into their ponderous form of groove, it was quite captivating. And unlike in Spain, they were all finished by 10 p.m. so I managed to enjoy the full set this time. Exciting Om-related news that reached my inbox just before I set out for the show. Sleep are to reform for a show at ATP:Fans strike back next May!

Les Savy Fav next, a band I find okay on record, but who have a 'must see' reputation about their live show. They kicked off with a tableaux involving a plague of zombies on stage, battling the band dressed as cops. It was a tad confusing, with plenty of dry ice, but I suspect the cops were overcome, and they then kicked off straight into their set as zombie cops. I can see why they have their live reputation; Tim Harrington is a very unusual looking frontman, and his stage antics are high-energy and engaging, plenty of clambering around the rigging, clothes shredding, fake blood and protracted sojourns into the audience for mass singalongs. Overall, I found them a bit murky-sounding and unconvincing for me.

Shellac of course played a fantastic set. The vocals were a bit muffled, mostly down to Steve's comprehensive home-made mummy outfit, his entire head was wreathed in bandaging. Backing vocals were also indistinct, yet marvellous, Bob was styled as a Frankenstein's monster-type character, and performed the entire set firmly in character, all his vocal parts were strangulated-larynx monster grunting and zombie moans. Very amusing. I think he even performed an onstage Q & A much like they did in Spain, but kept to this completely unintelligible delivery. And Todd was a superbly convincing vampire, with plenty of finely judged cape theatrics and hissing. Shellac are superb, and are still my favourite live band. Go and see them as soon as you can.

I can't provide any photos, sadly. In the only negative note of the whole evening, my camera was pinched by some idiot. I think it most likely was pilfered while I was on the night bus back to the hotel, as I wasn't really paying close attention to my belongings by that point. In consolation though, the camera-lifting idiot didn't get the essential proprietary cabling and charging cradle necessary to make their new toy useable, and I got to pick up a new camera the next day from one of the gadget megashops on TCR. I quite fancied an upgrade anyway. Plenty of photos from the show from others, on Flickr.

posted Wednesday, November 5, 2008 at 15:56 by cms in gigs | 2 Comments »

Primavera 2008

An excellent festival. More completely organised than I expected. This came to prominence straight away, when a rather spacey lady handling our tickets failed to give us one of the essential ID cards that pair up with the wristband to allow entry and re-entry. A security guard stopped us from heading back in to point out the error. Anticipating anguish at the gate, and hoping that a single card and a friendly attitude might get us through, we were met by a super-friendly chap, speaking perfect English, who whisked us back to the check-in, where we waited for the woman to confirm that her stack of cards and tickets were out by one, and furnished us with the missing card. And then we were in. Things do not run that smoothly at Glastonbury when your credentials go awry!

The venue is good, purpose built, although admittedly it does have a slight air of NCP car park to it. There are three amphitheatres with banked steps of seating set facing out to sea. These make up the RockDelux, ATP and the VICE stages. The other two stages, namely the CD Drome, and the Estrella Damm stage are set up on the main paved area that links the first three, with the food market between them. There are two gigantic arrays of solar cells, apparently the largest in Europe, which at least made a handy shelter during the couple of light rain showers, even if they sadly aren't used to directly power the festival itself. There is also an indoor concert hall, the Auditori, which I didn't manage to set foot inside once, a combination of not being nearby when anything compelling was happening there, plus not quite being able to figure out where the entrance actually was!

Primavera 2008 - 01Primavera 2008 - 02Primavera 2008 - 03Primavera 2008 - 04Primavera 2008 - 05Primavera 2008 - 06Primavera 2008 - 07Primavera 2008 - 08Primavera 2008 - 09Vice stagePrimavera 2008 - 11

The festival runs over several days, Thursday to Saturday, and keeps to a gruelling schedule, starting at four or five p.m., and running through till four or five a.m the next morning. It's really all about the music, as there is little else to do onsite, other than browse a few T-shirt and record label stalls, eat functional outdoor food, or drink expensive sponsor beer from plastic cups.

It's far less wear upon the legs and feet than the typical British festival, the proximity of the stages, along with the near-universal seating, and paved footpaths rather than clogging mud fields thankfully mean that it's just the marathon running time contributing to your fatigue, not trudging miles around countryside inbetween sets. The climate was pleasantly appropriate, a few spots of light rain but it was mild enough to be comfortable in light clothing all the way through the evening, so you could just stick to the basic set of clothes you came in wearing, not wrestle with lugging around cumbersome outfit changes to cater to changes in the weather.

It may be just a result of the lack of crowding, but the toilet facilites were fine, little queuing, and freshly clean each day. I recommend taking a little dispenser of handwash gel, you can pick these up in the chemists nowadays.

Another benefit of the close site is the number of acts you can practically watch. As the stages are just separated by a minute or two's easy stroll you can mix and match to take in as much, or as little of a set as you fancy. It's quite possible to watch the start of one artist's set for a couple of songs, and then wander around another three stages watching a couple of numbers at each, and still return to the start to catch the final few of the original. This all makes it incredibly easy to sample new or interesting acts on spec without having to miss out on much if any of your must-see sets. Over the three days we easily managed to see dozens of acts, with comparatively little effort.

It would take too long to run through them all in detail, so I'll just group the highlights into some buckets.

Read the rest of this entry »

posted Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 19:05 by cms in gigs, music, travels | 2 Comments »

Spiritualized at the Trinity, Bristol

Appearing as part of Dot to Dot, an excellent city-wide music hullaballoo, spanning multiple venues. As the schedule didn't really sit very comfortably with my travel plans, flying out to Barcelona the next morning, I didn't really get a chance to see many sets, just some of Fight like Apes ( excellent ), Montreal's We are Wolves ( good stage moves ), Two Gallants ( dull enough to make me wander away and play Sonic the Hedgehog tennis on a nearby X-Box demo machine. Two thumbs up for Sonic Tennis, though ).

In fairness, the latter looked like they might be quite interesting, given enough familiarity with the material, and I'm tempted to chance an album, but I wasn't really feeling it. And the main reason I was actually in the Trinity, was to catch the headliners, Spiritualized, one of my all time favourites.

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I thought they played a blinder. The Trinity is fast becoming one of my favourite Bristol venues, great sound, good bar, and it's incredibly handy to reach on foot. And they keep booking my favourite artists.

The band were really together, there's the welcome return of the gospel backing singers, excellent lightshow, and J. Spaceman is looking great and singing better than he ever has, at least to my ears. New album out now-ish.

posted Monday, May 26, 2008 at 19:29 by cms in gigs, music | 1 Comment »

Such a beautiful horizon

It's been a few years now since I last went to Glastonbury, and the last few summers have been festival-free for me, save for local city-wide affairs like Venn. I came very close to attending the 'End of the Road' festival last September, tempted by a very me-friendly line up, but it wasn't very compatible with school term dates, and last summer's terrible run of weather just left me procrastinating about it until it was far too late to bother.

In the U.K. there's almost too many to choose from now, spread right across the summer, with something happening seemingly every single weekend from May to September. This means that it's now becoming something of a stadium tour circuit, and with a depressingly production-line feel to the majority, it's increasingly hard to differentiate them.

End of the Road didn't seem to have as many must-see bands this year, and so my attention wandered a little further afield. A couple of years ago, I noticed the Primavera Sound festival, in Barcelona had a line up of acts very much in tune with my way of thinking. I've wistfully looked at it every year since then, and this time around I've actually decided to go.

It seems to be built around the music, with a thoughtful and genuinely alternative line up, very much my sort of thing. There's a great mix; bands I currently like very much and would *really* like to see (Boris, Animal Collective, Okkervil River, Prinzhorn Dance School, Six Organs of Admittance, Om), significant 'legacy' acts ( Devo, Public Enemy, Dinosaur Jr., Shellac ), critically favoured 'name' acts ( Portishead, Cat Power, Rufus Wainwright), favourite acts I've seen before ( De La Soul, Tindersticks, British Sea Power, Explosions in the Sky ), and, perhaps a new trend, bands with amusingly rude names ( Holy Fuck!, local outfit Fuck Buttons, and the charmlessly named Pissed Jeans ). My single line up complaint is that it's a European festival, and there's no dEUS, even though they have a new album out to promote.

Like every festival, it's sure to be pointless attempting to programme any kind of strict itinerary. Events will indubitably conspire to wreck it. Given my estimate of at least 70% of the acts being the sort of thing I'd go and check out if they were playing locally, I think the best policy is to be mostly be guided by serendipity. Suggestions for things to check out are welcome!

The festival site is next to the sea, and just a couple of km out of Barcelona itself. We're going for the whole week, flying out on the 24th and returning on the 1st of June. I've rented an apartment, right on the waterfront in Barcelonetta , which looks like it ought to be within fair walking distance of the site. This gives us a few days preceding to acclimatise, relax and see the sights before the festival properly starts.

posted Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 18:34 by cms in gigs, travels | 2 Comments »

New Young Pony Club / The Ting Tings / Black Affair

Three bands in one evening set, Bristol Carling Academy. Headliners NYPC on the rise currently, they do kind-of-dance music with guitars and sort-of-rapping. They may even be associated with that new-rave movement that's been sweeping the nation. I'm afraid I'm too old to conclusively comment about that. A song of theirs, the one about ice-creams was in an advert once. The fact that I can remember the song from an advert appearance, but have no memory about the visual components or the brand or product, ought to be the sort of thing to give pause to people commissioning expensive television branding campaigns. For bands awaiting a breakthrough and wanting to be noticed though, it seems like a grand idea. Wikipedia tells me it was a campaign for Intel Core Duo processors. I quite like those.

In person the band sounds much like the record. A little too much perhaps, in that there's not much differentiation between their songs. And for an act that's mostly rythmic, and drawing on dance styles, to my ears they could have done with more going on with the drumming, which seemed a bit weak. An enjoyable set though, and the crowd, although slim by Academy standards responded well to it. I applaud the fact that one of their members looks a lot like Howard Moon. I'll probably pick up the album at some point.

Immediately preceding them were the Ting Tings; a two-piece, inverse White Stripes, with a robustly proficient male drummer, and an enthusiastic, but rudimentary, female guitarist, along with a fair amount of sequenced help. I'm sure I've seen them once before, at some multi-band event, but I can't really place it. It seems like it ought to have been British Sea Power, alongside Morton Valence, but the more I think about it, the more I'm sure that it wasn't. They were pretty good fun, high energy, got the crowds dancing, and a short set ensured they couldn't outstay their welcome.

Starting off the evening, the first support act, and the actual reason I was there: Black Affair, the latest incarnation of Steve ( Beta Band, King Biscuit Time ) Mason, and the first time I've had a chance to catch up with this latest material. Performed as a two piece, just him and a bass player, it's funky, electro-pop, lots of squelchy keyboards and sequenced drums, with those unmistakable vocal melodies still anchoring everything with a nice sprinkling of familiarity. I enjoyed the short set hugely, and so did some of 'the kids' who were enthusiastically dancing away. Mind you, as they continued to bop with vigour through every successive band set, I did wonder if perhaps they'd been eating some of those special dancing sweets.

Later on, Mr. Mason and bass playing friend then came out and watched the NYPC from the back of the hall. Embarassingly enough this meant they were standing immediately behind us. I couldn't really avoid a brief chat and a handshake as we were leaving. I somehow managed to avoid gushing too much, and extracted the pleasant news that some singles are on the way, and there's an album complete awaiting a subsequent release date. It's good to have him back.

posted Wednesday, September 26, 2007 at 01:38 by cms in gigs | Comments Off