Showing posts in Reviews

Live Review: Neon Indian At Cargo, London, 02/09/10

Posted in Music, Reviews
By Sam Bathe on 22 Sep 2010

Making a name for themselves at this year’s SXSW after building a hefty amount of early buzz at CMJ in 2009, Neon Indian took to the stage at a sold out Cargo a couple of weeks ago, triumphantly returning to the venue where they made their UK debut almost a year ago to the day. Show the rest of this post…

Sounding something like a non-hippie MGMT, Alan Palamo’s band burnt non-stop through their debut album Psychic Chasms, not overwhelmed by the crowd at their biggest UK show to date.

Drawing particular applause for Sleep Paralysist, Terminally Chill and Deadbeat Summer, the Texan-turned-Brooklynite clearly revelled in their newfound UK fandom, so expect them to push on up from here and make sure to catch their electrifying performances on a scheduled US tour to see out the year and elsewhere in the UK this week.

L.E.D. Festival At Victoria Park, London, 28/08/09

Posted in Music, Reviews
By Anna Felix on 29 Aug 2010

Cream, Goldenvoice and Loudsound have joined forces to create what is hoped to become one of London’s most exciting and new outdoor electronic dance festivals. Show the rest of this post…

The inaugural London Electronic Dance (L.E.D.) festival, held on the August Bank Holiday weekend, kicked off on Friday with French house superstar DJ David Guetta headlining. Despite competing with well established Bank Holiday favourites Notting Hill Carnival, SW4 and Reading and Leeds festivals, thousands of loyal dance enthusiasts, not put off by various cancellations and persistent English summer showers, flocked to Victoria Park yesterday for day two.

Friendly Fires battled through the elements and struggled with sound issues to deliver an energetic and enjoyable set as electro duo Goldfrapp wowed fans with an enigmatic stage performance and Annie Mac delivered a solid base-line infused DJ slot.  The festival finished off with some 90′s nostalgia from a typically trippy Aphex Twin and South London house legends Leftfield performing their first London show in ten years.

Photographs by Anna Felix and Alex Brammer.

Gig Review: Surfer Blood At The Lexington, 25/08/10

Posted in Music, Reviews
By Sam Bathe on 26 Aug 2010

After seeing Surfer Blood four times already since their emergence on the indie music scene, and being a big fan of their music from the start, it was with great despondency than ever since a roaring debut at Koko last February, their live shows have gone down hill since there. Show the rest of this post…

Catching them again in the UK since, plus twice in the States, they hit a low point at SXSW, where playing their own label show they came across as remarkably arrogant, an attitude that far outstripped their fame and status, seemingly barely enthused to play too.

Still in love with debut album Astro Coast, when it came to their show at the Lexington last night it was quite a last chance saloon, but they were moving that way.

Whether they’ve just been touring too much, or have simply lost a bit of the thirst for music or their current songs, last night the band still didn’t really look like they wanted to be there. It was a performance by the numbers, although towards the end of the set, frontman J.P. Pitts and co. at last started to put a little emphasis into each song.

Running through fan-favourites Twin Peaks, Swim (To Reach The End) and Anchorage, bar an ill-advised on-stage demeanour copy of The Drums lead singer Jonathan Pierce during Take It Easy, it was, however, a step in the right direction. Their Lexington set had a bit more verve to it, even if they weren’t back to their best. Hopefully they can get a good dose of rest before the next time they’re back, and really go for it like they used to.

Instore Gig Review: Best Coast At Rough Trade, London

Posted in Music, New Bands, Reviews
By Sam Bathe on 4 Aug 2010

Photo by Joanna Galvin.

One half of the lo-fi super couple giving hope to indie music again (frontwoman Bethany Cosentino is currently dating Wavves’ Nathan Williams), Best Coast’s reverb-heavy surf rock is refreshing when you look at what else is around, and it’s even better than they’re doing well. Fresh from selling out Shoreditch’s Cargo on Monday (2nd August), Best Coast saw off their UK tour last night with an enjoyable instore at Rough Trade East. Show the rest of this post…

As is often the case as instores, the atmosphere was a little dead – Bethany’s joke about American food chain Panda Express went down like a lead balloon – but that didn’t hold them back. Racing through tracks of their recently released album Crazy For You, from Boyfriend to title track Crazy For You and Each & Everybody plus a couple of covers, despite a heavy-going tour, and a couple swigs of Jim Beam on stage, the three-piece certainly have something about them. The biggest cheers were reserved for When I’m With You, an energetic surf-heavy track, and with that they were done.

Hopefully more new bands head in this direction; grunge is certainly back, and the clean electro of the last couple of years can kiss its time in the limelight goodbye.

Gig Review: Tokyo Police Club At Scala, 15/07/10

Posted in Music, Reviews
By Sam Bathe on 16 Jul 2010

Shortly ahead of the release of their sophomore album, Champ, (out Monday), Tokyo Police Club took to the stage at Scala and once again proved why they’re a band that deserve to be selling out stadiums. Show the rest of this post…

A little over a month delayed after their June 8th Scala date was postponed for (albeit very impressive) US touring commitments, the packed out crowd didn’t mind too much as the four-piece ripped through favourites off debut Elephant Shell and showcased new tracks that went down equally as well.

Tokyo Police Club have always had a college band aesthetic to their style and sound, but they’re as tight as anyone when playing live. The spritely guitars and hectic pace of their studio albums is even more pronounced and Dave Monks’ somewhat awkward vocals only draw you in more. Crowd-pleasers Tessellate and Graves blended nicely with the jarring high-pitched riffs on Gone and fellow newcomer Favourite Colour, while End Of A Spark and Big Difference proved instants hits.

Returning to encore with English Is Good and older number from the band’s A Lesson In Crime EP, they promised to be back later in the year, a statement met with rapturous applause. The Canadian four-piece will always be welcomed back with open arms.

Gig Review: White Rabbits At The Garage, London

Posted in Music, Reviews
By Sam Bathe on 28 May 2010

(image by Eimear Connolly)

I think it’s fair to say White Rabbits enjoy drumming. Last week when the New York band took to the stage at London’s The Garage venue, the set-up was fairly standard but only hardened fans would know the damage the second pair of drums should expect. Show the rest of this post…

The six-piece have a strong percussion element to their music, giving each track a textured feel and real sense of momentum and drive. Kicking off with an Iggy Pop cover before treating the London crowd to tracks off debut Fort Nightly, including The Plot and While We Go Dancing. At the core of their set, Kid On My Shoulders blew everyone away, extending the song slightly and throwing on an overpowering emphatic touch with the second drums; it was a truly remarkable rendition.

These boys have got new tricks too though and new album It’s Frightening is certainly no slouch. The set was closed out with Percussion Gun, The Lady Vanishes and The Salesman, a fitting end certainly, and a long overdue London show that did not disappoint.

Live, even more than recorded, White Rabbits have an Arcade Fire touch to them, bar the strange, previously obsolete instruments, mixed in with a dash of Cold War Kids. Critics have said they went off the boil slightly on their latest album but their gigs could never talked down. Hopefully they’ll be back not before too long, and selling out bigger venues than The Garage too.

SXSW 2010 – Day 4

Posted in Music, New Bands, Reviews, SXSW
By Sam Bathe on 30 Mar 2010

With a cold front landing on Austin, nevermind a little more unwanted rain, the SXSW crowd were a little taken a-back on the final day, but that didn’t mean the line-up was any less impressive, just the outdoor stages were a little more empty. The day show at Galaxy Room, however, was half indoor, and the inside stage boasted some of the best bands at the festival. Show the rest of this post…

First up we caught Plants & Animals, a three-piece with a catalogue full of quick indie rock, touched by Americana. The band were quite similar to friends of Fan the Fire, Eastern Conference Champions, certainly a good thing, and new tracks debuted represented a step on from their already impressive releases to date.

The real reason to be at Galaxy Room, however, was up next, and from the minute Local Natives took to the stage, it was obvious the eclectic bunch out of Silverlake, LA, are soon to be something special. West Coast indie-rock mixed with the adventure of Animal Collective, their debut album Gorilla Manor is one of the best releases so far this year and live, they’re even more entertaining. For anyone who hasn’t seen them to date, they’re a must catch when they go on tour later this year.

One of our big hopes for this year’s SXSW, after at last grabbing some BBQ at Stubb’s, we headed to Mohawk to see Turbo Fruits. After hearing great things about the energetic three-piece, and being a fan of two of the members’ former band Be Your Own Pet, we braved the cold to catch their set. Sadly it was a bit of a letdown and Turbo Fruits could only pump out song after song of generic rock, with little individualism to their tracks.

Massively hyped across the collated press, it was fitting that The Drums were the band to close out our SXSW. Playing to a fairly packed Stubb’s outdoor stage crowd, the band’s indie-pop-surf has taken a new light since the release of breakthrough single Let’s Go Surfing. Though the band seemingly won over parts of the audience, their music certainly doesn’t warrant the billing they’re being given both at and outside of SXSW. Their live performance feels a little too curated, although they do just about pull it off, and despite a touch of Joy Division to tracks off EP Summertime!, they’re going to have to step up their game when they put out an album in the summer.

And with that it was over. Tiring, but packed with a heap of amazing bands, some forgettable, but as always, a thrilling experience. Same time next year.

There will be a full review of SXSW 2010 in the upcoming issue of Fan the Fire, out April 23rd.

SXSW 2010 – Day 3

Posted in Music, New Bands, Reviews, SXSW
By Sam Bathe on 29 Mar 2010

The third day at SXSW is always the day you crash. Hungover, starved of sleep and energy and with ears that had to quickly get used to a hell of a lot of music, Thursday is always so hectic that on Friday you have to take it easy. Show the rest of this post…

Compared to the day before, our third day’s showing in Austin was therefore fairly lite. First up were Lemonade at Lovejoy’s. In the sweaty small venue, you have to hold your nose somewhat as you approached the central seating but the band put on a good show with an electro sound somewhere between MGMT and Hearts Revolution.

After Wavves stormed SXSW last year with their lo-fi charm, it was only apt that we checked out this year’s hyped lo-fi trendsetters. Dum Dum Girls though were something of a disappointment, mixing in a gothic overtone with a very full sound. Their songs though were a little nondescript, and while in the studio they might display some individuality, live, each track faded into the crowd.

After the disappointment of Dum Dum Girls we went in search of something with a little more energy, and Holy Fuck perfectly fitted the bill. Blending tracks to curate a perfect 30 minute set, their prog-electro style had the crowd in awe in minutes, and Holy Fuck are set to at last really break into the mainstream this year.

After sitting through a dreadful and grossly misplaced performance from rapper Chiddy Bang, The Young Veins finished off the day. One half of the now splintered Panic! At The Disco (with the other two members still recording under the same name), The Young Veins, led by Ryan Ross and Jon Walker, is the full-blown end result of Ross’ push toward The Beatles. Panic!’s last album, Pretty. Odd., was disappointing to some for ditching their electro punk roots to turn down the eclectic indie folk route, but The Young Veins are full on Beatles-influenced, down to the clothing and instruments. Sadly it doesn’t really work as well as Ross would have hoped, and the only semi-excitable crowd is proof already that they’re going to have to go someway to matching Panic! At The Disco when Brendon and Spencer release new material likely later this year.

Early finish, but it was necessarily to regroup for the final day.

SXSW 2010 – Day 2

Posted in Music, New Bands, Reviews, SXSW
By Sam Bathe on 28 Mar 2010

Thursday at SXSW is always the busiest; everyone is in town, they’ve acclimatised to the festival and are ready to really throw themselves into it. Show the rest of this post…

First up where Tijuana Panthers. Seeing the three-piece from Long Beach was a long time coming, and though the sound wasn’t the best at Trailer Space Records, the band bring surf up to speed for the modern day and with tracks like Summer Fun will be breaking the mainstream before too long.

Indoor at Palm Door, Yacht were next; a heavy, dancier White Rose Movement, though they were a little heavy going, and with The Growlers due straight after, their set was a little too long.

The Growlers were worth the wait. Playing psychedelic indie rock with a Beatles-y feel, they have a great on stage presence, the lead singer especially, and their songs are up to scratch as well, pushing Tijuana Panthers all the way for performance of the day.

Delta Spirit, hadn’t played yet though. Running through a handful of old tracks at the Lustre Pearl, an old house converted into a bar, Delta Spirit’s new stuff causing equally big groundwaves. From Bushwick Blues to White Table, the crowd quickly got into the unfamiliar material, with excitement quickly building for the second album History From Below

Paying a visit to the Austin Carnaville, The Walkmen closed the day at SXSW’s unofficial playground. To a backdrop of carnival rides, their classic slow drawl was right on form, with new songs debuted to the crowd going down a storm.

Keeping an LA feel, and our first show at the huge outdoor Stubb’s venue, we caught Robert Francis to open the evenings shows. Backed by a motley band, including our friend, ex-Shys bassist Alex Kweskin, Robert play heartful country rock and it’s no surprise he’s already been snapped up by a major label, and set for a big nationwide tour later in the year.

After Robert Francis, and a quick bite to eat, we raced over to Cedar Street Courtyard for She & Him. Apart, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward have huge reputations, one a filmstar and the other a famous solo artists, but together they’re still finding their feet somewhat, it was however, always going to be packed. After unintentionally jumping the entire queue though, we got in, but weren’t prepared for the letdown that would ensue. Putting a ‘no photos please’ notice out over the PA before they emerged and then playing in near darkness with just a couple of red lights illuminating the stage, with Zooey’s moviestar demands they killed the atmosphere, appearing 30 minutes later to then play seemingly shortened versions of their songs. Their light country folk can draw you in on their records, but live they where underwhelming.

For the final show of a packed day 2, we headed to The Phoenix for We Are Scientists. Arrived a little early we caught the band before, The Chapman Family, a British heavy rock/scream band, and nevermind going against my aim to try and avoid all British performers (as I can just see them in London) they were awful, leaving the audience praying for silence rather than their 30 minute set.

We Are Scientists, however, didn’t disappoint, and with an amazing on stage presence and charisma between frontmen Keith and Chris, the packed venue were in raptures after every song, and in every break inbetween. What’s more, their new songs are sounding great and classics from the first record and equally impressive follow-up are just as good today as they were when released.

Phew, long day.

SXSW 2010 – Day 1

Posted in Music, New Bands, Reviews, SXSW
By Sam Bathe on 27 Mar 2010

It’s taken almost a week but at last we’ve just about recovered from this year’s South By Southwest. Show the rest of this post…

Those who haven’t heard of SXSW, for the music industry, this is where breaking bands break and unknowns build hype. The bands you’ll fall in love with next year, were at SXSW this year.

First up were The Morning Benders at Emo’s, and similarly to last year, the first show was one of the main highlights of the whole festival. Their spritely indie-rock-pop has a bit of a Radiohead to it, minus the psychedelic edge. Their new album Big Echo is a big step on from earlier material, a lot more mature, and live, they’re full of energy and thoroughly honest and captivating.

Moving onto Red 7, Those Darlins had been getting a good deal of hype but the ¾ all-girl rockers were forgettable to say the least. The songs were bland and directionless, and while they could be a lot tighter on record, live they need to put in a bit more work.

The main attraction at Red 7 were Real Estate. A pick in our recent bands to look out for in 2010, the four-piece play slower moving, catchy indie rock, and while they aren’t instantly impactful, their music grows on your fast with a grand feel, and strong lead guitar.

Dawes opened up the evening shows at Club de Ville and easily the top pick of the official shows that night. After catching them at the Troubadour in LA the week before, which instantly catapulted them into the top 5 gigs I’ve ever been to, their SXSW opener was every bit as good with the set time a little trimmed. Their heartful slow moving indie rock debut North Hills featured in a bunch of top ten lists last year, including our own, and with good measure.

After Dawes we raced over to Wave Rooftop to catch Princeton. A fan of their album, Princeton’s light, breezy indie rock is easy to listen to though it struggled a little to stand out from the over-packed festival.

As midnight struck, Warpaint were next and the four-piece put on a great show at Emo’s Jr. The band fall somewhere in between Battles and Fever Ray, though for a SXSW set, can be hard to get into, but they definitely have something different.

One of the big hype bands in music, nevermind at SXSW, Surfer Blood were a fitting end to the first day in Austin, but they were a big disappointment. Their debut album is brilliant, but live they are underwhelming, and came across as far too arrogant for their size. They are hugely hyped, but they’re not big yet.

Long day. Filled with the magic you only get at SXSW though. Roll on the day 2.

FAN THE FIRE is a digital magazine about lifestyle and creative culture. Launching back in 2005 as a digital publication about Sony’s PSP handheld games console, we’ve grown and evolved now covering the arts and lifestyle, architecture, design and travel.

We’ve been featured on the front page of Reddit and produced off-shoot club night Friday Night Fist Fight, launched a Creative Agency and events column The London List.

FAN THE FIRE is edited by founder, Creative Director and Editor-in-Chief, Sam Bathe. Site by FAN THE FIRE Creative.

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