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[personal profile] venta
Right, this weekend was wall-to-wall gigs. I'll start and write about them, and then at some point I'm going to go back and cover gigs so far this year. Very briefly, partly in the interests of sanity and partly because my memory is terrible. Probably best avoided if you don't like reading about gigs.

DIY Popfest is a thing which began last year, replacing the weekend festival that used to be run by Oddbox records. Except it is also partly run by the guy who runs Oddbox. Who gave up running the Oddbox all-dayer because it was too much effort. And now runs a weekend festival instead. Apparently. That's what a complete stranger told me in the pub garden, anyway, and she looked pretty honest.

Anyway, when DIY Popfest was announced, it was basically a bunch of bands I'd not heard of, plus Helen Love. You may, or may not, know that this house believes strongly in going to Helen Love gigs. And the early-bird weekend tickets were pretty cheap, so hey, let's get weekend tickets.

The principal problem with DIY Popfest is that it is over there. Over in Northish-Eastish London, where all the cool stuff happens. We are very much over here, in West London. People who do not live in London regularly underestimate how much faff it can be doing some journeys within the city - especially when you're setting off at gig-chucking-out time, and the venue isn't even on the tube network. It is considerably easier to get back to my house from, say, a gig at the Zodiac in East Oxford than it is to get home from the Shacklewell Arms. So we blew off Friday night because no one needs to start their bank holiday weekend with a nightbus home from the Old Kent Road.

Saturday kicked off at 3pm, and we looked at the lineup, and did a bit of listening, and decided to have a nice leisurely walk and aim for late afternoon. So we got on the tube, overshot to Stratford, and wandered back through the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and various other parks. East London's got a lot of parks.

Best conversation of the day (condensed):
Me: Ooh, I can see the Shard!
ChrisC: You shouldn't be able to. Not in that direction.
Me: I can. <points>
ChrisC: That is indisputably the Shard. We are going the wrong way.

In the event we staggered into the George Tavern in time to hear the last bit of Crumbs. They were fairly drum-y punk with a shouty female singer, and actually I wished we'd got there earlier.

Our timing was impeccable, as Crumbs came off and it was the "mini-break" when everyone is supposed to wander out and find their tea. After which it was Molar (who are hard to find online on account of a "molar band" being a thing in dentistry). They seemed to be going for a very similar vibe to Crumbs, except doing it rather less well.

Witching Waves came on afterwards, with their rather angular post-punk, and were much more compelling than I remember from last time I saw them. Try it: Better Run

I hadn't really liked the sound of The Pooches much, and in seemed rather inauspicious that a four person band had only two people on stage (a fact that was mentioned, but never really adequately explained). Actually, they turned out to be a fun, melodic indie-pop band of the kind that seems to be constantly churned out by Scotland. They introduced themselves as The Pooches from Glasgow, Scotland, so perhaps they are a sibling of Bis. Try it: The Light.

We were really there for Mammoth Penguins, a three piece who make raucous guitar indie-pop. Their singer has a pretty distinctive voice, which I wouldn't necessarily describe as a good voice, but she's a fantastic performer, in the sort of rough-and-ramshackle way that probably wouldn't even be commentworthy if the band was all blokes. Try it: When I Was Your Age.

After the backing-track-fest of WGW, it was bloody marvellous to see people just get on a stage with guitars and drums and make a noise. The atmosphere at these gigs is also always lovely: both The Pooches and Mammoth Penguins broke guitar strings and - not being the kind of outfits with roadies who rush in with spare guitars, or indeed the kind of outfits that actually travel with spare guitars - simply appealed from the stage for someone to lend them a guitar.

Neither of us fancied Skinny Girl Diet all that much, so we scooted for the tube and made it home in (actually) better time than feared.

The Shacklewell Arms, Sunday's venue, is quite close to Hackney. And you know what that means? We can't go anywhere in that direction without detouring via the Pembury Tavern. So we showed up there for Sunday roast and bar billiards and lovely beer. (Fair division of labour: ChrisC did the roast and I did the beer, we shared the bar billiards. Although he absolutely whooped my arse, which is only fair since I did the same to him on our last trip. Anyway, it's the first time I've attempted a cue sport since I bust my knees over a year ago, and that's my excuse. In case you're worried, I also had a meal (gnocchi) and he also had a drink (Coke), they're just less euphonious.)

We made it to the Shacklewell Arms in time to catch the very end of Teenage Cavemen in the fantastically hot and airless "dancehall" out the back of the pub. I was really not fond of Teenage Cavemen: quite funky guitar with unpleasant screeching going on over the top.

I had been very keen to see Pale Kids, as they seemed like the sort of shouty enthusiastic punk I can get behind (basically, I was hoping for another Martha - they are from Durham, after all). Sadly, I didn't feel they quite delivered. All the elements were there, but they didn't seem to be having as much fun, and the main singer had a habit of breaking into a weird falsetto at odd moments. Mind you, he was also ill, so perhaps they'd be worth a second try some time. Try it: Holy Mess

I didn't really remember Suggested Friends from our listening vision (it's like revision, but for the first time). Actually, they turned out to be really great. More verging-on-shouty guitar-driven indie-punk who just give the impression of all being good musicians who are just getting on and having fun. Particularly the drummer, who looked like she was having a superbly good time throughout. The front person is also the sort of slightly-shy I-don't-know-what-to-say-on-stage sort of person who is actually massively entertaining. And three of them sing, so that's enough mics onstage for some decent banter.

They also got in on the string-snapping game, and someone shot off downstairs to fetch a spare guitar. I'll even forgive them the Harry Potter metaphors in one song.

Try it: Chicken (or if your ears perked up at the idea of Harry Potter, try this instead).

I had been really quite not-down with Big Joanie when vising (again, like revising, but...) so elected to pop through into the main pub bit and have a burger instead. It was a very dirty chipotle aubergine and halloumi burger. Hi, East London :)

Back in the melting-to-death dancehall, Young Romance were basically melting to death. They sound like a band but there's only two of them - not by the magic of backing tracks, just by doing multiple things at once. One drums and sings, they other sings and plays guitar (I think through an octave pedal to make it bassier, but I am not good at knowing things about guitars. I meant to ask ChrisC, who is better at guitars, but I forgot and now he's gone to the pub.)

Anyway, by some alchemy the guitar is all fuzzy and they're basically a pop answer to something like Veronica Falls. And they're funny onstage in betweentimes. And I wish I could sing that well, especially while drumming madly at the same time. Try it: Another's Blood.

Now, you might have gathered if you've made it this far that I'm a massive fan of bands which have no invisible means of support: viz. no backing tapes. Which explains, of course, why I am such a fan of Helen Love who is approximately 97% backing track throughout. She was the last act on, and they taped up a special giant piece of paper behind the stage to act as a screen for the ADHD projections that epitomise the ridiculous bubblegum punk-pop.

If you don't know Helen Love, then you patently don't read this journal much. Think Welsh, 1980s, Ramones-obsessed cartoon pop with the world's most hilariously larcenous approach to samples. (Yes, there are samples in the recordings, but nowhere near as many as live...). The first 3 rows were hysterically bouncing up and down singing along to every word. The back n-3 rows were mostly bemused. Sod'em, I was in the first 3 :)

Try it: Atomic Beat Boy

Last time (according to LJ) we left a late gig at the Shacklewell Arms it took us two hours to get home. This time we'd taken the precaution of taking a car with us, and we scooted home quickly. Mind you, an unfortunate case of roadworks on Hangar Lane gyratory meant it took us almost two hours to get there earlier in the day. Swings and roundabouts :)

Monday nearly had a minor disaster as we planned our day: go to Little Venice, have a look around the Canalways Cavalcade, walk up the canal to Scala. There were two flaws in this plan. Number one: the weather wasn't playing, and as we got to Little Venice it absolutely chucked it down, an eventuality for which we were quite underprepared. And was flippin' broken, and neither of us can remember how to do anything without web support.

Number two: the gig we were going to wasn't even at Scala. Fortunately, it wasn't that far away, at Koko in Camden. Not sure where we'd got the Scala idea from. Anyway, we redeemed the situation with a handy pub until the rain stopped, and then a bus.

While vising the support acts, I'd concluded that Muncie Girls sounded like fun, and Sløtface sounded like they were best avoided. This turned out to be a fairly poor assessment, I think. Live, Muncie Girls were fine... decent support material, but nothing more than a fairly average punk three piece. Fortunately, just as they were finishing up, [personal profile] satyrica turned up to entertain us instead.

Sløtface, however, seemed full of energy and played a sort of clean-cut pop-punk which I really enjoyed. They seemed very tidy and together - possibly just way more slick and professional than anything I'd seen all weekend :)

Now I'm listening to them online I'm having second thoughts again, but honestly they really were fun live. Try it: Empire Records [link to Soundcloud, may cause ads]

I'm not that familiar with Los Campesinos! (they're really one of ChrisC's bands) but figured I'm familiar enough to hum along. Boy am I under-educated. Los Campesinos! have (a) songs that are quite hard to sing along to, as they have lots of words and are not that chorus-y most of the time and (b) a lot of hardcore fans who will sing along to everything anyway. There are seven of them: four guitars, three keyboards and a drumkit between six of them, and the other one sings and leaps about.

They are everything-louder-than-everything-else indie, and are an absolute riot of fun and enthusiasm. Mostly I now want to go and listen to their (many) albums so I can join in better next time :)

Try it: You! Me! Dancing! (bear with the slow start ;)
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July 2017


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