Independent Venue Week, Bassment – 26/01/2017

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During this unexpected gap year I have been enduring, Bassment has become like my second home; always there for me when I need a bev and a boogie. It’s a friendly little place with nice staff who quite often can’t be bothered to charge you for the cloakroom, and who on a particularly challenging night out served me a ‘big boi shot’ which turned around the evening for the better.

I naturally jumped at the chance to come along and support Bassment during Independent Venues Week, an initiative set up to encourage people to go and watch live music and support these small venues that often find it hard to keep running.

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Walking down the stairs to the sound of The Midnight Barbers, I was really intrigued by their music. Drawing influences from country to punk and everything in between definitely made for something a little bit different. One thing that is so great about getting down to small local venues is that it gives you the opportunity to hear music you would never normally think to listen to, and to give those local artists the chance to have their music heard by a room of people. I enjoyed these guys’ set – lead singer Ben Rowntree has such a unique voice and stage presence that it was impossible not to get drawn in to this band’s sound.

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The Horse Heads described themselves to BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq as ‘in your face punk’. They’re not wrong. Their loud, bass driven rock filled the walls of Basement to breaking point as their frontman Ronaldo Rodriguez screamed angsty lyrics into our faces. And, if you look closely enough, you can see my photography displayed on the bass guitar. I would like to thank Chad for giving me this chance to expose my art to the world.

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Headlining the night was Freak, brandishing their own take on the ever popular trend of scrappy indie pop. Apparently at their last Bassment gig these guys managed to get someone crowdsurfing – an impressive achievement considering how low the ceilings are. There was no such activity on Thursday night, but there were a few very passionate fans who started a mini mosh pit at the front of the stage. Freak are popping up all over the place at the moment – supporting Black Honey and INHEAVEN on their upcoming UK tours. Songs like What Happened? and Someone Help Me already had people singing along and the exposure the band are going to get on tour will only increase their popularity.

As always, another fantastic night at Bassment. Get down there if you’re in Chelmsford, and if you’re not just hurry yourself along to your nearest independent venue. You never know what you might find.

Band photography: Andrew Kenyon http://andrewkenyonphotography.pixieset.com

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Black Honey, Cabbage and Freak – Kamio, 27/01/2017

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My third night of gigging this week saw me heading off to Hoxton for Black Honey’s show at Phil Taggart’s Slacker club night.

Freak kicked off the night with their indie pop that set the mood for the evening. Making a reappearance was who I can only refer to as the ‘crazy mosh man’. This guy had been at Bassment the night previously, and his enthusiasm for Freak is unwavering. The passion with which he started a three person mosh pit is something I admire, and I hope to see him again soon.

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Even after being introduced by Phil Taggart as the ‘best live band around at the moment’, I still wasn’t quite ready for the mayhem about to occur during Cabbage’s set. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band so in control of a gig before. People were going absolutely mental, screaming the words back at the band like they were the biggest thing on the planet.

I hadn’t really got into them after listening on Spotify pre-gig, but this is music that demands to be heard live. Uber Capitalist Death Trade and Terrorist Synthesiser saw people go insane, with lead singer Lee Broadbent dangling off the roof of Kamio at regular intervals. I’d hated Dinner Lady on record, but live? It was incredible. Don’t bother listening to their album first, go and watch this band in the flesh then you’ll come back to their songs with completely new ears (not literally, of course, that would be weird).

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After everyone was sufficiently worked up thanks to Cabbage, it was Black Honey’s turn to take to the stage. Opening with Madonna, the set took in a lot of new material along with all the singles the crowd had come to see. Izzy Bee Phillips’ beautifully edgy vocals are a joy, and it’s so nice to see some girl power at the front of an indie rock band. Early single Bloodlust received a warm response, as did All My Pride and set closer CorrineSpinning Wheel was the most anarchic moment of the night as the screams of the chorus filled the venue and people threw themselves across the room.

Slacker provided a great night full of incredible new music and I’m definitely planning on coming back. The party at Kamio continued until 2am, but unfortunately my last train was calling at midnight. You have my guarantee though: come my move to London in September I’ll be partying until the lights are turned off (or on, I suppose).

The Horne Section, Colchester Arts Centre – 22/11/2016

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The Horne Section is a musical comedy act which centres on five musicians, plus main man Alex Horne. It revolves around making jokes out of both familiar tracks and new ones written by the members of the Horne Section.

Judging the act just on the name itself already gets these guys off to a good start. The Horne Section is an excellent pun on so many levels – the use of horns in the act, the fact Horne is Alex’s last name, AND the fact a horn section is an actual thing. I was impressed, and this was before they’d even come on stage.

You might have seen Alex Horne on his show Taskmaster, which he co-hosts with Greg Davis, or heard him on Radio 4 hosting his show The Horne Section. However, for me, it was seeing Horne on 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown that had attracted my attention to the act. I will admit that I actually hadn’t found it that funny after seeing him on this show. It was his goal, therefore, to change my mind at the Colchester Arts Centre.

So did I change my mind? Yes and no. Bits of the show really did make me laugh out loud – the creation of a ‘reverse conga’ which was then put into forwards motion at the end of the show was hilarious, as was the mass zumba session in which every member of the crowd was enlisted. Horne’s anecdotes about his life were also really funny, and I will admit that seeing a grown man with a Henry Hoover on his head was something quite special.

However, there were points of the show that I felt my attention start to waver. The seasons song was a funny idea, but perhaps went on for a bit too long. Some of the other songs and jokes did also seem to be a bit drawn out and I found myself checking the time to see how much longer there was to go.

The Horne Section is a little different to your usual comedy act which I was definitely impressed by. The fusion of music and comedy is something I really enjoy, and I would definitely be interested to see these guys again in the future to see how their act develops.

Jamie T, Brixton Academy – 16/11/2016

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Seeing gigs get cancelled is a fairly regular thing – and understandably so – musicians are humans, they get ill, stuff happens. But you never expect it to actually happen to a gig you’re meant to be seeing. Sadly Jamie T was forced to postpone his show at Brixton Academy that was due to take place in October due to illness (or maybe just a really bad hangover from his previous two nights at the venue). Following his performance on Wednesday evening, I can confirm it was definitely worth the extra few weeks wait.

Kicking off the night with a trip to a (very busy) Brixton Spoons, followed by trips to TK Maxx, M&S (not sure why) and the David Bowie memorial, we made our way to Brixton Academy. Seeing the famous exterior with Jamie T written on it was really exciting as this day seemed quite unattainable when the October gig was cancelled.

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As it was my first time visiting Brixton Academy, I was really amazed by its ingenious sloped floor. It meant that even a short person (i.e. me) could see from wherever I was standing in the venue. This is such a great idea and I have no idea why it hasn’t been replicated in any other venue I’ve been to.

Starting with latest single Power Over Men, Jamie got everyone hyped from the first note. As so many people there probably thought they might never get to see him after the initial gig was cancelled, the excitement in the room was palpable. Everyone was just there to have a great time dancing and jumping around with their mates – the amount of smiles on faces was something I don’t think I have ever seen matched at another gig.

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Sheila was a definite highlight. Seeing thousands of people rap along to this classic Jamie T banger was an almost spiritual experience as people climbed up on shoulders and sung for Jack, Jay, Mickey, Dan, Lisa, Sam, Georgina, Stella and (of course) Sheila.

The first track from new album Trick, Tinfoil Boy, was also a great hit as people opened the biggest pits of the night and flung themselves across Brixton Academy as the track dropped. Finishing off the night with Zombie, I felt exhausted yet overcome with joy at finally being able to see Jamie T.

Spring King, Koko – 28/10/2016

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When you think of the words ‘Camden’ and ‘gig venue’, what normally comes to mind is a dingy room that hasn’t been cleaned for years, with a floor you get stuck to and hardly space to breathe. So it was to my great amazement that I walked into Koko to find a vast, three tiered venue adorned by beautiful red decor and a giant disco ball on the ceiling.

Support act Get Inuit sparked excitement in some members the crowd who kicked off the first mosh pit of the night. I was quite taken with the lead singer’s funky moves and they had great banter with the crowd which is always nice to see, especially in a support act. I’ve been really getting into these guys, especially after seeing them live a couple of times, and I’m looking forward to hearing what they do next.

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We next decided to take some time to explore the venue. What was so nice about Koko was that you were pretty much free to roam wherever you liked – be that to the nice balcony outside (which was technically a smoking area but it gave you a nice view of Camden High Street so I won’t complain) or up to one of the venue’s bars. After enjoying a couple of drinks whilst watching second support Kagoule, it was time to head back down to the floor for Spring King.

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Kicking off by telling everyone to make a circle pit, Spring King launched into their first track of the night, Better Man. Sweaty bodies launched themselves around in a scene of organised mayhem, and crowd surfers flew across the room. The security guard at the front seemed to actually be smiling at this – not what you’d usually expect from the people who are often paid to stop our fun – but I guess that’s just another thing that made Koko special.

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I definitely think Spring King are one of the best live bands around at the moment – the fact that lead singer Tarek Musa plays the drums makes it fascinating to watch as you wonder how on earth he is singing in tune, remembering how to play drums, and also staying alive. The set was well structured, bringing in slower songs at just the right time in order to let everyone recover a little. Ending on Rectifier sent everyone into a frenzy one last time – this song was made to be screamed at full volume in a room full of people who just want to dance and jump around.

Ending the night with the purchase of a funky tour poster and a limited edition tour t-shirt (which I have hardly stopped wearing since), I felt sure that Koko was a place I would return to, and Spring King are a band I need to see again and again.

An Interview with Anna Pancaldi

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Recently returned from a US tour, Essex born Anna Pancaldi describes herself as a “gutsy, melodic singer-songwriter”. Her new single Keep On Keeping On proves this instantly with its stripped back intro, allowing Pancaldi to show off those gutsy and melodic vocals. The song then spirals through waves of beautiful melodies and acoustic rhythmic guitar patterns.

Anna explained her inspiration behind the single. “It’s about growing up and revisiting homes you once lived in that look identical to how they were back then during childhood” she said, “but then the juxtaposition of returning and life resembling no likeness anymore at all. Strange really isn’t it!”

Explaining how she doesn’t stick to a regular process for writing a song, Anna says: “sometimes the lyric is first, sometimes the melody, sometimes both. It’s a magical one with no strategy and that’s part of it’s beauty.”

Making musical waves not only in the UK but also over in America, Anna has just returned from a US tour which saw her playing in New York, Nashville and LA. “The crowds, having never played there before, completely blew me away. I couldn’t believe how many people were there!” she said.

Comparing the experience of playing in the States to playing back at home, Anna explained that “for me, I haven’t noticed too much of a difference, just immense support and love for what I’m doing, which was not expected in a new place at all!”

I then sent a few quick fire questions to try and learn a bit more about Anna’s musical inspirations.

The best album of all time is…  Tapestry by Carol King, reminds me of childhood and the joy it brings.

The artists that have inspired my sound the most are… Jeff Buckley, Carol King, Judy Garland and Doris Day. More so for the tonal quality with Judy and Doris. And Jeff is just incredible with his lyrics, vocals, melodies and his presence. He makes you feel something that may artists can’t.

The thing that made me want to become a musician is… I never really questioned it, my dad’s a singer so it’s always been a part of my lineage. I can’t live without it, that’s why I’m a musician.

Anna Pancaldi’s new single, Keep On Keeping On, is out on 10th October, followed by a single launch at St Lenoards Church in London on 12th October. Tickets available here: https://billetto.co.uk/anna-pancaldi-single-launch

Find Anna on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat and Spotify

Mystery Jets DJ Set, Bassment – 09/09/2016

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An evening described as an ‘all out indie invasion on the dance floor’ sounds pretty much like it was created for me so it’s no surprise that I was found on Friday night at an event with exactly this description. Headlined by a DJ set provided by some members of the band Mystery Jets, the evening also featured performances by up and coming bands (which I will admit to missing as a result of pre drinks at ‘spoons).

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As a newly qualified 18 year old this was my first proper night out to a place which actually required you to show ID. This experience is still entirely alien to me and although I do have a real, legitimate driving license proving that I am in fact of age, I still expected the bouncer to turn around and say that I wasn’t allowed in. Luckily this was not the case and I made my way into the venue via the photo booth (which is hard to resist after a cocktail).

Heading downstairs into the bar itself we sat down and acquainted ourselves with both our surroundings and those whom we would be sharing the evening with. One of the things that was so nice about the event was that it seemed to have attracted a lot of likeminded people displayed through the high volume of Reading festival wristbands and funky vintage shirts. Everyone clearly seemed up for an indie dance party.

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Mystery Jets’ set begun around midnight, kicking off with classic bangers like Rebel Rebel and Song 2. The music was exactly what I hoped for, and I was particularly pleased by the decision to play Foals’ My Number twice (although if you weren’t pleased by this I would be genuinely concerned for your sanity).

Another enjoyable part of the night (at the time) was the presence of a photographer. There’s nothing more fun than feeling like you’re being papped when you’re slightly inebriated, but equally there is nothing less enjoyable than viewing these pics a few days later when they are uploaded to the internet. Below is a couple of the worst images achieved on Friday evening because clearly I am very un-photogenic while engaging in dance:14310312_1121693541248182_1458964750609549383_o.jpg

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Despite the tragic nature of these images, I am still looking forward to my next indie invasion on the Bassment dance floor. It’s a really cool venue with a great atmosphere that I felt very at home in. Traditional night clubs have never really appealed to me so it’s nice to know there’s a place I can go when I fancy a dance.