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

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).

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.

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.

Truck Festival, Hill Farm Oxfordshire – 15-17/07/2016

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Three days of bands for less than £90 seemed like a complete no brainer to me so it was without question that I decided I would be going to Truck Festival in Oxfordshire. This was a decision I would come not to regret, despite a nightmare journey which involved trains (the only succesful element of the journey), finding a library to print out Beth’s forgotten ticket (shoutout to Didcot Parkway library), three busses (after being turned down by the first two) and a very long walk with heavy bags and a lot of alcohol. But once all was set up and the fun began, the struggle to arrive was worth it (p.s. I totally do not recommend using public transport to get to Truck Fest).

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Friday’s fun kicked off with The Magic Gang who’s set was perfect for getting into the festival mood. Favourites like Jasmine and Alright had the whole crowd singing, dancing and gently moshing along to a band who are gaining so much love all over the country at the moment. Following their set I saw Moose Blood and Neck Deep, before finishing the evening seeing headliners Catfish and the Bottlemen. Coming on to tried and tested opener Homesick the boys set consisted of their old classics mixed in with the few most recognisable songs from most recent album, The Ride. I wish we’d got there a bit sooner and been nearer the stage as I think the atmosphere there would have been even better, but the set was still incredibly enjoyable from a little further back.

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Saturday morning saw us take an emergency trip to Sainsbury’s once we released we definitely did not have enough food or drink to last us two more days. This also involved incredible scenes in the car park when we had to decant two glass bottles of brini into a plastic pink lemonade bottle in order to be allowed to take it back in to the festival. In hindsight although cheap this wasn’t the best drink we could have chosen – warm lambrini is almost definitely the worst thing I have ever tasted.

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The worst clashes of the festival took place on Saturday, leaving us running between Main Stage and The Nest in order to catch Rat Boy, Sundara Karma, Spring King and Spector. Announced as the surprise act on the Nest stage just a few days before the festival, the atmosphere for Spector was absolutely incredible and definitely made them my favourite act of the weekend. Favourites like Chevy ThunderStay High and new single Tenner went down a treat, with people starting mosh pits almost as large as the tent.

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Saturday night was when the fun really started, as I went out to explore what nightlife Truck had to offer. After experiencing some grime on the Market Stage, discounting the silent disco as a result of its huge queue and enjoying a fun band in the Saloon Bar, we discovered Truck’s greatest feature – the Barn Stage. This place smells of cow poo and it is covered in mud, but the vibe more than counteracts the challenging conditions. People were going insane to the dance tunes being played out by the DJs, with everyone doing their own individual routines that must have looked ridiculous to any sober or sane person in the room.

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Had you told me on Saturday night that this Barn Stage would be even more fun on Sunday then I probably wouldn’t have believed you, but that is exactly the case. After again doing the rounds of all the other stages me and Zoë once again found ourselves in the smelly barn – but this time the dance music had gone to be replaced by a full on primary school disco party. Everything from Single Ladies to Total Eclipse of the Heart blared out into the room and it felt as if everyone there couldn’t believe their luck to have been invited to the best dance party on the planet. Not one person was having a bad time – and once you came into the stage it was impossible to leave until the music stopped at 2:30 in the morning.

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Sunday’s music was also great, with highlights including Market Stage headliners Mystery Jets and INHEAVEN who played the Veterans & Virgins stage. The atmosphere for INHEAVEN was amazing – although there were only a few people in the tent everyone there knew what a great band these guys were and it was only a matter of time before people were jumping and moshing together. Check out the cool gal in her bucket hat in this video.

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Truck was one of the best and most fun weekends I have ever had and I can’t wait to go back next year, if only to dance all night in a smelly barn.

Coldplay, Wembley Stadium – 18/06/2016

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‘Thanks for giving us your Saturday night’, said Chris Martin, ‘and for dealing with all the s**t you have to put up with for liking Coldplay’ he concluded, in the midst of Coldplay’s Saturday night closing song Up&Up. Coldplay are one of those bands that everyone claims to hate, but the 90,000 strong crowd at Wembley Stadium on Saturday (and the 90,000 strong crowds that filled the stadium for the previous three nights) prove that this is a band that really does have huge appeal. Perhaps the most varied crowd I have ever seen at a gig, it ranged from small kids with their parents to young couples to rowdy blokes  – and all were singing along to every word.

Support was from Reef (who we missed) and Lianne La Havas, who performed in a gazebo for reasons that are yet to be confirmed. It meant anyone sitting was unable to see her as, well, she was inside a gazebo. No idea if Reef got this same treatment – maybe it was something to do with Coldplay wanting their staging to look even better compared to this very odd setup.

Kicking things off with A Head Full Of Dreams, there was a no expenses spared pyrotechnic display featuring fireworks and a rainbow of confetti that fired along the b-stage showering the whole stadium in multicoloured tissue paper. This excitement continued throughout, with Coldplay’s staging including so many different tricks it’s hard to know where to start. There were fireworks throughout (occasionally filling the venue with so much smoke I could hardly see the band anymore!), regular confetti cannons, incredible lighting displays including a small circular stage in the crowd which had different images projected on it. And, of course, the now famous Coldplay light-up wristbands. If you’ve seen these on the telly you’ll know the idea, but when you’re actually there seeing the effect live it is really impressive. The bands light up every colour imaginable in time with the music to create a spectacular effect. In a space as huge as Wembley Stadium there needs to be some way to make everyone feel a part of the show – even way up in the furthest away seat – and the wristbands did this perfectly.

Coldplay have so many big songs that it’s impossible to have a dull moment. Standout moments were definitely during Adventure of a Lifetime as the wristbands kicked into overdrive, the crowd was showered with bouncy balloons and everyone was told to kneel down then jump up together as the chorus came in. A Sky Full of Stars was also one of my highlights, along with a remixed version of Paradise. They also included a nice amount of older material, including classic singalongs Yellow, The Scientist and Fix You along with rarely played Green Eyes which sounded lovely from a small breakout stage at the back of the crowd.

A fantastic show by a band that I’d definitely go and see again. Well worth ‘all the s**t I put up with for seeing Coldplay’!