Live. PVRIS

•22/04/2015 • Leave a Comment

10338273_813480058731743_2061351760835951373_n

Live. Pvris April 16th 2015. The Barfly, London

PVRIS’s Lynn Gunn is being touted as the next idol of the alternative scene but taking the stage at their first headline show outside of the US, she proves people wrong on two counts. From the first assured snap of ‘Smoke’ PVRIS grab the attention of every person in the capacity Barfly and don’t let go for the duration.

Stripping away the nuanced whispers that haunt their debut ‘White Noise’ and replacing them with an urgent cry, PVRIS are a more direct beast on stage. ‘Mirrors’ becomes a thundering call to the dusk while ‘Fire’ flickers with determination. A stripped back ‘Eyelids’ loses none of its stunning beauty; instead the delicacy is amplified through darting eye contact.

The stop-start then abandoned ‘Let Them In’ refuses to hamper either pace or atmosphere but it’s the closing triptych that sees PVRIS at their glorious best. Title track ‘White Noise’ rages with arms-aloft euphoria and shuddering strobes that fall into the skipping crunch of ‘St. Patrick’, all jagged pain and desperate thanks. A thunderous ‘My House’ draws the evenings triumphs to a close, “We don’t know anymore songs,” they admit when faced with the roaring demand for more.

Charming and magnetic, PVRIS cut an impressive shape on stage. There’s a special chemistry in the three-pronged attack of Lynn, Brian and Alex, switching between instruments with skilled abandon and exchanging glances with a twinkle. While Lynn leads the charge with a superb vocal display, hitting dizzy heights with ease and crackling with passion, it’s accented, challenged and ultimately lifted by the playful and vital stomp of Brian and Alex.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment that PVRIS’ show at The Barfly transcends into something special but that first full-bodied encounter shows the capital an assured, magical band. There’s no need to hedge your bets; PVRIS are already stars.

System Of A Down – Wake Up The Souls

•11/04/2015 • Leave a Comment

soad

System Of A Down – Wake Up The Souls
10th April 2015, Wembley Arena

Reunions raise all sorts of questions with the answers varying person-to-person, band-to-band.

Tonight, System of a Down play their fourth UK show in as many years and the first under their own steam since they ended their hiatus in 2011. Anchored by the desire to raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide, tonight was always going to be bigger than the four-piece from California and as the hypnotic melody of ‘Holy Mountain’ draws a long-sold out Wembley Arena forward, smiles of disbelief are readily passed around. Thirty-five songs later and the same expression is shared, as 12500 exhausted bodies stagger off into the night.

Unrelenting, System of a Down fly through their mammoth set; highlight following favorite into pinnacle and back again with the flamboyant confidence and gritted teeth determination of a band utterly at ease with their situation and their selves. The scrappy cry of ‘Prison Song’ sees the first mass choir of the evening while ‘B.Y.O.B’ is predictably chaotic. Dancing between teenage anthems of discontent and deep cuts, every moment of the evening gives someone new a reason to sing.

An impassioned speech from Serj Tankian towards the end of the show underlines the message of tonight and reinforces the triptych of video intermissions that are deployed throughout while a smirking finale of ‘Cigaro’-‘Toxicity’-‘Sugar’ beat the final wells of energy from the room. And then, hours after they began yet feeling like no time at all, System of a Down leave the stage.

The band spend every second twisting the most out of their instruments, basking in each others company and the history they share while the room comes together under a common goal. There are still questions and the hope that tonight isn’t the last time but that pales in comparison to the chemistry of the evening, fleeting but timeless.

Live. Rob Lynch, Allison Weiss and Dave House.

•26/02/2015 • Leave a Comment

10926265_825818744146232_2440885065937653270_o

Live. Rob Lynch, Allison Weiss and Dave House

January 24th 2015. The Borderline, London.

One heart, one voice, one guitar. The life of a singer/songwriter has been thrown into a state of flux recently. Taylor Swift shook off that label in favour of eighties pop, Frank Turner swapped his acoustic guitar for a sleeker, electric model and Ed Sheeran sold out three dates at Wembley Stadium with no other promise than his voice and six strings.

It almost didn’t happen but the co-headline tour between and Rob Lynch and Alison Weiss hit London’s The Borderline on Saturday night as a potent reminder that the allure for most artists has never changed. A stage, some friends and their music does the rest.

Dave House kicked things off with his first solo show in over three years. Joined by Pacer bandmate John, his set drew from across his back catalogue and each cob-web free track was delivered with smiles and gusto. With each brief pause to tune his guitar, you could see Dave question why he’d waited this long to return to the boards. An energized rendition of ‘Kingston’s Current’ saw the audience take the lead as Dave stamped along to the poignant refrain, “All of London, will never be the same.”

Allison Weiss, despite being from Los Angeles, is not stranger to London and as she bounded onto the stage in a flurry of excitement and grins, she was given a heroes welcome. Her rousing anthems of indie pop heartbreak are clever and charming and in stripping back the thundering electro heartbeat behind Robyn’s ‘Call Your Girlfriend’, she exploited the pain and longing within.

‘All These Nights In Bars Will Somehow Save My Soul’ promises Rob Lynch as the title to his debut album. While this seems like short-sighted recklessness, over the course of his bedroom confessional, it becomes painfully clear that these nights in bars are cathartic means of escape.

Opening with ‘31/32’, Rob lays out the agenda for the evening early, “Tonight we forget our problems and in the morning we can work them out.” It’s an ambitious script but he sticks to it religiously. With songs of misunderstanding, violence and loss turned into joyous celebrations and tales of caution, Rob allows space for the audience to reflect and project their own stories onto his. It’s a group therapy session that sees strangers arm in arm and a sense of wondrous peace flourish.

The acoustic guitar may be going this way and that, but its ability to provide a vessel for understanding, especially in the hands of this talent has never been more prominent.

The Subways, Creeper and Get Inuit Added to 2000 Trees Festival

•26/02/2015 • Leave a Comment

image001

2000 Trees Festival has added another handful of bands to their already impressive lineup. Joining the likes of Pulled Apart By Horses, The Xcerts and Arcane Roots are The Subways, Creeper and Get Inuit.

Rebecca Clements, And So I Watch You From Afar and We Are The Ocean have also been added to the Cheltenham festival.

Headlined by Deaf Havana and Idlewild and bolstered by the likes of Solemn Sun, Turbowolf and The Twilight Sad, the ninth edition of 2000 Trees is another jubilant flourish of alternative rock. Marrying the established with the new, 2000 Trees is the perfect opportunity to see your favourite bands in an intimate setting as well as discovering your next musical infatuation.

Arcane Roots are excited to be returning to Upcote Farm. “I like the ethos, it’s the same with Arctangent (who also announced their first batch of bands today),” said Andrew Groves at last years event. “They care. They genuinely choose bands they’re excited to see. I see them running round trying to see bands. They’re festival goers themselves and they know what people want.  There’s a lot of love to it and that translates.”

Tickets for the event are onsale now and if you buy one before March 15th, you’ll be entered into a draw to win a VIP upgrade.

Not In My Name. Gender Bias and Music Festivals

•25/02/2015 • Leave a Comment

B-ozrH4WwAAihFq

Not In My Name. Gender Bias and Music Festivals

Behind petty squabbling about the death of rock and questioning the excitement of the new, there lies a very real problem within the music industry. Last night, a big yellow highlighter brought it to everyone’s attention.

On Tuesday 24th February, The Reading & Leeds Festivals announced a considerable amount of their lineup. From Limp Bizkit and Cancer Bats, through The Libertines and Bastille to Deadmau5 and Knife Party, it’s fair to say it’s trying to cater for everyone. But there is, in garish yellow, a question that needs addressing. Why aren’t women better represented on festival bills?

The owner of The Reading & Leeds Festivals, Melvin Benn, denied there was any sort of imbalance just last month. In an interview with Gigwise he claims “There has been an historic lack of opportunity for young women to get into bands and I think that has disappeared now,” before continuing “For me it’s never about the gender of the band, its about the quality and I think increasingly female bands, female-fronted bands, entirely female bands, mixed bands…they’re just forever on the increase now. Gone are the days where a band was four guys. It’s genuinely gone.” Looking at what’s been announced for his festival thus far, it’s difficult to believe.

You could argue that festival lineups reflect what’s going on in the music industry and some do. Both T in The Park (25% of acts including a female) and The Isle Of Wight Festival (28%) come close to mirroring the everyday.

Female artist or acts with at least one female member were represented in 20% of the nominees at this years NME Awards with that figure rising to 23% at the 2015 Brit Awards and 25% at last years Mercury Music Prize. Those numbers echo the charts with 30% of this week’s Top 40 Albums including a woman. While it’s not the idealistic 50/50 split you’d like to see these festivals do hold a mirror up to music as a whole and prove that there are a wealth of bands that could be booked.

Why then do just nine of the ninety-two acts announced for The Reading & Leeds Festivals and only three of the fifty-six bands currently announced for Download Festival feature women?

This isn’t a new problem by any means. Blood Red Shoes’ Laura Mary Carter addressed it last year for the NME and in this article on Drowned In Sound. 

““I think a lot of people don’t want to face that there could be something wrong,” she tells DIS. “But if you look at the figures, the ratio of women playing festivals full stop… it’s hard to believe the figures are so different. I think the rock world is still very male dominated – there have been many festivals around the world when I will be the only woman on that stage or, on occasion, the only woman playing that day at all. I think it does have something to do with there being a lack of role models.”

“This isn’t just a problem with festivals not booking enough women. We need to look at the way society as a whole looks at female artists. Many women performers don’t want to speak out about issues like the lack of women on festival bills because of the online abuse we get,” she explains to NME

A cursory scroll down the replies to this tweet from Crack in the Road, that shows how the Reading Festival lineup “would look if it only included the acts that have a female musician in the band,” sadly confirms that.

Laura then goes on to rationalise “if the audience still see women in rock bands as something of an oddity, that’s where the real problem lies.”

It’s a sentiment echoed in Kerrang! a few weeks back as Marmozets’ Becca Macintyre explains “We have to talk about it. Words can be very powerful. Making people aware that this is way we feel about it as women and, if you agree, tag along and support it.”

This isn’t about female musicians getting booked above their male counterparts. This isn’t about tokenisation or positive discrimination; it’s about being aware the problem exists.

I don’t think anyone has a quickfire answer to solve this issue, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start asking questions. Reading Festival & Download Festival, why?

Hawk Eyes – Everything Is Fine

•08/02/2015 • Leave a Comment

HAWK-EYES-feature

Hawk Eyes – Everything Is Fine

“It’s A Trap,” shriek Hawk Eyes during the death rattle of the aptly named album opener ‘The Trap’. Repeated again and again, is this a band with a warning or one mocking the notion of danger at every turn. This twisting motion is reflected in the album’s title ‘Everything is Fine’, which offers both reassurance and deceit.

For their third album, Hawk Eyes are out to change perspectives. From the off, the Leeds four-piece lock onto the beady centre of your eyes with a piercing blue stare and hold it for twelve unwavering tracks. It’s schooling in intensity.

From the fury of ‘Permission’, the dancehall groove of ‘I Never Lose’ until the clenched fist refrain of ‘The Ballad Of Michael McGlue’ and beyond, “Everything Is Fine’ is risky business. Warping arena rock songs into dirty backroom anthems without losing the power of either is a near impossible balancing act. Yet, the slack-jawed expression that creeps across your face as Hawk Eyes dance between the two with sublime confidence, attention to detail and ultimately success is richly deserved.

While arena rock focuses on the horizon, bar room punk on the ceiling and pop on itself, Hawk Eyes are only concerned with the moment. It’s that desire to catch a fleeting moment that results in ‘Everything Is Fine’ bringing together a little bit of everything and wrestling it into something magical.

“Ain’t Rock n’ Roll, this is suicide,” taunt the band on ‘Permission’ and they’re onto something. ‘Everything Is Fine’ is more open ended, exciting and progressive than the label demands but that doesn’t mean death. Quite the opposite as ‘Everything Is Fine’ is a glittering parade of life, despite the odds. There are no trappings here, just a band exploiting their potential and an album without flaws. Everything is fine.

 

Arcane Roots on 2000 Trees

•31/01/2015 • Leave a Comment

“There’s a lot of love to it and that translates.”

2000trees Lineup poster 310115

Arcane Roots on 2000 Trees

2000 Trees has announced the first wave of bands for this year’s festival and it’s an eclectic, yet brilliant mix.

Arcane Roots return to Cheltenham after a blistering mainstage performance last year alongside Pulled Apart By Horses, Solemn Sun and a reunited Kerbdog. The St. Pierre Snake Invasion, Milk Teeth, &U&I and Rob Lynch provide four more reasons to get excited about a weekend in the Cotswolds.

Arcane Roots are currently working on the follow-up to their debut ‘Blood & Chemistry’. I spoke to the band at 2000 Trees last year and this is what they had to say about the festival.

“We love playing festivals, especially 2000 Trees,” starts Andrew Groves. “It’s a really important festival to us. Last time we played here, it was incredible. We’re really excited.”

“I like the ethos, it’s the same with Arctangent (who also announced their first batch of bands today),” he continues. “They care. They genuinely choose bands they’re excited to see. I see them running round trying to see bands. They’re festival goers themselves and they know what people want.”

“The production is better as well,” he reasons. “You go to some of the bigger festivals and the people don’t know what’s going on, they don’t really care and it’s a mess. Here, it’s that great size where there’s a scene to it. There are a lot of people who care about 2000 Trees, it’s got a real legacy to it and everyone that works here, likes being here. It’s the reason it’s always incredible,” he finishes. “There’s a lot of love to it and that translates.”

Tickets for 2000 Trees are available now.

You can read what to expect from Arcane Roots’ new album here, as well as a review of last year’s festival.