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Washed Out – Within and Without – Live Review

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Rough Trade East did a great thing last Friday in bringing Washed Out to the store. They played Lovebox earlier in the day and are currently promoting their latest album release. Within and Without is a great album, and the guys have moved up a gear from their lo-fi days. The quality and fidelity is much higher and the song writing is just as brilliant. It may have lost some of its charm from being so well-produced, but you cannot say it’s not a great album. The big tracks, Eyes be Closed, Far Away and Amor Fati, are highlights, and the rest of the album is much more than just filler. Washed Out have always been an album band anyway, so go get drunk here, wake up with some pretty little thing you romanced in the night and put Within and Without on, let it wash over you, get blissed out and fall in love.

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The In-store was just off the back of their show at Lovebox Festival earlier that day. I’m sure that the full electronic performance at Lovebox was great, but what they did at Rough Trade on Brick Lane was just special. They had stripped back all the electronics and the five piece band had more maracas than you could shake a maraca at, simply wired keyboards and multiple vocalists achieving their lovely sound. Most of the tracks they played were of a lounge-jazz persuasion but it came out brilliantly. Obviously in a record store no one is going to be jumping around like mad so this laid back performance was perfect and it really eschued the talented musicians that Ernest Greene has assembled. They played a couple of tracks from the new album including Eyes be Closed and they also played some of their best from the first two albums; notably Feel It All Around and New Theory. Speaking to the bassist and the super-cool headdress-wearing keyboard player afterwards (who wanted to go riding around on Boris Bikes!) they said they thought that it went better than the performance at Lovebox. Really great, really special and you should have been there. Did I mention it was free?

YOWICS
xoxo

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Live Review – Stay + (formerly Christian AIDS) @ The Victoria Thursday 30th June

After months of waiting, last week we finally got the chance to see what we (and now most of the mainstream music press) believe to be one of the most exciting acts to come out of the UK in a long time. Thanks to the good people at Eat Your Own Ears, The Victoria in Hackney hosted the first London performance of Stay +, the new moniker for crumble favourites, Christian AIDS. Following legal action from the chairty of the same name, the guys have had to change their name and branding a little bit, but rest assured the music is just as good as before if not better.

The whole set up of the gig was a bit weird. The room was pitch black except for the warming glow of the projector screens at the far end of the room. It felt more like an art installation than a live performance. The guys haven’t played many performances so far, I think this was something like their fourth, so they haven’t quite got a road crew set up yet and had to do most of the preparation themselves. After a little bit of popping on and off stage finally they took their places behind their macbooks, four people appeared at the front of the stage wearing ‘S’ ‘T’ ‘A’ & ‘Y’ t-shirts and the room filled with hipsters.

To be fair to the guys, they really do put a lot of thought, preparation and effort into their performance. As well as having people stand at the front of the stage for the whole show in complete silence, they also have the three projector screens for their visuals, two LED light bars that they’ve brought with them and even the little apple logos on their macbooks have been customised to look like little ‘+’ signs. Despite the fact that they haven’t got much of a budget it doesn’t stop them from putting on an incredibly impressive show.

They kicked off with one of the few tracks that have been doing the rounds on youtube, ‘Fever’. The instantly gripping intensity was built up to a mighty crescendo beautifully accentuated by the live vocals (both male and female) which I didn’t realise they would have. They rattled through the tracks (some familiar ‘Young Luv’, ‘Scum’ and ‘Stay +’ and some new) relentlesly without leaving pause for breath let alone applause. I later found out the combo behind Stay + are actually a two piece, complemented by two live vocalists. While one is taking care of the sound, the other is video editing live to the music with incredible effect. Although the format may not be particularly new, the energy of the performance is definitely original.

The weird thing is, the whole thing is like an art piece. The video editing is like their youtube clips, graphic and visceral whilst retaining an element of intellectual awareness and social comment. The effect is fantastic, but also confusing. Quite often I was caught in two minds whether or not I should be standing and appreciating or jumping around and dancing. I think what the guys need is someone to give them an opportunity to play one of their sets in a much bigger club with a much louder sound system. A pub in Hackney is fine for most bands starting out, but these guys deserve something much bigger.

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I can’t really do the energy of the performance justice. And considering that they are still relatively new to performing and the they can already deliver such quality, I highly recommend you go and check them out yourselves as soon as you get the first opportunity. Unfortunately, that won’t be at 1-2-3-4 this weekend. After chatting to the guys afterwards I found out that they have unfortunately had to pull out. But fear not, crumble’s favourite band from Manchester to not be born, live or work in Manchester, are sure to reappear in the capital soon enough. As soon as we find out when, you’ll be the first to know!

Joe

xoxox

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Live Review – Tom Vek @ Heaven Thursday 16th June 2011

An interesting turn of fate yesterday landed me with the pleasure of going to see Tom Vek. This really shouldn’t have happened but international relationships with our nation’s government intervened and created a hyperplexus large enough to mean that our fellow blogger and crumbler, Joseph, couldn’t attend. This gig sold out within minutes of going on sale, and it’s one of only five around the country that our reclusive multi-instrumentalist musician is performing.

I only caught the end of the support act, so wouldn’t like to comment on their performance too much; but they were alright. The night was all about Tom anyway. In the indie community, he is something of a demi-god, at least a legend. His first album was hailed and then he disappeared, taking five years to create this. Some think five years might have produced better, but we like it, as is already well documented.

He opened well. Playing some of the new tracks before resorting to his first album, to which the crowd got a bit excited. One reveller commented that people didn’t appear to have heard much of the new album. Perhaps it’s not been long enough since it’s release but it did seem that only A Chore from Leisure Seizure got the crowd crazy. However, the older tracks, like below’s video of Nothing But Green Lights and I Ain’t Saying My Goodbyes, were pretty popular.

The gig was good: the performance solid and the light show quite good, albeit mostly red, except for the aforementioned song, when things turned green. Tom’s voice is incredibly iconic, and sounds much more impressive than his surprisingly small stature (now with short haircut). So overall, as not the biggest Tom Vek fan in the world, I was treated but not overawed. The really impressive moment had to wait until the end, when the overarchingly standout track of Leisure Seizure was played as an encore. The video below doesn’t really do justice to the sound quality, and I was dancing, and my friend did start shaking the camera around at one point, but you have the encore in it’s entirety, and it’s quite nice.

The girl who masquerades as Tom for the first verse is actually in the video for A Chore, and it was nice to see her give us a little performance that confused a lot of people. You can hear how pleased the crowd were, and I think a lot of people really completed an ambition by seeing a man that is notoriously hard to track down. The winners of the night were his hardcore fans, of which I do not consider myself one; however, I am now definitely a fan, and it was an excellent gig.

4 Crumbles

YOWICS xoxo

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2011 in Opinions, Uncategorized

 

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The Soft Moon – Live at The Lexington 11/05/11

I’ve waited a long time to see old Luis work his magic on the stage and last night at The Lexington The Soft Moon made their UK debut. What I was expecting I don’t quite know, but after eight months wait, I just hoped it wouldn’t be a massive fucking let down.

Support was provided by Mafia Lights and The First Loves. Unfortunately we missed most of Mafia Lights set, but from what we heard thats probably for the best. The First Loves were a pretty good choice to line up next to The Soft Moon. The London based outfit could be described as solid post-punk/new wave revivalists, retaining the classic high tempo bass driven rhythms and ably commanded drum loops. Whilst not terribly original they did a pretty good job of sounding like they just arrived in a Tardis from early 80s Lancashire.

At times it seemed like they were maybe trying a little too hard to be the next Interpol, when settling for the a slightly better version of the Editors would be more achievable. As long as they stick to the more up tempo stuff they should be worth watching in the future.

As the stage was being prepared for the main event I was pleased to see that the band had managed to bring a little bit of San Fran with them in the way of what I assume to be the former roadie of the Grateful Dead or former WWE wrestler Mick Foley.

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And finally, the band themselves. The long and short of it, they were fucking fantastic. All the tracks sound a little more special live, and the groups abandonment of standard lighting for digital video back drops and smoke machines gave the feeling like you were watching some sort of 60s New York art house performance even if this was at the expense of being able to get a good photo of them.

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Luis even had time to play an encore of a new track, although after questioning he admitted that the song was actually Phantoms, a B-side from the release of ‘Breathe the Fire’ (cheeky little Luis). When I asked where he thought the band would go from here considering the last album was based on tracks he’d written a decade previous, Luis casually explained he would just have to go much deeper. Fortunately for him, California is not short of a specialist or two in regression.

We haven’t got any live footage from the gig, but here is a video of the guys performing in L.A. earlier this year.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPbHivG4MHk]

It was excellent seeing Luis and the band in fine form, and judging by the female attention he got after the gig, I’m sure we’ll be seeing him on these shores again. I personally can’t wait and hopefully he’ll bring with him  some fantastic new material.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zx00pFVCIDg]

Joe xoxo

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Gang of Four – Live Review

”Whatever happened to Leon Trotsky?
He got an ice pick
That made his ears burn”


There is an old saying that you should never meet your heroes, and that piece of advice could also easily apply to going to see them play live.  It’s for that reason I have never felt compelled to see either Jagger or Plant hobble around a stage propped up by Viagra and prescription painkillers gyrating their geriatric groins in grannies faces.

Thankfully yesterday evening I forgot that everyone, even those in late 70s post-punk bands, age.  They may have gotten older (well at least the half of the band that are still playing) and from the look of the crowd, so have most of their fans, but to be fair to them they can still put on pretty good show.  A band that has inspired acts as influential as Nirvana to Bloc Party from Rage Against the Machine to The Rapture, could still give a lot of modern bands a few lessons on how to Entertain a crowd (chortle).

Most of the gig was dominated by material from the band’s brand new album Concept.  It’s been 16 years in the making and has received some rather impressive reviews from more reputable publications than this.  The album is a little bit like a brief history of GoF,  from the classic post punk riffs of  ‘Never Pay for the Farm’ and ‘You Don’t Have To Be Mad’, to the new wave inspired ‘Who Am I?’ and ‘I Party All The Time’.

Gang of Four – You Don’t Have To Be Mad

The results are mixed.  You can’t help but feel as though they’ve thrown together half finished songs from over the years mixed in with the odd B-side gem. Something for every fan I guess.

Gang of Four – Never Pay for the Farm

But what I, my friends and I’m pretty sure everyone in the venue wanted was some classic Gang of Four… and they delivered marvelously.  I think there was a consensus that whatever you thought of the new material, they were able to kick out the classics like Thatcher was still in government and young people were still struggling with the modern world.  In many ways both of those things are true, and similarly Gang of Four can still play music and write lyrics that channel the frustrations of  the many; the country is shit and the PM’s a dick!

Gang of Four – Damaged Goods

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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