Tag Archives: live

TheLastWordIsRejoice: A Tribute To Mineral

You can’t possibly have missed the fact that Mineral are BACK and playing live again. Even though I bought my first Mineral album 15 years ago, I, like many other fans desperately excited to see them play live, had gotten into them when it was too late. They had already broken up by that point. In 1999 I completely fell in love with Mineral. I took the train on my own to London at some time that year with a weeks wages in my pocket with the sole purpose to find CDs I couldn’t find locally, I found ‘EndSerenading’ in the alternative section of Tower Records in Piccadilly Circus. I had heard of them but had never actually heard them, that was until the train ride home when I unwrapped the case, put the cd in my discman, put my headphones on, pressed play and shut my eyes. I was totally sold from the first note plucked on the guitar. ‘EndSerenading’ became one of my favourite records of all time, with ‘&Serenading’ my favourite song. It was hard, at the time, to find out much information about the band, the cover sleeve gave nothing away and I was gutted to find out from friends that they had split up already.
At the age of 19 I never would have believed you if you had told me that at age 34 I would have tickets to see them play, and yet here I am aged 34 with tickets to see them play live twice next February (February!! How perfect is that?) when they come to the UK for the first time ever.

I wanted to do something on the blog as a tribute to this legendary band and try and share with them the outpouring of love that has emanated since their reunion. This is a collection of writing containing the memories and feelings towards the band from friends, fellow blog writers, musicians and label owners.

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Tom Mullen (Washed Up Emo)

I was introduced to Mineral thanks to a giveaway bin at the college radio station my freshman year. My first week I had signed up for a show and went to hang with the music director to find out what he was into and talk about the hardcore show I wanted to do. During that meeting, there was a box in his office that was labeled for giveaway. I caught out of the corner of my eye “Static Prevails” on vinyl and perked up to ask if I could pick through it. He said, by all means, that stuff was going to be given out at the next radio station meeting. In that box, among a treasure trove of emo goodness, was the first Mineral album. I was floored by this album and still are to this day. I never saw the band as I missed a show they played near my college by a month or two back when message boards and flyers were the way to promote a show. This band always left before saying goodbye and now we’re lucky enough to be around to see this band come back and play for those that never got to see them. Mineral may have been typecast into the emo genre, but if it’s a band people mention every time, I won’t be mad. They’re the true definition of the loud/soft, heartfelt and loud sound I miss when most of the “emo revival” is derived from the midwest. Mineral’s impact and influence will still be intact regardless of this tour and what’s next. It’s right for them to reform, so it should be right for us to show respect to a band that for many thought would never reunite. For myself, I’ll be screaming along right next to you and smiling every second.

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Oliver Craven (Crash Of Rhinos)

I’m not usually the guy from our band that does this sort of thing, but when asked to write a few words about Mineral I felt I had to. Through my teens, twenties and now into my thirties, they probably mean more to me now than even then.

A lot of people have come and gone in the time since I first heard Mineral. Family, friends, girlfriends, bands.
leaving school in 1999 and wanting to do nothing else except smash the fuck out of a drum kit and skate, I ended up meeting like-minded people through record shops and rock clubs.
I’m still close friends with most of these people now. Four of them were in Crash of Rhinos. It didn’t seem to matter back then that none of us really gave a shit about much else except jamming and skating. There’s a sense of freedom from that age that you don’t really get again. Mineral was the soundtrack to pretty much all of it.

Times like that are rare, bands like Mineral are rare, and kinda should be.
Makes it all the better.

A lot of those people will be back together for the first time in a long time the night Mineral play Nottingham in February. We’ve all changed a fair bit over the years, but I’m pretty confident as soon as Scott McCarver plugs in and the feedback starts wailing, it’s not gonna seem like it.

Favourite song then: A Letter
Favourite song now: A Letter

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Lindsay Minton (Football, Etc)

I’m not totally sure, but I think I found out about Mineral on a message board the summer before I started high school. The song “Slower” became my anthem of the next 4 years. I somehow managed to put Zookeeper on in a basement in New Brunswick in 2007. Not only was Chris Simpson in the room, but also Kyle Fischer from Rainer Maria (playing lapsteel in the band Balthrop, Alabama). What an impact playing a show with my two biggest influences was for me…
Last Friday, I saw Mineral play their first show in 16 years. It was a smallish venue (capacity at 180). It’s kind of hard to describe it– but it was perfect. A bunch of mid-twenty to thirty-somethings standing around with their arms crossed, singing along to themselves. Hearing Mineral come from the stage, instead of the various sets of speakers and headphones I have heard them from over the years was absolutely refreshing. It was something my 14-year-old self never thought I’d be able to experience.

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Glen Bushell (Punktastic)

I was a bit of a latecomer to Mineral if I’m honest. I only cared about punk, grunge and metal pre-2000, until I saw At The Drive-In at Reading 2000 and it changed my life forever and opened my world up to a whole new area of music. After that I started to go to emo and hardcore shows in Margate and Canterbury, and I picked up the Mineral/Jimmy Eat World/Sense field split because I had just started getting into Jimmy Eat World, and I really enjoyed Mineral’s cover of Crazy. I picked up Endserenading after that, and it blew my mind. It was raw, impassioned, and very honest. It embodied every feeling I was going through turning from a teenager into an adult. From then on I forever compared every emo band to them, and even now in my 30’s when I need to find solace in a record, Endserenading, and also Power Of Failing are still my go to records. Finally getting to see them in the UK next year will be the end result of 15 years waiting and wishing to see them, and I’ll be honest, I may shed a tear or two with no shame during Walking To Winter, which is still my favourite song.

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Frank Turner (Kneejerk/Million Dead/Mongol Horde/Frank turner)

I first heard Mineral rifling through a friend’s record collection in 1998 or so, about a year after they broke up. I fell in love pretty quickly, and they became one of my foundational bands musically – I think I subconsciously still try to write and sing like Chris, and the production is pretty perfect for me as well. When I found out they were reuniting this year I lost my mind, booked my flights, and ended up playing an opening slot at the Brooklyn show, which was a dream come true.

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Ray Harkins (100 words or less podcast)

My exposure to Mineral was a complete blur. When you are 16 years old and shoving a bunch of music in your head, it’s hard to discern exactly when/where you heard something but Mineral immediately stuck out. I had begun the process of accepting that “non-screaming” music was okay and I was allowed to listen to it after my initial punk & hardcore blitzkrieg. “Gloria” was placed on the stereo by the guitarist of my band at the time and it was loud, fast but had these things that I later called “dynamics” that I wasn’t used to. It felt good to have a moment to reflect on the song, while it was still going on. This was 1996 and ever since that small exposure, Mineral loomed large in my life. I do remember that I specifically ordered the LP because I had HEARD that it included a lyric sheet (which the CD version did not). I was ecstatic to receive the LP (before I was a full fledged collector) and poured over the lyrics all night. Long live Mineral.

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Paul Waller (OHHMS)

I don’t remember how I came across Mineral but I do know that I was listening to Sunny Day Real Estate, Boy Sets Fire and the UK’s very own Sunfactor and Spy Vs Spy before I got wind of them. Somewhere along a very fuzzy line I had bought ‘End Serenading’ and just fell in love with it straight away. My initial reaction was that I really dug the vocals. It was slow to mid paced pop music with this askew melancholic edge that kept pulling me in. But that voice, this guy was so obviously upset about something… I don’t know his name and I don’t need to but that singer guy, he was the real deal, he had almost as great a voice as Jeremy Enigk from SDRE but there was far more passion in the vocal delivery. I wanted to give him a cuddle.

A big plus with ‘End Serenading’ was that the bass lines were pretty easy to learn. I remember spending a night on my own figuring out each song track by track until I could play all of side one and then doing the same for the flip side. Don’t know why I did that. I’m not a bass player, but if I could do it then anyone could.

Every now and again somebody asks me what I think of their first album? They say it’s better, harder, even more emo. Well, I do have a copy of it but I never listen to it. The front cover is so awful that I refuse to give it a chance. If a band is going to take so little care about the way in which they present a record then I dread to think what the actual music is like.

‘End Serenading’ is the only emo album I still regularly listen to.

I can’t wait to see them play some of it live next year.

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Lewie Peckham (Bearded magazine/Is this thing on?)

I first heard Mineral through a Pop Unknown track on the second Emo Diaries compilation ‘A Million Miles Away’ (those titles) in ’98 and the sombre pace of ‘Writing it Down For You’ reminded me of Red House Painters (A favourite at the time and pretty much still to this day). I saw that Pop Unknown had ‘Ex-members of Mineral’ printed in the little catalog you got with every Deep Elm release and took a chance on a mail ordered copy of The Power of Falling and was hooked from the opening notes of ‘Five, Eight and Ten’ and by the time ‘Parking Lot’ faded out in a screech of feedback i was a devoted wreck and i still am 16 years later.

I can never listen to Mineral in the summer. Much like American Football I know when to break out The Power of Falling and EndSerenading and it’s not during July and august, save that for Something to Write Home About and Clarity. When that first hint of autumn hits you, be it a slight chill in the air that stays there all day or a walk through a park with its grass obscured by fallen brown leaves. That’s when you can find Mineral filling my ears, their songs tightly held in place by my headphones and just for me only, an exclusive club for one.

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Kristy Diaz (www.recordnotcommodity.co.uk)

When The Power of Failing was recorded in 1995, I lived in Austin, TX. Just 11 miles away from Music Lane Recording Studios, in fact. However, the first time I heard that record, like many Mineral fans I imagine, was around 10 years after its release. I mean, it’s probably for the best, I wouldn’t have ‘got’ it when I was 8. My main concern was looking for snakes in the front yard.
I don’t recall anyone introducing me to them, but I was listening to a lot of Sunny Day Real Estate that year so I guess it was just association. I have a bias toward the urgency and imperfection that comes with a band’s first record, so whilst EndSerenading was great in its own right, The Power of Failing was, and still is, my favourite. In terms of highlights, it would be hard not to mention the guitars in If I Could and the intro to Take The Picture Now, but, perhaps predictably, Gloria always stood out.
To be a dick and choose a song that they didn’t actually write as a favourite, I was always super into their cover of Crazy, from the split 7” with Jimmy Eat World and Sense Field. The guitars are interchangeably gorgeous and infuriating, but mostly I love it because it’s a bit silly, too.

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Kevin Duquette (Topshelf Records)

My earliest Mineral-related memory is having a bunch of records recommended to me after I had just recently discovered toe, Pele, Jimmy Eat World and American Football in high school. Mineral was in that bunch and I never quite made it to listening to it because — as a designer — I thought the album cover art was pretty awful (“The Power of Failing”) and chose to try many of the others first, eventually forgetting that one altogether. I went on a road trip that summer and a friend was DJing from the passenger seat, playing their albums over the car speakers. I eventually asked what it was we were listening to and realized I’d overlooked a pretty important band. I quickly remedied that when we got home.

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Morten Andre Samdal (Youth Pictures Of Florence Henderson)

I grew up being a skatepunkdude in the mid 90s (still am!), and me and my friends had this band. While the others listened to mostly fast punkrock, I looked for something a bit different. I tried my way through britpop, grunge and some other straight forward rock bands, but nothing really hit as hard as the fast paced melodic punkrock I loved. Not until I bought a bunch of records, with bands like Hot Water Music, Mineral, Alkaline Trio, Christie Front Drive and Jimmy Eat World, if I remember it correctly. Mineral was life changing. The record I first got was The Power of failing, and it hit me in the guts. The tender melodies wrapped in distorted raw guitars, and the way Chris Simpson dragged the words much longer than I ever thought was possible – I’d never heard anything like it. I got the other guys in the band to give it a listen, but they just laughed and said it was music for pussies. Not long after my band parted ways, and I started an emo-band. Mostly because of Mineral, I guess!
While bands like JEW, HWM and Alkaline Trio just got worse and worse over the years, Mineral and CFD were smart and disbanded, like a real emo band should do 😉 To this day, these two are my favourite 2nd generation emo bands, and I still listen to them regularly. I am so coming to London in February (hope they play that song).

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James Benwell (Fan)

I found Mineral through The Gloria Record and I found TGR through the guy working downstairs at Tempest Records (R.I.P) in Birmingham. It’s been a 15 year love affair that hasn’t faded. The rawness of The Power of Failing still sounds as visceral as ever and EndSerenading became the soundtrack to my winter nights, and made me wish it was winter the rest of the year round.
They’ve always touched a chord lyrically. Stories of love, the beauty in the world around us, and then songs like MD, perhaps a precursor to the likes of the latest Empire! Empire! album; so personal, so simple, yet so heart wrenchingly beautiful when told over a soundtrack that can make you feel like you want to tell everyone you know that you love them, or to fall in love just so you can find some words of your own.
I never thanked the guy at Tempest, I wish that I had. He’s the reason that I’m not deaf at 31 to the sound of the greatest band that i’ll ever got to hear.

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Gary Sleith (Good post day records)

I first heard Mineral thanks to the (Don’t Forget To) Breathe compilation CD. I bought it from Amazon, and at the time I was heavily into a few of the bands on it, bands like Promise Ring, Knapsack, Hot Water Music & Fireside, but I had never heard of Mineral. For me, their track on the record, ‘Rubber Legs’ was a real Jerry Maguire ‘You had me at hello’ moment…5 seconds in I was hooked and by the time Chris Simpson sings “your boy is all alone tonight but i will never forget how you taught me to stand on these rubber legs and fight.” at the end I was head over heels. I bought EndSerenading online immediately and connected with it in a way that I had only done with one record up to that point; Clarity. My favourite song on it initially was ForIvadell but when I listen to it today, I’m always blown away by &Serenading(probably the influence of Alex!) but if I had to pick a favourite Mineral song, I would have to go with ‘February’ from their self-titled 7”. For me, that track perfectly encapsulates Mineral despite being perhaps one of their, for want of a better word, “heavier” tracks and to this day I use it as a benchmark for truly great emo music, up there with songs like ‘E. Texas Avenue’ ‘For Me This Is Heaven’ & ‘Never Meant’

Thank you so much for reading xx

Contact us: http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog, ittoblog@gmail.com, twitter @alex_itto @BonersaurJR

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ABOUT TIME 2, PECKHAM, NOV 16TH 2013

This is not a review in the traditional sense as I wasn’t able to stay for the whole day but I really wanted to write something about how good an experience attending About Time 2 was. Family commitments meant that staying the whole day wasn’t an option but having missed out on About Time last year I wanted to make sure I was there for as much as I could this time round and thanks to my incredibly supportive wife, Hannah, this was possible. It’s a real shame to have missed Joan of Arc and Joanna Gruesome but I’m so happy I got to spend most of the rest of the day there.

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About Time 2, the sequel to About Time, was a one day DIY festival that boasted the UK’s best emo/indie/experimental bands (as well as Italy’s finest screamo band, but we’ll come back to that in a mo). All dayer’s have provided me with some of my favourite gig going memories from the Hot Water Music all dayer at the Garage that also featured Discount, Spy vs Spy and the Autumn Year to the Converge all dayer that took place in a Scout hut in Canterbury and also featured November Coming Fire and the Break In. About Time 2 can now stand proudly with these memories as it was an incredibly enjoyable and exciting day of crazily good music. Like most live reviews I write I have to start by apologising for turning up late, I will always endeavour to get to shows on time but sometimes it’s completely out of my control. The reason this time was the task of getting Hannah and all our 4 kids to her best friends house in Peckham safely before I could head over to the show. I think we did pretty well to get there when we did but it did mean that I missed the first the first 3 bands and turned up just as Playlounge were playing their last notes. So apologies to Healing Powers, Mars to Stay and COP for not being there early enough to watch you play, from what I’ve read online you were all pretty, pretty good.

My comrade for the day was my good friend of many years, Tim. Tim is a music obsessive and some time DJ with incredibly eclectic taste taking in everything from Rockabilly to shoegaze but has never witnessed an “emo” show before. He was very excited to be coming and as he’s read this blog and knows just how passionate I am, he wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It was going to be interesting to see if he would be into any of the bands and what he’d make of the day as a whole, I jokingly told him that I imagine the next time I see him he’ll be sporting the plaid shirt with back pack look and complaining about all this revival rubbish and who knows, could happen because he seemed to as much fun there as I did.

The first band we saw were my good friends band Cosmic Thoughts, who had attracted a decent sized crowd upstairs on the second stage. Their off kilter, synth heavy, arty indie rock with straight up thumping bass lines and persistently infectious drum rhythms got a good percentage of the crowd shaking their hips. Like I’ve said before keep an eye out for these guys as they’ve definitely got an amazing record inside them waiting to burst out at some point in the future.

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After looking a look about, taking things in and catching up with some “internet friends” it was time to see one of the bands I was most excited about seeing, Carson Wells. With this set Carson Wells really set the bar high for all the other bands still to come later, amazingly tight and powerful post hardcore of the highest quality with some great banter thrown in between songs. If you think their LP is great (and it is) it really comes alive when they play live, I was blown away which ain’t bad for a band playing at 2 in the afternoon.

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We then caught the end of Blood Sport’s set, their fresh faced, experimental, Afro beats really caught Tim’s eye and ears for that matter. Then, due to a play being performed in the building, there was an extended break which we capitalised on by finding a greasy spoon cafe who dealt out very generous portions. After filling up all the bacon, eggs, beans and sausages we could manage (or liver in Tim’s case) we were back at the Bussey building hungry for some more live treats.

What greeted us next were We Came Out Like Tigers and a packed room of punters. Probably the best band on the bill to welcome in the evening, the sun had gone down and now the walls were full of a light display which gave their set an added eeriness to the the violin led screamo onslaught. Tim mentioned to me that this was the first moment of the day that it felt like we were part of something that was happening, witnessing an underground scene coming alive. And from here on in it was just band after band like clockwork over two stages. Having seen a band upstairs you would head downstairs to find a band waiting to play, no time wasted and this all added to the overall excitement of the day.

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I made sure that Tim and I were down the front in good time for the next band because I could sense something special was about to happen. Human Hands took to the stage and proved me right, I’d said earlier in the day that this was the band I was most excited about seeing and hoped Tim would see why. After their first song he leaned in to me and declared that what he’d just heard was “delicious!”, I couldn’t have put it any better myself. The room was absolutely packed and the atmosphere was more than electric as Human Hands delivered the performance of the day. Passionate and intense emo in the greatest 90s sense ending with the guitarist angrily throwing his guitar down and leaving a crowd with its collective jaws on the floor. Absolutely perfect!!

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How the hell do you follow that?? Well a change of tone and back upstairs to see Well Wisher get the party well and truly started with their energetic, hook laden emo rock. A great reception greeted them from a crowd that was lapping up what was on offer.

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Things were just getting better and better and this didn’t stop as we headed back downstairs. Plaids were next on the main stage, the crowd was ready and hungry and got exactly what they wanted from a band that is really coming into their own. Plaids worked the crowd to perfection with their shouty emocore not letting the ball drop for a millisecond. There was no way that they would be the weak link in an evening full of the best bands you could see in a day.

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The same could be said of the next band, the final band of the second stage Nai Harvest. A poor position dampened my enjoyment somewhat of their set which is a real shame as they sounded great. Opening with new songs at a festival is always a risky move but they seemed to pull it off and repaid the audiences commitment with some classics from their full length.

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The final band of the day for Tim and I were Italy’s finest, Raein. I’d missed their UK tour at the start of the year which I was very annoyed about and was so happy when it was announced that they’d be playing About Time 2. With the fact that we had to leave after Raein had played meant we were treating these guys like headliners, a role they fulfilled completely. Everything was right, their guitar tone, energy, passion and all else besides made their near hour long set pass by in no time at all. Finishing up with some older songs that sent the front half of the crowd in to a frenzy of flailing arms and with that came the first crowd surfers of the day, rising from the pit. A perfect end.

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And with that we left to go home, tired and extremely happy. Tim’s request to make sure we go again next year confirmed to me that he’d had as good a time as I had. We both agreed that Human Hands stole the show but aside from that it had, all in all, been a really incredible day with every band bringing their a-game. Zine & not heard/barely regal records/HOU project know how to throw a party, London you should count yourselves very lucky!!

Thanks for reading. Get in touch here or on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog or on twitter @alex_itto

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THE APPLESEED CAST LIVE IN CANTERBURY, OCT 2013

I’m not one for school reunions, I don’t really wanna be stuck in a room with people whose friend requests I’ve ignored on Facebook saying things like “Do you remember when we were at school and it was shit?”. When it was announced a few months ago that The Appleseed Cast were going to play Canterbury it felt like a bit of a school reunion but in the best possible way. Appleseed Cast are a really special band, who are much-loved by most of the local scene we had here back in the day. They played up the road in Margate 3 times between 1999 and 2002, these shows had such an impact they are still talked about to this day, the news that they were playing here again created a buzz of excitement with the old faithful across many social media outlets. It felt a lot like the old days, just with added technology and part of what made this autumn night in Canterbury so special was this reunion of sorts. Old friends, exchanging stories and having a laugh brought together by the love of a legendary band that played such a big part of our scene.

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I have to apologise to Cascade who opened the show as I turned up just as they were packing their equipment away, gigs seem to come with so many support bands these days and despite my best efforts I just can’t get there early enough. I’m sure they did a stellar job of opening up, if they were half as good as the next band, Cosmic Thoughts, then that would certainly be the case because they were superb. Mixing artful indie rock with beats that make you want to shake your behind definitely got the proceedings off to a great start. Cosmic Thoughts have been recording recently and I’ll make sure to post a link as soon as they have something available.

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Moose Blood were next up and received a great reception from their home town crowd. It’s only been a year since they played their first live show and they have come so far since, crazy to think what they may achieve in the next 12 months. Theirs was a concise set of songs that demand people to sing along to and many in the crowd were glad to oblige. The final support band of the night were Appleseed Cast’s touring support for across Europe, June Miller. Their engrossing post rock set the tone perfectly for what was about to come. June Miller produced a beautiful sound and their set was delivered with plenty of heart, even included some audience participation towards the end too which is always a nice touch.

It was then time for The Appleseed Cast and my excitement levels were through the roof. Bramleys, the venue for the show, is a really intimate wine bar with a low ceiling and vintage lamps providing mood lighting, It’s the perfect setting for seeing Appleseed Cast play again. The show was sold out and the assembled crowd had drawn in making a tight semi-circle around the band and they didn’t disappoint us one bit. The Appleseed Cast has always been a band with a consistently changing line up and now is no different. Their current line up, which was the line up for their latest album ‘Illumination Ritual’ fronted by the only remaining founding member Chris Crisci, have an amazingly youthful energy about them. The Appleseed cast have been around for about 15 years now and although there have been gaps in between records they’ve never split up although they may have changed quite a bit. This current line up seem to work really well together and although anyone watching my bad old man emo dancing will say that I was most active and excited during the older songs, it was the new material from ‘Illumination Ritual’ where they sounded at their best.
Apparently ‘Illumination Ritual’ came together in same way a Mike Leigh film does, hours of improvisation from the band as a whole honed in to the actual songs by Crisci, the band’s leader. It really works for them and the album is an incredible success, my favourite Appleseed Cast album since the formidable ‘Low Level Owl’ double epic. This writing style seems to have brought the band together as a live force, the interplay between the superb drums and bass on songs like ‘Cathedral Rings’ is spot on and leaves a lot of scope for the two guitarists to play with on top.

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Their set relied heavily on songs from the new record but that’s not to say that they didn’t play any of the old songs and the ones they did were superb choices. Discussions amongst some of my friends before the show had practically ruled out the possibility that they might play ‘Marigold and Patchwork’ and those predictions were true. I don’t mind really as I have seen them play it before and when they played it the first time they had played Margate it was one of the all time best moments from any show I’d ever been to. They instead chose to play some other definite fan favourites in the way of ‘Steps and Numbers’ and ‘On Reflection’ from Low Level Owl Vol One and ‘Forever longing the golden sunsets’ and ‘Fishing the sky’ from Mare Vitalis. The latter two really made the night for me and it was during one of those a friend of mine grabbed my shoulder and shouted in to my ear that he was so happy, a sentiment that really summed up the whole evening for me.

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A great indicator to how good Appleseed Cast were was when I was stood talking to friends after the show and checked the time, none of us could believe how late it was. Time had stood still that chilly night in old Canterbury town. I spoke to a couple of the band members briefly at the merch table before I left and mentioned that I was wearing the same t-shirt that I had bought from them the first time they played Margate in 1999. They seemed amused by this so I asked Chris Crisci if he remembered playing Margate, those amazing shows that still mean something, and his response was “Sure”. That was enough for me, I left the venue on a massive high with a huge grin on my face, got in my car and listened to ‘Illumination Ritual” full blast all the way home. A truly brilliant night!!

Thanks so much for reading

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Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate), Brighton 17/11/2012

I haven’t written anything for a couple of weeks and I kind of have an excuse for that. In fact the last thing I posted was an interview with Keith from Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) and if you haven’t already read that then do it now by clicking HERE. Back to the excuse, I’ve been sent a few things for review and this usually takes me some time to get through because I like to listen to something several times before I write about it. I have had the intention to get on and do this but all I’ve been wanting to listen to for the last few weeks has been Empire! Empire! The fact that I was about to go and see the band for the first time had got me just a little bit excited so I decided to sod everything else off and just indulge myself in their back catalogue until the time for the gig came.

I love Brighton, it’s an awesome city and always a great place to see a show. Plus my brother lives there so I can park for free which is a massive bonus. My good friend Paul and I made the 2 hour drive from Thanet down on a chilly and overcast Saturday evening in November and before long we were walking round like a pair of lost tourists trying to seek the venue out. The Green Door Store, as its name suggests, can be identified by its green door, with our combined brain power we worked this out and ventured in to the venue. The signs that this was going to be a great night were already there as soon as we entered as we took an instant liking to the place. It’s a charming venue situated underneath Brighton train station and we got there early so we could see every band on the five band bill.

First up were Summerslam 88, their lively pop punk seemed to go down really well with the early attendees which included the singers mum. My mum never came to any of my gigs, mainly because I never told her when we were playing. She would only have slagged it all off anyway, the guy from Summerslam 88’s mum seemed to really enjoy their set which was nice to see. Second on the bill were Me and Goliath who were extremely impressive, their short set of emotional hardcore reminded me of seeing Suis La Lune the first time. And they were loud, so loud that at one point during a wall of noise in the their last song I even had to take my coat off for fear of passing out. Any more of that and I’d be saying “Woah there fellas!”, luckily it didn’t come to that. Seriously though, I would love to see these guys play again and hopefully will one day. Then it was the turn of Gnarwolves. Judging by onstage banter and crowd reaction I was possibly the only person in the room to have never seen Gnarwolves before. I had read about them though and seen their name all over the place, I now know that this is due to the fact they can write pop punk songs with the best of them and cut it live too. I really liked seeing the crowd swell in size and voice during their set, they did an incredible job of warming everyone up for what was about to come.

Then it was time for The Reptilian to take things to the next level. I took my place at the front and expectations were high due in part to Tommy Royds from the great Zine and not heard, who I’d just met for the first time in the bar, telling me just how awesome they had been a couple of nights previous in London. And he was right. They won the crowd over instantly with their energy, off kilter rhythms and mind-blowing fret tapping. However good I get at the guitar I’ll never be as good as the guy from The Reptilian at fret tapping, I’ve made my peace with this now and can appreciate just how awe inspiringly good he was. The whole band played as tight as any band you’re likely to see and this topped by the fact that they have some really kick arse songs made their set memorable for all the right reasons.

Finally, it was Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate)’s turn to play. This was their last night of a 2 week tour of the UK and Ireland and there seemed to be a real party atmosphere in the air as they played through their set. They seemed to be genuinely touched by the response they had gotten over here and repaid us with a set full of some of their best songs. The sound was incredible too all the way through their set, from the sweet interlocking guitars at the start of ‘Turbo Stasis’ to the massive full band rock of ‘Keep what you have built up here’. That second song I mention there whipped the crowd in to a frenzy of vocals and pointed fingers which reminded me of why I love going to see bands play so much. I’ve said this before and I’ll no doubt say this again, I feel so lucky that there are bands like E!E!(IWALE) out there right now playing this sort of music to crowds full of like-minded people. I wouldn’t have believed it possible 7 or 8 years ago when I’d become so jaded that I was starting to think that music was a write off. I can now go and see of my current favourite emo bands and there is a brilliant turn out, amazing atmosphere and a real energy about the scene. This makes me so happy which kind of takes away from the misery of liking emo music but , oh well, I’m sure I’ll get over that.

And if it isn’t enough that Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) are blowing us away already with their beautiful noise they also come with added extras. Because the band has only 2 permanent members (Keith and Cathy) this means that when touring they need to have back up musicians come with them and when said back up musicians include Warren Franklin then that can only be seen as a massive bonus to us fans. Especially when, during the set, he swaps his bass for a guitar and takes up lead vocal duties as the band play his song ‘You get weary’. Warren Franklin’s voice is incredible, hearing his voice live is a real treat and a definite highlight of the night. This treat then continues when Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) go to play their last song. ‘An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral’, the closing song of their full length lp ‘What it takes to move forward’, has to be one of my favourite Empire! Empire! songs and would be my choice as the perfect song for them to play last. So, as they play through the opening bars of the song I start to get excited. This then escalates when I realise Warren Franklin will be singing the gorgeous backing vocals at the end. It’s every bit as perfect as you can imagine and an awesome way to finish their set and their UK tour as a whole.

It was an unforgettable show, it totally lived up to the massive expectations which I had placed upon it. I hope they go home and tell every other band on the Count your lucky stars roster to get themselves over here asap. Although if they do I can say with some certainty that they won’t be recommending American Airlines as a means of transport. Upon arrival in the UK, Keith discovered his Gibson Les Paul had the headstock snapped even though it was in a flight case marked fragile. Luckily, someone lent him a guitar for the tour and even managed to fix his by the last show. You could see how happy Keith was to be playing on his own guitar at last, but this happiness was short-lived because on arrival back in America he found that the same airline had done the same thing to his guitar. There is a lesson here for us all. American Airlines don’t seem to be forthcoming with any sort of apology or compensation so please join the many others already doing so and hassle them on every social media outlet until they agree to do something about it.

Me with Keith and Cathy

Thanks for reading guys!!!

To stream/download songs by Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) click HERE

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Football, etc.

This post accompanies a post about Joie De Vivre, if you haven’t read it then click HERE to do so.

If you have read many of my older posts then you will know how much I bang on about how stupidly bad my back has been. I’m aware that it is annoying to keep mentioning it but here goes anyway. Much earlier this year I was awaiting my second operation on my spine and wasn’t able to do very much apart from annoy my good lady wife and make lots of ouchy noises. And also be overly jealous of anybody that was able to just go out and about in a normal manner. A friend on facebook updated their status with the fact that he’d been to see Football, etc and that it was brilliant. Predictably I was instantly envious and cemented that by going on to read on various sites about how brilliant their whole tour had been. Great! I thought, another band I’ve missed out on seeing. Luckily though, they didn’t waste much time in returning to our fair Isle. There were touring the UK with Joie De Vivre and I wasn’t going to miss out on this one.

There was such an incredible atmosphere in the venue that night. This was last friday (6th July) at Sticky Mikes Frog Bar in Brighton. Maybe it was just my excitable fanboy disposition that was giving me this impression but there did seem to be a real buzz about the place. The singer of Holland, the band on before Football, Etc had mentioned during their set about how amazing Football, Etc had been when they payed the Albert in Brighton on their last UK tour, so I knew there was a lot of expectation in the audience. Again, they didn’t disappoint and, if anything, surpassed any expectations that I had.

Playing a set that included songs from their full length, ‘The Draft’, and some new songs that featured on a split cassette with Square Business, which I’ll mention again in a moment, their gorgeous indie emo sound came over perfectly. They played tight as a group which was to their credit as their drummer on the night wasn’t their usual drummer and just a stand in for this tour. Not that you could tell though as they sounded like they’d been playing together for years. The newer songs were exciting as they showcased a band with a knack of writing consistently enjoyable songs and hinted at the fact that another full length from them will be just as brilliant as thir last one. Everything about the set was enjoyable, from watching the band having a great time to watching Brandon from Joie De Vivre looking annoyed to be having to hold a lead in place at the back of Lindsay Minton’s amp so her guitar wouldn’t keep cutting out.

Football, etc ended their set just as I’d hoped they would by playing ‘Safety’. A few months ago you may have read that I posted the Is This Thing On? top 100 emo songs of all time, ‘Safety’ came in at number 89, which having listened to that song a lot since publishing the list seems to do the song a bit of an injustice. It’s not only my favourite Football, etc song, it’s also one of my favourite songs of the last couple of years. The chorus is unbeatably perfect and seeing them play the song live seemed to heighten my admiration. The song begins with a really simple yet catchy guitar melody, having the full crowd in Brighton that night singing along to that bit made the hairs on the back of my neck stand tall. Add that to the fact that Lindsay Minton’s voive sounds as incredible live as it does on record and getting to see Joie De Vivre dancing along deliriously at the side of the stage made it a very special moment. It left me with a smile I found very hard to get rid of. Especially when after the show I spoke to Lindsay whilst buying a Football, Etc T-shirt and mentioned the list to which she replied that she had already seen it and was very flattered, woop!!

I also got myself a copy of the split cassette that I mentioned earlier. I love that bands are releasing cassettes again now, I am hoping to rectify the fact that I don’t currently own a tape player very soon. Luckily it came with a download code so I could enjoy the music straight away. And enjoy it I do. The split is 3 songs each and is definitley worth trying to get a copy of. The Football, etc side is pure Football, etc. 3 songs that totally live up to their full length. The first song, ‘Hut 1’, begins with a dreamy emo guitar riff with full band backing it up which then turns in to a verse which is catchy as hell. From then it doesn’t stop getting better. ‘Hut 3’ starts with bit more pace to it but turns out to deliver slower, dreamier parts that are equally as good. Their side of the split is then rounded off nicely with the laid back, ‘Hike’. The other side is my introduction to Square Business and I have to say that my first impression is a really good one. What starts out with some nice jangly, lo-fi emo paves the way for some really good grunge rock. Being a fan of grunge and emo makes this particularly appealing, Daylight are another band who really succesfully marry these two genres together and I love that band so Square Business are in good company. I will definitley be on the lookout for more from them in the near future.

If you missed on seeing Football, etc on this tour then I hope for your sakes they come back soon, they seem to really enjoy it over here so here’s hoping. In the mean time check out the split, you can stream the Football, etc half of the split HERE.

Just started a facebook page for this blog, come and say hi www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Mikee/Living Well Productions for the live photos.

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PRAWN, Folkestone 15.06.2012

Now that my back is starting to feel more normal, or as normal as it’s likely to feel after 19 months of pain, painkillers and operations, I am able to get out and see bands again. I’m now seeing flyers for shows and getting excited rather than frustrated at my predicament. A show I’d been really excited to go to since it was announced months ago was Prawn and Ape up! being put on by Box Social in Folkestone. This excitement was then vastly increased when Alex, the promoter, arranged for me to be able to interview Ape up! before the show.

If you’ve read my review of Ape Up!’s latest record, Kemosabe, (if not you can read it HERE) then you’ll know why I was excited. The band are awesome. But then a couple of days before the gig some really bad news broke. Matt, the singer, had had a really serious accident whilst in Poland and was in hospital. Ape Up! obviously had to cancel the rest of the tour. But Prawn had made the decision to continue and play the remaining dates, which meant they were still coming to the UK, which meant that I was definitely gonna make the hour long drive to Folkestone to support them.

As there were only going to be 2 bands playing the sensible decision was made to put the bands on after the football had finished. England were playing Sweden in the Euro’s and sometimes it’s easier to not try and compete. It turned out to be a great move as the result, plus the disbelief that an England team could score a goal like they did for their third, added to the overall enjoyment of the night.

First up were local band Yes We Canada who played a short set of noisy punk with a big heap of pop for good measure. It was the first time I had ever seen the band and I really enjoyed their set and it seemed the rest of the crowd felt the same. A young band full of youthful energy is hard not to like and they had enough hooks and melody to back it up. Impressive stuff, even when they finished a song early because of a mistake it kind of added to their charm.

Then it was the turn of Prawn to take the stage. I’m a really big fan of Prawn, they play a classic, Low Level Owl (minus the weird bits) era Appleseed Cast type of emo and they do it well. A good crowd had started to assemble but there seemed to be problems. The power in the venue kept cutting out and time was getting on, it started to look like Prawn weren’t going to be able to play. Luckily they managed to sort the problems out, although not without having to sacrifice some effects pedals and a good chunk of their bass sound. The problems were later blamed on the wrong power converters given to them in Holland, that added to what had happened to Ape up! in Poland and Prawn were starting to take a dislike to some of Europe. Thankfully the goodwill of the crowd kept them positive enough to still entertain us with their beautiful songs. They opened with ‘At dawn we left’, the opening song from their full length, ‘You can just leave it all’, which still sounded gorgeous despite the lack of bass and distortion pedals. Maybe it was the added relief that they were actually playing which made Prawn sound all the more sweet. The only downside with their set was, due to the problems they had be encountering which meant that they started late, it was a bit too short. They only played 4 songs, which wasn’t their fault and was one more than they could have done with the threat of being chucked out by the venue after they had finished their second song. They sneaked in a fourth before accepting the fact they would have to stop, in their own words they didn’t want to be “punched in the face by some English bloke”. During the short set we were treated to a new song which sounded as consistent and great as their older stuff and they finished with ‘Arctic Foxes’ at the request of someone in the audience which went down a storm.

There was a great atmosphere in the venue that night and although the set was short Prawn still managed to blow me away. Short sets can sometimes be a blessing anyway, I hate bands that outstay their welcome and play for far too long, not that Prawn would have done that. A short, sharp set can be just what is needed, leave ’em wanting more as the old showbiz saying goes. I do hope they come back to the UK soon though. They still have a few dates left in Europe so go see them if you can.

And to Ape Up! I really hope all is ok and you manage to get safely home. I managed to speak to Roland from the band afterwards. He had stayed on with Prawn to do the merch and sell some Ape Up! stuff too. He was so super nice, sadly I had nothing with me to interview him so hopefully I’ll get to do that another way soon. He also gave great advice on size and colour when deciding what T-shirt to go for, a man of many talents.

Me (with full on geeky fanboy grin) and Roland after the show

Next up on the gig front is Joie De Vivre and Football, etc in Brighton this July, very very excited about this one. Some more reviews and other things will be posted soon. Thanks for reading xx

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