Tag Archives: London

The week. 30/11/14

Hello. Welcome back. First off, let me just apologise for not posting anything for what seems like an eternity. The main reason for this being a lack of free time to write, kids have been poorly/had chicken pox which all takes its toll. Other reasons I’ll go into in a moment. But I wanted to start by saying, after much consideration, I’ve decided to adopt a different approach to writing this blog. The old way just wasn’t productive enough.

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So, what I’ve come up with is this, The Week. Every week, usually on a Sunday, I’ll post a summary of what’s happened in the week. Music I’ve been listening to, gigs that have happened, comments on news and announcements that you may have missed in the preceding 7 days. As the old adage goes, a week is a long time in emo, or words to that effect. So instead of waiting to write lengthy reviews etc.. and falling behind this will be a great way to stay up to date. It’ll give me the chance to write about more things too, music/gigs/news I may not have found time to write 1000 words about will find space here. I’ll still write proper reviews, do interviews and post all the usual stuff you’d see here before. This will just be a positive addition to all that to keep regularly updated and in touch with everyone.

That’s the boring bit out-of-the-way so now we can crack on, thanks for you patience!!

First up, I just wanna take you back to the start of the month when Is This Thing On? staged its second gig of the year/all time. It was an honour to welcome Reiziger to the West Track studios practice space in Canterbury for an amazing show. I have been a fan of Reiziger since the late 90s, when I first listened to them as a teenager in my friend’s bedroom I couldn’t have imagined that 16ish years later I would finally get to see them play live and that they would be dedicating my favourite Reiziger song (Waitingday) to my 10-year-old son Louis, who I had working the door that night. They were the nicest guys and received a warm welcome from the West Track faithful.

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REIZIGER

 
This was the 4th show in 4 weeks at this tiny, DIY, space and was a great example of how the local music scene in East Kent is becoming as vibrant again as it ever was. The whole night was packed with excellent bands who didn’t disappoint one bit. 2 of my favourite local bands kicked things off, Kind Eyes brought the riffs and Pax Indigo packed in the emotion before Kinshot, who had made the drive down from London just in time, blasted everyone away with noise and energy. What a night!!

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Kind Eyes

 

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Pax Indigo

 

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Kinshot

 

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Louis the doorman

 

Staying locally, this week saw the exciting opening of Kent’s newest and also best record shop. After months of hard work and persistence our good friends and all round best guys, George and Nat, took their burgeoning record label, Hot Salvation, and have expanded in to a beautiful shop set in the confines of an old hotel on Folkestone’s Rendezvous street. It’s a great space, selling both new and second-hand records from a myriad of genres, including massive punk/hardcore and alternative sections. Not only this they are also serving top quality coffee and a section that stocks beautifully designed home and lifestyle products from the likes of Naked Lunge and Donna Wilson.

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Hot Salvation

 

Had it not been for Christmas coming up my wife Hannah and I would’ve spent a small fortune, which is something we’ll definitely be doing there in the coming months but apart from picking up a few Christmas presents and downing some delicious coffee I treated myself to the new Fugazi release, ‘First Demo’. It was one of many brand new Dischord records on offer in store and I just couldn’t resist. More on that record next week. In the meantime get to Folkestone and see the shop for yourself, failing that they also have a nice looking webstore up and running, check it out HERE

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‘First Demo’

 

Another reason for me falling behind on this blog is a big feeling of late that the latest wave of emo, that I’ve written so much about for the last 3 years, is coming to an abrupt end. There have been so many dud releases this year (Dads/You Blew It/Somos) that I’ve found myself listening more and more to older bands and getting less and less excited about what’s happening right now. The latest nail in the coffin is the really disappointing new record from Pianos Become The Teeth. It seems really weird and depressing to even have to write that sentence after all the amazingly positive things that I’ve written about them in the past. You can’t take anything away from their, until now, faultless back catalogue and the experience of seeing them live for the first time when they played my hometown of Margate,  which ranks highly amongst the best gigs I’ve ever attended.

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‘Keep You’

But, ‘Keep You’, their latest album released via Epitaph last month is just a bit….well, boring. There are some nice enough songs and Kyle Durfey’s voice still sounds as haunting as ever, but 5 songs in to the record you’re still waiting for something to happen, something to kick in and it just never does. The power they once had is all lost, the drums that were once hit so hard they made my chest hurt watching them live just plod along and it all just gets lost going nowhere. Massive, massive shame.

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Did you get an American Football ticket? You can’t have possibly missed the news that the band are making their way to the UK for the first time next May. What was originally announced as 3 dates but expanded to more after the original tickets sold out within 20 minutes. Which is crazy!! I’ll see you in London on the 2nd night if you’re there.

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To sign off this week I will leave you with the fact the Pearl Jam’s classic 3rd album ‘Vitalogy’ turned 20 years old this week. It is still one of my favourite records of all time and I’ve had a great time revisiting the first 4 PJ records this week on my drives to work. Here is them playing ‘Not For You’ on Saturday Night Live in 1994.

Thanks for reading. Stay in touch. http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog, @alex_itto, ittoblog@gmail.com

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27.07.2013 A GOOD DAY TO BE ‘MO

Some days are just destined to be perfect, where everything comes together completely as it should and leaves you feeling as high as a kite about how wonderful life can sometimes be. Some days will stay with you forever, days you’ll find yourself on a dull, wet afternoon in the future daydreaming about, wishing you could be back there. On paper the 27th of July 2013 looked pretty damn good, in reality it was fucking incredible.

Everyone knows how much I love Football, Etc, last year I drove down to Brighton to see them play with Joie De Vivre and was blown away. A few months ago I was lucky enough to interview them for this blog and asked them about future UK tour plans. After we spoke I looked up the dates to make sure I could go and, as luck would have it, realised they were playing London on the 27th of July. My birthday! Yes!! I punched the air with joy at the thought of spending my birthday in London watching one of my favourite bands.

Going to this show was set in stone until a couple of weeks later Braid decided to throw a spanner in the works. I had seen that there was a campaign to get Braid to play in the UK and now it was actually going to happen and happen it was on the 27th of July!! Dilemma time, do I travel to London and spend my birthday watching one of my current favourite bands for the 2nd time or do I go and see one of the most legendary emo bands of all time for the first time playing an absolute classic album in its entirety??? Luckily in the end this was a decision I never had to make thanks to some genius thinking by Tommy/Zine and not heard who were putting on the Football, Etc. show. After an initial idea of making that show a Braid after party it was announced that the Football, Etc show was going to be a matinée and would finish before the Braid show started. And not only that it was going to be in the Buffalo Bar, a venue directly opposite the Garage where Braid were playing. Phew!

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The day finally arrived and after a morning of being spoilt by my wife and kids with a cooked breakfast and a stack of new records I set off on the train to London. Since I started this blog I have made some really good friends on twitter/Facebook etc.. with some lovely, like-minded folk who are all as nuts about emo as I am. My kid, Louis, refers to these people as my ‘e-friends’ and it was them I was going to be spending this day with. Turns out not everyone you meet online is a crazy psycho-sex pest like my mum always warned me they would be, in fact they were really bloody amazing people. We met up, shook hands, acknowledged how extremely hot it was in that there London and off we went for a whole day of ‘mo.

We turned up to the Buffalo Bar just in time to catch the last few moments of Wrestling, a shame really as the seemed really good. Next on were Doe, who despite the setback of having to spend most of their set restringing a guitar whilst listing their favourite paedophiles (you had to be there), played an enjoyable set of grunge pop. The show really kicked in to gear when the next band, Plaids, took to the stage. I was very excited to see this band, I’d heard that they were great live and I was already a fan of their recorded output so in my mind they couldn’t fail and fail they did not. Plaids bring it like any great punk band should, an abundance of energy and quality post-hardcore that really drew the crowd in, which by this time had swollen in size to pack the venue out. Plaids seem to tour a lot so I would highly recommend taking any chance to catch one of their shows.

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By the time Football, Etc took to the stage the venue must’ve been at capacity, I’m judging this by the fact that there were people crowded all the way up the stairs that lead in to the venue and the almost unbearable heat that came from being near the front. The reception they got was every bit as warm and was thoroughly deserved. Football, etc are the definitive indie emo band, a band who seemed to bring with them a new confidence that made them an even better live band than what they were last year. Maybe it was the addition of a new drummer or just the knowledge that they were on the verge of releasing a brilliant new album (an album which I will get round to writing about very soon), that was giving them this air of confidence. Usually a band who plays mainly new material that the majority of the crowd would be unfamiliar with would have a hard time getting the crowd on their side but this didn’t seem to be a problem at all. The fact they looked genuinely happy to be here and even played a song that stated this to be true made it impossible not to love their short but very excellent set. This first show of the day came to an end with Football, etc playing the mighty ‘Safety’. ‘Safety’ is one of the best songs of the last 5 years and live it takes on a whole new life of its own. The reaction from everyone present made the hair on my neck stand tall, the whole place was filled with the noise of a crowd singing in unison to not only the lyrics but also the opening guitar melody. Things got even better when Tommy Royds stormed the stage and gave Mercy from the band no option at all but to partake in some crowd surfing, Bass VI in hand, she was held aloft as the song was coming to its amazing climax and with that the show was finished leaving everyone in attendance suitably blown away.

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This would normally be enough for one day, but after a short break for some dinner we were in line at the Garage ready for the 2nd show of the day to begin. Once in and after eyeing up some more merch we made our way to the front ready to be blown away all over again. Up first on this 2nd show were a band that I’ve spent many an hour writing obscenely nice things about on this blog, Crash Of Rhino’s. If you haven’t read my review of Crash of Rhino’s new album then let me summarise by saying that I pretty much proclaimed it to be the best album of the last 10 years, a statement I still stand by. I had never seen them play live and I was probably more excited than a kid on Christmas morning as I stood waiting for them to come on, when they arrived and started playing ‘Everything Is’ quickly followed by ‘Interiors’ I realised that this was better than Christmas. I was watching one of the best bands this genre we call emo has ever produced and they were absolutely killing it. Crash of Rhino’s are a uniquely special and supremely talented band, they sounded incredibly huge that night and the joy of watching them play, swap instruments and take turns at singing is hard to convey by mere words. I’d show you by performing an illustrative dance but y’know, bad back and all that.

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I did start to wonder in the middle of Crash Of Rhino’s set if Braid had shot themselves in the foot by getting such an amazing band to open for them. But these thoughts were laid to rest as soon as Braid launched in to the opening song off ‘Frame & Canvas’, the classic ‘The New Nathan Detroits’. However good Crash Of Rhino’s were, this was Braid. BRAID!!! ‘Frame & Canvas’ is the stuff of legend, an album that hasn’t dated or lost any of its vast charm in the 15 years since it was released and Braid were here to play in full. As soon as Braid started the crowd were whipped in to a frenzy, pointed fingers were everywhere, every lyric was being screamed back at the band. The energy inside the Garage was palpable, Braid appeared to be really responding to this wave of adulation by giving it their all, in spite of the soaring temperatures. The only thing that nearly spoilt proceedings was some nasty sound issues, horrible feedback from one of the mics marred the end to ‘..Nathan Detroits’. Thankfully this was sorted quite quickly. It was so fantastic to be watching Braid play live at last. I can’t really work out why I hadn’t seen them the first time round and this more than making amends for that.

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By ‘Breathe In’ I gave in to the heat and retreated to the back of the venue to get some water and have a bit of a breather. I made the decision to watch the rest of the show from here which I do slightly regret because the atmosphere was a lot less intense at the back. It was so freakishly hot inside the Garage that night that getting some refreshment was probably the right thing to do and I was still able to really enjoy the encore. After Braid had played ‘Frame and canvas’ in its entirety they played a selection of fan favourites like ‘Please Drive Faster’, ‘Forever Got Shorter’ and ‘What a wonderful puddle’ as well as the two songs from the split they recently released with Balance & Composure. This led them on to say that a new album will be on its way, hopefully this will mean another tour too. Fingers crossed.

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What a day!! It will definitely remain one of my highlights of 2013 and a benchmark to measure all future birthdays against. I feel bad for you if you weren’t there, I’d like to say there’ll be days to come that will rival the 27th of July 2013 but I can’t picture there will be many. Just perfect!!

Thanks for reading. Feel free to get in touch on facebook www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog or on twitter @alex_itto

Couldn’t find any videos of the London show but here is a video of Braid playing in Leeds on the same tour

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Sigur Ròs – INNI

If you read my last post you’ll know how excited I’ve been getting about the Fugazi live series, but there has been another ‘live’ release in recent weeks that is worth getting excited about. An altogether very different release to the Fugazi one.

Sigur Rós have released ‘Inni’. ‘Inni’ is one part concert film, two parts live album which was recorded over two nights at the Alexandra Palace in London back in November 2008. I, along with my sister in law Rachel, was lucky enough to have attended the 2nd of the two nights. So I feel in some way that this is a gift for us from the band, but it’s obviously so much more.

Sigur Ròs are a very special band. A band that have never compromised their vision of how they want to sound. Their music is unique and beautiful, they make movies in your mind every time you listen. Even the overuse of their music as background to numerous tv shows and adverts hasn’t taken anything away from them. On record they sound so ethereal and other worldly that it’s hard to imagine them playing the songs live without feeling that something will be lost in the transition. And the fact that it doesn’t is part of the reason that seeing them live is indeed very special.

The other part is that they have thought every last detail of their performance through. Their show is part theatre, part art installation and part rock show. Even the choice of venue seemed to play a part in the experience. Alexandra Palace isn’t the kind of venue that would suit any band. I have a very good friend who hated seeing the White Stripes there. But it worked with Sigur Ròs. Everything from the drive up the long, winding hill that overlooks London to seeing the shadows of the band shooting up the large Walls at the side added to the evening.
The set gave the show it’s theatrical feel. A huge sheet hung at the back of the stage which at various points would have images of the band playing mixed with films and then when backlit would reveal 7 large floating orbs which would then at various points have things projected on. There was also a real waterfall, ticker tape showers and a snow storm.

The film itself is also very unique. Unless you were there live concert films can sometimes feel a bit unnecessary, but Sigur Ròs being Sigur Ròs have produced something different. The show was filmed from a number of various angles on HD. This was then transferred to 16mm film and projected onto a big screen which was then itself filmed, then filmed again sometimes through prisms and other objects. The whole of the live footage is also in black and white. This gives the film a mysterious atmosphere and an old fashioned look. The process combined with how the band look makes the film look like footage of people from the turn of the 20th century. The way really old film made people seem a lot different to us now, with jerky movements and serious faces.

The fact, as well, that the footage or, even, sound of the audience in attendance is very limited sets this apart from a conventional live film. Usually if a band puts out a live DVD then it’s all about the crowd and how they react. On this you barely see the audience apart from some footage of some of the crowd looking at the stage after Sigur Ròs have finished. Each song is also broken up with unrelated footage of the band at various stages in their career, playing live or being interviewed or just hanging out which serves nicely to break up the show and keep your interest going to the end.

The accompanying two disc live album gives you more of the songs they played and is recorded perfectly. This could be served as a kind of greatest hits as the track list does span the bands career. I don’t think the live album works as well as the film but if you are already a big fan then it’s certainly worth checking out.

The film is a must though. The thrill of seeing the four members come together at the start of ‘Sæglópur’, a song that never fails to make the hair on the back of my neck stand tall, to then see them break away and a sheet of water pour from the ceiling when the heavy bit comes in is amazing. The way ‘Inni’ is filmed and presented is clever and makes it watchable time and again. Seeing little details like Jónsi thrashing his guitar with a violin bow and then singing into his guitar pick up for a different effect during ‘Svefn-g-englar’ is also a great joy.

There are parts of the show that I remember really enjoying that are only glimpsed at, like when they were joined onstage by the brilliant support band ‘For a minor reflection’ who added drums to ‘Gobbledigook’. It would have been nice to have had that properly included but that’s just a minor gripe on my part.

But one of the big highlights that I always think of when I remember the show is in the film right at the end. For a show that had already featured so much it was hard to imagine how they would end it. ‘Lúppulagid’ is a haunting song that seems to build up forever, as the song nears it’s conclusion a barrage of White ticker tape is unleashed powered on by strong fans making it seem like an almighty snow storm. Seeing the band struggle against the wind combined with the dramatic end to the song is something that will stay with me for a long time.

If you’ve already seen the film, let me know what you thought of it. Cheers, as always, for reading. xx

Click HERE to view the trailer for INNI.

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