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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.

cosmic thoughts

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!!

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TIGERS JAW, CANTERBURY 02.08.2013

What an unbelievable week it has been, last Saturday I got to see Braid, Crash Of Rhinos, Football etc and Plaids at two separate back to back shows in London. I will write in-depth about how incredible that day was very soon but first I have to tell you about what happened last night in Canterbury.

I’ve never been to a ‘secret show’ before, I’ve certainly read about them happening but only after the event. I also never really understood how people found out about them, I always put it down to being in the right place at the right time. And that certainly is the case here. I found out that the show might happen about 6 days before as it was a very, very good (and awesome) friend of my wife and I, who is also very close friends of the band, who was putting it on. I surprised myself by keeping it a secret, when you get news like this the first instinct is to tell everyone who might even slightly care but I wanted to keep my word and also I didn’t want to jinx that fact that it might happen as it was still not a certainty until a couple of days before the show.

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The show was announced on the Thursday afternoon, the day before it was due to take place and the reaction was immense. Tigers Jaw mean a lot to a lot of people, earlier this year 3 of the members left the band throwing the whole future of the band up in the air but here they were, about to tour the UK and to kick it off were about to headline a show in a tiny practice studio in Canterbury with a capacity of 50 people. It was really exciting to spread the word and see the reaction the announcement was getting. Some people were in disbelief, some were busy changing plans just so they could get there and some seemed genuinely upset that they had no way of attending. On the walk up to the venue my excitement had reached fever pitch, I couldn’t wait to find out what was happening, had far too many people showed up? Were we gonna be left on the street and not allowed in? Had it all backfired and was no-one there?

The power of Tigers Jaw had pulled through, there was more people there than was first allowed but there was enough space to fit everyone in, the place was going to be packed but no-one was going to miss out. The atmosphere there when we first turned up was amazing, the weather was good, everyone was happy, friends were giving us hugs and the first band were already playing, this was really happening.

First up were Cascade, a new local band who made up for the lack of songs by playing what they had with heart and sincerity. This was their first gig, they are also lined up to play with Appleseed Cast in October, this band knows how to party. I only caught their last 2 songs but that was enough to get my interest up and they are certainly worth checking out. Click HERE to go to their bandcamp page!

Next up were local heroes Moose Blood. Everyone loves Moose Blood, how could you not?? Quality songs that are made for you to sing along to with both hands in the air. Things are really happening for this band, they had already supported Lemuria this week and you could see how excited they were to be here tonight. Their set was short but perfectly formed, they had the crowd singing along by the end and dealt well with the ever-increasing heat inside this tiny room. As the practice space is in a residential area the doors and windows had to be kept shut and the air conditioning could do nothing to battle the heat. Everyone was sweaty but we were all in the same boat so I don’t think anyone really cared. Plus one of the best bands in the world currently playing were about to come on so I was hardly about to start complaining.

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After Moose Blood finished most of the crowd did the sensible thing of leaving to get some much-needed fresh air, my wife Hannah and I decided to stay put and watch Tigers Jaw set up. The two remaining original members of the band are some of the nicest people you’re likely to meet, chatting and having a laugh with them then watching them set up makes you remember why you love this scene so much. Here was a band that my whole family (my kids fucking love this band) have listened to relentlessly for the last couple of years about to play live, right in front of us with no stage, barriers, security, arrogance, attitudes or anything like that. It was as if a friends band had come to play and add that to the already party like atmosphere there was no way we were about to be disappointed.

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We took our place at the very front, the room filled up and Tigers Jaw kicked off with ‘The Sun’, the first track from their legendary self-titled LP. They sounded huge, the remaining air in the venue was immediately taken up by the whole crowd shouting along to every word and it was HOT. You could put this down to it being the middle of summer, a tiny room packed with people and no open windows or doors but I’m going to put it down to Tigers Jaw being on fucking FIRE. As soon as they started I was reminded that this was obviously not a local friends band playing but instead a band worthy of the love and all the praise that people shower them with, they sounded perfect. Which is also amazing considering that this current touring line up had only played for the first time together the day before, they practiced on the Thursday and then for a short while on the Friday before the show but were playing together as if they had been doing it for years. The vacant spaces were being filled by two members of Basement and one from Sainthood Reps and although I’ve never been lucky enough to see Tigers Jaw before it did feel like life was being injected into their live show, every member looked so happy to be playing and that really came across to us in the audience.

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Second, they played on of my favourite Tigers Jaw songs, ‘Distress Signal’, and from here on you could see that it was going to be a kind of ‘greatest hits’ set. Playing a lot of songs from the two full length studio albums but also mixing in a couple of fan favourites from splits and comps and also a brand new song. Yes, that’s right, a BRAND NEW SONG and as vocalist/guitar hero Ben Walsh stated before they played it that it would be from their BRAND NEW ALBUM which will come out at some point soon. This is the best news to hear for people like me who had assumed that the band would be no more after this tour. On first listen to the new song that it’s clear that the new album will be classic Tigers Jaw and it really can’t come out soon enough.

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This is one of the best shows I’ve ever been to, every song was killer, Ben and Brianna’s voices sounded beautiful and the music was loud, just like the crowds vocals that were being hollered back at the band. The band took a short break towards the end of the set to replace a broken snare drum and most of those in attendance took the opportunity to head outside and cool down. After this short break Tigers Jaw finished an incredible night with ‘Plane vs Tank vs Submarine’ followed quickly with ‘I Saw Water’ and the brief fresh air seemed to rejuvenate the crowds voice as they sang along louder than they had all evening. It was a perfect ending to a completely perfect show.

Tigers Jaw are a really special band and they mean a lot to my family. My youngest son Thurston has severe autism with a speech disorder among other physical disabilities, when it came time to send him to school the infant school Thurston’s 2 older brothers had attended told us in no uncertain terms that they would not be able to cope with him going there. As such, we had to find somewhere else for him get his education and this also meant that he wouldn’t be able to walk with his brothers on the school run. Instead I would have to drive him to his school and it was during these times that he started to really fall in love with Tigers Jaw’s music. Obviously I always play music in the car but Thurston started making it known that there was only one band he’d let me put on. First he called them ‘wooo-ooooo-ooooh’, I figured out what this meant when I would catch him singing to himself in the evening and realised he knew all the words to ‘Never saw it coming’ and his favourite part was the woo-ooo bit. This soon turned into him shouting ‘LIE TO ME’ every time I started the car’s engine up and then I’d see him the rear view mirror singing every word to ‘I saw water’ and ‘Chemicals’ too. He’s never done this any of the other bands I’ve ever played him, there is just something about Tigers Jaw that makes him happy. On Wednesday this week we got to spend some time with Brianna from the band. I don’t think Thurston really put the 2 and 2 together to understand that she was from the band but all the same seemed very fond. Below is a photo of the 2 of them on Margate beach and a video of him singing ‘Never saw it coming’ in his beautiful little voice.

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Q & A WITH MOOSE BLOOD

The UK is full of some incredible new bands playing the kind of music I love to write about but one band seems to be creating the biggest amount of buzz recently. Moose Blood come from my neck of the woods and play bright, poppy indiemo and I thought now would be a good time to do a quick Q&A with the band before they get too big to answer emails from dumb blogs like this one. Eddy from the band was kind enough to answer some questions, here’s the results:
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Is this thing on? –  Quick obvious question to begin with; When/How did the band form? Have you known each other long, were you in previous bands together etc…?
Eddy – The band started with me messing around with some demos after moving back home with my folks. After I had a few songs finished, I got in touch with the rest of the boys to make it a full band. We had all played in bands together in the past so it came together pretty easily.
ITTO – You come from Canterbury, which was famous for its Hardcore scene some years ago. What is it like now? Would you say there is much of a scene?
Eddy – I’m not too sure about Canterbury so much, but there are some fantastic bands around Kent at the moment. And with people like Jay from FITA putting on so many great shows, I am sure things will pick up again.
 
ITTO –  On your song ‘Carbis Bay’ you name check American Football and Dashboard, what other bands are the biggest influences on the band? (That song, ‘Carbis Bay’, reminds me of ‘Very Emergency’ era Promise Ring btw)
Eddy – There are so many.. We all love Brand New, Tigers Jaw, Will Smith. I could carry on all day.
 ITTO – With the internet now you can build a fan base without leaving the house but you seem to be gigging a lot and on a very regular basis, have you found that you have to still have this ‘old school’ approach if you want to make anything of your band?
Eddy – I think that without the Internet we wouldn’t be anywhere. But yeah, we love playing shows. It’s always great to catch up with friends, watch new bands and play in front of a bunch of new people.
ITTO – There has much written about you guys being the next big thing. Are you aware of this? Has this affected the band or yourselves in any way? Or is it something you can just take with a bit of salt and get on with it?
Eddy – We have read a few little bits. Things like that are crazy to us, we are just a bunch of friends that play music together. It means the world to us that people like our record so much, but we are just going to take it day by day.
ITTO – What better time to be in an emo band than right now, what current bands (both locally and not so locally) are you in to right now?
Eddy – As I said before, there are so many. From around Kent there are bands like Coastline, Chewing Gum and The Reason I Failed History. And the new Daylight record is fantastic.
 
ITTO – Speaking of emo, it used to be a cardinal sin to label a band an emo band. Are you happy to be described that way?
Eddy – We are more than happy to be called an emo band. Emo is a gang after all.
ITTO – You have a new single out, what else is next for Moose Blood?
Eddy – Well the single is out at the end of this month, and then we are just going to be writing for the record. We have a few tours lined up in the summer that we are pretty excited about. And it’s looking like a couple more release before the end of the year too.
ITTO – And finally, (a question I for some reason feel the need to ask every band), if you could’ve been in any band from the 90s, who would it be and why?
Eddy – I would have loved to have been in Jimmy Eat World when they wrote Clarity. That record is incredible and to be a part of that would have been amazing. Cheers
ITTO – Thanks dude
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