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A new film by Vicki Bennett with a live soundtrack by Bill Orcutt. Not sure if much more needs to be said. You should all know that this is not to be missed. If for some odd reason you do need convincing, then I should let you know that Rhodri Davies is also on the bill for this. The Newcastle leg of this tour is going to be an audio/visual treat unlike any other.

Watch a trailer for the tour here.

October 31st

BILL ORCUTT / RHODRI DAVIES / MARK SANDERS
+ BILL ORCUTT SOLO SET

Star & Shadow Cinema
8pm £8/10

TUSK Festival 2013

August 5, 2013

TUSK

That time of the year is almost upon us again. The, often rainy and miserable, October weekend when all of the weirdos and reclusive types from Newcastle gather together in the confines of the Star and Shadow that witness the beauty of TUSK festival. A hand picked selection of some of the finest, most obscure, most extreme and least chart topping acts the world has to offer flock to our northern home to entertain us for three days.

Last years festival was a blast and a ferocious one at that. It gave me the opportunity to brag to people that I’d seen Fushitsusha play in a volunteer run cinema a half hour walk away from my house. Alas, most of the people I said that too didn’t have the slightest clue what I was talking about. The people that did were there with me.

Again, the line up is a beauty. Rather than go into detail, you can just look at each name on the above list, salivate over how exciting it’ll be to see them and buy your ticket. I must say one thing though, ENDON are going to be fucking intense (“Hijokaidan updated for the 21st Century”).

I think it’s also worth pointing out that while the full line up has been revolved, we’re still yet to hear of any extras that’ll be happening over the weekend. By this I mean there’s still a full film programme, talks, workshops and an afterparty to be announced. If last years selection is anything to go by, we’ll be in for some treats. Oh, and get you’re pocket money kept to one side for that one weekend only, ultra rare, completely obscure merch extravaganza that’ll grace the festival. Convinced?

For all the information you’ll ever need, head on over to the TUSK Festival website here.

 

Leave Me Here presents…Goat

September 3, 2012

What do we have here? yep, it’s yet another great gig brought to us by the lovely folk that are Leave Me Here. It seems they really have a talent for picking out the strange and obscure music that only just seems to peering onto our radars. A cut above the rest.

For our pleasure, they’re brining the Swedish psych band Goat to Newcastle.

I’ve had numerous encounters with the band. Not on a personal level, but via the wonders of the world wide web. I’ve read reviews of their records, watched their videos and listened to their music and I’m still not able to get my head around it. I must say, on my first encounter I wasn’t sure if it was really my sort of thing. So I left it. But, as time passed, I decided to go back for another go and it all started to make sense, I think.

It’s definitely a weird one. They play sort of hazed out, full on psych jams that just seem to bleed culture out of every note. Lazily, I’d probably class it as ‘world’ music, whatever that means. Bringing together a wealth of different influences from afro beat to psych, the Swedish 7 piece piece together with such force and style that’s it’s hard not to be enthralled. I’m excited to hear their strange sounds take over the Star and Shadow. Seriously catch them if you can, this is one of only 3 UK dates!

 

 

Two great supports feature on the bill. First comes in the form of Beauty Pageant, who I’ve mentioned on here before. I haven’t seen them live in almost a year so I’d imagine they’ve become the best live band in Newcastle. I might be wrong, but every time i listen to their EP, I fall in love all over again. Seriously, check them out live and, until then, have another listen to that EP.

 

Last but not least is PIGSPIGSPIGSPIGSPIGSPIGSPIGS (I think that’s the right amount of PIGS). Now, I’ve heard a little about these and managed to make a picture of them in my head, but other than that I’m oblivious as to what to expect. I think it’s best left as a mystery though. Let’s see what happens on the night.

 

Hopefully that’s all the convincing you need. Just get yourself along, it won’t disappoint. Here’s the details:

Star and Shadow Cinema
20.10.2012
8.00pm
£5

Get your tickets here.

Leave Me Here.

 

That’s right, Sunderland premier music festival Slit Festival has just announced its first batch of bands. A lot of the names are probably very familiar. They’ve got a wealth of local talent including the likes of Young Liar, Warm Digits, Let’s Buy Happiness and The Lake Poets. Nothing too ‘shocking’ to be honest, but that’s not a bad thing at all. They seem to have picked some of the best bands from the North East and brought them together for one weekend of music.

There are a couple of nice surprises on the line up though which come in the form of past local heroes The Unit Ama and This Ain’t Vegas. Now these are two great bands who have been await from things for a good few years. Luckily though, they are returning to play Split Festival this year and I, for one, am genuinely ecstatic. I’ve loved This Aint Vegas for a long time and have always hoped for a return and finally, it’s here. I’m hoping they live up to my expectations. I remember being about 15 or 16 sneaking into the Cumberland Arms to watch them play and loved every minute of it.

Tickets are on sale now, I suggest snapping one up before they’re gone!

Split Festival

Another fine gig coming to the city of Newcastle, this time it’s Leeds based punk outfit Eagulls.

If you’ve never heard them before, you ought to. They manage to strip away all of the pretension you often find in so called ‘punk’ music, and opt for a very raw, honest sound. The way they approach the music is simplistic in style, but not so in effect. While they take influences from the hardcore punk music of the 80’s, they manage to convey them in such a fresh and unique way. It’s a completely engaging sound and the unhinged nature of it only adds to its charm. Somehow managing to sound raw and brutal, but also delightfully melodic at the same time. I’ve always imagined them as a band that would only ever release limited 7″ singles, building up a small but loyal following and never really wanting anything more than that. It’s quite a reassuring thought.

It’s at the Dog and Parrot and I can assure you that it will be the sweatiest gig of the year. It’s going to be a pleasure to see them play in such a small and intimate space.

Support on the night comes from the infectious tech wizardry of Waskerley Way and local Punk/Emo lads Sunday League.

Dog @ Parrot, Newcastle
4th May 2012. £4.

TUSK Festival 2012

April 4, 2012

After the recent success of Newcastle’s AV festival, we have the announcement of another event dedicated to experimental music.

Tusk Festival has just made it’s first line up announcement, which is sure to be full of interesting, mind opening performances from a varied range of diverse artists across one weekend in October. Even though they’ve only announced four acts, they’re enough to get me excited.

Keiji Haino will be performing which promises to be an unforgettable show. A true avant-garde legend, his prolific output as a musician has spanned numerous different styles and genres including, but not limited to, drone, minimalism and free improvisation. Everything about this man screams experimental. I imagine it’s going to be a treat to see him perform live. It’s hard to anticipate what sort of show it will be, but I can guarantee that what happens it will be exciting, invigorating and downright strange.

Pelt will be bringing their lo fi drone musings to the festival. The Virginian band play stripped back yet dense drone music. It definitely has a mesmerising feel to it and you can feel yourself being lulled into a hypnotic state as the soft instrumentation carries you along. Even though it has a rough, noisy feel to it, the harsh tones They’re going to be a pleasure to see live. I can’t wait for it.

Hieroglyphic Being will be here with his wild, out of control ‘dance’ music. I can just picture it now, a room full of Geordies dancing along with the strange and engaging beats he produces. It’s going to brilliant. Just look at this, it’s going to be perfect.

 

and finally, Gate. Gate is the ‘side’ project of singer/guitarist of New Zealand noise rock band The Dead C. It’s a strange excursion in the many depths of noise. At times it can feel relaxing and reassuring but at the same time has a hidden sinister quality to it. Laden with strange electronics and obscure noises, I’m sure it’s going to be incredibly immersive when seen live.

What a line up. If that wasn’t enough, all of this is happening at the Star and Shadow cinema. Without a doubt the best and most inspiring venue in the city of Newcastle.

This is just the start though. There are still more acts to be announced and I have no doubt about their quality. It’s going to be a great festival full of obscure and interesting performances. It promises to be a weird weekend and something a lot more interesting that your standard weekend in Newcastle.

TUSK FESTIVAL

OCTOBER 5-7 2012, STAR & SHADOW,
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, UK

Early bird tickets on sale now.
Check it out at: http://tuskfestival.com/

 

Newcastle based promoter The Great Northern (formerly Get Involved) are bringing the northern city yet another night of fantastic music.

This time it comes in the form of Blanck Mass, side project of Fuck Buttons member/founder Benjamin John Power. Fuck Buttons are know for their noisy, beat heavy, electronic drone music. Blanck Mass seems to steer away from that sound. Yes, it’s still the same concept, but it’s done differently. Blanck Mass eponymous debut was put out on Rock Action Records last year. It pushes aside the loud and abrasive sounds we’ve heard before and opts for a more ambient sound. Layers upon layers of lush waves of noise engulf the record. It concentrates on building atmosphere and manages to convey a strong mood with the most subtle nuances in sound. It’s prefect if I’m honest. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing this in a live setting. I’m hoping it’s going to be as loud as possible so I can completely immerse myself in it.

 

Supporting is Waskerley Way, Newcastle’s answer to Washed Out. I don’t know if that’s fitting, but I’m making the comparison anyway. But yeah, WW is a one man barrage of glitchy, lo fi, electronic pop. It could be described as many things, but it always manages to be creative and that little bit different . He’s a pleasure to see perform live and will be a perfect addition to the line up.

Check out Waskerley Way on Bandcamp

 

On top of that Distraction Records will be DJ’ing on the night, spinning tunes for our ears.

Yet another great offering from The Great Northern! They seem to be putting on some great gigs. First Errors, then Future Islands, Young Liar and now this.

19th March @ The Cluny. £6.

Tickets available here

 

Yet again, Newcastle promoters Leave Me Here brings another sublime line up of music for our enjoyment. Firstly, The Peter James Taylor Orchestra. I don’t know what to expect from this. I can’t really imagine how it will work out. The premise,basically, is a gathering of numerous musicians from Newcastle, putting them on a stage and then having them create a weird and wonderful wall of noise. Look at the people involved too. We have members of Young Liar, Waskerly Way, Dextro, Zadok, GNOD, Shields, Khunnt and Spokes. What more can you ask for? It’s a completely new concept to me, but it definitely sounds exciting. The first thing it brought to mind, for me, was the similarities to the Boadrum concerts hosted by The Boredoms. It’s going to be something completely different and inventive. Who knows, it could end up being a giant mess of noise, but then again, isn’t that part of the fun? I know I definitely want to find out.

Expect this sort of thing.

If that wasn’t enough for you, the support bands will surely make you smile. Two of the finest acts to come from Newcastle. Firstly, we have Natelys Whores Kid Sister. I’s only recently that they’ve started to play frequent gigs within the city, but it doesn’t seem that way. It’s always seemed as if Newcastle was waiting for this band to come. They mix doom heavy riffs with catchy yet disturbing lyrics to make a wonderfully dark sound. I like to describe it as sludge pop. It has all the dark and doomy sounds, but it also manages to give you something to hum in your head. Definitely a ‘one to watch’. They’ve got an EP coming out at some point in time. It’s called Ribs and it’s brilliant. Just listen to it then come and watch them play. Listen to it on their Bandcamp.

 

Last, but certainly not least are Jazzfinger. They are one of the finest things to come out of Newcastle ever. Having been around forever, they have managed to perfect their sound and put on an incredibly immersive live show. I saw them recently and was absolutely blown away by them!  At times it’s ambient, at times it’s industrial and it’s always experimental. They manage to create beautiful soundscapes that are as equally intriguing as they are horrifying. Their output has been prolific but I was recently told by one of their die hard fans that they are playing some of the best shows they ever have at the minute.  Seriously, just go to see this band. Even if you don’t care about the other bands, come and watch Jazzfinger…they are worth it.

 

It’s on Saturday 17th March

It’s at The Star and Shadow Cinema

It’s £5

Buy your tickets here

 

 

It’s Christmas eve eve and The Star and Shadow Cinema are throwing their Christmas party. They’ve lined up some bands and invited us all down for some festive cheer. The Star and Shadow is a brilliant venue. I respect it so much. It’s run entirely by volunteers and is maintained by the dedication and passion of the local arts community. It shows alternative films, has a zine library, puts bands on and tonight it has mulled cider! I’m in for a long night of standing around watching bands and I’m genuinely excited by this prospect, especially considering the caliber of the line up.

I saw every band that played and I’m going to try and give each one a brief ‘overview’, as if I were to fully review each one I don’t think I could keep myself interested, let alone anyone else. First off, opening the night, it’s Cath & Phil Tyler. The room is silent when I enter except for some gentle acoustic guitar and folky vocals. They play traditional folk songs. It’s soft, gentle, cosy and warm. It’s simply mesmerising. I’m stood at the back of the room encapsulated by the performance they give. I like how it’s traditional folk. It’s not trying to be something else. It’ honest and it’s inspiring. After their set, they gather some extra singers on stage to sing carols. Even though this wouldn’t normally be my cup of tea I still find it entrancing, definitely bringing some festive spirit to the night.

Next on, it’s Waskerley Way. Quite a departure from the musical styles of the previous act, WW plays music that could be classified under various genres. Chill wave, electronica, lo fi, psychedelic and everything else. I must say, it’s intriguing! It’s made up of loops and samples played out through a laptop with the addition of reverb drenched vocals, my bloody valentine-esque guitars and clarinet. It’s an odd combination, but it works. It’s always a delight to see WW play as he always has a genuine enthusiastic and optimistic approach to the music he plays. He posits that, “it’s not for everyone.” But if it weren’t for this guy playing music in spite of that we’d be hard pressed to find someone with enough talent and motivation to give use something like this. Whichever way you look at it, the world would be a much more miserable place without Waskerley Way.

Following shortly after, Retriever head on stage for their set. Sounding like they came straight from the 80’s, they play post punk music at it’s best. Yes, the influences are obvious; there’s a nod to Joy Division here and a hint of Siouxsie Sioux there, but it always feels refreshing. It’s got a healthy dose of gloom mixed in with the music. They always play a good show and tonight was no different. What always stands out for me is there use of a drum machine. A traditional post punk outfit like this would usually be expected to have a human drummer. However, these guys opt for a drum machine placed elegantly on stage. I always get excited by the prospect. It puts a mechanical and calculated edge on their music that I find entrancing. I mean, if Big Black could pull it off, why can’t Retriever?

With next band I had no idea what to expect. I hadn’t heard of them before let alone heard any of their recordings. Their name is Beauty Pageant, and I’m told beforehand that they play ‘No Wave’ music. Interesting… They arrive on stage and instantly start making a horrendous noise. There’s a saxophone player screeching notes down a mic, a drummer completely demolishing his drum kit and a guitarist making what seems like freestyle noise. I have to move away from the speakers in fear that my ears won’t cope. It’s absolutely incredible. Exactly the sort of thing I like. It’s experimental, it’s avant guard, it’s loud and it’s provocative. I feel like I had fallen in love with this band from the first shout they let out. They play a set full of what can only be seen as ‘different music’. It’s sounds like it came straight off the early No Wave compilation ‘No New York’. I see that as a massive accomplishment in itself. It’s definitely alternative. It does have hints of female-fronted alt rock bands such as the ‘Raincoats’ with similar style vocals, but for the majority it just feels completely different. It feels so fresh and lively. As they finish their set my ears are crying with pain at the sheer volume that they play, but my brain is left feeling satisfied with the musical barrage it just experienced.

Unfortunately I didn’t have quite the same enjoyment from the next band – Blackflower. It seemed as if some of the audience we’re quite ‘into it’ but it wasn’t for me. I felt as if it didn’t really fit in with the whole feel of the night. Their simpler, more straight forward style of indie rock didn’t quite move me in the way that the other bands on the line up did. They’re good at what they do, but unfortunately, I didn’t get the same overwhelming appreciation I had for some of the other acts on the bill.

The next band to play were Pale Man Made. In simple terms, its a noise pop band. With male and female vocals at the forefront, it sounded like perfectly executed indie pop. I think it’s one of my guilty pleasures at the minute. I’d group them in with bands such as Veronica Falls and Vivian Girls. I particularly enjoyed the alternating male/female vocals. It definitely gave an additional dimension to their music, making them stand out from the crowd. I’m definitely going to look out for more from these. It’s going to be interesting to see where they go.

Throughout writing this review all I have wanted to do is skip straight to writing about Richard Dawson. He was the last person to play and frankly, his performance was better than the rest of the bands combined. It was simply mind blowing. I was stood right in front of the man himself and as he ‘set up’. I was warned that I may end up crying during the performance. I’ve heard his recordings and loved them, but this was the first time I would see him live. With a worn out, battered acoustic guitar he takes to the stage. Full of wit and personality he tells humorous stories before launching into an ‘instrumental’. Not really a standard for folk artists, but my god did it work. The guitar work here is simply stunning. It’s intricate and its emotional.It gets better and better. Playing song after song filled with stories of loss and heartbreak it’s one hell of an emotional show. Playing for almost an hour, I find it impossible to take my eyes away from the stage and even have to remind myself to blink. The sheer passion and emotion that these songs contain is unbelievable. The whole venue is silent. Its amazing how one person with such modesty can capture the hearts of an entire room. Richard Dawson is definitely one of the best singer songwriters in the country at the minute. Seriously, the quality of his work is unprecedented. I could sit here all day and write about how good his performance was and how it made me feel, but that wouldn’t be fair. To be truly appreciated you must see him live. No words can even come close to conveying the feeling you get from seeing him perform. Truly magnificent.

What a brilliant night of music. By the time it’s over my legs are aching from standing up for so long. My expectations had definitely been met, even exceeded. I think the obvious next step is to check out each and everyone of these bands. More so, the Star and Shadow cinema. It’s a true gem. Something completely different and unique and I feel so proud to say I live in a city that has such a place.