Tracks Monkeys With Lasers


Lexapalooza Lite @ The Flowerpot – 10/10

Following the Lexapalooza all-dayer I had attended earlier in the year at The Gaff, I was a wee bit excited to hear about the prospect of a second one in the same year; the first time this had happened. On top of this, it was to be a ‘Lexapalooza Lite’ purely for acoustic artists (on the whole at least). Add to this the fact that it was at what is fast becoming one of my favourite London hang-outs, let alone venues, in the Flowerpot in Camden and you had what could be nothing other than a great time. And, as always, it was all for the breast cancer research as well giving me an even better excuse to go along and spend money.

The probability of it being a great day was only further enhanced by the fact that it would be running from midday to almost midnight which is, quite frankly, a lot of drinking time. Especially when you arrive with a stomach lining of just Weetabix or whatever the Tesco generic cheap version is anyway.

The poor soul lumbered with the task of opening the shindig was B-Sydes. I arrived just after his set had started but didn’t catch a lot of it as I said my hellos to some familiar faces. What I did hear wasn’t too bad but it did show that this was, supposedly, one of the first shows he had done. The music wasn’t anything particularly unique but was pretty solid.

After that set and a quick foray into the beer garden, I made my way back inside to catch the set by Mark McCabe and he was one of the surprise acts of the day/night for me. A slightly sombre fellow from deepest, darkest Aberdeen, he played a rather political set but it was backed up by some great vocals and some sound guitar playing with a little bit of poetry thrown in for good measure. The politics never overpowered his songs too much, as can be the case, and he had a good dose of humour in his tunes to counter this too; a surprisingly good artist for only the second act.

The next act was the only all girl act of the event, fronted by Emily Barker. They had a nice genteel sound with the acoustic guitar backed by the harmonica, cello, violin and accordion as well as some lovely harmonies from the four of them. The music was a bit of a drop in tempo from the first two acts but it still fitted in with the day and was a nice chillout backing for everyone to enjoy a drink on a Saturday morning.

Going back to the solo acoustic artists, Elliot Morris was the next to take to the Lex stage and was another of the surprise packages for me. I probably the use the term “technically very good” a lot when I’m describing artists but that phrase doesn’t do this guy justice really as he used the guitar as a percussion instrument as much as he did for it’s normal use and on top of this, he showed off some very impressive finger tapping (and as sod law dictates, the one song I recorded probably demonstrated these skill the least). His also vocals stood up to his guitar skills and made very a really good set which included his own songs and a few covers, including a Reuben one and even a Basshunter one; the former, unsurprisingly, going down rather well.

“L Plates” (live) – Elliot Morris


Next on stage was a TMWL favourite Oxygen Thief who I had seen for the first time at the previous Lex event. He’s an artist I like for being a bit different to your standard acoustic singer/songwriter by almost playing like he’s in a metal band rather than on his own with an acoustic and has some good tunes to back this up with. For this set, he bought the mic so he was practically in amongst the crowd which is a touch I always like. The set had a good mix of his stuff and even had a couple of songs I didn’t know. The ones I did know were all played really well with Too Many Trees and its clappy section going down well. The cover of Spandau Ballet’s “Gold” went down well, as always, with plenty of the crowd singing when they were supposed to. Compared to some of the other artists his set felt a little short though which was the only disappointment for me but otherwise it was a good, fun set like before.

“Gold” (live) – Oxygen Thief (originally by Spandau Ballet)

Anna Madeleine was one of the only artists I didn’t see a lot of as I was more than ready for a breather and a sit down after three and a bit hours. I only caught the start of her first song but found it a little bit odd to be honest and just got the giggles when she started some slightly weird spoken vocals as it only reminded me of an episode of the Mighty Boosh my housemate had been watching the previous night (the only thing she was missing was a shiny silver jumpsuit). Other people have said that her set was actually quite good but the sit down was long overdue for me.

After regaining my composure, it was back inside for Sanjuro who had a sound comprising French folk and indie ska with a singer, drummer, guitarist and fiddle and accordion players making up the band. Their sound reminded me of the band Klezma Villanova who had played at the Flowerpot after Frank Turner’s videoshoot for The Road a few months beforehand. Sanjuro themselves though were a really good fun band and provided the only opportunity for a dance so myself, Ravi, Phil and Mr Dancing shoes himself, Ben Marwood all had a bit of a skank down the front (just like we had for The Popes Of Chillitown at the previous Lex). With the songs bouncing along really nicely, we all had a great time and they looked like they were having one up onstage too and they were the perfect antithesis to the previous artist.

The next artist was a familiar face to regular visitors to the Flowerpot as Beans On Toast took to the stage. I’d never actually seen him live before so had been quite looking forward to his set and quite enjoyed it in the end. His acoustic songs aren’t the most complex you’ll ever hear but are always good fun and lyrically good fun. For a couple of songs he was also joined on stage by his girlfriend and her vocals provided a nice contrast to his. But as well as his acoustic songs, he also performed a couple of his newer rap tracks. Sadly, these didn’t work out too well thanks to an accordion player who was MIA, the backing beats cocking up once or twice and a couple of forgotten lyrics but if they came out right, they could potentially be better than his guitar tunes.

“The Price Of Rice” (live) – Beans On Toast

After that set, it was time for myself and my friends to run and grab our only sustenance of the night as we were all starving and wanted to make sure we could get back into the venue. As such, we missed a fair bit of Dave McPherson but got back to catch some of the second half of his set. From what I heard, I thought he was really solid with some excellent vocals and guitar playing but didn’t see enough to say too much more sadly. The final song of the set was a reworking of the Fresh Prince’s classic “Boom Shake The Room” which was a great ending.

By now, the venue had pretty much filled out just in time for The Leano to start their set. I’d heard a bit about these guys beforehand but hadn’t heard any of their stuff and I was intrigued to say the least. Their music is possibly best described as hippy-hop (that term ©TMWL, Oct 2009) with the “rapped” vocals backed up by guitars and, for some songs, bongos. This sounds like quite an unusual mix and, to be honest, it was but it somehow worked. The first track off theirs was all about smiling and why you should smile and it was actually hard to do anything but that throughout their set. The highlight had to be the improvised number where they asked the crowd for three things to work into the song and anyone who can rap about pandas, helicopters and cake deserves some level of respect. A really enjoyable band and ones that are worth trying to catch live as I can’t imagine their recorded stuff can capture the fun factor that they had on stage.

As we entered the home straight, it was all solo singer/songwriters from here on in. The first of this quartet was Ben Marwood who was another I first encountered at the earlier Lex show and had been highly impressed with him then. He has a real knack for writing songs that you just can’t help but like and, quite often, sing along to and the crowd always seem to like him. His songs aren’t complicated or over technical but good, honest songs that you can normally relate to and it’s from this that he gets his popularity.

The set he played this time round had a nice mix of songs I’d heard him play before and had heard on some of his records, such as “Claire” and “Friendly Fire”, but also some ones I hadn’t heard but could still (sort of) sing along to, including the one I recorded (but accidentally cut out too early as I was clapping). I was just a bit disturbed by the random girl stood next to me at the front who kept trying to get pictures of random people with Ben and kept asking me whether I wanted a photo with him at the end. Weird. A great finish though with the cover of “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” which rounded off the set brilliantly.

“Oh My Days” (live) – Ben Marwood

Ben was followed by another familiar face to Lexapalooza events in Chris T-T who was on at a more appropriate time of the night than the last event where he opened due to other commitments that day. For some reason, I don’t own any of his records but liked him when he performed live before and whenever I’ve heard any of his songs. This set was further proof of how good he is with some really strong songs, including his most famous track “When The Huntsman Comes A Marching” which got everyone singing along.

The majority of his set I wasn’t overly familiar with but still enjoyed, including a really well worked piece based on the A.A. Milne poem “Market Square”. He also threw in a new track which was well written but lacked enough pace to stand out. The final song of the set was “Giraffe #1” which prompted Frank to jump up on stage and sing along with him. Chris will be back at the Flowerpot later in the month for a piano set.. but he doesn’t want you to go.

“When The Huntsman Comes A Marching” (live) – Chris T-T

Next up was the penultimate act, Sam Duckworth better known as Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. When I heard that he was playing on the night, I was rather excited as I had got his debut album on the day of release back in 2006(?) and had played it to death and even learnt to play a few songs of it on guitar myself. For some reason, I’d never got his second album though. No matter, I enjoyed his set immensely as this was the first time I had ever seen him in the flesh. He played a couple of my favourite songs from his first album, like “Call Me Ishmael” (see below), and they all sounded really good live.

I’ve always been a fan of the finger picking style of guitar playing and Sam uses the style really well; maybe not as well as someone like Graham Coxon when I saw him but he still does it really well, especially when mixing it in with strumming and his quite distinct vocals. Some of the songs I didn’t know passed me by a little bit but the set finished with what is easily one of my favourite song in “The Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager (Part 1)” which was yet another one for the crowd to join in with.

“Call Me Ishmael” (live) – Sam Duckworth (AKA Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.)

And so, after almost ten hours, the headline act and one of the main figures of Lexapalooza, Frank Turner, had his time in the proverbial spotlight on stage kicking off with the standard set opener of “Prufrock”. Anyone who follows this blog (is there anyone?) will know I’ve seen him a few times recently so there plenty of songs I’d heard before but Frank had opened his set up to requests in exchange for a small charitable donation. This meant that there were a few songs I’d not heard before and this went down with variable degrees of success depending on whether he could remember them, such as “Ladies Of London Town” off his first album.

A couple of other unusual songs, including one in French, as did one of my favourite live tracks “Worse Things Happen At Sea” and the universally loved “To Take You Home” also got an airing and made the set a bit different to others of his I’d heard. The crowd down the front were all singing along loudly but supposedly were a bit flaccid elsewhere. They can be forgiven for lagging a bit by this point of the evening but it’s still a bit of a disappointment to hear that.

After the requests were over, the end of the set consisted of the ever popular “Photosynthesis” and a quite poignant rendition of “Long Live The Queen” before ending with the traditional set closer of “The Ballad Of Me And My Friends” which culminated with a stage invasion led by myself and Oxygen Thief for the final section of the song (not the first time I’ve been involved in one of these at this venue bizarrely) which was a very fitting end to the night.

“Try This At Home” (live) – Frank Turner

After the night was all done and the drunken shenanigans that went on in the artists area afterwards, myself, Oxygen Thief and Ben Marwood eventually managed to get back to mine and crash (drunk housemates and random girls not withstanding) and all definitely felt the effects of twelve hours of music and mayhem (especially Oxygen Thief) but I don’t think anyone would deny that they had a terrific time. The lineup was really strong and nicely varied and I couldn’t believe how quickly the event went. I really hope that it managed to hit the target it had for money for charity and I really look forward to the next one, whenever it is. Massive congratulations and thanks to everyone involved in organising and running the event; you know who you are!



Lexapalooza All-Dayer @ The Gaff – 20/06

Held in the bizarre little venue of The Gaff on Holloway Road, this all day event was put on in the name of Breast Cancer Research. I got there bright and early and lasted the full 11 hours (at the expense of the hearing in my left ear which has just about recovered) and had a fantastic time thanks to the array of different acts playing. I managed to get photos of all the acts and audio of a number of them, the latter mainly from the acoustic stage which I possibly enjoyed more.

The venue itself seems like it may well be host to a slightly heavier sound than the majority of Lexapalooza offered with skeletons hung about the place, fake cobwebs and (perhaps most telling of all) a plethora of event posters for bands with names that would make your mother blush. Anyhoo, the day itself (featuring mini reviews due to numbers);

Chris TT & The Hoodrats

For me, a good choice to open with thanks to the fact that there was some good banter with the crowd (and Evan, the organiser). The little material I had heard by Chris TT in the past was his solo stuff so it was a bit different to hear him play with a band. That didn’t hold him back though and he rattled through his set with a good mix of tunes.

“Where Were You?”

Dave Hughes


The first artist on the acoustic stage, he played a pretty solid set. Some nice tunes and good vocals so a good start for the ‘other’ stage.

Spectrum 7

Veterans of Lexapalooza, having played the previous year, they stepped in at the last minute to cover for another band. I was a bit worried that this may have meant they weren’t going to be that good but was pleasently surprised. With some clever 65daysofstatic-esque laptop work (and some problems with the laptop, just like 65dos as well) with good guitar work and vocals over the top, they were a nice surprise for me.

Superman Revenge Squad

One of only a few artists I’d heard of beforehand (and the only one I’d seen live before), I was looking forward to his set. For me, the sound levels weren’t quite right for his set which spoilt it slightly but I still enjoyed his set and the new material which I hadn’t heard. Always forget how good a guitarist he actually is as it comes across much better live than on the record for me.

“Get Yourself Into The Arms Of Drunken People”

Jedethan

Another surprise package, Jedethan played an unusual style of music in being rather heavy but still easy to dance along to. Good banter between the band and the crowd made it even more enjoyable and getting some of the guys involved with putting on the even on stage to ‘play’ and ‘sing’ was a really cool touch. Evan is a natural frontman in my opinion!

Oxygen Thief

Possibly my surprise act of the day, I thoroughly enjoyed this set. Playing his acoustic like he thought he was playing in a punk band, the mix of the acoustic guitar and the sound he was making was brilliant. His own songs were brilliant and the crowd loved the cover of the Spandau Ballet ‘Gold’. And it’s always nice to know that you were a better crowd than Swindon..

“Too Many Trees”

Blind Havoc

Fair to say that these weren’t my thing. Hung around for a fair bit of their set though and it’s easy to say they’re good at what they do, even if it wasn’t for me.

Jim Lockey

The fourth artist on the acoustic stage, he was another artist that I enjoyed; nice guitar work, good vocals and well written lyrics. Very good singer/songwriter. Special shout out to the bloke in the background of the pic..

“Caskets And Bibles”

Armed Response Unit

Another band that weren’t my thing but they had a good tight sound and I did like some of their tunes.

Ben Marwood

The final artist on the acoustic stage and yet another singer/songwriter I liked. He was, technically, a pretty good guitarist and had some really well written songs which flitted between angry and emotive quite nicely.

“Claire”

David Cronenberg’s Wife

I’m not quite sure what to make off this band.. that may have been due to the alcohol by this point but who’s to say.. Anyhoo, they were a pretty safe band who had some ‘nice’ songs and I neither liked or disliked them really.

Psychofiend

These guys were a Misfits tribute band and I quite enjoyed them having listened to some of the Misfits stuff back in the day. They played a solid set and did loads of the classics so no complaintes from me.

Popes Of Chillitown

The only ska band of the night, I had a great time listening and skanking along to this band. A nice summery sound which suited the day well, the crowd seemed to really enjoy their set. Some good interaction with the group of us dancing down the front as well so we enjoyed them playing and I think they enjoyed us dancing to them.

The Blessed & The Cursed

Another band that weren’t my thang sadly but I did enjoy the energy of the set and some of their tunes.

The Xcerts

I’d heard some of these guys’ stuff earlier in the week and was quite looking forward to them. Catchy songs and good energy from the indie band; nice finish with the singer playing the drum in the crowd on the final song.

“Nightschool”

The Justice Force 5

Now, it’s fair to say I was a bit unsure what to expect from these guys thank to their somewhat dubious choice of clothing (the effects of costumes are always slightly lost when you have to setup your own gear as well..) It was also obvious from the costumes that they weren’t going to be taking themselves too seriously. But in the end they were a great band to finish the night off with; some (almost annoyingly) catchy songs and guitar riffs couple with the ‘fun factor’ meant that I really enjoyed the set and had muchos fun dancing along.

Unknown track

So altogether it was a fantastic day/night and I hope, ultimately, a successful one for Breast Cancer Research. Congratualtions to all involved!!

NB For those that hadn’t noticed, there’s a new ‘widget’ down the side of the blog using socialvibe. In short, please click on the link and do whatever gubbins it asks and the sponsor will then donate a small amount to my chosen charity; Stand Up To Cancer. Only takes a minute!



Gig It Up – June

June 10th – The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart at Cargo

Really looking forward to seeing these guys as their album has had so many plays over the last few months. Also, I’ve never been to Cargo (Shoreditch/Old Street area) so am intruiged as what to expect. Only heard good things from the few people I know who have already seen them.

Self titled album only came out this year and is a favourite of mine for 2009 so far. Purchase yourself a copy here!

‘Come Saturday’ (from the self titled, 2009 album)

June 18th – We Were Promised Jetpacks at The Lexington

I’ve spoken about these guys before (in the ‘Scottish Fiction’ article), and am also loving their album at the moment. The album gets it’s physical release in 2 weeks time, just in time for me to see them. ‘Quiet Little Voices’ has been one of my favourite tracks of the year so far, so I’m especially looking forward to seeing that. Plus, the Lexington is a great little venue as well.

‘These Four Walls’ comes out on 15/06/09. Buy it here!

‘This Is My House, This Is My Home’ (from the 2009 album, ‘These Four Walls’)

June 20th – Lexapalooza (charity event) at The Gaff

Lexapalooza is a charity even put on by Frank Turner every year in order to raise money for Breast Cancer Research after his friend Lex sadly died from th condition (the same friend who provided the inspiration for the track ‘Long Live The Queen’).

This year, it’s taking place at the Gaff, a place I’ve never heard of let alone been to, and goes on for almost 12 hours with names such as Chris T-T and Superman Revenge Squad on the bill. Should be really good and it’s nice that everything made on the event is going on such a worthwhile cause. Just annoying that the Cats And Cats And Cats all-day event is on the same day, as well as Four Tet playing!!

‘Idiot Food’ by Superman Revenge Squad (from 2008’s, ‘This Is My Own Personal Way Of Dealing With It All’)

‘Long Live The Queen’ by Frank Turner (from 2008’s ‘Love, Ire & Song)




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