Tracks Monkeys With Lasers

The Joy Formidable @ The Flowerpot – 10/02
February 12, 2010, 4:15 pm
Filed under: gigs | Tags: , , ,

Belatedly, this was the first gig of the year for myself and what better place to go for it than the familiar surroundings of the Flowerpot in Camden.

The Joy Formidable are a band that have always managed to elude me whenever they’ve played in London before and they were a band I’ve been managing to try and catch for a little while as I quite enjoyed their debut album from last year (which managed to chart in the respectable position of #13 in my 20 favourite albums of 2009). In the end, it was a slightly spur of the moment decision to go along, only deciding that afternoon to go along.

On arrival I was a little surprised that the Flowerpot, by their own admission, had broken their own ‘one-band-a-night’ rule and that there were to actually be two acts performing that night. As such, the openers for the night were the Aussie four piece Expatriate, a band that I hadn’t previously heard of.

I was pleasantly surprised with these guys as they had quite a few catchy tracks that progressed nicely with a bit of a mainstream indie rock sound mixed with the occassional dancey/electronic feel to it which worked pretty well. Sadly, not knowing any song names, it’s a bit hard to talk about their set in too much detail but their final song was, for me, the best of the lot. They had a real solid sound and Ben King made a pretty decent frontman for the four of them (and occassionally for the five of them with a friend form the crowd joining them on stage for a couple of numbers).

Check out their myspaz and pages to hear some of their stuff.

After that came the headline act of the night and by now the Flowerpot had begun to reach what looked like full capacity. This wasn’t a problem for me though and a spot down the front was soon acquired.

One of the first things I noticed about the band was the distinct lack of synths or keyboards on stage. This surprised me a little bit as I always felt that electro sound was fairly prominent on their record. In the end, it turned out the these duties belonged to a laptop at the back of the stage. The other think I’d never realised about the band was that it was only a threesome and so Fitzy Bryan take up both guitar and vocal duties.

Anyhoo, it wasn’t long before they took to the stage to begin and kicked off their set with the album opener “The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade” which set the tone for the rest of their set with the tempo and quite heavy sound which surprised me as well. The whole set leant a lot more to the rock side of the album than the electro/pop sound which I hadn’t been expecting but it gave the whole show a lot more energy than it might otherwise have.

The rest of their set consisted of a number of songs off the album, with tracks like “Cradle” sounding as good, if not better, live than on the record, with the crowd singing along at various stages. Particular mention has to go to the group of 40 year old blokes in the middle of the crowd who were singing the loudest and dancing the most to the band. On top of this, there were a few songs I didn’t immediately recognise (and didn’t recognise from the glimpse of the setlist I saw) so there were, potentially some new songs thrown in too which worked alongside the album material really well (this is backed up by the fact the band are actually in the midst of mixing the second album so the new material was definitely there to be played).

Overall, I was really impressed with the band; the energy on stage was really good, then music was nice and tight and Fitzy was a great lead for the band with her vocals standing out really well and her (slightly creepy) staring out into the crowd. The sound levels were really good as well so the sound was spot on; I could even make out the bass clearly which doesn’t happen all that often!

Not a bad start for this year in gigs at all.

The Joy Formidable – Cradle (live)

And So I Watch You From Afar @ Camden Barfly – 21/09
October 4, 2009, 5:48 pm
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A most belated review but here we go..

As with many of the gigs I’ve reviewed on here, the Barfly was a venue I’d never been to before. Having forgotten to buy a ticket beforehand, I was a wee bit worried about not getting in so got there for the doors opening. I needn’t have worried and got in no problem.

It turned out, however, that the doors opened later than I thought they were going to so I caught both support bands and even have a drink! The venue part of the Barfly was a lot smaller than I had been expecting but was a good, simple layout with a good sized room and stage which was a relief after the Tallest Man On Earth gig earlier that month!

After my first pint, Scholars, the first support band, took to the stage, fairy lights and all! The first thing I can say about these guys is that they were bloody loud. But with that, they weren’t just full on noise but melodic with it and were more of an indie-esque band than their decibel level would have led you to believe. They mixed rapid guitar riffs with vocals that flirted on the edge of shouting but just about remaining in the ‘singing’ spectrum (maybe a vague similarity to Tubelord could be used here). This was mixed in with some solid backing on bass and drums and occasionally keyboards too.

I was quite surprised with Scholars as they were pretty solid for an opening act. They interacted well with the crowd (which admittedly wasn’t huge) and it was quite amusing seeing the lead singer jump down off the stage and sing in the face of someone who had no idea who they were. Worth keeping an eye out for.

Scholars at Camden Barfly

Check out some of their stuff on their page.

The second support slot of the night was filled by the newly reformed Jairus. I think it’s safe to say I wasn’t a fan. Every now and again they would have a moment where the song would be building with some well worked guitar riffs and drumming but often it would just kick in to noise with some average shouting vocals over the top of it. A couple of tracks I did enjoy but on the whole I wasn’t overly keen on the band and on a couple of occasions I felt myself drifting off and not really paying attention to what they were playing which is clearly not a good sign.

As I say, a was left feeling a little overwhelmed after their performance and, in my opinion, they should have opened the night. The few songs I did like got a bit samey quite quickly.

If you feel so inclined, here is their page.

There was no need to feel down though as I knew the insuppressible And So I Watch You From Afar would be up next! I was slightly worried though as at the end of Jairus’ set I turned around to see that I was pretty much stood on my own in the middle of the venue with a few lurkers hanging around the edge. But without 10 or 15 minutes to go, a swell of people appeared and the gig was on!

ASIWYFA finally took to the stage and kicked off with “S Is For Salamander” which was a real surprise. In fact this wasn’t the only ‘new’ (I’ve heard it plenty of times) song they played; the first few tracks of the evening were all new ones. This was a bit of a brave move I thought but they pulled it off well with a couple of the new songs being absolute blinders and it was great not knowing what to expect or when they were going to explode on stage. One of them, that I’m sure I’d heard before, was centred around the drums more than anything and this gave Chris a chance to show just how good a drummer he is.

There is little point reviewing the rest of the gig as I’ve seen them so many times before and they never fail to disappoint. They rattled through all of the big tracks off the album and the EP with “If It Ain’t Broke”, “Start A Band” and all the usual suspects being played. The traditional set opener, “Set Guitars To Kill” was one of the final songs they played but they closed the night off with the fantastic “Eat The City, Eat It Whole”.

The energy of the guys on stage was second to none as always and is why I enjoy seeing them live so much with the usual repertoire of jumps, leaning against amps, runs into the crowd and ‘face offs’ all taking place. The energy of the crowd was good as well which always makes these gigs great as well and it was the first of their shows I’ve seen where the crowd actually managed to get them to play a one song encore.

As always, I was blown away by the show. The new tracks kept the setlist fresh and they easily hold their own against the older tracks so the future releases are definitely ones to look forward to. It may have been a while since the show but I think I’ve only just about regained full hearing in one of my ears; remember to wear protection kids!

Maybeshewill with And So I Watch You From Afar @ The Good Ship – 20/05
May 24, 2009, 10:23 pm
Filed under: gigs, music | Tags: , , ,

This was a gig I’d had down in my diary from the day I first heard about it as both of these bands I absolutely love and have both seen aready in London in the last 6 months and the Good Ship is a venue I really like as it’s such a small place and is quite unique in it’s setup with the stage in a pit at the far end of the bar.

I got there nice and early as I wanted to try and catch every band that were playing. First of the lot were the curiously named Flies Are Spies From Hell who I rather liked, being a post rock rock band with the USP of having a pianist in the band which added an extra layer to their sound which made their set quite memorable. They only had a short time on stage to impress but they certainly managed to make me take notice of them. Not that it was easy to ignore them at the volume they were playing at!

Go here and download a copy of the track People Not Here for free.

Afterwards came Wild Dogs In Winter who played a very understated, shoegaze set that didn’t really grab me. There was nothing wrong with their set but I found myself drifting off a fair bit while they were playing which is never a good sign. They had a few good songs in their brief set but a few that really didn’t inspire me as well.

Follow this link to download a free copy of  the song Good Ol’ Burnt Eyes.

After the stage had been setup again, it was the wonderful Maybeshewill’s turn to take to the stage and they played a set that I really enjoyed, opening with the opening track off their new album You Can’t Shake Hands With A Clenched fist which is a fantastic song that could easily provide the soundtrack to any apocalyptic scene in a film and it set the mark for the rest of the set.

I managed to get myself right down the front for their set which, if you’ve ever been to the Good Ship, means that I was practically on stage with the band as there’s really no such thing as a stage in the ‘pit’ where the band plays and pretty much all that seperates you are a few speakers on the floor in front of the band. The sound they gave out was simply astounding and old favourites like The Paris Hilton Sex Tape sounded brilliant. Their set also had a nice mix of new songs as well with Co-Conspirators, Accept And Embrace and This Time Last Year (technically not a ‘new’ song but still) all getting plays and all sounding brilliant.

To finish their set in, almost obligatory fashion, they played Not For Want Of Trying which is easily one of my favourite songs of theirs. Overall, they played a blinding set again and I loved it even if many of the crowd didn’t seem to know them; both guitarists get an a quality sound out of their kit, the drumming is fantastic and the bass playing really tight. The ony annoyances I have is that they never seem to get enough time to do a really good set and the laptop they use always seems to be a bit too quiet so some of the dialogue they use, such as Peter Finch’s “Mad As Hell” rant on Not For Want Of Trying, gets all too easily drowned out. I’m nitpicking but there you go.

Then after they had finished came the headline act, And So I Watch You From Afar and my god, these guys know how to put on a show! Opening with the rioutous Set Guitars To Kill, the crowd (and band) just went absolutely mental and it’s easy to see why when that tune is so epic. The energy from both band and crowd never let up through the rest of the set and it was simply brilliant thanks to that.

What little stage boundaries there were quickly dissipated with the band throwing themselves around it, juming into the crowd and, occasionally, vice versa; I was worried I was going to lose a tooth by the end of the set either from one of the guitarists smacking me in the face or from being thrown into a speaker by one of the crowd. The band launched their way through a set of tracks from their recently released, self titled album (some of which also appeared on their EP from last year) such as the massive Start A Band and If It Ain’t Broke Break It but also some of the slower, more melodic I Capture Castles and The Voicless, the latter two allowing the crowd and the band to recover between some of the moreheavy songs.

As I said, their set was truly spectacular both thanks to the band and the crowd and afterwards I just felt knackered from it all. There was absolutely nothing to fault from their set and it was perhaps even better than the last time I saw them at the Bull & Gate as the crowd were so much more involved (or at least they were in the pit where I was) and in the end I did manage to keep my full set of teeth even if my neck was a bit sore from all the headbanging.

All in all, a fantastic night of music with two of my favourite current bands playing great sets. Not bad for four quid really..

Maybeshewill – Co-Conspirators (live)

Metric @ The Electric Ballroom – 19/05
May 24, 2009, 2:51 pm
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It had been a little while since I’d been to the Electric Ballroom in Camden, the last time being back in October time for the Los Campesinos! gig, and so I was looking forward both to going back to the venue and also as I was really looking forward to seeing Metric live.

The identity of the support band had been kept fairly quiet for some reason for the show and I only got there in time for their last two tracks which were pretty average to be fair so I wasn’t too fussed about missing them. In the gap after their set, I managed to wander quite easily down to the front of the stage, albeit right over to the side but for me this is a much better spot than standing halfway back in the venue just to be central. This is even more noticeable in the Electric Ballroom as for such a big venue, there’s no slope whatsoever so for a gentleman of my stature, it’s pretty crap to be any distance back. So, in what I thought was a good spot and after quite a lot of faffing on stage, Metric finally came on.

Coming out on stage in moody lighting with smoke aplenty on stage, they started out with one of the new tracks in Twighlight Galaxy, which I thought was a surprising one to open with. It actually worked very well with the understated anture of the song and the lighting with all the layers of synths going on. After that, they launched into the fantastic Help I’m Alive which was fantastic. From there on in, the pace of the set remained quite high with a lot of tracks of Fantasies with Satellite Mind, Gold Guns Girls and Collect Call all played, with Handshake being the only old track in there.

After that onslaught, the pace dropped with Emily Haines taking a bit of time out to talk to the crowd, saying that the band were happy to be playing the final show of their tour in London and how they love coming to England, saying that some of the best music has always come from here and by that she meant the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and not the Klaxons and Bloc Party, which got a few laughs from the crowd, and how that she hoped Metric could embody the two former bands. It was all a bit pretentious but setup the brilliant Gimme Sympathy in a great way. After that, we had a mix of old and new tracks, including Dead Disco, before finishing with Stadium Love which I’ve never particularly been taken with on the album but live it was so much better.

Then after the obligatory run off stage, we were treated to a great encore of Monster Hospital and a stripped down, acoustic version of Live It Out with Emily jumping off the stage to come down the front of the crowd for high fives, hugs and the like which was a really nice touch.

All in all, it was a much better show than I’d anticipated. I’d only discovered the band recently through Fantasies so was quite pleased that the majority of the set consisted of those tracks as they have a much better, layered sound than some of the older albums. But on the flipside, the older tracks are a lot more raw and the unpolished sound of some of them can be their strength as well as their weakness. And in Emily Haines, the band have a great front-woman with her going between synthesiser, guitar and vocal duties.

They’re not quite ready for stadiums, as they almost seem to believe, but for that night, the Ballroom definitely belonged to them.

Metric – Help I’m Alive (live)

Live and Kicking
April 18, 2009, 2:33 pm
Filed under: music | Tags: , , , , , ,

Sadly nothing to do with the 90’s Saturday morning kids TV program but a mini feature on a couple of gigs from the last few months featuring a few photos and live recordings.

Los Campesinos!

Back in October 2008, I managed to catch these guys in Camden as part of the ‘Shred Yr Face’ tour with Times New Viking and No Age. LC! themselves played a blinder with a real good fun set, playing a load of songs of their first album and a handful off their new album as well. They finished with the epic ‘Sweet Dreams Sweet Cheeks’ which was simply fantastic live. If you get chance to see these guys, do it.


You! Me! Dancing! (live)

Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks (from 2008’s ‘Hold On Now Youngster’) Download


Also in October last year, I caught these guys at a tiny venue in Kilburn (where they’re playing again in a couple of months time) and it produced a great, intimate atmosphere. They weren’t top of the bill on the night, that honour went to This Town Needs Guns, but for me they were the best band there by a mile. Their set was a wee bit short which was disappointing but what they did play blew me away. Great band and even got a signed 12″ and had a chat with them afterwards. Looking forward to the new album out in June!!


Not For Want Of Trying (Live)

The Paris Hilton Sex Tape (from 2008’s ‘Not For Want Of Trying’) Download

Bon Iver

This was back in December 08 at the peculiar venue of the Victoria Apollo; peculiar as it was still showing ‘Wicked’ (the Wizard of Oz musical) at the time so the stage was still decked out with trees and had a dragon hanging from the ceiling. It was also one of the most peculiar atmoshpheres I’ve ever encountered at a gig as it was like seeing an actual theatre production as you felt so self-concious talking between songs and I even put my phone onto silent. The set itself though was breathtaking; songs such as Skinny Love and RE Stacks were stunning live and the band with him made it even better.

We also got to hear some of his new material, which has since been released on the ‘Blood Bank’ EP, and the singalong finale of The Wolves was magical as well.  Would pay good money to see him again.

Bon Iver

Skinny Love (Live)

RE Stacks (from 2008’s ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’) Download

Frank Turner

Last, and by no means least, in this feature is the freebie gig that Frank Turner performed just over a month ago at Pure Groove Records in Farringdon. This really was special as it was just 150 fans, Frank and his guitar with a selection of tunes from both of his albums and a few new tunes for good measure too. Could hardly speak afterwards from all the singing and with such an intense atmosphere there, I think his gig in October at the Shepherds Bush Empire could be something special. Below is a recording of a brand new song off his new album out in September.

The Road (Live)

Heartless Bastard Mother Fucker (from 2009’s ‘The Last Three Years) Download

Everything Has A Beginning
April 7, 2009, 12:30 pm
Filed under: music | Tags: , ,

So here we are; the Genesis of the blog, the Big Bang if you may. I had to start somewhere and this is it!

Tracks Monkeys With Lasers is something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while now, a little corner of the internet where I can talk about music, whether this be new CDs I like, gigs I’ve been to or random tracks I discover, this can be the place to share it with you.

It’s fair to say I don’t really have a clue what I’m doing at the moment but hopefully I’ll hit the ground running and there’ll be rapid imrovements made to the blog in the next few weeks.

While I’m learning the ropes, and to hopefully whet your appetite, here’s a live track I got from the band And So I Watch You From Afar when they played the Bull & Gate in Kentish Town (London) a month or two back. Just hoping this works!


From their upcoming, and self titled, debut album;

Set Guitars To Kill – Live at the Bull and Gate

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