Monday, July 6, 2015

Mix Tape - Loud noise in a silent year

It's a silent year. No really ... the lack of Biffy and Medals shows to travel to is so weird after being on the road so much for the last two years and I feel like there is no music in my life but that is not really true. Although it is definitely less action I am still out quite a lot to catch the one or other band and because I did not blog in a long time I have a lot to report on:

Arcane Roots / Enter Shikari

Arcane Roots
I would not have bought an Enter Shikari ticket without Arcane Roots supporting to be honest, but with the Roots boys coming along I of course did.
It was almost a bit of an undercover show for AR in a slowly filling up venue, but it was a lovely set and the new songs sound absolutely awesome. The new album will be HUGE and as usual with Arcane Roots full of big sounds and a lot of fabulous guitar trickery. Little did I know that it would be my last chance to see Daryl drumming but with my knowledge now I am even happier that I went.

I know that sounds grandma style, but if I was 20 years younger I would love Enter Shikari. The boys are nice and fun - they were even hanging out at the merch before the show to take pics with fans and the energy on stage is amazing. It just isn't my music (anymore) and a few songs in at the front I was developing a serious strobo light / staccato beats headache. So I left my barrier spot that I had claimed for Arcane Roots (I had arrived a good time after doors and just went because nobody was there yet) shortly after the photographers when the first a bit slower song allowed me to make my way out. I grabbed the girl behind me that was shoved around a lot by the wild crowd and put her in my space and made her day ... one for the karma points ;) and watched the rest of the show from the back. Not my cup of tea but definitely a great band.

Enter Shikari

Young Legionnaire / Idlewild 

The next stop was super exciting. Sottish legends Idlewild would play the first show of their European tour - the first in many years - in my little Bavarian town at Strom. Idlewild ... basically in my living room. No barrier or anything.

To make things even better Young Legionnaire joined the Scots as support band and played an amazing show. I absolutely loved it. I regret a bit that I did not use the chance to speak to drummer Denzel after their set to squeeze him out a bit about Mike Vennart's solo record, but I was too busy with sneaking forward and finally made to the second row. Sadly I had a total asshole in front of me who was filming most of the show with his giant tablet but oh well ... what can you do.

The show was fantastic but some folks in the audience struggled. It's the classic type of problem ... a band moves on but not all the fans can do / want to follow - it is a natural process. I mean ... I know where they were coming from ... My fave Idlewild tune is "Actually It's Darkness", too. The difference probably is that I did not expect to hear it or at least not in the way we were all used to. When you know a bit about what for example solo projects they did in the meantime and listened to the new album it was pretty clear the sound of the band would be different ... a bit more folky, a bit more mellow. And so it was .... but it was great and I loved it. I wish I could do it again. I actually cannot wait to do it again as soon as possible.

After the show I sat a bit on the stairs near the merch - I was not in a hurry. When most people were heading for the doors already Roddy Woomble came out to the sales desk. Nobody really cared or looked up. I was like "Ohhhhh .... okay.", got to my feet, took a deep breath to play it all cool while I was totally fangirling on the inside and went for a lovely wee chat and got my ticket signed. There is a good chance that this will be never that easy again.

The Twilight Sad 

The Twilight Sad 

This show is for now clearly the highlight of the year. It even felt "right" because I jumped on an airplane to make it there.  I kind of had waited until last minute with deciding to go because the trip did not really fit into my schedule, but I wanted to see them headlining a club show so badly and Cologne was my only chance. It was SO worth it.
This band is magical ... intense, special, beautiful. We just had a discussion on Facebook in our Twilight Sad group if  the "miserable (dark) songs"  would also make us feel miserable as well, but - for me - they clearly don't. Yes ... it is not happy go lucky, sunshiny stuff but it is wonder- and powerful music full of emotion and passion. And the darkness .... if I am in the right mood it has more a soothing, relaxing effect. I spent for example and hours long train ride up to the North on a rainy day with my eyes closed listening to the Twilight Sad and it was not depressing at all. I just went inside and relaxed and not every music can do that.
And live ... so special. The band is able to bring this very unique and special type of energy on the stage and the audience LOVES it.  The club in Cologne was packed and the crowd was clearly under the Sad spell - in the very best way.

After the show we met James at the merch and traded Glasgow music stories and shared laughs. It's been amazing and he is truly the funniest and nicest singer of sad songs one can imagine.

Dry The River / Bear's Den

Dry The River

Both bands were not on the top of my wishlist but strongly recommended by good friends of mine. Dry The River are the favorites of my friends Helen and Samantha and also supported Biffy before. Good reasons to go and check them out.
The poor boys had a rough day after having trouble with the German police who found a van full of funky dressed, long haired English people suspicious but it did not stop them from delivering a really beautiful show between smashing rock songs and fragile melodies. I really enjoyed it a lot.

Bear's Den were recommended by Anita and Steffi and were labeled by lots of people as "Mumford & Sons just better". I had my doubts because Mumford & Sons do absolutely nothing for me and I would lie if I would say I left the place as a big Bear's Den fan but it was still a good show. The lads are skilled musicians who write nice songs and play with passion. The show was sold out and it is always so nice to see a band who cannot believe that they play a packed house so far away from home and enjoy it so much. The amount of high end fashion styled hipsters with beards and nerd glasses was hilarious though.

Friska Viljor

Friska Viljor

It was supposed to be a little thing, you know. Just a few tiny club shows. Just Joakim and Daniel without the band. Just short sets to test the new material. Well, that did not work out. The clubs were indeed small and that caused serious ticket panic. The kind of when you refresh Ticketmaster to the exact minute and still see "No tickets available" and then you see some but before you can check out they are gone. Thank god it worked out though. I had a ticket to see Friska Viljor for the ... Uh .. wait ... I think 6th or 7th time? Something like that. And I got them delivered basically to my home - to Strom ...again.

Usually I am standing on the bass player side - in this case Daniel's - but although I got there early my usual front row spot was taken this time but I settled nicely in with Jocke on the other side. Logically the sold out place was packed with an euphoric crowd of "usual suspects". These guys have very loyal fans and we all knew we were in for a treat. 

The show started with one of my favorite songs - especially acoustic - called "Useless" but that was for quite a while the pretty much only old song because the purpose of the tour was to introduce us to the stripped down versions of the new songs from now released 6th album "My Name Is Friska Viljor". Although that means the famous Friska sing alongs had to wait the atmosphere was great and the brand new material more than well received for a good reason. I think this is their strongest album since quite a while. A lot has happened in the last few years ... the two of them have families now and added together five kids. The band is playing bigger and bigger venues especially in Germany and all that still without major label support. All the new impressions and changes found their way into the music and while it is still the lovely, uplifting Friska sound you can tell how serious they took the song writing task this time. Under the surface those new tunes are more complex and more thought through than much of the older material without losing that special Friska charm. 

After about an hour the duo declared the show for over but that was not accepted ... and of course it was not really the end but just the intro to another hour of greatest hits and much singing. And it was glorious. This video is from Vienna but Munich was the same ... no ... better ... because we (audience) did the  "And we will carry on ... " for almost 10 minutes, a-capella, concerted, with varying volume. Not even kidding .... 


WE WILL CARRY ON ....   See you in November!!!

And before I finish this up ... we have an encore here as well:

New records you should buy ...  

Friska Viljor - My Name Is Friska Viljor

We talked about this already. It's good for you. It is also good for them. You know .. you do not feed five children on Spotify fees. You just don't! 

Order a hard copy or at least get a proper download

Mike Vennart - The Demon Joke

FINALLY some spotlight again on the shadow man ... the man that plays on tour guitar with Biffy Clyro. As most of my dear readers here know Mike and also Gambler (Richard Ingram - keyboard with Biffy on the road) were part of Oceansize. And so was Steve Durose who you can hear on this record as well (drums by Denzel from Young Legionnaire as mentioned above already). Yet ... this is Mike's album and no Oceansize record. And beat me ... I am happy about that. Although Oceanize were amazing and all that it is not 100% my thing. But ... time has passed and hanging out with three certain Scottish lads obviously had some effect and if it was just for putting a bit more love for a catchy chorus into Mike and the result is fantastic. THIS is EXACTLY my thing. "The Demon Joke" is a "no skip" record. One of those when asked for the fave tunes you cannot do other than list at least half the tracklist (Operate, Infatuate, Retaliate, the lovely A Weight In the Hollow and the super awesome Duke Fame for me). It is also so nice to hear Mike's amazing voice doing more than just backing vocals. SO GOOD!

Order with the online or offline record shop of your choice or go here


The LaFontaines - Class 

When The LaFontaines came to Munich last fall I mostly went because I was just back from Glasgow and had a massive post travel and post gig depression. I was tired and in a bad mood and almost stayed home. I did not and not much later I was a happy, jumping, smiling, sweaty mess ... just that what happens as a Fonts show. It was the best depression killer ever.
My condition lapsed though after the show and to cure my sadness I flew to Glasgow again only a bit later, went to another Medals show and right the next day also to my second LaFontaines gig ... this times SLIGHTLY bigger at the sold out O2 ABC and that was HUGE. That was the band spreading their wings and those wings are big and ready to take off. 

The LaFontaines - still skint and unsigned (that's a quote) - now managed to release their first full album on their own and what an album it is! I am listening to it ALL THE TIME at the moment.  It keeps me going when I am tired and distracts me when I worry and makes me dance when I have a good day. That Fontaines mix made from Hip Hop, Rock and yep ... "earwormy" pop melodies is just so much FUN. Get on it!

(In)Famous last words for today: 

Please, support all these bands and all your other fave musicians with buying real records or at least a regular download and if you have a few spare pennies also merch and concert tickets! Especially the ones who are not topping the charts (yet) need YOU to keep going. 

These people chose their passion over knowing how to pay next months bills - it is as simple as that - and yet produce something that brings all of us so much joy. So if you can, do your part as well and honor all the hard work, creativity and investment with properly paying for the product you love so much. Thanks! 

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