Live review : Ten Tonnes : Camden Assembly, London : 14:09:17

 

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As it is usual for me, I’m down to a take some photos of a live music event and it is again a new venue, the “Camden Assembly”. As soon as I make my way in I notice that it is a tiny and cosy pub that has a room upstairs for live music.

After few minutes, I start to see the first people entering the room. The lights are down, to create a very intimate atmosphere and “Dan Stock” is on stage. He is a musician and songwriter from Milton Keynes that presents himself with just voice and guitar and he is very talented. The audience seems to enjoy the music while having a drink. To add to his talent, he was lucky enough to play at Reading and Leeds festival the past August as one of the artists on the BBC introducing stage.

Everything goes on smoothly, next “Plaza” is up- a post-Indie band from North of England and as soon as they hit the stage a big amount of energy is coming from them and their instruments. The singer leads the performance with a strong head banging and jump game. The crowd charges up and everyone is ready to party. As the previous artist, even Plaza played at Reading and Leeds this year.

It is time now for “Ten Tonnes” aka Ethan Barnett. He is a 20 years old singer and songwriter from Hertford. He plays original songs with his electric guitar and his music has indie and alternative influences. His performance is supported by a drummer, a bassist and another guitarist. A nice thing that I notice is that his friends and his mother are in the audience and they look so proud of him. Despite is young age, he already has is big group of fans since that everyone is singing and screaming his name.

The smoke keeps giving a different atmosphere to the venue and keeps everyone close to the stage make them look like a group of people united by the music. My night was very pleasant.

 

Words + Photos : Selena Ferro

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Live Review : Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever : Moth Club : 12:09:17

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I’m down for the evening at “Moth Club” in Hackney. As soon as I enter the venue, I can feel a pleasant atmosphere and I direct myself to the main room. By surprise, it is quite big, has very good lighting and is surrounded by red sofas with tables that remind me of an old American diner. And as a plus of every venue, there is a small bar on one side.

I know the show is sold out, so I’m quite excited to see how amazing will be.

While I look around, the first band “Mush” are sound checking, which is always one of my favourite parts to see. After about half hour the room start to get filled with people ready to start their Tuesday evening.

Since there are just two bands playing, the start time is a bit late. So here is “Mush” a four-piece band from Leeds. Their music is an influence of raw wall-of-noise 90s Alt-Rock. The driving rhythms are perfectly complemented by ragged solos, nagging catchy hooks and the singer’s yelps and screams. The songs are quite long and give a big space for the instrumental parts. The audience is warming up and enjoying the show.

Time for a little change of scenario and it’s time for “Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever”, a Tough Pop/ Soft Punk band from Melbourne, Australia. This is the last night of their UK/ European tour where they are promoting their second EP “The French Press”. This new work is a level up on everything they made and a way to attract more fans to love their music. Through their performance I can feel the relentless energy that carries every one away. Everyone is fully into their music and starts to dance, jump and scream. It is so nice to see a lot of people coming down to show their welcome to these guys.

It is such a big turn up to end a tour in an explosive way like this one, before heading back to Australia. British people are surely showing them their love tonight.

It was such an amazing music discovery.

 

-Words + photos : Selena Ferro

Live Review : James Letta : Surya, London : 31/08/17

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When you are doing this job you tend to have some venues that you really like, and Surya is one of them. So I’m glad to be down there again tonight. This is a special night, because “James Letta” has his album coming out at midnight, so we are all down to celebrate this success with him.

Let’s say I’m very excited for the show and can’t wait to get it started. The first artist to get on stage is “Amber Peri”, a British upcoming urban pop singer and songwriter that also plays the keys. At this time the venue is still quite empty, but this young girl starts her performance with a chin up. She is helped by a talented guy, Leo, on the percussions. Her voice is amazing and despite her young age, she is really good in what she does.

After a nice break, it’s now the turn of “Danny Wright”, a self-taught, self-made singer, guitarist, songwriter and actor from North London. With the past of frontman of rock bands is now a solo artist with a Pop-Punk, Pop- Rock sound and intensely personal songs. I can notice straight away that he is very confident on stage and his music it’s super catchy and makes you want to dance. The crowd starts to become a little bigger and everyone is enjoying the performance.

Second lady of the night on stage. “Lucy Mair” is a singer and songwriter. Her music combines jazz-influenced pop melodies with thoughtful and heartfelt lyrics. She performs using a keyboard, adding a loop pedal to build up driving rhythms with lush and complex vocal harmonies. She is literally amazing; she left me speechless and very surprised by her talent.

And now, the time has come; “James Letta” owns the stage. He is a singer, songwriter and producer based in both Nottingham and London. He plays piano and keyboard since the age of 7, his music is a mix of contemporary R&B, Funk and Soul. The moment he jumps on stage, I’m blown away by his great talent and the energy he has during his performance. The room is full and the audience is clearly excited about the all thing that starts singing and dancing. Since the night is about the new album, he plays a one hour set with two acoustic moments that are full of emotions.

 

I’m glad I could take part at this show and have the opportunity to shoot these talented artists.

 

-Words + Photos : Selena Ferro

Live Review : Misfires w/ Getrz + The Sulks : The Vic, Swindon : 31/08/17

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Swindon’s doing pretty well on the Indie band breeding front, with both Misfires and YVES making a name for themselves up and down the country. On the eve of their headline UK tour, Misfires return to Swindon’s humble venue, The Vic, for a hometown send off; the line up is complete by two other local bands, The Sulks and GETRZ.

First band of the night is GETRZ. There’s a split between their sound: one half of their songs are modulation drenched and packed full of emotion, whilst the other half are riff based dance tunes with a perfect balance of punk intwined. The crowd loved them, and for good reason. These boys pack the show with energy and great interaction – start to finish; a cold bath probably was on the cards afterwards. Could the energy GETRZ give off be the solution to global warming?

Next up was The Sulks, hotly tipped by This Feeling, also starting to branch out further like our headliners and YVES. What you have with The Sulks is a group of fantastic musicians and two fantastic singers. The vocals of James and Rhys layer together fantastically. Again, a variety within their sounds, with some Nada Surf esque songs, and some that sway into the more familiar indie territory. Highlight of their set being song AB, which was highly impressive.

Lastly was time for Misfires. Despite being a Thursday night showing in Swindon, fans had travelled and merch was being worn in the audience. The lads rallied back and forth between the hits that their devoted fanbase loves them for, and new tunes which bring just as much to the table. New tune Indie Kids, seemed to kick up a storm with the fanbase indicating no slowing of momentum to Misfires rise. The following morning they were announced as tour support for Bristol based Coasts, another indication that Misfires are really solidifying themselves on the national scene.

 

-Photos + words : Nick Tucker

 

 

Live Review : SOFTER STILL // “Visions Of You” EP launch

press (c) softer still

You’ve probably never heard of Softer Still. The four piece effectmeisters from Surrey have a nice line in brilliant music that most radio won’t go near. Which is a shame, because as ‘indie’ became that descriptor that seemingly sucked in all new music, the sweet retro throwbacks that Softer Still produce are more indie and experimental than most.

NME called “Bliss”, their catchy, breezy release from last summer “stunning” and praised their clever experimentation with synths. They’re more dreampop by accident than design though – there’s a very contemporary feel to their shimmery, melody-driven music, especially in new EP release “Visions of You” which launched at The Old Blue Last. The bug had bitten me hard – I looped their stuff whenever I was driving in anything close to sunshine, and headed over to see if Softer Still’s live performance matched their beautifully produced studio efforts.

OK, so live drums, two guitars and a small room are never going to sound like studio tracks, but Softer Still are still dreampop. Kind of. There is a more analogue feel to their live show, more like a Cure or Police feel with guitars upfront. They’re still instantly recognisable though, and it feels like this EP was definitely written to work as well in front of an audience as it does through your headphones.

The EP springs out of the blocks with “Wishing Well”, jangly riffs and big drum sounds chase a hypnotic synth,  instantly putting a smile on your face. It’s deceptively uptempo, full of clever little electric guitar frippery and makes great use of the male lead/female backing vocal split. Slightly eerie chords here and there stop the track from being bubblegum sweet, helped by breaks in melody to give a killer bassline room. The lyrics bring in themes of nostalgia and yearning  that feature throughout the EP, but sadder notes feature, like ‘make a wish and hope it comes true / do you care if you cry all night again?’ anchoring this dreampop gem somewhere that we can all emotionally reach.

Fairly low tropical-sounding pipes open “Forever Faces” before a cheeky, repetitive riff dances much higher up and the languid vocals drip through the cracks. This is a song that bounces along, reminding me of a childlike Mario Kart soundtrack that’s been smoothed over here and there. The nostalgic, hazy feeling is coloured more darkly by lyrics looking back on ‘forever faces / at different stages of my life / loving you / gave me something to do’. The slinky drum work here deserves special mention, standing out especially well live.

The most distinctive track “1993” is a retro take on what the future’s music would be like. It’s anchored by big drums and an addictively funky bassline that sounded fantastic with the natural reverb of Old Blue. A ringing guitar riff incorporates some original slide elements, kind of like throwing effects pedals at a pedal steel player. Again, the lyrics have a longing to them, reminiscing about more gentle times but never getting upset about it – the refrain “innocence exists in 1993 / innocence exists when you’re here with me” treads a careful line between telling us how we should feel and giving listeners enough to project their own feelings onto the track. There’s no deviation from the fantastic vocal performances either, although the eerie quality on the recording didn’t come through as strongly live. It’s in songs like this that you feel the dreampop label doesn’t do enough – “1993” is more like a Smiths track (minus Morrissey’s self-indulgent misery and doomed romance) or a The War on Drugs rhythm-centric soft anthem with guitar textures melting into electronics.

Softer Still wrap the EP up with a slow-burning goodbye. “Junipero” takes a flowing melodic verse and adds a chorus that’s more magical incantation or trance-like vision than singalong anthem. Fairly rapid guitar picking under the verse stops it from becoming a dirge, and a gorgeous synth tone ties the whole thing together with an old-school sound. It’s harder to tease apart the various instruments here, especially live. “Junipero” is an airy, breathy take of the EP’s themes and approach. There’s a tinge of sadness and yearning here which makes you feel like it’s the last dance at a school disco, or the band scene in those high school movies you watched as a kid. “Visions of You” is a fantastic effort

“Visions of You” will jump straight to the top of your favourites list if you need pop music in your life but want a take on the world that isn’t just happy sweetness and simple major chords. It’ll never be the kind of music to get huge radio airplay but that’s not the point. Live, in a small room and without the hiding space that limitless studio production offers, Softer Still’s songwriting talents shine and they perform flawlessly. If you can see them live then do – you’ll appreciate how good the EP is even more afterwards.

 

-Joe Morel

press shot (c) softer still