Indieterria meets The Cosmics

Dear Readers,

The Cosmics has been shaping West Midlands music scene for three years now. They announced their arrival on the local scene with a punkadelic anthem “Johnny” and do not show any signs of slowing down. It does not happen often that so early in their career a band will achieve best of both worlds – cult status in their home town and respect of their musical peers.Ask anyone in West Midlands and they will tell you – The Cosmics are unlike any other band. Not only in sound but how quickly they progress from one stage to another, like they have found a secret formula to make it in the music business. We can only think of one other act in the last four years with such distinctiveness, influence and uniqueness – The Blinders.

This blog will be longer than others – that is because we wanted to do a proper introduction to the band. We interviewed them, we went to see them on their first European tour and gathered some press coverage of their debut EP.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the indie circuit – please meet a trio that will define the future of music in the UK – The Cosmics.

**** The interview ****

Before the band travelled abroad to play shows in The Netherlands, Belgium and France, we have sat down with bassist and vocalist Erin Grace to talk about the band`s Glastonbury appearance, their EP and working on exclusive pressings of their singles via Flying Vinyl. This is what Erin told us:

The Cosmics photographed by Psychedelic Eye
https://www.facebook.com/psychedelic.eye.photography

Many bands claim that they are as close as relatives. You don’t have to – you are one very talented family.  Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria.

Erin Grace:  Thank you! We are Erin Grace (bass/vocals), Connor Boyle (guitar) and Danny Boyle (drums).

The Cosmics formed in 2015 and within one year gathered incredible support. In 2017 BBC Introducing invited you to play their stage at the biggest festival of all – Glastonbury. Tell us how do you remember that show?

Erin Grace:  Glastonbury was an unforgettable dream come true, it felt very surreal, being on stage, there was huge  feelings of excitement, it’s something we always dreamt of but never thought would happen when we first started the band.

Since Glasto you have been going from strength to strength – the list of your achievements is longer than  life span of many indie acts: rave reviews from Steve Lamacq and Hugh Stephens, radio play on BBC 1, BBC 6, Amazing Radio, Radio X, coverage from BBC Introducing West Midlands. You played Isle of Wight and Reading Festival.  Your ascent to veterans of indie circuit was swift. Do you feel overwhelmed by your own success?

Erin Grace:  We don’t feel overwhelmed by anything, we just appreciate every opportunity we’ve had and we’re grateful for this journey as a band.

You shared stages with Starcrawler, Surfbort, The Murder Capital, Goat Girl and Birmingham finest -Table Scraps. Its equivalent of playing in Premier League of Indie Circuit. Do you book your own shows or do you prefer to use agents or external promoters?

Erin Grace: It depends what kind of show we’re going for, we love DIY shows and we also use promoters that suit us. Sometimes we book our own shows, though if we’re supporting a band or playing outside of Birmingham, we use promoters.

We have to ask you about your unique stage dress code: vintage dresses or costumes inspired by 60s and 70s have become your trademark. You have also been included in Fred Perry Subculture series.  How important is stage attire to you and was this aspect of your shows something that you wanted to explore?

Erin Grace:  Outfits are relatively important, they can express a mood or an era, we all love vintage fashion too so it just feels natural to wear what we love.

Your debut single “Johnny” came out in 2017 on Flying Vinyl – a company specializing in limited releases on vinyl. You returned to working with them last year when you took part in Flying Vinyl`s first compilation “Paranoid Futures”.  We would love to hear how your collaboration began?

Erin Grace:  Flying Vinyl approached us a few years ago when “Johnny” first came put and ever since, we love what they do!

The Cosmics ready for action – photography by Jessica H_Ingram
https://www.facebook.com/jessicahingramphotography

You just released your debut EP. It was recorded by Rory Attwell (Palma Violets, The Vaccines) and produced by Andy ‘Hippy’ Baldwin (Sundara Karma, The Orb, Blur, Oasis). You got to work with some established names. Where was it recorded and how long it took for the EP to be finished?

Erin Grace:  The EP was released on 13th June and we recorded it all in London, we went to record on few separate occasions over the course of a year so each song was written at a different time.

You also launched the EP in London. How did that go?

Erin Grace:  The EP launch went better than we expected, it was great having our friends on the line up. The show was a lot of fun and The Old Blue Last is a great venue.

The record is promoted by single “Eyes” and a very curious video. Cyclops on skateboards. Please tell us where did you film the video. Some part of it look like Digbeth. Who directed it?

Erin Grace:  We filmed everything for the “Eyes” music video in Birmingham, some bits in the city centre and others in suburban areas. Our drummer Danny directed it and filmed the video.

Before “Eyes”, you released “Trust Is Blind”.  We really want to know the story behind this song. In the video you look like a character from Lynch movie – you smile to the camera and yet the viewer has a feeling that any given moment you will break into tears. Then in a blink, you charge on stage where you tear down the decorations in a  fury that would suit Courtney Love at the heights of her Hole days. Like to keep your viewers on their toes?

Erin Grace:  “Trust is Blind” surrounds themes of betrayal and dishonesty, it’s about trust being broken. Yeah, we wanted to add twist into this track, we enjoy experimenting with noise.

We are hearing that the EP has been selling well and you got played on legendary American radio KEXP. So where do The Cosmic go from here? Any plans for the future?

Erin Grace:  We plan to keep gigging in cities and countries we’ve never played before and we’ll continue to make new music!

You can follow the band on their socials:

https://www.facebook.com/thecosmicsband
https://twitter.com/thecosmicsband
https://www.instagram.com/thecosmicsuk/
https://thecosmicsuk.bandcamp.com/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx3KjGaX2RJvXI5e7nljvGA
https://soundcloud.com/user-838453312
https://open.spotify.com/artist/0aocL5HcJzJlZJtAZH6caL?si=OYgzbMbGTZ-TwFXsFRmQ7Q

 

 **** The EP ****

The Cosmics presenting cover and the vinyl of their debut EP

The self titled debut EP has gathered rave reviews across the industry. These are just some of the reactions that we have gathered for the purpose of this blog. There are many more out there ranging from big established brands (The Clash Magazine) to local newspapers and blogs (Birmingham Review, Independent Music News), radio stations (Brum Radio, BBC West Midlands, BBC Introducing). The EP received airplay from Steve Lamacq (BBC 6 Music), Huw Stephens (BBC Radio 1), X Radio, Amazing Radio, KEXP in US among others. No management, no booker, no label or radio plugger. Just the strength of their music.

Front cover of the EP and A side of the vinyl pressing.

The Clash Magazine:
“New cut “Eyes” is a short, sharp shock, driven by that urgent vocal and those taut guitar lines. The sound of The Cosmics thrashing away in the unholy night, it carries some uncanny reverberations. Tune in now.”
https://www.clashmusic.com/news/the-cosmics-rev-it-up-on-eyes

Circuit Sweet:
“Lead single “Eyes”, taken from the self-titled record,  perfectly encapsulates the kind of 60’s beat that The Cosmics perform with such perfect refrain before collapsing almost entirely into a much more modern take on the garage-fuzz sound. Addictively catchy, the band walk the line between surf and noise effortlessly while showcasing a raw talent for song writing”.
https://circuitsweet.co.uk/2019/04/brand-new-garage-fuzz-from-birminghams-the-cosmics-debut-ep-announced-for-june/

The vinyl pressing of the EP

The 405:
“On this release they’ve perfectly captures the debauchery of their live performances”
https://www.thefourohfive.com/music/article/the-cosmics-capture-the-youthful-grit-and-glamour-of-their-sound-in-the-video-for-eyes-405-premiere-155

Backseat Mafia:
“The thing about The Cosmics is they’ve mastered sounding like they’re from the 60s girl band sound, strained through a messy, edgy garage punk filter. That’s because they have the melodies at heart that could have made it onto a classic soul all-nighter, but instead of organ and bass, they’ve got this frayed guitar sound that leaks feedback and lashes itself to the track. Brilliant stuff.”
http://www.backseatmafia.com/track-the-cosmics-drained/

Travellers Tunes:
“The immediacy of the record is undeniable. Singer Erin Grace co-opts a Shangri-La’s vocal for the verse before effortlessly sliding into a furious punk rock delivery in the chorus.”
https://travellerstunes.com/review/thecosmics-drained

Back cover of the EP and B side of the vinyl pressing.

**** The Tour ****

Before going abroad, The Cosmics played dates in Birmingham, London, Glasgow and Manchester.  As we had to go to continental Europe for a bit ourselves, we have decided to catch up with the band on the road and bring you an exclusive coverage of their gigs though videos and photos. This is what we have found and you can judge for yourselves that The Cosmics had a lot of fun! Tours can be great!

Tour poster

On 20th of June, The Cosmics travelled to Ghent in Belgium to participate in Girls Go Boom, a one day festival organised at a popular Muziekcentrum KinkyStar. Located in the historical (and tourist) city centre of Ghent, the venue has a capacity of 80 people and is known for supporting independent and emerging acts, not only local to Belgium but also from all over the world. In the last two years, nearly 100 bands from Europe, Canada, USA and Australia played at the Kinky Star and majority of their shows are sold out. Manchester darlings, WITCH FEVER (whom we have seen recently at the Albert Square during Manchester International Festival alongside The Pagans SOH and The Blinders) performed for Girls Go Boom in October 2018 and completely blew the audience away. We had a pleasure to speak to one of the organisers of the festival and we were told that the team are big fans of indie/post punk music from the UK. The Cosmics were chosen as their songs caught the team’s eye (and the ear as well) while browsing the newest releases on BandCamp. It is worth adding that Girls Go Boom book only female fronted and fully female bands (including LGBTQ+ artists who identify as females). They are the only promoter in Belgium who does it and their shows comes with a set of quite obvious rules. They include no homophobia, no racism and no sexism, girls in the front, safe space for sexual and racial minorities and no patriarchal bullshit. Everyone is cordially invited  – men, women, non binary or gender fluid persons. Their motto is “It doesn’t matter who you are, you will always be among friends”. We can only applaud their initiative as it was one of the nicest, safest shows we have seen in a long time. The venue was packed to the last place, everybody danced (and pogo’ed), drank beer, sang and had a lovely time. And there was no pushing, no shouting, no aggression, the photographers could work uninterrupted without fear of having their equipment destroyed. Every gig goer received a complimentary badge at the door and the entry was free. We need something similar in the UK as some of the gigs we go to are a parade for bullies and football hooligans. Organisations such as Safe Gigs For Women are doing a splendid job but there is a long road ahead of us.

The Cosmics performed alongside Piss KittiVaginas, what else?, Dragon’s Daughters, DJ’s MOSHI MOSHI and Melissa Juice. Their show started exactly at 22:00 CET (21:00 UK time) and lasted about 40 minutes. The band played their recent singles “Trust Is Blind” and “Eyes” along with fan favourites: “Cundy Come Down” and “Brainfuzz” taken off their self titled debut EP. “Velma”, “Johnny”, “I Quit” and “Inishfree” filled the rest of the set.

It was wild and energetic ride, filled with solid dose of sound distortion and vibrations. Lead singer, Erin Grace, is known for her expressive performance and we could see her falling to her knees, bashing the strings of her bass like her life depended on it and move as in a trance. Twin brothers, Conor (guitar) and Danny Boyle (drums) were closely following Erin’s trail with thunderous beat and aggressive riffs. And the crowd loved every minute of the spectacle, responding with admiration to each song. At the end, the Birmingham based trio received a standing ovation and many cheers for the show. Judging by the reactions, The Cosmics have bright future in front of them. If you haven’t seen them yet, please do as they are on rise and soon they will be playing big stages instead of intimate venues.

 

You can learn more about Kinky Star at: http://www.kinkystar.com/media.php
and Girls Go Boom Festival at: https://www.girlsgoboom.com/0

The performance was live streamed on Kinky’s Star website and you can watch it at: https://www.facebook.com/MuziekcentrumKinkyStar/videos/487192875376482/

Two days later, on 21st of July, we met with the band again, this time in Antwerp. They were about to play another EU show at an independent venue called Cafe Cabron. Sadly, we couldn’t stay for the gig itself, but we have taken them for a small photo shoot around the beautiful The Grote Markt of Antwerp. It is so easy to fall in love with The Cosmics. They come as a full package – not only their music is a killer, but they have the looks, the talent and confidence that will take them far.

The show has been organised by Zing Zang Zong and was to start at 9:00 pm.
The Cosmics were to be supported by Belgian duo, De Batteries.
Form what we have heard – it was another success for the band, but that is a standard outcome for the Birmingham trio.

More information about the gig:
https://www.facebook.com/events/858188711217531/
https://www.facebook.com/zzzgarageclub/
https://www.facebook.com/CafeeCabron/

We are hoping to catch the band at another show this tour so watch out this space for additional content and more compliments regarding the band. If you still haven`t noticed West Midlands has the best scene and we are so happy to be part of it.

See ya down the front? You bet!

M/R

Indieterria Review – Membranes and guests at Manchester Ritz

The Membranes, HENGE, Queen Zee, LIINES, The Pack (Theatre Of Hate) and Glove
Saturday, June 8, 2019
O2 Ritz, Manchester

Membranes fans are probably the most patient fans in the world. It took four long years for the band to return with the follow up to their excellent “Dark Matter/Dark Energy ” album. The new release entitled “What Nature Gives…Nature Takes Away” was finally released on the 7th of June and to commemorate this occasion, John Robb  & Co, booked a home-coming gig. They didn’t invite just one or two support acts. Instead, they have brought a full mini festival to the O2 Ritz.

Glove, a duo consisting of artists Slosilver and Stephanie Finegan opened the night with their energetic set. Many bands are called the next big thing, but Glove definitely deserve this title. Both artists were true firecrackers on stage. Matching outfits and colourful make up only added up to their appeal, but it was their music that made a huge impression on everyone. It’s very hard to classify their sound: there is punk rock, ska, indie, elements of grrlpower movement from the 90’s. From several styles, they create an unique combination that is truly their own. Gloves released their debut EP on May 4th and we had the pleasure of listening to it in its entirety.

 

 

The Pack (Theatre of Hate) were next on stage and their classic, uncompromising punk rock was greeted with delight by the public and massive moshpit formed to test the bouncy floor at the Ritz. I was equally delighted to see many young faces in the crowd wearing fan hawks and studded jackets. Indeed, punk’s not dead. Watching the band from the press pit (for the first time in my life) gives the reviewer a bit of a different perspective and at the same time I can tick this off my bucket list. Press review? Done! Light and sound at the Roskilde festival for the Sweedish death band band? Done! Taking pictures in the pit? Done as well! In the end, my pictures turned not very good and I had to rely on my pit partner in crime, Neil Winward. He kindly donated several excellent shoots of his own for this reviw and I’m very grateful!

You can follow Neil’s photography page at: https://www.facebook.com/neilwinwardphotography/

 

Added at the 11th hour, all female group, the LIINES are going from strength to strength. The band consists of  Zoe McVeigh (vocals, guitar), Tamsin Middleton (bass) and Leila O’Sullivan (drums). On Saturday, they played their best show yet. If you haven’t seen them live, you are committing a crime. Loud, bold and perfect in every detail, the trio easily proved that they are a force to be reckoned with. Their next gig in Manchester will take place on 17th of July at Festival Square, so book your seat in the front row!

 

I was looking forward to seeing Queen Zee for months after reading enthusiastic reviews on the internet and I wasn’t disappointed. Queen arrived in a blaze of glory and red light. Their set was built on powerful riffs, glam rock extravaganza and endless energy. There was a good deal of tongue-in-cheek humour between the songs that brightened the seriousness of their lyrics. My only complaint? Their show was too short and demands for “one more song” saw the band off stage and into the green room.

 

Next act, HENGE were something out of this world. Literally. They didn’t even pretend to be human. In fact, they travelled the universe in the name of rave to teach mankind to love, dance and take care of trees. The lead singer, Zhor wore a cape, voice modulator and plasma ball hat. The rest of the band consisted of  Grok, a human synthesiser player, Nom, the frog drummer and Goo, Venusian refugee on the keyboard. Henge are definitively a party band serving a convincingly alien mixture of rave, ABBA inspired disco, psychedelic rock with some heavy use of cowbell in certain songs. Despite their weirdness, everyone loved them and their merch stand welcomed a large crowd after the gig.

 

The final act for the night, the Membranes were greeted by a massive cheer from the gig goers when they finally appeared on the scene around 20:30 pm. As promised, the band were accompanied by a 10 piece BIMM Manchester choir conducted by Claire Pilling. I have seen Membranes play at the Alphabet Brewery in December 2018 and I thought they were excellent back then, but they sounded and looked even better now. They were like a fantastically oiled machine: well tuned in, strong and surprising. The show started with ” The Universe Explodes Into A Billion Photons Of Pure White Light”, followed by “Dark Energy” and “Do the Supernova” that sent the audience into a frenzied pogo. The new album was also well represented with “A Strange Perfume”, “Black Is the Colour” and the title track “What Nature Gives… Nature Takes Away”. It was one of the best gigs (or mini festivals) I have attended this year and the next show better be earth-shattering as the bar has been set very high indeed.

 

Vanadian Avenue would like to thank The Membranes and John Robb, Claire Pilling and the rest of the Manchester punk community for the opportunity to film and review the gig and for the great time they offered. A big thank you to Neil Winward for his pictures and to Shauna McLarnon from Shameless Promotion for her kind words and assistance. Thank you so much!

Special shout out to the lovely people from AF gang (IDLES community) who took me under their wings. All is love!

Rita Dabrowicz

Indieterria presents A Very Insecure Exhibition

Dear Readers,

A Very Insecure Exhibition flyer #1

The opening of A Very Insecure Exhibition – the place was packed!

The opening of A Very Insecure Exhibition

Vanadian Avenue has always been about music, pop culture and art. We absolutely adore any artistic activity and when we are notified that something interesting and unique is going to take place, we cannot help ourselves but to check it out. After hearing that two legendary music photographers, Karen McBride and Shari Dawson are going to do a collective exhibition, we booked hotel, tickets and off we went to see what was happening in the kingdom of Mancunia.

Before arriving to Manchester, we spoke to both artists about their exhibition, but they were mysterious as Sphinxes and didn’t reveal anything about it. They were so adamant not to let things slip, that they refused to name the place of the exhibition until the last day and even then, they had to be convinced by the BBC DJ to do it.

In the days of social media and constant bombardment by notifications, such attitude may be surprising but knowing both ladies, we can understand why they chose to promote their event in this way.

Thomas Haywood of The Blinders – the most popular print at the exhibition

The opening of A Very Insecure Exhibition – the famous Elbow image!

First of all, both Karen and Shari are fiercely independent. They don’t follow any trends and they don’t look up to anybody else. Secondly, they take the Manchester motto of “doing things differently” very literally and always come up with something fresh and exciting. They are also trend setters, always a step ahead of the game. When the rest of the world is busy printing stage times to the last seconds or sending invites, Karen and Shari do the opposite. They provided their fans with minimal information and encouraged them to patiently wait for the right moment. And this tactics worked like a charm! When we arrived at the PROJECTS MCR skate park venue where the exhibition took place, we found out that the place was tightly packed. It was really fascinating to watch – people queued eagerly, exchanging ideas and being excited like  group of kids before unpacking their presents on Christmas morning. We have never seen anything like this before. In a world over-saturated with news, being told only the bare minimum, suddenly seems radical and very punk!

Shari Denson and Karen McBride – photo by Simon Lee https://www.flickr.com/photos/strangelove20/

Skatepark MCR is a very specific place, full of concrete pillars, fantastic graffiti (the portrait of Princess Leia is probably one of the best we have seen in our lives!), slops and ramps. It is located under Mancunian Way and is separated from the main road by a fence. Holding exposition in an open air venue can be tricky on a chilly  February night, but the organizers made sure that the cafe was opened and served hot drinks and cakes to those who needed a little something to warm them up. There was also another drink bar, crafty built from recycled pallets and placed among the pictures that served cold drinks and ice creams.

John Robb (The Membranes/Louder Than War Magazine) who also conducted interview with Karen and Shari at the opening

At the bar

Since learning about the location of the exhibition, we were speculating among ourselves how Karen and Shari’s pictures are going to be displayed. After many guesses, we reached the conclusion that the venue is so unusual that the set up is probably going to be very traditional. We imagined rows of white, elegant boards with pictures displayed in even rows and the visitors passing from one end of the venue to the other with a glass of wine in hand, admiring them. You can imagine our surprise when we saw the final layout! Absolutely nothing traditional, no boards, no elegant browsing! The images, although beautifully printed on large scale billboards, were plastered alongside the slops, hang from the ceiling and were displayed on the walls or even covered the ramps and the floor! To get to see them, we had to move really close. We were forced to bend down, get on our knees, climb and walk around the uneven edges. And in that moment, we truly understood the genius of both photographers. Their art is not to be displayed in a museum or just glanced over. It needed to be felt, touched, breathed in. It was supposed to be in-your-face, it was supposed to feel like you had to work to earn the right to see those images. Only then we could truly appreciated them. The images are strictly linked to the city of Manchester. They portray musicians, artists, cultural icons and regular people frozen in  a single moment in time. They are not static, they are expressive, moving, they feel alive. They would still look beautiful in an art gallery, but it would never be the same. And the title finally made sense. A Very Insecure Exhibition was exactly that – vulnerable, chaotic, unique yet inspiring and very much alive. It felt true and one of a kind. By the end of the evening, the public could take the prints home and the exposition was gone. One time event only, one evening, something brief but beautiful. Just like real life.

Malicia and Keith Higgins

Musicians Against Homelessness Manchester Manager – Andy White

Malicia and photographer Neil Winward

Malicia and music promoter Paul Cartwright

Paul Cartwright

Rita and Mancunian poet – Karl Hildebrandt

Admiring, or taking the photographs home was not the only attraction of the evening. John Robb, punk rock legend and editor of Louder Than War magazine interviewed Karen and Shari for nearly half an hour and we had a chance to listen to their anecdotes, stories from working behind the stages and experiences as professional photographers in one of the most competitive and difficult industries. In the end, Karen and Shari received small gifts form the grateful visitors – two chocolate cameras!

“A Very Insecure Exhibition” proved to be a very big success for both artists. There is a talk that another event will take place in 2020. We cannot wait.

Flyer for next year`s event.

See you shortly,
M+R

As usual – you can see entire gallery of snaps below:

The Exhibition:

 

 

The Opening:

All the best
M/R

Indieterria Review – The Blinders at Thekla in Bristol

Event poster at Thekla

Gum Soul, White Room, The Blinders 
Thekla
Bristol
11/11/2018

11th of November 2018 was surely a day to remember. At that time each year, we celebrate National Independence Day in Poland and The Remembrance Day in the UK. This time however, for music fans, it was also the last day of the Blinders’ October/November tour supporting their debut album “Columbia”. Jokingly nicknamed “The Last Battle of Bristol” this date was hugely anticipated for several reasons. The Blinders haven’t played Bristol since their This Feeling days (February 2017 at The Stag & Hounds) and in the interviews, the band was adamant that the Johnny Dream and The Codeine Scene personas will be permanently gone. Expecting a bloody send off, fans quickly  grabbed offered tickets. The gig was not a sold out event but not many tickets remained at the door and it is safe to say that Thekla was nicely packed.  We arrived around 6:30 pm as the doors opened and we had to stand in a long queue to get inside. If you have to wait for the admission, it is a good sign that the concert will be a success.

The venue from the outside

It is a common knowledge that Thekla is one of the most unusual venues in the country. It is actually a real boat turned into music venue and when you see it for the first time, it can look really strange. Not Upside-Down strange, just strangely strange if you know what we mean. Yet, you quickly start appreciating the facilities they have: two bars (one long on the ground floor and one upstairs), upper deck with quiet seating section and a balcony, large toilets, bands quarters, rehearsal rooms, cloakroom and a large secured smoking area in the back. There is also an outside sitting area on the main deck that must be really pleasant in the summer, but it was too cold for us to go there although some locals were brave enough to sit there with cold drinks wearing nothing but shorts and a vest. To each their own as the song goes…

Johnny Dream poster exhibited at the lower bar

Better shot of the same poster – this is how A0 format looks like. Its huge!

The view of lower deck as seen from the upper bar

After leaving our bags and jackets in the cloakroom, we entered the main concert space with large scene and merch stands on the left. Previous reviews mentioned already that The Blinders selection was much smaller than on previous gigs but there is no reason to complain about it. The band sold out their vinyl records, CD’s and most of their tees and we were really happy to hear their tour manager repeating himself saying “Sorry, this is our last date, we are sold out!”. We wish all the bands we have seen this year could say the same. There were many signed posters and badges for fans to grab so nobody left the shop empty handed.

The Lower Bar

The door to the green room

Stage times

On the evening, The Blinders were supported by two bands: Gum Soul and The White Room who replaced Calva Louise for the second leg of the tour. We haven’t seen any of them playing live before, so we were looking forward to their performances, especially after reading very enthusiastic reviews. Gum Soul were the first ones to hit the stage, some 45 minutes after we arrived. Their music can be classified as college rock/grunge that is fused with typical British indie. This is a very good mix and the band played a proper, strong 30 minute set. We had a chance to quickly speak with them after their show and we learnt that they are based in Bath but they play regularly in Bristol and managed to develop a healthy fan following. It was visible as once they started playing, the first few rows were populated by their fans who knew lyrics to each of the five songs they played (“Empty Room”, “Sour”, “In & Out”, “Scratch Ignorance” and “The Knees”). We liked “Sour” the most – it is their leading single and a very good track to play live. Gum Soul have formed only in February this year, but they seem to already have a distinctive sound and they know which direction they want to go. We will be keeping an eye on them in 2019 as the band is promising new material. If you have a chance to see them play locally, please do.

The White Room are described as a psychedelic pop, a marriage of convenience between The Sparks and early David Bowie, with art rock and shoe gaze influences. They are a five piece from Brighton, known for their flamboyant sense of fashion (Simon Le Bon meets David Byrne) and stage theatrics. Their lead singer, Jake Smallwood is very charismatic and he knows how to be in the centre of attention. He grabs the microphone with both hands, walks to the edge of the scene and pushes himself as far into the audience as possible, sometimes singing mere centimetres from the gig goers’ faces. This literal, in-your-face approach, seems to be working like a charm – the girls are mesmerized, the blokes are stretching their hands to pat him on his back and shoulders. With his platinum blonde hair and  jade green shirts, Jake looks more like an actor than a musician but oh boy he can sing. His voice is crystal clear and again balances somewhere between Bowie, Le Bon and Mark Hollis. Except for Smallwood, the rest of the band comprises of Jacob Newman on guitar, Tristan Sava on keyboard, Hen Sava on drums and Josie McNamarra on bass. They have just released their double EP “Eight” and we had the pleasure of hearing all the best tracks from it: “Tomorrow Always Knew”, “Circles”, “Stole the I.V.” and “The Blue”.  The band has been around for nearly two years and they have a large and dedicated fan base. they will be on tour in the late winter/early spring of 2019, so please keep your eyes open as they might come to the (independent) venue close to you.

White Room in action

This band needs to be seen live to understand what an incredible act they are

Just like in Birmingham, once the support acts were gone and the lights dimmed, the atmosphere changed rapidly. With the headliner about to come on the stage, fans grouped tightly on the main floor and on the balcony. In certain moments, the pushing and showing in darkness got so bad that the security had to calm down  some of the most eager of fans. We sadly won’t remember the gig too well as we had to leave after the third song due to medical emergency but it was good to see the band in fantastic shape again. The show started very similar to their London gig, with Gene Wilder’s “Pure Imagination” from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” movie that quickly blended into Columbia style propaganda monologue by Patrick T. Davies. And once the monologue was finished, “Gotta Get Through” smashed our eardrums and sent the crowd into frantic pogo. “Brave New World” followed without break, only to slow down with “Where No Man Comes” and then turn into the poetic declamation of “Free The Slaves”.  We have not seen the rest of the gig but we were told that Thomas Haywood, sat on the floor among the audience singing his mantra “There is no hope” during “Swine”, Charlie McGough battered his bass with intensity not seen previously and Matty Neale nearly broke his drum set with powerful blows. Was it a great send off to Johnny Dream and a proper good bye after 22-day tour? The answer is yes.

Even if it was our first time seeing The Blinders live, those three songs would be enough to turn us into believers. This band is going places, and this is not a secret. This is the truth. They have been predestined for the greatness and they will never settle for anything else.

After all, they’ve got the divine right.

The merch stand

Merch stand

Setlist:

Gotta Get Through
L’etat C’est Moi
Brave New World
Where No Man Comes
Free the Slave
I Can’t Breathe Blues
Swine
Hate Song
Rat In a Cage
Ramona Flowers
Et Tu
Brutus/Berlin Wall
Orbit (Salmon of Alaska)

“Columbia” is available on Modern Sky UK
https://theblindersofficial

The Upper Balcony at Thekla right before The Blinders gig

Audience patiently waiting for the Columbia transmission

****

We often try to photograph and film some part of performance to make sure our review is as close to the experience as possible. It it also to give our readers a chance to see how the event unfolded. Please find below some galleries for your enjoyment.

Photo gallery: Gum Soul


Photo gallery: White Room (soundcheck)


Photo gallery: White Room (performance)

 


Photo gallery: The Blinders

We have been writing extensively about the Blinders on our blog Indieterria, so please have a look if you want to know more.

Introduction to the band:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/indieterria-presents-the-blinders/
Interview with The Blinders:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/08/24/indieterria-meets-the-blinders/
Columbia review:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/08/30/indieterria-review-columbia-by-the-blinders/
Columbia album performance blog:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/09/21/indieterria-presents-the-columbia-library-archives/
Columbia Tour blog:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/10/15/indieterria-presents-the-columbia-tour/
Beyond Columbia Tour:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/11/16/the-columbia-tour-continues-anno-domini-2019/
The Blinders at Castle and Falcon in Birmingham review:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/10/27/indieterria-review-the-blinders-at-castle-and-falcon-in-birmingham/

Again, our thanks go to the band and the crew for allowing us this extensive coverage.

And we are not done yet! We have seen The Blinders few weeks later in Manchester – so another blog will soon be up. Stay tuned.

Mal+Rita

Indieterria Review – The Blinders at Castle and Falcon in Birmingham

 

Event poster for the gig at Castle and Falcon

Paper Buoys/The Mothers Earth Experiment/Calva Louise/The Blinders
Castle and Falcon
Birmingham
23/10/2018

I was asked a question. A very simple one. Straightforward.

“How was it?”

Thoughts were running wild in my head. I wanted to say so many things and yet I barely could come up with anything. My throat was tight. From shouting and screaming. My head hurt. From head banging and being repeatedly kicked and pushed all over the place in the mosh pit. My body was tired and bruised. I was exhausted.

How can you answer, when a simple, straightforward answer simply does not exist?

Fancy shot of the venue – because the owner of the smart phone felt artsy;)

***

We arrived at The Castle and Falcon a bit late as the traffic in Birmingham was horrendous. Since Paradise Circuit in the city centre has been closed for major works, getting in and out of the Second City during rush hours reminds us of a military operation. You have to jump lanes, watch out for temporary traffic lights located in the strangest of places, swirl and turn and pirouette on narrow lanes like a ballet dancer. Two and a half hours of this mad dance is enough to tire you out before the show even starts. We sadly missed the first support act, a local Brummie gang named Paper Buoys, but at least we can find the solace in the fact that we have seen them open for the Blinders in February this year at the Sunflower Lounge. Maybe next time we will have more luck. Oh well, c’est la vie.

The view of the stage with red banners with Columbia emblem

The second opening act for the night, The Mothers Earth Experiment may also be local but they are well known and respected for their full blown psychedelic sound and mesmerizing stage presence. The sextet is led by vocalist and guitarist Mark Roberts and consist of James Baker (keyboard, backing vocals), Jake Clarke (bass), Reece Greenfield (drums, vocals), Oliver Overton (percussion) and Jackson Younger (guitar). We saw them play for the first time at the Night Owl in Birmingham in August along with our beloved WorcesterWave acts: The Americas and As Mamas and they made a huge impression on us. On stage, Mark Roberts is more of a shamanic priest with a guitar than a musician, his entire body was perfectly tuned to the music. His movements flowed naturally in coherence with the hypnotic rhythm section. Whenever the music stopped, Mark froze in a dramatic pose with his hands raised above his head and eyes open wide (or fully rolled back). Whenever the tempo changed, so did the performance. Blessed with powerful voice, nearly mystical chanting backing vocals and great skills, Mother Earth Experiment are something fresh and an absolute pleasure to watch. They played four tracks off their self-titled debut album released in 2017: “Ignorance”, “Quietus”, “Bliss” and their best known single “Cool Down Mama”. Two of the tracks were nearly 10 minutes each and even that felt like not long enough. It was heartbreaking to hear that this was one of their last concerts together as they decided to go their separate ways. The final performance will take place in Birmingham on 16th of November so if you want to go down in the rock and roll history, grab a ticket now. This will be one of those “I was there” moments worth telling your grandchildren about. We only hope that the remaining members will regroup quickly and return with a brand new, exciting project.

Tickets can be purchased:
https://www.facebook.com/events/385825898623595/
https://www.skiddle.com/whats-on/Birmingham/104-/The-Mothers-Earth-Experiment—Final-Show-w-High-Horses/13372200/

Mark Robert of The Mothers Earth Experiment

The Mothers Earth Experiment in full swing on the stage

The Mothers Earth Experience is a cult art rock/psychedelia act in West Midlands music scene

After The Mothers Earth Experiment charmed the audience (including the headliner and their entourage), Calva Louise had a difficult task of raising the bar even higher. The London based trio consisting of charismatic singer Jess Allanic, Alizon Taho (bass, backing vocals) and Ben Parker (drums, backing vocals) put up a great, energetic show full of grunge-like fuzzed riffs, sing-along melodies and angry pop beats. We were glad to hear people singing the lyrics to “I heard A Cry” and their BBC 6 Music acclaimed single “Outrageous”. Being the only woman on stage that night, Jess brought all the teenage girls to the front, where they had a proper 30 minute party. It was good to see their faces alight with excitement, watching a woman shred the guitar, shout her heart out and doing a splendid job.  With recent reports saying that nearly half of all new guitar players being females, we need bands (and role models) like Calva Louise more than ever. Their musical style may be very different than that of The Blinders but putting them together on one tour was surprisingly a very good decision. We are looking forward to see Calva Louise in the future on a tour of their own. Maybe with Soeur? Maybe with Estrons or Mercury Prize winners, Wolf Alice? We would love to see the British version of the Lilith Fair tour. It has been long time overdue.

With the Calva Louise set over, the mood inside the venue changed in a matter of seconds. The infectious, melodic vibe evaporated, replaced by nervous anticipation. The crowd thickened, the lights dimmed, voices reduced to a murmur. And once three, dark-clothed silhouettes appeared on stage, you could feel the temperature rising. The beginning was sudden and heavy like a shotgun blast. Bright red lights blinded those nearest the stage but behind our backs, a vortex of bodies erupted. The Blinders started off with “Gotta Get Through” and quickly followed with “L’Etat C’est Moi” and “Brave New World” without any breaks to catch our breath. It has been written and said many times but the band members are extremely skilled musicians. Thomas Haywood can bleed, throw himself on the floor, climb the amplifiers and still play flawlessly. If you have ever seen Luke Griffiths of the False Heads creating his perfect mayhem on stage, giving himself a concussion and still finishing his riffs, then you probably know what we mean. If you have not, then let’s just say that both Griffiths and Haywood are in the league of their own. They could juggle knives and still play their instruments simultaneously. The same can be said of the rhythm section that grinds everything in its path and spits out the splinters behind them. Looking like a young Nick Cave (and always dressed to impress) bassist Charlie McGough delivers thunderous cannonade and drummer, Matty Neale is properly possessed behind his drum kit, hitting the right notes with the speed of light and murderous precision. Such well-developed technical skills are rarely observed in a band that has been playing together for only couple of years. You could easily attribute them to musicians at least decade older.

Thomas Haywood as his stage persona Johnny Dream delivering a sermon to the faithful citizen of Columbia

The Blinders are a rare beast thought and their technical skills only match their song writing abilities. In one moment they can be as brutal as IDLES, driving their audience into frenzied pogo of epic proportions, in another they are delicate, almost lyrical. “Free the Slaves” is actually a poem recited with minimal, Beatles-inspired background music and the slow and dark “Where No Man Comes” showcases maturity in the use of language and metrical composition. Again, it is a common knowledge that the band is inspired by literature and poetry but it still takes you by surprise how well those artistic references are executed. Haywood’s declamation, gestures, half whispered-half screamed monologues are a small masterpiece in itself. It gives the live performance a bit of a theatrical luster and splendour. His charismatic stage persona of Johnny Dream, simple yet striking black make up, make you think of a Shakespearean actor. If he ever gets bored of making music, his next career move could easily take him to the stages of the East End or Broadway.

Charlie McGough performing on stage

Matt Neale – the beating heart of The Blinders

When you think the band would slow down a bit, the drilling beat and punkadelic aesthetics are back and you are thrown back into the mosh pit. “Swine”, “ICB Blues” and “Ramona Flowers” have the public on their knees and the band covered in sweat. The show goes on with people throwing their hands towards the stage, Haywood surfing the crowd and hanging from the ventilation crate on the ceiling, t-shirts being removed, naked bodies slamming into each other in a wild, almost ritualistic manner. And then comes the final push towards sonic destruction that drives everyone insane – 7 minutes of Dionysian thiasus in the form of “Et Tu”, “Berlin Wall” and “Brutus”. Now everything is allowed, everything is fair – hair is flying in every direction, somebody losses both shoes, the brave ones are stage diving, the meek are dancing and hugging each other. The trio gives it all.

The lights are turned off without warning and we all fall silent, waiting in darkness. Is it the end? We can see Charlie and Matty leaving their posts but Thomas is still hunched on the floor, motionless. One of the technicians is passing him a guitar and he raises, completely exhausted, to perform some sort of an encore, one last song of the evening. It is “Orbit (Salmon of Alaska)” a hauntingly beautiful composition penned as a tribute to a friend who took his own life. We can see tears in the eyes of many people as they sing to “dream the most dangerous of dreams” – to be free.

And then we are free. We are free of our worries, free of bad thoughts, politics, and rotten world that surrounds us. We are happy to experience something unique, a magical performance that brought us all together.

The band is now gone but we are still gathered in front of the stage, hugging each other and re-living the last hour. It will take us another 20 minutes to leave.

Charlie and Max Grindle – who helps the band onstage as part of their technical crew. Max is awesome and a proper legend. Here`s to you mate!

The Blinders in their element.

“How was it”?
It was beautiful. Cathartic. Impossible to describe.

If a picture is worth thousand words, maybe next time, a hug will be enough to convey thousands of thoughts and feelings? I truly hope so as I may be speechless again.

See you in two weeks in Bristol.

The merch stand

All the goodies the money can buy!

You will never escape the watching eye!

Setlist:

Gotta Get Through
L’etat C’est Moi
Brave New World
Where No Man Comes
Free the Slave
I Can’t Breathe Blues
Swine
Hate Song
Rat In a Cage
Ramona Flowers
Et Tu
Brutus/Berlin Wall
Orbit (Salmon of Alaska)

“Columbia” is available on Modern Sky UK
https://theblindersofficial.

Shadows play

————————-
Vanadian Avenue would like to thank: The Blinders’ technical crew and their management (for their time), Caffy St Luce (thank you, thank you – you know for what!!), Dizzy Spell of The Zine UK, Christopher Phee of Junior Weeb (happy birthday!), Lee Richardson, Milo Ferreira-Hayes, James Devine and Matt Rawlings of Dead Dads Club (for being the best of friends), Erin and The Cosmics (for being awesome as usual), Mark Roberts and the rest of the Mothers Earth Experiments (you are worth every taxi fare in the world), Calva Louise, Paper Buoys, Mark Stack (for being an awesome companion in the mosh pit), MOSES (for just being there), Becky Bushnell & Daniel Davies (for being absolute sweethearts!), Sonic Gun Concerts with Tom Holloway and Liam Connolly, Patrick and the rest of the Violet and everybody else who bought the tickets and made it such a special evening.

“Never Fight a Man With a Perm” by IDLES and “The Boy With a Bubble Gun” by Tom McRae are especially dedicated to our fellow gig goers.

And first and foremost to those who make the music

 

Erin Grace (The Cosmics), Thomas Haywood (The Blinders) and Chris Phee (Junior Weeb) at the after party

Matt Rawlings and James Devine (Dead Dads Club), Chris Phee (Junior Weeb) and music promoter Mark Stack at the after party

Matt Rawlings (Dead Dads Club) and Malicia Dabrowicz (Vanadian Avenue) with a broken nose…

Take care for now,
Mal+Rita

We thought that we will add some more photos from the night for the enjoyment of our blog readers. We did not manage to film all the bands, so at least two out of four to illustrate what a wild night it was!

Photo gallery: The Mothers Earth Experiment

 

Photo gallery: The Blinders

 

 

We have been writing extensively about the Blinders on our blog Indieterria, so please have a look if you want to know more.

Introduction to the band:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/indieterria-presents-the-blinders/

Interview with The Blinders:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/08/24/indieterria-meets-the-blinders/

Columbia review:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/08/30/indieterria-review-columbia-by-the-blinders/

Columbia album performance blog:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/09/21/indieterria-presents-the-columbia-library-archives/

Columbia Tour blog:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/10/15/indieterria-presents-the-columbia-tour/

That`s all for now

Mal+Rita