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Fast Banjos.

Moon and I have very much been on the live music wagon in the last couple of months, but Sunday’s Trampled by Turtles gig marked our last definite ‘date in the diary’ until February.

After agreeing to come and see Eliza and the Bear with me back in September, I was slightly obligated to agree to see a band I hadn’t heard of as well.

Trampled by Turtles, to me at least, are probably a band that might not get on with the popularity of Mumford & Sons (at least ever so slightly), but they’re also a real mish-mash of guys just hanging out, playing really fast country music. They didn’t set my world on fire but they sounded really good and a gig in Bristol is always a treat, even more so when it’s on a boat.

Thekla is a boat that calls Bristol Docks its home, it doesn’t even feel like you’re on a boat once you’re inside with the only clues being the subtle interior design nods but I kind of like that. It looks so pretty when it’s lit up and to add to that, it even offers one of the cheapest most affordable parking spots in the whole city.

The support for the evening were Dirty Beggars, a bluegrass band from the centre of Scotland – yep! While I spent a lot of their set concentrating on how much their harmonicist looks a lot like ultimate frontman, Ricky Wilson, they were actually a whole lot of fun, with an array of nice folksy songs including a great one about chicken (sort of).

It was a nice way to spend the evening and funny to see Moon so excited as he’s wanted to see Trampled by Turtles for ages. All this has meant that I’ve spent most of this week catching up on sleep but it’s quite good to know Bristol isn’t that far away. Must make an effort to pop over there more often!

Welcome Back, Jamie.

This might have been the gig of my life!

I’m not sure how many people will care all that much but around 4 years ago, Jamie T was kind of a big deal. He was one of my favourite artists before his first album even dropped but then after a winning awards and critical acclaim for his second album and selling out shows everywhere, he just disappeared.

Hey, things like that happen, you move on, you find someone else to listen to, but Jamie T was always a regular among my playlists.

I think someone broke his heart terribly and it’s something you can really feel in some of the raw lyrics across his new album, Carry On the Grudge. I’d love to know where he’s been but mostly, I’m really happy that he’s back and I hope he doesn’t do a disappearing act like that, at least without an explanation, for a long while.

So that’s why Moon and I were in Norwich over the weekend, not just because we fancied visiting Norwich (more on that part later though because it’s a swell city), but because when the guy who wrote ‘your song’ makes a comeback after being quiet for practically half a decade and is sold out anywhere nearby, you’ve got to make the effort.

When in a student union, man must snakebite, and then regret it.
This is around the fourth time I’ve seen Jamie T and I must admit, as great a performer as he is and as much as I’ve enjoyed each show, he had a 1 in 3 track-record in my eyes of poor support – I did see Slow Club support him at the iTunes Festival though (before it became impossible to get tickets) – so when Moon said he recognised Saturday night’s support as Slaves, a shouty, aggressive band that ‘I’m gonna hate’, I wasn’t looking forward to waiting around for 2 hours to get to the good bit.

I think what I learnt from the above is that Moon, even after all this time, might not know me as well as he thinks he does. SLAVES WERE AWESOME!
When he said I’d hate it, I figured it might be metally – metal, I can do without – but they weren’t. Much like Jamie T, this duo from Royal Tunbridge Wells were a brilliant blend of rap with old-school punk vibes and they had the perfect amount of swagger with almost (Arctic)Monkey-esque banter. I’m a fan.

Their lyrics are clever and funny, and yes, they are loud and not necessarily what I would usually listen to but as live performances go, I’d definitely recommend that you check them out. Especially for their on-stage stories, Girl Fight’s back story was my favourite.

As for Jamie T himself, as you may gather from my opening statement, he was just as on-point as I remember. Performing with a new band, it was fairly obvious that he was a bit nervous as the crowd were crazy-buzzed but as soon as he was out from behind the guitar, he came into his own and it really felt like he’d never even been away.

He played a mixture of old and new songs and we sang along to every word and (even as far back as we were) got pushed about a bit. First time in a long while that I’ve lost my voice at a gig, but that just about did the trick.

The stand-out songs for me (Pacemaker, Operation and If You Got the Money) were oldies but the whole set was perfection. If you’re lucky enough to be catching him at all this month during this sell-out tour run then you’re in for a proper treat, he’s doing a few less whiskey chasers on stage than before and the slow songs are a bit more poignant but there’s no doubt about it that he’s still got it!

I’ve Got Friends, I’ve Got Family Here.

On Monday, Moon and I went to our first gig in ages, bit of a mistake given that it was on a school night after busy days for both of us but we powered through.

We were at the O2 Academy Oxford to see Eliza & the Bear, a band I discovered back in January when I refused to listen to anything but Xfm. I’ve mentioned them a couple of times before on here and they’ve become regulars on my Spotify playlists as time has gone on.

Without meaning to sound too mushy, they’re lyrics and sound are just really uplifting and they’re a pretty great band to turn to when I need that little lift. After listening to their recordings for the best part of a year, it was the actual best that they were even better live. Opening with ‘Friends’, I was dancing from the start of their set to the end and despite Moon’s scepticism, the fact that they’re that bit heavier live, he actually might have fallen for them. So good job, guys, you’ve won yourself a new fan.

Supported by a local guy called Jack Little and (my bargaining tool for getting Moon to come) Pixel Fix, it was a really enjoyable evening and makes me excited for the live shows we have coming up in the next couple of months, after no festivals and even longer since we’ve been to an actual gig, I don’t know why we left it so long.

Highlights for Jack Little included his song, ‘Zombie’, about putting your phone away, something I’m probably slightly of guilty of but something that definitely gets annoying when you’re at a gig and ‘that popular’ song comes on, it’s the video-takers I hate.

Moon and I also loved Jack’s little mate who clearly thought the world of him and was singing along to every word, the cutest .

He might get it a lot but as a ‘guy with a 3/4 guitar’, it’s hard not to make the comparison between him and Ed Sheeran, which I hope works in his favour and doesn’t mean that he’s missed the boat, you know, since Ed Sheeran is bigshot sellout now.

I knew next to nothing about Pixel Fix other than recognising the name. They’re not what I would usually listen to but they put on a good show and their between-song patter was pretty good.

Pretty pleased I managed to get this one. o/

The Other October Gig: Bowling for Soup – Farewell UK Tour

So, while I’ve been busy winning a couple of cool-points by seeing Spector (that’s a thing, right?), a couple of weeks ago, I also did a little bit of making up to my teen-self by checking out Bowling for Soup at the ‘new’ O2 Academy Southampton Guildhall for their Farewell UK Tour.

We’ve seen Bowling for Soup a few times now and to give them credit, it’s always a fun night out and this certainly was no exception. Their support, Patent Pending really won me over by appealing to 16-year-old-me with their bouncy, happy pop-punk, they swam through the crowd too!

Bowling for Soup pretty much only played the hits, with only a few new ones thrown in, which is definitely what you want as a old fan who’s not kept up to date.

I know I’ve taken quite a few photos and I do take photos at gigs, what was pretty noticeable at this gig though was the sheer amount of people videoing everything, definitely a new peeve of mine. I mean, do it, but at least video things the right way round – really though, all you’re achieving is a sore arm and Bowling for Soup are even kind enough to give you a ‘photo opportunity’ moment so really in this case, you have no excuse.

I felt a little bit out of place, what with all the much cooler people with blue hair, but I laughed and danced a lot, you simply cannot beat a bit of pop-punk. Apparently this isn’t Bowling for Soup’s last UK tour ever, it’s just for a bit, but it does mark the end of something.

‘Don’t Ever Let It End!’ – Spector, Oakford Social Club

In between Fred Macpherson’s ‘fuck you’ banter and a terrifying ‘pushing pit’ that made me fear for my life, Spector’s gig at the (trendy-Wendy) Oakford Social Club in Reading on Saturday night was pretty swell.

Missing out on getting to see these guys at Gathering Festival last year was one of the major bummers of the night, so I was excited to get to see them again. They had a little bit of making up to do after their awesome set at Reading Festival last year preceded congratulations to those who’d just received their GSCE results (*weeps*) so it was pretty good to see them in a setting where that was unlikely to happen.

I wasn’t overly impressed with their support, Pale, they were a little depressing; the lead singer’s voice was beautiful so they could have just looked a little less sad about it. I also didn’t like the fact he was wearing a jumper, it was so hot in there, just take it off. We weren’t 100% on the support anyway as we had anticipated SWIMDEEP, then thought it might be Jaws, but it turned out to be neither, weird.

Spector were very much on-point, aside from the bizarre freeze-frame ‘shh’ bit during Grim Reefer, a la The Hives, but not as cool. They sounded just as good as the CD and even threw in some new material from their ‘difficult second album’. With ‘Friday Night’, (the scary when live) ‘Chevvy Thunder’ and finishing up with ‘Never Fade Away’, easily one of my favourites – I like most things that involve clapping – I definitely think they won Moon over who was less than impressed that I’d got the tickets in the first place.

I really liked the venue too, I was a little apprehensive after being advised by colleagues that it was a little rough around the edges but it seems like my kind of place. I love a pretentious pub with boardgames and VHS tapes! Jokes aside, their food looks amazing and with a fun-sounding craft fair on the first Sunday of the month and a weekly pub quiz, I can see myself visiting it at least one more time – if only to showcase a snippet more of Reading to my friend Laura who just moved here last month.