Slam Drunk 2018: Dying of Shame

words and photos by oliver butler (@notoliverbutler)

Maybe to you, a boring idiot, Slam Dunk Festival is a pretty nifty one day festival that spreads its rich mix of bands across the four corners of this land (apart from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, because fuck those guys right?!), but to the more experienced and festival-savvy of us, Slam Dunk is a test of endurance; a one day alcoholic assault course that pushes your drinking tolerance, fitness and mental endurance.

Of course, those of you who followed last year’s boozy commentary, or had the severe misfortune of running into me will attest that I push my physical, mental and emotional limits to the maximum when it comes to Slam Drunk. Slam Drunk is for slamming beers, maybe for grabbing a £30 slice of pizza, and absolutely not about sticking to an itinerary of bands you wish to see. The compact nature of the festival makes it ideal to stumble around from stage to stage, spending the whole time trying to work out who the fuck this band is, but largely enjoying their sound.

Same rules as last year apply: a running tally of all beers must be kept, a beer must be drank between or during bands, and the third inning is known as the beer inning.

We run into the NEC with the Official Transistor Beer Counter at 8, and the first band on today are:

Four Year Strong (Jagermeister Stage)

For me, Four Year Strong are that band that did that really good cover of Love Song by Sara Bareilles. I don’t mean that in a negative way, I just remember slamming that Punk Goes Pop album on repeat with FYS getting a LOT of playtime, and that obviously introduced me to the band’s wider work. Maybe I was late to the party then, but I was certainly late to the party today as I rocked up halfway through their set… blame widespread rail cancellations, nationalise it all.

However, if the first half was as good as the second, Four Year Strong put on a blinding show, sounding tight throughout Find My Way Back, Maniac, It Must Really Suck to be Four Year Strong Right Now, closing the set out with Wasting Time. It was at this point the stars aligned and I found some of my friends, so as the final notes from Four Year Strong’s set resonated throughout the NEC’s main hall, I heard the sweetest sound of all as someone said “Beer?”.

BAND RATING: 7/10
BEER COUNTER: 10 (one in Spoons pre-FYS, one post FYS)

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Sure, It Must Really Suck to be Four Year Strong Right Now, but not as much as it sucks to be me, as I dropped my beer. Some might argue it was down to a high level of intoxication, however, I dropped my beer because I saw several assassins approaching my friends, and in the process of performing several highly complex martial arts manoeuvres to save their lives, I dropped my beer. They will not be able to confirm this story due to the high speed in which these moves were performed, but I’m sure they are most grateful. Coming up after that dramatic fight were a band I’m so very excited about, and even more excited about to see for the first time…

Creeper (Jagermeister Stage)

Possibly one of, if not the most exciting bands in the United Kingdom right now, I have been excited to see Creeper since they were announced. Let’s be honest, compared to recent years, the line up’s a bit shit, but Creeper are one of the bands to justify the ticket fee alone. Sure, I was late to the party, as the first time I heard Eternity, In Your Arms, Creeper were just bringing their headline UK tour to a close, but when I did, it was easily one of the best albums I’d heard in 2017. Not too heavy, not too light, it was the Goldilocks of albums in 2017 as it was juuuust right.

As soon as the lights went out, the first bar of Black Rain struck and there was a buzz in the air as, and I didn’t have my glasses on, a suitably filling NEC greeted Creeper to the stage. It was an expertly crafted set from the Southampton band, giving a perfect mix of beginning to present, including Astral Projection, Suzanne and Black Mass. Something I noted on when giving an end of year review to Eternity, In Your Arms was how impressive the vocal blend of Will Gould and Hannah Greenwood was, and in the live arena, it’s no different, but the latter was simply sublime when performing a huge rendition of Crickets, with the vocal blend switching to between Hannah and the NEC. Hiding With Boys was also a highlight, it’s got a real bouncy feel to it.

Fingers crossed these guys get back on it soon and carry on building on the strong foundations they laid in 2017. I’m looking forward to seeing them again at 2000 Trees, where I promise to be more lucid.

BAND RATING: 9/10

BEER COUNTER: 11

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Shit… what happened after Creeper? I’m pretty sure something happened after Creeper. There was a wrestling match before or after. Look, I paid fifty quid to see Creeper and sink a beer. It’s my money pal, if I want to blow it on indulgent and unnecessary things, you’re gonna have a hard time stopping me. Oh, oh, and if I want to stall for time to fill an article where I can’t remember what happened, I fucking well will. Yeah? Anyway, I remember what happened and we went to the food court, which, seeing as it’s Slam Dunk, meant seeing another band, and oh boy, was this gonna be good as we saw…

Counterparts (Impericon Stage)

I was gutted to have missed Counterparts supporting Architects at Alexandra Palace earlier in the year, so seeing they’d be at Slam Drunk made everything okay again. The good news was the Impericon Stage has been moved into the food court this year, meaning everyone could enjoy something heavy whilst getting a £5,000,000 shawarma. Not for me thank you, I’m on a liquid diet.

Mightily impressed by these guys, especially with their stage presence as they tore it up as everyone grabbed an early tea. Their Spotify bio is just literally “nice music”, which is probably the most honest and least pretentious Spotify bio I’ve ever seen. Oh, and nice it was as they dropped hardcore bombs like Bouquets, Thieves, Choke and Rope. Simple, quick, one word songs. No idea what they opened with as I was still at Creeper as they came on, and beer makes me slow.

However, I turned 25 this year, which means I’m a very old man and must divert my attention to doing things like having dinner parties, and of course, what DO you play for ambient music at a dinner party? Considering that they delightfully soundtracked a room full of people eating dinner, Counterparts are my number one choice for dinner music.

BAND RATING: 8/10

BEER COUNTER: 12

Seriously, why have I drank so much today? Thank fuck I’ve got tomorrow off. I need a wee. I could do with some food but £9,000,000,000 for pizza? Fuck off pal. Sat outside and listened to Capdown on the Fireball Stage. Maybe these guys deserve a review but I can’t really remember anything about them apart from the fact they were pretty good. In this time I also missed Twin Atlantic, due to numerous scheduling conflicts. Basically I’d jump out here, as we’re hitting peak levels of “fucked it” right now. Then you sort of hit a swirl where you’ve seen about fourteen bands in the space of five minutes but you’ve no clue who the fuck any of them are, or who you are. Saw Creeper signing autographs, thought about joining the queue, decided against as I was too drunk and I’d end up interviewing them, but about their favourite drunk takeaway food as several presumably burly security guards whisked me away.

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Whatever, want me to talk about another band? I don’t. I don’t know why anyone reads the bollocks that comes off the end of my fingers and onto your screen. Anyway, here’s…

Trash Boat (Signature Brew Stage)

Oh these guys were fun, I couldn’t have told you a thing about them before, but they’re definitely one of those you’re pleasantly surprised by. The Hertfordshire punks played a great set to a brilliant crowd, firing blasts like Catharsis, Pangea and Shade. Again, nice one word songs, easy for the drunk, tired brain to process, meaning you can put more time into bipedal humanoid functions like walking, talking and stopping yourself from screaming every five seconds.

I’d say if I had to pick a “surprise” band of the day, it’d be Trash Boat, largely because I was surprised to be seeing them, but overwhelmingly because I was so impressed with their sound and their stage presence. Some bands you see at a festival one year and discard, but Trash Boat sold themselves well, pretty amazing considering they are named after a boat that has garbage on it.

BAND RATING: 8/10

BEER COUNTER: 15 (Saw someone serving two pinters and hot damn did my day go uphill)

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Nothing will ever beat Slam Drunk 2015 though, I got blasted, saw a load of metal bands including a headline set from Architects, met Dan from Bury Tomorrow and didn’t have a hangover the next day. Also it was at Wolverhampton Civic which is a far superior venue in a far superior city. The NEC is a cold, unloving monolith, the Civic is a warm, caring building. However, I know a band who’d make up for all that, and I’m hoping that band would be…

Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes (Jagermeister Stage)

All day. All fucking day we’d been chomping at the bit for Juggernaut. Electricity followed us as we were just anticipating Juggernaut, and Juggernaut did not disappoint as Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes rattled the NEC with their sonic assault opening the proceedings. Someone got crowdsurfed and booted me in the head. Straight out the game. Big headache. However, that did not stop my fun during Fangs, and did not stop me doing my duty during Wild Flowers. I’ve said it before, but I love how it’s used to have girls safely crowdsurf, of course, this should be every song of every show by every band, but I love the fact that’s what Wild Flowers is for. Neck canes though, when you’re 6″4, you are the stairway to crowdsurfing. I love seeing Vampires in the setlist too, it’s a real simple song but that’s why it’s so good, the chorus is thumping and the drums and the Ooohohwowowowoah in the bridge is sublime.

It was a whistle stop tour through their discography, with Paradise, Snake Eyes and Devil Inside Me rocking up, and rocking out. It’s a shame really, as you can’t help but feel they’ve got the clout to be a bit higher on the bill, maybe at the top on say the Monster Stage? Maybe it’s too soon, but when you have such a plethora of stages available, throwing a box office band in at the top could pay off massively. It would’ve been good to see Beautiful Death, Primary Explosive and Spray Paint Love, but when you’re third from the top, you’ve got to go shock and awe. And awe it was.

It’s at this point I’d like to apologise to Frank Carter, his security guard, my fan and my future children, as during er, Jackals(?), a man called Frank jumped into the crowd, right in front of me! It was at this point a maverick journalist decided he’d get a “selfie”‘ with this man, for the sake of a good story. The selfie didn’t take, I just couldn’t take a good selfie, and I ruined everything. Frank probably doesn’t remember a fat, sweaty drunk man in a Spray Paint Love t shirt fucking up a photo op, because stuff like that is water off a duck’s back to a pro like him, but it will haunt me for the rest of my life. If I saw Frank Carter in the street, I’d cross the road, out of shame, I couldn’t face him. A week ago I’d have shook his hand with enthusiasm, now I couldn’t even look him in the eye. I can’t listen to Blossom or Modern Ruin any more, because I’m so full of shame for trying to take a selfie. Who the fuck am I, Philip fucking Schofield? It’s been five days now and I can’t sleep, I can’t look at myself in the mirror, because the man who stares back is a man who can’t take a selfie. Frank, I’m so sorry…

In my mind, Frank sang I Hate You about me, because I was the man who tried taking a photo. I’ve done some cringe things when drunk but this really takes the cake. To borrow a lyric, “What did I do last night, and will I be ashamed?”. Fuck sake.

BAND RATING: 9/10

BEER COUNTER: 16

ME RATING: -1,000,000/10

Right so, this is where I died of shame and my friend decided he was actually dead so I rescued him and kept everyone awake on the train home. I did see PVRIS, but only like, thirty seconds of them, so just imagine they were fucking brilliant.

As for me, I shall never go to a gig or drink again, apart from tonight where I am drinking, and tomorrow night where I am going to a gig. However, seeing as I died of shame, I shall be doing both of these as a ghost.

If you were at Slam Drunk, please let me know how it was for you, and how you managed to make an arse out of yourself in one of your favourite singers, it would soothe my weeping wounds greatly.

An Ayr Rise Festival 2018 Review…

words fae liam menzies (@blnkclyr)

It’s not often mentioned but the state of music festivals in Scotland is rather depressing. Sure, TRNSMT is doing awfully gid for something that just began last year but when you look at some of the countries heavy hitters, you’ll come to the startling realisation that the days of Rockness and Wickerman Festival are far behind us with most being sadly cancelled. Hell, even TRNSMT itself is the continuation of an annual festival that sadly dipped in quality before reaching its anti-climatic end.

That being said, we’re beginning to see a rise (no pun intended) in smaller festivals that relish in giving smaller acts a chance to show off and bring their sound to an audience that may have previously passed them by. It makes total sense considering that the likes of Tenement Trail use established venues in order to host the acts, meaning the razzle-dazzle of your usual festival is left to the wayside in order for the music to be the real selling point and with tons on offer, and plenty to drink, it’s an ideal situation.

Ayr Rise definitely seems keen on bringing this to an area that, while rife with talent, often doesn’t generate a blip on the musical radar due to its location. Taking place in local nightclub Furys, a venue which is often the go-to for local gigs, it was an event that was not only important for those involved but one that would ultimately serve as a determining factor for whether or not something of this magnitude could work.

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Things were off to a promising start with Molly Eliza taking to the stage. While she may have been filling in the slot left vacant by Atlas Run, it ultimately gave Ayr Rise some variety which benefited it greatly: she may reference the likes of Nina Nesbitt as an influence but you wouldn’t be mistaken for noticing hints of Sophie Allison or even a vocal resemblance to pop heavy hitter Lorde. Her music wasn’t only just pleasant to listen to but also offered some interesting insight lyrically, meaning she could end up joining the ranks of Young Fathers in politically aware Scottish music. Some songs may have been screaming for some backup, specifically some drums, but the minimal performance from Molly left a good taste in the mouth – keep this one on your radar.

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Keeping the momentum going were Ayr-based rock outfit Anna Conda and right off the bat, we were hit with remnants of what could easily be mistaken as demos from the fictional Scott Pilgrim band Sex Bob Omb (a high bit of praise fae us). As the act continued on, the band’s influences became increasingly obvious (someone or all involved in the act definitely has a soft spot for The White Stripes as shown by their Fell In Love With A Girl cover) but it by no means detracted from the enjoyment Anna Conda provided: infectious harmonies rolling over some octane performing culminated in what was easily a hugely entertaining set from the boys who we’re sure we’ll see more of in the future.

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A band still very much in their infancy, only emerging at the tail end of 2017, Honours. were up next. In terms of stage presence, it was a little lacking (which may be totally down to either nerves or the sheer variety of chords that they’ve bolstered in promotion) but there was definite moments that showed they’ve got the foundations laid to make some really interesting alt-rock.

27545489_381304295674464_7592854196806952831_n.jpgThere would be no prizes for guessing what acts have paved the way for the sound ZANG are going for but oh lordy, did they put on a show. Frontman Bunny Wood channelled that rock and roll frontman attitude both in his vocals, that were reminiscent of another funky, bluesy rock and roller Robert Plant, and the mannerisms he showed off on stage. The argument could be made that the band weren’t quite as varied as we would have liked them to be but for what they’re going for, and for how they managed to keep our attention, ZANG did exactly what they needed to do and then some.

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Positioning themselves as an alt-rock riff machine, Zola didn’t disappoint with a rip-roaring good rock time. While the audience at Rise were rather timid (myself included), this didn’t stop the band from interacting with the crowd and trying to get everyone right into the gigging spirit. There were a fair few moments where I found myself reminded of Queens of the Stone Age, a comparison I may throw around a bit frequently but the layered performances and the synergy between and the vocals means I feel justified in that bit of acclaim. Showing off their latest single to finish things off, Zola are certainly going places and we’re looking forward to seeing how they evolve.

21949833_822681854604537_7924578189341822206_o.jpgOur last act of the night (family ting), The Mawb are an act we’ve discussed a fair bit over the past year and a bit but for good reasons. Front-man Ewan McCulloch was the head honcho of tonight’s operation so the fact he had the energy to balance both organisation and performing all on the same day has to be commended. On the related note of said performance, The Mawb were the best they have been yet and hit me with that familiar feeling of pride, not only for the fact they’re an Ayrshire based act doing it proud but for constantly shifting their sound.

Everyone in the act was on phenomenal form, Callum McIlwaine being the devilish chap on guitar we’re all used to and incorporated a wireless device so he could prance about the club while playing, picking up a pint in the process. The aforementioned Ewan continues to impress with those pipes of his and bassist Harry Mawb still radiates that effortlessly cool as a cucumber attitude about him without breaking a sweat. Drummer Paul Nally seems to have totally come out of his shell at this point and it definitely added it all, his commentary during the break between each track adding a certain charm to it and by the closing track, he was clobbering away at his set with the energy of a man who had just went through a botched exorcism. To put it simply, it was a bloody great end to our night.

So Ayr Rise was an overall success, showing that a local festival can definitely work when the right management and acts are brought in. If there’s any feedback we could give, it would be that next year’s event (which we hope is on the cards) tries to shake up the genres on offer: every festival has their strong point but we’d love to see some more bands that don’t fit into the alt-rock mould. From an optimistic perspective, money permitting, it would be exciting to see Ayr Rise branch out amongst some other venues in the town: West of the Moon may no longer be with us but places such as Soundmagic would serve as a nice alternative stage and Big Sparra Vinyl potentially acting as an acoustic one for some stripped back sessions. Of course, this is pure speculation but Ayr Rise, much like the acts playing it, is brimming with potential and we’re crossing our fingers that we get to see it return in 2019 and beyond.

3 Reasons Why Reading & Leeds’ Lineup Is A Disaster

by liam menzies (@blnkclyr)

You know the drill by now: January comes and the musical drought is avoided thanks to an abundance of festival announcements, the big dogs like Primavera and Reading & Leeds dropping their line ups and provoking a huge response in the process. While the former has been analysed and drooled over, there’s been a choir of cricket chirps and tumbleweed drifting as we’re yet to see any Reading & Leeds announcement, to the point where sites like ourselves are doing the work for the organisers and chiming about our predictions.

Thankfully though, R&L have a sense of humour and this morning had a jab at the dying meme economy of fake billings, posting the below lineup: 

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Wait…sorry, it turns out this is actually the line-up? Aw for f-

1. Headliners are (mostly) shite

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Let’s try and figure out why this billing is so tragic which no doubt comes down to the headlining acts. Now, if you were to get an alt-rock band that had prominence in the noughties who are even more relevant now than they were then, Paramore would have been the dead ringer especially considering they co-headlined just a few years back. Yet, somehow, the folk (?) over at R&L seem to think that both Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco are far better choices (see also: acts that haven’t released anything worth mentioning in the past 5 years).

In addition to this, the choice to pack Kendrick Lamar alongside PATD is almost insulting considering the former would be able to bring in an abundance of folk to the festival just by headlining. The quality of PATD‘s music is obviously entirely subjective but considering the fact that Kendrick is undeniably more popular than them and every other headliner here, it’s a bit of a total misstep from R&L.

2. The undercard isn’t much better

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Let’s get the good out of the way: it’s hard not to see acts like SkeptaBrockhampton$uicideboys and Wolf Alice on the undercard and being thoroughly happy with some of the inclusions. In addition to this, including the best boyband since One Direction on the same day as Kendrick is a smart decision to get more of those day tickets moved.

Then there’s the rest and if it weren’t for the firm 2018 at the top of the poster, you’d have thought this year’s campsite was located in some interdimensional paradox. Papa Roach? Sum 41? Holywood UndeadAn alternate timeline where Nothing But Thieves aren’t abusive and didn’t intimidate victims with legal pressure? Our opinions on the boring indie/lad rock acts on here aside (e.g Courteeners, Pale Waves), it’s hard not think that many of these inclusions occurred because the organisers were either A) frustrated over the loss of big headliner(s) B) underestimated the competition after the lack of Glastonbury this year or C) both.

3. It feels like a safe afterthought. 

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As I mentioned in the intro, R&L have put this announcement on the backburner for quite some time and now that we’ve got the lineup, it seems clear why: obviously taken aback by the quality of other UK festivals, they’ve tried to take a bit from each yet it all comes off as a bit of a headscratcher. 

I don’t have a problem with R&L not being a rock festival anymore but if you’re gonna incorporate some hip-hop acts into the formula, surely someone like Vince Staples, Earl Sweatshirt or CupcakKe would be better inclusions as opposed to going for the safest option available? 

If it turns out that I’m completely wrong on this then I take full blame but does it not feel like Kings of Leon probably got a late night booty call from R&L organisers after talks with Arctic Monkeys fell through? I’m fond of some of the Tennesse rock outfit’s work yet at the same time, I just can’t help but feel that R&L went for them just to save face, especially considering the fact that a Sunday which consisted of Arctic Monkeys, Courteeners and Skepta would be a licence to print money.

Well, that’s if you didn’t mind your entire audience calling you a goth for not liking AM.

 

Guessing the Reading & Leeds 2018 Headliners

by oliver butler (@notoliverbutler)

The only enjoyable thing at the start of any year is that festival line ups are now starting to break cover, like springtime buds shooting through the freshly tilled soil. As the low winter sun burns through the clouds, bands are added to line ups, either to the excited squeals of diehard fans, or audible gulps of disappointed punters who’ve bet their summer on this.

Me, you ask? After completely blowing my load at the Download headliners for different reasons, I’ve wanted to blow chunks at everything past that. Volbeat? Fucking VOLBEAT? Furthermore, with no Glastonbury to get wet and wild at this year, I am technically festival freelance and will be calling 2000Trees my home this year.

However, what say you, dear reader? Are you holding out on the Reading & Leeds lineup being announced? To help you out, I’ve put together a little list of who you might find topping the bill over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Disclaimer: The probability for each act comes down to how likely I think they are to headline, something that is entirely subjective – I believe each artist here is more than capable of headlining.

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Arctic Monkeys

Well, it just has to be, doesn’t it? Every other fucking festival in the known universe has managed to bag these suave simian songsmiths as a headliner, so for Andy Copping to miss out on these boys as headliners would the biggest musical foul-up since St. Anger. It’s been five long years since AM, and most of the Arctics have kept busy; frontman Alex Turner dicking about with Miles Kane in the Last Shadow Puppets, Matt Helders has been dicking about with Iggy Pop and Joshua Homme in Post Pop Depression, so all in all, a lot of dicking around has been done since AM and their 2014 headline slot at R&L.

With a whole plethora of festival dates announced for AM, plus constant tongue cluckings that new material is but a hair away from being released, don’t be surprised if the Monkeys take to the coveted Main Stage Sponsored by Tuborg – Liquid Soundtrack to the sound of a new album. Do bear in mind though that the boys have already confirmed their festival dates for 2018 and R&L is weirdly absent though this could merely be a case of keeping things under wraps for an announcement extravaganza. 

Probability Rating: Andy Copping never usually misses a trick, so for him to let AM slip by would be a huge surprise. 8/10

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Guns ‘n’ Roses

The last time GnR headlined the Carling Weekender, it went pretty fucking wrong, pretty fucking quickly. A waylaid Axl Rose showed up some thirty hours after stage time and then incited a riot after they cut the power on him. However, reunited with Slash & Duff, things seem to be a lot smoother, and the ‘Not In This Lifetime’ tour seems to be the show of a lifetime. Guns are already headlining Download this year, but big mad Andy knows that booking this band is a licence to print money, and big mad Axl knows that this tour is a licence to print money. It’s a match made in heaven!

Considering that many people’s festival plans have been cemented, R&L needs to bring in some big marquee names to try and get day punters coming through the door, and a line up consisting of either GnR or Arctic Monkeys, or both, could be enough to tip the scales for a lot of people.

Probability Rating: Quite high, but should still be considered an outside bet. 7/10

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Paramore

Rumour has it that we’ll see a complete mirror image of the 2014 lineup at the top, minus Blink 182, and few bands are more deserving of top billing than Paramore right now. After Laughter was a smash hit, and they’ve been wowing UK arena crowds in 2018 already, so for them to carry that momentum forwards into an August headline slot would be of no effort at all.

R&L also needs a strong, female-fronted headliner too. Too many festival lineups these days are a boys club, and to overlook such a solid headliner as Paramore would be beyond the pale, you hear me, Copping?! Beyond the pale.

Probability Rating: 2014 was a good year, Donald Trump was just a television sex pest instead of a sex pest who could nuke Korea. Good times, lads. 9/10.

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Queens of the Stone Age

Are QotSA still cancelled? Joshua Homme kicked a girl in the face which is an objective dick move, but I genuinely think he needs some help to be less of a cunt his whole life. Either way, with the rumour being that we’ll get a mirror image of 2014, QotSA are in pole position to headline the festival, instead of a co-headline spot with Paramore, and cancelled or not, Villains was a world-beater of an album.

Further to this, Queens are holding a little festival of their own in Finsbury Park, featuring them, obviously, Iggy Pop, The Hives, Run The Jewels and many more! I see a lot of promoted ads for it, so I don’t think it’s sold or selling out. The Hives though, and Iggy Pop.

Probability Rating: 2014 was a good year, we’d not yet gone full Tory, instead of a full Tory that’s likely going to drive us off a cliff. Good times, lads. 9/10

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CHVRCHES

ALL CAPS! CHVRCHES are clearly a new band, because they’ve had to resort to alternate vowels to find a new band name, but since their debvt they’ve been vnstoppable, with Lavra Mayberry’s soothing silky voice settling like fresh snow on their ethereal beats. With a new album on the horizon, it’s a risky business to promote anyone as yet untested up to the headline scene, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Get two veterans, like AM and GnR for instance as the ‘safe bets’, then give CHVRCHES the Saturday slot to let them spread their wings.

We gave Biffy & Foals the same chances in recent years, let’s move another great British band up the ranks now.

Probability Rating: A woman?! Headlining MY festival?! It’s more likely than you think. 6/10

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Metallica

YEAHEAHEAH. As covered earlier, Copping needs some serious firepower to get people coming through the gates, and who better than 2015 headliners Metallica to add that star power? Metallica sell arenas out worldwide and could sell a day at Reading & Leeds out with the first bar of Enter Sandman. Metallica played an arena run in 2017, but haven’t headlined a UK festival since R&L in 2015.

I’d had them as surefire Download headliners this year, but as per usual, I was wrong. Metallica are metal, yes, but their uber-corporate image has allowed them to transcend the heavy metal label & become mainstream darlings. Do NOT count this band out.

Probability Rating: I’m pretty sure I’m just booking the lineup now. 6/10.

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Wolf Alice

Much like CHVRCHES, Wolf Alice are new blood, mere wolf cubs than big adult wolves, but have absolutely set the world on fire since their debut. Visions of a Life was one of the best albums of 2017, and Ellie Rowsell’s screams would gladly rock the foundations of the Main Stage Sponsored by Volkswagen – Liquid Soundtrack to its very core.

Same principal as CHVRCHES, sandwich them between two heavyweight veterans, get people along for the weekend, let them spread their wings and prove their worth on the main stage. Nobody ever got famous for being careful.

Probability Rating: It’s a good concept, getting two heavyweights, selling people into weekend tickets and give a young’un a chance, which is why it’ll probably never happen; 5/10.

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Royal Blood

Now, there IS an outside chance that could come true. Sold out arenas across the world, two hugely popular albums, Glastonbury sub-headliners, which is basically your ticket to headline any other festival, there’s no barrier to the Brighton two-piece taking the top bill.

Setlist wouldn’t be a problem, as their UK arena setlist was essentially the first two albums but slapped like all hell. You’d be an absolute sausage to rule out these boys taking the Sunday or Friday headline slot.

Probability Rating: I know you hate them, but you can’t hate them as much as Andy Copping loves money. 7/10.

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Lorde

Another outside bet, but if two juggernauts were to top the bill, rolling the dice on someone like Lorde could pay dividends. Plus, if you end up getting two male, rock headliners, getting a female pop sensation could offer balance and something other than a rock band on one of the nights. Melodrama was a huge, huge album & she headlined the Other Stage at Glastonbury last year but curiously only did a small hall/academy tour of the UK. If you’re good enough, you’re old enough is the saying, and Lorde is more than capable of taking a headline slot.

Probability Rating: Maybe this time I’ll remember to get fucking tickets. 5/10

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Chase and Status

Genuinely not the stupidest festival rumour you’ll hear this year, Chase & Status sub-headlined to Eminem in 2013, and have their new album, Tribes, just dying to be played. With a rock-heavy lineup, Chase & Status could be the tonic in the gin that this lineup needs, with international clout, an absolute armful of hits and guest stars, it’d be madness to rule out the kings of drum & bass this August.

Probability: Actually not a bad shout, well done me. 7/10

See also: Pendulum; that’s a 2/10 chance, but have that comeback clout behind them.

A Tenement Trail 2017 Review…

As the Glasgow festival began once again, the hype was all too real: aye, we might have had TRNSMT but in terms of grassroots Scottish music, Tenement Trail is the big yin. All situated on Sauchihall Street, bar a venue or two, the event offers a unique experience with the sheer abundance of acts to pop yer head in and see. With energy drinks, white russians and an auld pair of running shoes in hand, we tried our best to cover as much of TT as possible in our classic festival coverage (that always seems to go ary). So without further ado, here’s our verdict on TT2017.

All that Fauves were missing from their Nice N Sleazy set was a disco ball and a cameo from John Travolta. While there was an indie rock element to the band’s performance, a glitzy 70’s vibe could be felt throughout, whether it was due to the influence of Vegan Leather’s Gian-Luca on keyboard or the dreamy one minute, broad the next vocals of their frontman. With little dance moves sprinkled in here and there, this was the band TT needed to get things off to a good start.

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At the time, Heavy Rapids seemed like the ideal band to see after witnessing the alluring, dreaminess of Fauves: hyped up as a DIY indie rock force to be reckoned with, the act had the Priory packed in no time but upon witnessing the band’s work for the first time, it all felt rather underwhelming: nothing stood out with everything being quite alright but nothing entirely exceptional, everything coming across as bland to be frank. It feel like they have something to say but when each song seemed to blur into the next, their recent single Money Is Power‘s lyrics of “I want to be somebody” rang especially true – hopefully Heavy Rapids find out what they want to be soon enough.

Our first non-Scottish act of the day came in the form of Sam Fender who can only be described as an indie Justin Bieber (though this comparison only comes from a remark made by a Glaswegian a few years back). Out of all the artists playing TT this year, Fender was the most interactive, giving witty anecdotes and appreciative comments throughout his set.

Thankfully, the music itself was worth sticking around for: we were frankly a bit worried what it would be like after finding out he supported this site’s favourite band Catfish & The Bottlemen but Fender’s music has an addictive feel to it without sacrificing integrity or quality. Play God was the most hard-hitting of the tracks in his roster, offering some interesting dystopian imagery while showing off his lovely set of pipes. It’s not impossible to imagine Fender joining the likes of Declan McKenna in terms of smart indie rock.

To say that SWAY pulled out all the stops to make an impression yesterday. The band have been on our radar for quite some time which makes the urge to kick ourselves for not seeing them sooner all the harder to resist: it’s hard to recall an act that incited the same reaction this Glasgow rock outfit did, putting on such a show that it allured even the photographers to get in on the fun. Inflatable footballs were kicked off near the end of the set, resulting in scenes you’d expect from a sunday league game. With their blend of indie rock and shoegaze going down just as well as a Broadcast white russian, SWAY didn’t so much display but demand why they deserve everyone’s attention. 

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Retro Video Club made sure to continue this trend of quality with some more poppy affairs that seem to have already hit a chord with a huge chunk of the audience in attendance: one member at the front of the crowd was singing along to every song, some apt moves chucked in alongside them. We’re not ones to compare and discredit Scottish up and comers, especially not the latter, but the tunes from this band will certainly go down a treat with anyone who enjoys the work of fellow Scottish up and comers Vistas (more on them in a bit): there’s a classic noughties rock appeal meshed in with a catchy structure that seems to be a perfectly crafted sound for the live-scene. Expect to see this act on an abundance of support slots if they keep this trajectory.

After selling out a headline show at the nearby Barras, Ayrshire three-piece Fatherson could justifiably stake a claim as the biggest name on 2017’s Tenement Trail line-up. The organisers seemed to agree as well, as Fatherson appeared at King Tut’s under a fake name – as unsubtle as Motherdaughter was. Frontman Ross Leighton appeared to take it in his stride, telling the packed crowd “we’re a band called Motherdaughter and we’re playing a set full of new songs because we’re not a real band”.

One part of that statement actually turned out to be true. Fatherson have been busy writing since 2016’s Open Book and played an 8-song set, entirely comprised of unreleased songs – a bold move, even for Fatherson with the rapport they have built for themselves in Glasgow. However, the new tracks are packed full of just what those in the room love so much about Fatherson. There’s plenty show-stopping vocals from Ross Leighton atop the rhythm section of drummer Greg Walkinshaw, bassist Marc Strain and the three-piece’s new live guitarist.

From a quick look at the setlist and a rack of my rum-hazed memory, highlights included Berlin, a slow and somber track reminiscent of Open Book’s heartbreaker Joanna while Charm School and Making Waves will fit comfortably alongside Fatherson’s “bangers” like I Like Not Knowing and Lost Little Boys. Bring on LP3, lads.

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An hour between Fatherson (sorry, Motherdaughter) and Vistas with only a 5 minute walk from Tut’s to the Garage Attic Bar left a schedule gap crying out to be filled by Spiced Morgans and Coke, and who am I to refuse a turn of fate like that? After a beverage or 2, Blinkclyro faves Vistas took the stage, looking out on an Attic Bar which was packed almost at capacity, a real sign of how far the Edinburgh four-piece have come since the release of debut EP Sign Language in only 2016.

Live, the indie rockers show exactly why they’ve built up so much hype in that short space of time. The short set is frenetic, with the band cramming all of their already well-known tracks into a short but sweet half hour set. It’s a tribute to their development too, as every track sounds better than what was released before it, latest single Hold Me proving arguably the pick of the bunch.

Even a few technical hitches and broken strings can’t slow the well-oiled Vistas show. Unreleased track Retrospect – promised soon by frontman Prentice Robertson – already feels familiar alongside better-known tracks like Medicine. The biggest singles undoubtedly prove the highlight however, and by the time Vistas launch into closer Feel Alive, they have the packed crowd feeling exactly that.

Our last act of the day came in the form of The Dunts and boy were they worth the wait. For a band to follow up FatherSon and Shambolics, who clashed with babystrange,yet still keep the venue as crowded after they had been is a real achievement though it’s not like we can be surprised. Their recent single Coalition Of Chaos went down a treat with its rebellious tinge but so did nearly every other track, the crowd playing right into the boy’s hands – another accolade that shouldn’t be taken lightly considering how exhausted many of the attendees would have been at this point. It’s not easy to meet someone’s expectations as their last gig of the evening but The Dunts did it without breaking a sweat: a band worth keeping yer eyes on.

And so, Tenement Trail comes to a close for another year. All in all it was another success for the Tenement TV crew who put on a great event.

The only nitpick we have was an over saturation in terms of indie rock bands which hopefully can be subsided by some more experimental picks: some hip-hop in the form of MC Almond Milk or even some female punk-rock via Babe Punch would have added even further to the variety.

Other than that though, TT2017 was everything anyone could have wanted and then some: until next time.

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Top 6 Acts of TRNSMT

By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr

Now that the dust has settled, the rain soaked clothes dried and the hangovers somewhat cured, it’s time to have a look at TRNSMT. A festival that seemingly came out of nowhere with the feat of filling in the shoes of T In The Park, the odds seemed against the Glasgow based event yet it managed to leave everyone in attendance more than pleased. Glasgow Green was the perfect location for a festival like this, not too out of the way and full of beautiful scenery – unlike it’s predecessor, stages weren’t miles apart yet the sound was never compromised by the distance.

Were there mistakes? Of course – sound at certain stages seemed to flicker in quality repeatedly, the Saturday was weak with some misplaced acts and things like food and drink were ridiculously priced. Despite that though, the atmosphere was incredible and was worth every penny. Then there’s the acts who made it all worth the sore feet and being hit by multiple cups of questionable fluids: some are big and some may not have been on your radar prior but regardless, these are the artists that don’t so much need your attention but demand it.

6. The Vistas

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A band that we’ve covered extensively since they first came onto the scene with their hot indie rock single Sign LanguageVistas were oddly low on the King Tuts bill considering the success and crowd they have accumulated. Starting off with the aforementioned breakout track, the Edinburgh pop-rock outfit had the crowd chanting and moshing along to their catchy infusion of noughties indie and their own wee touches. Teasing a new track due to drop in August, Vistas made sure not to waste a single second when it came to their set, playing some classic tunes (yes, a band this new have somehow managed to make a classic tune) at breakneck speed.

With the sun shining down, the band were the perfect way to start the day and with the reaction they got from the audience, I won’t be surprised to see this band become a regular sight at festivals all over the UK.

5. The 1975

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If you had asked me a few years back if I would seriously enjoy a 1975 gig then I would have laughed in your face (then swiftly apologised ofc). Now that the actual scenario has occurred, and now that you’ve seen its placement on this list, I have to admit how shocked I was by the sheer quality of this set. A lot of fans, mainly Twin die hards, complained that they were on before Biffy instead of Twin Atlantic though when you put down the facts (The 1975 are a bigger act, more critically acclaimed and put on a real visual spectacle in their shows) then you can’t really complain.

The 1975 for sure justified their position on the line-up, frontman Matty Healy, love him or hate him, showing why so many people tend to call him one of the best showmen around at the moment. From the clunky, oddly nice dancing to how well his vocals translate from LP to the stage, it was an easy to love gig – even if half the crowd in front of you had their phones up. This in addition to the visuals going on stage as well as the chat between the band and the audience, even a wee cringe line about a ‘ballroom dancing pit’, made the whole performance feel so wrong yet so right. The music itself may range from bland to amazing and back again all too frequently but with the show the boys put on, their place on this list is undeniable.

4. Stormzy

If we’re being transparent, we tried our best not to go anywhere near the main stage today: a bunch of samey, indie rock bands that seem to do more harm than good to the genre they claim to care about so much. Stormzy was on our must see list though and boy, he somehow still blew our expectations out of the park.

The energy of a cheetah and with the same instinct, he put on the show of a lifetime and managed to convert the sceptics in the crowd. There was no moment to catch your breath bar Cigarettes and Cush and even then, most of the crowd were singing along in typical festival fashion. Even when he covered Ed Sheeran, something that on paper should have made us wince in pain, the lord of the mic still made a positive mark – it almost begs the question of whether or not Stormzy can do any wrong. As he closes the set with the classic Shut Up, the flood of charisma and gratitude radiating from the man is undeniable. Now that Grime has solidified itself in the public sphere, it’s safe to say that Stormzy will be at the top of his game for the foreseeable future.

3. The Vegan Leather

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Who would have honestly thought that one of the most exciting sets of the entire day would have came from a wee glitzy group from Paisley? Well, those who were aware of The Vegan Leather before today certainly did and even their expectations were blown out of the water. With frontman Gian-Luca walking out in a wee, glimmering disco jacket wielding his guitar and a silver looking (fake) peacock, the feeling of the band’s performance was firmly set.

Tracks like Shake It, while still in their infancy, still got a reaction from the crowd with a lot of people near the front dancing and chanting along: when you have Talking Heads meets Yeah Yeah Yeahs meet LCD-Soundsystem as the closest to a description of your band’s sound, who can really blame them? Out of the lot though, This House gathered the biggest reaction out of the band’s setlist, even literally bringing the audience to their knees just for that eruptious climax of both the song and the band’s set. If The Vegan Leather weren’t on anyone’s radar before this gig, then they for sure as hell are firmly placed at the top now.

2. Biffy Clyro

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Did you really not expect to see this band land highly on this list? We could talk all day about the quality of the band’s music, recent LPs compared to the original trilogy and what not, but when it comes to the live shows there’s one thing that everyone can admit – Biffy Clyro try to make every gig their best.

Sunday night was no different and you really couldn’t pick a better band to end your festival with – from the pyros to confetti to fucking fireworks, the band didn’t hold back when it came to the miscellaneous splendour that they have a knack for. Of course,the real attraction is the band themselves and it’s hard to think of a time that Simon Neil acted more giddy: “Thanks for not kicking me out of Scotland for wearing sequinned trousers” the front-man quips at one point, managing to keep that down to earth appeal that you wouldn’t expect from a band who have “achieved so much more than you possibly thought they could”. The setlist was exactly what you expect from a festival but there was some gems here and there: All The Way Down has only been played once since 2014 so it was a total shock to see it played last night and There’s No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake has a similar track record, unsurprisingly making them the highlights of the night.

“This might sound like I’m blowing smoke on your balls, but tonight has been our favourite ever show in Scotland” says Neil towards the end of the set. He may very well be doing so but from last night’s performance, the smiles on their faces and the sweat dripping down, if they’re lying they deserve a bloody Oscar for it.

1. Radiohead

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Here it was, the main event of Friday night. Radiohead‘s reputation precedes them though that changes from person to person: some will naively tell you that they’re a bunch of moaners, others will tell you they’re the best band of all time – funnily enough, both statements aren’t exclusive from the either. As the band began things with a curveball, Let Down starting off the night’s proceedings instead of the tour’s old faithful DayDreaming intro, the way tonight’s performance was gonna go was set.

There were too many highlights to count: Thom Yorke’s infectious da dancing to Myxomatosis had mulitple folk in the audience trying to replicate it, there was the sing-song loveliness of the band’s not so deep cuts like No Surprises and Paranoid Android, beautiful moments where the two infused like during Bodysnatchers that probably had the biggest reaction from the audience even though it’s not one of the best known tracks from the group. Repeatedly thanking the audience throughout the set, Yorke and co’s appreciation for both everyone in attendance and the fans who have got them there was honest and heartwarming.

It seems a bit obvious to have a headliner as one of the top acts of the weekend but if you were there, or caught coverage of TRNSMT, then you know that there really wasn’t anything like this all weekend. “This is what you get, when you mess with us” Yorke sings gracefully on closing track Karma Police: if this is the result then everyone should fuck with Radiohead more often.


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Film Review: Baby Driver – Edgar Wright’s Best Film Yet?

By Fraser Nunn (@badknitbear)

Have you seen Baby Driver yet?

If not, go see it. If you have, go see it again. I don’t want to do that review thing where you say how good a film is and it kinda swells the anticipation and your heart beats faster at the thought of going to see the film and then you get in there and you have such a massive idea of what the films going to be that you’re left with the cinematic equivalent to blue balls.

What I do want to do is just express to you all how damn exciting it was to see this film in the cinema. For years my top five films have been secured by 80’s Classics and 90’s brilliance but that has been well and truly invaded by Edgar Wright’s instant Classic Baby Driver. The film is essentially about this young guy called Baby. Yes, B-a-b-y, Baby. He gets in bed (not literally) with Kevin Spacey’s character Doc and winds up as his go to Getaway driver. From then on, the film follows this quiet kid around his life as a getaway driver and his home life as he tried to break free from his mundane job… as a getaway driver for a major crime boss.

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Past the basic stuff now, the film has one of the best opening scenes of any film ever (I may have said the same thing about Guardians of the Galaxy vol2 but trust me this time). It’s amazing, taking a massive amount of influence from Edgar Wright’s 2003 Music Video for Mint Royale (this video was the birth of the script for Baby Driver) with the crew heading into the bank to start the heist and Baby showing the world how to rock a lipsync in the car and not look obnoxious AF. Bellbottoms blasting, we are left out of the action, focussed on Baby and what he’s seeing and it’s honestly just perfect – every beat is so well timed I had actual shivers.

This theme continues throughout the film: the music was Wright’s primary asset in Baby Driver, and there are countless scenes in which the music matches the scene perfectly but it’s so much more than a backing up tune. We’re hearing what the characters hear and we’re experiencing everything along side Baby. We hear his emotions played out in song form, we hear his joy, his anger, his fear and frustration and we hear his confidence. Baby is well written and complex and the music tells us this story.

The Harlem Shuffle walk, in which Baby is picking up coffee post heist, shows just how much Wright can do with really basic scenes, keep an eye on the grafitti in the background of this scene and admire the timing and the choreography, it’s truly stunning and it’s not the only one. The film is full of beautiful cars, and beautiful driving sequences and chase scenes, yet one of the best chase scenes comes when Baby is on the run on foot practically dancing as he goes, easily becoming one of the film’s strongest scenes.

It’s no surprise that after all this rambling that I’ll say this – Baby Driver is one of the best films I’ve seen in quite some time. Its sublime editing, writing and direction, all thanks to Mr Edgar Wright, helps to solidify itself as one of the year’s finest flicks and makes it another strong addition to the British marvel’s filmography. Only time will tell if it can really take the title of “best film yet” but with a phenomenal soundtrack, Wright’s trademark aesthetic and the aforementioned writing, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not seeing this film – let Edgar Wright and Baby take you on a wild ride.

10/10


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