GIG REVIEW: Shame @ Stereo, Glasgow

words fae Ethan Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

Hot on the heels of their ferocious debut album, Songs Of Praise, Shame have embarked on a tour of some of the UK’s most intimate venues. Last night (12th April) Shame arrived in Glasgow and encountered a crowd that anticipated an electric live show that would match the energy of their debut album, and the London band delivered on these expectations and then some.

From the outset, frontman Charlie Steen made himself impossible to ignore. It’s impressive how at home he seems on the stage at such a young age and at this point in the band’s career. Immediately he strikes up a casual conversation with the crowd, dropping spontaneous jokes about how they are a “Christian band.” Beckoning the crowd to come closer to the stage, Steen leads the band into set and album opener Dust On Trial, the atmosphere becoming undeniably ecstatic.

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Shame and Stereo are a match made in heaven: Shame’s post-punk grit along with their massive hooks and melodies sound both raw and crisp in such a small venue. Stereo is renowned for being a great venue and one reason for this is the sound is always sublime and Shame go along with this environment perfectly. It’s almost sad that Shame are already booked to play the much bigger O2 ABC later in the year as the band’s presence suits the intimacy of Stereo perfectly.

The band themselves seemed to thrive off the energy of the night, Steen in particular growing more and more confident with each song not that he even needed the boost. Standing on the edge of the stage conducting the crowd with a wave of his arms, before long he had his audience entranced watching his every move in anticipation of what he would do next. Pouring beer over our faces, grabbing at fans’ outstretched hands, Steen lives for interaction with the audience and it amounts to making him one of the most exciting frontmen working today.

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On top of all the showboating, Shame have ounces of substance to back it up. Each song from their debut sounds even angrier and passionate in the live setting. From the dark, menacing manner of The Lick to massive anthem One Rizla, Shame adapt with ease turning each song into a reason for the crowd to lose themselves in the moment. Steen introduces each song with casual interludes, including a reassurance that he now believes other bands when they say Glasgow is always the best tour date. By midway through the set Steen is talking to his audience like they are old friends and it leads to a magic gig that was deserved due to the band giving their all.

Shame finish their set with a triumphant rendition of Gold Hole and as it comes to an end, Steen ascends the 10-foot tall amp and dives off into the crowd, which was strangely unsurprising considering the showmanship he had demonstrated throughout. Completely winning over Glasgow with their bravado and infectious sound, Shame put on one of the best live shows around: it’s no surprise this band is going places.

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Black Foxxes flatten boxxes at the O2 Academy Islington

As we all know, I am a huge fan of Black Foxxes, however, as a legendary music journalist [citation needed], I never let my heart rule my head, so please believe me when I say that their show at O2 Academy Islington last night proved that they have the mettle and the music to become monolithic.

I also saw them on Tuesday at Mama Roux’s in Birmingham, which was a fantastic gig, and if you bump into Loz from While She Sleeps, you know that you’ve come to the right gig. However, as soon as the band took to the stage in Islington and the first bars of Breathe were strummed, you just knew that they were going to come out, all guns blazing. My oh my, Mark Holley’s tortured vocals at the end allowed you to feel such pain, but immense pleasure at the quality. Whilst Mark, Tristan and Ant work together as a well-oiled machine, one of the best members of that band is their sound engineer.

The O2 was full of fantastic Foxxes fans, as the bulging London crowd was able to take the lead during, can we call them classics(?), like Maple Summer and River, lifting the band and contributing to an all-round electric vibe. That being said, there were certain groups who just wouldn’t shut the fuck UP all night, talking about the price of fish during emotional sing songs like Take Me Home. I know they’ve paid their ticket fee and the band still make cash, but if you’re gonna just chunter on throughout the set, just stay in Spoons and get a Black Foxxes playlist on the go. A word on Take Me Home as well; I said in my review that it was a toss up between Flowers and Oh, It Had To Be You off Reiði for the best song, but after many listens and a few tears shot out, it’s Take Me Home. Apologies to anyone affected by this, please note that I am a talentless hack.

Foxxes have massively upped their game when it comes to production and stage presence. The ominous intro to Oh, It Had To Be You is incredible, whilst tracks like Sæla and Manic In Me are proper dancey pop bangers. Manic In Me was a huge sing along, whilst Sæla can’t help but plaster a smile on your face. There’s a lot of confidence on stage as well; not cockiness or overconfidence, but a band that’s found their groove, Mark is becoming more and more of an electric frontman, and laces every vocal with emotion, allowing you to feel what contributed to the writing of these songs.

Closing out the set, JOY is absolutely huge live, those big riffs and the screams of “COME CALL ME ERASABLE” fill out any space they’re in like some kind of rock n roll builder’s foam. Pines is the perfect way to end a set though; allowing for plenty of thunder to bring the night to an apocalyptic finish. The only complaint here is that the setlist wasn’t long enough, but, if they’d played the whole two albums and written a song on the night, I’d still be stood there at the end chanting “We want more!”. Again, whilst I might fawn over this band like they’re my first love, it’s with good reason; they’re one of Britain’s hottest and most enterprising bands. Stop what you’re doing, stop listening to me and listen to me when I say that you need to just go and listen to the records. Buy them (good!) stream them (also, good!) steal them (naughty!) or even Limewire them (lmao), just listen to the goddamn records.

Big shout out to Emily Isherwood and Bloody Knees for supporting as well, I’ve never enjoyed two support bands so much.

The Gid Time Gig Guide: March 2018

If you didn’t already know, us folk here at BLINKCLYRO love gigs and, considering you’re reading this, we’re sure you do too. Having compiled concert listings for The Student Advertiser, which often tallies up over 200+ gigs in Glasgow & Edinburgh alone, we thought that to help you guys decide, as well as inform you of events taking part in other areas, we’d come up with this handy wee guide that’ll shine a light on events that you’ll be wanting to end up at barrier for.

Note: We don’t take requests for this series so don’t get in touch regarding this.

SAMAs Paisley Takeover @ Paisley Arts Centre, Paisley – 2-3/3/18

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A jam-packed double event, the Scottish Alternative Music Awards (SAMAs) aren’t just organising some great panels and workshops but also making sure they don’t slack in the gig department: it wouldn’t be a definitive Paisley gig without disco rockers The Vegan Leather and shoegazers SWAY playing who will no doubt provide some stunning sets, in addition to Glasgow’s very own Pronto Mama making this takeover too tempting to turn down.

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CLUB DECODE PRESENTS: PINK @ Nice N Sleazy, Glasgow – 5/3/18

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It’s always exciting to see fellow up and coming sites make the jump into the live music realm and CLUB DECODE are doing that again, after more than a year of waiting, with two events in March: GLITTER will take place on the 22nd but for chronological order’s sake we’re focussing on PINK here though both nights are set to put the spotlight on some of Scotland’s finest indie music. It’ll be a night that will stand out, not just for how bright and glittery the encouraged attire will be.

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Ayr Rise Festival @ Fury’s, Ayr – 24/3/1827540207_105050713635574_4334396787991975203_n.jpg

We’ve been holding out for a local music festival to come around and help the Ayrshire music scene. Welcome to the stage Ayr Rise Festival, a new (hopefully annual) event that will be showcasing some promising talent, some of which we’ve already covered such as The Mawb and Atlas Run. Running from 3-10pm, it’ll be a tight day that we hope will stay around for years to come.

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Young Fathers @ Barrowlands, Glasgow – 24/3/18

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If for some reason you can’t make it to Ayr on the 24th (who can blame with you how horrible the weather is) then Young Fathers sold-out show should be your next priority if you can manage to find someone that isn’t a tout selling a ticket. This unique hip-hop, pop outfit is, for this site’s money anyway, the best band Scotland has to offer at the moment and with their third LP building up to be their magnum opus, you owe it to yourself to get your arse to this show. 

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Phoenix w/ The Vegan Leather @ Barrowlands – 26/3/18

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Before the support was announced for this gig, we were already pretty hyped for it: despite not covering their latest album, we can confirm that Phoenix are even better than they were back in their popularity boom back in 2009. With The Vegan Leather (oh hi again) brought along to get the crowd hyped, this will no doubt be a gig that you can undoubtedly enjoy but where, in a year or so, you can say you saw the Paisley act really breakout. 

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Gig Review: Bon Iver @ Eventim Apolo, London

by will sexton (@willshesleeps)

It’s not often you’ll find a gig review that starts off with the writer in question stressing how nervous he is yet here we are: I was nervous about tonight’s gig. Each to their own but I enjoy looking up setlists before I see bands in order to get super hyped, in addition to stopping myself getting disappointed when one of the deeper cuts I adore no doubt gets left out, inadvertently tainting the night.

So seeing Bon Iver was even more of a Russian roulette: the long-awaited first night they played in London this year (their first English gig since 2012) Bon Iver played their whole new album start to finish in one set, had an interval and then some big hits. The second night was their self-titled second album, an interval and, again, a handful of big hits. Yet nothing was the same order or guaranteed to be played, the only pattern was them going through their discography backwards, (hell they didn’t even play Skinny Love on the first night). So my favourite band of all time could actually not play some of my favourite songs and I could go home heartbroken.

Turns out I had no reason to be worried.

Bon Iver’s gig last night was, to put it simply, an utterly perfect piece of live music that I’ve ever seen. Everyone in the band was on point from start to finish but the gorgeous drumming and brass section definitely deserves to be commended for how impressive they were. Opening with Flume from their debut For Emma, Forever Ago, there was a sudden complete silence to let Justin Vernon fully unfold on stage to the sold-out Apollo theatre. The sound mixing was perfect, his voice soaring above and through the rafters, especially the chorus which went completely through me and I stood in awe and tears. 

Yet, somehow, the gig got even better: Bon Iver decided to play tracks from all their albums and, more importantly, Blood Bank EP, further cementing the point about the alt-rock outfit cycling back through their catalogue. The moment Beach Baby started was when I really transcended, ultimately coming down to the importance the song holds for me and has done for years so seeing that performed as beautifully as it was made it all the better. A speech about love followed it up making it all the more hard-hitting.

Unsuspecting gems came in the forms of the songs __45___, with the most gorgeous saxophone solo, Woods where Vernon really showed off his electronic technical ability with his vocoder and looping and Wolves (Act I and II) with the most epic, goosebumps ending of the whole show. Strobe lights, massive drums hits and raw emotion.

After waiting for 7 years to see my favourite band, I can finally say I’ve seen Bon Iver. The best musical experience. As the gig wound to an end, the band played 22 (OVER SOON), and through my last set of tears, I really felt that yes, the gig was over way too soon.

Gig Review: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard @ Olympia Theatre, Dublin

written by ewan blacklaw (@ewanblacklaw), photos by Laura Rai (@AuralAir)

Following their previous year of madness, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have hit the road: with five-full-length studio albums dropped in 2017, the band have plenty of new material to play, as well as larger crowds to play to after their rise in popularity following the mammoth year of releases. They are currently doing a lap of the UK and Ireland before making their way through Europe and then on to North America. After sold out shows at London’s Brixton Academy and the Manchester Academy, King Gizzard powered on to Dublin, to play yet another sold out show.  

Prior to the gig, a packed house of excited Gizz fans, reaching up to the two balconies of the Olympia Theatre, waited patiently for support band Mild High Club. The two bands collaborated on Sketches of Brunswick East which saw a more jazz-focused sound emerge that had also been heard on 2015’s acoustic album; Paper Mâché Dream Balloon. This, merged with Mild High Club’s dreamy chilled out sound, made a very laid back, yet well carried out and produced album which no doubt lead to a symbiotic relationship that resulted in fans of one becoming fans of the other – in other words, they were the ideal act to set the stage for tonight’s proceedings. 

When the American alt outfit came on and plaid their dreamy brand of jazz-infused indie rock, they did not disappoint. The performance made for some laid back, easy listening, with some of their better, more well know tracks such as Homage, Kokopelli and Tessellation really sounding great live. The only issue with the performance was some questionable mixing which, while not an issue for most of the set, did cause an abrasive synth sound on Windowpane, a real shame considering it’s one of their best tracks. Thankfully it didn’t put a dampener on what was an overall positive experience, kicked off by a smashing opener in the form of Skiptracing which got the reaction it truly deserved from a crowd who was now more than ready for the rest of the night.

The post Mild High Club break saw excitement rise, as well as the noise level inside the venue, as fans grew anxious in anticipation of King Gizzard. This excitement was released gradually as members of the band came on stage to do soundcheck themselves, which took away some of the drama, but did create some nice moments of interaction between the fans.

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Then it was time; the audience was pumped up and raring to go as the seven members of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard made their way on to the stage, with some abstract digital imagery behind them providing an intense visual experience. The intensity was broken with frontman Stu’s back and forth with the crowd, before starting the opener, Digital Black. Whilst sceptical at first about the choice of song, any doubts were quickly eradicated by the heavy vocals and screeching guitar plunging the audience back into chaos, with the crowd reacting as hoped – by going absolutely wild. The heaviness of the opener was carried on, as the band played two more tracks from their most metal-inspired album, Murder Of The Universe. Whilst some of the spoken word sections from the album broke this up, Lord of Lightning quickly mustered up another fluster.

After performing Greenhouse Heat Death, the band stopped momentarily to switch to their microtonal instruments which pointed to only one set being played, instead of splitting the show in two like they had done in London and Manchester. This was meant that there may not be as many songs played, which was obviously not ideal for the Irish fans. This was not seen as a downer though, as King Gizzard powered on, playing some of their hits such as Nuclear Fusion and Sleep Drifter which continued to ramp up the crowd. The band then slowed things down with Stu swapping for Ambrose and hopping on the keys and Alex from Mild High Club reappearing to grab the Flying Microtonal Banana guitar for The Book off of the collaborative album. This was then followed by one of the peak moments of the set, which was repeatedly demanded by a voice in the crowd, as Rattlesnake was belted out by Stu, Joey and Ambrose. The song summed up everything good about the performance; from the consistency of each member to play continuously, seldom making a mistake. The pounding beat coming from both sets of rums, the hypnotic baselines, melodic guitars masked behind some wild effects and the vocals that seem to fill every venue that they play.

After a brief break, the performance then took a step into the more prog-rock side of the band’s discography, playing tacks off of Polygondwanaland. From this section of the performance, Crumbling Castle was a major highlight moment (or ten), as well as the brilliant transition into The Fourth Colour that brought a new appreciation to the song. The Gizz then went on to play three tracks from their 2016 release, Nonagon Infinity, which is known to be a favourite of fans and critics alike. This provided yet another highlight to an already spectacular performance, with the crowd going crazy for Robot Stop in particular.

To finish off the band played The River from an older album of theirs, Quarters. Whilst this song is great, it feels as though a track such as Head On/Pill would have been that extra bit special, as well as being a classic Gizz track in the eyes of fans. The ending was nonetheless great, also featuring a surprise performance of God is in the Rhythm, from the same album, which was apparently the song’s full band live debut, even though it was released back in 2015. Despite not being as well known as some of their other tunes, it was a pleasant surprise that went down well.

The intensity of the performance made time fly, with a great Irish crowd providing the atmosphere needed for King Gizzard to deliver such a legendary performance. Looking back, the gig was a hyper-rollercoaster through the band’s various sounds and personas, morphing from metal to 70’s prog-rock to jazz and then back to the psych-rock that the band is most well-known for effortlessly. Although there are some tracks that fans may feel they missed out, it would be impossible to fit all of their best into one gig after such a prolific year. After seeing a performance like that, it would be hard not to get excited for what the band has in store for 2018, as well as gaining a new appreciation for each of the album released by King Gizzard, whether it was last year or some of their older records.

Gig Review: ALVVAYS @ O2 ABC, Glasgow

photos + words by liam menzies (@blnkclyr)

When praise is given in a gig review, more often than not there’s a huge focus on energy exerted by both the act and the audience which is fair enough as, after all, a rock or hip-hop show tends to only be as strong as its riffs and beats respectively. This made ALVVAYS a nice change of pace before they had even played a single note: the Canadian dream-pop act has been around for a few years now but 2017 saw the band rise to prominence thanks in no small part to how well Antisocialites meshed with fans both old and new and the chill vibe it rocked.

Of course, once they did start playing they managed to win over the audience without a moment’s hesitation. After showcasing the new album to a busy St Luke’s last year, prior to its release, it’s had time for those in attendance at the ABC tonight to grow attached to certain tracks and witness them being performed in the band’s biggest Glasgow show to date. It was undeniably obvious which one reacted the best with the crowd: as soon as the opening lo-fi keyboard of In Undertow filled up the room, bits of the crowd flooded to the front to lap up every single word and note that the band politely served them.

img_3807-1Usually, if you’ve got your heart set on a Glasgow venue for production value then ABC usually finds itself placed in the middle of the rankings but ALVVAYS managed to subvert this expectation; much like some of their instrumentals, there was a hazy aesthetic splashed on the scenery behind the act, often times taking on the form of TV static, giving the stage a retro feel which went to prove that you don’t have to go overboard with design to leave an impression.

Speaking of retro, well as retro as you can be for an album released four years ago, tracks from the band’s eponymous debut album weren’t left outside in the baltic Scottish weather, especially Adult Diversion whose jangle pop essence resonated well and showcased the band’s weaving instrumentals which they made look almost effortless.

Actually, while we’re on the topic, the whole band has to be praised for the show they put on last night; of course, Molly Rankin (vocals + rhythm guitar) was on spectacular form as always, even getting an “I love you Molly” from the passionate crowd, but Kerri (keyboards), Alec (lead guitar), Brian (bass guitar) and Sheridan (drums) all did a wonderful job in making the transition between record and stage feel utterly seamless.

Throughout last night’s show, there were a few humourous exchanges, such as Molly’s tangents about her mishap with thinking pants meant the same thing here as they did back home and the pronunciation of Sauchiehall street. While this is a staple of nearly every gig, it went a long way to evoke how humble the act really are: touring isn’t a new thing to them and they’d have every right to possess some sort of ego with all the critical acclaim they’ve accumulated but on stage, what we saw were an act who are going with the flow and giving their all every single time.

After all, in their own words, there’s no turning back after what’s transpired.

Gig Review: Kendrick Lamar @ Hydro, Glasgow

words + photos by liam menzies (@blnkclyr)

None other the man of the night himself pointed out how long it had been since Glasgow last got a taste of Compton’s finest: since 2012, Kendrick Lamar went from being a relatively unknown rapper to crafting an album that could easily be picked up as A24 flick, another that redefined himself as a jazz fueled poet and a 2017 LP that somehow kept the golden run going all in the space of half a decade. To say expectations were high would be extremely undermining the anticipation for tonight’s performance with a queue forming from doors opening that didn’t die until minutes before Kung Fu Kenny himself appeared on stage.

Speaking of which, the DAMN. star certainly stayed true to his pseudonym: as opposed to the usual attire you’d expect a hip hop colossus to walk out in, Kendrick was donning the all black costume of a sensei, already making things feel very different from a superficial level. As the gig started off with D.N.A, a track that we picked as our favourite of 2017, any doubts that he wouldn’t be bringing his a-game to the Hydro tonight weren’t so much laid to rest but put six feet under the ground. The ferocity and slickness that Kendrick delivered in bucket-loads in the studio were here in abundance as well, his flow chugging along like a runaway train that nobody could stop; not that they’d want to.

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As you may expect from a man masterminding the soundtrack to one of 2018’s biggest blockbuster films, the production value on display last night was utterly lavish: at various intervals, the audience were greeted with cinematics you’d expect from a Karate Kid reboot headed by Key & Peele or Tim & Eric, showing off the finesse and skill of a fictional Kendrick that was intentionally hyperbolic but not miles beyond the talent he showed throughout his set.

Let’s find out who’s been here since Day 1” he proclaimed in a suspenseful manner, almost flat out stating that Hood Politics was on the cards and while it was sadly absent, the early cuts weren’t anything to shake your head at: Good Kid, m.A.A.d City got the playtime it deserved with Money Trees, Backseat Freestyle and more all being given the live treatment that transcended them and while To Pimp A Butterfly got left out a tad, King Kunta and Alright certainly banged just as hard as you would expect them too.

As the night came to a close, it was hard not to feel overwhelmed with awe that you were in the presence of an artist that is truly at his peak. This wasn’t helped by the aptly titled GOD being played on the encore and much like he did throughout last night, the sheer admiration present on Kendrick‘s face last night was undeniable: we saw for ourselves that he wasn’t shy about bigging himself up but it’s clear to see that the Hydro was witnessing a man just as in love with what he’s doing as his fans are, no doubt cherishing the unpredictable reactions his work incited.

To put it lightly, he was humble.