Catfish and The Bottlemen – Victoria Warehouse.

Freshly washed hair, well-kept Doc Martens and a brand new A-line skirt, it is safe to say I had NOT dressed for the occasion – but bloody hell it has been a long time since my last gig. After a year of god damn awful pop music – If I here even an utter of Drake’s One Dance again, I can not be held responsible for my actions – I was looking forward to listening to some decent music with a cold cider in hand. And Catfish and The Bottlemen were exactly what the doctor ordered. The northern heart-throbs always remind me of my carefree uni days when my best friend would always have the vinyl blaring from her room – God what I would do to go back to those days. Right, before I get too nostalgic. Here’s what Catfish and The Bottlemen had to say.

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Sticky floor, ten-year-old confetti stained ceiling and a thrown together stage – I knew it was going to be a good night. Gracing the stage with the banging opener, ‘Homesick‘, the crowd went from a civilised bunch of people apologising for the odd push to absolute chaos in a couple of seconds. People catapulting themselves headfirst onto complete strangers, lads grabbing on to the sweaty jackets of randomers to keep themselves upright and fan girls throwing themselves on shoulders to get a quick glimpse of Van – gah what a man. With my shoes well and truly christened, I was more than in the mood for the moshpits which were expected to follow. Banger after banger, the boys did far from disappoint.

With a fair mix of tunes off their old album, Balcony, and their newest treasure, The Ride, the crowd were truly spoilt. Having not listened to the new album as much as I had hoped before the gig – a few songs were a nice surprise. ‘Anything‘ is going to be a grower for sure. You know you’ve done well when you’ve got a catchy tune – you know the foot tapper type of tune. But when you’ve got genuis lyrics to go with it, you know you’ve nailed it. And that’s what Catfish have done on every single album. Fair play lads.

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Biggest tune of the night was of course ‘Kathleen‘. I don’t think my feet stayed on the ground at all for the whole of that. But what I do remember is choking on a the wispy curls of the girl in front of my during my heartfelt rendition of the song – it was rather inconvenient. Hairballs aside, it was nice to be surrounded by a cracking crowd who were there to waste every single ounce of oxygen belting out the tunes – rather than perfecting the best shot for a snapchat story. There is nothing worse. If I wanted to watch the band through a tiny screen I’d be sat at home on YouTube, tar.

Despite a wicked show, the lads lacked a little something – a few words perhaps. I’m not asking for a sit down chin wag about Brexit or the presidential debate. But a few words would have been nice. I think Van said about four words in total. It just seemed as though the gig was over in a flash and that was it. ‘Tyrants‘, no encore and home.

All in all, they were well worth the wait and I can not wait to see what they come up with next.

Peace out.

The Mad Grad 

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Who gets lost at Dot2Dot festival?

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So, I think I owe you guys an apology – it’s not you, it’s me. I’ve been slacking on the blogging front. But, I’ll make it up to you – promise.  I don’t mean to rub it in – but I’ve been living the some sort of high life lately and haven’t had time to stop. From press nights at Turtle Bay to menu reviews at Missoula – I’ve basically been paid to eat my body weight in food and drink. Another rum punch? why not.

It’s been a very busy bank holiday. But, it started with a bang that’s for sure. I jetted off to Manchester for a day (and night) of unsigned bands, quirky venues and far too many ciders. It’s safe to say I’m still feeling the effects two days later. Ok, I guess it doesn’t help that I followed the ‘hair of the dog’ rule yesterday and had a generous tipple of gin at a family house party. But, it’s the bank holiday weekend and sleeping, eating and drinking is part and parcel, right?

Back to the festival, before I go on a sleep deprived tangent. The teeny-weeny festival – a cracking £12.50 a ticket – was scattered across Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Proper quirky. Like, who’d have thought you could watch Sundara Karma in a cathedral with a pint in hand? I know.

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I’ve been to a far few festivals, but this was something else. Ok, there was still the odd cup of piss flung in the air – but that’s a given. It was everything without the bullshit. No floral headbands, floor length kimono’s or 125ml bottles of wine in sight. It was just decent music for a change. We stuck to the pint-a-place rule so we could see as many acts as possible – and many acts we saw. By the end of the night, we had no sense of direction at all. Forget dot-to-dot festival – we walked the same circle three times to end up in the exact place we started. At least we found the kebab shop no bother. Saying that, we could sniff one out on a deserted island.  

Liss – a five man band from Sweden – tore the place apart in Soup Kitchen. Set in a grungy cellar – with make-shift toilets and stage – it was a real experience. We’d sacked the all-time favourite Mystery Jets off to see the unheardof band –  and it was well worth the risk. I’m all for sticky feet, sweaty hair and being packed in like sardines.

Dua Lipa were on point. Yet, the venue was past boiling point. Manchester’s Methodist Church was a literal sweat box. Vocally, she was wicked and she had real good stage presence (give or take the late arrival).

 

A festival up there at the top – it’ll definitely be on the cards for next year.

Ey up, a quick inside tip for anyone looking for somewhere ‘different’ for a drink

  • Soup Kitchen – kitted out with quirky furniture
  • Night and Day – proper chilled atmosphere
  • 57 Thomas Street – lush apricot cider

 

Until next time…

The Mad Grad

 

 

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Just for the shits ‘n gigs.

 

Frequent gig go-er, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Oh yeah, I mean the music not the band.

Here’s a few of the sickest bands I’ve seen live:

 

  1. Arctic Monkeys, Finsbury Park

arctic monkeysSheffield lads, Arctic Monkeys, brought the heart of the soul of the north to the country’s capital. Oh, and it’s weather too. Playing to over 45,000 people, Alex Turner was in his element and was able to be his normal smug self. Given a helping hand by Royal Blood, self-obsessed Miles Kane and Tame Impala, the Yorkshire lads didn’t have to worry about crowd pleasers.

Testosterone levels went sky high when Miles Kane and his Daz white pants took to the stage. When the crowd got a sniff of Don’t forget who you are, every lad locked their arms round one another and belted out the words. As for the girls?  they were either silent or utterly gob-smacked. Either way, Miles Kane is still a wolly.

50 year old dads, sixteen year old girls and ‘proper’ lads paid their respects for Arctic Monkeys and Finsbury Park was transformed into a hub of energy. As a reward for arriving nearly six hours early, we managed to grab a decent spot in the ‘pit’ and refused to move even an inch. Literally. Well, until Alex Turner graced the stage like God. Pfft, he likes to think he is.

Stumbling onto the stage half-cut, Alex Turner grunted a few words and the crowd went mental. Suddenly, everything stepped up a notch. It went from civilised to complete pandemonium in a matter of seconds. Drenched by flying cups of piss, consumed by lethal mosh pits and lads off their nuts on pills offering their shoulders. I’m still haunted by the 100kg giant who came flying towards me. Totally k’od.

Ignoring Alex Turner and his boastful and brash ways, Arctic Monkeys put on a hell of a show. Plunging into the past, the lads went back to their roots and revisited their most-loved and couldn’t-give-a-fuck album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.

Nostalgic tunes, Fake Tales of San Francisco and Dancing Shoes transported the crowd back to their youthful days. The days when this album was your jam for the bus ride home from school. Spoilt by their old tunes, the indie boys didn’t play Mardy Bum – screwing. A conscious effort no doubt.

As a promotional stunt, the band used the sell-out event to showcase their new album, AM, which had just been released. A new take on their previous albums, the lads veered away from their black skinny’s, mop-head and battered vans days but kept their couldn’t-give-a-shit etiquette.

R U Mine, which exploits love, sex and and its fuckery was well executed and received well by the crowd. Well, not like anyone was sober enough to appreciate the lyrics at this point in the night.

Long after the show finished, self-confessed Arctic Monkey fans decorated the streets and never-ending queues for the tube, belting out the bangers.

Although drenched in piss and whatever other substances lined the cups, the memories of that gig will last forever.

 

 

2. Bombay Bicycle Club, Manchester Academy2

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Like a bombay mix, you’ve never exactly know what you’re going to get with Bombay Bicycle Club. You just know it’ll be good stuff. Moreish – you’ll always want to keep coming back for more – sad thing is their tours are few and far between.

After the long-awaited album, So Long, See You Tomorrow ripped the seams, Bombay announced their tour and the internet was in turmoil. The quirky quartet were now back on the scene with a completely different, fresh and far eastern sound, inspired by front man, Jack Steadman’s travels around India.

Visually, Bombay’s set was second to none. Forget strobe lighting, a static overhead projection and budget smoke machines – that’s too amateur for Bombay. Think, industrial confetti canons, astrological graphics and psychedelic lighting.  You’d be finding remnants of the gig for weeks later in the shower.

Eagerly anticipated by an eclectic crowd, the Crouch End lads took to the stage and Manchester Academy’s roof went off. As always, the indie lads kept their cards close to their chest and opened their set with the progressive track Overdone to cement the tone. Safe to say, they did more than that.

The album’s experimental tracks and kaleidoscopic visual effects coupled with Jack Steadman’s mesmerising voice, it felt like you were trippin’ the whole time. It was so weird.

As expected, the best was saved till last. Luna, Bombay’s catchiest, indie-dance fused and flavoursome tune which is overlaid with a mis-match of sounds. Everyone’s possessions were flung to one side and the whole room turned into a colossal mosh pit. It was sick.

Boys, as always, you smashed it.

 

3. Nick Mulvey, Albert Hall.

nick-mulveyNick Mulvey – an almost religious experience. Snug in an ornate chapel, surrounded by stain glass windows,  colossal pipe organs and intricately decorated ceilings. An intimate gig – a different kind of intimacy. Not the type of gig where having some sweaty sixteen year old girls hair in your mouth or feeling as though you are third-wheeling with the couple in front.

Indie- Folk singer, Nick Mulvey, from Cambridge is an unpretentious singer whose gigs are very rarely described as a show. Mesmerised by his unique voice and his exceptional skills on the guitar, Mulvey always manages to keep you hooked for the entirety of the set. Everyone in the crowd seemed to be there for the same things and no-one had any expectations.

Out of nowhere, Mulvey pulled out an acoustic cover of Gillian Welch’s Look at Miss Ohio, a song which has been stuck in my head ever since. A truly stunning song which Mulvey executed beautifully.

We’ve all heard Arctic Monkey’s rendition of Drake’s Hold on, We’re Going Home, which don’t get me wrong is a first-class cover, but I must admit nothing on Mulvey’s. Whether it was his spontaneous decision to dip into a completely different genre or the way he accentuated every single word in the song – it was something quite remarkable.

Bringing the set to a close with an absolute belter – Mulvey’s ‘Nitrous’ X Olive’s ‘You’re Not Alone’. A 90’s delight.

The Mad Grad.

 

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Y aye man, Little Comets were sick!

Location: Starbucks, Liverpool One.

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Espresso coffees, broadcast newspapers and shiny shoes decorate Liverpool’s streets this morning, as people go about their daily commutes. You can tell it’s Monday.

Liverpool looks very different to the way it did last night. Last night, Liverpool’s O2 – a proper grungy, underground venue – was on fire.

Packed out with Fred Perry shirts, denim dungarees and shell-suits, it was like a scene out of This is England. Littered with students; lads wasted after about three pints, girls downing pints of cider and morons out of it on drugs – did they know they were at a Little Comets gig?

Hippo Campus, an indie-pop band from Minnesota, supported Little Comets and did a pretty good job, I must say. They did a cracking job at warming up the crowd and set the tone for the rest of the night.

Often described as ‘kitchen sink indie’, Little Comets don’t beat about the bush with their music – the lads say it how it is. Coupled with the feel-good, hip-swinging, indie disco sound, the trio are pro’s at creating an energy that connects the crowd and gets them singing their hearts out – even if the majority make up the words.

Similar to Alt-J, an indie-rock band from Leeds, their lyrics are well-thought out and practically impossible to remember – but that’s all part of it – you take from the song what you want.

Only a short set, the lads made the most of every minute and didn’t waste any time with pointless chit chat. Saying that, some conversation would’ve been nice.

little-comets.JPGThe gig followed a natural crescendo, starting with their slowest and mellow songs and ending with their absolute banger – Dancing song. I’ve never seen a crowd react so fast. The lights went up and the roof went off.

Almost pitch perfect, the lads voices carried well and bounced off every wall. I’ve been to my fair share of gigs – too many to count – but Little Comets definitely sounded the best live.

After waiting all night to hear Bayonne, by far the catchiest song I’ve ever heard, they didn’t play it. Absolutely wounded. I thought they were just being jammy buggers and saving it for the encore. Yeah, the encore never happened.

Apart from that, the boys did well!

The Mad Grad.

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Lil’ bit of Vice.

Location: Cafephillia, Moseley.

oobleckI’ve always thought of Moseley as Birmingham’s Soho. A proper quirky kind of place. Everything is so chilled and no-one ever seems to be in a hurry. It’s full of such an eclectic mix of people; mature intellectuals, bohemians and easy-going people who have such a laid-back approach to life.

Easily caught up in the humdrum of everyday life, I’ve decided Saturday’s are for scribbling. Sat in Cafephillia, an eccentric cafe nestled on the corner of Moseley’s high street, surrounded by beards, lush coffee and an epic playlist – I’m in my absolute element.

After paying for a Netflix Subscription for 6 months – which I used about three times in total – I realised that TV series and films aren’t for me. Quite frankly, I haven’t got the attention span for either. Spotify is my type of thing. It’s quite sad really, but I can sit on Spotify for hours, listening to unsigned and undiscovered bands – some better than others, of course.

When I was at University, I always used to buy gig tickets off the cuff and drag my best friend along to them. Not like she was complaining – she’s proper into her music too. Since I’ve moved home, I haven’t been to half as many gigs and that’s something I want to change. In true fashion, I booked two tickets to see Lisbon – a small, indie band from Newcastle – at the Oobleck.

Ok, apart from the awful accent, unheard of football team and Doctors, the worst show ever aired on television – Birmingham isn’t that dreadful. In fact, it’s full of unusual, alternative restaurants and music venues.

mockingbirdThe Mockingbird Theatre, situated in The Custard Factory, has some of the best food I’ve ever tasted. It sells decent food – the type that you don’t need a magnifying glass to see what you’re eating. Proper indie, it’s kitted out with beer keg chairs, old-cinema style decor and pukka cider on draft.

The Oobleck, which latches onto Alfie Bird’s pub, is up there with the coolest music venues I’ve been to – the entrance door was a real bookcase for starters! The only bug-bearer was the price of cider – £5 a bottle.

Surrounded by bunches of 16 year olds, moshing to Bombay Bicycle Club’s album which was played on repeat, I felt like I was back in my teenage years. Except this time, I could stand with a cold cider in my hand. Brother’s cloudy lemon, to be precise. I certainly wasn’t complaining. Packed out with only about 30 people, it was an intimate gig and there was a real atmosphere. It was a nice change. Echoed through the abysmal support act, The Amazons, whose sound levelling was all over the place, these tiny venues are ideal for bands to practise, make mistakes and build up a fan base.

Disappointed by the support act, Lisbon pulled it out the bag. The three young lads from Newcastle, I’d say about my age, lit the stage up and had the floor shaking. Too small for a stage invasion, Matt Varty, the lead singer of the band took himself off the stage and into the crowd. As you can imagine, the teenage girls went crazy and one even offered him her spare cardigan. I can’t say I’ve ever been that prepared.

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Unlike large, commercial gigs that I’ve been to, it was nice to interact and have a laugh with the lads afterwards. Guitarist, Joe Atkinson, was up for a chin-wag and signed the EP that we bought for our car. Joe had a wicked sense of humour and creased when I questioned the price of the CD. Let’s just say, The CD was £4 and the ticket was £5.

It was a fiver well spent, that’s for sure.

The Mad Grad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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