Monday, 29 March 2010

Guess what....another Allo Darlin' post

Photo by Simon Trought

The whole "save 6Music" thing doesn't sit quite right with me. I mean, obviously I'm supportive of anything that at least tries to be a bit different, support upcoming artists etc, but to me personally, radio has never really played a big part. I've never turned to radio for discovering new music, opting instead for zines (back in the days) and thank you lists on albums. These days, it's mainly blogs and myspace. So, it was with mixed feelings I joined the Allo Darlin troops at Broadcasting House on Saturday. I do feel a bit weird protesting for something I really don't know anything about....the only times I've actually listened to BBC6 is when Allo Darlin' have been that's twice.

And seriously, it was more of a gathering than a "protest". The weather was terrible, so the turn-out wasn't great....and to top it off....there was a group sing-a-long to The Beatles Hey Jude....with the organizers clevery having changed the words to "Save Six"....oh was just a tad cringe-worthy.

Anyway, Allo Darlin' played a couple of acoustic songs in front of Broadcasting House. The ukelele really isn't the loudest of instruments, so I doubt many people heard what was going on, but the people standing closest to the band seemed to enjoy it. 6Music...down with the evil Mark Thompson and all that jazz...

Thursday, 25 March 2010

New Allo Darlin video

Woo-hoo....allow me to present the video for Allo Darlin's upcoming single, Dreaming.

The video was shot on Super-8, using Kodak's beautiful VISION3 500T Color Negative stock. It's a bit rough, but you know, that was the whole idea...and it's a bit was the evening of the London Popfest, so a fair bit of alcohol had been consumed.

Song: Dreaming
Artist: Allo Darlin'
Single Release date: 29th March 2010 (7" vinyl and download)
Label: FortunaPOP!
Filmed, directed and edited by Nik Vestberg

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

South by South West - Messing with Texas (part 2)

Thursday 18th March

On Thursday Allo Darlin' had an early show at Waterloo Cycles, a small bike shop located north of central Austin. With too many of us to fit in a normal taxi, I decided to take the bus and walk to the venue. It turned out to be quite a trek, but it was a lovely afternoon and walking is such a great way to get your head around a city.

I got to Waterloo Cycles just in time to see Standard Fare.

There really is something special about this band. Every single song on their album is great and live they're just so charming and sweet and well...just great.

Allo Darlin were on next and again, they played a great set. Again, there wasn't a huge amount of people there, but the people that were there seemed to appreciate it.

The sun was shining, there was free beer....what else could you ask for? More music! The Lovely Eggs were up next and despite having been promised a drum kit, there was none to be seen. They're not really a band that would let a minor thing like that stop them and they soon managed to collect some bits and pieces for a makeshift drum kit of sorts.

The band was great as usual and I don't think the crowd knew quite what hit them. Again, I tried to convince them to play Tyrannosaurus Rex For Christmas, but they weren't having it. I guess I'm just going to have to wait until they play a December show somewhere.

After they finished we made our way into town. Me and Elizabeth rushed off to catch Say Hi (formerly Say Hi To Your Mom) who was playing a solo show. I absolutely love this guy, but was a bit disappointed to see him play his whole set on acoustic guitar, rather than the usual warm synthy keyboard malarky. He played a few old songs, including Let's Talk About Space Ships, and it was just nice to hear some music that wasn't loud for a change.

Eric Elbogen of Say Hi

In the evening it was time for the Cakeshop/Slumberland Records showcase and I headed over early to make sure I got in. Summer Cats were on as I arrived and they were quite fun.

Frankie Rose and The Outs were up next. Frankie Rose is the drummer from Dum Dum Girls and her own band does a similar(ish) thing, but with ALOT more reverb. Fuzzy 60's style girl-pop with bucketloads of harmonies.

Frankie Rose and the Outs

They were followed by Grass Widow, who I really like and was very excited about seeing live. More of that fuzzy reverby girl pop that is so popular at the moment, but with a rockier edge to it. Their new album is a cracker and well worth checking out.

Grass Widow

Eventually, it was time for the headliners of the evening, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. By now the place was mobbed and it was great atmosphere. The Pains get better and better every time I see them and it was just a great show.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

Saturday 20th March

The final day of SxSW, this was always goning to be a busy one. Allo Darlin' had three shows lined up, the first of which was at the British Music Embassy at noon. Despite the early start the place was busy. The promise of a free bar and free food always ensures a good crowd.

Allo Darlin' played an amazing set, probably the best I've ever seen them do. Everything was just spot-on and the crowd loved it.

Fortuna POP! head honcho Sean with Kip and Alex from The Pains at the British Music Embassy

Four bloody Marys later I left the British Music Embassy and headed down to far east of 6th Street, where Adam Green and Let's Wrestle were meant to be playing. Unfortunately, they were having technical difficulties to say the least. Both the PA speakers and the monitrs had blown and theyr were running several hours behind.

But all was not lost. Instead we found The Vivian Girls playing an acoustic set in a tiny room.

I've only ever seen them once before and that was an insanely loud show at The Old Blue Last, so it was nice to actually be able to hear their melodies for once.

The rest of the afternoon was spent walking across town trying to catch Math The Band, only to find out that they had cancelled. Instead, we watched a sweet band called Candy Claws playing outside in the freezing cold.

Made a second attempt at seeing Dum Dum Girls, this time at a small venue called Spider House. Luckily, the cold must have been keeping people away, so we were actually able to see the band....and they sounded just as great as they looked.

The busy and freezing afternoon soon turned into an equally busy and cold evening. Allo Darlin' played their final Austin show, this time at a Mexican restaurant. The band was great as usual, but the crowd was mainly there to have their Saturday dinner, so there was not much of an atmosphere.

In the evening it was time for the closing night party, again at the British Music Embassy. Hosted by MOshi Moshi Records, it featured Best Fwends, Still Flyin', The Wave Pictures and Slow Club.

Dave from The Wave Pictures

Slow Club

It was just a brilliant way to finish off an already great week. All the bands were great and Still Flyin' joined Slow Club on stage for a big sing-along to finish off the evening.

That's it really....we went home to catch some sleep and on sunday morning it was time to say goodbye to Texas.

I'm pretty sure I'll be back next year....

Monday, 22 March 2010

South by South West - Messing with Texas (part 1)

Sooo, the original plan was to keep a day-by-day SxSW diary, but...well...that just didn't happen. Internet cafes seem to be a dying breed these days and there was just too much going on all the time. There was a computer in my hotel, but with a beyond sucky connection speed and a maximum fifteen minute usage policy, it proved pretty hopeless.

Instead, this is a sort of mega post...well, two mega posts....covering most of the fun that went down in Austin over the past week.

Sunday 14th March

I arrived in Austin after the first Greyhound bus experience of my life. Most of the weirdos in Houston seem to gather around the coach station, so it was an "interesting" way to start the day. I also realised that vegetarians aren't really that well catered for in Texas, so my first American breakfast consisted of Doritos and a bottle of water.

The interactive branch of SxSW was still in full swing, so the city was literally mobbed with bloggers, web developers and other electronic geeks. Maybe it was just because I was on my own and had no idea of where to go, but at first Austin was a bit intimidating. Hordes of people everywhere, rushing between festival parties and seminars. It was just a bit full on. Anyway, completely by accident I stumbled across a poster saying that Jad Fair was in town, not for SxSW, but playing a show in small theatre hall along with some other bands. BINGO! Jad is a bit of a personal hero of mine, so this was a most excellent way to start off the week in Austin.

Jad Fair doing his thing

The Salvage Vanguard Theatre is quite far away from most of the festival action, but eventually I found my way there. I met a bunch of lovely people, saw some hideously bizarre support act (the less said the better....really) and eventually Mr Fair and Co hit the stage. I'm not too familiar with his solo stuff, but it didn't really matter. He played Secret, which is my favorite Half Japanese song, so all was well in the world...and suddenly Austin didn't seem so bad.

Monday 15th March
is a bit of a blur. Not quite sure what I did. Sun, beer etc. Haha. Maybe I will add something later.

Tuesday 16th March

Another day of exploring the city, this time in the rain. Went to the Highland Mall, which was an intensely depressing experience - the ultimate symbol of America in a recession. It was a completre ghost mall, with shop assistant far outnumbering the shoppers.
The best thing about Austin during SxSW is all the unofficial parties and events going on. The whole town goes music crazy and people turn their shops, restaurants and even houses into venues for the week. I found a place called House of Guys, which was literally some guys' house and they were putting on a bunch of bands in the evening.

The Fungi Girls at House of Guys

Since this was the evening Allo Darlin' arrived in Austin I didn't have time to see much, but managed to catch a band called The Fungi Girls. It was quite an experience watching a couple hundred people trying to crowd into a living room.

The Fungi Girls myspace

Wednesday 17th March

The first proper day of SxSW music. Allo Darlin arrived safely and we spent most of the day registering, getting wristbands, catching up and drinking free bar at some Brooklyn Lager party. In the evening it was time for their official showcase, at a venue called The Tap Room at Six.

The band was in good form and showed no signs of jet lag. The venue wasn't the most exciting of places, but the gig still went down well. It was the first time I'd seen a full Allo Darlin set with Greg on bass and it was nice to see him being so into it and fitting in so well with the rest of the band.

Paul and Elizabeth at Allo Darlin's official showcase gig

Thursday 18th March

The first really busy day and the sun was shining again. Started off by heading to the far east of 6th Street to see Slow Club. They were in good spirits, but weren't having much luck with their gear. The amp kept breaking down, drum kit kept falling apart. In the end they just gave up and finished off their set acoustically.

After Slow Club we headed over to the lawn party at the French Legation Museum. We had some free beer, listened to The Antlers in the background, before heading back to 6th again to catch Quasi playing at a parking lot.

Sam and Janet were in great form and played an amazing set. I haven't managed to get hold of the new album yet, but from what I heard it should be ace.

When they finished we headed back to the lawn party to see if could see some of Dum Dum Girls. By now, the place was completely mobbed and it proved impossible to see much of the band....or to get to the free beer.

In the evening I met up with some old friends from Sweden and convinced them to come along to see Japanther. Their show was at 1am and by then the free beer and free pour tequila was making itself known.

Japanther are always great live and despite the show being in a shitty lounge bar, they gave it all they. Hmmm...I really don't remember much after this show, but somehow I managed to get home. Yay.

To be continued....

Sunday, 14 March 2010

It's on! - Texas, Day One - Best Fwends

So, my South by South West adventures have begun. Landed in Houston at around 1pm and spent most of the day just exploring the area. Looks like a nice place actually. There's a bunch of nice bars on Westheimer, along with a shitload of vintage clothes shops and thrift stores. Originally, I was going to go to the rodeo for that true Texas experience, but I got hold of a "what's on" type of magazine and saw that Best Fwends were playing at Mango's. So, I checked out a bunch of bars, had some food, spent an insane amount of money on beer and eventually went to the show.

I don't really know Best Fwends that well. I listened to their album a few times when I first got it, but it was always just a bit too loud and messy. Last night, though, after 28 hours of no sleep, a ten hour flight and plenty of beer, they hit just the right spot. Singing (well, screaming) along to a back-up track of 8-bit bleeps and fast beats and dancing with two giant inflatable gargoyles, it was...just a bit insane and an awesome start to the week! Unfortunately, in state of drunken confusion I deleted both of the two videos I shot of the band. Ah well. Might well go and see them again during the week.

Alright, Austin's calling.

Friday, 12 March 2010 I come

OK, so it's almost time. In about 23 hours or so I'll be on a plane to sunny Texas, home of Dallas the TV series, erm Dallas the city, a bunch of gun nuts and one of the most famous indie music festivals in the world, South by South West or SxSW if you prefer.

SxSW, eh. It's a monster of a festival and navigating the festival website in order to create a schedule is quite a task. There's so much going on and everything seems to clash. But, I guess that's the way of most music festivals.

My SxSW so far:

Sunday 14th March - Tuesday 16th March - I'll just be bumming around the city trying to catch a movie or two at the SxSW Film Festival which is also on.

Wednesday 17th March

The Muffs, back in the days

The music starts! This is the day of Allo Darlin's main showcase show, which takes place at 11:10pm at The Tap Room at the place is called Six, that's not a time. How confubbling. I have no idea where anything is in Austin, but in an ideal world I'll manage to catch French actress-turned-mega-hyped-then-completely-disappeared-only-to-reappear-this-year-singer-songwriter-songwriter Soko at 8pm. At midnight old-school pop punkers The Muffs are playing. Probably won't make it to that, although it would be awesome.

Thursday 18th March

Math The Band

Busy, busy, busy evening. Trying to catch crazy electro pop loonies The TerrorPigeon Dance Revolt at 7:30 and will most likely hang on in that same venue for some riotous chiptune/8bit pop madness from Math The Band at 10:30. Mega clash follows with Adam Green, Dum Dum Girls, Beach Fossils, Roky Erickson and Man or Astro-Man? all playing at the same time (midnight-ish), but they all might have to be missed in order to ensure I get in to see Japanther at 1am. It's been over two years since I saw those guys and their new album is absolutely amazing, so I really don't want to miss that.

Japanther at Barden's Boudoir, London (March 2008)

Friday 19th March

Grass Widow

Another crazy eveing. A Say Hi solo show at 7:45, followed by Quasi at 11 and Grass Widow at midnight. Hoping to finish off the night with either Les Savy Fav, Liars or The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, who again, all are playing at the same time.

Saturday 20th March

Best Fwends

This will be a tricky day, since Allo Darlin are playing three shows. I might have to sneak away from at least one of those, casue there's alot of other stuff on. Kimya Dawson at 3pm, Best Fwends at 10pm, The Wave Pictures at midnight and Liars or No Age at 1am.

Eek. That's alot of music. I expect to miss most of the planned things and see alot of random things instead, but I feel very organised having a plan. sleep for eight days.....GO!

Monday, 1 March 2010

Allo Darlin'

Looking at my total blog tags you'd think the only thing I write about is Allo Darlin'. Well, they're bloody great, so what can you do? I went to the 100 Club on Saturday for the London Popfest all-dayer. As usual, I managed to miss most of what I wanted to see. The only full set I saw was Allo Darlin' and as usual they were great. Saturday's show was the last one for a while with Bill Moustache on bass, so he played half the set before turning over the bass duties to Greg, who will be filling in until Bill gets his daddy schedule under control.
The video for Allo Darlin's Polaroid song is finally up on youtube. Check out Bill's hair!!!