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Le Guess Who? 2015 - Sunday

  • Published in Live

Things start early at Le Guess Who? on the final day so I find myself part of a respectable sized crowd (bigger than normal he reckons, if you can believe that) to see Kelley Stoltz in Ekko at 4pm. As a definite fan of the man’s work I’m obviously biased but I’m happy to name this as the best gig of the weekend. Not only do he and the band play songs from across his career (new material such as ‘Litter Love’ and ‘You’re Not Ice’ slotting in fine with the superb Double Exposure material and earlier tunes) we’re treated to ‘Hot Igloo’ and ‘Don’t Let Your Dreams Die’ from his Willie Weird alter ego, a minor Leonard Cohen/Pink Floyd mash-up and some amusing banter, anecdotes & philosophising. If he could actually have remained on stage for the three hours he joked about I’m sure everyone would have stayed put for the duration, such was the level of inclusion and entertainment on offer.

Jacco Gardner was curating the programme in Pandora today so a look in at the chiming charms of Eerie Wanda was possible. Crowd sizes generally were on a par with Thursday & Friday today so the hall wasn’t packed out but there was a good level of appreciation for the band’s whimsical and mildly psychedelic output. Fans of a poppier take on the psychedelic side of things could head to the Ronda where Byron Bay's The Babe Rainbow (looking and sounding a tad out of place beside the rest of the weekend’s bill) were dressed to impress and giving it their all. Pandora would though probably have been a better setting for them to do it in.

What festival goers there were on the day clearly knew who they wanted to see so public areas were far less congested but bottlenecks did develop due to the smaller number of performances on the slate. As such it was impossible for me to see Follakzoid once I got back to Ekko. There was queue out of the gig space into the bar so, making it a point never to queue, I turned tail back to the Tivoli to pass the time before the second of the shows I was personally most eager to see – Mikal Cronin (with added horns & strings).

As part of his chat Kelley Stoltz had referred to Cronin and himself sharing a resemblance and having seen them both in the space of a few hours I’ll admit to there being a bit of a “separated at birth” thing going on. Cronin has far less chat but then as it’s the first time he and his band have been augmented by violins & brass there’s probably more to concentrate on than usual. In all there a dozen players on stage and the Ronda hall does full justice to the fuller sound produced. Final song ‘Change’ was the one I was expecting to really resound with the extra instruments as it’s exciting in recorded form for that very reason but throughout the set you were constantly being reminded of how expansive Cronin’s creations actually are. Great garage rock it may be but his talents for arranging and incorporating more traditional instruments cannot be underestimated. A further great show raising today to the top of the weekend pile.

Jacco Gardner naturally caused one of the regular Pandora access issues but we were lucky enough to have had five minutes or so to steal a march on the latecomers. As mentioned in an earlier piece the hall was prone to tech issues over the four days and so after the first song of the set there came a bit of a gap as pedals were plugged into each other in a different order so as to nullify a persistent buzzing. After that delay though the set progressed as you’d expect and there was a greater sense of band/crowd interaction than when I’d previously seen the show at the Liverpool Psych Fest. For all his falsetto and supposedly fey attributes the live setting fully allows for the darker elements of his work to shine, in keeping with the Giallo imagery associated with the Hypnophobia album.

More tech issues mean the start of the Ariel Pink show was delayed back downstairs in the Ronda. Some people were getting very stroppy about not being able to hear either their own or other folk’s vocals. That finally dealt with the first song upon returning to the stage contained the word goodbye a lot so, coupled with the trashy rear projection, the surrealistic nature of what was in store was readily confirmed. Dancing was certainly possible as the underlying funkiness of the bulk of the songs was very to the fore but, possibly due the theatrical element referenced by that projection, there was an air of the band going through the motions with its leader in his little baffle pillbox conducting proceedings and occasionally playing his duck whistle. A fun performance but one lacking warmth. 

Jacco Gardner’s Cabinet Of Curiosities contained as it’s crowning glory Os Mutantes. Re-discovered in the Nineties after decades of cult (if any) following outside of their native Brazil they put in a performance that at one and the same time managed to give the impression that they had all the time in the world, whilst that they were also keen to make up for lost time. An impressive feat and one that causes you to wonder whether those acts witnessed who’re supposedly in their prime will have the desire (or even the fan base) to manage the same. Yet another good addition to the list of older bands Le Guess Who? has scheduled over the years. 

The festival returns for its tenth year on the second weekend of November 2016 with Wilco confirmed as the first headliner. Early bird tickets are available for just 92.50 euros here so do yourselves a favour and plan ahead. 


Rockaway Beach - Sunday

  • Published in Live

Having once again taken advantage of the glorious sunshine to fit in a couple of pints off-camp (and in the process become acquainted with the joys of John Inman’s ‘Are You Being Served, Sir?’) Brighton’s Prince Vaseline were the first act I popped in to see in action today. Some good moody indie was what I got for my efforts, with a really nice interplay of male & female vocals running through the bulk of the set. In their faster numbers there’s a definite Stereolab influence which was a further pleasing element.

Stepping back into daylight and a more traditional sound for the location was wafting from the Skyline stage in the shape of Big Hogg and their brass-infused pop. Pleasant enough but not what I was looking to sit around and experience long term. This was though a stage throwing up oddly placed acts today. Later on Walleater displayed far fewer teeth than their name would suggest whilst Skinny Girl Diet (who drew a good sized crowd) alternated between trying to destroy the place with crushing riffs and screeches and applying the band aid of sweet pop vocals. A visceral act who were definitely placed wrongly. Following them came the dream pop of Emmecosta who played away manfully despite having an audience in single figures. Unbilled there was also an angsty indie trio on later in the evening but as the singer wasn’t clear when saying their name I’m clueless as to who they were.

Opening the main stage was the thoroughly energetic and cheery Misty Miller and her band. Top marks for wit for the song ‘You Can’t Date A Model’ and for letting me witness four older ladies make use of Shazam when a cover version was announced but the title kept a secret (turns out it was a 1D one but I bet Misty’s version was better). Whilst maybe not quite the female version of Theo Verney her’s was an infectiously upbeat performance and definitely crowd-pleasing.

Another cheery chappy was Jonnie Common. Having last seen him in Edinburgh a couple of years ago and recalling that show as fairly dour the other side of the coin was most definitely to the fore here in Bognor. Chatty, cracking the odd joke, querying who’d enjoyed Public Service Broadcasting the night before & generally obviously having a good time his was a fun set to watch. Involving a live drummer throughout also paid off in spades. As it did for the massive performance from Young Fathers later on the same stage.

As Mercury Prize winners they could easily have viewed this date as a contractual obligation they were now too big to do justice to and just gone through the motions. Clearly though they have the pride and desire to give the utmost of themselves when in a live setting. They’ve things to say and aren’t going to let the message be diluted by laziness. Someone I passed by later on described them as punk. Not a description I’d previously have thought of applying based on the contents of DEAD or White Men Are Black Men Too but with the extra urgency the songs gain from the physicality of the band’s performance it’s not very far off the mark in a sense. In years to come being able to say you saw the band give such a vitalic show in a venue of this size, with no security barriers or worried looking chaps in luminous vests between you and the stage, will be a tale to inspire envy.

Pinkshinyultrablast were the first of the night time acts on the main stage tonight. Their sound lacked a bit of presence although that seemed to be the case if you ventured to the back of the hall no matter who was on so possibly it’s a design feature of the space, allowing you to talk without the murmur annoying those more into whomever’s on stage. They rattled through a good set (possibly finishing 15 minutes early) and did the shoegaze revival proud. Things here finished off in mildly psychedelic vein as Lola Colt’s hypnotic, emotionally charged set preceded headliners Spiritualized. As assured as when I saw them play the Liverpool Psych Fest the other year you would hope that they’re one of the acts to have benefited from garnering a bunch of new fans from this weekend as, despite the size of audience they’d attracted, it wasn’t wholly clear many there already knew them.

Fresh from headlining this year’s Psych Fest Spiritualized teased out their arrival onstage with an over long intro tape and then suffered IT issues with their projected backdrop for the length of their 90 minute set. Either that or they were being sponsored by Benq. Jason Pierce played the entire show seated, whether through injury, illness or tiredness was never made clear. Kicking off with ‘Hey Jane’ from the most recent album Sweet Heart Sweet Light they enjoyed sound that was extremely well mixed, meaning the backing vocals and even the drummer’s chimes were easily discernible throughout. Visually though the backdrop, when working, wasn’t really enough to keep that element of the senses fully engaged – a fully mobile frontman would have done that a lot better and as such from about the point that ‘Electricity’ ended there was an air of self-indulgence in the lengthier instrumental parts.

With no overruns it was easy to close out the three days back in Reds one last time to enjoy the final act of the festival, Cult Of Dom Keller. Only a select few had decided to do the same so it was rather like seeing one of the afternoon bands in that respect. Theirs is a distinctly late night sound though – dark, swirling and enthralling as time and again someone’s reminded “You are not my god”. A fine end to a good first effort. 

Further photographs from the event can be found here.

Earlybird tickets for Rockaway Beach 2016, from as little as £79, are available here.

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