What a day Long Division 2022 was; great atmosphere, venues and a range of bands and artists to please anyone’s tastes. Actually if I have one complaint, it’s that there were too many artists to see. So not for me flitting from venue to venue catching half a set there and half a set here; for a start it just doesn’t work AND I want to see a full set. What this meant was, and I assume it was the same for others, making some hard choices and missing some acts I really wanted to see so that I saw as many Yorkshire artists as possible.
The word on the street – or more accurately an email from a trusted friend – was that Terror Cult ‘are fucking good’ and that ‘I should kill, if necessary, to see them’. Thankfully no killing was necessary, just a stroll down from wristband exchange to Establishment.
The band play loud and raucous, punky stuff. But there’s a kicker; sometimes it’s surprisingly tuneful, and in that raucous stuff there is some great playing. Shoutout here to the guitarist who threw in some Fast Eddie like licks. The songs kinda hit the range of punky sounds – from loud and hard to that US punk vibe – but without losing that thing that makes them their songs.
While 12,15 may not be the best time for this, and I suspect it’s not a time the band see that often, they killed it, completely. Terror Cult are indeed ‘fucking good’, see them.
Next up for me was Fuzz Lightyear at Vortex. Now I’ve reviewed their releases, and been incredibly impressed, but with what I’m going to describe broadly as noise rock it’s the live immersion that is the real thing.
Boy do they bring their own twist. Yes, there is FX loaded guitar and bass, and yes there is relentless drumming – you’d expect that – but there is an Industrial feel and a dash of the post-punk of Joy Division that adds, shall we say, a bleakness. A bleakness that fills me with joy. I’m not entirely sure I expected that sound but that’s what I got. This is an experience I want again, and soon.
Now to one of the bands I just had to see, Pleasure Centre. I reviewed their EP – ‘the weight of it all’ – recently and was completely blown away; could they do that live. In short, yes.
|I’ll start by saying that, for me at least, there are bands who make their recorded material so much more powerful, mesmerising and compelling live. They take them to the next level and beyond. Pleasure Centre are one of those bands.
If they are new to you, they play a kind of shoegaze/alternative rock/indie thing; although this is nowhere near enough descriptive of their sound. Yes, there’s the heavily fx’ed guitars that wash over you like a wave of sound. Yes, there’s the quiet loud thing. And yes, there are catchy tunes sometimes buried in there. But somehow it doesn’t capture the glorious strangeness of the way the songs are put together.. Nor does it adequately describe the ethereal beauty of the sound they make.
The extra they add to their live performance – the live music experience is outstanding – is performance. The sense of controlled wildness. Touches of stagecraft; like band members standing motionless while another gives it their all. And an intensity of connection with the audience; not for them the usual asking the crowd to come forward, just a couple of simple beckoning gestures. There were moments of overwhelming power, moments of fragile beauty, and moments of pure emotion. There were times when I feared the intensity of their performance would overwhelm them. There are times when I’m moved to tears by a live band, and this was one of those.
So do both the ‘listening to the release’ and the ‘seeing them live’, I insist.
I then reached a time of decision; go see Deep Tan or see Mollie Coddled. Mollie Coddled won that decision. Given that I loved the released songs I’ve reviewed from her and never seen her live, this was the right decision. Her ‘bedroom pop’ was just what I needed.
Her music is part bedroom pop and part Nu-Soul. It sounds lovely; great tunes and her voice is a joy. But the spice in her music is the words; bittersweet songs would be an accurate description. The songs tell of drinking too much coffee, doing nothing but eating and watching movies, and her narcissistic ex.
A set of pure enjoyment and joy.
Mi Mye. I’ve wanted to see this band desperately since I reviewed a couple of singles. And the word on the streets is nothing but good. Mi Mye are a big band with a lot of equipment, and the stage of Vortex is small; so it was pretty packed. As was the room. I think we could describe this as an intimate set.
They usually describe themselves as an alt-folk band, although I’m not sure this is the full story. Their music sometimes has a feeling of indie-pop, and sometimes a DIY feel. So, for me, the whole genre thing is a bit meaningless. What they do is to write and play music that has depth and feeling that seems to always have a hint, or more, of folk.
And what a range of instruments – guitars, fiddle, trumpet, keyboards. The musical skills on show are incredibly impressive. But again that isn’t the point.
The point – finally – is the songs they play and sing; always compelling, sometimes haunting, sometimes funny, sometimes about something personal or somebody they know. And this is the point of folk; to tell stories, to reflect life as it relates to the writer or ordinary people. And to bring people together as a community. And this, dear reader, is what Mi Mye do, and they do it wonderfully, in a way that is very much their own.
Another must see band up next, Household Dogs. The opening line of my notes is ‘Bloody hell that was intense’; I’m calling this out as an understatement ‘fucking intense’ or ‘scarily intense’ would be way more accurate.
Declan stalks the stage like a caged animal while producing vocals that astound. Guitars cut through with mournful or haunting sounds. The sound and performance is huge, as big as the sky, yet somehow intimate. Their sound is one of those that defines a snappy description; you could try Americana Post-Punk. I say this because their distinctive sound relies on the sound and feel of slide guitar.
As their set progresses Declan’s stalking becomes more frenetic, there is a distinct feeling that he’s going to explode.. He doesn’t but it adds to the audience’s emotional engagement.
The set is basically the recent EP and the more recent single. And, as with Pleasure Centre, the live performance from a band as good as this adds to the songs; it makes them bigger, more widescreen.
Look, seeing Household Dogs live is an experience, one that you should have even if you’re not a fan of the band. Although you will be one after that. Just do it. OK.
Venus Grrls, just seeing the name on the listings sent a shiver of excitement up my spine. I’ve not seen them play for a while but know it’s going to be good. What I didn’t expect was getting this feeling of ‘well, fuck me sideways, they’re brilliant’ all over again. Weird, strange, but entirely good.
And they killed it, playing in the Town Hall in a strange kind of half daylight, half stage lighting, they owned that stage. Playing it like a headline slot even though they were the first band on at the venue.
What they do is relentless; but not in a ‘play at full power all the time’ or ‘all the songs merge into one’ way. Their songs are dynamic and don’t follow the same template all the time. It’s relentless in a ‘not one of these songs is a break, a time to take a breath’, they’re all brilliant. And the playing, the playing is amazing.
I know you probably know all of this already but on the off chance you’re not aware of this band, if you love loud brilliantly played alternative rock go see Venus Grrls.
Now, if you’ve been keeping up, you’ll know that one of my particular habits at this sort of festival is to pick a band at random. This time it was Modern Woman, a band I knew nothing about. However watching the setup and seeing random percussion, a violin and a saxophone the indications were good.
And bloody hell were they wonderful. Their sound, well, eclectic might be a starting point. Their Facebook Page says, for information, ‘London-based Modern Woman began as the songwriting project of Sophie Harris. The band’s music, still based around Harris’ songwriting, explores a diverse range of sounds drawing from their melting pot of influences’. There are hints of Radiohead, way out there experimental jazz, experimental rock of the 60s. It’s sometimes ultra-beaty, sometimes full of odd disjointed sounds. It can be delicate and then suddenly raucous.
But whatever it’s doing their music is mesmerising, it engages your brain as well as your emotions. It’s clever but never loses an emotional feel. Wonderful stuff, truly wonderful.
My final band of the day was Fiat Lux. Playing their hometown for the first time after decades.
I am torn about this band because they represent a part of my youth, and unsurprisingly the audience did have people like me in it.On the other hand I want to recommend that you go see them if you don’t remember them from the first time around.
What they do is electro-pop; big classic pop with synths, guitar and saxophone. And it still sounds vital. Just forget that they may be playing a hit from the 89s. And they don’t rest on the laurels of their past hits (and they could if they wanted to); they’re still writing new songs.
The playing is fabulous, and features more out there guitar than you may expect from an electro-pop band. This is both music to listen to and to dance to. It’s honestly brilliant class pop. This is a band who still do it, and long may they continue.
Sadly my enjoyment of their set was cut short by the ridiculousness of the time of the last train home. But even the part of the set I caught is going to stay with me.