Our half-feral music industry inside-outsider tries to continue his quest to check out a grand, possibly delusional, 365 live performances this year in the face of disease, disaster and the odd disco classic.
The third month into our epic gigging journey and calmness prevails. Well, a kind of meta covid calmness prevails, in the sense that as the country opens up. Bands are being freshly floored by the virus and shows are being cancelled left, right and centre again. Indeed, this Diary of a Pandaman is robbed of plenty of gig counting potential as a dose of the covid wiped out half of March. Annoying! Did I get it from a gig? Yes, of course. Have I been pinged again since returning to gigging duties last Monday? Also, yes of course.
Anyway, in between lateral flow tests and literally lying in bed this month. We have been exploring the little pockets of musical pleasure lurking in the gigging backstreets. Where micro-scenes are constantly brewing up fresh talent. For starters, Roadkill Records host a night of absolutely out there psych rock at the Shacklewell Arms in Dalston. There’s flowing hair and flowering solos a’plenty. Out there? Out where?
Getting back to the gigs
Well, opener ANDRES ALCOVAR brings some cosmic reverbed-up reverberations from Spain. While the middle act, BABY VANGA, a sextet from South London, proffer some suitably sprawling progressive rocking palpitations. Which are shamelessly adorned by a flute, like it’s ’72 in ’22. East Londoner headliners FEZ certainly aren’t about to ruin the stoner party. Bringing a classy Supertramp vibe occasionally further enlivened by the arrival of the biggest saxophone player known to softrock kind.
The following evening sees the mood being no less groovy, if slightly more soulful, at Powerplant in Camden. If the idea of a showcase gig downstairs at a vegan restaurant (which is what Powerplant very much is) conflicts with every grubby gig-going instinct. Then, any venue featuring fierce panda’s very own terrific Hackney soulboy ALBERT GOLD is worthy of investigation. Even if we’re not overly keen on the quinoa salads. Before Albert, there is a mightily sweet set from CELINE LOVE, who says that she is from “Hamburg in Germany, not Hamburg in Pennsylvania,” and scarcely relents on the charm front after. There’s a kind-hearted hippy undercurrent which nods to Nenah Cherry, and there are some ravishing tunes with little more than Celine’s voice and her serene acoustic guitar. A very well-named artist, in short.
In the headline slot is, BRADLEY JAGO and his band. You can tell he’s the singer because while the musicians wear suits, Bradley appears to be modelling some kind of rouge velour jogging outfit. If that isn’t soulful enough, their fluid, fruity soulpop set climaxes – if you will – with Jermaine Stewart Classique ‘We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off’. Even if those clothes are velour.
Did someone say Vegan?
From vegan soulpop in North London to East Anglian DIY dramatics we go, specifically to the Blue Moon in Cambridge. Where the night is so ineffably DIY that the man on the door is also the singer in the headline band GOLDBLUME, and indeed vice versa. Jethro (for ’tis he) has already rattled local cages with the blooming Goldblume sound which knows its Nirvana rampage from its Queens Of The Stone Age rage. Who isn’t afraid to shine the limelight on peers and fresh ears.
To wit, support act COLLARS are “Indie punks based in rural Cambridgeshire. One sings and the other plays guitar and drums at the same time to create wholesome indie like your mama used to make. If your mama was Karen O and your grandparents were the White Stripes.” I’ve actually just nicked that off the Collars’ Facebook page because it’s better than anything what I could write and it is very accurate. Top marks to Kane’s berserk DIY drum set up, and even more top marks for them winning BurySOUND 2022 up the road in Bury St Edmunds the following night. They are spiky and spicy and the kind of thing Thurston Moore is surely thirsting after.
We missed attending HIGHSCHOOL’s Jaguar Shoes show by 27 minutes last month. However, this being London’s ever-whirling live scene, there’s another chance to see them a few weeks later supporting NEWDAD at Heaven in Charing Cross. Good, grumpy fun these transposed Melbourne melody-chasers are too, with a flurry of Fontaines DC’s ragged poetic bellowings thrown atop some primitive New Order rhythms from back when they really were new.
Speaking of new, this is Galway dreamboatees NewDad’s biggest London show so far. I like the Heaven venue because it is three minutes away from a boat bar on the Thames. NewDad no doubt love Heaven because it is full of indie-kids swooning along to some of the chunkiest basslines this side of a Pixies’ b-side while Julie Dawson adds floaty layers of shattered melancholy on the vocals front. As ever with this new generation of spectral shadow-hunters it’s a case of gloom or bust…
Pandaman’s 2022 performance total: 79