Archive for July, 2009
Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
KILMARNOCK EDITION FESTIVAL is next up in our Step Away From The Computer guide to spending the summer in the great outdoors.
The phrase ‘Kilmarnock Edition’ refers to Poems, the first collection of work by Robert Burns, which was published in Kilmarnock in 1786. Perhaps in years to come it’ll instead be synonymous with an indie music festival. If you think that’s a bit far-fetched, just wait for the confused looks when you tell people that Franz Ferdinand’s death started World War I.
Dean Castle and Grand Hall, Kilmarnock.
Camera Obscura single Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken was written by singer Tracyanne Campbell as a response to her idol Lloyd Cole’s song Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken? – now the two acts are on the same bill for the first time.
Saturday, August 8 – Sunday, August 9.
This is its first year.
Total number of acts:
“Why not make a weekend of it and spend some time at the castle?”
Lloyd Cole – Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken? (Saturday, Dean Castle)
Camera Obscura – Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken (Saturday, Dean Castle)
Calvin Harris – I’m Not Alone (Sunday, Grand Hall)
Sunday, July 26th, 2009
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Hear more: http://www.myspace.com/aofhouse
Pigeonhole: Low, Sophia
Friday, July 24th, 2009
Last week the Financial Times (lost them already) carried a front-page story which sparked frenzied interest in an unassuming 15-year-old schoolboy from London called Matthew Robson. While on a work experience placement at investment bank Morgan Stanley, he wrote a report on teenagers’ media habits which delivered several stunning revelations to middle-aged executives, including the bombshell news that most of his peers don’t use Twitter and have never bought a CD.
A Morgan Stanley director called it “one of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen”, while Robson himself has since been dubbed “the world’s most famous intern since Monica Lewinsky”. Here are some of the highlights of his essay, How Teenagers Consume Media:
MUSIC – Eight out of ten teenagers don’t buy music. It comes from Limewire, blogs or torrents. They are very reluctant to pay for it. Most have never bought a CD.
RADIO – With online sites streaming music for free they do not bother, as services such as Last.fm do this advert-free and users can choose the songs they want instead of listening to what the radio presenter/DJ chooses.
INTERNET – Facebook is the most common, with nearly everyone with an internet connection registered. On the other hand, teenagers do not use Twitter. Most have signed up to the service, but then just leave it as they realise that they are not going to update it.
OK, so teenagers aren’t spending their pocket money on records but they do have an appetite for live music, certainly if the mushrooming popularity of under-18 events in England – spearheaded by the Underage Festival in London – is anything to go by.
It was only a matter of time before some bright spark decided to test the water in Scotland, and that time is now. Next Saturday afternoon, Glasgow’s ABC2 will host a gig exclusively for 14 to 18-year-olds, headlined byUNICORN KID and PAPER PLANES, under the banner of Schools Out For Summer (the missing apostrophe suggests the school needs a better English teacher).
The people behind the concert go by the name of U18 Glasgow. Their mission is “to give young people the chance to experience bands and DJs normally out of reach for music fans their age”. The ABC2 launch is intended to be the first in a series of events they will be putting on every second month.
Unicorn Kid aka Oliver Sabin is the perfect choice to usher in a new era of underage achievement in Scotland. The 17-year-old from Leith may only have just left high school, but his fledgling music career has already seen him remix a Pet Shop Boys single, shatter the one million mark in MySpace hits and get invited to go on a 15-date tour of North America in support of Owl City in September. All that while creating music that sounds like it was taken from a 90s video game soundtrack.
It’s not the first time a Scottish artist has made the most of youthful exuberance. Franz Ferdinand played an all-ages show at the Glasgow Barrowlands back in 2004 (when they were good), with adults only allowed in if they were accompanied by a child – a neat reversal of the usual convention. The Pop Cop was there. It felt like a Smash Hits roadshow, which was kinda creepy with the pre-pubescent screams of adulation for 48-year-old Alex Kapranos.
Much-hyped rap party trio YOUNG FATHERS owe their entire existence to an under-18 hip hop night called Lickshot that took place at the old Bongo Club in Edinburgh, where they met at the age of just 14. Now, six years on, they seem destined to make the breakthrough into the mainstream and become chart stars.
As a rule, though, kids and adults don’t mix, certainly not when it comes to live music. We will sign off with the following anecdote – a comment left on Allmediascotland last week – which sums up the perils of the older generation trying to ‘keep it real’…
“I’ve recently joined my 15-year-old son, Christopher, at gigs by Slipknot, Velvet Revolver and Metallica. I had no problems about going with Chris to see the bands. At Metallica, though, he was keen to get as near the front as possible. Which was fine until all these kids started to rush around in a circle that threatened to turn into some kind of human vortex. Welcome to the mosh pit.
“So I decided to take a few steps back and found myself in what I shall refer to as the ‘twenty-something’ zone. The mosh pit was still a bit too close for comfort so I took a few more steps back and found myself in the ‘thirty-something’ zone. A bit more tolerable but still too close for comfort. So I kept on backtracking until I eventually found myself at the back of the hall along with all the other dinosaur dads nursing nothing stronger than a Coke.”
Tuesday, July 21st, 2009
THE WICKERMAN FESTIVAL is more Glastonbury than T in the Park, so you can bring along the family without feeling like you are irresponsibly jeopardising their health and safety. The Friday line-up in particular is mighty fine, with many of Scotland’s best up-and-coming acts on show.
Dundrennan, Dumfries & Galloway.
Here’s a bit of trivia about the cult 1973 film The Wicker Man, after which the festival is named. Britt Ekland’s attempt at a Scottish accent was so woeful that all of her dialogue and singing had to be post-dubbed by actress Annie Ross in the editing room. You never hear Ekland’s actual voice at any time during the movie.
Friday, July 24 – Saturday, July 25.
This is its eighth year.
Total number of acts:
88 (not including DJs)
Cost of a ticket:
So each act is worth:
“Dress like a spiv.”
4 Idlewild – City Hall (Friday, Summerisle Stage)
4 The Magic Numbers – Love Me Like You (Friday, Summerisle Stage)
4 We Were Promised Jetpacks – Keeping Warm (acoustic) (Friday, Solus Tent)
4 The Xcerts – My Book Laughs (Friday, Solus Tent)
4 The Seventeenth Century – Mid October (Friday, Solus Tent)
4 The Second Hand Marching Band – Enter The Room With A Loud Boom (Friday, Solus Tent)
4 Meursault – A Small Stretch Of Land (Friday, Solus Tent)
4 Sweet Billy Pilgrim – Forget To Breathe (Saturday, Acoustic Village Main Stage)
Sunday, July 19th, 2009
Wednesday, July 15th, 2009
This month’s explanation of the Music Alliance Pact comes courtesy of The Guardian: “MAP is an international group of bloggers who each month simultaneously post a list of tracks by their countries’ best new bands, with one suggestion from each MAP member.”
We’re now up to 26 participating countries thanks to new arrivals Japan and Venezuela. The blurbs below are written by the blogger who picked the song and you can download any track for free with a right-click and save, or alternatively get the whole lot in a single album by following the link at the end of the post. Obviously, The Pop Cop’s choice is the best ;o)
4 Maple Leaves – Easy Speak
Even though Glasgow’s pedigree of producing twee, folky-pop bands (Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura) is strong, few have been as relentlessly joyous as Maple Leaves. With their dreamy girl-boy vocals and penchant for colouring their songs with flute, piano and acoustic guitar, Maple Leaves are guaranteed to put the spring into anyone’s summer.
b July 20, The Flying Duck, Glasgow
b July 31, Twisted Wheel, Glasgow
b August 13, Oran Mor, Glasgow (free)
b August 16, Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Tuesday, July 14th, 2009
The honour of opening this year’s T in the Park falls to SAVING AIMEE. It would be easy to say they’ve been listening to 80s new wave pop, but more realistically they’ve been listening to the Last.fm playlists of teenage emo girls such is their wholly unimaginative attempt to latch onto a fad that will pass long before the Hertfordshire band have figured out that synths, angular haircuts and expensive sneakers are no substitute for writing a song that actually has some weight.
JAMES MORRISON at least knows his role in the grand scheme of things, playing inoffensive love songs to the masses at the Main Stage. The highlight of an instantly forgettable set (and no You Make It Real – shame on you Morrison!) was when he attempted a Scottish accent when urging the crowd to “have yerself a bonny day, alright” and ended up sounding like a Rasta.
MAPLE LEAVES are possibly one of the newest bands ever to play T in the Park, this being only their sixth gig, but you could never tell given how nerveless and assured they are performing their simple, feelgood pop songs. Despite their moniker, Maple Leaves are from Scotland but try telling that to the three middle-aged Canadian tourists who rocked up to the T Break tent halfway through the set decked in red and white jester hats and bomber jackets emblazoned with “Toronto Maple Leaves”, clearly expecting to find a taste of home.
Whatever happened to IDLEWILD? It wasn’t so long ago that the world looked theirs for the taking. Now we find Roddy Woomble singing the once brittily brilliant Roseability as though he’s serenading a sheepdog in his favourite Highland retreat. Even Rod Jones’ scissor-kicks look like half-hearted attempts to cling on to the memory that Idlewild were once a rock band, and a very good one at that. 100 Broken Windows? Somebody better take a look at that.
T in the Park gives The Pop Cop our first eagerly-awaited opportunity to see CAMERA OBSCURA live but within a few minutes we wonder why we even bothered making the long trek to the Futures tent. The band shuffle on stage with their faces tripping them, singer Tracyanne Campbell whinges “apparently this is the future” and as beautiful as their songs are, they do nothing to deserve the enthusiastic response from their fans. What an ungrateful bunch. Are they always this miserable? Later that night keyboard player Carey Lander tweets “I hate festivals. So there.” Happy enough to pick up the cheque, though.
Camera Obscura could certainly take a few lessons in entertainment value from the YEAH YEAH YEAHS. Karen O sprints onto the Radio 1/NME Stage sporting an outlandish winged frock and dares the crowd to match her levels of bonkersness. They bring out the East Kilbride Pipe Band to play bagpipes during the last two minutes of Skeletons, before whipping the crowd into a frenzy for set-closer Date With The Night which is so manic they can (just) be forgiven for playing a stripped-down version of Maps.
KINGS OF LEON are in their rightful place, headlining the Main Stage, which is precisely where you want to see your rock ‘n’ roll heroes. Sex On Fire and Use Somebody will undoubtedly be two of the songs which will define this decade’s music, but it’s somehow reassuring that it has taken them four albums to get to these heights. Greatness should be earned. And the fact that Matthew Followill can pull off playing guitar while drinking from a straw proves they’re still cool as fuck.
MUMFORD & SONS are an inspired choice to kick off the second day’s proceedings at TITP, being the perfect post-hangover pick-me-up, all lush harmonies and gorgeous melodies. We’ve said it on these pages before, but their debut album (scheduled for release in October) is shaping up to be an absolute classic with the likely inclusion of majestic songs such as The Cave, Sigh No More, Little Lion Man and Awake My Soul.
PAOLO NUTINI has raised his game immeasurably since we last saw him at the Barrowlands in 2006. This is the guy who used to settle his pre-concert nerves by getting wasted then spend entire gigs singing at his shoes like some rambling drunk. But he has sorted himself out and he nails his Main Stage appearance to perfection with a performance of real maturity and class.
“I’ve waited ten years tae see this band. Tim is a legend. A pure legend!” A football top-wearing ned standing next to me three rows from the front is possibly more excited about the prospect of watching JAMES than I am. And that’s very excited indeed. When Ring The Bells bursts out of the giant speakers I expect some sort of unrestrainable one-man pandemonium from my new best friend; instead, I turn around and notice that his eyes have welled up and he’s just standing there, utterly affected by the experience. It’s possibly the most moving thing I’ve ever seen at T in the Park.
The good ship BROKEN RECORDS have 25 minutes to convert another batch of new fans at the BBC Introducing stage. For long-time supporters like The Pop Cop, the airing of a previously unheard song with a working title of Encore – tantalisingly described as “the next single” by frontman Jamie Sutherland – is most rewarding. Driven by a scratchy violin riff, the song is played fast and is as instantly appealing as anything the Edinburgh band have done, i.e. perfect radio material. With a bit of luck (they’ve got everything else going for them) it might be the one that breaks them into the wider population’s consciousness.
It’s standing room only in the King Tut’s Tent for GLASVEGAS, who are to blame for the embarrassing chants of “Here we fucking go” that populated T in the Park sets throughout the weekend. The ‘working-class heroes’ with the £100 Ray-Ban sunglasses open with a monumental Geraldine, with reverb and guitar squalls bouncing off the canvas, not to mention several litres of alcohol hurled into the air by their moronic followers. They bring on Angela McCluskey, who looks and sings like someone’s gran, to absolutely murder The Proclaimers classic Sunshine On Leith. The Pop Cop leaves in protest, but not before one Glasvegas fan uses the side of the tent as a toilet. Honestly, Scotland would be a better place without this band.
Thankfully THE KILLERS save the day with a crowd-pleasing 100-minute performance, the pick of the bunch being its bookends – Human and When You Were Young. As a unit The Killers are never anything other than flawless musicians so there’s always a risk they might be going through the motions, but tonight Brandon Flowers is in engaging form and it’s job done from the Las Vegas boys.
THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM’S Brian Fallon must be the most content singer of any rock group we’ve ever seen – he smiles when he talks, he smiles when he sings, he smiles when he’s just standing still. Maybe it’s because his band – and their stupendous second album The ’59 Sound in particular – are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Or maybe it’s because today is his fifth wedding anniversary. “She’s stuck with me even though we make no money,” Fallon tells the audience. “Thanks to you guys for making my wife’s mum not think I’m a chump!”
THE SCRIPT are today’s James Morrison, although they do at least have a couple of undeniably brilliant, catchy songs in Breakeven and The Man Who Can’t Be Moved. Resistance is futile – god knows we’ve tried.
REGINA SPEKTOR isn’t usually this unchatty but maybe she’s daunted by the size of the crowd hanging on her every word in the King Tut’s Tent. Backed by a violin, cello and drums and, of course, her classical piano playing, she finally seems to have found the perfect musical arrangement to showcase her sublime talents. The reaction to the heartbreaking Samson takes the New Yorker aback, with wild applause lasting long after the final note has ended.
The Main Stage is strangely subdued for BLOC PARTY. They just seem out of their depth. For starters they’ve never managed to figure out how to play their songs in a way that sounds anywhere near as fulfilling as on record, and if you have to ask the crowd if they are having fun three times – as Kele Okereke did – then you know something’s not quite right.
The atmosphere doesn’t pick up too much for ELBOW, but at least they can put it down to the mellowness of their songs. To their credit, they introduce the ‘reverse Mexican wave’ to T in the Park (entire audience puts their hands in the air then ducks down from front to back) and you can’t really go wrong with ending your set with On A Day Like This.
WE WERE PROMISED JETPACKS are starting a riot in a packed T Break tent, and if there were any questions over how popular this young band have become in such a short space of time then here was the answer. The crowd sang back every word like a football anthem and the sheer unstoppable energy of their performance brought back memories of Idlewild when they were punkish upstarts.
Why SNOW PATROL were billed as co-headliners is a mystery. It’s hard to say who their lacklustre performance bored most – the band or the audience, most of whom seemed willing to tolerate their set as it meant getting decent tactical position for Blur. The lack of fanfare that greeted anything they played from their most recent album A Hundred Million Suns pretty much sums up how far and fast their star has fallen.
You have to feel for MY COUSIN I BID YOU FAREWELL, who are bestowed the dubious honour of headlining T Break at the same time as the final night’s main attractions. The tent may be sparsely filled but the triple salvo of Neverland, The Contented Hearts and What We Are Eating Tonight makes it a privilege, not a sacrifice for those who made the effort to watch them.
Every great story needs a dramatic ending and BLUR certainly provided that. The sight of Graham Coxon on his back during Beetlebum, wrestling with his guitar on the floor just hours after he had risen from his hospital bed with food poisoning, summed up just how special their appearance was for all sorts of reasons. After Country House, Damon Albarn asks “do you want another one like that?” before launching into Parklife. When that ends, he repeats the question. The cheers are even louder as the iconic drum beat of Song 2 intensifies into a blitz of chaos. Albarn grins wildly as the crowd catches its breath. “That was the best ever,” he says. The best ever, in fact, is saved till last with The Universal, as Blur bid a stirring, magical farewell for possibly the last time. It really did happen.
All photos © The Pop Cop
Saturday, July 11th, 2009
Wednesday, July 8th, 2009
T IN THE PARK with their cameras trained on the chaos below. What they’ll see from up there is as accurate a snapshot of Scotland’s youth as you could find – teenagers running about like maddies, personal hygiene non-existent and alcohol consumption levels that make a mockery of the RDA.The police have a blimp which floats above
That may seem a little intimidating, but T in the Park is generally very safe, incredibly good-natured and, this year certainly, rammed full of the biggest bands walking the planet.
One for the ladies: There is a little-known toilet at T in the Park that includes hair dryers, straighteners and freshening-up products. It’s signposted “Refresh” and is situated between the Futures Stage and the campers entrance. Oh and it also costs £2 to use it.
Friday, July 10 – Sunday, July 12.
This is its 16th year.
Total number of acts:
Cost of a ticket:
So each act is worth:
“Healthy T is the place to unwind with the most delicious, nutritious food from around the globe, all at a price which won’t hurt your pocket”. Organic burger: £5.
4 Blur – The Universal (Sunday, 9pm, Main Stage)
4 Bloc Party – Flux (French Version) (Sunday, 4pm, Main Stage)
4 Broken Records – Thoughts On A Picture (Saturday, 7.15pm, BBC Introducing Stage)
4 Elbow – Grounds For Divorce (Sunday, 5.30pm, Main Stage)
4 Regina Spektor – Laughing With (Sunday, 3.40pm, King Tut’s Tent)
4 We Were Promised Jetpacks – Back To The Bare Bones (Sunday, 6.3opm, T Break Stage)
4 The Gaslight Anthem – Old White Lincoln (Sunday, 12.50pm, Radio 1 NME Stage)
4 General Fiasco – Ever So Shy (Sunday, 2.05pm, Futures Tent)
4 Maximo Park – Apply Some Pressure (Friday, 7.10pm, Main Stage)
4 Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps (Friday, 8.40pm, Radio 1 NME Stage)
Sunday, July 5th, 2009
Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden
Hear more: http://www.myspace.com/saferide
Pigeonhole: Camera Obscura, Emmy The Great
Friday, July 3rd, 2009
ELECTRIC BAY is the most secretive music event in Scotland – and for good reason. Run by Dundee-based band Make Sparks, the local council and police have banned the organisers from advertising it because it’s classed as a “private party” not a festival (for legal reasons). Even the Electric Bay homepage is a private Bebo site that you can only view if you add them as a friend.
Having grown in size from a tent in a field to a beach and surrounding farmland, the capacity has doubled this year to 500, with most punters only aware of the event through word of mouth.
Lunan Bay, near Montrose.
Make Sparks were the last ever Scottish band to play legendary New York venue CBGBs.
Friday, July 3 – Saturday, July 4.
This is its third year.
Total number of acts:
Cost of a ticket:
£45 – available by emailing email@example.com or calling 07932 544912
So each act is worth:
“Festival? What festival?”
Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
SILVERSUN PICKUPS? Their deliciously dirty rock songs have earned some priceless pop culture cameos on video games Guitar Hero and Rock Band as well as The OC, but the Californians themselves have only sporadically popped their heads above the parapets of the American underground in their 10-year existence.How do you gauge the popularity of a band like
Clearly the promoters who lured them to Glasgow were caught by surprise at the appetite in Scotland for their über-cool Sonic Youth meets Smashing Pumpkins anthems, having originally booked the quartet to play at the smaller Stereo before hastily upscaling the venue to Oran Mor.
Brian Aubert certainly lives up the role of big-time frontman, possessing just the right amount of roguish charm that lets him get away with refusing to high-five a fan (“I’m contractually not allowed to touch you”) while regaling the crowd with a tale about an ill-fated introduction to the evils of Buckfast on a previous visit to the country.
Silversun Pickups’ stock has soared this year on the back of their well-received second album Swoon and two of its meatier highlights, the jaggedly atmospheric The Royal We and single Panic Switch, do little to help the moisture situation among the sweat-drenched fans on a sticky, humid night.
But that’s nothing compared to the frenzy that greets their signature tune Lazy Eye – from debut record Carnavas – which is still head, shoulders and any other body part you care to mention above every other song in their set, with blasts of punch-the-air guitar distortion whirling around Nikki Monninger’s classic bassline and Aubert’s quite wonderful shriek. You could listen to Lazy Eye every day for the rest of your life and die happy. That’s not a bad idea actually.