Sea Monsters Day Seven – One Inch Badge vs Bizarro World

So, that was Sea Monsters for another year. Last night was the closing night of the festival, and was hosted by Bizarro World, a Brighton night where bands play a whole set of songs covering one band. Previous Bizarro World nights have been held upstairs at Fitzherberts, and been absolutely packed out. As well as playing the songs of another band, the acts have also dressed like like the band they’re covering.

Son Belly as James Brown

I arrived midway through Son Belly‘s set, taking on the persona of James Brown. He was wearing a purple velvet jacket, but there was no evidence whatsoever of The Funk – This was dirty garage rock’n’roll. I just about made out some of the vocals from Sex Machine amongst the clattering guitars, and Son Belly’s set was more about rocking out than honouring the Godfather of Soul.

Wytches

The Wytches took Marilyn Manson, and they also rocked hard. There wasn’t much of an effort made in the outfits – I would have hoped for gothic costumes, or maybe some freaky contact lenses. As for how faithful the songs were to the originals, I have no idea – I couldn’t name a Marilyn Manson song if you pressed me.

Sea Bastard

One of the things I love about ZZ Top is that all the members of the band have beards, except for the drummer, whose name is Frank Beard. Sea Bastard didn’t come as ZZ Top though, they came as Motorhead. They all wore Motorhead T shirts except their bassist who displayed truly heroic dedication to the cause and grew some Lemmy style sideburns. Respect. Sea Bastard turned Motorhead’s greasy rock’n’roll into heavy doom-rock. Headbanging took place on and off stage, and there was a lot of hair flying about all the way through to set-closer Ace of Spades, the track they couldn’t not play.

AKDK

In a night filled with rock music and with a name like theirs, there’s no way that AK/DK would be anything other than AC/DC. With one member rolling his t-shirt sleeves up to the shoulder in an 80s Australian fashion and the other in a faux-school uniform, and both with terrible wigs and school caps, the stage was set. To assume that the headliners would be rolling out heavy guitar riffs like the other bands would have been a mistake though – AK/DK are all about the synths and the drums. Their take on rock classics was to put them through a filter of looping krautrock, with riffs played as distorted squelchy sequenced keyboard lines, although that’s not to say they didn’t rock as hard or as energetically as the earlier acts. AK/DK did so with a huge dose of fun though, and with smiles on their faces throughout. My previous experience of Bizarro World had been that it wasn’t taking thing that seriously, and AK/DK made sure that was carrying on.

 

Sea Monsters Day Six – One Inch Badge vs One Inch Badge

Saturday night was One Inch Badge’s own choice of local bands. There was one change from the original line up – unfortunately Soccer 96 couldn’t make it, but we’ll get to that later. Queues were building up before the doors even opened – After a Source cover and loads of storming shows, The Physics House Band are one of Brighton’s hottest tickets at the moment.

Luo

Luo

Luo were the first band to play. They mixed glitchy electronica with lush guitars – think Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross remixed by Plaid. It wasn’t all instrumental though – they were joined onstage for a track by Jacko Hooper, who played earlier this week. It was all really lovely stuff, who I’d love to find out more about, but search engines are no help whatsoever (“Did you mean ‘Lou’?” – No Google, if I’d meant Lou, I would have typed Lou).

Squadron Leaders

Squadron Leaders

Next up were The Squadron Leaders, a surf rock three piece. I had a glance at their set list before they started, and wondered how they were going to play fifteen or twenty songs when most other bands were only playing five or six in their allocated sets. The answer was that they sped through their short songs, barely stopping for breath. The crowd loved it, but it was a little dispiriting to hear references to the Pulp Fiction soundtrack – there’s a whole genre out there beyond Dick Dale.

Ed Prosek

Ed Prosek

The extra act on the bill following Soccer 96’s cancellation was Ed Prosek, who acknowledged that an acoustic folk act didn’t quite sit  with the rest of the bands on the line up. Ed’s Californian optimism meant that he was undeterred though, and the crowd soon warmed to him and his band made up of cello, double bass and mandolin. The highlight of their set was a cover of Paul Simon’s Homeward Bound, currently featuring on a cheese advert. Obviously.

Phoria

Phoria

Phoria were on the bill at October’s Source New Music night last year, but I was a bit distracted and didn’t really pay enough attention. What I missed was ambitious, intelligent songs, aiming for somewhere between Coldplay and Radiohead. Epic stuff.

Physics House Band

Physics House Band

The stars of last night’s show were The Physics House Band though. On paper they could sound difficult – non-standard time signatures, jazz, prog… In reality, they’re a fantastic prospect. Each individual player is a virtuoso, but they aren’t just tremendous musicians individually – together you won’t find a tighter set of musicians. But it’s not all just about the musicianship, their live show is also one of the most energetic in town. Being an amazing band is about being different, and being better, and Physics House Band have that in spades.

Sea Monsters Day Five – One Inch Badge vs Slip Jam B

Friday Night was One Inch Badge vs Slip Jam B night at Sea Monsters, which meant a bit of a change from all the bands with guitars we’ve seen all week.

DA-10

DA-10

DA-10 kicked off proceedings, one of only two dance acts on the bill (the other being AK-DK on Sunday night). I’m a bit surprised by the lack of dance acts across the bill, but as someone pointed out to me last year “if you’ve got any complaints about the line up, why not program a festival yourself?”. So that told me. Anyway, I really enjoyed DA-10 last year, and they were even better this year. Big fat bass, beats made on the fly which have developed from last year’s house to include more two-step and breakbeat rhythms, and big party tunes.

Rum Committee

Rum Committee

Slip Jam B nights are run by members of Rum Committee – a collective of MCs and DJs. At one point there were over eight people on stage, which pushed them a little bit closer to the monitors than they were used to causing some ear bleeding feedback. “At our nights we don’t have feedback” said one member, which was a bit disrespectful and showed a lack of understanding as to how feedback happens. It was all a bit of a shambles – during the first song one member looked like they were texting someone, and a random got up onstage and started talking to members of the band who weren’t rapping at the time. Maybe that’s how hip hop nights work, but it wasn’t for me – I ducked out for a bit a nipped over to a free gig taking place at the Green Door Store.

Almighty Planets

Almighty Planets

I came back for Almighty Planets, and I was glad I did. There’s been a party funk / hip hop shaped hole in the Brighton music scene since Mean Poppa Lean split last year, and Almighty Planets do a pretty good job of filling it, managing to do so without being such a novelty act (let’s overlook the lead singer’s trousers falling down halfway through the set). Bonus points have been awarded for their cover of SBTRKT’s Wild Fire which closed their set.

Suave Deboniare

Suave Deboniare

Last act on was Suave Debonaire, who didn’t seem exceptionally suave or debonaire to me. He was a great rapper though. He was joined onstage by a DJ, and another MC, and rapped with lyrical dexterity worthy of his headline slot. He mentioned that he’ll soon be emigrating to Australia, which will be a big loss to Brighton’s hip hop scene.

Sea Monsters Day Four – Punk vs Hardcore

I need to preface the review of tonight with a bit of an admission – I’m not really a fan of really heavy music. I’m not an angry man, and when push comes to shove I haven’t had life too bad. I don’t really identify with all that – it’s another world. In my write up of last year’s Sea Monsters, I dodged this issue and put up a gallery instead. Maybe this year I should write things up through this prism.

If Heroes Should Fail

If Heroes Should Fail

I missed Loose Lips – it’s still a bit snowy in the back streets behind Coombe Road, and I was digging a car out of the snow. I arrived in time for If Heroes Should Fail, who were very angry. I’m not quite sure what they were very angry about, because I couldn’t make out a word of what was being said. The vocals reminded me of a toddler having a tantrum, where you couldn’t work out what they were upset about because they were incomprehensible through the crying. Solid rhythm section though.

Broker

Broker

Next up were Broker. They were angry too, but they went to the trouble of explaining what their songs were about. They were less cliched too – less about vests and tattoos, and the note I made midway through the gig said “Bassist moustache envy”.

Gnarwolves

Gnarwolves

The last band of the night were Gnarwolves, who were less hardcore punk, and more punk pop. They came on stage and the audience  surged forward. Their tunes were far more melodic and accessible, but they still rocked hard. So hard in fact that they managed to break a guitar. A loan from one of the other bands saw them swiftly resume their set. The crowd were getting kind of crazy, so I made a quick exit while my camera was in one piece.

Weekend Gig Picks

So, in our weekly post about which gigs you really ought to be heading out to at the weekend, the top of our list is the series of gigs we’ve been writing about all week. Sea Monsters carries on until Sunday, with the Punk vs Hardcore night tonight, One Inch Badge vs Slip Jam B tomorrow, One Inch Badge vs One Inch Badge on Saturday (headlined by Physics House Band), and One Inch Badge vs Bizarro World on Sunday. We’ll carry on reporting on these on the night as we have been so far.

Other choice picks we’ve spotted are Catherine Ireton at Theatre Royal tonight, and Verity Susman at the Green Door Store on Friday night, which is a free gig. With any luck, I might be able to pop out of Sea Monsters and nip from the Prince Albert across the road to catch a bit of this.

Sea Monsters Day Three – One Inch Badge vs Love Thy Neighbour

After yesterday’s snow debacle, I had no trouble getting to the Prince Albert for tonight’s One Inch Badge vs Love Thy Neighbour Sea Monsters night. It was the night I’ve been most looking to based on the bands who were playing, but that’s not to say that I’m not looking forward to the other nights to introduce me to new bands.

First up was Jacko Hooper, a singer songwriter type, one man and his guitar. He had a great voice and at times, his guitar playing was stunning. His blurb cited Jeff Buckley as an influence but I was hearing more Jose Gonzales – a great voice with nice acoustic flourishes. My only concern was the his hoody was worn in the same way as Rylan from X-factor.

Jacko Hooper

Jacko Hooper

The second band on the bill were Plasticine. When they were setting up, I saw four boys in skinny jeans preparing their instruments, which is a bit of a pet hate of mine. Thankfully Plasticine were much better than my first impressions, and were very enjoyable to watch. However, their mini-biog says that they are carrying the Britpop baton, but my memories of Britpop have more singalong choruses.

Plasticine

Plasticine

Holy Vessels were up next and played a great set of breezy country-folk, which drew heavily from last year’s Last Orders at the Marshall Arms album. It was their bassist’s last gig with the band, and a big chunk of the audience had come specifically to see Holy Vessels (including a number of people who stood right at the front and spent most of the gig taking photos on tablet phones). In a parallel universe, there’s a twin sibling of Holy Vessels where the lead singer hams up the “holy” part of their name and dresses as a gospel preacher and exalts the audience to join them in their journey. In our universe however, the lead singer keeps his eyes closed while singing and is more than polite between songs.

Holy Vessels

Holy Vessels

The big draw tonight was Abi Wade, who’s come a long way since we first saw her playing the acoustic slot at a Source New Music Night back in 2011. Easily the most obvious choice for the headline slot (despite her modesty), Abi engaged with the audience, who were awestruck by her talent, not just in her original cello-as-percussion-and-instrument setup, but also in her new set ups, introducing samples and programmed drums into the mix, or switching to piano. I’ve said it before and no doubt I’ll say it again, Abi Wade really is one of the most engaging performers Brighton has, and you really should go and see her live.

Abi Wade

Abi Wade

Sea Monsters Day Two – an apology

Apologies for the fact that there’s no Sea Monsters review from last night – it took me over three and a half hours to get home from work, and by the time I got back, I wasn’t in the mood for going anywhere, nor would have I wanted to subject myself to any more time out in that weather.

So no review of the One Inch Badge vs Teen Creeps night. Nothing about Great Pagans, Tiger Cub, Traams or Negative Pegasus. It was one I was really looking forward to – I’ve heard so many good things about Traams. Although one of the things I’ve heard about them is that they aren’t from Brighton, they’re from Chichester, so who knows if they made it to the gig either?

Normal service will resume tonight, I promise!

Sea Monsters Day One – One Inch Badge vs The Source

So, as I did with Sea Monsters last year, we’re going to blog every night of the festival, on the night. This year it’s even more ambitious, because there’s seven nights not six. The first night was One Inch Badge vs The Source, and editor James Kendall was spotted in the audience. Current Source cover stars were on the bill – would they live up to the hype?

900 Spaces

900 Spaces

First band on were 900 Spaces. They’re quite pop – they reminded me a lot of fellow Brighton poppers Kovak, or maybe The Woo! Worths, but with a more distinctive vocal – a little bit Lily Allen, in a good way.

TheDealWasForTheDiamond

TheDealWasForTheDiamond

Next up were TheDealWasForTheDiamond, who we saw a couple of times last year. Those times had them pitched as post/math rock, but tonight they were a lot more ROCK. I’m glad I brought my ear plugs!

Kins

Kins

The band I was most looking forward tonight was Kins, and they really didn’t disappoint. There was definitely something special about them. I caught up with James Kendall after their set, and he described them better than I could – like a cross between The XX and Foals, despite them completely different bands. Go see them soon!

Written in Waters

Written in Waters

Most of the crown were there for headliners Written in Waters. My ears were a bit confused by the two conflicting styles on stage though. The vocals were a fantastic soul / gospel mix. The rest of the band were a pretty damned good post rock band. But in my head, my understanding of post rock is that it’s all about rich layers, and my understanding of the kind of music that goes with the vocals is that it’s all about being stripped back, and I couldn’t really reconcile the two. What do I know though – the rest of the crowd were loving it.

 

Sea Monsters preview interview with James Kendall of The Source

Last year’s Sea Monsters wasn’t curated by outsiders, but this year’s is. How did you come to be hosting an evening?

We have a really good relationship with One Inch Badge. They’re big supporters of the magazine through their advertising and we find it very easy to write about the gigs they put on as not only are there so many to choose from, they’re also very interesting up-and-coming bands. But I guess they asked us because we’re the only magazine that exclusively writes about the Brighton music scene.

Current Source cover stars Kins are second on the bill. Are headliners Written in Waters set for big things in 2013?

Essentially they could be absolutely huge or drive everyone mad. They’re not for everyone – it’s a very strange mix of styles, they’re kinda goth soul meets Pink Floyd – but the people that like them really love them. Kins are much easier to get you head around – they’re really powerful on stage but also very melodic. But I don’t think many bands would find it easy to follow Written In Waters – they’re so dramatic. Come and make up your mind. You really have to see them.

Who are SOURCE’s tips from the bands playing across the other nights?

I guess that you might be able to tell by the people who have been in the magazine, especially those that have been on the cover. Country rock band Holy Vessels recorded our song of 2012 and they’re every bit as good live as on record. Abi Wade plays the cello like no one you’ve ever seen – totally original – while AKDK and Physics House Band are both intense and intelligent bursts of noise, the former electronic and the latter jazzy. Other that that I’m most looking forward to seeing hip hop outfit Rum Committee for the first time.

If you could have got any Brighton band, past or present, to play your night who would you have chosen?

Tough question – I’d very much like to see one more gig by Gloria Cycles, so they would be on the bill. Nick Cave, obviously. I saw Grinderman at the King Alfred Centre so know how powerful he can be when he’s right in front of your face. And I guess I’d like to see The Maccabees play all the early songs they won’t play any more – in a room full of over excited teenagers, like their infamous gig at the Concorde. Finally I’d like to see Bat For Lashes’ first live incarnation – the all girl band – again. She was a delight in those early days. And still is, of course. That’s not a bad line up in anyone’s books.

Sea Monsters seems to have replaced Brighton Live as the local music festival. Why do you think that is?

I think the problem with Brighton Live – which was a brilliant idea – is that by the end it only attracted bands who weren’t already getting lots of gigs elsewhere. I was part of the board for a while and I pushed for more curated nights, something we did at Sticky Mike’s over three days as a SOURCE-branded event. I don’t want to say the rest of it was full of BIMM bands but… it was full of BIMM bands. That’s not so bad bit it isn’t representative of the Brighton scene as a whole. Brighton Live needed to tempt bands to be involved that were way too big to play for free because it was good for the community. But that never really happened. Sea Monsters works better, I think, because the bands are asked to play and already it’s seen as a badge of honour to be chosen. Because it sells out all the bands get paid, which is good. It’s a shame Brighton Live fell from its former glory because there were a lot of good people involved with very good intentions.

Sea Monsters Preview interview with Andy Rossiter of Love They Neighbour

In advance of next week’s One Inch Badge promoted Sea Monsters seven gig bonanza at the Prince Albert, we caught up with Andy Rossiter of Love They Neighbour, who’s curating Wednesday night’s gig:

Last year’s Sea Monsters wasn’t curated, but this year’s is. How did you come to be hosting an evening?

I’ve known Alex from One Inch Badge for a while now; we owned the Freebutt together and Love Thy Neighbour have done a few co-promotions with One Inch Badge, so when they asked me I had no hesitation in saying yes. The last two Sea Monsters events have been great in showcasing the best of Brighton, so it is a pleasure to be part of it.

The next Love Thy Neighbour release is by Us Baby Bear Bones, who aren’t on the bill. Did you want them to play, or were they already booked to play at the Danger Du Mort night at the Green Door Store already?

Yeah, we’re really excited to be releasing Us Baby Bear Bones debut release ‘What starts with a U ends in an I’, which is out in March. That band are incredibly creative, so expect some great artwork as well as a stellar ep! They would have played this year, but they played Sea Monsters 1 & 2, so One Inch Badge were keen not to have the band play for a third successive year.

Have the other acts on the bill got a chance of recording for Love They Neighbour, or is the night about Love Thy Neighbour as promoters rather than the label?

Love Thy Neighbour is open to all sorts of music, so if we find a band we love who get what we’re about then we’d happily release something by them. After the Us Baby Bear Bones EP we plan to release an EP by A Lily, and we’re in talks with another Brighton band about a release in the summer, but other than that we are free for something new. We see ourselves as a introductory label where acts can release their music and have complete creative control over their music & art, so I anticipate that Abi Wade, Us Baby Bear Bones and A Lily will move onto bigger & better things and we will release music later in the year potentially by acts we haven’t even heard yet.

Who’s Love Thy Neighbour’s tip from the bands playing across the other nights?

Apologies to anyone who knows me personally, because I literally don’t shut up about this band, but if you haven’t seen TRAAMS yet, then you must, they’re amazing. They make slacker lo-fi rock music with elements of Krautrock & US indie. They have an eye for a tune too. Would have loved to have done something with them for Love Thy Neighbour, but they have already moved onto bigger & better things! A close second is Physics House Band, another band who are flipping awesome and an outstanding live proposition.

If you could have got any Brighton band, past or present, to play your night who would you have chosen?

Er wow, that’s a tough one. There were loads of Brighton based bands I loved when I was about 18 like Clearlake, 80’s Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Turncoat, Charlottefield, British Sea Power, Coin-op & Electric Soft Parade, but I think it would have to be Electrelane. For those who don’t know their music, they made alternative, mostly instrumental rock & electronica and their albums were largely produced by Steve Albini. They split up in 2007, but reformed last year for live performances. My favourite album of theirs is ‘No Shouts No Calls’, which gets a lot of play in Sticky Mike’s!

Love Thy Neighbour curate Wednesday night at Sea Monsters, with Abi Wade, Holy Vessels, Plasticine and Jacko Hooper