Monday, 27 December 2010

Call Of The Wyld Review Of 2010

(Gratuitous but obviously necessary picture of Oral Oral bassist's bum from this year's Offset Festival. She didn't turn to face the crowd at any point.)

It is traditional at this time of year to mull over the past twelve months and revisit high times, low lights and possibly put together a blooper reel. Or something.

The year started properly with an evening of wild Japanese mayhem at the Bull and Gate as Molice and Moja rocked like demons to a crowd of ooh, several.

In February I did my biggest gig of the year, when Rammstein bought their brand of naughty but nice, cruel but surprisingly camp metal to Wembley arena. I’m a sucker for a good show, and the Germans always deliver. It’s a shame that smaller venues such as the Enterprise and the Lexington are not conducive to the use of flamethrowers.

February also saw an extraordinary evening at Cargo in the company of Merrill Garbus, aka tUnE-yArDs. A real talent, raw and wild as hell.

In the Spring I saw The Primitives at the Scala, the first in a conceptual series of gigs from 80’s twee pop exponents who have reformed in the wake of significant deaths. The second was the Darling Buds who played at the 100 Club.

By complete co-incidence it was just twenty four hours later that the 100 Club was revealed to be in danger of closure and the great and the good made appropriate noises about the need to keep it open. I’m somewhat ambivalent – the nature of music in London (and other cities) is that music may move from place to place, but it keeps going. This year has seen the closure of places such as The Luminaire but I’ve also been to new places like CAMP Basement. As I’ve ruminated here before, there is a real feeling that the centre of music in London is shifting from North to East.

To my mind the 100 Club is only worth saving if it is a thriving venue for new and current acts. If they just want to be a museum dedicated to the past then they might as well open a Hard Rock Café on the premises. To be honest, I’m much more disheartened that the Café De Paris has stopped showcasing young bands in favour of more lucrative, but aesthetically pointless tribute acts.

There was a rather underwhelming Camden Crawl this year, but May also saw one of the gigs of 2010 – the exuberant Canadian double header at The Lexington, when first Rich Aucoin took audience participation to unprecedented levels by acting as cheerleader while we did all the work, and then The Pack AD blew our socks clean off and somewhere way down the road.

The Lexington is Call Of The Wyld’s venue of the year. I don’t think that I’ve ever had a bad evening there and have seen some top bands. The range of beers downstairs is almost unparalleled in a music venue and the place is run with real love by some great people.

May will also live in the memory as the month when I saw Japanese pop idols Hangry + Angry at the Underworld. The only time I’ve seen a gig end with a question and answer session with the audience.

June was the time when dinosaurs walked the earth. Joan Jett was terrific at the 100 Club and Patti Smith surprisingly good humoured and relaxed in Hyde Park.

In July I spent a blisteringly hot day at the Shoreditch 1234 festival and caught a delightful set from Von Haze. I admired tent divers tombstoning into the crowd during a Rolo Tomassi performance and stood in the dark for an hour as These New Puritans vainly tried to plug an oboe into an electric socket. Or some other such technical difficulty.

August saw what I suspect I’m going to call my gig of the year – the first time I saw Warpaint; in this instance at CAMP Basement. That I had gone into the gig suspecting that it would all be a bit ‘meh’ made it all the better when we got a bogglingly marvellous and enjoyable show that completely confounded all expectations.

The way in which the Warpaint album is being marketed as an accompaniment to dinner parties / recreational cannabis use reminds me to give the Call of the Wyld Award for Ubiquity at Gigs to The xx. This year I couldn’t move at a gig without knocking into members of the band that won the Mercury Prize.

In September I spent a brilliant weekend at the Offset Festival. This event goes from strength to strength and I really didn’t have a duff experience among nearly fifty bands that I saw over the two days. If they could resolve the jinx of the Sunday night headliners, it would be utter heaven.

This was also the month that I finally saw Yuck for the first time. I really like them and am glad to see that they are getting some love in other quarters and are being tipped as ones to watch in 2011. It will be interesting to see how they do – there are two very distinct strands to their music and while I can see a mass market for their gentle, acousticy numbers, I wonder if a wider audience will appreciate their guitar-scree Sonic Youthy side.

I saw a compelling, but bizarre performance from Soap & Skin at the Union Chapel. I don’t mind tortured artists, but Anja Plaschg did genuinely appear to be in some distress for most of this gig.

Disappointment of the year was probably Zola Jesus at CAMP Basement. I can just about put up with her on record, although I find the fulsome praise that she attracts somewhat baffling. Her live show was dreary in the extreme, a one trick pony honking out a succession of tuneless dirges. The xx seemed to like it, though.

Another BBC tip for 2011 is Esben & The Witch who seem to have been regarded as Next Big Things for a couple of years, and unless I am wrong, are or were managed by one of the guys who contributes to the BBC’s music content. Coincidence? For legal reasons, let’s say “Yes”. I saw E & TW twice, once at Offset when they were terrific and once at Electrowerkz, when their limitations became starkly clear. I suspect that I’ll only be able to fully judge when the album comes out early next year.

And it was great to see The Blood Arm again for the first time in a couple of years. If you could bottle the Blood Arm experience, you’d make millions.

On the recorded music front, there were fine albums from the likes of O Children, The Pack AD, Cold In Berlin (who will get a full review on here as soon as I can find time to squeeze them in), The Indelicates, Teddybears, The Fall and Warpaint.

I’m so damned new fangled / confused that my album of the year is not an album at all but rather a pair of files that can be downloaded for free from the website of Computer Magic. These are a pair of ‘EPs’ called Hiding From Our Time/Hiding From More Of Our Time and to say that they are a complete knockout does them a serious disservice.

They are the work of a solo artist called Danz (or Danielle) and she has produced these demos over the past year. The songs are delicate, achingly poignant affairs which are also cracking tunes. The quality here is staggering. Watch her go in 2011…

Individual tracks of the year are very hard to assess, as they differ depending on mood. There’s a good selection on the music player at the top of the page at the moment. I am inordinately fond of Pepper Rabbit’s “Older Brother” though.

That’s it for now – back in the New Year. I’ve got a few things lined up…

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