Desperate Journalist. The Rocking Chair, Sheffield. 27 May 2015

Desperate Journalist

How was it? he texted.

It being the gig.

I searched for a word. It had to be the right word though because when you write, even a simple text, to another writer, it needs to be the right word.

Dizzying.

Sparkly.

Heartstopping.

Electric.

Glitterybassguitar.

Mesmerising.

OhdeargodIreallycan’taffordaRickenbacker.

Awestruck.

Incapacitatingandsimultaneousfeelingsoflongingandintenseoverwhelmingjoy.

Brilliant.

In the end I settled on Transplendent.

Desperate Journalist. Get your coat. You had me at Control.

 

My Indiepop Year 2014

Should old indiepop gigs be forgot and ne’er brought to mind? Certainly not! He’s a rundown of my indiepop year for your delectation/delight/hangover.

January

The year got off to a GRATE start with a double bill of pop and pun perfection from MJ Hibbett and Kriss Foster and Friend. Just the thing to shake off the January blues.

February

I think that everyone might have been skint this month as there appears to have been zero giggage. Well, if the lack of photos on my phone is to be believed, anyway. I make up for it next month, though, I promise. And there’s photos and everything…

March

I saw three gigs in one week this month. This might well be normal for you but I had a decade in gig wilderness so for me it is something close to miraculous. I saw the brilliant Tuts (eternally awesome)  and then a couple of days later went to an acoustic evening at The Three Tuns and saw, amongst others, Pete Green and David Leach. Did you know that David Leach, as well as being an ace knitter and writer and performer of lovely tunes with cheeky lyrics, is also THE EASIEST PERSON IN INDIEPOP TO TAKE A PHOTOGRAPH OF? He’s like one of those squirrels in Hyde Park that have learned how to pose for the camera. I give you exhibit A:

David Leach at The Three Tuns

David Leach. Uke Player, Knitter, Indiepop Squirrel.

And then two nights after that I went to see Suede. As you all know whatever you want/need to know about Suede already, I won’t go on about them too much here. Just to say that if there was a showreel of my life’s best moments, this gig would take up a huge proportion of it.

Suede

Suede at the Royal Albert Hall. Magnificent beyond words.

April

April was filled with Wales Goes Pop with the first (and likely last) time I got to wear an Access All Areas wristband. Sadly, even with a great line up, I found the main room a bit of an anxiety nightmare. Afraid I’m never going to be chilled out about watching pre-school children crawl under a stage packed with heavy and potentially dangerous equipment. I’m absolutely sure that everything was perfectly safe and I know this is my problem – they aren’t my kids and I should just ignore it and deal with it – but I can’t and it will detract from my ability to watch artists perform. Even artists as spellbinding as Haiku Salut. This is not a rant about kids at gigs  – I have too many friends who are parents to go down that route – but more a generalised fear of something very, very horrible happening one day. When I went to the panto a couple of years ago, I watched what was presumably a grandparent sit a toddler on the edge of the balcony, so that their legs were dangling over the edge . You know, the bit that stops you falling on the people in the stalls below. My mother had a word. So, it might be a genetic thing…

The cafe room was a delight, however, with Francesca’s Word Salad and Steven James Adams being particular highlights. Pop-o-matic provided all the disco you could ever need.

Francesca's Word Salad.

Francesca’s Word Salad. Super talented.

May

May was a tricky month but I was grateful that soon any fears that I would only be able to watch out-of-town Indiepop gigs were allayed. Even if my new indiepop self hadn’t quite mastered being a girlfriend (for that I am still sorry) at least I’d managed a relationship with someone who wasn’t a prick. That’s the kind of progress that spending all of your divorce settlement on psychoanalytic psychotherapy and discovering indiepop boys can bring.

I went to a fair bit of the acoustic alldayer at The Closed Shop and enjoyed The 10p Mixes and Pete Green, as ever, but also got to see Tom from Lardpony for the first time. Because I’m still so new to indiepop Lardpony were one of those bands that I had (just) missed. I’d enjoyed their songs so much though in that first year of finding indiepop, so it was quite wonderful to hear Tom and to get to thank him afterwards for his lovely music and how much it meant to me.

Tom from Lardpony.

Tom from Lardpony. Impressive beard. Impressive tunes.

This was also the gig where I was looking at everyone’s guitars and thinking Could I? Should I?

And then the following week, I left work early on a Friday, went to the guitar shop and bought Arthur. I think you’ll agree that he is rather beautiful

Arthur the guitar.

Arthur. The most beautiful guitar in the World that belongs to me.

June

Going Up The Country is pretty much the best Indiepop weekender this side of Indietracks. And that’s not just because it is just a couple of miles away from where I grew up and my Dad can collect me at the end of the night and I get to go home and have toast made by my Mum. It is also brilliant because Linda and Kev put their hearts and souls into it. If you’re never been to Congleton (and let’s face it, it’s probably not on you 50 places to visit before you turn 50 list) this is the ideal excuse. It is joyful and lovely. In 2014 it had brilliant acts like The Mini Skips and The Sunbathers and The Sweet Nothings. It was also the first place that I heard Milky Wimpshake live and got a bit giddy. It’s not every day you get to sing “I am a sexual deviant” in a pub car park in Cheshire. Well, not in my world, it isn’t.

The Mini Skips.

The Mini Skips. Phone camera set to sports mode to capture Vinnie’s dancing.

This was also the month that I started guitar lessons with @LittleShefScott. Selected purely on the basis that he was located on a major bus route, I was really lucky to find a teacher that was patient as well as talented. If you’re in need of a guitar teacher/composer/performer for your corporate event or one of those wedding things that find themselves doing, then I can heartily recommend Scott. He will even play Fleetwood Mac if you ask very nicely.

July

I had an odd Indietracks. Enjoyable but odd due to far too much ruminating. The Sheffield Indiepop Scene was having its Fleetwood Mac moment (minus the industrial piles of cocaine), relationships fragmenting, loyalties torn and I wasn’t sure where I fitted in any more. I spent Friday night crying on the platform bench. Stupid really. There was a million people I could have hung out with but I spent the evening with the black dog, who is the worst company and literally frowns at glitter.

Saturday was better. My oldest blokey friend and nearest person I have to sibling, Andy, turned up for the day (I’d sold it as a beer festival with bands…not a million miles from the truth, is it?) and we had fun times with lashings of Gopal’s curry. It was my birthday and the Indietracks birthday fairies magicked up an unscheduled acoustic performance by The Sweet Nothings that just about had my heart fit to burst. And then (after a bit of indiepop singalong) my brain decided to burst instead, as Evil Dr Migraine visited, and me and Andy got the early train back to the Premier Inn and Andy spent the next 45 minutes washing his feet due to ill-advised sandal wearing.

Andy and Dan

Andy and Dan. (Beer) brothers from another mother.

So many highlights on the Sunday…seeing Vinnie sing on a big stage, watching the lovely Swapsies, finally tracking down a copy of Platform Zero, but I think my biggest highlight was watching Kriss Foster from The Thyme Machine looking completely overwhelmed as he started to run out of merch. I hope he’s started to realise how much people love – not like, LOVE – The Thyme Machine…

August

August had some lovely moments.

One of them was seeing Anna Rest Easy, a solo female keyboardist. Anna’s really influenced by Chopin, and I love Chopin, so there was a lot to love about Anna’s music. At 37 this shouldn’t be the second time in my whole life that I’ve seen a woman play a keyboard live as a soloist. But it was. If you’re a chap who plays guitar you see people who look like you all the time. Not so if you’re a lass who started playing the piano in 1981, so it seems.

Anna Rest Easy

Anna Rest Easy. So much Chopin!

Alexander Christopher Hale’s cover of Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie in the upstairs room of The Rutland Arms was three minutes of exuberant awesomeness, which threatened to outdo the original. Amazingly, this wasn’t even the highlight of the gig, which arrived in the form of an unscheduled performance from Jackie Wilson, all the more impressive from him having been dead since 1984. You had to be there.

Alexander Christopher Hale

Shakira! Shakira! Or the Alexander and the Christopher Hale Band.

On the Bank Holiday Sunday I saw The Middle Ones. I can’t remember anything about this gig other than being completely and utterly moved by what I’d heard. I couldn’t take a photo because I was “in the moment” and this upsets me now as I can’t quite recall the experience only the feeling. But maybe that’s the best bit.

September

September saw the welcome return of Come Out 2Nite, the best 90s disco in any town. I also got to see Horowitz (FROM STOKE) for the first time and they were deliciously noisy. And the lovely Hobbes Fanclub and The Sweet Nothings who I love with every glittery fibre of my indiepop being.

Pete and Tonieee

Pete and Tonieee at Come Out 2nite. I was thinking of running a caption competition for this. Any suggestions?

I also ditched the plectrum this month and Arthur and I are getting on so much better with fingerpicking.

October

They told me I’d struggle with the Nottingham Pop All Dayer because it would be too hot and I would most likely get ill. They (also known as my brain) were spectacularly wrong. It was bloody ace. And, okay, so I had to pace myself by missing the first few acts to have a big lunch/buy some poetry from a conveniently situated second hand bookshop/have a lie down. But everything that I did see was BRILLIANT. You can see what I thought of it HERE.

I love this photo I took on the night. It’s just cymbals in an M+S bag but it just made me smile.

Cymbals. M+S bag.

Cymbals. M+S bag.

In October I also got to “Ready Steady Girls” Linda’s birthday party (with ace Djing by Kev) and Dan Ransome’s party, where I got to introduce my guitar teacher and his friend to The Thyme Machine, Horowitz and MJ Hibbett and for which I have certainly earned my place in Indiepop heaven. Getting invited to parties is ace (Jeremy’s party the following month was lovely, too) and I feel so bloody lucky to have my indiepop friends.

November

More fun times with Kriss Foster and Friend, along with Spook School fringe show giggles.

Kriss Foster and Friend.

Kriss Foster and Friend. Always brilliant.

The last indiepop gig I went to in 2014 was The Sweet Nothings, which seems an apt finale to the year. We all have a band that we “get” and that somehow seems to “get” us back and for me that is The Sweet Nothings. We have all waited far too long for their first album! Maybe 2015 will be the year for it. I do hope so.

The Sweet Nothings. Not at The Red House!

The Sweet Nothings. Danielle in celestial light.

December

I didn’t get to any indiepop gigs in December. Boo. Rubbish. Etc. But I did host Xmas Indiepop Singalong at my (well, my Landlord’s) house, which was magical and delightful in all sorts of ways. I even played my guitar and Tonieee carried THE BIG ORGAN downstairs, so there was some plastic ivory tinkling too.  Also sleigh bells and a cover of Low’s Just Like Christmas. Here’s Danielle from The Sweet Nothings at the aforementioned bash. Apologies for the blurry photo, it was a blurry sort of a night.

Danielle at the Xmas Popsingalong

Danielle at the Xmas Popsingalong.

I could have gone to a party last night but for a variety of reasons (not least the recent South Yorkshire Snowmaggedon) I stayed at home typing this. I’ve written a lot about the past on this blog (like here) and even though New Year’s Eve is just another day, really, I suppose it can put you in a reflective mood, if you’re so inclined, particularly if you’re one of life’s natural ruminators. So forgive me…

The last time I was alone on New Year’s Eve was in 2010. Living “separately” in what was just-about still my marital home, the long drawn-out decision to part finally made some months before, solicitors letters now pending. In separate rooms since forever but still aware of his presence in the room next door, there was definitely some yelling, something along the lines of “Just go to the pub, will you?” and more than likely an overdramatically slammed door. I tucked myself up in a bed that was far too big for me now, bringing in the year by watching Casino Royale on the laptop that I’m typing on now. You can always depend on Bond.

This New Year’s Eve is a much more joyous one and I’m much more happier Kelly that I have been, probably at any point of my life. Period. Part of this is time (all those cliches are cliches for a reason), part of this is Sheffield (don’t ever change you beautiful, beautiful city all grimy and Northern and witty and talented and pretty) but a lot of it is to do with Indiepop. And picking up a guitar. And having something to write a blog about. I think I’ve found where I need to be.

So if we’ve chatted at a gig, exchanged nods across a crowded bar, if I’ve listened to your music, booked train tickets and a hotel room to watch you play, danced at your disco, if you’ve listened to me swear as I try to master a strumming pattern, if I’ve bought your jewellery at a gig, read your blog, laughed at your tweets, snogged your face off, bought you a pint, discovered a band based on your recommendation, THANK YOU for making last year sparkly and good. I’m not a big fan of national anthems, but if Indiepop was a country, I reckon our anthem would be this.

Happy New Year! xx

On Nottingham and Indiepop and Belonging

At the start of this month I went to the Nottingham Pop Alldayer, my first visit to one of the mainstays of the indiepop calendar. I love how I’m part of a scene that has regular big events that punctuate the year with pop. No matter how tedious or difficult your everyday existence, you never have to wait very long until the next time you’re standing in a room watching bands that you love with people that you love. Become part of indiepop and you’re always safe in the knowledge that you’re never more than nine weeks away from a fresh opportunity to apply glitter.

Nottingham was great. Must admit I’d had concerns over the venue. Too hot, I’d heard. Poor ventilation, said another. Not phrases that fill someone who experiences regular migraine attacks with any confidence that they’d reach the end of the evening without keeling over, losing speech or experiencing the fleeting paralysis that my tiny brain can achieve all without the aid of strong drink. As it was, my fears were unfounded and I had a great time.

Knowing that I can no longer stand up for twelve hours, I reluctantly opted not to join everyone for pretty much all of the first half of pop fun. And whilst I was sad to miss City Yelps, The Hobbes Fanclub (I’d caught their album launch last month and they were ace), The Fireworks, Night Flowers, Manhattan Love Suicides, and later, When Nalda Became Punk, I knew I’d potentially saved my friends the hassle of having to look after a poorly me later in the evening. With the rest of the Sheffields that I’d arrived with now safely ensconced in the venue, I had some time to explore. The Maze is in an interesting part of Nottingham and a few doors down from the venue was a lovely real ale pub that did superb veggie food. Not far away from the lovely real ale pub was a gorgeous second hand bookshop (complete with authentic 1930s till), so mashed potato, John Donne and a disorganised hotel check in provided the entertainment until I arrived late afternoon to catch the majority of  the noisy tuneful aceness supplied by Slum of Legs.

Another trip for delicious veggie food later, I was back to watch The Spook School. Bloody hell, I love The Spook School. Niall’s between song banter is a delight (I wonder if he’s seen Peter Cook’s Revolver…) and for other bands it might upstage the music but this is The Spook School and their quality catchy tunes refuse to be in anything other than the limelight. They can do light and shade with the best of them, too. The moment of hush in the audience when Nye sang a song so clearly rooted in personal experience was both breathtaking and humbling. I hope that my own writing and creative endeavours can match that level of emotional honesty. As a band, their songs don’t half stay with you and five days later you find yourself singing I am bigger than a hexadecimal to the bemusement of a South Yorkshire pensioner, as you select a “reduced for quick sale” loaf in Asda.

Oh, Milky Wimpshake! It occurred to me during their set that if I stood any closer to Pete Dale I’d either a) be on stage with him or b) be issued with a restraining order. The mighty Wimpshake have been my post Indietracks soundtrack having purchased Popshaped from the merch tent (remember I’m really new to Indiepop so I have lots to catch up on). Bus journeys to work have been vastly improved by listening to Hackney and Cheque Card over the past few months. This was only my second live Wimpshake experience. I want more. If The Sweet Nothings didn’t exist (let’s not imagine this) I’m fairly certain Milky Wimpshake would be my favourites. Or would that be The Mini Skips? Or perhaps Lardpony? Or The Swapsies. Oh, you’re all my favourites. Especially if you’re the Nothings.

The School gave us that bit of Indiepop that is all 60s harmonies and melodies and loveliness and glock. Music that if you close your eyes transports you back in time into a world of Dansettes, pretty frocks, beautifully applied eyeliner, boys with ace haircuts and permanent sunshine. Or Indietracks, as we like to call it.

During The School, the headline acts started to arrive. You can tell they are the headline acts because the haircuts become more expensive.  I faintly recall that back in mists of time I may have woken up in Spearmint T-Shirt that was not my own. Scandalous! They played some new stuff and this was when their set came alive. I like watching how bands interact when they’re playing newer material. Observing the freshness and urgency of delivery can be just as fun as hearing an old favourite.

Topping the bill were The Lovely Eggs. During their set I committed the ultimate act of indiepop treason. Yes. I sat down during The Lovely Eggs. If there ever was a band you’re supposed to enjoy standing up it is The Lovely Eggs. Look, I was still doing the sausage roll thumb hand aloft, I was just giving my feet a rest at the same time.

The bands were ace, so was the jewellery stall and the record stall. But even acer than the bands was catching up with everyone. You all feel like family now. Even those of you whose names I don’t know yet feel like the distant cousins whose presence at a wedding feels rather comforting. If this awkward only child has ever belonged anywhere it is here: Indiepop.

Thanks to all the Nottingham pop organisers, you’re all heroes in my book (The Bumper Lost in Indiepop Annual 2015).

Happy New (Indiepop) Year!

I’ve had the same Christmas stocking since I was about 3 years old. No fluffy handcrafted from the shedding coats of organically-raised alpacas then shipped to John Lewis stocking for me. I was born in 1977 to a mum and dad who were “lucky to get an orange and a bag of nuts for Christmas” and grew up in a small mining town on the outskirts of Stoke. Therefore my stocking is bright red plastic, with an odd faux-Victorian font and a picture of Santa’s face on it. I love it. Its arrival outside my bedroom door (or at the foot of my bed when I was really little) can still produce childish squeals of delight, albeit these days these squeals of delight are generally interspersed with whimpers and me clutching my forehead having risked a small festive gin and tonic on Christmas Eve.

There are presents within this stocking that I can rely on being there every year. Pens. Writing pads. A Terry’s Chocolate Orange wedged into the toe of the stocking. And, as I got older, a calendar. Always a calendar. These last few years I’ve got a Jack Vettriano one. The Vettriano calendars are great (if you like Vettriano, which I do) because they delve into the er, earthier parts of his repertoire that is difficult to get hold of in framed print form, presumably as most reasonable people wouldn’t contemplate having a painting of an immaculately attired gentleman with his hosiery-obsessed companion Dominating their living room wall. Well, they do say that January is the longest month…

There’ll be some indiepop in a minute, I promise.

Anyway, calendars are great because you can write things in them that you can look forward to.

At this time of the year, if Indiepop is important to you, you can get a bit gloomy. You’ve just about managed to clean the Indietracks dust out from between the cracks in your heels. You’ve poured over photos of owls on flickr. Watched endless videos trying to spot yourself in the crowd. You’ve played almost everything you bought in the merch tent about a zillion times. It’s a bit like filling that time between Christmas and New Year. The trimmings and trappings of festivities are still around you but you’re too exhausted to do anything but sit and watch telly.

But wait! Indietracks may well be “our Christmas” (copyright everyone in indiepop) but that means that we’ve got a whole year of Indiepop ahead to dance our sparkly trainers off to! Rejoice! Send your Dad out of the back door with a piece of coal and make him walk in through the front door of POP!

If you haven’t been to Sheffield then JOIN US as we bring in the new Indiepop year. Sheffield’s a great city, with fab pubs that serve piles of cake from the bar (as well as delicious ales) and we’re dead friendly like. It’ll be like going to Edinburgh for Hogmanay. Or summat.

On Friday 22nd August, MMIS are putting on an ace do in the upstairs of the Rutland Arms in Sheffield. Look at the poster! Adorable! And now the line up…you’ve got David Leach with his magnificent ukulele playing, superb knowing lyrics and cheeky audience asides, Jupiter in Jars who are all multi-instrumental and will instantly transport you away from any lingering thoughts of your working week and Alexander Christopher Hale, who I haven’t seen yet but who I am reliably informed offers “Heart-breaking musical vignettes that dabble in obscurity and obscenity, but always sincerity.” The upstairs room of the Rutland Arms is a magical venue for acoustic indiepop. You should join us here.

On Sunday 24th August the completely fab Ladiyfest are hosting what looks like a total cracker  (I’ll give up with the Christmas imagery in a minute) of an event, with a line up including Colour Me Wednesday, Hallie and the Annies, The Middle Ones and, fresh from Indietracks, Elopes. Not forgetting the zine stall, vegan cupcakes, BBQ and ace invert Dj-ing. The following day, August Bank Holiday Monday, is my second Indiepop Sheffield Friends Anniversary, so it’s bound to get emotional. Or at least beery. Or possibly beery and emotional. Either way there will be cake.

And also…D-I-S-C-O-S

You like 90s Indie, right? Then come and watch the Master of Indie and Pop at work. Daniel Hartley (Pop-o-Matic) offers you Come Out 2Night, a 90s Indie night “Playing loads of 90’s britpop, grunge, college rock, lo-fi, baggy, hip hop, shoegaze, dance and other made up genres.” Trust me, this is the disco of YOUR LIFE. Or should that be This Life? It’s on 13th September, which my calendar tells me is a Saturday so you’ve got all day on Sunday to travel back from whence you came. Dan will even give you five whole days to recover (he’s nice like that) before MMIS offer you The Hobbes Fanclub’s album launch party, with Sheffield’s very own The Sweet Nothings and others in support. I can’t link to this event because it is HOT OFF THE PRESS.

Have the complete and utter misfortune of being based Darn Sarf? Let me offer you my heartiest condolences. But don’t fear! Sheffield has recently exported two of its indiepop finest, The Mini Skips, to Bristol. In their promotery/label guise of My Little Owl they are preparing a plethora of perfect pop to delight you on Saturday 6th September. The venue looks lovely and the line up includes not only The Mini Skips but also The Hi Life Companion and Peru! And many, many more. Eh, maybe the south isn’t so bad after all…

There are tonnes of other things going on as well. So don’t mope. Well, you can mope for a bit if you want. Then stick those dates on your calendar and start crossing them off like you’re Peter Barlow in The Big House. Before you know it, it’ll be time for you to put on your sparkly trainers and dig out your glitter gun. Pop is waiting for you. Now go and get it. Happy New Year!

Sheffield Indiepop Invasion…The Mini Skips and The Sweet Nothings in Leeds 7 September 2013

What could be more exciting than your two favourite indiepop bands on the same line up, especially if one of the bands has been out of action for months due to the most dramatic incident involving a shower in the entire history of  popular culture since a resurrected Bobby Ewing reappeared to Pammy at the end of Season 9 of Dallas?

Nothing. That’s what. Eeeeeeeeeee!

Look, I’m going to have to make this quick. Lostinindiepoptowers is still on emergency internet following a house move and I’ve only just found my Colour Me Wednesday CD so I’ve been in a right grump for weeks.

So, those nice people of Don’t Falter invited all the Sheffields up to Baby Jupiter to share Sheffield’s special brand of indiepop loveliness with the good (or otherwise) people of Leeds. So far so bloody excellent.

The Mini Skips did not disappoint. The Mini Skips never disappoint. Their brand of good cop/bad cop stylings do that clever thing of getting my foot tapping and making me think at the same time. The Mini Skips were the first indiepop band that I saw live back in…oooh 2012….and for that they’ll always have a special place in my heart. I’ve already written about how clever I think their good cop/bad cop approach is. And this set highlighted it perfectly. Whether they’re covering ‘Allo Darlin’s Dreaming or performing their own ace songs like Advice for New Lovers, Mark and Vinnie’s contrasting yet complementary vocal stylings just work together so beautifully. Can I make a special mention of their new(ish) song Monster Remains? (Of course you can, it’s your bloody blog – Ed.) (You’re the writer as well as the Ed. Stop being so flippin’ postmodern or sumthink – Kelly) I can’t decide if it’s the chord choice after the second line or the haunting refrain “Sometimes when passion dies poison is all that remains” that gives me goose bumps and a lump in my throat every time I hear it. Anyway I was humming it on the streets of Sheffield for weeks after the gig.  Also, the handing over of the plectrum during Advice for New Lovers always makes me think that it is some sort of secret indiepop sign. Is there a masonic lodge for indiepop kids? I dunno but I’m guessing the uniform is a combination of cardigan and stripy top.

The Mini Skips at Don't Falter

The Mini Skips at Don’t Falter. Phone camera set to sports setting in an attempt to capture hand claps.

Oh! The Sweet Nothings! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…actually let’s not else they might take out a collective restraining order against me.  Oh look – NEW KEYBOARD PLAYER ALERT! Danielle also of The 10p Mixes to be precise. She does wooshy keyboards and harmonies and stylishness. In short, she is my new indiepop crush. It’s been at least five minutes since my last one. Enjoy it while it lasts Cope. I’m as fickle as fuck.

The short set time deprived Leeds of OFFICIAL PETE GREEN AUDIENCE BANTER, which was a shame, particularly as it forced me to do an interior monologue of Greenisms instead. And mine weren’t as good (I can’t do a Grimsby accent). The lack of banter did focus the mind on the tunes and I also became more aware of the individual contributions of the band members. I’d somehow missed Dan’s clever bass bit and that thumping drum intro before now. That seems stupidly remiss of me. A storming set included old favourites like She’s an Accountant and also introduced us to the Nothings latest song The World is Wrong. I haven’t got a copy of the lyrics sheet but I strongly suspect this song encapsulates everything I think about Indiepop and the world and stuff. Let’s have the Nothings on the Saturday at next year’s Indietracks. It’ll be like the best birthday present ever. Make it so, Pop People.

(3/4s of) The Sweet Nothings at Don't Falter

(3/4s of) The Sweet Nothings at Don’t Falter

We couldn’t stay for dancing but had a singalong in the car on the way home. Thanks Don’t Falter for an ace night! I’ll be back to unleash my indiekid shuffle in Baby Jupiter soon.

(Quick note to all indiepop people that I end up blogging about. My cameraphone is a bit shit so I have to take around 15 photos and blind you with my flash in order to get one usable photo. Please don’t sue me and instead consider wearing sunglasses for the first half of any your performances that I attend) (Also apologies to Tim and Daniel minus Norbert as my photos of you both were far too blurry)

Life after Indietracks – or how Macho Music Is Stupid, Finnmark! Frozy and Colour Me Wednesday made everything better for a bit

Saturday 3rd August

A week after Indietracks and I am still wearing my w(r)istband in the vain hope that someone will tell me that it’s all been a horrible mistake and the festival is still going on and quick let’s all get back on the train before we miss anything.

Alas, it’s not to be.

Thankfully I live in the undisputed capital of UK Indiepop* and those lovely people at Macho Music is Stupid have put on a lovely post-Indietracks line up so we can pretend all is still well in the world.

Having mislaid my sparkly hairslides (never leave home without ’em kids), I missed the first act but did manage to catch most of Finnmark! fresh from their appearance at Indietracks, which I haven’t yet mentioned in this paragraph. I particularly  enjoyed their cheery song about death by various methods of public and private transport. The playful juxtaposition of  singalonga-bah-bah-bahs/major key brightness with stoical morbidity is the kind of combination that’ll always get my vote. Edward’s sonorous voice would also get fifteen thumbs up, if only I had an additional thirteen thumbs.

Frozy’s sound reminds me of those afternoons spent sitting in my bedroom listening to my Walkman, pondering the meaning of existence and, more specifically, why all the boys I like never like me back. No, not last week you cheeky sods. I’m talking about my mid-teens, a time when my DMs were still all shiny and l had boundless enthusiasm for making mixtapes. I’m pretty shite at being able to identify genres but this is the one where the guitars sound particularly optimistic and my indiekid shuffle involves moving my head from side-to-side rather than forward-and-backwards. Anyway, here’s some stuff I liked about Frozy: short songs that leave you wanting more (none of this let’s add another verse for the sake of it nonsense – the best pop always gets straight to the point), they do instrumentals, they let their music do the talking and they did a neat few bars of My Girl and shoehorning Motown into something is always ace. Secret was one of my favourite tracks on the Indietracks compilation and the rest of their set lived up to this. I liked. Lots.

As ever, Macho Music is Stupid has SUPERSTAR DJS between and after the acts. Many of the evening’s selections brought back happy Indietracks memories and The Day That Thatcher Dies can always get my foot-tapping even without an accompanying major news story. One of the lovely things about the Dada venue is that you get non-indiepop kids there enjoying the music too.  Even if they make slightly off-piste (oft pissed?) musical requests to the DJs. We need to share this stuff. The world needs more indiepop love.

You should come along to a Macho Music is Stupid night soon.  The next one is on Tuesday 27 August at The Red House in Sheffield where you’ll get The Dyr Sister and Colour Me Wednesday – more of which later.  Everyone is dead friendly and stuff and there’s always access to beer. Just don’t ask the DJ for Dire Straits as a refusal may offend.

Sunday 4th August

In my Life Before Indiepop, an exciting Sunday afternoon might be one spent taking a trip to a well-known hardware store to buy rawlplugs**. Instead, shiny new me ( basically 1996 me with wrinkles) heads to a Colour Me Wednesday gig armed only with the following directions “look for the door with the blue graffiti”….hmm, not very useful for the sat nav. Heading in the vaguest of directions, the crowd of YOUTH standing outside said door suggested this was indeed the right place.

Photo by Estelle.

Photo by Estelle.

We proceed to the stage area. A mattress shoved against a mould-stained wall, speakers balanced on kitchen worktops and audience members passing around cartons of orange juice in the absence of a bar. This truly is DIY.

Colour Me Wednesday are noisy. Deliciously noisy. Their songs are simultaneously tuneful and noisy and have great titles like Unicorn in Uniform. And I am dancing in an abandoned kitchen on a Sunday afternoon.

“This next one’s called Purge Your Inner Tory” they announce to audience cheers. A pause. “Never fuck a Tory” someone shouts to giggles. Behold! The idealism of youth.

Colour Me Wednesday. In a kitchen.

Colour Me Wednesday. In a kitchen.

I like Colour Me Wednesday. I know this because even though I am a bit skint I buy their CD anyway and I’m excited about playing it as I head home in the rain.

The rain. Washing away all the glitter. Reminding me of work and bills and my forthcoming house move and everything that’s wrong with the world.

Just before midnight I cut off my Indietracks wristband and cry.

Reality sucks.

* Ooh, controversial. Cardigans at dawn on Anorak…

**This never happened. Our house always had a surfeit of rawlplugs. Additional purchases were thankfully unnecessary.

Little Owl One, Rutland Arms, 29th June 2013

Little Owl 29:06:13

The light filtered through the blinds of  the upstairs windows of the Rutland Arms and shone onto the dansettes like it was some sort of Indiepop heaven. And for a few hours, it was. My Little Owl is a new indiepop venture for popkids Vinnie and Markie (aka The Mini Skips) and this inaugural gig was a cracker.

Wistful

First up was Pete Green, perennial pop purveyor of this parish. You know the one: stripy tops, clever lyrics, guitar held together with stickers (now including Grimbsy’s area dialling code). As the set progressed Pete navigated some deft changes in style and tone from the singalong, crowd-pleasing Best British Band Supported by Shockwaves opener and a neat cover of Martin Solveig’s Hello, to more reflective material from his new album, The Glass Delusion. Pilot Light is a beautiful song and a fine example of  his oft-deployed catchy chorus/clever lyrics combo. Pete refers to his more reflective stuff  as “sparklegloom” but I prefer fellow Little Owl One performer Daniel’s observation of “knockout w(h)ist”

John T. Angle was a new act for me and her set was a treat. Indiepop is full of the kind of voices that you would trade your right arm for and her voice definitely falls into this category (sadly my right arm is very useful for things like lifting alcoholic beverages so I’m stuck with my unremarkable tonsils for now). By the end of her set there was a tear in my eye. I hope we’ll see her again at future gigs in Sheff.

More wistful? You decide.

I’m fairly certain that The French Defence is the first indiepop act that I saw live, in the very same venue. If you have the Indietracks compliation album (and if not, why not?) you’ll be familiar with its lovely opening number If You Still Want Him and yes, the rest of The French Defence’s set is that good, if erring a little more on the side of wistful. Indeed, it was mooted at one point that he’d managed to out-wist Pete Green. To be honest, it was too difficult to call, so I vote that the pair of them do some sort of cardigans-at-dawn, wist off outside the merch tent at Indietracks to settle this vital matter of indiepop importance.

Having missed most of their set at Going Up The Country due to my friend’s child need to eat food and play some sort of cricket game app on his mother’s phone, I was pleased to get another chance to watch The Sunbathers. Despite their base in the land-locked East Midlands, their devotion to retaining a seaside vibe makes it hard not to be uplifted. One of the joys of indiepop is the more than occassional appearance of a melodica and The Sunbathers generated several envious glances as they produced not one but two of these marvellous instruments. Anyway, their set was so lovely that I listened intently and let my chip butty go cold.

A short interval treated us to Tonieeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’s Wheels of Steel and where else but in an indie pop gig would you hear such forgotten gems as track seven from the acclaimed album Banjo Party Time?

Post-interval and further treats were still to be unleashed. The Mini Skips were a delight, as ever. Mark and Vinnie’s voices work so beautifully together and their cover of the Dean Friedmann classic Lucky Stars is always something to look forward to. New material such as Evil/Shy complements Advice for New Lovers as they deliver their Good Cop/Bad Cop take on romance. Lyrically, bad cop always wins for me. Their sets always leave me with a big soppy grin on face and that night was no exception.

Despite Norbert the Bear’s strop (artistic differences?), Daniel and Norbert Dentressangle played a blinder. As ever, the set was enhanced by Daniel’s superbly deadpan wit. World of Sandwiches – surely the only song about falling in love with one’s future spouse that mentions a delicatessen counter – is joyfully memorable to the point where after only one listen you’re guaranteed to hum it every single time you set foot in a sandwich emporium. Despite, or probably precisely because of its title, the song is wonderfully heartfelt and, like indiepop itself, makes you believe the world can occassionally be good.

The Bees Niece, who hail from Norway via Salford, had a unique sound, which entirely suited the venue and the hour. Employing a range of instruments (including a saw) and influences (British weather, Socialism, Swahili) they deliver something rather magical, poetic and witty. They also delivered possibly my favourite lyric of the night “I didn’t occupy Palestine and neither did my bike” from Stolen Bike. I hope I get a chance to see them again in Sheff soon.

The night’s headliner, Kirsty McGee, delivered a set that was both intimate and powerful in its delivery. Her beautiful song Sandman was featured in the recent Danny Boyle film Trance. Listening to live music in such a small venue can be incredibly moving and such was the haunting power of Kirsty’s voice, I can honestly report that I was in tears for most of it. Sometimes such moments in life are necessary and to cry to such beautiful sounds can feel like a honour.

All in all, a wonderful night. Thanks My Little Owl.

Next up, a review of Macho Music Is Stupid’s recent definitely-nothing-to-do-with-Tramlines-for-legal-purposes frankly stonking all dayer. Hopefully, by which time, I will have discovered how to edit. This post has been lonnnng. Thanks for sticking with it.