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

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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)