Tag: The Lamplighter

Twinfest 2019: The Review

TWINFEST July 25th – July 28th 2019 Northampton, various venues THURSDAY, THE LAB The weekend starts early at Twinfest, the annual hootenanny / shindig that celebrates all that is good…

TWINFEST
July 25th – July 28th 2019
Northampton, various venues

THURSDAY, THE LAB
The weekend starts early at Twinfest, the annual hootenanny / shindig that celebrates all that is good about the music scenes of Marburg, Poitiers and Northampton. Tonight is special in that we get just the German and French acts, and it’s Oclaire‘s honour to kick us off. Before we get to the amiable German fella, can New Boots just point out that it is literally a sauna-type atmosphere in here tonight, as befits the hottest day of the year. If you didn’t go we will simply say: we suffer so you don’t have to. Not that we really did, what with what’s happening on stage. Oclaire is a man who frenetically strums his acoustic guitar, and sings his heart out. Playing songs from his recent sophomore album There Is More, his songs are open like gaping wounds, a space for him to pour his jumblebox of emotions through a redemptive filter and find some solutions to share with us.  We are blessed to hear them.

From solo to duo, and French pair The Aries. Jeanne Casseron and Chloé Bonnet are your chanson for the evening, as they give off sweet and unassuming vibes. They sing solely in French, so goodness knows what the songs are actually about, but one would hazard a guess they are as charming in word as they are in voice. A nifty version of the Beatles classic ‘Across The Universe’ is the icing on the cake.

Cressy Jaw are your solidarity brothers, a trio who take on social and environmental subjects and pull no punches, Reggae-type songs, the rest of the tracks developed into a wild mixture of punk, grunge and blues. Their tight songs switch between reggae-rock and RATM-style alt-rock noise. Their reggaegrungepunk works surprisingly well. 

By the time Bazouka Groove Club unleash their primal rock’n’roll the Lab is producing casualties, and standing outside and listening to the music is becoming a real survival option. Luckily there’s enough punters around for our German friends to work their magic, and work the crowd. Theirs is a modern alt-rock sound mixed up with more of a noughties pop-punk spirit. Singer Basti took his top off [it was definitely a night for that], people moshed until they, literally and figuratively, dropped: it was one of those instantly memorable nights.

It would have been easy to have gone home now satisfied. Bazouka have absolutely destroyed all listening, and the body count is still rising alongside the steam. Yet Full Fiction still have something in their locker to make you reconsider any premature evaluations. The slightly bashful French trio have got some musical chops, as they unleash their slightlydelic punk rock that gets heads nodding furiously, even without anyone knowing the songs. FF felt like the awe-inspiring bonus album track you were not expecting. Tonight the taxi ride home was very, very beatific.

FRIDAY, THE LAMPLIGHTER
The Vincent Vega Band start off proceedings at the Lamplighter in suitably sharp and sophisticated style. Drummer-less and acoustic they are on fine laid back form. Tonight, the band’s sparse, stripped back instrumentation leaves plenty of room for their lyrics, reminiscent of a lo-fi Scott Walker, to shine. Their songs play out like snippets of kitchen sink dramas; held together by moody bass lines and decorated with pretty viola passages. ‘Claude’ and ‘Fireflies’ are particularly well-received moments in a superb opening set. ‘Tout royale pas de fromage’, as they might say in Paris.

Following, in the spirit of these events, with something completely different are Krankhead, aka Mio Flux & Patchy, The Rockstar. Their party-starting hip-hop gets the crowd well warmed up, starting football chants as well as a one-fingered salute to the new prime minister that is much appreciated by the Twinfest crowd.

Upstairs at the Lamplighter, with its fireplace and atmospheric lighting, it feels more like a classy house party; a setting that fits quirky folk-pop duo The Aires quite well. The first of the acts from Poitiers tonight, they instantly win over the Northampton audience. Songs sung in a language the audience may be unfamiliar with are very much dependant on the strength of the performance, but this pair have a wonderfully expressive stage presence and vocal harmonies that cross any language borders.

By the time those watching The Aires get downstairs quite the crowd has amassed for local boys The Barratts, whose mid-evening set showcases why they are quickly becoming one of the towns biggest acts. Punchy indie rock with stinging guitar solos and an assured presence marks them as a force to be reckoned with. By the second song things are already getting rowdy at the front, and your left with the impression that the band are destined for bigger venues than here. The band closed with ‘Lights Out In London’ leaving the audience howling for an encore, but it was already time for the next act to start upstairs.

Oclaire, one of the musicians from Marburg, is up[stairs] next. An acoustic singer-songwriter with a punk spirit and a big heart, he talks openly about the mental health issues that he’s dealt with as he sings about learning to be positive. Throughout the set he drinks from a cup of green tea due to the bad throat he developed on the plane over, and apologises. But his voice is in no way hindered, and he storms through his set with a bit of audience participation.

Back downstairs for the second of tonight’s German acts and Cressy Jaw keep the night pumping with their mix of reggae, punk and bluesy rock. While the audience had thinned a bit since The Barratts, by the end of the set the room had filled up again and there was quite a bit of dancing down at the front. The band’s final song tuned into an extended jam session, with each member of the three-piece getting a spotlight and inviting the audience to join in.

The final act on tonight are Full Fiction, from Poitiers, who pretty much level The Lamplighter with their full-throttle rock and roll. The songs are largely instrumental, with some occasional screamed vocals, but the draw here is the face-melting guitar playing and raw power of the band as a whole. Partway through the set a pit opens up at the front, the front man leaping over the monitor, guitar in hand to shred amongst the audience. The set comes towards its close with the him dropping his guitar on the floor and kneeling over it, attacking it to coax out all manner of sounds. A powerful end to a great night of music from the three cities.

FRIDAY, THE GARIBALDI HOTEL
At 26°, The Garibaldi resembled a blazing inferno, though, the topic of conversation was how it was not as hot as the Lab the day before, when temperatures had reached 37°. The newly formed Joe B. Humbled & His Band opened proceedings with their debut performance, fronted by Joe Martin on guitar and vocals [also known for GOGO LOCO and previously The Mobbs], and joined by his brother Jon Martin on bass and Alex George on drums. The band performed previously-released tracks ‘The Straight & Narrow’ and ‘To Be True’ with some new numbers, such as, ‘Why Did You Kiss Me’ and the never heard before track, ‘Bloodshot Eyes’. With less jumping around, this is Joe’s opportunity for more singing. The new solo venture stays true to Joe’s blues and rock’n’roll influences, with an added essence of some soul. Their admirable cover of Alabama Shakes ‘I Don’t Wanna Fight’ gave severe evidence to said soul influence. With a live performance that was true to the record, Joe B. Humbled are a musical treat with lush, panoramic tones reminiscent of influences from the likes of The Doors and Buddy Holly.

“Are we all drinking ir-responsibly?”, asked Jordan Jones, as he took to the stage. The Keepers were up next with two new faces to the indie-mod quartet. Introducing Charlie Pinnacle and Jack Isaacs to the mix, The Keepers still delivered a tight knit performance. The setlist included some older anthems such as ‘Here Comes The Spring’ and ‘You’re All I Need’, as well as, still-to-be-released ‘Velvet Hands’. Opening with the lines “Don’t take me to the movies, take me to a cemetery,” the song is influenced by the line from beatnik poet, Gregory Corso’s ‘Marriage’. A riotous performance of ‘Cocaine Champagne’ from frontman Jones had the crowd’s eating out of the palm of his hand, as he used the bar as an extension of the stage, crouched below the hanging industrial lighting.

Next on the bill were the night’s hosts, Deaf Trap, marked by Tom Wright’s signature suit and Matt’s ever-impressive beard, they performed before a moshing crowd, whilst meanwhile others melted and fanned each other on the outskirts. The set included firm favourites ‘Guillotine’, ‘Fate Thinks’ and ‘Dirty Echoes’, as well as upcoming single ‘Face’.

Bazouka Groove Club headlined the evening. The conscious-rap group performed in their native tongue, to the remaining survivors of the room, headbanging until the very last note, the audience demanding an encore which was gratefully received.

SATURDAY, THE POMRFET ARMS
In true summer fashion the rains come in early on Saturday and by the time the Saturday leg of Twinfest is open the picturesque beer garden on The Pomfret resembles an overgrown water feature. But the show goes on, and in the barn Laughing Man Marsh kick things off with Crowded House’s ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’, and it definitely isn’t. The band played a solid set of blues-rock with a mix of originals and covers, ending in a storming cover of ‘The Chain’, assisted by two of the festival’s organisers on vocals.

Due to the delays in starting this is immediately followed by singer-songwriter Andy Hawkins, who apologises for being slow and not as funky as the preceding band, but that’s no problem. The emotional songs complement the atmosphere of this rainy afternoon and capture those inside.

This is followed by another set from Marburg’s Oclaire, whose emotional folk-punk has been one of the many highlights of the festival. While on stage he is sweet and just happy to be able to play music for people, his songs are still sung with emotion and power that could fill a much bigger room. He ends the set in the middle of the audience with an unplugged sing-along rendition of Frank Turner’s ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’.

Following this, and something you don’t see that often, is Northampton’s Jack Vs Hotdog, a solo performer appropriately dressed as a sausage in a bun. Starting with a Scroobius Pip line seguing into a fantastic cover of AJJ’s ‘Brave As a Noun’ he plays through a set of originals and covers ending with ‘Please Don’t Feed The Crackheads’, a song deemed not safe for anybody.

Another wonderful find from our French twin city has been The Aires, and despite technical issues they once again wow the crowd with their francophone folk-pop. Despite self-deprecatingly referring to some of their songs as “stupid love songs” they wow the afternoon audience, whose calls for an encore at the end of the set are actually answered in the shape of a cover of Vance Joy’s ‘Riptide’.

Fossilheads are next and the self-descibed folky/comical/theatrical/eco-political duo’s songs about the looming global climate catastrophe are as timely and pointed as they are funny. The pair are fantastic performers with great chemistry and stage presence. Songs about climate change denial and corporate greenwashing are delivered with a mix of comedic character work and incredible musicianship. As per their introduction, they do indeed put the ‘ooh’ back in ‘existential doom’.

After a delay due to more technical issues Jono and the Uke Dealers take to the stage. Whilst ukuleles are commonly seen as somewhat of a gimmick or at best a bit twee, the band is never in danger of seeming like a novelty. The band balance heavier political tracks with lighter fare, but either way underpinned by assured songwriting and performance. They performed well known tracks ‘Beautiful Things’, ‘Speccy Four Eyes’ and ‘Joe Meek’s Ghost’ with Katie Paton, known for P-Hex and Kings Gambit, joining him on stage for a sobering song dedicated to the troubles in Palestine. The slightly abridged set is brought to an anthemic close with new anti-war track ‘Old Grey Wolf’.

New Boots couldn’t get into the barn for Kings Gambit, as it was packed with people dancing to their pirate-esque dance folk-rock. Old-time rockers The Mental Straights were up next with some nostalgic numbers, followed by Tom Rose & The Heathen Orchestra. Tom stunned audiences into submission with his Nick Cave-esque, gravely, macabre tones and Tom Wait style quirky charm, completed by his heathen orchestra, featuring not one but two percussionists. The band performed some personal favourites ‘Dance to Hell’ and ‘Trouble’s What You Got’.

Your correspondent got right to the front for rock-garage, heavy-blues trio, Full Fiction, from Poitiers, France. They tore it up with their guitar-humping, floor-rolling solos that were so epic frontman Camille Pizon broke a guitar string. With more hair-flicking than a l’Oreal advert, Full Fiction, proved their worth. Bazouka Groove Club performed again, before psychedelic rockers King Purple from Corby, the penultimate band of the evening. They delivered their smooth panoramic sound, with intricate layers interwoven with different shapes and textures. The atmosphere was dense, and drenched with entrancing guitars and hypnotising melodies.

Cressy Jaw headlined the evening, with their reggae punk-rock, managing just four songs before they were sadly unplugged. The revelries still carried on well into the evening though, with the night-time hours melting into day for many of the bands and festival goers.

SUNDAY, THE BLACK PRINCE
With a few still jaded from the night before, and the weekend catching up with many, some acoustic acts were just what the doctor ordered. The crowd congregated, sat cross-legged before the stage, in atypcial intimate setting. Dan Plews was up first with his beautiful acoustic guitar/ ukulele variety performance. 

Duncan Bisatt was up next with original tracks; ‘White Shoes’ and the ethereal ‘Captains & Kings’. Duncan’s track ‘Capybara Love Song’ became the soundtrack to the rascality and roguishness during their trip to Marburg earlier this year, for ManoFest, that saw them miss the flight home. It was met with knowing appreciation from those in the travelling party. Duncan performed his up and coming single, ‘Young Man’, and had local audiences laughing to tongue-in-cheek number, ‘£1 Town’.

The Aries were next on the bill with their charming Francophile tunes, that were rhythmic, upbeat and humorous. As much a duet in life, as they are on stage, Jeanne and Chloe’s friendship shows through in their performance.

Occlaire, from Marburg was up next. The solo acoustic artist delivered his dynamic compositions, ranging from soft to loud in a colourful alternation, conveying passion and emotion, supported by catchy melodies. One could lose oneself, just for a moment, and wander through the alternate planes of the music.

Next up are Rolling Thunder, a relatively new, lively indie-rock five-piece, who stepped in at the last minute. Very tight from the get-go, they jangle and fuzz like true pros even at this early stage of their career. Chant-worthy choruses are their trade in stock, and with the likes of ‘Break In At The Nachtwinkel’ and ‘John Doe’ you can already see them being firm festival favourites throughout the land. Some more variation amongst the bangers wouldn’t have go amiss [the New Boots lighter remained firmly in pocket throughout], but they have an awful lot to work with there already. Popular already, gang spirit, and charming banter from singer Charlie: they have all the right ingredients to do great things in 2020. The boys certainly made an indelible mark, and are here to stay.

Cressy Jaw really are very good musicians, that much is clear by their fourth weekend appearance. After the disappointment of an abridged set last night they really turned it on to an appreciative crowd. The songs seemed more 4/4 today, the reggae edges smoothed off [or maybe that’s just New Boots’ brain after four days of drinking]. The drummer from Bazouka Groove Club got up to join in with a double-drumming solo which was one of the many highlights of the weekend’s festivities.

Our next act, Baby Lung, bring some perfect Sunday afternoon relaxed vibes. Max, the two Matts and Harry are the NN band who only began a few months ago, but now seem indispensable to our scene. The quiet drama encased in all their sax-filled, jazz-chorded indie-pop is as seductive as it is unexpected from a band from the East Midlands [we can say that, right?] . Following highlights ‘Casualty’ and ‘She’ is final song ‘Falling’, which, with the help of a devilishly handsome guitar solo, ratchets up the drama to fever pitch. The love affair has just begun, Northampton.

Full Fiction, who have been reminding us of Hyll all weekend, are still on fire today. Their Thee Oh Sees/King Gizzard wig-outs have been propelling everyone out of any stupor they may be in. Proper good guys.

Locals The Jackal Nine are back for a one-off. Like they were back at Twinfest in 2017. Why mess around trying to be ace every weekend when you can do a show every couple of years and knock it out the park with ease? They start with a lengthy intro music, the spoken word effort from Meatloaf, ‘Wasted Youth’. The busy room knows they are going to burst into life any moment now. And when they do it’s with considerable vigour; like a bat out of hell, perhaps. The mosh pit is perpetually busy as they work though their intelligent punk rock repertoire – ‘S.A.D’, ‘Gruffalo’, etc – with gleeful abandon, as you might imagine from people having not performed for that long.

“You gotta choose between those who love you and those that wanna own you” states Danny Adams, the singer/guitarist. “This [his protruding middle finger] is a toast to Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and all their ilk”. Toward the end of their set a young rapper called Paton comes on briefly and gave it some serious, glorious attitude. Then there’s the ‘Fuck Brexit’ chant, and you can quietly be assured of their political leanings. In these tumultuous times the Jackal Nine are a reassuring presence, so we’re quite sad that they now go back into the toy box. Time to start a petition perhaps…

Bazouka Groove Club are again monumental. There’s a small stage invasion tonight, and plenty of crowd interaction in general. So pleased to say this weekend they’ve lived to the quality of that first-rate band name.

Phantom Isle are the final band of the weekend. The Northants-and-now-in-London band are doing great things wherever they land, having the songcraft to match almost any new band around. They dress up in ritualistic outfits to scare the bejeesus out of us Sabbath-observing folk. They open with ‘Channel’, then run through a confident set which includes the recent singles ‘Focus’ and ‘Four Walls’. Their indie-psych pop is infectious and skyscraping, and they feel like worthy headliners for an eclectic festival which has covered a range of styles.

And that’s it for another year. Time for a lie-down. See you in 2020.

Words by Phil Moore, Rachel Thomas, Sonny JD, and Tom Rose

Photos by David Jackson and Phill Phree

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Twinfest 2019: full line-up revealed

The Northampton Twinfest weekender has announced the full line-up of acts for 2019, and where they will all be playing around ShoeTown. The Twinfest organisation celebrates the friendship between the…

The Northampton Twinfest weekender has announced the full line-up of acts for 2019, and where they will all be playing around ShoeTown.

The Twinfest organisation celebrates the friendship between the twin towns of Northampton, Marburg in Germany, and Poitiers in France, through music. The annual concert celebration is now 21 years young, and happens in 2019 from July 25 to July 28th.

This year the opening Thursday night at The Lab focuses on the Twintown artists from Poitiers and Marburg, with Oclaire (D), The Aries (FR), Cressy Jaw (D), Bazouka Groove Club (D), and Full Fiction (F).

Friday night is a double venue event. At The Garibaldi Hotel will be The Joe B. Humbled Band,  The Keepers, Deaf Trap, and Bazouka Groove Club. Meanwhile at The Lamplighter will be Vincent Vega Band, Krankhead, The Barratts, Cressy Jaw, Full Fiction, The Aries, and Oclaire.

Saturday is the first of two all day events, at The Pomfret Arms. There you can witness Laughing Man Marsh, Andy Hawkins, Oclaire, Jack vs Hotdog, The Aries, Fossilheads, Jono and The Uke Dealers, Kings Gambit, The Mental Straights, Tom Rose And The Heathen Orchestra, Full Fiction, Bazouka Groove Club, King Purple, and Cressy Jaw.

Then on Sunday on the Garden Stage at The Black Prince it’s the climax of the festival. This involves Dan Plews, Duncan Bisatt, The Aries, Oclaire, Death Alley Drivers, Cressy Jaw, Baby Lung, Full Fiction, The Jackal Nine, Bazouka Groove Club, and Phantom Isle.

Entry cover charge to each event is just £3. Weekend wristbands for all shows are available for £5 from here.

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Twinfest 2018: The Review

TWINFEST July 26th – 29th 2018 Northampton THURSDAY, THE GUILDHALL So here it is, Northampton’s best reason to believe in grassroots culture. The annual event celebrates all that is special…

TWINFEST
July 26th – 29th 2018
Northampton

THURSDAY, THE GUILDHALL
So here it is, Northampton’s best reason to believe in grassroots culture. The annual event celebrates all that is special about the acts from the twin towns of Poitiers, Marburg, and Northampton. It’s the antithesis of Brexit. Twinfest is *deep breath* truly something to believe in, that gives short shrift to any notion of this town being a “cultural black hole”. Twinfest is the actualisation that this is, indeed, a talented music town.

This year the excitement was more pronounced once it was announced that the opening night’s festivities would take place at the Guildhall, the neo-gothic council building at the heart of this market town. The Great Hall there hasn’t seen regular gigs for around 25 years, and many people present tonight remark that this is their first concert here. Let’s hope it isn’t their last…

Keiron Farrow kicks off proceedings on the warmest day of the year so far. It was toching to see people make the effort to come to this indoor event so early, as it was still about 30 degrees at this point! Farrow has the sort of voice that was built to soar in such environs. His jazzy blues numbers, played with much dexterity on his acoustic guitar, transfix the audience. His recent EP title track ‘Roundabout Queen Eleanor’ is apt, considering there’s a mural of said queen a few metres from where he stands. He slips in a cover of Portishead’s ‘Glory Box’ at the end – bringing local music heritage into the present [Portishead guitarist Adrian Utley was born and raised in ShoeTown, you see].

Hyll are a desert rock trio from Marburg, and they crank things up a gear immediately. They lock into a groove straight away and never let up, giving the growing audience an opportunity to witness heavy rock that could shake the very foundations of this building. And whilst walls remain solidly in place, the Twinfest banner does decide to fall on their drummer during their opening song. They continue on regardless, and such stoicism wins the crowd over immediately.

Drinsipa have something to measure themselves by then, and they do their utmost to reciprocate the intensity of Hyll. They achieve this with aplomb, showcasing their grungy hardcore to the sweaty hordes. Now playing as a trio rather than a duo, new single ‘DOP’ is a raucous, epic number, and a definite set highlight.

Drinsipa

The Flims are an indie-pop quartet from Marburg, running a nice line in group harmonising. The sound is very much of the ’00s variety, the songs of Mumford & Sons or Razorlight played to a disco beat. The party vibes are in attendance when they play ‘Sometime Forgetting Is Better Than Healing’, and they can be sure they’ve made many new fans tonight.

The final of the travelling trio tonight is Poitiers trio Mantras. Guitarist-singer Pierre does what anyone on holiday in a hot country does: go topless. His band strike up elongated psychedelic stoner rock and play their hearts out. It’s as doomy as the best of them, rearranging a few of the heads present over their half-hour allotted time. This sort of rock works best in the live environment, and tonight they work us out right and proper.

Sarpa Salpa are swiftly becoming the hardest working band in showbusiness, playing all over the Midlands every weekend, taking men women and children hostage with their funky contemporary guitar pop. Songs about desperation with a disco beat, they are the epitome of the ‘sad and sexy’ movement sweeping popular music. These days they are treated a bit like homecoming heroes, and they know how to light up a dancefloor, as ‘She Never Lies’ comfortably does. If you’ve never checked them out and like acts such as The Killers or Foals, now is the time to do so.

It is gone midnight before The Barratts come on stage to finish the evening off. Those who have stuck it out are treated to a band who can still raise the energy level of any sun-beaten cordwainer or cobbler. They have never sounded so good, as their anthemic indie songs – ‘Satellites’ and ‘Same Old Kids’ amongst them – are played with spiky confidence and verve. James Faulkner’s word encapsulate all the small town ennui in poetic form you could hope for, matched with all the firepower his four brother-in-arms can muster. They send us home with Twinfest love beating heavily in our hearts.

The Barratts

FRIDAY, THE LAMPLIGHTER
This Mounts institution is busy, the vibe celebratory. Ready for the second evening of the Twin Town’s finest, the stage area at The Lamplighter is quickly filled by music fans from across the town and beyond.

Hailing from Northampton’s French twin city of Poitiers, Mantras take to the stage with a barrage of stoner rock. The band’s raw talent and synchronicity make playing live seem effortless and certainly seamless. Featuring melodic riffs and endless amounts of energy, the three-piece set the highest of bars for the evening.

German indie band The Flims were full of energy and strength during their set, providing Northampton with a unique sound. With memorable riffs and pounding drums, the band wouldn’t seem out of place in arenas. It’s the perfect music to finish a relaxing day.

Rapper Leo Robinson doesn’t play live that often, and probably will reminisce on tonight as a reason to keep it like that. He himself is on fire, his lyrical flow nothing short of magnificent. His freestyle bars have listeners hanging off his every word. But his right-hand man Charlie Borthwick is struggling with some technical issues, and the music’s power is lost to a frustrating degree and it affects concentration all round. Robinson does his best but he’s honest enough to know when he’s beat. A missed opportunity then, but one that still shows his strengths – and he continues to dazzle with his recorded output. He really might be “the best thing out of Weston Favell”.

Leo Robinson

Hyll continue to impress tonight, with a later set than the previous night. The crowd is respectful for half their set, but once singer-guitarist Martin takes off into the audience for a wander it heightens the excitement levels and from then on in it’s head-banging and hand-horns all the way to the end. With flawless guitar solos and pounding drums, they’re a band you won’t forget in a hurry. “Breathlessly magnificent rock” probably just about sums up their performance.

Headliners this evening are everyone’s favourite NN party starters, Century City. Regular drummer Tommy is absent, and Jake Crawford [Future Love, Acoda] ably deputises. They are on fine fettle, singer Nik Gray making jokes throughout and egging on his compadres to higher levels. Andy Convey from fellow alt-rockers Future Love jumps up to join in the chorus on one number. Gray does his bar walkabout thing, naturally. We all go home sweaty and happy. Can Northampton be like this every night, please?

Century City

SATURDAY, THE POMFRET ARMS
With a raised stage in the pub’s stunning beer garden, this Cotton End pub is the perfect place for some sunny Saturday afternoon acoustic singalongs. First up Duncan Bisatt uses his music as a way of storytelling. Featuring only his acoustic guitar and his voice, he strums gently as he sings about relatable experiences. Whether it’s climate change or dedications to his hometown, he does it well, including catchy riffs and a soothing voice.

After an issue or two with the line-up, Michael Kinder played earlier than expected. He takes it all in his stride, however – his hoarse, yet trained voice compliments the sun shining on Northampton, and later in the set experiments with using his guitar as percussion. He’s fun, fresh, and definitely funky.

Two piece Crybb are exactly what you’d expect from folk music. They stick to traditions while introducing a modern twist with a flute, so the tracks they perform don’t sound dated. It’s political music with a gentle sound: the very idea of a peaceful protest.

Straw Horses turn the afternoon into something gentile. Their music is calm and quiet, with mellow guitar riffs and the perfect harmonies, but it’s not boring, and nor is it downbeat. Instead, it’s tender and smooth, and they slot in with the rest of the afternoon nicely.

Following the issues with his set yesterday, Leo Robinson has been invited back to perform properly this time. Immediately you can hear the improvement, and he sounds much better. With diverse backing tracks complimenting his rapping, and several collaborations, it’s clear that Leo Robinson is going to go far.

On into the evening session in the barn, Deep Sea Mountains kick things off with their discordant fuzz rock. They are both a bit shouty and offer plenty of sweet harmonies. You could compare their set to watching an angsty Teenage Fanclub, or someone who should be signed to Sub Pop. They play cracking recent single ‘Pipe Dream’ and debut a rather good new song, ‘Five Mile Stroll’, which displays some measured feedback and punk attack – but then suddenly becomes all Television-esque in the arty middle section. This band is a multi-layered onion, and no mistake.

Deep Sea Mountains

Hyll, with the rain pouring outside, are even better here than the previous two nights, which is hard to believe. They bring out the moshers in all of us, and their interactions – coming into the crowd, getting everyone to sit down, being hoisted aloft during the climax – break down the separation between band and audience. Band of the weekend? Quite possibly.

The beautiful droney Mantras mix things up tonight, as guitarist Pierre has brought his slide guitar and an ironing board and proceeds to cook up all manner of beatific instrumental passages to delight the aural passages. The audience are silent in respect and awe. Northampton doesn’t really have a Mantras-type band, could they perhaps just move here? They’d be well-loved.

The Flims follow just as the sun sets, and they bring their best performance of the weekend yet. The intimate setting helps create an affectionate space, and their confidence looks up. They once again have everyone dancing along to ‘Emma’ and all their other Germanic indie-pop tunes.

Deaf Trap have the unenviable task of trying to top all these great performances. They aren’t helped by some power problems which regularly turn the lights on and off, but they persevere to bring Twinfest a dark, feedback-laden, somewhat chaotic, but ultimately joyous set of intense rock. All the mess feels very beautiful: bodies everywhere, a dancing Hotdog, a party at the end of the world. Long may their reign continue.

SUNDAY, THE BLACK PRINCE
Twinfest this year is proving to be one of the best, with the finale taking place at the well-esteemed Black Prince. The atmosphere has been incredibly social and friendly so far, with all of the bands – British, German and French – exchanging words of encouragement with each other and always making sure to catch one another’s sets.

Sunday’s proceedings kicks off with Tom Rose and The Heathen Orchestra, a group that takes elements of shock-rock and blues-rock to create a unique, horror-inspired sound that is reminiscent of the likes of Screaming Jay Hawkins and Space.

Next is Yodaclub, who are definitely unafraid to show their influences, taking notes from The Cure and Echo & The Bunnymen [and dressing all in black accordingly]. These lot will be right at home to those who are fans of ’80s post-punk, with a standout track in the dream-poppy ‘Don’t Fall’.

Though today is The Keepers debut performance at Twinfest they certainly display no nerves. The band’s energy and enthusiasm is palpably infectious. They have got the mid-nineties mod revival, wall-of-sound down to a tee. Jordan Jones (vocals) and Liam Taylor (lead guitar) have Gallagher-like swagger by the bucket-load, while Oli Rumens (bass) and Steve Smith (drums) impress with rhythms reminiscent of ‘Elephant Stone’-era Roses. An excellent show; be sure to catch them again at another of their gigs.

The Keepers

After them we have Corby’s King Purple, a grungy three-piece with a hint of psychedelia, who are no stranger to genre mixing. Despite there only being three of these guys they manage to create a sound that is much larger than the sum of their parts. The highlight of their set is the track ‘Wasting Away’, a doomy number that feels like an early ’90s grunge throwback, with long instrumental sections that build up to a frantic, fast-paced finish. After being played and praised on Steve Lamacq’s show on BBC Radio 6, its safe to say that we’ll be hearing a lot more from these guys in the future.

Pieces then take the stage, an indie three-piece brimming with melodic vocal harmonies and buzzsaw guitars play with a punk ferocity that’s not too dissimilar to acts like the Buzzcocks [as well as more modern bands like Foo Fighters and Kings of Leon]. These local lads take the phrase “three chords and the truth” and proudly wear it on their sleeves. With massive, infectious pop choruses and tight as nails musicianship that would put major-label acts to shame, the future is bright for the fledgling trio.

The first German band of the day is Hyll, an act who have continuously proven over the course of this Twinfest that they are a force to be reckoned with. Their songs are punctuated by an abrasive post-punk edge, with blistering guitars, floor-thumping bass lines and primal drumming with the occasional breakdown that always gets the audience headbanging. It’s safe to say that Hyll have well and truly earned the respect of their Northamptonian counterparts!

We’re then back to the British bands with Skirt, who, after their recent triumphant gig at the reopening of The Hut in Corby, bring their high-octane set to Twinfest. Bursting with raw, youthful energy, these lads combine punk with late ’80s Madchester and garage rock presented with a boisterous Gallagher brothers-style swagger that certainly left an impression on today’s crowd. A definite highlight is the menacing ‘Easy Tiger’, a track that could easily sound at home on a Stooges record.

Next up is Marburg’s The Flims, an indie-pop four-piece bursting with class and an upbeat stage presence that reflects the upbeat nature of the music they play. With jangly guitar riffs that feel like a fusion between Johnny Marr and the alternative British bands of the noughties, The Flims are a standout amongst the foreign bands. They’ve managed to get the crowd moving on each day of this festival without fail, and this evening is no exception.

Changing things up are Mio Flux with Patchy The Rockstar, a hip hop duo with elements of trap music, and a bass that would shake the foundation of even the sturdiest venues. The drastic change in genre going from The Flims to these two definitely sets them apart from the guitar bands of the day. They open with a tasteful trap remix of Sarpa Salpa’s belter ‘She Never Lies’, and it’s an unexpected but creative rendition of the track.

For the penultimate act we again have Poitiers’ Mantras, a band that mixes dark blues and psych while taking some clear cues from Black Sabbath. It’s a change in mood that certainly turns a few heads in their direction. Their songs are mostly instrumental, with only the occasional, shrieking vocal that wouldn’t sound too far removed on a Scandinavian black metal record. Like many bands relying on their instrumentation, they are no stranger to speed and volume changes, sonically making them one of the more unique and left field bands of this weekend.

Last, and most certainly not least, we have the homegrown Monarchs to close the weekend. Fresh off of their tour with King Purple, they play what feels like a grand homecoming gig, performing a selection of old and new tracks. The highlight of their set is the recently released ‘You Got Me’, a tune which the local crowd and fellow outsiders alike are clearly familiar with, shown through what has to be one of the most intense mosh pits at a Northampton gig in recent memory. This is surely a testament to the appreciation that the scene has for this band. With a large and macabre indie sound and some Queens of the Stone Age-inspired riffs, chock full of breakdowns and siren-like guitars, Monarchs give Twinfest the finale it deserves.

Monarchs

This years Twinfest has proven to be a special one – with an array of brilliant bands coming from Marburg and Poitiers and excellent performances from local talent, Northampton has once again proven its musical and cultural diversity in spades.

Words by Phil Istine, Lucy Wenham, Oliver Rumens, Tom Rose

Photos by David Jackson, Nallie Simpson, Phil Istine, Kenny Precious

 

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Photos: Future Love, Lucky Shivers – The Lamplighter

We love The Lamplighter, we love Future Love, we love Lucky Shivers and we love Glam Racket. Here’s a few photos of them doing their thing last night. Following Friday’s…

We love The Lamplighter, we love Future Love, we love Lucky Shivers and we love Glam Racket.

Here’s a few photos of them doing their thing last night. Following Friday’s gig, Future Love head to Bedford and London to open for Don Broco. There’s still some tickets available for the gig at Bedord’s Corn Exchange but the ULU show the following night is sold out.

Future Love

Future Love

 

Future Love

Future Love

 

Lucky Shivers

Lucky Shivers

 

Lucky Shivers

Lucky Shivers

 

 

 

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