Tag Archive | "Shrag"

Shrag, Pocket Books, Fever Dream @ The Lexington, London, Nov 15

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Shrag, Pocket Books, Fever Dream @ The Lexington, London, Nov 15

Posted on 18 November 2011 by Joe

The world of indie-pop is often more fractious than an ever splitting dance genre. For the countless derivatives of house there’s are twee antitheses, just as funky house has its handbag, post-punk has its riot grrl, similar but never the twain shall meet. For Shrag, however, this niche malarkey is nonsense, they’re just a band doing what bands do, and that’s, being in a band.

You see, Shrag are the kind of group who you feel you know, like a pile of scatter cushions in the sitting room corner, they’re always there, not always used, but it’s nice to have them just in case:  An essential mainstay of the indie scene.

Shrag

Over the past five years of touring toilets, playing the railway stations and swanking off to New York, they’ve attained the status of indie-pop royalty through being a band unfazed by the tastemakers and evolving into the girl boy duet fuelled post-punk to make the twee-erati melt.

They are the obvious headliners for a Scared to Dance event, a one off for the club night which is London’s home to all things indie, but appears to be hit by the recent Neon Filler curse of being shamefully quiet with The Lexington only half full (see our recent live reviews for The Miserable Rich and Singing Adams).

Sadly this show will be forever marked by the untimely death of Peter Sykes, guitarist with This Many Boyfriends who were originally due to play tonight, but rather than being a maudlin night of cod reflectiveness each of tonight’s bands are geared towards major sets.

Indeed Pocketbooks are taking tonight very seriously by bringing along a string section from The Little Orchestra in what plays as a gambit for larger venues in 2012. However, their epic scope falls flat and it seems a bit, well, Beautiful Southy. It’s not quite twee and hand clap laden for pure indie pop nor are the harmonies memorable. The tracks with Emma Hall singing alone lift the set, especially the wonderful Sound Of The Carnival, but it’s all rather sedate.

In fairness, any group following London trio, Fever Dream, are going to struggle. Clean cut melodic office pop has nothing on visceral agit-noise-gaze which grafts Kevin Shields into the Public Image line up, then forcing him to cover Deerhunter with only a lo-fi four-track and one effects pedal. Truly mesmerising.

Tonight though is all about Shrag who without a new record to plug have the chance to maraud through new songs while maintaining an air of welcoming familiarity. Watching Shrag feels like seeing your mate’s band play, such is the openness of their between song banter, be that discussing vocalist Helen King’s descending gusset or the mystical Replicant growl emanating from  Steph Goodman’s keyboards, yet never detracting from delivering noisy post-punk.

Their conviction is never questionable and as King prowls the stage before dropping to her knees for the poetic bile of The Habit Creep there’s a tense passion which propels Shrag beyond art-pop into narcissistic terror-twee.

Screechy yelps and call and responses are Shrag’s bread and butter, so with Tendons in the Night and Devastating Bones they’re in safe territory, while Rabbit Kids shoots a classically catch sing along chorus over a gnarly jangle.

Whether it’s shouty or harmonious, Shrag have to golden rules of indie-pop in their DNA. There’s the thundering drums, Casiotone punches, 1-2-3-4’s and, of course, interaction which borders on the brilliantly farcical.

There are plenty of things going wrong, guitarist Bob (I shall call him Bobbie) Brown uses the wrong pedals and doesn’t know which songs are next, Goodman’s Keyboard has a mind of his own and drummer Andy Pyne was nearly incapacitated by a bad back, but none of this stops King spinning like a demonic dynamo in what is a fantastically coherent show.

There are obvious comparisons with Prolapse or even The Fall, but tonight they’re better than any contemporaries because they’re fun and carefree, just how indie-pop should be.

Shrag have been recording with Andy Miller who’s worked with Mogwai and the Pipettes, a perfect choice for a band who tonight blended relentless art noise and melodic pop to charming perfection.

8/10

by David Newbury

 

 

 

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Fortuna POP! 15th Birthday

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Fortuna POP! 15th Birthday

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Dorian

Fortuna POP! are celebrating their 15th birthday with a set of gigs at London’s Scala between the 1st and 3rd of November. Details of all the gigs are below along with the chance to stream selected tracks from each of the artists.

Fortuna Pop!

The Primitives + Cinema Red & Blue (with special guests Linton, Wyatt & Yoshi from The Aislers Set) + Bearsuit + Monnone Alone (Ex The Lucksmiths)
Guest DJ: Paul Wright (Track & Field)
Tuesday 1st November 2011
Doors 6.30pm

Scala, 275 Pentonville Road, King’s Cross, London N1 9NL
(Nearest tube/train : King’s Cross / St. Pancras)

Tickets £11.50 Advance
http://www.wegottickets.com/event/131292
http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/user/?region=gb_london&query=detail&event=465932
Scala box office – Tel: 08444 771 000
between 10am and 6pm Mon-Fri

15 Years Of Fortuna POP! – Nov 1st, Scala, London by Fortuna POP!

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Crystal Stilts + Comet Gain + Shrag + Evans The Death
Guest DJ: Ian Watson (How Does It Feel To Be Loved?)
Wednesday 2nd November 2011
Doors 6.30pm

Scala, 275 Pentonville Road, King’s Cross, London N1 9NL
(Nearest tube/train : King’s Cross / St. Pancras)

Tickets £11.50 Advance
http://www.wegottickets.com/event/131293
http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/user/?region=gb_london&query=detail&event=465933
Scala box office – Tel: 08444 771 000
between 10am and 6pm Mon-Fri

15 Years Of Fortuna POP! – Nov 2nd, Scala, London by Fortuna POP!

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Allo Darlin’ + Darren Hayman & The Secondary Modern + Tender Trap + The Ladybug Transistor
Guest DJ: Paul Richards (Scared To Dance)
Thursday 3rd November 2011
Doors 6.30pm

Scala, 275 Pentonville Road, King’s Cross, London N1 9NL
(Nearest tube/train : King’s Cross / St. Pancras)

Tickets £11.50 Advance
http://www.wegottickets.com/event/131297
http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/user/?region=gb_london&query=detail&event=465934
Scala box office – Tel: 08444 771 000
between 10am and 6pm Mon-Fri

15 Years Of Fortuna POP! – Nov 3rd, Scala, London by Fortuna POP!

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Indietracks 2010 Festival, Derbyshire, July 23-25, 2010

Posted on 20 September 2010 by Joe

Indietracks, which for the last four years has taken place at the Midland Railway centre in Derbyshire, was perhaps not quite as busy  as last year when it had the support of Spain’s Elefant label on the main stage and a distinct European feel to it.

But if there’s one strapline to take away from the 2010 version, it’s that this is the year when it established itself as the defining UK indie music festival in your calendar.

This year was indie in its more ascetic forms. The old guard were there with The Orchids growing in stature with their set and Saturday night’s headliner The Primitives (pictured below) will be remembered for a stoic performance, although that’s not to take anything away from the kudos of having booked them in the first place. Both were outshone by a frantic Pooh Sticks set which throbbed with vitality – right down to their performance of ‘On Tape’ – one of many performances that the audience will go away knowing they just witnessed something rather special.

The breakthrough acts were also there in force. Sunday’s top slot The Pains of Being Pure at Heart were the event act of this new breed of bands. In a way they’re difficult to define. They wear their influences on their collective sleeve; in all honesty the gamut of their songwriting is pretty narrow;  the vocals didn’t soar on the night. But as a band and a performance it suddenly made sense what all the hype is about.
And as ever with Indietracks you always get more than you deserve. Shrag (pictured below) have a terrible name but otherwise frankly spellbinding in any other respect, mainly down to their mesmerising singer, but also a bristling crop of energetic three minute stomps.

The Felt Tips were one of the highlights [fellow Indietracks attendees – I accept that when you’re faced with one billion acts to watch, it is possible that other highlights were going on at the same time as this writer’s]. Particularly their ode to a loss of faith in Morrissey, deftly followed by a defiantly Smiths-y number. Although ‘Life Skills’ is one of those songs that remains in your head for its pure audacity.

Among other acts Allo Darlin’ (pictured below) are clearly great song-crafters and were followed on the Friday night by Everyone was in the French Resistance… Now, a concept act that creates response ‘songs’ to famous hits. Off the wall and hilarious but should they have been Friday’s headliner? Perhaps not, but as they would have pretty much upstaged anyone you would care to put on after them, I can see the argument for giving they them the headliner accolade. Finally Antarctica Takes It definitely deserve a mention for their lo fi up beat work.

And then there’s the primordial indie soup of emerging talent. Betty and the Werewolves had queues round the block and over the level crossing for their energetic set in the church stage. Mexican Kids at Home felt like a rather charming GCSE music lesson. But those five kids in the back of the train singing nursery rhyme songs about mortality certainly had something.

The festival itself continues to excel itself at being the best unkept secret around. Whether they are on-stage or off, you’ll never run into such a high concentration of steam-powered music lovers on any other weekend of the year. Top marks.

Words and pictures by Matt Whipp

For more pictures visit Matt’s Myspace site here.

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