THE VACANT LOTS: Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen. 13th June 2017.

14 06 2017
TVL

Photo credit: Olivia Cellamare

 

Last night I saw The Vacant Lots for the second time. I wondered if they could top the first time I saw them. If I could relive that feeling again. And again. There was clearly no need for me to even question this. The Vacant Lots are easily one of the best bands I have ever seen live, and I honestly wish I could be in that moment of watching them every single day.

Their set opens with Departure. This is the perfect song to open with, it makes you feel like Brian and Jared are welcoming you into this world of theirs. It’s a noisy world but still the most peaceful place to go. Every song they play just makes me wish I had some musical talent. Instead I just write about it, sorry!

It’s hard to work out who to watch when you go to a show by The Vacant Lots. Brian lurks over his side of the stage, hiding sweetly behind a case with TVL written on it. He crashes the cymbal next to him as if something has come over him. Every word he sings is projected with this feeling that gets you right in the gut. For me, the way he sings Paint This City is one if the greatest moments. It’s my favourite song by them and to see it performed with this beautiful emotion is an honour to see. It’s his workstation and the noises that come from there are like a scientist at work. It’s just brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Jared performs Funeral Rites in a way that makes you want to get on the stage and sing it with him. Taken from the Berlin EP, which came out last year, this song is on the same level as what Brian does with Paint This City. These moments in the set really show just how amazing they are. It’s the only song in the set where Jared doesn’t play guitar. I need to talk about Jared and his guitar. If you’ve ever seen, or just listened to The Vacant Lots you’ll know just how great a guitarist Jared is. He’s got this effortless way of making you wish you could do what he does. But what he does is so rare. The noise that comes out of his guitar is like nothing I’ve heard before. It truly whirls its way around you then slowly finds its way into your soul. The band really come alive when you see their show. The songs take on a different meaning. Of course Mad Mary Jones is another stand out part of the show. Jared holds his guitar close and you cannot take your eyes off the stage.

The Vacant Lots are that band you discover on your own and you realise quickly what an impact they have on you. They’ll make you want to make your own noise, write your own words down in a scuffed notebook- sacred thoughts that no one rarely sees. They make you want to step into this world they create with their sound and to never leave. It’s home. It feels how home should feel. When you go to one of their shows, your surroundings don’t matter. You could be with a group of friends or you can be on your own- but you zone out and feel like you are the only one there. They are such a powerful band and criminally underrated.

Bands like this are rare. Bands that can evoke this kind of feeling and drive within you are so rare. We simply must treasure them. What I love about Jared and Brian is that they sound like they are from far, far away. The sound they have created changes with each record and EP they release, and for me that’s what keeps their live shows so influential and exciting. I can only hope the younger generation go to one of their shows and think, “One day, I’ll do that.”

I’ve got a few bands I always say that I could happily go to their show every night and not get bored with it- The Vacant Lots are no doubt in that list. Last night was a truly brilliant show. They don’t need to engage in pointless small talk- the music says it all. Also, I finally bought a TVL shirt so I’ll probably be living in that from now on.

Go see them. Stand at the front. Get your eardrums and mind blown.

 

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BRODY DALLE. Hoxton Bar & Kitchen. 25th February 2014.

25 02 2014

 

I read somewhere (probably an unreliable source, as ever) that London crowds are pretty shitty. I won’t say this statement is entirely true, but to a fair extent it is bullshit. Last week when I saw Warpaint, I was in awe of how the crowd were. Maybe it is the band and not the place. Anyway, the moral of the tale is- don’t believe anything you read in the papers.

If there was a Holy Trinity of female musicians (I’m not including Patti Smith because we all know she’s the greatest) it would consist of Courtney Love, Shirley Manson and Brody Dalle. Those 3 are responsible for the songs that got me through my teenage years and part of adulthood that I still can’t get my head around. They made it alright to be pissed off at what was around you; and when you’re 14/15, you’re pissed off at a lot of stuff.

I was never lucky enough to see Brody when she was in The Distillers, but I saw her when she had Spinnerette and I used the photos I took as part of a Photojournalism module I did at university. Pretty sure her “Fuck Off” tattoo helped me get a good mark. Hoxton Bar & Kitchen is one of my favourite places to see bands, more than likely for sentimental reasons (you probably know by now.) I’m still slightly deaf from last night, and I think that’s a sign that I had a good time.

Brody’s setlist consisted of a beautiful mix of solo, Spinnerette and The Distillers songs; as I’d never seen The Distillers, this was as close as I was ever going to get. Roaring through the likes of Dismantle Me, Ghetto Love and Sick Of It All; you feel the same rage you did when you first heard them. There aren’t many musicians around that are as powerful as Brody. She doesn’t need to mouth off to be heard, she doesn’t need to engage in awkward conversations on stage for you to feel some form of connection to what is going on. She’s just naturally got this presence that makes you drawn to her. Her effortless ways on stage justifies fully why you’re a fan, and why this show at Hoxton last night was is probably going to be one of the most important moments in music this year.

The new songs are brilliant. Meet The Foetus is amazing live. Of course if Shirley Manson and Emily Kokal turned up on stage with Brody that would have been magical. A few hours before the video premiered online and to see Shirley and Brody doing a music video together is what dreams are made of. It’s massively twisted and strange, but that’s the best way and sometimes only way to do it.

Brody’s cover of The Misfits Hybrid Moments is pretty special, as is her request for yellow socks. I have no idea. Maybe it was to go with her fluorescent orange t-shirt. It’s Brody Dalle; you don’t question why she wants yellow socks. Back to the new songs; if anything her solo songs pretty much shut up anyone who thinks “guitar music” is dead. You can find out for yourself when her record comes out at the end of April. Or you could go see her live and experience a bunch of people go ape shit to bloody good music. I advise both.

For me, Brody symbolises the same things as Courtney Love and Shirley Manson do. I wish I could explain it eloquently or even in a coherent way, but what I’m trying to get at is that, they are powerful. Powerful in ways that most dream of. I don’t want to make a big deal out her being a female musician because your gender doesn’t define what you do and who you are. It’s just a thing really. A lot of female musicians do however, struggle in the music industry due to archaic mindsets of sexist idiots. With the likes of Brody Dalle making this kind of music, it pretty much shuts up any critic really. She’s still the woman those who grew up listening to wish they were as tough as, but deep down we probably already are.





DUM DUM GIRLS/PINS. Hoxton Bar & Grill. 14th December 2013.

15 12 2013

The last show I go to this year is the one that is probably the most sentimental for me. It was something I had been waiting for since 2009, when I first heard the band.

Dum Dum Girls mean the world to me because their music is like nothing else. Their 60s girl group feel mixed with the dominance found in a song by the Ramones immediately lured me in years ago. A firm grip around my heart, and of course ears. A band I listen to every day on the way to work and on the way home. A band that have been a source of comfort and providing words to get strong to. More than just a band. More than just music. I firmly stand by my statement that Dee Dee is my generations Patti Smith; but after seeing them live last night, I know I am right. There is something about her that gives you the sense of confidence that the likes of Patti and Shirley Manson do. If you’ve seen Dum Dum Girls live, you’ll know exactly what I mean. If you’ve not seen them live, you quite simply have to.

Before I write about their set, I need to mention their support for the night; PINS. PINS are undeniably one of the best bands around. Girls Like Us is no doubt one of the best records of the year. To see those sinister and eerie songs live is incredible. As you watch them live, you truly see how united they are as a band and also how much they love making music together. They have this brilliant gang mentality that makes you want to start your own band. They blaze through their set in a ferocious and passionate manner. For me it is always going to be LuvU4Lyf that blows my mind live. Probably because it was the first song I ever heard of theirs last year. To see them go from that to supporting a band like Dum Dum Girls makes you proud of them, and also proud to be a fan. Manchester is the home to some of the greatest bands ever; you can put PINS in that list. Lois coming into the crowd holding her guitar like a woman possessed, Faith’s powerful glares mixed with her fearless vocals, Anna’s hypnotic bass-playing and Sophie’s captivating bashing of the drums made PINS set last night something that was nothing short of an honour to watch. PINS are a band to lose and free your mind to. They’re the band you wish you could join. I just really bloody love them.

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Just after 9pm it was time for Dum Dum Girls to take to the stage. Dum Dum Girls now have an extra guitarist (Andrew- he was involved with their first release. The guy is a brilliant musician.) They play songs off their EPs, both records and Too True, their new record which I know will be my favourite record of 2014. I probably won’t listen to anything else next year (apart from Warpaint’s new one.) As they play Bedroom Eyes, some form of epiphany happens. I’m not sure what exactly, but it happened throughout the set. I was hoping they would play Rest Of Our Lives- it’s my favourite DDG song. As they played it, all I could do was sing along and hold my girlfriend’s hand. It didn’t matter for the past week or so I’ve been disgustingly ill, none of that mattered last night. I felt alright! I forgot that my body was in pain and the like. I sang every word back as if I was the only one in the room. Rimbaud Eyes was a song they played earlier in the year on a radio station, and it sounded brilliant. To see it live was just mesmirising. Are You Okay? sounds like a psychedelic trip into a better world. Basically, a Dum Dum Girls show feels like a lucid trip into the unknown. A daydream you don’t want shaking or waking up from.

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When you finally see a band that have meant so much to you for so long, it just increases your love for them. I’m not entirely sure how but it just does. I suppose if a band can leave you speechless like this, then you know you’ve seen something truly remarkable. Dum Dum Girls are just a delight to watch. You’ve got Jules with her cool demeanor elegantly slaying the guitar. Malia sways with her bass taking you in on this hypnotic trip. Sandy is just my favourite drummer around; she’s incredibly powerful and makes me wish I could play the drums. Dee Dee has this presence that like I’ve mentioned already, much like Patti Smith. She’s not aggressive in the slightest but still manages to hold your attention. Your eyes never leave the stage. Fixated on the brilliant musicians stood in front of you.

Certain songs cause me to shut my eyes, sway and sing the words as if I wrote them. Are You Okay? and Lord Knows are ones to do this to. Season In Hell was magnificent to see live. For me, that song just sums up everything. It is made up of comforting sounds and reassuring words. He Gets Me High was stunning. I could easily have summed this up easily by saying their music just makes me really happy. But to see it live, finally, did more than make me happy. This year I’ve seen (and met) three bands/singers that over the years have been everything to me. Patti Smith, Crocodiles and (two members of) Dum Dum Girls. Meet your heroes, and thank them for the music.

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Lost Boys And Girls Club is something all Dum Dum Girls fans are part of, for sure. It’s an anthem for the lost generation. They posses the mentality of Punk but with tranquil tones that cleanse the soul. It Only Takes One Night is amazing to witness live; I wasn’t expecting them to play it and I think it just set me off completely. If I could see just one band live for the rest of my time, it’d probably be Dum Dum Girls. The crowd was awesome too. I’ve been to a few shows in London now, and this was probably the best crowd I’ve seen. Was really cool to see Charlie from Crocodiles in the crowd too. The atmosphere was just perfect. Their songs truly come to life when you see them live. I’m a massive fan of lyrics, and I feel Dee Dee is an exceptional song-writer who really gets to the core of any emotion and portrays them in a fearless way. Her lyrics are beautiful and the way she writes them, is exactly how she sings them- delicate and pure.

Before we saw them live, my girlfriend and I had dinner (Hoxton Bar & Grill do the BEST veggie burrito, and they sell Jameson!) as I was enjoying my whiskey I saw Dee Dee walk past to go outside to do an interview. I was instructed by my girlfriend to say hi to her when she came back in. I obviously said no because that’s just massively creepy. After about half an hour or so, Dee Dee walks back in. I thought, “If you can hold it together a little bit when you met Patti, you can do this.” So I did (basically my girlfriend forced me and I had a lot of whiskey.) I went up to Dee Dee, introduced myself and as soon as I mentioned the cover of Just Like Honey she did for me, she hugged me. I FINALLY got to thank her for doing that. Finally. Photo taken, year complete. At the end of the show when we were leaving, Malia was walking out behind me. I decided to turn to her and say, “I know this is probably an inappropriate time to say this but you were amazing tonight.” She told me it wasn’t inappropriate, and that being in a sweaty environment like that is good for the pores. See, musicians are full of beauty tips too! The hat she was wearing was beautiful. I hope she made it to the other side of the bar safely, and her hat too!

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So there you have it. 2013 didn’t suck and I’m ending the year with Dum Dum Girls as the last show I go to. There’s no other band I’d want to end the year seeing. I’m aware this isn’t the best thing I’ve ever written, all you’ll get from this is hopefully my love for a band that are just insanely brilliant.

“Lift your gaze, it’s the end of daze.”

PS: My girlfriend took the photos (aside from the one of Dee Dee and I because I have really short arms and can’t use my iPhone properly!) I also walked head first into one of the kings of radio, Don Letts at the tube station which was pretty embarrassing. He’s very tall….