METRO VERLAINE: Band On The Wall 11/05/2018.

16 05 2018

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On Friday evening, my girlfriend and I went to see one of the best bands from France. In fact, they are probably one of the best bands I have ever seen. Metro Verlaine make music for the dark romantics, music for those who love the eerie side of music. When you see them play, you will immediately be drawn in and hooked forever. A 30 minute set wasn’t enough, and quite frankly- they should have played for another hour!

Metro Verlaine consist of four band members, but during live shows they have my generation’s greatest guitarist- Charlie Rowell (from Crocodiles) who has produced their debut record, Cut-Up. The record is nothing short of phenomenal and brings together everything I love about music. There are resemblances to The Cure and Joy Division. They are definitely influenced by English bands that posses a dark sound but they make it their own.

Raphaëlle  is easily one of the best singers you will ever see. She has such a powerful and amazing voice. She made us feel like we weren’t in a tiny room, she made us feel as if we were in a stadium or in a cathedral. She has such a grand voice, and although you get hints of it on record- it really gets you in the gut during their live shows.

I absolutely adored how the drummer doesn’t use a full kit (think Bobby G when he was in The Jesus And Mary Chain) but makes this incredible noise regardless. He’s louder than most, and I loved that so much. Something that is worth paying attention to with Metro Verlaine is just how effortlessly together they are and how in tune they are with each other. I’m not sure how long they have known each other prior to starting the band, but when you watch them on stage you pick up on this incredible bond. Most of the time they don’t need to say anything to each other, a simple look says it all. Sure I hate the word but the band are just so cool. Maybe it’s because they are French and they have this class to their sound and style that makes you wish you were like them. If I could sing, I’d want the power and range that Raphaëlle possess. I sincerely hope she becomes someone who singers to come cite her as an influence because she’s truly something else. She dances on stage so freely and takes that deep into the crowd. All you can do is watch on in awe.

Cut-Up is a mighty fine record and to hear these songs in a live setting makes you appreciate the record even more. Of course they are criminally underrated, but in time they’ll probably take over the world. They’ve already taken over mine.

Something I really loved about them is their love for Manchester. They are vocal about this and their song, Manchester is a beautiful ode to the greatest city in the world. Everyone on stage plays such a vital role in making the crowd move, each of them leave you wishing you were as cool as them. The only downside was the venue cutting their set way too short. They played for just under half an hour; they could have easily headlined and/or played for another hour or so. Even if they didn’t have enough songs to play for hours, I’d be happy to hear it all on repeat.

Metro Verlaine are the coolest band you’ll hear. They make music to get lost in, and to also find parts of yourself in. Sure you may not understand what they are singing about at times, but who cares?! The music and vocals are enough to keep you hooked for eternity.

VIVA METRO VERLAINE! JE T’AIME!

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GURU.

23 02 2018

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Last night, I braved the bitter cold and went to the Lock Tavern in Camden to see a band I had wanted to see for ages- Dr Chan. However, my review of their set will come later on. Right now I just need to write about the absolutely fantastic GURU who are from Brighton. They are loud and nothing short of exciting.

What I loved about their set and their music in general is that it isn’t what you expect. When they took to the stage, I kind of expected them to have a relaxed sound. What hit us all was this gorgeous loudness that reminded me of Sleep but the vocals were something else. I’m not one of these people who say “Oh it is hard to impress me” when it comes to music. I know what I like, and I tend to like stuff that’s a bit dark and tormented and loud. GURU are of course, my ideal band. I’m useless with names, but my god the singer is brilliant. His vocals on the song Roses are exceptional. It is such a great song. To first be aware of them by seeing their live show is awesome. I’ve listened to some of their songs on bandcamp/soundcloud, and it seems much tamer. I love a band that really let rip in their live shows.

The bassist from GURU is massively impressive. I stood pretty close to him (the stage is tiny at the Lock Tavern) and for fear of being smacked in the head by the bass, I moved back a bit. I think I spent most of their set just gawping in awe at him. I loved how he threw himself to his knees during most of their set. I loved how during the last song, the singer walked off and the remaining three just went even wilder on stage. There is no other band around that are like this. They are truly something else, and I am so happy to have seen them.

I’m finally leaving London next month, and I really do hope that GURU find their way up north because they have a fan for life right here. I love the proper aggression in their sound and how every song is played (on record and live) with this urgency that just makes you cling on to every single word. It makes you believe in every single word. They are easily one of the best bands you’ll ever see live. They are just so fascinating and incredible. I honestly feel like whatever I write about them just doesn’t do them justice. GURU are one of those bands that just blow you away. I love that they just fucked over my expectations of them with how I thought they would sound.

If you are able to catch this band, please do. You won’t regret it. Allow yourself to be left deafened by their glorious sound, to have your face melted and your record collection improved immensely. They are easily one of the most exciting bands you’ll hear this year, probably. Brighton’s finest, for sure.

 

*photo credit: Sophie Benjafield





DEAD BOYS: O2 Islington Academy 2 08/02/2017.

9 02 2018

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If I was someone who made a bucket list, then last night would have been something I could have ticked off. I never in my wildest dreams, and they are wild, would I imagine seeing one of the bands who made a record that I religiously play. Never would I have imagined seeing one of the greatest bands of all time.

Last night I finally saw Dead Boys play a small venue in London. It felt like we had all been thrown back to the golden year for Punk, 1977. 40 years ago Dead Boys, fronted by the one of a kind, Stiv Bators, released their debut record Young, Loud and Snotty. We all know that Stiv sadly passed away in 1990, so who on earth could come close to possessing his demeanour and way of performing the songs? It’s by no means an easy thing to do, and to some it’s probably damn near impossible but one man is doing it. And he is doing it in a way that probably has Stiv smirking down on the band. Jake Hout is remarkable, and his tribute to Stiv before dedicating Calling On You was beautiful.  His voice is incredible and he really captures what Dead Boys were about. He has that same snarly voice that Stiv had- he’s not as wild as Stiv but bloody hell he is great. For a few songs he hangs off the light above the stage. He also manages to crowd surf.

Although I was stood at the back, it was probably a solid spot to be in. I could see a sea of beautiful Punks in front of me all reliving the first time that they heard Dead Boys. I couldn’t sing the songs; all I could do was just smile like an idiot. I thought about Stiv a lot throughout, and Jake gave a beautiful tribute to him. I thought that was a really beautiful thing for him to do.

The crowd took me back to when I saw The Jesus And Mary Chain in 2014, and the crowd was mainly older men who had grown up with the band. With this show, it was a mix of everyone- and the older crowd were shouting the lyrics back at the band with as much love, passion and power as they must have done 40 years ago.

For me, I think this will be one of those shows that I’ll remember forever. There was such a lovely atmosphere, and given that the lyrical content of some of their songs may make others cringe- who cares?! The songs are as important as ever. The delivery of songs like I Need Lunch, All This And More and of course the ever influencing, Sonic Reducer is just impeccable.

I’m fairly sure last night Cheetah put a lot of people to shame with his guitar playing. He’s just as great as he was the first time around. Still loud. Why should you quieten down? You cannot tame a band like this, and why should you even want to? Johnny Blitz was as loud as ever, and that familiar sound he created all those years ago just took you back to the first time hearing the Dead Boys. The sound of the Dead Boys is massively distinctive, and to see Johnny Blitz and Cheetah- two of the pioneers of this sound, was mind-blowing.

I think with this show, the crowd and the band were equally contributing to how amazing the show was. Sometimes, you see a band and they are amazing but the crowd give nothing. This however, was such a great balance. I’m almost certain Jake would have had the crowd hanging from the lights above the stage with him if he could. I think also that if a kid who had never really heard of the Dead Boys before and was possibly only just getting into music, if they were at this show then I’m sure they would have left wanting to start a band. Like people did when they saw the Sex Pistols at that infamous Manchester show.

I was worried that the show would come across as almost karaoke like or that it would just take away the legacy of the band, and this record. But I had nothing to worry about at all. It was perfect. I could happily go see them every single night. Every night venturing closer to the stage and shouting the words back. It was nothing short of an honour to see Dead Boys and to be part of a crowd that truly idolise this band. Sometimes when I go to shows, I have this romanticised feeling of always wanting to be in that moment forever- I got that feeling last night.

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It was such a small venue, and it gave that proper Punk feel to it. All of us crammed in this room to see undoubtedly, one of the greatest bands ever. There is nothing quite like it.





TWO FIFTY FOUR: The Pickle Factory 29/11/2017

30 11 2017

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Last night was my fifth time seeing Two Fifty Four and it was also one of the best times I’ve seen them. There may have been a few issues with sound but that didn’t stop the band from putting on an incredible show.

Their last show in London was in 2015 at Dingwalls, and to see them play an even more intimate venue like The Pickle Factory (opposite Oval Space-make sure you queue up for the right gig if you go here, we made that mistake!) I’ve seen them play in an old church which is set upon old graves and at the Shacklewell Arms but the show last night was something else. Mainly because of the new songs. The new songs are outstanding live, so I can pretty much say with confidence, that when their new record does come out- it’ll be the record of the year. If it comes out next year, I am calling it now as the best thing to happen in 2018.

There is so much to take in when you see Two Fifty Four play. You don’t know where to cast your gaze as each member of the band is nothing short of excellent musicians. They will leave you wishing you could make noise like this. Certain songs allow certain band members to shine a little more, making you take in even more so just how phenomenal they are.

I always seem to gravitate towards watching Hannah play. She is undoubtedly the best guitarist around. There is no one else around that can make noise like her, there is no one else around that can make you feel that alive with a guitar. The sheer heaviness of the sound reminds me of bands I’ve been obsessed with for so long. We know that Houdini by the Melvins is one of the greatest records ever made, right? Well, Two Fifty Four carry the same heaviness as them. Hopefully you know the link between the Melvins and Two Fifty Four (play A History Of Bad Men if you don’t know, and see what happens at the 2:54 mark. If you aren’t covered in goose bumps, you aren’t human.) What I love so much about Two Fifty Four is their ability to make it look so easy, but we know it isn’t. They are one of the hardest working bands I have ever known and that truly comes through in their music and of course in their live shows.

Colette’s stage presence is magnetising. When she sings without her guitar she unleashes moves that resemble a wild animal hunting its prey- these ferocious moves accompanied with such a powerful voice that can electrify you is just mind-blowing. The only person I have ever seen with a presence like this is from my idol, Shirley Manson. Colette’s voice can be delicate when needed but she can definitely add some boom to it when needed. Her voice shows its strength on songs like In The Mirror and also on the new one, Pieces.

Of all the new songs they played last night, I think Ghosting may be my favourite. The new songs sound like Massive Attack mixed with Sleep. For me, that’s an ideal combination. The songs are delicate but also bloody brutal. Again, that’s another reason as to why I love this band so much. They have this loudness and this brutal sound that just leaves you in awe.

They end their set on Pieces, but the crowd wasn’t having any of that. We wanted one more. Some were yelling “Two more! Three more!” I think we all would have loved them to play both records and their earlier songs like Got A Hold and On A Wire. They ended their set with the wonderful Creeping. It was one of the highlights for sure; another is the little jam at the end of Scarlett. Something takes you over when they do that, and you realise even more just how bloody great Two Fifty Four are.

If you’ve seen Two Fifty Four live before, you’ll know that Alex is the best drummer you’ll probably ever see. The sheer passion that comes through as he beats the shit out of his drum kit is astounding. He makes you wish you could do that, but musicians/bands like Two Fifty Four do not come around often. I think that is why their crowd is so diverse, and why people go to see them because they truly love the band. There is none of this business where people go to see them just so they can say they have. Not at all. People go to see Two Fifty Four because their music really means something to them, because they know that they are a band to be absolutely treasured. They are also criminally underrated.

Every song they play is greeted with enthusiastic and loving cheers by the crowd. There are no obnoxious heckles or people yelling songs out that they want to hear. There is the utmost respect, love and admiration on both parts. There are no drunken fools spilling their overpriced craft beer on you, no one barging past to get to the front and no one talking whilst the band play. For as loud as they are, the atmosphere is tranquil and respectful. As someone who suffers stupidly with panic attacks- this felt like a totally safe space. All you can do is close your eyes and let the music move you.

As I mentioned many times before, bands like Two Fifty Four don’t come around too often. They are a pleasure to listen to and a sheer joy to watch. It was over all too soon, but I am so excited for the new record.

What I always take from their shows is like a kick up the arse to do something I love. Hanging out with Colette and Hannah after the show makes you see the band differently. On stage the band have this bold confidence and presence. Off stage they are taken aback with how adored they are.

Meet your heroes and let their music be your crutch. The world that Two Fifty Four paint with their music is like Ted Hughes crashing into Poe. Dark, eerie and good for the soul, and mind.





BANKS: O2 Institute Birmingham 22nd October 2017

27 10 2017

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Although the gig was about 5 days ago, I have every moment from it stored carefully in my mind. There is something about BANKS that just makes her standout. There is something about her that I’ve not seen in anyone else. That I’ll never see in anyone else. It’s a form of healing but it is also a work of art that cannot be ignored.

I toyed with reviewing the show because I really cannot say anything else about her shows that I hadn’t covered earlier this year. However, it is fairly obvious that with each show she just gets better. Her band and dancers get better each time. Her fans are the best also. If you are ever seeking a dedicated fan base, then just speak to her fans. I’ve loved her since 2014, and I remember that feeling I got. I felt like someone just got me. Someone could pull out everything I was feeling and thinking, and expressing it in a way that I knew I couldn’t. Like I said, healing. The front row of her shows consist of fans who are so passionate and an absolute credit to her. They also make you proud to be a fans of hers. I could easily write an essay about them. If I was in a band, I’d be honoured to have such a solid fan base. They sing every word back to her with such urgency and again, passion in their voice. No one cares if you can sing or not- it doesn’t matter. No song towers over the other with how loud they are. Every single song is sung as if their lives depend on it- and these songs have probably saved their live, and provided a safety net. I’m just speaking for myself, but I reckon it’s a pretty accurate assumption. Fuck With Myself and Gemini Feed are stunning, and the way the crowd yell “There is no fixing to the problem when you’re talking to, an idiot!” during Trainwreck is a brilliant moment too. You can sense how much it means to everyone.

Her set list for her Birmingham show hasn’t really changed from when I saw her a few months ago. A couple of songs were missed a lot (Weaker Girl and 27 Hours) but it#s alright! Her Manchester and London shows did get 27 Hours but they also FINALLY got a live performance of her cover of Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. BANKS fans know how much she loves her and we’ve waited so long for a full version of this song. I didn’t get to see it, but the live clips I’ve seen have been amazing. It shows her voice in a different way and it shows also, how powerful she is.

What I absolutely love about her shows is that it feels like a pure body of art. It is a masterpiece that has so much thought, love and care put into it. The dance routines she has to certain songs make you see and feel the songs differently. The choreography to opener Poltergeist is one of the best things I have EVER seen. The way they move their bodies in a way that looks like they are possessed is so hypnotising. You cannot help but focus on the movements rather than the song at times but like I said, it makes you take the song differently. I love the choreography to Haunt too.

A few weeks ago she put out Underdog. I was hoping she would do this, and she saved it right for the end. The choreography to this is also mind-blowing. They stalk the stage as if they’ve got the devil with them. They move in this wonderful darkness that has a hold of you and doesn’t let you go. The way they move their bodies is just astounding. Pretty sure if any of us did it we’d end up in A&E with a broken back or something! Obviously it would be worth it.

To be a little personal, I cried during Crowded Places. I was doing so well until the last minute or so of the song. I held it together until that last part of the song. I don’t know if it was because of what the song recently got me through or because of how beautiful it was to see everyone sing a long. Everyone sang as if they wrote the song, and it was just gorgeous.

I adored seeing Beggin’ For Thread and This Is What It Feels Like again. There is something about seeing these two songs live for me that just makes me feel like some kind of spiritual/out of body experience has hold of me. She hits this note during This Is What It Feels Like, and my god it just…it’s so powerful and so captivating. I could hear it on a loop for hours and hours and it would still leave me in awe. It’s another moment in her show that shows just how fantastic she truly is. It’s such an ethereal thing to watch and to hear. The crowd really belts out this song to her, especially Beggin’ For Thread. Waiting Game is also effortlessly wonderful, and the choreography to this is just perfect. Once you see BANKS, you cannot stop. You have to find way to cope with waiting to see her again. It is worth the wait. We waited long enough for someone like her to exist, so holding out for a tour seems easy enough, right?

Goddess and The Altar are two of the most captivating records I own and constantly listen to. Her music can ease the rut I get myself into, they can calm me down after a panic attack, they help when the depression wants to kick in and my medication feels like it is doing nothing for me. Her words, her music are my safety net. Her live shows feel like home. Not every band or singer can have this much of a grip on someone, but when we find them- we cling.

The confidence she has on stage is so subtle but you know it is there. Her fans have this outpouring of love for her that you sense she just feeds off, and it is such an amazing thing to see and be part of. There is such diversity in her crowds, and I think that is part of what makes her shows so special. She can connect with anyone and it is so powerful.

Her music will soothe any soul and her live shows will make you feel like you can take on the world. The comedown from her shows isn’t great. All you can think about is when you’ll see her next. But you know, worth the wait. Always.





NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS: Manchester Arena- 25/09/2017

28 09 2017

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Never in my life did I ever think I would see Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds live. I treated them like mythical god-like beings that I would worship but never see. It all changed last night. Everything changed last night. I know I always say it but, I can honestly say that Monday night’s show was the best gig I had ever been to. Nothing is ever going to top it. I don’t want anything to ever top it. It was something I thought I could prepare myself for, but honestly nothing can prepare you for ever seeing your idol.
I’ve allowed a few days to pass so I can process what I saw and felt on Monday night and to be honest I think it is one of those things I’ll never get my head around. Prior to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds arriving on stage, the atmosphere was tense. A lot of people had picked up on it and it was just so heavy. I heard people mention what had happened and how they could sense it. It was an odd environment but as soon they stepped on stage, everything changed.

As soon as they graced the stage, tears fell from my eyes. The tears were from years and years of waiting. Years of admiring this poster I remember seeing to having the man himself stood in close proximity. It was entirely surreal.

The bulk of the set was Skeleton Tree. I’ve only listened to the record a handful of times. It’s such a gorgeous record but the circumstance surrounding it is heartbreaking. However, seeing these songs live changed it all. The emotion was there but more so- I was in awe of all of them. Every single person on that stage is a genius and the best musicians I have ever seen.

For me, the way Warren takes an instrument like the violin and turns it into this wild weapon like a machine gun blew my mind. He took something calming and whipped up a heavenly storm. It felt like the inside of my head when I have a panic attack, except I felt totally at ease with it all.

I know it is utterly expected but I need to write about Into My Arms. It’s a song that has come to mean everything to me. It’s always reminded me of someone, and to finally be able to hold her close as they performed this perfect dedication of love meant the world. And I could see just how much it meant to everyone in the venue.

From Her To Eternity sent me off on a whirlwind. If I could live in the moment of any song, it would have to be that. It’s one of the most important song to me by anyone. From the lyrics, the music, the title and Nick’s voice- it is just a perfect work of art that I always remember being one of the first Bad Seeds songs I ever heard. Those moments stay with you, and so does seeing it live. It’s a moment that you want to always stay in.

From Her To Eternity went right into Tupelo. It was like a storm arriving. It was wild and it was untameable. Every little detail just made you fall deeply in love with the band. More than you already were, and to think it wasn’t possible!

One moment in the set made me cry harder than most. I really didn’t think Jubilee Street would make me cry at all. It’s a song I’ve loved but never did I think I’d get myself in a state. Towards the end of the song when Nick powerfully and beautifully  (I’m getting goosebumps writing this) sings “I’m transforming, I’m vibrating, I’m glowing. Look at me now!” If I could describe in a way that does this moment justice, I would. But if you were there or if you’ve ever seen them do this live, I hope you understand what I mean and what I’m getting at.

Higgs Boson Blues felt like a punch to the face, like your soul was being shaken up. There are songs I wish they did but honestly they could have sung the weather and I’d have been happy, and still declared it as the best gig I’ve ever been to.

As I watched Nick be propped up by the crowd with their hands reaching out to him waiting to be touched and held- I kept thinking it was like a sermon. The stage is their altar and we are their dedicated followers. At one point Nick announces how gorgeous Warren is and he also discusses his purple socks with a guy in the crowd. At the encore, I think he hands him one of his socks. There was also an idiot who twice yelled at Nick, “Get your dick out!” I don’t condone violence, but I wish Nick found the doofus and smacked him in the choppers.

I’m not a religious person, but this gig felt like a religious experience. I’m totally fine with Nick being my god and my teacher. I clung onto every word he sang with such hope, love and admiration. Nothing has felt the same since. I feel as if I could be okay with never going to a gig again after seeing them because let’s face it, nothing in this world is ever going to top it. As I gazed up at the stage, I felt 3 years old again staring at the poster on my uncle’s wall with curious eyes and anticipating what would happen if I delved deeper.

I loved when Nick walked into the crowd in the seating area. He stood like a majestic creature. Controlling the crowd with hand claps and silencing us when he wished. We would do anything he wanted. The stage invasion was such a beautiful moment. To see that many people on stage with the band they adore was just beautiful, and as the set ended with Push The Sky Away everything felt alright. What comes next is going to be okay, no matter what.

I’m sure I have missed out many things that happened, but I’m still trying to stay in that moment of seeing them live, finally. Of course if I had the money I’d have happily done the whole tour. The crowd were wonderful, the band were phenomenal. There are so many reasons as to why this is the best gig I’ve ever been to and if you were there, you’d understand.

Nick Cave. The Bad Seeds. From Them To Eternity….





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

14 06 2017
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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.