Who would have thought that DiS would descend upon Brighton's music industry showcase extravaganza in such fashion.
Without a soul in sight waiting to 'network' with a single one of our merry shambles of a crew, we set to work on actually seeing bands. And hearing them too! Despite the cruel, bitter wind that insisted on hurtling toward us with near-freezing drizzle as its freight, we actually saw some bands.
My word, we saw some rather spectacular bands at that.
So now, with eardrums shattered, backs blown to smithereens and internal organs strewn across the floor in an untidy convalescing mess, here are (at least) two tips each from five of Drowned in Sound's finest: Rachel Cawley, Christopher Knight, Peter White, Colin Roberts and myself...
Gojira play death metal but while you're listening to this you'll never want to die. Forget about the heaviest band you've seen this year. This is the heaviest band you'll ever see. Ever. The French behemoths signed a major deal just prior to this masterclass in aural demolition and proceeded to annihilate an entire room of seasoned metallers. This is not heaviness for the sake of it. These boys take a full set of Real Songs and thunder their riffs across in a way you just won't believe until you see it for yourself. Judging by this performance Gojira are about to make a whole load of people sit up and take notice.
The other end of the spectrum saw a set from Kid Harpoon (pictured; left) steal the charismatic glory from underneath the snotty noses of those that like to pose on a chair with just an acoustic guitar for defence. Asides from a delicious voice and an impressive early repertoire of songs, this chap even managed to make stringing a guitar seem like the most delightful five minutes you ever wasted.
While flitting from the uncomfortably empty to the uncomfortably full venues via the one that is just ridiculously far away, I saw that *Disco Ensemble *delivered upon every expectation while their compatriots won Eurovision. Earlier, *Beans On Toast *grumbled about life in general and managed to get a beer off the one man on the delegate list who, "wouldn't open a butcher's because [he] doesn't know anything about meat"! Also, I tried and failed to battle my slowly unfurled belief that *65daysofstatic *are my favourite band. They're British. It just doesn't happen.
Buck 65 is quite the performer - he takes on the aura of old-school TV presenters with a treasure trove of tricks for our amusement: well-timed winks, mimed whistles, running jokes. He likes girls called Susie, each song's story is told, "this one goes out to Susie, the only punk girl in my little town, not that she ever noticed me", another goes out to Susie of countdown fame. Buck 65 is geek-gone-good, his dusty, musty, countrified hiphop tells tales of small town memory and big town confusion. He makes records scritch-scratch, then stares at us earnest and tells another brutally honest tale.
Juanita Stein of *Howling Bells * (pictured; right) is a real singer, her voices spirals like a smoke signal right into the high ceiling of the Zap Club. 'Wishing Stone', with snaking basslines and distant organs sounds ten times the size it does on record, so much sharper, so much more serrated. Howling Bells have written songs that the Duke Spirit must be jealous of - the same darkly folkloric tone, music for the open road at night. The main difference: Howling Bells' songs skip any repetition and replace it with aching beauty. Watching tonight, eyes cannot be taken off stage, a whole audience peer closer and closer. It seems they have barely started when time is up, and we move off into the night.
If someone allows you charge of a guitar, please be considerate enough to do something interesting with it. Sheer quantity of performances happening this weekend means that only the really interesting stand out, the fairly good become un-memorable and the poor are ignored. Maccabees, Pigeon Detectives, Laakso, it's all very well strumming away, but completely indistinct tunes and general six-stringed sounds don't leave me impressed. DARTZ! *have a better idea - switching from brutal noise-niks to dancing beauties with a melodic knack - I'm not the only person in awe. *Holy Fuck are fellow proponents of imagination making guitars sound like computers, drumming with metrenomic precision and scattering clicks and bleeps straight out onto the dance floor.
With the powers that be deeming it to be an unnecessary luxury to be both dry and entertained by the seaside, a damp and sodden traipse to what feels like a small hamlet in the south of France through dire windswept alleys to the Concorde 2 was always a desperate measure, but fleeing the perfunctory and tired *British Sea Power *falls well within those parameters. Any foul journey can be made better by booze though, especially if you’re downing fancy stolen lager from said band's dressing room moments before stage time. Nice dice.
Downpatrick’s The Answer *were still battling through a room chocker-block with indifference upon arrival, an aloofness quickly replaced with aroused exhilaration courtesy of *65daysofstatic's now routine auricular assault which rapidly penetrates any lingering doubts surrounding their well-worn live set. Kicking and punching through their knotted and wrenching arrangements never felt so good, the distance travelled justifying my lurve with that old familiar palpitating rush.
Still Remains the following day had to trawl deeply to overcome the extraordinary assault to the senses provided by Gojira, but matching the rabid enthusiasm of their audience with ardent gusto lends a clear hand, as does a brutal and glorious cover of Nine Inch Nails’ 'Head Like A Hole'. Still Remains’ textured heavy hardcore is thrown around with fiercely animated exuberance, assuredly soon to return with a fresh cargo.
3hostwomexicansandatinofspanners are among the others peddling their wares in town - a band diligently replacing a McLusky shaped hole in everyones multi-chambered heart. Also, Minneapolis’ Tapes n Tapes, whose name is the most exciting thing about them, and the muted return of *The Cooper Temple Clause *in a decidedly muted form sans Didz, matched with a sense of the well trodden new material.
The trawling and dousing takes its toll, no doubt about it, but with a wink and a nudge from a beaming and suitably rocked crowd on the way home makes such trifling matters utterly redundant. Conquered?
Dartz! Is Good. For Your Brain! Not only do they slay THAT song - 'Once, Twice, Again' (a perfect collection of Dismemberment Plan chorus catches and limey At The Drive-In sloganeering) but THAT's not even the best thing about Dartz! Their half pop-tart/half disco-jazz rumbles should have had them playing at that All Tomorrow's Parties lark down the road, but dang god are we glad they're in deadly Brighton instead. It's a short, sharp, smart and elegant punk rock party; a Northern explosion of dancing drummers and concerned cowbells. We enter expecting to be slightly amused and leave feeling joyously entertained. Dartz! Is Good. For Your Brain!
Der Spiegel Tent is a calamitous mix of Glastonbury Lost Vagueness whimsical drama and indie pop gazing Ptarnum-isms. Only on a roundabout in Sussex. And The Pipettes are its greatest show on earth. Rose, Becki and Gwenno (obviously, the best, in a post Sarah 'Chips' Harding Girls Aloud way) are a glorious finish to an evening of wind-battering band-baiting; forcing all sorts of feet-plopping, awkward man-dancing and ramshackle smiles. Such Phil-Spector-shoots-21st-Century-Grease sounds are perfect Great Escape; der spiegel tent ist sehr gut.
You're pretty much screwed if you see the best band of a festival on the opening night, but Holy Fuck (pictured; above) decided to do just that. The all-live dance n' beats extravaganza sends me and half the room off in raptures. Clearly loving every minute of it, Holy Fuck ascend and nearly smash through the ceiling in terms of intensity, layering and volume. Truly one of the best live bands I've ever seen.
Jeremy Warmsley solo however, is often something to be approached with a degree of caution. Gone are his trademark bleeps and beats, replaced only with a toy piano and guitar. Tonight however, J-Wo's songs are his calling cards, 'Dirty Blue Jeans' stays in the head for hours to come and he pulls it all off with a smile. Perfect.
Scissors for Lefty's electro-tinged indie-rock rams the Freebutt on Friday and with good reason. The same can't be said for The Pigeon Detectives the day after - 'I'm Not Sorry' is a solid pop tune, but it doesn't get anywhere past that. Shy Child disappoints a rammed Beach, after Metric have whipped them into a sexed-up frenzy and while the 'industry' goes to wank off during Klaxons (pictured; below), the Dischord-tinged, incredibly driven punk-rock of Dartz! is all the aural masturbation I need.
... Those are our top tips from the weekend. Some you may be familiar with, others you most certainly will not be. You must appreciate that we struggled long and hard to get to these bands. Brighton is not a place conducive to hard work and we were on what was essentially a glorified pub crawl contracting all manner of filthy illnesses. Brighton is bad for our health. Along the way, however, a deep-seated appreciation for fry-ups and a card game called Bullshit/Cheat was formed and it should also be noted that everyone should own a Prince record. He makes one hell of a soundtrack.