JKVS Indietracks Special – July 27th 2015

Here’s the Indietracks special edition of the radio show, broadcast immediately after this year’s festival. If you heard it live you’ll know there were numerous problems with the studio that evening that turned it into a bit of a shambles – I’ve managed to take the worst of it out and it sounds quite good now!

Below it you can find the latest Final Analysis question – leave a comment here, on Soundcloud or on Mixcloud if you think you know the songs, artists and sequence, and can suggest a fourth song, or just tweet me.

Indietracks 2014

Indietracks 2014 8tracksSo Indietracks has come and gone for another year, and the 2014 edition was certainly my favourite of those I’ve been to. It was my first for a couple of years, the weather was fantastic and the line-up was impressive – it was particularly good to have three such strong, but very different, headline acts.

This post is a one-stop-shop for photos, videos and music from the weekend, or at least the bits of it I saw. Most is embedded below, but here are the links to go direct:

I’m not writing a big long review, but there’s bits and pieces in the captions on Flickr (go to fullscreen and click ‘show info’), and I’ll jot down a few favourite memories at the end…

Stand-out moments for me were:
  • The Spook School running onstage in capes, and generally being around and active all weekend, including having a hand in organising the football at the campsite (not that I played, but it was nice to see something like that happening); also check out Nye’s performance of Something on the main stage (it’s in the video playlist above) – you could hear a pin drop.
  • Gruff Rhys interrupting his set to announce there was a search on for a missing child… who immediately turned out to be down the front, watching the show.
  • The last post being played on the bugle after the bar closed and the indie disco finished in the shed on Sunday night.
  • Allo Darlin’ and their Just Joans / Emma Kupa guest slots, and their segue into Call Me Al in their last song, and generally all of their set come to think of it.
  • The announcement after the Hidden Cameras that we’d won the quiz! It was a very generous goodie bag of prizes (CDs, vinyl and some other odds and ends… including a stylophone and a unique song by the Thyme Machine written specifically for the winners), and it was a surprise to beat a team containing uber-quizzer Rachael Neiman.
At the indie disco
It’s a semi-serious gripe that every Indietracks disco ends up playing Babies by Pulp (which I don’t mind at all, to be honest), so we decided to keep track of how many times we heard it. This turned out to be… none! Instead, the ubiquitous indie disco numbers seemed to be:
  • The Spook School – I’ll Be Honest (4)
  • Pulp – Do You Remember the First Time? (3)
  • Le Tigre – Deceptacon (3)
  • Kenickie – Come Out 2Nite (3)

It was also good to hear quite a bit of Hefner (Hymn for the Cigarettes twice, plus a few others) and some other Kenickie tracks (Punka and I Would Fix You). Props in particular to Sean Fortuna Pop who DJed at the campsite on Saturday and basically showed everyone else how to do it, and Katie from the Just Joans and her pals, who did a great job of following him on the Sunday.

Inevitably, there were clashes in the schedule, so I was sorry to miss Cosines, the Thyme Machine, Mega Emotion, Sweet Baboo and all sorts of good stuff in the merch tent.For me, Indietracks runs from the build-up (say from when the schedule is published) to the job of sorting out photos and so on afterwards. Looking up the bands I’ve not heard and figuring out who to see is all part of it for me. But as soon as I hit ‘publish’ on this it’s over for another year. Good work team, and bring on 2015!

Indietracks 8tracks mix

I’ve compiled a mix on 8tracks of the bands I particularly enjoyed at Indietracks  – just click on the picture.

Unfortunately 8tracks seems to be having problems at the moment and refusing to play the tracks in the order I specified – but that might be specific to me, so see what you make of it.

Here’s the order they should appear in…

1. The School – Where Does Your Heart Belong?
2. Darren Hayman and the Secondary Modern – Art and Design
3. The 10p Mixes – Have You Met My Monster?
4. Young Romance – Follow On Your Own
5. The Birthday Kiss – Starting to Come Back to Life
6. Evans the Death – Wet Blanket
7. Colour Me Wednesday – Holiday from Your Life
8. Tender Trap – Memorabilia
9. Liechtenstein – Passion for Water
10. Tigercats – Limehouse Nights
11. The Just Joans – What Do We Do Now?
12. Standard Fare – Suitcase
13. Robberie – Academical High
14. The Spook School – Are You Who You Think You Are?
15. September Girls – Hells Bells
16. Love Dance – Bergen, Again
17. Rose Melberg – Truly
18. The Vaselines – Sex with an X

Indietracks 2012 – video and photos

I have a couple more Indietracks items to share: above is a montage of the odds and ends of video clips I took over the weekend (not terribly well-edited, but gives an idea); and here is a slideshow of my photos on Flickr (WordPress isn’t letting me embed it for some reason) – click ‘show info’ for captions. The full-song videos I took are embedded in the review of Saturday.

I have an 8tracks mix in the pipeline as well, but unfortunately 8tracks seem to have broken their website by putting a terrible content-drowning ad on it – as soon as they’ve sorted it I’ll put the mix online.

Indietracks 2012 review – Sunday

P1030917 Just like on Saturday, I wanted to catch the first band on the train, Robberie, who were great! Strong tunes, and actually quite long songs with lots of words in them – plus they timed the last song perfectly to finish just as we arrived back at Swanwick Junction. Throw in a glockenspiel-powered Gina G cover and you’ve got an exemplary Indietracks set.

The Spook School were first up on the main stage, and served to reinforce that the bands are just going to keep getting younger as the years go by. Conversely, a nice thing about Indietracks is it shows there’s nothing to be afraid of in getting (a bit) older, as at 30 I suspect I’m still below the average age of attendees (if you exclude the kids brought by their parents, anyway).

P1030925 But back to the Spook School, who were great. The music is pretty exemplary indie pop / rock stuff, and I’d have been happy with that on its own, but their drummer added a whole new dimension to the performance through his cheerfully rubbish banter. The other three are all relatively small in stature, while he’s a big guy with long hair and a handlebar moustache – basically it looks like they’ve formed a group with the BFG. My favourite bit of his schtick was the most twee rabble rousing it’s possible to imagine: “when I say ‘uke’, you say ‘lele’! Uke! Lele!” Genius. At the end he came down the front with free CDs to give away, and there was a right old scrum to get hold of them, as everyone had so clearly enjoyed the set. Damn their young, talented eyes.

Miniature railway at Swanwick Junction After that a few of us went for a good ol’ wander round the railway site. The exhibition hall and West Shed are much the same as in previous years, but always worth a good nose around. Surprisingly, the railway’s mainline locomotive Duchess of Sutherland was in the West Shed for maintenance, rather than out working railtours – less than twelve months earlier it had been in pieces being overhauled, so it was impressive to see it fully assembled and already work-stained. I also gathered from a map in a display that the campsite where we stay is on the site of an old coal mine (I think – I’ll check it against Google maps some time…). Best of all though was the miniature railway, which I hadn’t been on in two previous visits but which we got a ride on this year. I’d not been on one of those this century…

P1030945 But back to the festival. Next on my to-see list were September Girls in the church – indeed, I made it my strategy to park myself in the church for the rest of the day, partly to keep out of the rain but mainly to ensure I was in it for Rose Melberg. September Girls were worth seeing though, purveying 60s garage rock and taking no nonsense (though this was another set slightly marred by the twat with the camera at the front for the whole thing).

P1030949 Berlin’s Love Dance were up next, and brought a twist of eurodisco to the festival, but still through the purest pop – a bit of a departure relative to all the other bands playing the festival, and an enjoyable palate-cleanser for that reason.

The penultimate act on this stage were the ABC Club, who musically remind me a bit of the Maccabees – whether they’ve got the career connections to go on to similar success I’ve no idea, but I was impressed. The dimension they have that the Maccabees perhaps don’t is a more classic-sounding singer, so the set was a bit of a winner. The only slight drawback was a total lack of stagecraft at all, but it seems a small complaint.

P1030953 And so to Rose Melberg, who I opted to watch instead of Allo Darlin’. It was an agonising clash – I took the view that I live in London, I’ve seen Allo Darlin’ twice already this year and will see them again soon no doubt, whereas the chance to see Rose Melberg might not come again for years. But even so, I was aware I was missing one of the highlight sets of the weekend – why Allo Darlin’ weren’t given one of the headline slots is a total mystery to me. That said, they played so loud they were pretty audible in the church, to the extent that Rose abandoned an idea to do her opening song without amplification. It didn’t matter though – the entire set was intimate, delicate and undeniably something a bit special, with just Rose’s clear, pure voice and picked guitar holding up an entire range of melodies and emotions. The crowd gave her a standing ovation at the end – a beautiful set.

P1030957 It was a slight culture shock, therefore, to wander out to see the Vaselines and be greeted by what can only be described as a barrage of filth in the between-songs banter – there’s clearly a no-holds-barred dynamic between Frances and Eugene borne of years of familiarity. It proved to be a strong headline set, with the new and old songs mixing fairly seamlessly and both being well-received – a good end to the festival, in terms of bands.

Still, that left potentially five hours of dancing to come… And at this point I’m afraid I’ve got to have a bit of a Finchley Ted moment. This is a bit of a Goldilocks complaint, but playing in the shed Music for Girls went, I felt, a bit too mainstream for an indie disco, while over at the campsite Another Sunny Day went far too obscure. I’ve no problem with either extreme of itself, but for the Sunday night slots they struck the wrong balance – rather than providing the finales to the weekend, they ended up alienating chunks of their audience.

For my money, Music for Girls crossed a line with Steal My Sunshine, while I can never forgive Stay by East 17 as the closing number. Then again, lots of people loved it. And it’s not (entirely) a matter of me being a terrible indie snob: other discos over the weekend ventured into the mainstream and Dan Pop-o-matic’s choice of Go You Own Way by Fleetwood Mac was one of my favourite bits. But I felt the balance was a bit off.

Similarly at the campsite disco, while I can normally recognise maybe three songs in four at a typical Indietracks disco, I never recognised more than two in a row from Another Sunny Day. A lot of them sounded great, but dancing to songs you don’t know becomes a bit of a trial after a while, however good, and while the DJs’ refusal to play anything approaching a crowd-pleasing set clearly went down well with the (rather small) crowd in the marquee, it left the end of the festival feeling like a bit of a damp squib for the rest of us.

Still, no matter – apart from that slightly self-inflicted wound, Indietracks survived gloomy times and even gloomier weather with triumphant aplomb this year. Thirteen months to the next one, though – sodding Olympics.

Indietracks 2012 review – Saturday

P1030868 I took my stroll along Indietracks lane to the site at the obscenely early hour of 12 noon on Saturday, for the annual Anorak forum meet-up at which mainly shy indie types who normally communicate online try talking to each other in real life. Actually it’s always very enjoyable to put faces to usernames, and renew acquaintances (though I’m terrible for assuming people have forgotten me and therefore giving the impression I’ve forgotten them…), and an enjoyable half-hour joking about Finchley Ted and the aborted CD swap was had.

It had to be cut slightly short, however, as unlike last year the first band on the train was on at 12:30 (indeed, there seemed to be more bands generally this year, with earlier start times – a good sign!), and it was the 10p Mixes. They were great! Twee certainly, but acutely-observed and funny at the same time, and exactly what you want from an Indietracks band. Only slight flaw was that they mistimed the set slightly, and had only just started a song when the train rolled back into Swanwick Junction – I therefore had to squeeze off the train and make my planned dash to the church for the next band.

Young Romance are probably the band I was most excited to discover through the line-up for Indietracks – I hadn’t known them previously, but have been well impressed by their driving, emotional songs, that verge on the epic. And I seem not to be alone – there’s a bit of a buzz around them, and I’m a bit paranoid about not being able to get into the church to see them. In the event I’m in plenty of time, and they don’t disappoint – the stripped-down live lineup leaves the songs more raw than on their recordings, but Claire’s mazing voice binds it all together. One slight flaw is that they have drawn up a set-list too short for their slot – see the video for the moment of realisation.

At this stage, a slight moan about this and several other sets in the chuch being slightly spoiled by a bloke sitting at the front photographing and videoing for nearly the whole set. Now, I like to take pictures and maybe video the odd song of an Indietracks set, but I try to do it briefly and then get the camera out of the way. A tall man sitting at the front holding up a camera for the whole set is downright bad form – he clearly had a photographer pass despite having no more sophisticated equipment than mine from what I could see, and you’d hope someone with a pass would either have the nous, or be briefed, not to spoil it for the audience. This joker meant I got no pics of Claire as she’s only little! He left just before the final track, so he’s not in the video clip… And while I’m on the subject, my pictures of the steam train departing Swanwick Junction got spoiled by fools standing in the way as well – steam railway etiquette is to be mindful that there may be people wanting to photograph the trains, and to give them a chance. OK, I feel better now – moan over.

The bands I was very specifically keen to see all seemed to be clustered on the Saturday, often clashing horribly. This meant a dash out of the church after Young Romance to catch the last two thirds of The Birthday Kiss on the main stage (so it’s maybe not so bad that Young Romance finished early). Both bands have a lot in common, actually: both write very strong songs, both have lead singers with superb voices, and both put on engaging sets resting on these strengths rather than any attempt to introduce unnecessary showmanship into it. Neither seems especially close to having an album out, though they appear to have the songs – I’ll be buying them when they’re ready though.

P1030758 It was another dash to another stage straight after The Birthday Kiss – this time to the shed for Vacaciones, who were good fun. I briefly had time after them to pop out to catch a few songs by Evans the Death on the main stage. I’ve long been ambivalent about this band, and unable to decide whether I like them or not – but with good sound on the main stage, the sun shining and the band playing much harder and tighter than when I last saw them, I’m finally converted.

With the sun still out it seems a bit of a shame to head into the shed again, but it’s worth it as Colour Me Wednesday are another of the great discoveries of the festival for me. They’ve got attitude, dense and playful lyrics and a heavy ska twist – a great combination, and it works really well. Another eventual album purchase when they get one out.

Another clash demanded another dash to the main stage for Tender Trap, who were already well into their set. Are they now the longest-running of Amelia Fletcher’s bands? Close to it, I think – certainly they’ve built up a great back catalogue and the set was more or less hit after hit after hit. The clouds had gathered however, and a few songs from the end the rain finally started. It got heavy for Oh Katrina – and at the same time I discovered my camera’s memory card would accommodate rather less in the way of video than I’d reckoned, so all my videos of complete songs are from Saturday. For the final song, Amelia brought out her daughters for backing vocals, and unfortunately the rain got heavier and heavier. Reader, I failed: it was chucking it down, and I fled for a burrito and some loitering in the merch tent.

P1030863A quick sit in the shed later (it amazes me more people don’t bring dadstools to Indietracks, they’re invaluable), and there was finally some sunshine after the rain. Well, sunshine and rain in truth, but not as torrential as it had been so I braved it to see a chunk of Liechtenstein, who I probably would have got more out of if I’d investigated their back catalogue properly. Still, they had the courage to play Passion for Water.

P1030888 No doubt this is getting predictable, but next I had to dash to the indoor stage owing to a clash. I’d really been looking forward to Tigercats as they’ve put out one of my favourite albums of the year, so I was a bit gutted to see the clash with Liechtenstein – I opted to see them and miss a bit of Tigercats as the latter play London more often, but still regret missing the full set as what I did see was brilliant. I turned up just in time to see them do all my favourite tracks on the album – Vapours, Limehouse Nights, Easter Island, Harper Lee and finally Banned at the Troxy – by which time the crowd were well warmed-up and bouncing with the band for every beat. Brilliant.

P1030898 The need for mad dashes between stages eased off a bit from this point, as Tigercats were the first in a bit of a run of bands in the shed. Next up were the band that I was most pleased to see on the line-up of all of them, and who did not disappoint for a moment: the Just Joans. There’s so much to like about this band, not least that they’re indie geeks of a similar vintage to me: David was wearing a Sleeper t-shirt and they started with hand-claps that sounded a lot like the ones at the start of Come Out 2Nite by Kenickie… that was because they were covering Come Out 2Nite by Kenickie! Perfect. Another great thing about this band is how well the songs come across live – the tunes are memorable, and the words both acute and funny, which means you can hear them once or twice and be able to sing them back to someone days later. New songs like Durex Puppy (debuted at the London show earlier in the year) therefore sit perfectly among the traditional favourites like Friday Afternoons Down the Union, If You Don’t Pull and the always-poignant What Do We Do Now? The highlight of the festival – I’m so glad they played.

P1030901 Standard Fare followed immediately, and while I struggled a bit with their new album at the time, I suddenly found that I recognised all the songs like old friends – it clearly lodged itself a bit deeper than I had realised! The band absolutely tear through the set – unfortunately I’m flagging a bit by this stage and need a sit down on the dadstool for big chunks of it, and it seemed to be over all too quickly.

Curiously, that really concluded the bands I specifically wanted to see, bar Robberie the following day; hereafter, things got a bit more suck-it-and-see (there were still some terrible clashes, though: Werewandas, Cosines, Joanna Gruesome, Gordon McIntyre and Allo Darlin all went unseen by me for that reason – Gordon McIntyre due to the queues for the church mainly, I suppose).

The day’s remaining three bands were therefore all sets I dipped into: Go Sailor clearly meant a lot to a lot of the audience, and I enjoyed the more punk side of Rose Melberg despite not knowing the records. I dropped in to see a bit of Summer Camp on a bit of a whim – Jeremy Warmsley was a figure on the scene when I was at uni, so it was interesting to see him pop up at Indietracks. Theirs was definitely the most Shoreditch set of the weekend, but the songs were strong and there was a lot of love in the room for them.

P1030914 And so to the headliners, Veronica Falls, who have leapfrogged their way to the top slot after their disastrous opening set on the Friday two years ago. They thanked people for coming, and professed worry that it would been raining – even as they spoke it was already spitting again, and soon the heavens opened. At which point I dicovered Veronica Falls are not a band I will stand in the rain for. Sorry guys. I got a pint and went to sit in the train bar instead. This led me to overhear a conversation about when Johnny Cash covered “that Six Inch Nails song”.

There’s something to be said for taking a bit of a breather though, as we were able to attack the campsite disco with abandon (well, those of us who hadn’t peaked too early and conked out…). Even Indietracks is a bit more of a slog when it’s wet, it turns out – the schlepping round takes it out of you, and you don’t do so much sitting down during the day because the grass is wet. Four or five hours’ dancing at the end of the day therefore becomes quite an endurance test…

Indietracks 2012 review – Friday

P1030864 Indietracks seemed to rush round quickly this year, not least because it was nearly a month earlier than its usual end-of-July slot thanks to the MegaCorp Sport-themed Trade Fair in London. We don’t yet know what the weather on the usual weekend will prove to be like, but this weekend was forecast to be a wet one, with flood warnings for the whole of central England – one more reason to hate the Olympics.

So this year’s Indietracks was to be the first properly wet one, with very heavy rainfall forecast for Friday in particular – and in Manchester, where I set out from, it was lashing it down all morning. This gave the organisers a bit of a dilemma: stick with the plan and keep the evening’s three bands on the main stage in the hope it eased off as predicted, or move it all into the shed to be on the safe side? In the end, by the time we all got to the site, the rain had slackened off and the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds, so the outdoor plan would have been fine – but the decision to move inside had already been made, and I wouldn’t have liked to have been the person to call it the other way.

Everything on the site, bar the puddles, was reassuringly familiar, as were the first couple of bands – the Smittens and the School. They both seem like bands full of really lovely people and make undeniably tuneful pop, so it’s odd that they divide opinion a little. I feel like a rat fink for saying it, but I don’t quite get the Smittens – for all that though, they went down well and I didn’t exactly mind catching the second half of their set. Though I might have slipped out before the end for my first Gopal’s curry of the weekend – it’s important to uphold these Indietracks traditions.

Liz from The School The School, similarly, do what they do – but I have a real soft spot for them, and always enjoy seeing them live, particularly now they have a second album out and more of a back catalogue to draw on. The sound men on the main stage appeared to be keeping a running tally of twee instruments – while I didn’t count the number of ukeleles, glockenspiels and melodicas I saw all weekend, this set provided the first recorder solo of the festival.

Darren Hayman Headlining on the first night was Darren Hayman, with his band. Long called the Secondary Modern, they are being renamed the Long Parliament as Darren is embarking on a period of exploring his interest in Civil War folk songs – it’s a bit unclear whether this was the final Secondary Modern gig or the first Long Parliament one, but either way Hayman has established a band both solid enough to rock out and sophisticated enough to give a richer backing when it’s needed.

Hayman himself showed that he is at the absolute top of his game, with a set ranging across all corners of his Hefner and solo back catalogues, including Hymn to the Postal Service, a track from his forthcoming instrumentals album (which worked much better than you’d expect in a festival set), a triumphant encore of Painting and Kissing and a beautifully-pitched love song from the point of view of King Charles I, singing to his queen, which must surely count as one of Hayman’s best songs to date. Between songs he was warm and charming (would it be controversial to suggest he can sometimes be a bit grumpy? No, it wouldn’t), while still making it clear he has firm ideas about how things should be done – he insisted on keeping his mac on throughout the set, on the basis that what you wear when you come on-stage you should wear throughout the set, however sweaty it makes you. He did however complain about having to go to the British Grand Prix with his dad rather than stick around at Indietracks for the weekend – it’s a bad clash, as I’d thought about going to the GP this year until the Indietracks date-change was announced (thanks again, Vanity Games!), but I wouldn’t object too much to having been at Silverstone. Darren, however, did find it objectionable – sucks to be you, Darren…

A fine DJ set from Pop-o-matic rounded things out on the festival site, then back to the campsite for yet more indie disco, including what seemed to be Jimmy from the Bobby McGees giving a line-dancing lesson to someone. Good work, Day One of Indietracks.

If God hadn’t invented Indietracks…

On the Sunday night Sarah, Nick and I spent a good while sitting in the train bar thinking up possible future indie festivals, bearing in mind that there are plans afoot for one at a tank museum – Indietanks! I know I’ve forgotten a lot, but here are the decent-ish ones I remember – Sarah, help me out in the comments with any more?

  • An indiepop festival where compulsory sleep periods are scheduled into the timetable between bands… Indienaps.
  • An indiepop festival at a Golden Wonder factory… Indiesnacks.
  • An indiepop festival at Battersea Cats and Dogs home… Indiecats.
  • A 1940s-themed indiepop festival with a strict dress code in respect of trousers… Indieslacks.
  • An indiepop festival where headware is compulsory… Indiehats.
  • An indiepop festival co-organised with the Ordnance Survey… Indiemaps.
  • An un-PC indiepop festival at which children are encouraged to attend, but must be well-behaved at all time and may be firmly disciplined when necessary… Indiesmacks.
  • An indiepop festival offering free male all-body waxes… Indiebacksackandcrack.

Got any more? Add them below!