Gig Preview: SUGAR @ Gullivers NQ, 5th December (Charity gig for MIND)

‘Brainwaves: A Night of Music in Aid of MIND’ is taking place at Gullivers NQ in Manchester, next week on the 5th December. A special gig set up in order to raise money for the charity MIND, ‘Brainwaves’ features a great line-up of some of Manchester’s most exciting upcoming bands, including the one and only SUGAR.

SUGAR are an electronic, indie pop/rock band with some very addictive songs already under their belt, and a promise of new material to be recorded in the new year. With an eclectic, androgynous stage presence, SUGAR intrigue and get you hooked onto their music with the first listen. Their debut single ‘I Never Said’ has currently gained nearly 3,000 plays on Soundcloud, and they recently supported The Tea Street Band at their Manchester show as part of their Frequency Tour.
SUGAR will be supporting headliners Mister Twisted, an alternative-rock band with sprinkles of psychedelia and funk.

The whole purpose of the night is to raise money for MIND. A charity who are always on hand to provide advice and support for those dealing with mental health problems, they campaign to promote awareness of mental health issues and improve the understanding of these issues. Their ‘local Minds’ support over 500,000 people across England and Wales, saving lives daily. Everyone has someone in their life dealing with a mental health problem, whether it is a family member, friend, or themselves, and to have a charity like MIND available could be what gets them through. (Information from MIND’s website).

To show your support for these amazing bands and equally amazing charity, get yourself a ticket now, at only £4.50: Brainwaves Tickets

More information available here: Brainwaves Event

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Gig Review: SUGAR @ Night People 2/11/18

Sugar are an indie pop/rock quintet from Manchester, with shoe-gaze elements and creativity running through their veins.
Playing Night People as part of a song-writers showcase, they are headlining the night, debuting a whole set of glorious originals that are potentially going to form their first E.P. You heard it here first.

Dressed in an array of outfits that break through the mould and are a big middle finger to stereotypes- something that is reminiscent of David Bowie and Boy George- they give off an impressive amount of confidence for a young, upcoming band. As a general summary, think a pinch of Joy Division with a heavy addition of Glam Rock finesse.

Songs such as ‘All Night Long’ and ‘Together’ are the highlights of their short but very sweet set. ‘Together’ gets all of the crowd singing along for the chorus and dancing around the room. The good vibes that are emanating from everyone are too powerful to miss. Most importantly, Sugar themselves have fun onstage and engage with the crowd, with singer Mathew Petit strutting from one side to the other, draping himself across the mic stand. He poses, yet consistently croons out vocal melodies that carry rich emotion. The band mould together in such a professional way- they aren’t here to mess around, they have dreams on the horizon.

Listen to Sugar’s latest single ‘Never Gonna Change’ on Spotify now (and keep an eye on teasers for new releases coming soon): ‘Never Gonna Change’ by Sugar

Follow Sugar on:
Facebook: Sugar FB
Twitter: Sugar Twitter

Phones At Gigs: The Great Debate

Should mobile phones be allowed at gigs?

A subject that, in recent years, has sparked so much debate and arguments within the music community due to the popularity of the devices through new, exciting models and the apparent thirst to maintain a relevancy on social media that the younger generation is currently going through.
Gone are the days where watching a gig through your very own eyes was a way to remember moments; enter a time where, as soon as a well-loved song is played, phones are whipped out, held in the air and said song is proceeded to be played to a crowd stood still, intently watching through a screen.
The ability to live in the moment is seemingly being forgotten, as people today are increasingly feeling the need to document portions of their daily life on social media. There is nothing wrong with sharing memories and moments with a wider audience, especially if your social media following is mainly friends and family- but has it got to the point where the intimacy and magic of a gig is being lost due to feeling the need to document and share?

This is a point of discussion which has become popular in the music industry, with musicians and journalists both weighing in to give their opinion. Billie Joe Armstrong, from punk-rock band Green Day, has never made it a secret about his stance on the subject. NME reported that at a Q&A event in London in 2016, Billie Joe stated, ‘You can take your picture, but let’s have eye contact, let’s have a human experience right now you can’t capture on a cell phone’. Speaking from my own experience when I saw them in 2017 during their Revolution Radio Tour, there were a couple of moments when he was visibly pissed off at fans that were glued to their phones instead of watching them perform. He didn’t hold back in vocalising his annoyance; something which I can understand. You release a new album, rehearse for months, go on tour with so much excitement and anticipation to play these new songs to fans, only to find some of the audience being more intent on updating their Snapchat/Instagram story than actually getting stuck in to the gig.
On Twitter, music radio/TV presenter Alex Baker- in response to an article published in Kerrang about musician Rob Damiani’s thoughts about phones at gigs (read full article here: https://www.kerrang.com/features/rob-damiani-live-music-isnt-about-a-crappy-photo-that-you-can-put-up-on-your-social-media/)- said he agree’s with the view that social media is impacting and somewhat ‘destroying’ the experience you have at a live show, saying it should be ‘raw’ with ‘pure energy’.
Rob, Alex and Billie-Joe do all agree that you can take a few photo’s to serve as lasting memories, but perhaps it’s best to leave it at that.

I have been going to gigs since I was young, and have definitely noticed the change. I’ve been to gigs at arena’s, small venues, larger venues and most of them rock gigs, punk gigs etc. It used to be that only a few people would have their phones out, taking pictures and recording songs, but now it has developed into 2/3 of the audience. I would usually bounce off down to the middle or front and leave my parents at the back,with mum in charge of photo’s/video’s so I could just immerse myself in the experience. If the gig was good enough, you would remember it without the need to record it. An incredible gig will stay in your memories for life.
Like others, I’m definitely not against taking a few pictures or 20-30 second video clips of your favourite songs. I’ve been to loads of gigs on my own since living in Manchester, and I like to send a few photo’s and clips to my parents, show them what the band is like. But after I’ve done that, I’m away, getting lost in the show and the music. The feeling of watching your favourite band live is such a beautiful feeling. It can fill you with such euphoria. Stresses are forgotten and emotion pours out of you, sometimes uncontrollably.

Perhaps gig-goers and music lovers need to reconnect with the ‘lost in the moment’ feeling. Social media is consuming us but some things should stay near free from it. Unfortunately, gigs will never be how they used to be back in the 60’s/70’s/80’s/90’s, where people would drink, dance, mosh, sing along and create memories that way. But, maybe people will start to soon remember that the real world is more important, more precious than their number of followers.
Put the phone away, get down to the front and get stuck in, even if it means getting other people’s beer and sweat on you- trust me it’s worth it.

2018: More gigs than you can shake a drumstick at

Oi oi we’re back. Second year of uni is done, the stress of assignments is over (for now) and I have some spare time and a crap tonne of writing ideas and opinions to put down. To start it all off, this post will be a look at all of the gigs I have been lucky enough to attend during this year.

I’ve talked about how the music scene in Manchester has its ups and downs, but one thing that brings me so much joy as both a music lover and journalist, is how many bands bring their shows to this culturally rich city.
Put it this way: fuck all bands come and tour Norwich. In a tour manager’s eyes, it’s a small city, there is not an arena to accommodate their performers. They literally will tour anywhere except Norwich…maybe they just don’t like Norfolk people.

ANYWAY. In the past two years that I have spent living and studying in Manchester, I have seen bands that, years ago, I came to peace with that I might never see and experience hearing their songs live. This means a lot to me. As someone who has used these performers music to get myself through some of the worst periods of my life, and to be the soundtrack to some of the best, all these gigs merge together like one big, surreal moment.
In this post I will be detailing the 5 most significant gigs that I have been lucky enough to attend these past few months (and December last year). These experiences will stay with me forever.

  1. Good Charlotte (2nd December 2017)
    I only got into Good Charlotte a couple of years ago, but their music instantly clicked in my head and I was so attached to their songs. When the opportunity to see them came up, I had to. They played all the songs I love, they appreciated the crowd so much and I did cry a bit when they played ‘Hold On’. The lyrics are so poignant that they provoked feelings I mostly suppress. But, this is an indicator that the band is doing their job correctly, it is their intention to make you feel those things.
  2. Marilyn Manson (4th December 2017)
    Okay so…this is the most disappointing gig on the list. When I got tickets to see MM, I thought, ‘Holy Shit this will be INSANE. It’s going to be the weirdest gig I have ever been to!’.
    It was actually the most boring. OH MY GOD was I bored! I feel so bad saying this but…it’s true. My expectations to see some weird, crazy, twisted show were thrown into the ground and stomped on by a goths 6-inch platform boots. It took him an hour (from when the support DJ finished) to come on stage, by that time my attention span had taken up residence at the bar, and then the whole show looked like he was trying to force something out in a desperate attempt to reclaim his youth.
    Like I said, I feel bad writing this but it’s what I genuinely feel. Marilyn Manson did what he could considering his recent injury, but it just felt limp, empty. Still, I can tick it off my list that I’ve seen the one and only ‘Anti-Christ Superstar’.
  3. Thirty Seconds To Mars (24th March 2018)
    This is actually the second time I’ve seen 30STM but I can say, watching 30STM perform is not like rocking up to a standard gig. They put on a SHOW. I managed to get tickets so close to the stage I could almost flick Jared Leto on the nose. But I wouldn’t do that, I’m not weird.
    It was the UK leg of their Monolith Tour and it was just Jared and Shannon Leto, on a moving stage in the middle of the MEN arena, and that’s all you honestly needed. Both clad in Gucci, they dominated the stage, owned the entire crowd. I felt almost honoured to be there, watching them perform anthems such as The Kill, Kings and Queens, and Walk on Water.
  4. Fall Out Boy (29th March 2018)
    MY LITTLE EMO HEART OH MY GOD. I never, ever though I would be in a place to get the opportunity to see these absolute icons. I have loved FOB since I was 11. As a music journalist, to listen to the change in their musical style over the years- especially after their hiatus- has been beautiful. It goes to show that you should not feel pressured, as a musician, to stay in one particular genre your entire career. FOB’s music has changed drastically since early songs such as ‘Champagne For My Real Friends’ and ‘Sugar We’re Goin’ Down’ were released. Listen to them, then listen to ‘Young and Menace’ from recent album, ‘Mania’. Incredibly different, but equally as great.
    Highlights from their show were; being LITERALLY a few feet away from them all, Pete Wentz performing in a TESCO cap, Patrick Stump performing ‘Save Rock and Roll’ (the song that kickstarted my career in music) and making me shed more tears, then dancing my little heart out to ‘Hold Me Tight Or Don’t’. It was the most perfect gig. I still can’t believe I finally got to hear all those special songs. I’m still not okay after it.
  5. The Wildhearts (4th May 2018)
    A proper, good old rock gig. It was messy. I got very sweaty. My hair got in some woman’s cider. I knew all the words to all their classics and was also probably one of the youngest audience members there. Fucking hell it was brilliant. People who I’ve spoken to about this gig have never heard of the Wildhearts until I told them, but I am making it so clear now that YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO THEM. They deserve so much more appreciation than they currently get.
    The Wildhearts are a band who sound like they were made to be a live band. Their songs sound even better being performed live, they have so much more energy and sound so fuller. I used to beg my Dad to let him take me to see them when they would tour Norwich, but I was way to young at the time. So when the opening notes of ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’ reverberated around the room, and Ginger Wildheart became illuminated by the overhead lights, I felt so overwhelmed with happiness and excitement. I stood there, frozen for a split second before going absolutely fucking mental, probably kicking a few people with my army boots, and I did not stop once. It was pure happiness that night, and it engulfed everyone. I’ll never forget that feeling.

Song Review: ‘Heaven’s Discrepancies’ by The Empire Police

‘Heaven’s Discrepancies’ is the latest single to be released by Preston-based band The Empire Police, and upon first listen, does not disappoint. It is a wonderfully upbeat and energetic song, with an incredible catchy chorus. It’s what I like to call bubblegum sounding, like it could easily fit into an American teen comedy film.
The bass-line in the bridge sounds heavily influenced by Green Day, reminiscent of the bass-line in their song ‘Chump’ from 1994 album, Dookie.
‘Heaven’s Discrepancies’ is short but sweet, where every good thing you want from a song is packed into it 2:10 minute timeframe. You don’t get bored of it, and it’s that right amount of punk-style repetitive which makes it instantly stick in your brain.
The song, as a whole, sounds like the product of what you would get if the Kaiser Chiefs and The Hoosiers were put in a blender. That indie-pop-punk genre which was huge in the mid-2000’s.
‘Heaven’s Discrepancies’ is noticeably different in comparison to their other recently released tracks, such as ‘Yesterday’ and their self-titled E.P ‘The Empire Police’. It’s refreshing when bands do this because it shows versatility. The Empire Police are showing that they are capable of switching from laid-back, Northern indie-rock, to fast paced alternative pop-rock; and do it extremely well.
If you like what you hear and want more, The Empire Police are playing at The Soup Kitchen, Manchester on the 18th November with Scruff Of The Neck Records.
Tickets are available through Ticket Alien: https://www.musicglue.com/ticketalien/events/9f9ff7d0-63e6-0135-c797-2603ee79f6ff

‘Heaven’s Discrepancies’ is available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes. 

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1wywbtI5PQjtJaINE7GvUA?si=Fd7OSgrf

The Empire Police Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/theempirepolice/ 

Live Review: ‘Avenue’ @ Night & Day Cafe, Manchester (11/10/2017)

The Night and Day Cafe in Manchester is slowly becoming a favourite place amongst young bands. It’s cool, quirky, and at first doesn’t strike you as a music venue, just an overly alternative coffee shop-cum-bar. But it definitely has that hipster vibe which is becoming a must have accessory for a lot of today’s young talent.

Tonight, the headline act is Avenue, a jazz-rock band from Manchester. The place isn’t packed out, but I wouldn’t really expect a full on mosh pit to happen at a jazz gig.
As they kickstart their first song, ‘Mellow Yellow’, it instantly comes across how professional they must work together. They are tight, the sound is clear and the singer has a voice very reminiscent of Amy Winehouse. The overall sound of jazz vocals mixed with rock instruments blends together so smoothly. It’s actually so refreshing to hear a young band sound like this and not like a wannabe Arctic Monkeys/Oasis tribute band.

I just wish they had more spark in their stage presence for in between songs. It deflates the set when they go from full performance mode, to standing around awkwardly, talking shyly to the audience.

‘Move On’ injects some feistiness into the performance, with lead singer Lauren George spitting out lyrics such as, ‘Move on, you need to get some help!’. It has that element of sassiness which makes you want to applaud and shout, ‘YES GIRL!’.
Remember I said the singer sounded like Amy Winehouse? Well sure enough, mid-way through their set, they launch into a cover of ‘Valerie’ (originally done by The Zutons, Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse covered it in 2007). It is definitely their stand out song, getting an impressive reaction from the audience. A crowd pleaser, yes, but it shows off Lauren’s vocals beautifully, and with their own relaxed jazz-rock twist, it makes the song sound effortless.
All the songs that Avenue have performed tonight are slick, well rehearsed and enjoyable to listen to. You just need stage presence guys! Get some movement in there, dance a little, it’s your night and you are in control.
However, it is a good thing that this the only negative thing I have to say about their performance tonight.
Last song ‘Wicked Heart’ leaves the gig on a happy-go-lucky, feel-good note, and finally shows the two guitarists enjoying themselves.

Avenue have incredible songwriting talent, and seem to have already established a solid sound with no doubts of who they want to be. Their set was a perfect mix of well rehearsed originals and crowd pleasing covers. It went down so well, they definitely deserve to feel proud as musicians.

Making money off the dead

Another in-depth blog post, but one which I feel needs to be discussed because there are two arguments to the side of this, more controversial topic.

Continuing a similar theme with the last post, where I discuss that ALL musicians who die should be given the same remembrance by the media, I wanted to write about what happens after the musicians die.

Celebrating a musician after they die is of course, normal and completely fine. But, I have very mixed feelings about whether it is right or wrong for their manager or record label to use the fact that they have passed, as an opportunity to make as much money as they can from their music. Within the next few days of the artists death, there will be adverts on TV showcasing their ‘Greatest Hits’, copies of every album lining the main displays in HMV, and the charts will suddenly be swarmed by all their well known singles.

Suddenly, it seems every person on the planet is a ‘huge fan’ of said musician.

But where does all the money go from the sales? Straight back into the record labels pocket that’s where. Which raises the question- do these massive record labels see artists deaths as the best promotion opportunity, essentially, making money off the dead?

When put like that, it seems quite insensitive, but think about it: who are these sales benefiting? Obviously not the artist, they have no idea that their number 1 hit from 10 years ago is back in the charts. They left this earth just hoping to be remembered, at least for a little while. So which major party is left, but the record label who is giving the go-ahead for the CD’s etc to be sold in the first place. You may not want to believe people like that exist, but unfortunately they do. There are some people who work in the industry, in record labels, who only have money on their mind. They couldn’t give two shits about the artist, just the revenue they bring in.

All that leaves a bad taste in your mouth, doesn’t it?

However, this is my other argument to this subject. As I said previously, there is nothing wrong with celebrating an artist after their death. Those people have affected other people’s lives greatly. They will leave a lasting impression in the music industry, with songs which shall be played for years to come. I just feel that record labels should have the artists family in the forefront of their mind, rather than their pay cheque. Money from sales should be given to direct relatives, then some to charities/organisations the artist worked with- that would benefit the world a lot more, wouldn’t it? I’m sure that would be the lasting impression the artist would like to leave, knowing their family is secure, rather than ensuring workers at a record label get their end-of-year bonus.

This is a subject that does get me riled up, as I feel very strongly about it. But once you see what is happening, once you think deeper than, ‘Oh isn’t it nice to see all [insert artists name here] CD’s on sale again! Isn’t it nice for them to celebrate them!’, you do realise what is actually going on. It has made me view the situation a lot differently. I don’t go into shops and see joy at how the artists CD’s are everywhere, how their songs are back in the charts, because I know they aren’t here to be benefited.

I wish they could be.