Ah the big round-ups!! (I’m writing this one first but I have no idea what’s gone up so far, maybe nothing?) I was lucky enough to get myself to a healthy amount of giggage this year and, if you allow, I’d like to indulge in my experiences and round-up my live music moments of 2018, from the bigbois to the local ladsssss.
January 30 – RavenEye (Exchange, Bristol)
My first show this year was a blind one, going on the promise of free entry and a night out. The Exchange is a great little venue and the atmosphere felt pretty good for some straight up hard rock. A triple, three-piece populated bill, we kicked off with local band iDestroy. While their punky aesthetic and catchy chorus didn’t have the same vigour upon a Spotify investigation, they got everyone in a good mood, perfect for a warm-up act. Then, the Leeds-based SKAM followed up to quite a surprising amount of fanfare, with them attracting a decent amount of the crowd, and impressing me with their particularly expressive bassist and rendition of War Pigs, which’ll get me singing along any time of the day. With the headline act, we saw on the up-and-up, with a selection of pretty great tunes (see Come With Me) and a great stage presence. On their first headlining tour, they were as thrilled to be there as anyone and you could see it. Not bad for a whim.
March 16 – Dame Jean (The Bell, Bath)
A local band next up and, boioboi, the median difference between record and live is feltttt. Despite my frequent wearing of the t-shirt I bought at this show, I’m not overly keen on the indie-punk stylings of this group. That said, they were actually a really good live show. The small, familiar audience quite clearly put the frontman at ease, playfully dabbling in banter, as well as giving solid, entertaining performances, as had the rest of the band. The songs had *such* a better kick live that any recording doesn’t especially do them enough justice. Add to that a great support act in the now-deceased Mary’s Room, and you’ve got a solid night on ya hands.
June 23 – Foo Fighters (London Stadium, London)
Oh and another small gig here. Man, I wish had a few more massive, life-affirming, dream-come-trueing gigs this year, damn oh damn oh damn. Of course, I’m doing a big funny, this was amazing. An actual dream come true, seeing these guys live is something I’ve wanted to do for about 10 years now and completes my holy trinity of bucket list bands (with RHCP and QOTSA). While the beginning was tampered by personal faffing that led me to miss all three of the supports (including Starcrawler, RIP), nothing could prepare me for the two hour avalanche of pure magic the evening had in store. Plowing through every single damn one (bar Times Like These) of their extensive greatest hits catalogue, I can safely say that this is the greatest live band on the planet right now, and in the top ten of all time; I have the permanently damaged vocal chords to prove it!
August 3 – Imagine That Presents: LOUD WOMEN (The Golden Lion, Bristol)
Another local gig, a bit more hyped-up this time, however, as I was finally be able to see my favourite Guernsey garage-punk trio Track Not Found (you know, the ones I don’t stop going on about) right on my doorstep, no ferry-ride required! Still, it was a packed bill,with a lot of great bands to see, local acts Miss Kill and Meg Emrys kicking things off. With TNF on after, we were treated to a punky little set filled with well-performed and exceedingly well-written tracks. Following them we had Bristol’s own Slag Heap, a band I had no knowledge of going in to the show and am *gagging* to catch again at some point. Their “spunky as hell” indie-rock-post-punk was tinged with a comedic edge that had me tapping my feet and holding my sides in equal measure. Closing the night for me was The Menstrual Cramps, an up-and-coming riot grrrl band who provided everything that defined riot grrrl as a genre, fierce politics and angry instrumentals. While I think some of their lyrics are a *bit* on the nose, they knew what they were doing and did it with conviction, and my patriarchy-benefitting-from ass ain’t gonna change that.
October 19 – Elvana (o2 Academy, Bristol)
A Nirvana tribute act with an Elvis impersonator. What more. Do you. NEED. TO. KNOW? Nothing, that’s what. While I usually make a point not to really bother with tribute acts, the mixture of batshit crazy concepts and the fact that I’m not planning on seeing Nirvana live anytime soon led me here. In terms of sheer enjoyment, I had as much fun as I did seeing Foo Fighters. The atmosphere was great, full of Nirvana fans all singing along with the King’s Cobain-esque barks; with a setlist compiled of every great Nirvana song. It was funny, it was heavy, it was everything I wanted it to be.
October 30 – Father John Misty (The Forum, Bath)
I’ve fallen in love with the sardonic indie folk of Father John Misty this year, building on my enjoyment of last year’s Pure Comedy, which I am seeing more and more as a masterpiece nowadays. This had hit a peak when I found the Good Father spreading the gospel at only my own damn town — at the same damn venue where my own damn school had it’s own damn carol service. I couldn’t refuse, and got right to front to see one of my favourite songwriters quickly become one of my favourite performers — his enigmatic stage movements adding that sense of allure to his lyrics, while his oft-praised banter with the audience lived up to it’s own weird hype. He played a bevey of great tracks from across his four albums, even dusting off some deep cuts I wasn’t expecting, and making one of my best gigs of the year.
October 31 – Snail Mail (Thekla, Bristol)
I am not a Halloween boi — it’s an excuse for people to come to my house when I don’t want them to, that’s tantamount to trespassing. As such, I don’t think there could be a better way to spend such a dreaded holiday than with one of my artists of the year. I’ve listened to Lush easily over 50 times across the summer, so I was more than hyped to see Lindsey Jordan bring her sugary-sweet indie rock anthems to the anchored venue. While the pace of the songs was slightly lost in performance, and an encore is always appreciated, hearing those songs that I relate so deeply too from the hands that wrote them was gonna be special.
December 13 – The Wurzels (Komedia, Bath)
I mean, if you wanna talk surreal events of my year, standing fully sober, my shoes bonded to the floor by spilled cider, giving it the ol’ “oo arr” to some 70/80-odd one-hit-wonders on crisp December night, has gotta be up there. I’m not a Wurzels fan, I’m not a Scrumpy-n-Western fan (real genre, look it uppp), I am a cider drinker, however, and I do drinks it all of the day. That seemed to be the only necessary requirement for a Wurzels show, and it weren’t ‘alf bad neither. Regardless, in a year where I saw Foo Fighters command thousands of fans, I have not seen a crowd so enamored by an act as I did that night.
December 18 – Clutch (o2 Academy, Bristol)
We close out the year, finally, with a gig two years in the making for Reuben and I — the much mythologised Clutch at o2 Academy. With stellar support from The Inspector Cluzo, as well as some total wankery from The Picture Books, the sold-out crowd was more than prepared for what about to happen; a fireblast of pure rock fury from one of the best hard rock bands of the moment. Despite a lack of both X-Ray Visions and Crucial Velocity, the 17 tracks exploded each in their own way, destroying an audience who begged for more. Neil Fallon is a bonafide god, one who commanded his disciples with absolute ease — his stage presence rivaled by no-one, it was worth the ticket fee just to be in his presence. The pit was raging and a little bit lairy, and the roof *tore off* when confronted by the one-two punch of The Mob Goes Wild and Electric Worry, the latter causing Reuben to retreat to the bar for a breather. I came home that night tired and sore, but in the knowledge that I had just seen a fucking rock show like none other.
Because I cannot resist a redundant ranking.
Best Show: Foo Fighters – It was only natural to see this one here, this was one of the greatest moments in my tiny life.
Honourables: Elvana, Father John Misty, Clutch
Best Setlist: Foo Fighters – When you *open* with the triple threat of All My Life, Learn To Fly and The Pretender, you know you’re in for a treat. Nothing was missed and my vocal chords were raw by the end of it.
Honourables: Father John Misty, Elvana
Best Support: The Inspector Cluzo (@ Clutch) – French two-piece dabbling in agri-politicized hard rock, with a bunch of fuzz and drum kit destruction at the end? A good way to open a night.
Honourables: Hachiku (@ Snail Mail), Mary’s Room (@Dame Jean)
Worst Support: The Picture Books (@ Clutch) – Funnily enough the act after my best support provided my biggest eyebrow-raisers. A cymbal-less drum kit and by-the-books blues rock — huminahumina hell nah.
Honourables: Bedouine (@ Father John Misty)
Best Moment: Everlong – Foo Fighters – Watching fireworks shoot up into the clear London sky as Dave goes for his final “And I wonder…” is an image I will never forget.
Honourables: Anytime – Snail Mail, Territorial Pissings – Elvana, The Mob Goes Wild – Clutch
Best Performer: Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) – As good as I wanted and so much more, he can form a personal relationship with 66,000 people all at once.
Honourables: Father John Misty, Elvis (Elvana), Neil Fallon (Clutch)
Best First Impression: Slag Heap – Even though I was expecting to get down to TNF that night — I was fully not expecting to see these guys give groove and laughs as much as they did. Honourables: RavenEye
Best Audience: Elvana – You’re in a room full of other Nirvana fans all absolutely going apeshit for a song like School — won’t you believe it, it’s just my luck.
Honourables: The Wurzels
Best Venue: Thekla, Bristol – Tiny little fucker on a boat in Brizzle, ’tis choice.
Honourables: Exchange (Bristol)
So that’s my piece of self-indulgence for this year (jk that’s this whole site). Do tell me what your favourite shows were and fill me with envy. Hell, maybe you even showed up to some of these — and you’re a land-locked to the West Country as I!
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations