Live Highlights of 2018

Despite being a pretty scary year in the grand scheme of things, 2018 has actually been exceptionally great for new music. And seeing live music has, as ever, provided a necessary catharsis and enjoyment; forever giving us something to look forward to. 

Having witnessed an uncountable amount of women/non binary folk being awesome on stage this year, it was hard to pick out our highlights … But, from some of our DIY faves, to Fever Ray and Courtney Barnett (and – yes – Indietracks Festival features twice, it’s that great), here are a few events that stood out as particularly special for us… 

Witch Fever Live @ The Finsbury, January:
2018 has been of year of many incredible gigs, not least our own gigs that we’ve been lucky enough to host at The Finsbury. And, whilst I have a massive amount of love and pride in all the gigs we’ve hosted, the year kicked off with a pretty immense one. Manchester’s Witch Fever, who made two six hour coach journeys to be with us, treated us to their frenzied, raucous offerings with an incredible, un-matched power. As front woman Amy’s incredible, snarling energy stole the show, we were all left completely in awe of this band’s formidable intensity. And they weren’t the only amazing band of the night; joining them was the empowering force of The Nyx, the grunge-fuelled energy of ARXX and the gorgeous pop-punk of Militant Girlfriend.
(Mari Lane – Managing Editor/Co-Founder)

Fever Ray @ The Troxy, March:
Fever Ray’s fierce, focused, sold out performance at the Troxy proved she’s an inimitable talent with a vision, generosity, and energy unlike any other. In Fever Ray’s space, no-one is an outsider: everyone is welcome in her warped and wonderful world. Emerging from the lights in her trademark “I heart Swedish girls” t-shirt and bare scalp, from start to finish the sound was flawless. Each lyric, synth sequence and drum beat was more distinct and discernible than the next – if you weren’t there, you definitely missed out.
(Kate Crudgington – Features Editor/Co-Founder)

Petrol Girls @ Shacklewell Arms, April:
Mari and I were so excited to see the brilliant Petrol Girls live for the first time this year, and they did not disappoint. Loud, lethal and life-affirming: their headline show was a raw, frenzied, furious affair. The band packed out the venue with the help of their friends Pretty Pistol and Screaming Toenail (our new favourite band), and played our favourite track ‘Touch Me Again’ with all the ferocity and energy we’d come to expect from this brilliant band of activists.
(Kate Crudgington)

Indian Queens @  Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival, June:
Hackney trio Indian Queens performed to a packed out Purcell Room at The Southbank Centre this year, after being hand-picked by The Cure’s Robert Smith to play his (exceptionally well curated) 2018 Meltdown Festival. The band delivered a mesmeric, sharply executed performance that ended in a well deserved standing ovation. I felt like I’d witnessed something truly special from the Cool Thing Record signees when I left the building, and I look forward to catching them again in 2019.
(Kate Crudgington)

Indietracks Festival (and its sense of community), July:
There is the smell of long past years in the carriage as the rails clackity-clack below you, the signalman waves from the box as you pass, and behind the sidings crammed with moss-windowed rolling stock the natural amphitheatre of the main stage hoves into view.

Indietracks is hidden away but for those in the know its not just the boutique festival quietly winning at line-ups, its home. Not only welcoming and familiar, but full of friendship and love. The diversity of the billing, the cute touches and culture-clash between trains and music will delight newcomers but the community sustained between years – by the festival and railway volunteers, each band, every festival-goer – is something to be really astounded by. At a time when togetherness feels more elusive, but is ever more vital, Indietracks should be both celebrated and cherished for the community its nurtured and welcomes home each summer.
(Sarah Lay – Contributor)

Indietracks Festival (and the diversity of its line-up), July:
With our ongoing disappointment at the lack of diversity on the majority of mainstream festival line-ups this year, I was particularly excited to discover Indietracks – one that refreshingly, consistently, champions DIY bands and artists of all genders and genres. And, I wasn’t to be disappointed; the weekend – set in the idyllic Midland Railway Centre near Ripley in Derbyshire – exceeded all expectations.

Ask me about any of my favourite bands of 2018, and they were probably playing at Indietracks Festival. From an array of glorious indie-pop (Wolf Girl, Colour Me Wednesday, Happy Accidents, Worst Place), Feminist punk (Dream Nails, The Baby Seals, Dream Wife) and all the scuzzy, dreamy sounds in-between (Ghum, Sink Ya Teeth, Sacred Paws, Girl Ray), every single band I saw filled me with an empowering sense of joy and blissful gratitude. And I think all those I saw consisted of female identifying/non binary artists.

So, whilst it still seems to be unusual to attend bigger festivals these days and not encounter ingrained misogyny or disrespect of some kind, Indietracks felt like a different world; a safe, joy-filled world, and one jam-packed with all the best music (plus owls and parrots!).
(Mari Lane)

Qween Kwong @ Rough Trade East, July:
I remember this gig for several reasons. Firstly, because I arrived soaked in sweat and rain from the downpour that briefly broke the overwhelming summer heatwave, and secondly because I was lucky enough to interview Queen Kwong before her set. She was just as cool (and as cutting) as I’d imagined her to be, and her live performance was a visceral, loud, defiant example of her songwriting talent.
(Kate Crudgington)

Wendy Rae Fowler @ The Finsbury, September:
I won’t lie; prior to Wendy Rae Fowler headlining for us at The Finsbury this September I was overwhelmingly excited and a little nervous. I’ve been a huge fan of her work over the years, and to have her play for us stands out for me as a particularly special moment (or 45 minutes) of 2018. Immediately creating a captivating, cinematic atmosphere, she filled the room with a majestic sense of wonder, delivering a soul-grabbing, breath-taking set that I’m truly honoured to have hosted.
(Mari Lane)

Courtney Barnett Live In Berlin, November:
Touring her second album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, Courtney Barnett was a sight to behold this year: quite literally. I looked on with envy when the Deal sisters provided backing vocals for ‘Nameless, Faceless’ at the BBC’s Biggest Weekend Festival. But, fortunately, a trip to Berlin also included seeing Courtney live at the city’s Huxleys Neue Welt venue. Seeing the songs played on a larger scale, contrasting with the more laidback atmosphere of songs taken from her debut and early EPs highlighted Barnett’s brilliance and renewed my appreciation of her songwriting.
(John McGovern – Contributor)

 

 

 

INTERVIEW: Queen Kwong

I arrived at Rough Trade East on Friday 27th July a gross mess, dripping in sweat, hoping the thunderstorm I’d just walked through was a decent excuse for my sloppy appearance. I was there to interview Queen Kwong (aka Carré Callaway) and to see her perform live for the first time. After being introduced, we sat in a corner of the record store, and fortunately for me – when I asked Carré how her support slot with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club went at The Forum the night before – she seemed to understand the discomfort the temperature caused: “It was hot. Really, really, hot. I guess they don’t have any air-con or filtration or anything here?”

When I asked if the heat affected her performance, she provided an unusual insight: “It gives more desperation I guess. There were definitely some points in the set where I was like “I’m gonna pass out right now” – but I’ve played a lot of shows like that, so I should be used to it. I’m used to misery”. We laughed at the quotability of her last sentence, before I changed the subject to her recent support slots with Nine Inch Nails in Las Vegas. She played three consecutive nights with them, and I asked how the shows went, and how they compared to the time she played with the band in 2005 & 2009:

“Well to be honest, I thought that it couldn’t get worse than when I opened for them in 2005. I played by myself with a guitar I borrowed from Trent. I didn’t really even have songs, so it was really stressful, really hard, and people were throwing stuff at me. It was crazy. I was only a teenager at the time, and I was like “Okay, if I can live through this, I can live through anything…” and then it got worse in Vegas…

The drummer I’d been using for a year basically went crazy and had some kind of mental break down. He ended up having to be removed by security because he was on the floor of the dressing room face down, crying. That was the second show in, then he disappeared and I didn’t know if he would even come for the third show. I thought I was gonna have to play the third show as an acoustic set because I thought he’d actually left town. Then he showed up, played the show, and it was really rough – I don’t think he played one song correctly – but we pulled it off. I fired him as soon as we got off stage, and he just laid on my floor and cried. It was a very, very bizarre situation.

So…that was pretty stressful! But in terms of how the actual shows went and how it was received, it was better than ever. I was surprised actually. It’s crazy because I’ve been lucky enough to open for NINs so many times, but they’re always the most stressful types of shows. When I opened for them as a teenager, it was first show they’d played in years – many, many years. And then, I opened for them for the last shows of their Wave Goodbye Tour, so these shows were both very exclusive, limited ticket shows with the most hardcore NINs fans ever. So, in Vegas I wasn’t expecting anything good, but we ended up making some new fans, so that was great”.

Her musical baptisms of fire are pretty full on, so I voiced my own awe at her ability to push through despite these setbacks. I asked her about her anticipations for the headline show she was set to play at Rough Trade in a few hours: “I’m just trying to keep an open mind because I’ve never done an in-store gig that’s actually, literally in the store. I’m curious to see how it goes because our set is pretty loud and aggressive, and it’s kind of funny when it’s in this setting. You feel like you should tone it down, but we might as well turn it up. Go from one extreme to the other”.

I broached the subject of her latest album, Love Me To Death, which she was in town to promote, and asked what she was most proud of on this record: “It’s actually one of the only records I’ve really been proud of because it was a challenge for me. I wanted to make a record that pushed me in terms of my own personal goals. My first record Get A Witness was all improvised and a concept record. Nothing was pre-written or edited, it was just like – record, release – which made it very hard to listen to. For a debut EP, I think I drew a pretty hard line in the sand. I wanted to take more time on this new record and make sure it was a bit more polished. People were like “Can you even write a chorus? Do you even know how to write a song?” – I never really cared about that stuff – but I was kind of curious to see what I could do as a songwriter, and to see what I was capable of. I think all the goals I set for myself, I reached, so this record is definitely the most well-rounded record I could’ve made. It represents every facet of who I am and what my interests are”.

I briefly interrupted to ask what her favourite track was, and why: “My favourite song is probably ‘Sun of Life’ which we aren’t playing tonight. It’s the least listener-friendly song, and it was the last song I recorded on the final day in the studio. It took about thirty minutes, and it was like my first record because it was improvised and heavy, but we’re not playing that tonight because our drummer that we’ve only just met (Sara from The Pearl Harts) only knows so many songs because we literally just met her, and ‘Sun Of Life’ is a really hard song to play if you’ve never played with us before.”

I asked about her new video for single ‘Raptures’ which features Carré running through a dimly-lit corn field. She explained the process that brought the footage to life: “I wanted to do a video of just one continuous shot of me running, with the camera tracking me. We needed to find a place where there was enough space for that in New York, so we went up-state and found this place that was a Halloween maze. I come up with concepts that really test people’s patience. I was like “this is gonna be great!” and everyone was like “No-one is going to be able to sit through this”. But I thought it was really cool, so we tried it, but the Director couldn’t keep up with me when I was running and it was really cold, and I had this whole contraption strapped to my chest which was shining light in front of me. The whole “one shot” thing didn’t really work, it ended up being a real disaster and it took me months to edit it. I had to be really creative with it because there was actually not enough footage, so I used a lot of tricks. I really do like the video, but it definitely strayed from what I wanted it to be. I think for the song it’s really appropriate and fitting. But as per usual, it didn’t go as planned”

We both laughed, and I asked her if this was a common theme when it came to her ideas and how they materialized: “Yeah, It’s a thing. I’m used to things never working out. I’m very accepting of it now”

I moved away from questions about her own music and asked who she was currently listening to: “Everything I listen to is the super opposite of the music I make. I’ve realised I really love Billie Eilish. She’s a 15 year old pop-singer who is amazing. I feel like I’m kind of a creep because I’m way older than her and super obsessed with her music. I’m like her biggest fan, so if she ever comes and plays in town, I’m not sure if I can go to her show… there’s gonna be a bunch of kids with their parents there, and then there’s just me…” Carré laughed at the prospect of this. “She’s super talented, and she seems to have a great attitude. She’s gorgeous, but she dresses in clothes 20 sizes too big. I’m in to that! I listen to The Weeknd a lot too, but aside from that all the stuff I listen to is pretty old. Swans are my favourite band – Oh wait – I’m really looking forward to the new Spiritualized record actually”.

Before she left to begin sound-check, I asked what the rest of 2018 held for Queen Kwong. Carré said she had “no idea”, which prompted me to ask if that was code for “I have an idea, but it’s not going to work out the way I want it to”. She laughed and replied “Why even talk about plans when they’re clearly never going to happen? Hopefully something good will happen though. I was thinking about releasing an EP next year”. I jokingly asked if she’d have time for a holiday: “Maybe? Do you know what, that’s great for press – “Hey, I’m quitting for a while to go on holiday, thanks for the interview, I have no plans to continue this bullshit!” she laughed before setting off to tear up Rough Trade’s stage as the inimitable Queen Kwong.

Huge thanks to Carré for answering my questions.

Love Me To Death is available to order here.

Follow Queen Kwong on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

WATCH: Queen Kwong – ‘Raptures’

A beguiling request to escape unwanted memories: Queen Kwong has shared visuals to accompany her latest track ‘Raptures’. Deemed “a portrayal of both her personal and creative freedom”, the video shows Queen Kwong (aka Carré Callaway) running in to the dark, before turning defiantly to face the lens.

Taken from her latest full length album Love Me To Death, the new video comes alongside the news that Queen Kwong will be supporting Black Rebel Motorcycle Club on their tour dates throughout July, as well as playing a handful of headline shows in London, Brighton, Manchester & Leeds.

Following her impressive 2015 debut Get A Witness, Queen Kwong’s latest record Love Me To Death (released via Edison Sound) is a powerful collection of tracks that explore “mental health, vicious industry misogyny, self-discovery and casual nihilism”.

Watch the video for ‘Raptures’ below, and head down to London’s Rough Trade East on 27th July to buy a copy of the record and to get it signed by Callaway herself.

Follow Queen Kwong on Facebook for more updates.

Queen Kwong July Tour Dates 2018
Wed 25 UK, Brighton, Hope & Ruin
Thu 26 UK, London, The Forum w/ BRMC
Fri 27 London, Rough Trade In-store
Sat 28 UK, Nottingham, Rock City Club Night
Sun 29 UK, Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
Mon 30 UK, Glasgow, O2 Academy w/ BRMC
Tue 31 UK, Manchester, Night & Day Café

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

PLAYLIST: July 2018

British summer time is in full swing, and the gorgeous/overwhelming heat makes every day feel like a summer holiday *wipes beads of sweat from brow*. If you’re stuck behind your desk however, fear not! We have a red hot set of new tunes to see you through the rest of the month. Take some time to scroll through our track selections, and hit play on the Spotify link at the bottom of the page…

 

Hercules & Love Affair – ‘Blind’
Taken from their self-titled album released in 2008 – the same year I attended London Pride for the first time – and without a doubt, the theme tune to me fully embracing my sexuality; feeling proud of who I was and strong enough to come out happily in all aspects of my life. Last weekend marked the end of the Pride Festival in London, with the Pride in London march on Saturday, where I marched with Switchboard the LGBT+ Helpline that I am a Trustee for. It was a great experience, and only mildly marred by the TERFS protest at the beginning. As a cis-gendered lesbian I denounce everything they stand for and pointedly want to say that I do not agree with any of their statements. I marched for the achievements we have made in society throughout the years to now, but also for all the essential changes still to come…one thing remains the same, it’s about standing for equality. Equality for everyone, everywhere. (Tash Walker)

Indian Queens – ‘Pretty Little Thing’
Equal parts driving and delicate: Hackney trio Indian Queens have shared their new track ‘Pretty Little Thing’ – and it’s as attractive to the ears as its namesake suggests. Released via Cool Thing Records, the single is an infectious blur of hypnotic vocals and shoe gaze guitar sounds. They received a standing ovation after their set at Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival last month, and this track has been swirling around my brain ever since. (Kate Crudgington)

Handsome Eric – ‘Oh No’
I fell a bit love with Handsome Eric on seeing them support Shamir last week at Camden Assembly. As the raw, honest emotion of Stephen O’Dowd propels the track, whirring hooks and a driving energy bring to mind Manchester artist, and personal favourite, Kiran Leonard. Totally luscious lo-fi scuzz of the best kind. (Mari Lane)

Nova Twins – ‘Lose Your Head’
GIHE faves and last week’s guests on the radio show, the immense Nova Twins have just released their ferocious new single ‘Lose Your Head’. Having received acclaim from the likes of The Guardian, and none other than Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello, the duo continue to prove themselves to be one of the most exciting bands around with the snarling vocals and addictive, frenzied energy of this latest offering. (ML)

The Empty Page – ‘Deeply Unlovable’
We’ve been massive fans of The Empty Page’s gritty, grunge-fuelled offerings for a while now, and we cannot wait for them to blow us away once again at The Finsbury on Friday! (ML)

Queen Kwong – ‘Raptures’
Slow-building bass lines and mesmeric vocals combine on Queen Kwong’s ‘Raptures’ to form a beguiling request to escape unwanted memories. No stranger to adversity, Queen Kwong (aka Carré Callaway) shows how her “cursed mind” is still as sharp as ever on this brilliant new single. (KC)

Carolyn’s Fingers – ‘Twice Born’
LOVE THIS! Experimental pop band Carolyn’s Fingers always deliver such refreshingly unusual music, where I just don’t want to even try and predict where their music will go to next. There is something about there music that consistently dabbles with art/performance and still I am yet to see them live. A firm ambition of mine. Totally DIY in every way, we full support Carolyn’s Fingers. (TW)

Gazelle Twin – ‘Hobby Horse’
Warped, uncomfortable, but morbidly fascinating: avant-garde artist Gazelle Twin has returned with a new image and this un-nerving new single. I can’t wait to hear more of her unusual electronic cacophonies on her upcoming record, Pastoral, on which she “exhumes England’s rotten past, and shines a torch over its ever-darkening present”. Sign. Me. Up. Now.  (KC)

Pitou – ‘Give Me A Glass’
So gentle, so beautiful, and so delicate. ‘Give Me A Glass’ by Pitou is taken from her new EP I Fall Asleep So Fast, released via Mink Records. I think this track is just mesmerising, and it probably helps that it was the first song I listened to after meeting my niece for the first time. So here’s to raising that glass to the new addition in my family! (TW)

Anna Aaron – ‘Why Not’
Love love LOVE! From the disjointed off-beat vocals, to those heavy beats that underpin this track; how can you not enjoy this?! Described as “crunching electronic pop sound”, I think that perfectly sums up this raw slice of intentionally aggressive music. (TW)

Lizzo – ‘Boys’ 
Another utterly empowering and ferociously fun offering from GIHE favourite Lizzo, ‘Boys’ is filled with all the refreshing wit that we’ve come to know and love from the Minneapolis artist. Reminiscent of the legendary Missy Elliot, this track’s funk-filled groove and joyous sex-positive spirit provides the perfect summer anthem. (ML)

Belako – ‘Over The Edge’
I saw Spanish band Belako at Finsbury Park last Saturday kicking off a day of fantastic music from QOTSA, Iggy Pop, Brody Dalle, Deap Vally and more…. And they are now my new favourite band – it was one of the most impressive, engrossing sets I’ve seen for a long time. They delivered each gritty slice of post-punk with a raw, swirling energy and explained that his track ‘Over The Edge’ is “against gender violence” – a poignant and necessary subject. And I just love its immense, gnarly passion. I’m now thoroughly addicted to their latest release Render Me Numb, Trivial Violence. (ML)

Asylums – ‘Millennials’
Essex indie rockers Asylums have returned with their highly anticipated second album Alien Human Emotions – released via their own label Cool Thing Records – and ‘Millennials’ is one of the stand-out tracks on the record. Slower in tempo, but just as powerful in delivery; the single laments the “generational generalisations” that millennial kids face in today’s society. (KC)