Last week, my favourite band, Foals, were playing a special gig at XOYO in association with NME. To get tickets you had to register to be entered into a ballot to get tickets ahead of the show which, of course I entered…but unsuccessfully. So remaining sad for about a day, then remembering I was seeing them at the Albert Hall in a few months anyway, I forgot all about it. So a week passed and it just so happened that I had to be attending a birthday at The Shoreditch Butchery above XOYO on the 7th February. It wasn’t until I got there and saw the signs plastered outside, that it was the night of the show so I set a mission for the evening, to get into the gig. After politely asking the door staff if we could buy-have wrist bands for the show a couple of times and being declined on both occasions, I realised that there was no way in without sneaking in… So that’s exactly what we did. A quick flash of a band-less wrist to the distracted bouncers, we ran downstairs just as the set started.
Kicking off with the Prelude for their latest album Holy Fire, they cracked on with a number of tracks from their first two albums including, Total Life Forever, Blue Blood, Ballons and one of my favourite songs of all time, Spanish Sahara. The energy was flying and Yannis kept amping up the crowd by diving in for a bit of crowd surfing, even crossing the floor and getting up on the bar with his guitar and swigging a pint handed to him by the barman. Doing the classic leave the stage and the crowd wanting more act, Foals re-emerged after their main set for a short encore of recent single Inhaler and of course finishing, as they always do on Two Steps Twice. Unexpectabley getting to see your favourite band on a work night, for free… Priceless!
Following a little bit of Thursday night Foals action, I headed on down for round two on Monday night where they were playing a free gig at Rough Trade East. With only about 150 people in the crowd and the band giving off the sentiment that they didn’t really want to be there, they banged out three tracks from Holy Fire and Spanish Sahara with ease and then departed the stage. A short but sweet performance that brightened up my snowy Monday.
I just finished watching the 2013 Grammy Awards and the above tribute I thoroughly enjoyed (to the point where I was jamming in my bedroom by myself!) When I first heard Bruno Mars’s, Locked Out Of Heaven, I said how similar it sounded to a Police track so to actually be treated to a collab between Mr. Mars and the one and only Sting was a nice little treat. If that wasn’t enough then the bad gal riri herself came out once again after an emotive performance of Stay alongside Mikky Ekko (she also managed to become the most talked about celeb on Twitter at that point with 1.6m Tweets) and was joined with none other than Bob Marley’s sons, Damien and Ziggy Marley to pay tribute to their late father. As soon as they broke into his famous Could You Be Loved, I couldn’t help but get excited. I think I was enjoying it as much as Frank Ocean who I noticed amongst the crowd to be bobbing away with a giant grin on his face. Oh to have been there in that audience.
Another performance that I thoroughly enjoyed was Miguel and Wiz Khalifa. I’ve been dying to see Miguel and his latest album, Kaleidoscope Dream, has been top of my most played list over the last few months. Singing his track Adorn, which features a version with Khalifa on the album, he sounded just as dreamy live as he does on the recording. I thought it was funny how Kelly Clarkson mentioned him in her acceptance speech after not knowing who he was, suggesting a collaboration, although I’m not too sure how that one would go down.
I definitely think that Channel Orange should have won best album over Babel by Mumford & Sons, although I was proud another British act won for the second year in a row. The sons third album just didn’t top their second in my eyes and I think Ocean would have been a more deserving winner.
Instead of heading to Coachella or Burning Man this year, I’m timing my annual trip to NYC with The Governors Ball. Held on Randall’s Island right in the heart of The Big Apple this year’s line up sees a variety of acts across all genres taking the stage. With Kanye West, Kings Of Leon and Guns N Roses as the headliners, it already goes from rap to rock, which is one reason why I liked the look of this line up. Spread across three days, we’ll get to see everyone from The XX, Beach House, Kenrick Lamar, Miguel, Haim, Bloc Party, Crystal Castles, Alt-J and Azealia Banks to name a few. Not only are we going to get a bit of festival action but outside of festival hours we’ll be able to roam around the city, eating and drinking and my favourite haunts, shopping at my favourite spots and wandering aimlessly around Central Park. Roll on June.
So the day I’d been anticipating for ages finally came… The Coachella 2013 line up announcement. To be honest, I was dreading it (or my bank account was) because I knew if it was as good as last year I’d be booking a ticket and not eating for the next three months in order to go. Luckily, for my bank balance’s sake, I wasn’t blown away. As good as they are, I didn’t feel as though the headliners, are worth a trip to California since their probably isn’t going to be any year defining ‘stunts’ this year. Let’s face it; if getting to see Dr Dre and Snoop (then) Dogg on the West Coast wasn’t enough, we were just so lucky enough to be graced with an appearance from the one and only Tu Pac, in hologram form. No disrespect to Blur and The Stone Roses, but with their oh-so-cool reputation I don’t think it’s in their nature. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers on the other hand are more likely to pull something out the bag, especially being Cali natives, but they don’t have that flash attitude that the rappers have.
Last year, I thought there were a fair few British acts on the line-up but this year I think there are taking over. The funny thing is that there are so many of my favourite artists on the list, but I have seen most of them in the last year or am going to see them in the next few months. As amazing as it would be to see them live, tucked neatly between the beautiful mountains of Palm Springs, on the super green, mud-free manicured lawns of Empire Polo Club, you just can’t beat seeing an act that you love on their own stage. Coachella 2012 was an amazing experience for me, so I’m going to leave it at that and maybe make my return to Indio in 2014 instead.
On a cold Wednesday evening in November we went down to The Kings College site just off the strand int he hope that some sunny California girls could brighten up our evening. Haim consist of three sisters with a west coast sound that’s oh-so nu-folk-nineties. They are one of my favourite musical things from 2012 because they come from a movement of bands like Tribes, Palma Violets, Savages and Pond, who for the first time in a decade, have all threatened to show up everyone who had come before them. When I first heard their debut song, Forever, it instantly sent me straight back to my memories of California, where I was earlier on the year for Coachella, so I was hoping their show would do the same. True to the sounds heard on their EP, these girls made us forget about the bitter cold outside and got us rocking out and our heads shaking and forget about she bangs the drums, it was all about they bang the drums as they finished off with each of them pounding in unison while the crowd went wild. They’ve taken girl power to the next level and are certainly ones to watch in 2013. Now all that’s left to do is sit back and wait for them to release their album and catch them on the festival circuit next year, which I’ve no doubt that they’ll rock just as hard, if not harder, then they did at this gig.
Last week I went to the sold out Jessie Ware gig at the intimate Electric Brixton. Her debut album, Devotion, has been gracing the top of the most played list on my iPod since it was released in August. After missing her at Field Day, Hackney Weekend and briefly watching her set at the back of the Big Top tent at this year’s Bestival (whilst stuffing my face with a burger) I couldn’t wait to see her play her own show. As she stepped out on stage, the twinkling intro to Devotion started played and she immediately burst into song. She continued to sing most of the songs from the album including my favourites, Swan Song, Sweet Talk and Night Light. Jessie’s album reminds me of something with a smooth 90s vibe, almost Shola-Ama esque and her live voice was as strong and soothing as it sounds on the recordings. She seemed overwhelmed and endearing to the crowd as she thanked everyone humbly for her support dedicated a couple of tracks to her best friend and brother. At the end of the show we walked out cooing about how much we enjoyed ourselves before continuing to get in the car, put the roof down (in the freezing cold) and blasting her album along The Embankment and all the way home.