The Green Door Store always smells of incense. The quirky venue, all raw brick and uneven flooring, somehow goes hand-in-hand with the bands billed, something cosy and familiar about being in the intimate setting. For a sold out evening mid-week, it’s not too busy when Psychic Markers get going. Apparently they have played a few dates on this tour already and are tired so the quietly judging atmosphere of the audience might be a welcome break or it might be intimidating. It’s hard to tell what they make of it really. Starting with as much energy as they can muster, they look and sound like a seasoned indie-rock band. Singer Stephen Dove has killer cheekbones and cuts a similar figure to the Thin White Duke or even Jarvis Cocker due to his Northern accent, while lead guitarist, Leon, looks appropriately attired with striped top and thick rimmed glasses. Also in the Bella Union stable, their strongest tracks are the newest in the set, such as the experimental ‘Clouds’, though older ones like ‘200 Thousand Years Ago’ and the vastly repetitive ‘Hardly Strangers’ are more than danceable, the chanting vocals of the latter lending a 70s Iggy Pop feel to the occasion. Psychic Markers may be a bit lacklustre during this particular performance – perhaps due to the unexplained absence of their female member – but there remains something intriguing about their musical melting pot that is definitely worthy of attention when they’ve caught up on their beauty sleep.
Music has this tendency to throw up the unexpected. Take Elizabeth Benholz, aka Gazelle Twin, a new mother, and outwardly normal looking. However, when she immerses herself in music, she wholeheartedly takes on a partial alter-ego (part her, part someone else), and makes sounds and sings lyrics utterly at odds with her public persona. Appearances, in her case, can be misleading.
They must be putting something in the water down under. Producing stars in every genre, there’s an exciting feeling happening whenever an Aussie act hits the city. Haiku Hands, without a doubt the buzziest band of the entire Great Escape, made a speedy return to Brighton at Komedia’s Studio Bar. Despite the fact it was on a Monday, the Australian trio still managed to bring the party vibes and continued and defined their reputation as one of the most exciting bands in the world right now. Like their compatriots Confidence Man, Haiku Hands are a fresh, vibrant and exuberant slice of indie-pop and one of the most contagiously captivating live acts.
As far as years go, Australian band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s has been exceptional. Formed in 2013 and relatively unknown at the start of the year, they went on to play some of the most prestigious festivals in the world, as well as headline shows of their own. Not only that, but they released their debut album, Hope Downs, which we said, “Exhibits everything we’ve loved about the band – ragged, but smooth nonlinear indie-rock – but with a much broader landscape than they’ve shown with their EPs.” They rounded off their fantastic year with a brilliant celebration at a euphoric Concorde 2 gig that showcased their debut record and their early singles.
Coming just the day after 700,000 people marched through the streets of London in hope of a Peoples’ Vote, it was impeccable timing that saw Black Peaks wrap up their tour in Worthing. All That Divides, their second release, sprang to life when the band found themselves abroad at the time of the Referendum. Perfectly capturing the confusion, shock and unsettling state that many felt at the time, it is a huge beast of a record and a strong contender for rock album of the year.
It was back in 2002 that indie-rockers Editors first formed. Their debut album The Back Room was released three years after in 2005 and since then they’ve released an album every few years, spawning hits such as ‘Papillon’, ‘The Racing Rats’ and ‘An End Has A Start’. As part of their first tour in three years, Editors played the Brighton Dome, in support of their latest album, Violence, which has received a great response from critics and fans alike.
Originally impressing us earlier in the year with a support slot for To Kill a King at The Hope & Ruin, Childcare finally returned to Brighton for an exciting show for Hidden Herd, along with fellow buzz bands Lazy Day and Youth Sector. It’s hard to not be impressed by all three bands, but Childcare’s wonderful fusion of neo-soul, alt-pop and indie-rock is sublime and provided Sticky Mike’s with the perfect Saturday night soundtrack. Already sounding like an exceptionally polished indie band, it won’t be long before Childcare break out of the scene in some style.
Operating very much under the radar, with minimal radio or media exposure, Ali Lacey is a new kind of artist. One who can sell out venues such as this, embark on a global world tour, release high quality music via his own channels, and make sophisticated looking videos on the cheap. Without much need for the traditional gatekeepers, he feels like a guilty fake at times. However, that’s probably because he’s a super-sensitive sort of guy, the antithesis of the decidedly knackered old school Britpop bombast of a Noel Gallagher, who grips more and more tightly on his precarious lofty perches, dispensing ‘wisdom’ and ‘truth’. He now sounds like a very old codger, living in the past. While Novo Amor – which appropriately enough means ‘New Love’ in Portuguese – is the sort of new man who would rather speak of his accumulated wisdom, in hushed, sincere tones, almost apologetically.
There are a lot of people here at the top of the Rialto Theatre. It is oppressive compared to the cool autumnal night outside. Dry ice begins to fill the air as the lights dim and three men appear through the mist. “Don’t you think it’s already over?” Andrew Groves asks with just a tinge of sadness as the heavy synth of ‘Before Me (Over)’ lulls the chattering crowd into silence, all assembled acutely aware that, in fact, it is already over, or it will be soon anyway. This is Arcane Roots’ last ever show in Brighton following the announcement earlier this year that they are disbanding after their tour to focus on other things. Fierce backlighting outlines only their silhouettes, including sinewy collaborator, singer Emily Denton, who has joined them. Did this venue’s stairs lead to heaven? The ethereal and transcendental atmosphere charging the tiny room suggests this is likely.
Does every venue in Brighton have a glitterball? The Prince Albert’s twinkly, shiny sphere casts a lovely light over the intimate band room this evening, as The Grand Nowhere kick off. A Brighton-based quartet, bedecked in bad Hawaiian shirts, one of their singer/guitarists looks like a fairly awkward rabbit in the headlights, the other potentially thinks he is Jim Morrison – said shirt unbuttoned just enough to give a glimpse of a medallion amidst plenty of posturing. As different as the two men’s performance is, so too is their vocal style, a brash self-assuredness from Jim’s incarnation, the nervous guy punctuating his melodic voice with the right amount of falsetto and vibrato, a la Muse. I’m not sure if it works alongside the solid basslines and guitar-based songwriting that dominates their short set, though recent single ‘My Thoughts Again’ displays particular promise. Generally, though, it appears that they are really still finding out who they are as a group. I’m rooting for them to do so because they can pen a tune.