On a more typical winter’s Sunday by the seaside to what we had experienced a few days earlier, five Brighton bands travelled the 36 and a half miles from Brighton Pier along the south coast to experience the UK’s largest Mardi Gras festival which is held in Hastings.
This is the 10th year of Fat Tuesday and it has expanded considerably during this time. It has included previous headline acts such as Dodgy, Ruts DC, The Membranes, Skunk Anansie and Skinny Lister. If you haven’t experienced this event before then you must sample it next year, unless of course you can drop everything and get over to this hip and happening town for Tuesday evening’s finale to the 5-day celebration including headline act, original bassist with The Sex Pistols, Glen Matlock at The Carlisle. A Punk playing in a Bikers pub. Mods may want to steer clear!
With all the music being free, apart from the After-Party, there is no excuse and it means that you can enjoy more of the local ales on offer. The only other outlay being £2 for a reusable special edition Fat Tuesday pint glass. You know it makes sense.
After Friday’s opening show at The Albion with Grand Malarkey, Unplugged Saturday with 200 gigs spread over 20 venues, it was Sunday’s turn and a new addition to the festivities for 2019. ‘Under the Radar’ is the opportunity for some of the best emerging young talent from across the land to showcase their talents on four stages.
I made my way down to The Carlisle at 24 Pelham Street, Hastings TN34 1PE, on a day where it would actually take me longer going down the hill than it would coming back up again. It was so wet and windy that even the Umbrella Parade had to be held indoors at St Mary in the Castle!
With The Joe Strummer Foundation putting on bands upstairs my main focus for today was downstairs where ‘BBC Introducing the South’ were showcasing six acts including 4 from Brighton. A weekly live show is hosted by Melita Dennett, and goes out every Wednesday on BBC Radio Sussex from 7-9pm. Melita was in the crowd, as was much respected journalist of Louder Than War and lead singer of The Membranes, John Robb, so the pressure was on for all to perform.
First up were Foundlings. A Brighton and South East London based band who play melodic, guitar-driven, indie-rock. I was looking forward to seeing what all the fuss was about as Steve Lamacq had chosen ‘Misery’ for his Recommends Playlist and had described the band’s sound as “breathless indie pop.” The follow up to the band’s first offering, ‘Horizon’, was selected by Melita Dennett for 6Music’s BBC Introducing show.
Given that they had successfully launched their debut EP to a sell out crowd at The Sebright Arms in Bethnal Green the night before and they were still feeling rather tender, their performance today was almost faultless. The only hiccup was when they started off with completely the wrong song when they were supposed to be launching into their first single ‘Horizon’. This was easily brushed off as they played a very good set. They treated us to all of the tracks off their debut EP comprising of ‘Enemy’/ ‘Caught Up On You’/’Busan’/’Slumber’/’Fall Out’.
My favourites have to be the two minute wonder that is ‘Misery’ and ‘Busan’. Both tracks are slightly edgier and for me set them apart, showing their ability to mix up their style. Definitely a band to watch out for in the future.
This afternoon’s setlist was: ‘Slumber’, ‘Fall Out’, ‘Horizon’, ‘Caught Up On You’, ‘Misery’, ‘Busan’, ‘Enemy’.
Foundlings are: Amber (vocals), Bryan (Bass), Matty (Guitar), Ollie (Drums).
After a strong start to proceedings, next onstage were the brightly yellow clad Lazybones. When lead singer Candi beckoned the crowd to move forward, I had the feeling that this was going to be something special. Having walked to the venue in gale force 10 winds, I felt safe once inside The Carlisle, but what happened next truly blew me away.
I love my music loud and as chance would have it I had come to the right place. I was prepared with ear plugs, due to years of gig abuse, and this band were loud even with them firmly implanted in my hearing organ. Candi was full of energy from beginning to end, of which I have not seen the like for many a year. I have to say that I loved her facial expressions. In fact she was so energetic that the bottom of her dress popped open unexpectedly to which she looked slightly embarrassed but she needn’t have worried as nothing was exposed. In amongst all that is going on her expertise on the Hammond Organ did not go unnoticed and it is crucial to the sound they create. Sam understandably looked exhausted on drums after a wonderfully frenetic set yet somehow bassist Joe just looked coolness personified. Who only knows what his secret is? This band definitely have stage presence.
This afternoon they opened the set with the wonderful ‘Fashion Victim’ setting an unrelenting pace for the gig. They played all the songs from their debut singles ‘Zombie’, ‘Snake’ and ‘Crazy’ – released via SaySomethingRecords – and latest single ‘Heart Beat Like A Drum’ – released via Killing Moon. These have been played on the radio by the likes of BBC Introducing and Radio X. Lazybones have also recently released their debut EP ‘Bang! Bang!’ via Killing Moon Records which is the definitive collection of all they have recorded thus far.
Described as one fuzzy bass guitar, amplified organ and drums, creating a trashy, unapologetic, to-the-point sound; comparable to the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, Slaves, IDLES and Royal Blood, this band are well worth a viewing on their own merits. Next time I see this band I can guarantee that I will be negotiating the mosh pit. After being swept away by this performance I even parted company with £20, which is a feat in itself, in return for their bundle which included a t-shirt and their latest EP on CD with bonus tracks covering all that they have recorded thus far.
Today’s setlist was: ‘Fashion Victim’, ‘Zombie’, ‘Denim’, ‘Snake’, ‘Cut Me’, ‘Heart Beat Like a Drum’, ‘Crazy’.
Lazybones are: Candi Underwood – Vocals, Joe Tighe – Bass, Sam Barnes – Drums.
Unfortunately Li’l Snath did not make it onto my menu as I was feeling hungry for food and missed his set in return for a jacket potato with tuna, coleslaw and cheese. Sadly there are no photos nor review of this set or meal.
After my half time break I returned to the venue to watch yet another Brighton band. Currls, with two R’s and not Curry’s as they pointed out was advertised on one of the posters, given that they do not sell electrical goods. This was the icebreaker and thereafter they enjoyed good interaction with the crowd.
Having played at The Green Door Store in Brighton the previous night, to what started off as just the sound crew they were very grateful of the generous crowd that had turned out to view their talents tonight.
The band helped ease me back into the evening with their music containing noticeable post punk and new wave influences. The main influence lyrically though appears to be Holly’s relationship with people she knows or has befriended, which she suggested maybe she should change as they are not necessarily positive. These people may not be worth your time Holly but if they continue to inspire you to write such good songs then maybe it is just worth stringing them along a bit longer. I particularly enjoyed ‘April Fool’ which I am reliably informed has been played to death by Melita but do look out for their next single ‘Let Down’ which was one of my highlights of their enjoyable set.
This evening’s setlist was: ‘Bad habits’, ‘Nerve’, ‘Green Man’, ‘Still Here’, ‘Let Down’, ‘April Fool’.
Currls are: Holly (Guitar/Lead Vocal) , Lawrie (Bass) and Maddy (Drums).
So I made my one and only foray upstairs at The Carlisle to The Joe Strummer Foundation stage. Walking into the room instantly brought back memories of my 50th birthday party when I had local Hastings band, The Kytes playing a memorable set. On that occasion there was a bucket in the middle of the dancefloor as the rain poured in through the ceiling on a similarly stormy night. Thankfully the hole in the ceiling had been fixed since 2014 and tonight Jumanji only had to contend with there being just one spotlight which thankfully soon became two. They really needn’t have bothered because the sunshine that they brought into the room when they broke into ‘Higher’ which transformed a miserable day outside into something resembling midsummer, or at least an end of February day courtesy of global warming. I can see why they describe their genre as Tropical Pop.
This was their first visit to Hastings and it was obvious to see that they were thoroughly enjoying themselves on stage. Even though not my usual tipple I somehow found myself tapping my foot uncontrollably. I even watched the video for ‘Foxes’ based on Neneh’s recommendation. Prancing around dressed as foxes in the countryside, then in Brighton and ending up at a house party, typified the fun that this band have. Of course, they treated us to their recent single ‘Houdini’ which has received airplay on local and national radio.
Tonight’s setlist was: ‘Higher’, ‘Swings and Roundabouts’, ‘Alyssa’, ‘Houdini’, ‘Foxes’, ‘Shindig’, ‘Constellations’.
Jumanji are: Neneh Atkins – Vocals, Aaron Butler – Guitar/Backing vocals, Nathan Maskell – Guitar/Backing vocals, Jonty Poulter – Keyboard, Joe Sayers – Bass, A.N. Other – drums
I made my way back downstairs and outside through the heavy rain to see my last band of the night, the highly recommended ARXX. Having been introduced to Tropical Pop I was in need of some angst but having spoken to Hannah and Clara beforehand they appeared unassuming. My opinion was soon to change when I saw them limbering up and I started to prepare myself for something different. From the drum intro to ‘Moments at a Time’ I realised that this was going to be slightly louder than their persona would have you believe. This song showed off Hannah’s vocal range early on and had me hooked.
Their versatility shone through as they performed a Country song in ‘Stuck on You’. According to Hannah they woke up one morning and wanted to be a Country band, as would any Garage Rock duo!
They say that they are socially awkward, but that is all part of their appeal. Clara’s interaction with the crowd was great as she went into her retail work mode. If she sold drum sets then she would be successful as her skills definitely sell the product. I love that before playing ‘Tired of You’ Hannah asked if all the children had left before she uttered that this song was about a plonker!
The crowd were left with a cliffhanger as the last two songs played were both new and one of them is going to be their new single but they wouldn’t divulge which one. A difficult choice but maybe I would plump for ‘Iron Lung’.
I took a look at the merchandise stall and I have to say that the t-shirt with the slogan ‘This is what we do when we’re not in the kitchen’ is genius.
Tonight was the first date of their tour and based on this performance I would definitely recommend you try and catch them in a town near you. They will be returning to Brighton to play The Prince Albert on 28th March so make sure you keep that date free.
Tonight’s setlist was: ‘Moments at a Time’, ‘Intervention’, ‘Stuck on You’, ‘Tired of You’, ‘Now That’s What Happens’, ‘Iron Lung’.
ARXX are Hannah Pidduck (Vocals, Guitar) and Clara Townsend (Drums).
On the face of it Melita has unearthed some great talent and I was lucky enough to witness all these bands in action. Hopefully they will move onto greater things but please don’t forget your roots and remember that playing these small venues is what live music is all about. It’s safe to assume that Brighton took over Hastings Fat Tuesday at least for today but with a wealth of Hastings talent on the rise they will have to stick to their A-Game to fight off the competition for next year’s coveted slots at this little gem of a festival.
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