Unbelievably, seven months of 2017 have passed by already, and I’ve been lucky to cram in more live music than ever before. I’ve seen bands in tiny pubs, bands on gigantic festival stages, and bands everywhere in-between. I’ve travelled all the way around the country to follow my passion, watching acts as far south as Oxfordshire & London, journeying up to Hull, and I’ve seen a couple of local gigs in Lincoln. I’ve created endless memories and taken countless photos and videos, mainly because my memory isn’t my strong point! I thought it would be interesting to grade the acts I’ve seen live so far and put them in four categories: ‘epic’, ‘great’, ‘average’, and ‘disappointing’. There’s often an overwhelmingly large amount of choice when it comes to which gigs to go to and who to sacrifice seeing when dreaded festival clashes arise, so maybe this list will help someone out.
Epic – I’m not often fussed about seeing bands over and over again, but these guys buckle the trend…
- Catfish and the Bottlemen – They were born to headline festivals.
- Slaves – In just over two years I’ve seen them five times. When they perform ‘Where’s Your Car, Debbie?’, they generate a reaction from the crowd like no other. Could well be the best British live act at the moment.
- The Maccabees – My first and last time seeing them will stand out forever. Plus, their guest on the stage was Marcus fucking Mumford; legends.
- Christine and the Queens – Funkylicious.
- Royal Blood – I stood under Ben’s (their drummer) legs as he balanced on the barrier in front of the crowd. That was epic enough, let alone the rest of the performance (they are a phenomenal force live too).
- Plan B – His set at Big Weekend ended with balloons being released into the crowd and it was one huge welcome back party for the soul singer / hard-hitting rapper.
- Two Door Cinema Club – Another band I’d been waiting a long time to see, and thankfully they were delightful.
- Declan McKenna – I’ve spoken enough on this blog already about my love for this guy; he’s a bright spark in the future of British music.
- Loyle Carner – Easily drew the largest crowd by a country mile, at the BBC Introducing Tent at Radio 1’s Big Weekend. He has such a confident live persona and is the coolest guy on the block.
- The Big Moon – Badass indie rock girl group who created the best live atmosphere at Truck.
- All the performers at Radio 1’s Piano Sessions in Hull – There is something tranquil hearing bands usually dependent on multiple instruments, play with just a piano. Bands should play stripped back more often, it’s refreshing.
Great – They either exceeded my expectations, or they surprised me. A lot.
- The Wombats, Anteros, Stereo Honey, alt-J, Blossoms, Circa Waves (bonus points for the lit mosh-pits that didn’t destroy me at Big Weekend!), Twin Atlantic, Biffy Clyro, HAIM, James Arthur, LIFE, The Amazons (the lead singer was a darling and complimented my head-dress), Calva Louise, Strange Bones, SISTERAY, BlackWaters, Inheaven, NYTCLUB, Dream Wife, Pulled Apart by Horses, Low Island, Willie J Healey, Bad Sounds, Rag N Bone Man, Seramic, The Magic Gang.
- The whole lineup at Louth Later V – Before Louth Later I’d never been to or even considered going to a concert in my home town before, but Buffalode, Zephrine, Chariots, Sophia Woodcraft and Robot Found Errors were part of an excellent, diverse show, and I am excited to go to the next Louth Later evening later this year.
Average – Acts that put on good performances, but didn’t blow me away.
- RedFaces, Fickle Friends, Darlia, Stormzy, Lana Del Ray, London Grammar, The Hubbards, Superfood, Misfires, Alfie Jack, Model Life, Jaws, HINDS, Lorde.
Disappointing – They either lacked energy, or there were annoying production/sound problems. Or I just didn’t really get them.
- Idles – It didn’t help I walked into the venue halfway through their set, but I couldn’t relax during their set and take it in.
- Mystery Jets – They just lacked energy and vitality for me.
- Creeping Jean – I cannot remember any of their performance, and that’s usually a sign there is nothing particularly special about an act.
- Rory Wynne – The kid is talented for sure, but his attitude at the end of his performance supporting Blossoms at the Engine Shed was baffling. If you’re wanting to break into music, it helps to always thank and show kindness to the people who are watching & supporting you.
To summarise, maybe I am just easily impressed, but the majority of acts I’ve seen live this year I have genuinely really enjoyed watching perform. One major factor which is certainly contributing to the high volume of talented, fresh bands appearing on the scene at the moment, is platforms willing to give bands live appearances and slots at festivals. This Feeling is just one of a bunch of amazing promoters, working tirelessly to hand pick the best rock and indie bands, and host gigs and club nights around the country with these acts on the bill. BBC Introducing, meanwhile, uses an effective and clever uploader system to scout bands to play on dedicated local radio shows and occasionally the national BBC stations, whilst also running a dedicated stage at some festivals to showcase acts from the uploader on. A number of acts I’ve seen live this year have their roots with This Feeling and BBC Introducing.
My favourite time of the year for music is coming up – bands always tour mid-autumn around my birthday, and there’s a number of people I’m aiming to see live by the end of this year, or at least by this time next year. Without further ado, here’s my bucket list concert list for the next 12 months…
- All the bands I wanted to see at Truck Festival, but I didn’t as I had to come home early – The Night Café, Nothing but Thieves, Yak, Ton Grennan, Vant, Will Joseph Cook, WSTR, High Tyde, The Shimmer Band…
- Blaenavon – Now I’ve seen them at their most intimate with just a piano, I’m craving to watch a full performance by them with the drums, guitars etc.
- Mac DeMarco – Right now, he’s my favourite musician. I only discovered him less than a couple of months ago, but no singer has reached my soul as much as Mac does. He’s amazing.
- Jake Bugg – Been a fan of his since ‘Lightning Bolt’; I want to see him perform material from his first two albums before they’re left in the dust for good.
- Peace – Old favourites, and they’re playing 2Q at my local city Lincoln, so I should get the opportunity to finally check them out there.
- Vampire Weekend / Tame Impala / Arctic Monkeys / The Strokes – Longshots; these groups are either on hiatus and the wait for new music/live performances could take a while, or they have a habit of doing ‘UK Tours’ which just make it to two or three of the biggest cities. A girl can dream.
Featured photo is my shot of Royal Blood – it was miraculous getting front row at Big Weekend for them, and I got a few awesome shots of Mike and Ben in action ✌🏻