Every January DJ John Kennedy curates an event for up and coming bands at The Camden Barfly in North West London. 2016 was no different. Keith Goldhanger reports.
The first Radio X X-posure all dayer since Radio station XFM became Radio X and for the regular listeners to John Kennedy’s surviving radio show (Mon- Thursday 22.00 – 01.00 hrs) a chance to see and hear in the flesh some bands he’s been featuring over the past few months leading up to this annual event.
Ten bands to fit into eight hours means we get enough time to digest the tunes, enough time to discuss amongst ourselves what we’ve just seen and plenty of time to get the beers in. Opening band HORSE PARTY have a guitarist with a great name. Those in the know tell us that that the flamboyant Jarvis look-a-like who thrashes his guitar and sings into a microphone he knows isn’t working was christened Seymour Quigley. This is something we feel we need to share.
Something else we need to share is how marvellous this four piece appear to be in the song writing department complemented by a voice that captivates and drives each song into some impressive choruses from the lead vocalist who’s name we didn’t catch (It’s Ellie – We looked it up it when we got home). This results in us raising our plastic glasses as we return to the bar for a refill. A superb beginning and still nine more bands to go.
CASSELS are a duo that fire loud grunge and garage inspired songs that seem to be about the disturbing things in life that someone about forty years older should be more concerned about than someone who looks about twelve but is probably double that. This duo surprise us with a few twists and turns that will go a long way in separating them from the dozens of similar bands we’ve witnessed in recent years and are worth keeping an eye on over the forthcoming months.
One man we definitely want to see more of over the next few years is SAMPLE ANSWER (Pic below by Cecile Ruhe). This one man band has ideas aplenty that one feels the man is still getting to grips with. Mysterious samples disappearing mid song, two microphones that give each song more personality that also disappear mid song but plenty of alternative plans for when all this fails to work. It’s artists such as this that remind us why we stand in dark rooms like this on a Saturday afternoon. This chap is providing music that lives in a world on its own, probably inside the head of the Irishman named Maurice O’Connor, but it’s music that we feel is a rather exciting proposition for the future. Whilst he keeps us on the edge of our seats wondering what he’s about to do next it’s presumed that he’s one of these chaps who’s been writing songs for years whilst continuing to build on them every time he performs them. Great stuff and an artist we’ll find out more about during the year.
BLAENAVON are a band that are new to our ears. A very competent and impressive display of tunes but nothing that made us sit up and wonder if they have anything to offer we haven’t heard before during our short lives.
However, STICK AND THE WHEEL are one of those acts making music we have also probably heard before and we’re glad these have been included amongst this array of bands even if they’re the kind of thing that one of us simply isn’t a fan of. Those that like these folk punk acoustic songs seem to love it. This is the kind of band I’m sure have been playing in the corner of one of those tiny tents we usually steer away from during the festival season. A welcome inclusion to the day but not for those of us who enjoy being startled surprised and knocked back by sounds we often find ourselves surrounded by in our usual day to day lives.
TRAAMS get our feet tapping and body swerving again. A glorious set of bass driven thumping songs makes us wonder if this is what Canadian favourites No Means No would have sounded like if they employed New Order’s Peter Hook on the four stringed beast.
FEMME we’ve also mentioned before – In the two years since we were introduced to this act we note that this act has remained pretty much the same without much change. FEMME make sugary sweet anthemic pop music that may have teenagers going ape to one day. She may be miming, she may just be singing along to the backing track, we don’t care. The choreography we witness is something the Camden Barfly may not be used to seeing. Femme are working hard on getting the results they want in the most respectable way they can and being sandwiched between the noisy TRAAMS and the US alt – rock influenced HAPPYNESS is one of many reasons why we love this annual event. Anyone entering the room at the moment she’s hollering out “S.O.S B.A.B.Y.bayyyybe !!!” must be wondering if they’re in the right room. A Fab performance we’ll probably see being introduced by Ant & Dec one day.
HAPPYNESS (Picture below Phil Legg) are a big favourite of many and for some it’s felt that the time has now come to see again with their own audience for a full set. Here’s a band we’ve come across many times now, mostly during festivals where their stage time can be as short as the audience’s attention span. Fans of Pavement and Grandaddy take note. This band are going to be worth keeping up with, check out their album”Weird Little Birthday” on Moshi Moshi.
DEMOB HAPPY and DINOSAUR PILE UP are two bands from the same nest of Nirvana rock. There seem to be loads of bands like this around nowadays. All over Camden every weekend you’ll find one.
Probably all over the world in every nook and cranny.
Nirvana were great of course, kept it all simple and thumped away tune after tune. That was half a life time ago and some of us are getting on a bit now. So unless someone’s going to add a bloody great orchestra to it or some bagpipes then one of us around here reckons he’s had enough.
These bands will all make albums that’ll sell by the bucket load and every August Bank Holiday Weekend you’d be hard pushed to tell them apart if you happen to be standing in a field in Berkshire or Yorkshire.
Dinosaur pile up’s singer even looks like Kurt Cobain so they win that one. It’s a raucous way to end the day (big tunes, big mosh Pit) and as the Saturday evening revellers gather below to sup their beer before taking over this very same room and dance to the usual outdated music we hear every time we stay out after dark on a weekend, we try telling them they should have seen what we’ve just seen. Ten bands, New(ish) Young(ish) and on our radars now for the next few years giving us even more reason to be even more annoying when a band appears on our telly, or in our colour magazines or big festival stages that force us to tell whoever is standing next to us that this is another band we saw at the annual Xposure all dayer. Wolf Alice, who we saw about eight O’clock three years ago at this event are playing four nights next month at the nearby two and a half thousand capacity Forum.
There are plenty of other stories we could tell you about.
Come and join us next time. You have over fifty weeks to prepare for the next one and you’ll spend at least ten times that reminiscing about it.
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