Today is when it starts getting serious – Day 3 and the weekend is here. All the venues are in full swing, little sub-festivals on the go, folk, comedy, DJs, spoken word, art, beer! Fringe gigs taking place and kebab throwing competitions and brain curdling karaoke (which has nothing to do with Focus, that’s just Wrexham!).
The organisers are flitting about ensuring everything is running smoothly and they deserve medals – I’d be stressed out organising a village hall gig in Rowen let alone a major four day festival! Andy Jones for one was spotted watching every band I saw! He’s either stalking me or very dedicated to showing his face and appreciation to the 150+ acts.
Running late due to tent difficulties on the camp site we heard Menai Bridge boys Doll Circus popping out their first song as we walked toward South. This made the junk food we were hurriedly shoving in our faces more palatable (almost).
Doll Circus have grown in stature in their short existence, as has the facial hair, with a Guy Fawkes moustache on the bassist and an Al Qaeda beard on the drummer! But beard envy aside, the fact they were chosen to play at Focus Wales speaks volumes to the power of their songs despite the lack of airplay (for reasons that delude me).
A near perfect set as someone behind me said. Great songs played well, and where did Jamie get that voice from? There’s at least three nuggets in there that could be huge hits (when the charts mattered) as they are infectious; I’ve probably said it before, but Brain On Fire does exactly what it says and that song is never very far from the jukebox in my head.
Must admit my itinerary for this week had been mainly for selfish entertainment rather than one of discovery, so to chance upon Ghostlawns at Central Station was a bonus when they should’ve been on my list for the fact that I knew nothing of them.
Although the pic above looks like they’ve nodded off at their work station, the band played a moody, atmospheric brand of space-cake rock. It was the best sound I’ve heard so far this week and a band I’ll be seeking out online once the equilibrium of normal life has been restored.
Gremlins at The Bank venue gave John Robb [Louder than War] and myself a chance to completely put the music industry’s vinyl upsurge and Twitter’s PC sheep to rights. We also had an insightful chat with Cai O’Marah of Radio Rhydd and his recent exploits in Palestine… A real eye opener of a conversation about peoples’ struggles over there, a million miles from the sanitised lives we lead here, where saddoes get worked up about a parcel being late or a leaking tap as if their entire existence is about to crumble around them because of it (tossers).
The gremlins also meant we missed the opportunity to see a couple of other bands elsewhere, but it was worth the wait to experience Radio Rhydd’s first performance in five months. This predominately folk venue was suddenly hijacked and turned into an anarchist punk concert and I envisaged the bods running for cover with hands over their ears… I was wrong; they lapped it up as Radio Rhydd dished out some simple yet catchy punk rock, sometimes a bit of skank-reggae while Cai rants in a bilingual Rage Against The Machine meets Conflict with a heavy attitude over the top of them. The place was bouncing to some serious anti-political sloganeering ‘Fuck Israel, fuck the government, fuck the lot of you!’ And once again strengthens the debate about politics in music, or lack of it these days…
Allusondrugs must have been giving out extra amphetamines to everyone on the door of South, as we were treated to a class A performance. The sign above that door read ‘Shoegazers not allowed’ as Allusondrugs ramped it up until it could go no further, then ramped it up some more. They are the peoples’ band, they are one of us, no prima donna shit, no rock star bollocks, and yet they are true rock stars who could go all the way… If they changed their name… (not that I’m suggesting for one minute they do).
It’s a sad state in a of world political correctness that will doom Allusondrugs – all because of their name… The way it works is it only takes ONE SINGLE TWAT to complain about something; anything! and the PC brigade will jump upon it with their moral crusade to protect the public and our standards – WANKERS… If I wanted to be protected by being told what I can and can’t listen to or can or can’t do then I’d wrap myself up in the Daily Mail for my own protection.
Anyway, a bit of an off topic Radio Rhydd style rant going on there… I asked Carl and Kyle of Gintis what they thought of this fine drug addled band and they liked them because they’ve all got lots of hair and didn’t realise how short the guitarist was. Excellent!
The hold ups earlier on meant my band intake tonight was limited to a meagre five, with Eagulls (above and main pic) being the fifth. It was hard to get into them; it was so loud that there were people wincing in pain as their nerve endings were pierced. Where a band like Future Of The Left can be heard at max volume, any subtleties Eagulls may have wished you to enjoy was lost in the sonic decibel ether. Maybe it’s too loud cos I’m too old but it was hard to decipher the songs at such an extreme level and only those who knew the material would be able to appreciate them (as they did, as the band received a good reaction).
There was a lot of Cure influence within their repertoire and I had to play their eponymous album when I got home to re-educate myself as to what cool songs they actually have… Very fine psychedelica guitar driven stuff…
Like headliners Slaves on Wednesday and headliners Bo Ningen tomorrow, I had not previously heard any stuff by headliners Eagulls, who are fronted by a blond Brett Anderson lookalike with a Robert Smith voice. Such is the trust you can put in the Focus Wales promoters you are guaranteed quality. That’s quality from the man with an acoustic guitar playing at two in the afternoon, like my brother Isaac Birchall to Eagulls tonight with a couple of million plays on Spotify.
And more power be to them…