Independent record label Big Scary Monsters return to their hometown Oxford this weekend with the first ever ‘Summer In The City’ all-dayer. Oxford’s DIY scene has grown enormously over the last couple of years, and BSM have teamed up with local promoters like Divine Schism and Snuggle Dice Records to bring a full day mixing some of BSM’s best acts in with top local talent across four venues. Throw in some band-themed beer and a bit of sun and it promises to be a great new addition to the festival calendar. I’m sketching out my plans below, if you want to come and join me tickets are still available here: http://www.bsmrocks.com/tickets/15703-summer-in-the-city
Kicking the whole day off at Fusion Arts – a kind of cross between a gig venue and a greenhouse – is Junk Whale. They’re an indie-punk/grunge-pop outfit with great riffs, huge hooks and a brilliant big-hearted sound. They still haven’t properly released anything other than demos, but their live performances have got more than a few people excited about their forthcoming album. Think Pinkerton-era Weezer high-fiving Dinosaur Jr.
Staying at Fusion Arts, next up for me is Self Help, an indie rock band with more than a couple of bangers in their set. Live they’ve been described as having the same sort of frantic, kinetic energy of early Supergrass gigs. Their song Trope is my favourite, and last year’s single Get On With It is pretty undeniable. Think mclusky spitting in Blur’s pint.
Next I‘m dashing over to the Port Mahon, which has only just started putting gigs on again for post-rock trio Ghosts In The Photographs. These instrumental songs are long and atmospheric, as you might expect from the descriptor ‘post-rock’, but they’re also surprisingly heavy. Think Explosions in the Sky being shoved into a blender with Swans.
Next I’m torn – and I’ll have to decide at the time what to do, but my contenders are:
The beautifully-named Fancy Dress Party play sad-bangers, big grungey downer anthems. They’re slow, and miserable, very loud and loads of fun, even if it sounds like they’re not. My favourite song – or maybe just the one I can’t quite get over – Roy Keane, show’s them at their best, mixing great lyrics with a beautiful, lilting guitar and letting it slowly build throughout the song. Think Sunny Day Real Estate playing with Far’s instruments.
Or maybe I’ll try and half and half their set with:
Emo rockers Daisy, fresh off the back of releasing their single Access/Agency and touring in support of it, decided the other week to call it a day. That means Summer in the City is their second-to last gig, which is pulling at my heartstrings a bit – something the band do well, mixing intricate instrumentation and hyper-personal lyrics and a willingness to get heavy when they need to. Think American Football having a cuddle with TTNG.
Again it’s a tough one next – might have to half and half these next two acts as well:
Truck Store is playing host to Oxford’s Petsematary, which is Gaby Elise-Monaghan on her own or with a backing band. On Saturday it’ll be Gaby playing solo, singing her self-described ‘bansheegaze’ songs in the intimate trappings of a record shop. With the full band the songs have real meat to them, and it gets quite grungey (in a good way), but playing solo gives even more room for her powerful voice. Think Anna Calvi channeling Nick Cave at a seance.
Or I’ll try to see:
This elusive noisy post-hardcore band have been on my ‘to watch’ list for ages, but they haven’t played a gig in over a year, so I probably will need to get myself over to the Port Mahon to see their set. And as much as they’re a heavy band with big stomping breakouts, there are definite elements of shoegaze in the sound. Think Thursday blowing kisses to My Bloody Valentine.
Next it’s Lucy Leave back at Fusion Arts, which is really a can’t miss. This extraordinary band put out their first album last year, ‘Look/Listen’, a dizzying, jazz-inflected proggy indie rocker that shot them instantly to the top of every Oxford best of list last year. They also know their way around a banger – see the killer track ‘Kintsugi’, or the Morrissey-baiting ‘Hang Out With Now’. Think Deerhoof slapping Pink Floyd in the face.
Next at the Port Mahon is Worry, a brilliant local hardcore band, whose criminally underheard Confidence EP was my favourite record last year. As a hardcore band they’re every bit as brutal as you might expect, but the riffs and hooks are so big that they’re also irrepressibly catchy. Again, a must see. Think: Fucked Up buying a drink for Ceremony.
Formed out of the ashes of local metal heroes Undersmile, Drore are all about the doom. They have a massive, oppressive sound that’ll shake your skeleton – and vocalist Taz Corona-Brown is more than happy to shred her vocals in service of the harshest possible sound. If you can handle it, a great watch. Think Pissed Jeans trolling The Jesus Lizard on Twitter.
Next I’m settling in at the tiny basement of The Library for the rest of the night. That means I’m going to have to miss the brilliantly fun power punk of GENDER ROLES and the math rock intricacies of TANGLED HAIR to stake out my spot, which is a shame, but it’ll be worth it. First up:
London outfit Flirting. are having a great year so far – captivating people everywhere with what they call their ‘anxiety pop’. Based on their fantastic ‘This Would Be Funny If It Were Happening To Anyone Else But Me’ EP from last year I’m expecting their set to be an adventurous, wild, careful, noisy, quiet and intimate and massive and everywhere in between. Think Mazzy Star waving at Los Campesinos in the rain.
Finishing the night in style are the Woahnows, whose great new album ‘Young and Cool’ came out earlier this year. The last couple of times I’ve seen them they’ve played that album from start to finish, which is fine by me – it’s jam-packed with unstoppably bright and catchy indie bangers. I can’t wait to see them in a venue as tiny as the basement of the Library – which holds 50 at a push, and might be my favourite venue in the world. It’s going to be a joyous, crushing mess, and I can’t wait. Think Jeff Rosenstock trying to flag down a taxi driven by Martha.
Then, assuming I don’t need to be taken home by that point, I plan to dance myself to sleep to the tunes spun by the Room 101 DJs. Again, if you fancy joining, tickets are available here: http://www.bsmrocks.com/tickets/15703-summer-in-the-city