Concerts

September 2018

01Sep

NGHFB, Paul Weller, Orbital + more

The Downs, Bristol

The Downs Bristol returns in 2018 with a stellar line up featuring Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Paul Weller, Orbital and Goldie & The Ensemble on Saturday 1st September.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Paul Weller will take to the main Downs stage as part of a line-up that also features local heroes The Heavy , Houston trio Khruangbin, Nadine Shah and Dream Wife.

Paul Weller had this to say – “It’s gonna be great to play on The Downs, we always have a great crowd in Bristol, see you there!”

The Avon stage will be headlined by a live set from electronic legends Orbital and will also host performances from producer/DJ Goldie and the Heritage Ensemble, Basement Jaxx playing their world beating DJ set, Channel One  reggae soundsystem and Laid Blak.

Discussion and debate has been a key part of The Downs Bristol since its inception three years ago and once again festival goers can expect the return of The Information Stage, a space where key note speakers address issues affecting UK society. Previous years have featured panels and esteemed spoken word performers  and last year film director Ken Loach. The Information Stage will also feature live music in the evening for the first time, with the line up being revealed very soon.

Tickets for the one day festival will be on sale from Friday 2nd  March, with first tickets available in person from 8am at Bristol Ticket Shop(Broadmead) and The Love Inn ( Stokes Croft) , and on general release at 9am.

06Sep

LION + Sophie & The Giants + Rhiannon

Camden Assembly , London

Despite ‘Oh No’ only being LION’s second single, she has already established herself as a prolific live performer, having played a headline show at The Lexington as well as support slots for the likes of Albert Hammond Jr, The Vaccines, Isaac Gracie, and Girli. Following stunning sets at SXSW, The Great Escape and Dot To Dot festival earlier this year, LION plays a London headline show at Camden Assembly in September.

The ferocious, jagged rock anthem ‘Oh No’ was written by LION and recorded at London’s Snap Studios with drummer Rich Cooper, who also engineered and produced the track. Lowen’s multi-instrumentalist brother Sam adds bass and keys to the record and plays drums in LION’s raucous live show, adding an electrifying family dynamic. Combining bluesy riffs with soaring choruses and led by LION’s unique rasping howl and deft guitar playing, this track is equal parts The White Stripes and Florence Welch.

‘Oh No’ follows LION’s explosive debut single ‘Self Control’, with the two fierce tracks setting the tone for more music on the horizon “I hope people feel something,” says Lion of her music, “like I do when I’m playing it. Take what you want from it, but feel. I want to make boys cry.”

10Sep

Albert Hammond Jr + YASSASSIN

Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

11Sep

Albert Hammond Jr + YASSASSIN

Club Academy , Manchester

12Sep

Jim White with Clive Barnes

The Lexington, London

14Sep

Albert Hammond Jr + YASSASSIN + Calva Louise

Electric Ballroom, London

15Sep

Albert Hammond Jr + YASSASSIN

Thekla, Bristol

16Sep

Albert Hammond Jr + YASSASSIN

Concorde 2, Brighton

18Sep

Lost Horizons + Penelope Isles

Hare & Hounds 2, Birmingham

18Sep

Erika Wennerstrom + Field Division

The Lexington , London

There's something somewhat frightening, yet utterly liberating when leaving the confines of a successful band to venture solo — especially a band whose latest record was called "effortlessly brilliant" by critics. But, such is the case with Erika Wennerstrom who is taking a break from her Austin-based rock band, Heartless Bastards, to deliver her solo debut Sweet Unknown.

"It was a really freeing experience," reveals the singer/songwriter/guitarist. "I found my strength in my vulnerability as an artist, and really, just as a person. It kind of forced me to allow myself to be a little more exposed and stand on my own two feet. It's easy to feel comfortable in a band, but it's scary to do it as just yourself. I feel like I've grown a lot creatively and personally." 

But fans of Heartless Bastards — which has released five critically- acclaimed albums since their 2003 inception, appeared on many late night television shows, and has drawn praise from Rolling Stone, Time, New York Times — need not worry. The band has not broken up. "We'd been going for so long and everyone in the band was just ready for a little break. But I had songs in me that needed to come out. I didn't think it was fair to push them to keep going and I didn't want to do it without them under the band name," explains Wennerstrom, who enlisted the help of HB's Jesse Ebaugh to play bass on 8 of the 9 tracks on Sweet Unknown.

Fans can also rest assured that what they've grown to love about Wennerstrom's music is still front-and-center. Her trademark vocals that NPR so aptly calls "warm yet gritty, throaty yet sweet, gigantic, yet intimate" are that... times 10. And the bluesy, rock vibes that Relix describes as "smoky, late night [rock] that exists somewhere between Royal Trux and the Rolling Stones" has only gotten smokier and bluesier.

So, what is the difference? "It's just more of me," she says. "It's as simple as that. I was able to get deeper and you get another level of my heart and soul. And, it's really about my journey of self-awareness and healing and finding acceptance and self-love. It's very empowering."

While Wennerstrom has always been honest in the Heartless Bastards songs she's written, the 9 tracks that make up Sweet Unknown are even more personal and reflective, and for her, quite transformative as well.

"When I started writing this record, I thought about how maybe the struggles I've had at times in my life, and with writing, could be changed if I could put my energy and message towards others, but what I got was the most self healing I've ever had through the creative process. My positive message to others became my own mantra. It's like how sometimes we need to start listening to our own advice, and singing these songs repeatedly has given myself a message I need to hear when I sing them over and over again," she explains.

The album kicks off with the feel-good roadtrip vibes of "Twisted Highway," which Wennerstrom says sums up her musical journey on Sweet Unknown. She explains, "'Twisted Highway' is the process of learning more self-awareness and self-acceptance. Writing songs over the years has forced me to do a lot of self reflection, and I haven't always liked what I see. I really needed to change my way of thinking though. I chose to focus on the negatives within myself. I really needed to stop and take a look at what's good in my life."

On the somber psych-rocker "Staring Out the Window," the artist digs even deeper into the inner workings of her mind. "It's about discovering a pattern I established when I was young where when I'm around someone dark, unkind, or full of anger, I tend to internalize it and blame myself. I learned that sometimes we feel comfortable around people that aren't good for us because they feel familiar, but that can be the unhealthy pattern. I had to learn how to love myself more and break this pattern," she says.

Wennerstrom attributes her deep emotional journey, in part, to two pivotal trips in the past year, which resulted in 400 voice notes on her phone with various lyric and melody ideas. "I went down to the Amazon jungle in 2015 right before the last Heartless Bastards record, Restless Ones, was released. I was at a point where I was deeply unhappy, and on a whim, I decided to do an Ayahuasca [pronounced eye-uh-wah-ska] retreat. Despite the idea frightening me, I felt I needed something to change with in me so bad that I had nothing to lose. It really opened the door and started me on a path to many self realizations," she says.

Ayahuasca (an Amazonian hallucinagenic plant used in Shamanic healing ceremonies) is often used to help people break through emotional and creative barriers. For Wennerstrom, the experience helped her let go of the push-and-pull of ego and self-doubt. "It helped me be free to be honest with myself and put out what I think is my most honest record ever. It used to take me a while to get to that vulnerable place in my writing, but I got there faster this time. It just felt easier, more natural, and not as much second-guessing," she says.

The upbeat and optimistic "Letting Go" epitomizes that experience. "It's about letting go of what doesn't serve me anymore. I came to the realization that we all as human beings have an inner struggle. Sometimes even people that have so much are hard on themselves with a sense of guilt. We're all just doing the best we can in each moment. Some maybe more consciously than others. Perhaps it's my limited perspective, but I feel it's the human condition — an ancient feeling," she says. 

Soon after the band decided to take a hiatus the following year, she also spent quite a bit of time hiking and reflecting in the mountains of West Texas in Big Bend National Park. Explaining the impact of that trip, she says, "That's where a lot of the ideas for the album came to me, and I spent the next year working on it. The song “Extraordinary Love” is the realization I do everything in my life for love. We all want to be liked and to give and receive love. If I can't be kind and loving to myself how can I expect anybody else to. It's starts with me. I find the most extraordinary thing is to be truly compassionate to yourself."

"Good To Be Alone" is just one sonic outcome of her Big Bend trip. "I wrote this one right after a long tour, and with it being one of the last ones the band did before our hiatus, I had quite a lot to think about. I did a big hike that day in Big Bend and the seeds for the idea were planted. I was so thankful for that time alone to recharge and ponder. This song expresses how deeply introverted I can be at times and how sometimes I just need to step away and take some time for myself," she says.

Clearly, that time alone was time well-spent. With Sweet Unknown, Erika Wennerstrom bravely invites the listener in to experience her trials and tribulations of life amidst a lush soundscape of deeply emotive vocals and melodies to what is ultimately the soundtrack to her soul.

19Sep

Lost Horizons + Penelope Isles

The Fleece, Bristol

24Sep

Julien Baker + Becca Mancari

Gorilla , Manchester

26Sep

Franz Ferdinand

Roundhouse, London

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