Thursday, 20 December 2012

The best gigs of 2012. Honestly.

A vintage year. Well, sort of.
A review of 2012.

Over 70 gigs attended. Over 300 bands seen. A decent sized lake of cider downed. At least a Renault Scenic full of Jagermeister seen off. 4 sets of very expensive attenuated earplugs lost. Lots of lovely people met. And some bellends. Tears shed. Trousers soiled. Overall, face hurts from smiling. What a year.

Anyway, no public votes. No democracy. No real point. But, bollocks to it, here’s a brief run-down of my favourite top gigs, releases and other stuff of the year. Can’t be arsed to write too much about the shows, but because of the time of year, I've done it as kind of tasting notes for vino. But there are links to the original reviews if you really are that bored.

Gigs of the year.

10: Skindred at Brixton Academy. Mr Webbe and the boys serve up a powerful but playful offering to  a packed Brixton academy. Hints of nettles, brambles, molten titanium, barbed wire with top notes of mary jane. The best showman in the land puts on one of the very best shows. Well, he would, wouldn’t he? REVIEW >

9: This Town Needs Guns at The Borderline - Wow. A smooth but enormously complex blend of headiness, blissful character and almost scientifically created perfection. But with real soul and a gentle aftertaste. Technically unparalleled but the new line-up takes things to new levels. Not to mention their space-aged cuboid magic sound boxes. REVIEW >

8: Hundred Reasons at The Fighting Cocks - Raw, beautiful home-grown genius. Fizzing with vibrancy, energy and power; an old favourite that's aged splendidly and excites the palate like an angel cumming on your tongue. 10 years on. A secret intimate sweatfest in downtown Kingston. Ridiculous. Privileged. REVIEW >

7: The Xcerts and Yearbook at The Borderline - A weird but wonderful blend. All edgy and fierce with an underlying beauty and complexity. At times like a fine premier cru but delivering the wit, verve and impudent kick in the cock of a case of something deliciously nouveau. Or some shit like that. All kooky, edgy, nerdy, sassy, library. You ‘eard. An absolute pleasure to be there. Two of the very, very best around on the same bill. Bonus. REVIEW >

6: Lower Than Atlantis at The Garage - Maturing nicely but not losing that rough, venomous, gall-tinged edge, Chateau LTA is becoming a classic. Big hearted, full bodied but with traces of napalm and brimstone still not far behind the surface. All bound together by Mike Duce's deep burgundy melancholia. Big drinking beauty. With gravel in the glass. And a whisky chaser.The night they celebrated their well-deserved signing to Island. An emotionally charged and fantastic show.The show later in the year at The Electric Ballroom was also right out of the top drawer but, for me, the Garage show just shaded it. REVIEW >

5: Enter Shikari at Hammermith - Incomparable fusion of everything. Impossible to work out every ingredient, taste, top note and big sub-bass infused bottom note. Like a fine zesty young white with Thunderbird and fine dessert wine mixed in. But when you think you've got it nutted, huge power, body, reckless confusion and intoxicating strength of a dark, bastard red. One of a kind. What a show, What a spectacle. What a shit Mexican meal afterwards. Genius stuff with a Hertfordshire accent. The band, not the Mexican meal. REVIEW >

4: Deaf Havana at Shepherds Bush - Bubbly and bright (unusual for JV-G) celebratory, astringent and sharp. But with a beautiful mellowness, soul and hint of sadness. That said, drinkable by the gallon and becoming more and more widely appealing now that the initial battery acid sharpness has (to some, lamentably) waned. Incredible, emotional, joyous and jubilant. Those fenland fellas have certainly come a long way. REVIEW >

3: Don Broco at their album launch show at The Barfly - On the face of it a screw top cheap and very cheerful Lambrini or Cava. But on further tasting, there's a genuine sophistication and ridiculously mature massive brilliance in there. Big flavours, addictive fruit and raw power. Not overly-complex but delicious and fruity. Wonderful with a bit of cheese.  Ok, I didn’t actually review this show, but having seen the Beds boys four or five times this year, this one really took the biscuit (see what I did there). Closely followed by their amazing support slot for LTA at the Electric Ballroom and their absolute sweat-fest at Burnout Festival. Hic.

2: Dillinger Escape Plan at The Garage - Fiery, stupidly impenetrable complexity. But so ridiculously satisfying. Thunderous body with searing acid shards and acrid spikes. Spine-tinglingly perfectly served. Aggressive, outrĂ©, challenging, mad. Bewildering. Just fuck. REVIEW >

1: Arcane Roots at The Old Blue Last - Like a new world arriviste that's just so much better than the motherland original. Multi-layered, smooth, spiky, classical but challenging, rough but silky. Full bodied but zingy. Strong and intoxicating. Truly the most wonderful of mixes which will only get better with age. Set to be a world classic. Yum. And indeed, yum. Too good. Seriously. Too good. Britain's best band. By a distance. This lot must be huge next year. A free show at an absolutely rammed OBL was the absolute highlight of an absolutely fabulous year. Darling.

Disappointments of the year: 
AWOL Nation - pretend, ersatz, frothy, unsatisfactory. >
Dry The River - well-prepared, well-executed but monotonously dull and lifeless. >
Rob Lynch - fiery but relentless. Too much. Needs laying down to mature. >
Marines. - predictable, watery, unfulfilling and unexciting. Needs fizz. >
Deaf Heaven - Beautiful, well-considered body but bitter waspiness ruins the potential. >

Revelations of the year: 
Subsource - crazy, mixed up flavours. Huge body, massively satisfying. Boiii. >
Yearbook - insanely quirky. Dances all round the palate but delivers beautifully. >
Gnarwolves - rough, lusty, fiery, raw, fun and spicy. Party in a bottle. >
Oathbreaker - the heaviest, most massivly robust and doom-infused brew imaginable. >

Top blokes of the year: 
Burn The Fleet.
Real Adventures. 
Don Broco.
The Xcerts.

Festivals of the year: 
The year of the smaller fest. With highlights being: 
Takedown. REVIEW >
Banquet’s Big Day Out. REVIEW >
Burnout. REVIEW >

Albums of the year.

10: Iron Lungs - Polar
9: Ideas - Hawkeyes 
8: This Is The Six - While She Sleeps
7: Koi No Yokan - Deftones 
6: Astraea - Rolo Tomassi
5: Changing Tune - Lower Than Atlantis
4: Fools and Worthless Liars (De Luxe Edition with the brilliant re-works) - Deaf Havana
3: Daybreaker - Architects
2: Priorities - Don Broco
1: A Flash Flood Of Colour - Enter Shikari

Who’s going to be the big old bollocks next year? 
Don Broco. 
Arcane Roots. 
Mallory Knox.

And that's it for the year. Just want to thank all of you who've painfully struggled through my waffly, farty, verbose prose. I've had nearly 20,000 visits to this silly, mid-life crisis, self-indulgent blog in the last year, which, to me is unbelievable. 

Almost as unbelievable as the quality and breadth of amazing live music in the UK. Here's to another year of sticky floors, Jager-fuelled sweaty mosh mania, hangovers, ringing ears and brilliant fun.

More tunes soon, Bwoooar!

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