Monthly Archives: December 2015

Music in Guernsey – Review of the Year 2015

2015 has felt like something of a divided year in music coming from the Bailiwick of Guernsey with a lot happening on the island while a few musicians and bands starting to make their mark and get some recognition in the wider world.

Two names that immediately spring to mind in that regard are Mura Masa and Robyn Sherwell.

Mura Masa

Mura Masa

Mura Masa, aka Alex Crossan, rounded off 2014 with the release of vinyl ‘mixtape’ project Soundtrack To A Death through Jakarta Records but has since gone on to receive airplay and support from Huw Stephens and Mary Anne Hobbs on BBC National Radio as well as starting his own label with distribution through Polydor.

The ‘on air’ features included a live session on Huw’s prime time new music show on BBC Radio 1, as well as being heard around the world on Apple’s new Beats Music platform with tracks from his debut EP proper Someday Somewhere.

This all culminated with being selected by Beats Music as one of their artists to watch in the new year and being named on the BBC Music Sound of 2016 long list (at time of writing the short list has yet to be announced).

You can read my interview with Mura Masa from last January here

Robyn Sherwell also saw a big expansion in recognition over the course of 2015. Early in the year her EP, Islander, surfaced with its title track dedicated to her home island.

Robyn Sherwell at Glastonbury

Robyn Sherwell at Glastonbury

This soon saw her featured by Jo Wiley on BBC Radio 2 (who would follow her closely throughout the year) and helped lead to her securing a spot on the BBC Introducing Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, becoming the first BBC Introducing Guernsey artist to earn that accolade.

With more recordings appearing, the second half of 2015 saw Robyn’s music featured on the trailer to the movie Suffragette starring Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan.

You can read my feature on Robyn’s appearance at Glastonbury here

A few other Guernsey artists also began to make their own strides into the wider world this year.

Following the release of their debut EP, Stranger Sensations, late last year, Of Empires signed a publishing deal with Metropolis Music and spent much of the first half of 2015 working on new material.

Of Empires

Of Empires

This saw them score a support slot on tour with Adam Ant as well as various other shows around London and Brighton and very well received Guernsey shows at the Vale Earth Fair in August and the festival’s Christmas event at The Fermain Tavern.

Robert J. Hunter and his band also made great in roads into the UK releasing two albums over the course of the year, Songs For The Weary in February followed by Before The Dawn in November, as well as completing their first tour of the UK and gigging relentlessly both as a band and solo around London and a few shows in Berlin.

Buffalo Huddleston also received the accolade of being voted Best of British’s Unsigned Band of the Year following a Facebook poll, but more about them later, while The Recks, Static Alice and Flexagon also made appearances off island.

The John Wesley Stone

The John Wesley Stone

Back on home turf most of January was a bit on the quiet side but the Vale Earth Fair’s annual unplugged night started to ramp things up featuring a show stealing, truly unplugged, set from The John Wesley Stone who took their instruments off stage and played up close and personal with the audience.

This was followed by The Get Down doing what they do best and putting on one of the highlight nights of the year in February as they welcomed hip hop legends Blackalicious to The Fermain Tavern and proceeded to not only sell the place out but slay the crowd with beats and rhymes like you couldn’t believe.

February also saw one of Guernsey’s musical prodigal sons, former Jenerator Steven Lynch, return with his new band The Electric Shakes to get The Fermain Tavern rocking and rolling alongside Lifejacket and To The Woods. February at The Fermain Tavern was rounded off by the return to our shores of Rumpus who more than surpassed the nostalgic memories of their Vale Earth Fair appearances.

The Doomsday Project

The Doomsday Project

Having been playing around the island for a few years February marked the launch of the debut album from young pop-punks The Doomsday Project with a special show at The Vault that showed how the four teens had gone from shy youngsters playing their favourite covers at the Rock of Ages nights to a fully fledged band in their own right.

If things weren’t already varied enough only two months in, March was highlighted by a pair of very different shows. First was a visit from Jersey duo Semu Ca, with support from Tantale and Citizen-X, who played excerpts from their new soundtrack for Swedish silent film Haxan at The Fermain Tavern.

Meanwhile live music returned to The Bowl as pop-rockers Static Alice along with Last of the Light Brigade and Chloe Le Page organised the first gig there in many years in hopes of resurrecting it as a venue for all ages.

Honest Crooks

Honest Crooks

Live music in the month then rounded off with the debut of Honest Crooks opening a show at The Fermain Tavern and instantly making a mark that would see them go on to garner quite a following as the year went on.

Guernsey music also took a step into the national limelight in March as BBC Introducing Guernsey took up residency on BBC Radio 1 for a week giving a selection of musicians the chance of getting heard by a much wider audience and letting the outside world have a view into our unique scene.

April got going with an Easter Sunday special at The Fermain Tavern with Last of the Light Brigade, Lifejacket, To The Woods and Isabelle Sheil. The following weekend saw legendary, genre-defying, band The Blockheads follow in their comrade Wilko Johnson’s footsteps by playing a storming set at a packed Tav to help Space Pirate Chris Denton celebrate his birthday – that’s quite a way to have a birthday party!

Lord Vapour at The Vault

Lord Vapour

Having released an EP at the very end of 2014, stoner hard rock band Lord Vapour made their live debut with a mid-week ‘showcase’ show at The Vault and proceeded to not only start off a series of gigs that spanned venues and islands across the rest of the year, but also show how surprisingly good the small St. Peter Port venue can be for seriously heavy music.

Liberation Day in May has become renowned for its live music events and 2015 was no different with it all being highlighted by the JT Rocks stage in St Peter Port.

As well as featuring great sets from Static Alice, Asylum Seekas, Fade2Grey and King Rat & The Soul Cats it marked the return to the stage of Sark based outfit The Recks (with new drummer Mox) and the beginning of what was to be something of a special run for Buffalo Huddleston.

The Recks on Liberation Day 2015

The Recks

And of course it really marked the beginning of the Bailiwick’s big outdoor, summer music events.

Back indoors and a personal highlight was the visit to the island of Eureka Machines, a band I’ve been following for a number of years, who played a great set to a disappointingly small audience but seemed to have a great time doing so regardless.

May came to a close with a double-header of Fermain Tavern gigs spanning everything from folky murder ballads to rock ‘n’ roll to doom metal as Brunt, Tantale, Lord Vapour and Gregory Harrison kicked off the weekend while The Recks, Ray & The Guns, Blue Mountains and Citizen-X closed it.

The outdoor shows continued in June with the first BBC Introducing Guernsey live stage at Arts Sunday featuring Rentoclean, Blue Mountains, Buffalo Huddleston and Chloe Le Page while the month was rounded off by the annual Chaos Festival.

Robert J Hunter

Robert J. Hunter

Now into its second decade this year’s event had many stand out moments from the return of a much more confident and assured Robert J. Hunter headlining the first night to Buffalo Huddleston stealing the show in The Peace Tent in a way that became their calling card wherever they went for the rest of the year.

Other highlights of the festival were To The Woods and The Electric Shakes on the Friday night, Lord Vapour on Saturday afternoon and The Recks and Jersey’s Flashmob closing the weekend out in fine style on the Sunday.

The following weekend many of Guernsey’s musicians and fans decamped to Sark, along with many visitors, for the Sark Folk Festival which, once again, was a special event in the way only it can be.

For me this was the year the locals really stole the show from the bigger visiting names with Robert J. Hunter again putting in a special performance, The Recks mixing things up with a host of new songs (and an epic Led Zeppelin cover) and The Space Pirates of Rocquaine closing the show with one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from them.

Jull-Z and Mike of Buffalo Huddleston

Jull-Z and Mike of Buffalo Huddleston

The weekend though belonged (once again) to Buffalo Huddleston who packed the Vermerette Stage tent and had seemingly everyone singing (and dancing) along, so much so the side of the tent had to be opened to allow more people to get in on the show.

Away from the festivals July continued with the release of the debut EP from Blakalaska, Machine, accompanied by a launch gig at The Fermain Tavern with support from Jersey’s Falenizza Horsepower who put in a genuinely unique performance. This was followed by a disappointing visit to the island by a version of 60s band The Animals (though missing pretty much every crucial member of the band).

With the festivals being an opportune time for it a few more bands put out albums and EPs in July with Ukuladeez releasing their Cosmic Tea Party EP and Blue Mountains’ debut LP dropping around the time of the folk festival as the month was rounded off by the Vale Earth Fair’s annual jaunt to the Rocquaine Regatta.

The Recks

The Recks

Over the first weekend of August The Recks undertook a tour of the Channel Islands taking in Sark, Guernsey and Jersey with visiting support act Markuz. While slated as an album release tour the record failed to materialise but that didn’t stop the band and their various support acts putting on some great shows.

This came alongside performances at The Isle of Wight Festival, Boomtown, Jersey’s Folklore Festival, Guernsey’s North Show and even a set in Herm across the summer before, somewhat surprisingly, the Sark based quintet announced their split in December.

While a smaller event on paper, the return of Gay Army to the stage always had the potential to be something special and, along with Ray & The Guns at The Vault it was just that with many hailing it as one of the gigs of the year and I’d be hard pressed to argue that it wasn’t up there with them.

Pussycat and the Dirty Johnson

Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons

A very busy August continued with the release of Stone Em All’s Villains EP with probably their best live outing to date at The Vault while the month culminated with the island’s longest running festival the Vale Earth Fair on the bank holiday weekend.

With the main stage highlights for me coming from Thee Jenerators and Of Empires it was The Stage Against The Machine’s line up that stole the show this year, particularly closing triumvirate of Lifejacket, visitors Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons and To The Woods, but many others as well.

Lifejacket continued their run of great shows supporting the release of physical editions of their debut album at a special charity show at The Vault in September alongside Paper Saints, To The Woods and Ollie Goddard. The Guernsey Literary Festival once again presented a night mixing spoken word and music as they welcomed Neil Innes to The Fermain Tavern with Ushti Baba and Buffalo Huddleston while my September was rounded off with a visit to London to see The Wildhearts (not a Guernsey gig but a highlight for me).

The Electric Shakes

The Electric Shakes

October started out with the third visit of the year from The Electric Shakes, this time playing alongside Gay Army and Ray & The Guns at The Fermain Tavern and it continued with To The Wood unleashing not only their debut album, but its follow-up EP as well and what was, by all accounts, a standout night of live music on Halloween, though I missed this through attending gigs from Ghost and Tiger Army somewhat further afield.

Following hot on the heels of To The Woods, November saw more records being released with Static Alice launching their new EP with a show at The Vault, while Thee Jenerators dropped their latest, The Devil’s Chords, in a special vinyl edition and Tantale’s second album, Just Add Vice, emerged alongside a series of showcase gigs, including supporting Grant Sharkey.

The Graveltones

The Graveltones

London hard-blues duo The Graveltones also hit the island with support from SugarSlam, Chloe Le Page and Jersey’s Tadhg Daly, while a new series of gigs specifically for under-18s launched under the name Sound Guernsey at The Venue with Honest Crooks and Buffalo Huddleston.

December was all about Christmas party shows with the Vale Earth Fair staging a double-header at The Fermain Tavern featuring Rentoclean, Tantale and To The Woods on the first night and Honest Crooks, Of Empires and The Space Pirates of Rocquaine on the second with Of Empires stealing the show to cap off an excellent year for them.

Asylum Seekas

Asylum Seekas

Meanwhile Sound Guernsey’s second event was their Christmas special introducing youngsters to Toby Falla, Rentoclean and Asylum Seekas. A couple of albums also surfaced as the year came to a close with the debut from Flexagon gaining quite a following online and newcomers Wondergeist releasing their first record, somewhat out of the blue, too.

Undeniably 2015 has been a packed one for music from the islands but, as it draws to a close, it would hard not to admit that there is a feeling that what gets refered to as Guernsey’s music ‘scene’ is in something of a state of flux. Where it all goes from here is anyone’s guess but with the quality of music being produced I hope more can connect with the wider audience it deserves. Buffalo Huddleston have proved they can connect with a crossover audience and it will just take a few of that crowd to explore a little deeper and things could really take off…

I don’t normally do these but thought I would this year, based on what I’ve seen and experienced, here are a few highlights by category…

Band of the YearBuffalo Huddleston
Festival Stage/Event of the YearThe Peace Tent/Stage Against The Machine
Newcomers of the YearHonest Crooks
Set of the YearBuffalo Huddleston at Sark Folk Festival
Record of the YearLifejacket – Let’s Get This Out Of Our System And Move On
Visiting Band of the YearPussycat & The Dirty Johnsons

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To The Woods – Those Deadbeats and Self-Titled EP

To The Woods - Those Deadbeats album cover

Those Deadbeats artwork

Those Deadbeats

Since 2012 To The Woods have been forging a reputation based on their powerful and, in their words, ‘lairy’ live shows. In October 2015 they released their long-awaited debut album, recorded over the summer of 2014, with a spectacular show at The Fermain Tavern.

Having been recorded quite a while before its release the Those Deadbeats feels like something of a time capsule of To The Woods as, not only does it feature the bands original line up (with Jake Martel on bass, since replaced by James Ogier), it features songs that have since fallen from their live set.

The album starts off exactly as anyone who has seen the band would expect, with a grunge influenced sound over which the unique vocals of Robert Battle roar. Album opener Deadend in particular captures all of this well and brings to mind Nevermind-era Nirvana with a slightly more lo-fi and down to earth edge.

To The Woods original line up

To The Woods original line up

As the record goes on there is a surprising amount of dynamic in the band’s song writing with punky smashes to the face like Fire sitting alongside potentially more considered numbers such as The Ballad and even the seemingly autobiographical on the, in its way, witty, Taxi.

This sense of dynamic is something that can be lost when To The Woods are storming through a live set so its nice to be able to hear it here.

On top of this two of the tracks are clearly augmented with extra musicians in comparison to their live versions with Is This Rock and Roll featuring extra vocals and guitars from Sugarslam’s Pete Bretel and Last of the Light Brigade’s Tyler Edmonds while The Ballad features Tyler and, on distortion drenched violin, Gregory Harrison.

Unfortunately there are points on the record where the lo-fi grungy aesthetic goes a bit too far with drums and vocals occasionally getting lost in the mix behind walls of distorted guitar and surprisingly brittle cymbal sounds.

To The Woods

Robert Battle of To The Woods

The other thing that seems to be lost, and I’ve no idea how you’d capture it, is some of the energy of To The Woods live performances. As this really is what has gained them their reputation it makes the album feel like it’s not all it could be. As I say though, quite how you’d capture this on record I don’t know.

What this all combines to make is something of a mixed bag, certainly its far from being a bad album and Those Deadbeats demonstrates many of things that make To The Woods what they, but I couldn’t help but feel there was something missing.

Note: I’ve been informed since publishing this that the originally released CD version of the album suffered some issues in the post-production process, a re-mastered edition is set to be released on Bandcamp

Self-titled EP

As well as Those Deadbeats October 2015 saw To The Woods release a self-titled EP.

While released simultaneously, the six-track collection was recorded a year later with the band’s new line up with James Ogier on bass and from the off the development is huge.

T’Otherside kicks things off like a comparative punch to the gut with deeper, thicker instrument tones as well as (for the most part) far more advanced songwriting.

To The Woods at Vale Earth Fair

The 2015 line up of To The Woods at Vale Earth Fair

Five of the six tracks have become highlights of the band’s live set in recent months with Hit The Switch and Burmuda being two of the band’s strongest songs.

This EP captures much more of their live essence than the album and, while Robert Battle’s unique stage presence and charisma will never be harnessed on record, this is a close second and certainly captures their sound far more suitably.

The songs here all have a more rounded feel to them retaining elements of the grungy, punk-ish sounds of the first album but added to this is a more hard indie aspect. In a recent interview the band said they started out wanting to play music similar to Brit rockers Reuben and what is captured here is certainly closer to that in tone, both in its production and songwriting, albeit in the band’s own style.

To The Woods EP cover art

EP artwork

With all of this the production work from James Le Huray serves the songs far better here with studio effects used well to augment the songs and, in particular, offer definition to Battle’s constantly roaring vocals.

In comparison to Those Deadbeats the EP is a far more satisfying listen and manages to go someway to doing what remains impossible of capturing at least an aspect of the band’s live presence.

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Los Angeles – November 2015 – Part 4

Venice Beach

Venice Beach

My final full day in LA started out in the small coastal city of Venice, north of LAX and south of Santa Monica. While more famous for its long, sandy beach, the area takes it’s name from the canals that run between the houses and streets at its southern end near the enormous Marina Del Ray.

Today though I stuck to the beachfront areas. At the southern most point, where a breakwater creates an entrance to the marina, the beachfront buildings are a string of houses that look like slightly rundown versions of those I’d previously seen at Manhattan Beach, while to the north the beach side path was lined with small shops selling everything from souvenir t-shirts, to food, to medicinal cannabis (assuming you ‘passed’ the required test – similar outlets were dotted around the city and all looked, at best, sketchy).

The beach itself is wide and made of deep, soft sand that made walking along it nearly impossible away from the shoreline, so I stuck to the footpath which had the odd feel of a combination of Camden High Street and a sunnier version of the seafront walk at Vazon (though clouds were looming on this particular day).

Venice mural

Venice mural

One thing that stands out around Venice are the large murals on the walls of some of the buildings. With great attention to detail they all have their own style and character but add something unique to the area.

Also somewhat iconic (thanks largely to Baywatch) are the lifeguard stations dotted along the beach, the palm trees and the ‘muscle beach’ out door gym (largely deserted in the mid-morning).

While all of this sounds fairly tropical the whole place has something of a tired feel and, while famous as hangout for ‘the beautiful people’ it seems this is no longer the case and I think you’d be more likely to bump into homeless people than a Pamela Anderson lookalike.

The busiest area on the beachfront on this morning surrounded a kind of recreation centre which showed the city’s more glamourously bohemian past with its wall dedicated to poets and writers who based themselves in the area in the 1960s and 70s, including The Doors’ frontman Jim Morrison. Next to this was a small but busy skate park and ‘V’ shaped sculpture giving this area the feel of being the beach’s ‘town centre’.

Venice beach prom

Venice beach prom

Heading north the tired and quiet feel began to change as Venice became Santa Monica and the beach front buildings, set further back were clearly far more high end.

Much like beach resorts in the UK those that line the Coast of LA have piers with various attractions on and, of the ones I’ve seen, Santa Monica was by far the busiest.

Much of this was similar to the restaurants and gift shops found on Pier 39 in San Francisco with a fun fair added in as well. For me the best part of the pier was simply the views from the end looking north towards Malibu and Santa Monica Mountains and south along Venice and down towards the other beach resorts of Manhattan and Hermosa.

Also interesting was a gift shop dedicated to Route 66, while typically ‘all American’ in style it demonstrates something of the vastness of the country of which this is the westernmost region. On top of that it continued to feed the wanderlust I have for the US…

The view north from Santa Monica pier

The view north from Santa Monica pier

Away from the seafront, Santa Monica’s city centre features a clearly recently redeveloped shopping area, the Third Street Promenade, with stores ranging from more day-to-day ‘high street’ brands to higher end designer fare. A particular highlight for me was the Barnes and Noble bookstore, which was enormous and featured a wide selection of surprisingly different stuff for a big chain store.

With the wind starting to blow up and the clouds that had been lurking on the horizon all day finally heading nearer, I met up with my cousin and we headed home via a supermarket. As we left the forecast weather really began to hit and it was impressive to see the tropical palm trees and usually calmly hanging road signs being battered by the wind.

The TV news later added a somewhat hysterical (and entertaining) edge to this as the ‘storm’, which ended up really constituting a few heavy showers and some strong wind that passed fairly quickly, was treated by the reporters like some kind of natural disaster (and surely LA knows natural disasters), despite being little more than what we get fairly regularly at home – though I’d imagine heavy rain on a busy eight lane freeway could cause more problems than a two lane road in Guernsey.

The Getty Museum

The Getty Museum

With only a few hours in the morning before having to be at the airport for my flight back to the UK we headed out to the Getty Museum in the hills over looking the city.

Despite being a tourist attraction the whole place has a somewhat secretive feel to it. Located off the freeway on a steep sided hill, after parking the car we got onto a minibus which drove the narrow path up the rear of the impressive museum.

The Getty houses a range of art from pre-rennaisance painting and sculpture through to contemporary photography in a collection of impressively designed buildings and gardens perched between Santa Monica and Hollywood.

This early in the day the place felt like we almost had it to ourselves as we explored the gardens (somewhat half finished at this time of year due to seasonal changes and drought) before heading into the museum. While the older items in the first gallery are impressive for their age and style what really stood out to me was the photographic exhibitions, including several feature ones by post-war Japanese photographers looking at the recent history of the people and the country.

View from the Getty Museum

View from the Getty Museum

As we headed down the hill on the monorail (this final touch completed the feeling of Roger Moore-era Bond villain HQ that the Getty has) I had the feeling we had only scratched the surface of what’s on show here and if I’m back in LA I’ll do my best visit with more time.

From the Getty we headed to the Tom Bradley terminal at LAX rounding off my travels with a mostly smooth flight back across the US, Canada and the Atlantic, including an impressive view of the lights of Las Vegas standing out in the idle of the dark desert.

You can read my previous travel blogs about this trip at the links below:

San Francisco (including Ghost at the Warfield)

Coast Starlight

Los Angeles (including Tiger Army’s Octoberflame)

And you can see my photos on Facebook

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: December 2015 – Buff Hudd and Thee Jenerators

Buff Hudd in the BBC Introducing Guernsey studio

Buff Hudd in the BBC Introducing Guernsey studio

Click here to listen to the show

For the final BBC Introducing Guernsey radio show of 2015 I took a look back at the last 12 months of music around the islands including tracks from Of Empires, The Recks, mura masa, Robyn Sherwell, Robert J. Hunter and more.

As well as that I was joined in the studio by Buff Hudd (aka Buffalo Huddleston frontman Mike Meinke) for a live session and an interview about what has been a huge year for the band.

I also spoke to Thee Jenerators about the release of their new ablum, The Devil’s Chords, which is out now on both digital and vinyl.

You can listen to show on the BBC iPlayer by clicking here or download it using the BBC iPlayer Radio App on smartphones.


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Sound Guernsey Christmas Party – The Venue – 21/12/15

Asylum Seekas

Asylum Seekas

With their second event due to fall on Christmas Day, Sound Guernsey moved the show to the preceding Monday and dubbed it their Christmas Party.

As the target age group had all just finished school for the festive holidays, a Monday was as good a night as any and quite a few tickets had been sold before doors opened and a reasonable crowd was there from the start – albeit spread around the main room, front bar, side room and balcony.

Having gained something of a reputation for his performances over the past year Toby Falla kicked off the show with his Ed Sheeran guitar, loop station and tandem mic set up. Technically what Falla did was astonishing, layering up loops of guitar, percussion and vocals to create an amazingly deep range of sounds and all in perfect sync. Despite, or possibly due, to all of the technical wizardry though, Falla’s performance lacked a certain emotional connection making for something impressive but ultimately hollow.

Toby Falla

Toby Falla

That said a few moments stood out where everything fell into place, including a section of Eminen’s Lose Yourself and when he let go a little on the final track after putting down his guitar and rapped over the previously layered loops.

As was to become something of a default setting for the night the youngsters in the audience all seemed to appreciate and enjoy the performance but from a polite distance.

After some choice punk, reggae and ska sounds from the evening’s DJ, Vale Earth Fair Collective member Rob Roussel, Rentoclean took to the stage. From the start were far tighter than I have seen them in a while, and certainly far more so that a couple of night’s earlier at the Vale Earth Fair Christmas party.

While the songs were the bouncy, energetic, reggae-punk we have come to expect, the lack of their usual chat between songs made the set feel a little disjointed – though, having spoken to the band backstage, this was largely down to their fear of saying anything too inappropriate for young ears. Certainly this was admirable but it did mean something of the band was missing from the show.

Dan from Rentoclean

Dan from Rentoclean

Once again the audience was appreciative but distant, with most preferring to listen from seats near the back or the seclusion of the small room to the side of the stage.

It was at this point that it struck me the reason for this may be fairly simple and that, for many, this would be their first chance to experience music like this, not just live but at all, as Rentoclean are about as far from standard pop radio fare as you can get. Maybe I’m doing the audience a disservice but that is how it felt, so it is great that they are now getting the chance to hear and feel this music played live.

For this, rather different, show headliners Asylum Seekas did something a bit different to start their set. With DJ Mini-Rol in place behind the decks Apex and Jimi Riddlz invited some guests to take the stage.

First was Atari, making his live public debut. He delivered two tracks packed with solid, speedy MCing and, despite clearly being nervous nailed it. Though he had little direct connection with the audience (who had come forward following the Seekas encouragement) for a first outing this was strong and showed promise of Guernsey’s hip-hop scene having some new talent on the way up.

Devilish & Doyle

Devilish & Doyle

Added to this ‘new blood’ was the duo of Devilish & Doyle who put in a more developed performance than Atari, somewhat aping the back and forth rapport of their hosts.

Both delivered their raps tightly over well-constructed beats and offered a little more in terms of ‘performance’ and I hope all three will be able to showcase their abilities to a wider audience at The Get Down or similar events in the future.

From the newcomers to Asylum Seekas the difference was evident and served to show just how much talent this trio has. With a lot of new sounding material they combined wit and rhyme with excellent balance as the seemingly permanently wired Jimi Riddlz jittered his way through his parts in his trademark style while Apex added a more grounded and humorous energy the show.

The two MCs may have slightly censored some of their stronger material but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t still as edgy as ever. With slightly deeper grooves from Mini-Rol’s DJing in places the set hinted at a slightly new direction and the MCs managed to get the crowd to join in with a few call and response elements.

Asylum Seekas

Asylum Seekas

While the audience as a whole remained only quietly appreciative the trio did what they do excellently and showed quite how professional they can be – delivering, despite the muted response, to round the night off strongly.

Following the set it was clear they’d struck a chord with quite a few of the youngsters present as they were mobbed for the download cards they were offering for their latest album, showing how the youngsters attending Sound Guernsey events are really looking to discover something new and different.

You can see more photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

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Los Angeles – October/November 2015 – Part 3

Downtown LA from Griffith Park

Downtown LA from Griffith Park

After a packed couple of days my weekend in Los Angeles was set to be a comparatively relaxed one, though still with some interesting things to do.

After a more relaxed Saturday morning we headed toward Chinatown for lunch. Located adjacent to Downtown what I saw of LA’s Chinatown looked far smaller and less ingrained than its counterpart in San Francisco, with a couple of shopping centres, markets and restaurants (and I assume some housing too).

For lunch we headed into a bustling, and in many ways baffling, dim sum restaurant. Upon arrival we were whisked to a table by one of the seemingly hundreds of waiting staff and almost before we’d sat down we were set upon by a few with a selection of dishes. Rather than ordering specific items waiters constantly circulated through the tables offering whatever it was they had, while a little disconcerting at first this did mean we had the chance to try a huge range of food I’d not really had before. From dumplings and meat dishes to fish and deserts it seemed, if you wanted it, the food was never-ending.

Particularly enjoyable were some eggy, doughy dumplings contained some kind of unspecified meaty stuff, along a with steamed prawn variety, but in general it was all very nice once I got into the swing of things and I got the impression was actually fairly legitimately Chinese judging by the clientele.

Amoeba Music on Sunset

Amoeba Music on Sunset

After a look around some of the nearby shops, mostly featuring the same kind of stuff as those on Grant Avenue in San Francisco, we headed over to the Hollywood section of Sunset Boulevard.

Here we parked up behind the spectacular looking Cinerama Dome Arclight Cinema (if I’m back here again I must make a point to try to see a movie there), and headed to the third Amoeba Records store of my trip.

Even when compared to the San Francisco branch this is a huge store with countless CD, vinyl and tapes spanning all genres I could think of along with books, souvenirs, novelties and, upstairs, a huge range of DVD and Blu-ray. Much like the other branches there was a lot could have come away with but limited myself to a few selections including an album by one of the bands we’d seen the previous night, James Intveld.

It might sound odd to talk so much and in such positive ways about a shop, but in a place that feels like a mecca of commercialism Amoeba Records does something impressive in having a genuinely great atmosphere reminiscent of smaller local record shops just expanded to a huge scale with enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff and a great, varied selection of offer. If retailers want people back in their shops and not shopping online there are far worse models to follow than this.

1953 Telecaster

1953 Telecaster

From Amoeba we headed along Sunset to Guitar Centre. This huge store is much like the record shop but selling instruments. As the name suggests the majority of the store is taken up with a huge range of guitars but it also sells drums, keyboards and studio recording equipment.

The range of instruments is frankly bewildering though most are actually fairly standard fare until you head down through the acoustic rooms and into an area at the very back of the building housing a range of rare and collectible instruments and amps.

Amongst these were some frankly amazing vintage Gretsch guitars from the 1950s, Fender amps from the same era and, most notably, an original 1953 Fender Telecaster with a price tag well exceeding $30,000!

Compared to the UK, the USA does a lot more to celebrate Halloween and throughout my trip there had been plenty of signs it was coming up, but, on the day itself the City of West Hollywood goes all out and stages a huge street party, second only in scale to their annual Pride event. We arrived in West Hollywood early so as to be able to find a place to park and headed past the rainbow crosswalks to the mile long stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard that had been closed for the event.

With stages set up at either end and a few others in between we wandered down the wide street, some of the first to arrive, and it was clear everyone in the area was getting in on the celebrations from packed bars and restaurants to those starting to arrive in a range of costumes.

WeHo Halloween Festival

WeHo Halloween Festival

There were already some dancing in the streets early on but as the sun began to set things really began to fill up and the costumes became more elaborate. These ranged from more conventional horror movie related fare (including a particularly elaborate Ringu one that allowed the wearer, as Sadako, to appear as if she were crawling from a TV) to many other things.

Some were a bit on the risqué side too, including a pair of skimpily clad Mario Brothers and a young man wearing little more than a pair of black angel wings, while others were simply impressive for various reasons including a Caitlyn/Bruce Jenner lookalike, Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous (it could have been Joanna Lumley!) and a full size dinosaur skeleton puppet outfit.

WeHo Halloween Festival

Dinosaur puppet costume

After having a look around for a few hours and getting some food we headed home for the day and I think were all slightly disappointed the next morning when we found out the surprise special guest at the end of the night had been Boy George!

We didn’t let that effect things too much as, after another relaxing start to the day we headed down to Manhattan Beach for a bit of a walk on the pier.

The beaches that stretch from Malibu in the north to Palos Verdes in the south are hugely impressive and strongly remind me of bigger, sunnier, versions of Vazon in Guernsey, but with towns and cities backing right up to their promenades and oil tankers moored offshore filling themselves up from the offshore oil rigs dotted just beyond the horizon.

In a change from the weather so far mist and clouds were beginning to gather around the Santa Monica Mountains in the north but at Manhattan it was still hot and sunny so the ice cream and cookie sandwich from the Manhattan Beach Creamery really hit the spot.

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach

From there we headed north, once more, towards Hollywood though this time, rather than the city our destination was the hills behind and the Griffith Park Observatory.

Parking just down the hill from the summit led to some great views over the trails and paths that wind their way up the hills as well as the iconic Hollywood sign on the opposite peak. As well as that the sight of the early 20th century, art deco styled observatory, perched on its hillside plateau were spectacular.

The Griffith Park Observatory is now much more a museum and tourist attraction than working observatory, unsurprising considering the amount of light pollution rising from the plain below, and features a great planetarium at its centre.

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

The show today focused on how water is crucial to the development of life and it took us from Los Angeles to the distant moons of the outer planets of the solar system exploring where there might be water, and where extraterrestrial life might exist, with stunning visuals projected onto the huge domed roof.

The rest of the complex is a museum focusing on astronomy with examples of space debris that has crashed into the Earth, a whole gallery dedicated to the differences between the planets and a section about the history of telescopes from Galileo to Hubble to the current vast arrays being built.

Tesla Coil

Tesla Coil

A highlight of all of this is a working Tesla Coil that we saw demonstrated with arcs of lightning flying from its domed top to the edges of the Faraday cage surrounding it and causing a neon sign to illuminate without the need of any power cables – genuinely a spectacular sight.

While inside the observatory was impressive the views it affords across a majority of the vast metropolis of Los Angeles are something else.

With the sun beginning to set and fog rolling in from the sea these views were even further enhanced as the city began to twinkle like a star field below us (even if its light knocked out any chance of seeing the actual stars above). Anyway its impossible to really describe the views of the city from here but you can see some in my photo gallery over on Facebook.

The Rainbow

The Rainbow

Famed as a hangout for LA’s rock star royalty our next stop was the Rainbow Bar & Grill on the Sunset Strip. While there were many likely rockers dotted about the bar, being an early Sunday evening meant the place was relatively quiet so we didn’t see its most famed regular, Motorhead’s Lemmy, but none the less were treated to a great meal.

While my steak was one of the best I’ve had (and very reasonably priced) and the pizzas looked amazing, the place really sold itself with its decor and atmosphere which were something like a less corporate, more legitimate feeling Hard Rock Café.

With its location near famous venues like the Troubadour, The Viper Room and The Whisky-A-Go-Go (basically listen to some Motley Crue and you’ll get a surprisingly good idea of the Strip) its obvious why this area is a mecca for rock ‘n’ roll bands from around the world and why the Rainbow is at its centre and it rounded off our day in fine fashion.

Read about the final part of my trip here

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Vale Earth Fair Christmas Party – The Fermain Tavern – 18-19/12/15

Of Empires

Of Empires

Every year the Vale Earth Fair pulls out all the stops for its end of year shows with past versions having featured Dead Sea Skulls and Skindred amongst others.

2015 was no different as they took over The Fermain Tavern for two nights of music including the return to the island of Of Empires.

The first night got going with Rentoclean who were at their most ramshackle throughout. While the reggae-punk four-piece’s performance was still fun and engaging at times, they seemed to lose momentum as soon as they’d gained any by interspersing their more well-known songs with lengthy jams and half-formed new material.

All these jams came with a good groove but a lot of the time it felt as if even the band weren’t sure where these grooves were going and it was clear from the way the audience began to drift it wasn’t translating off stage either.



A highlight of the set came with We Wish You A Reggae Christmas but as their set ended with the band members drifting into silence the whole performance felt unengaging and something of a disappointed from such a renowned ‘party band’.

After a bit of a protracted break, during which we were ‘treated’ to the very random selections of DJ Ormer that ranged from cheesy Christmas classics to pounding dance to (later on) hard rock and metal, Tantale hit the stage.

They started off with a loose and groovy vibe that, as they got going, merged with the grungy feel of their rockier material into something that really seemed to hit the mood of the crowd. Particularly good here was a drone heavy track from new album Just Add Vice, which along with a few others got some intense head nodding going on.

Tantale and 'guest'

Tantale and ‘guest’

Tantale certainly feel reinvigorated following the release of their new album and string of recent gigs and this was particularly evident in frontman Steve Wickins’ more assured performance.

They ended their set with a good run at The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York (complete with impromptu and, I think, unexpected extra vocals from an over enthusiastic member of the audience) and had the energy in the room high for the night’s headliners.

By the time To The Woods hit the stage it was getting late and they were in instantly ‘lairy’ mode. Frontman Bobby Battle was out in the crowd by half way through the first song and soon after nearly wiped out the drumkit before settling down into his usual intense performance style.

Since the release of their debut album in October the whole band have been exuding more confidence and that was in full effect giving them the feeling of being legitimate headliners and not just the band going on last.

To The Woods

To The Woods

Throughout their breakneck set they had heads banging and about as close as we get to moshing at a Guernsey show these days and, while certainly This is Chaos it never felt out of control and ended the first night of the party on a high.

As Honest Crooks took to the stage to start the second night of the party the Tav was already as busy as it had been at its busiest the previous night and there was a real sense of anticipation for the Of Empires return.

That said it was clear this ska-punk trio had brought a fair number of their own fans in too, not a surprise considering their swift rise over the past twelve months. While frontman James Radford still seems to have a hard time connecting physically its fair to say their music is infectious and had a few moving despite the band being on first.

Honest Crooks

Honest Crooks

With their usual mix of well-known covers and their own material they kicked off the night well and got the energy up while their ska-punk version of Fairytale of New York was surprisingly successful and got them a big round of applause and cheers to end their set.

Having spent the last year gigging and working in the UK, Of Empires return to The Fermain Tavern had drawn quite a crowd many of whom headed onto the dancefloor as the band finished setting up.

From the off the band were probably the coolest looking thing to grace this stage this year and it would be easy to see the whole enterprise as something of a pose. However, once all four members hit their stride by half way through the first song it was clear all were playing with their own sense of legitimate conviction that made their set deeply engaging.

Of Empires

Of Empires

Jack Fletcher remains a prototypical frontman, playing to the crowd throughout and even getting Guernsey’s often-reserved audiences singing along, while all three other members had their moments in the spotlight.

Matthew Berry was, as ever, a consummate pro on lead guitar, even when he was having evident technical difficulties he barely missed a beat, while bass player Liam Bewey seemed far more engaged and energetic than when I’ve seen them in the past.

To round off a set of their cool and sexy take on rock ‘n’ roll Of Empires let loose with older fan favourite Carla that showed the band still have that more full on side to them. The addition of some harmonica from Andy Mason brought the song to life even more, rounding off the excellent set on a high as the whole performance demonstrated why Of Empires have had the success they have so far.

The Space Pirates of Rocquaine

The Space Pirates of Rocquaine

After the previous night’s less than inspiring DJing work, DJ Oneofakind was on the decks and gone were the Christmas tunes to be replaced with funky, soulful sounds loosely matched to the bands but with the DJ’s own sense of musicality added as well showing why he’s one of the island’s premier genre hopping DJs.

Following Of Empires here was never going to be easy and, for the first half of their set, it seemed the new look Space Pirates of Rocquaine may be faltering. Being currently down a fiddle player, mandolin player Tim Corbett was swapping between his usual instrument and a Telecaster (slightly disappointingly there were no cries of ‘Judas’ from the audience) to add an extra depth to the sound. This seemed to wrong foot them somewhat making the first half fall a little flat.

The Space Pirates of Rocquaine

The Space Pirates of Rocquaine

As they headed into their potentially rockier numbers though a switch seemed to go off, with drummer Moxie beginning to thunder on the drums a bit more than usual while Lisa Vidamour got a bit of her old rock band feel back and things picked up.

Certainly this was still very the folk rock band we are familiar with, but here, with that little extra edge, they found a new angle that worked very well for this version.

Newer song Coming Home marked an emotional highpoint of the set before the likes of Sarnia Cherie, Mr Le Goupillot and The Witch of the Longfrie brought the Vale Earth Fair’s 2015 Christmas party to a suitably upbeat and celebratory end.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

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The Robert J Hunter Band – Before The Dawn

Robert J Hunter - Before The DawnLess than a year after releasing his debut album, Songs For The Weary, Robert J Hunter has returned with his second LP, Before The Dawn.

Flanked by Greg Sheffield on drums and James Le Huray on bass the album was recorded in Guernsey and mixed and mastered in the UK where the band is now based and gigs regularly in and around London as well as having completed their first UK tour in the second half of 2015.

The album is available in digital and physical form via Bandcamp and my review of Before The Dawn was published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 19th December 2015 and can be read below.

Robert J Hunter - Before the Dawn review scan - 19:12:15

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Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Star Wars - The Force Awakens posterBefore we get to the review I want to give it a little context. This was written based on my initial thoughts after a midnight screening on release day. For a film that is part of a series that has genuinely meant a huge amount to me over the years I realise aspects may be skewed by this, on top of which I have done my utmost to avoid any ‘spoilers’ – so without further ado my thoughts on The Force Awakens.

Simply heading into the cinema for the first midnight screening in living memory in Guernsey would have made this an exceptional event. The fact that the film that had sold our modest four-screener was the new film in the Star Wars saga made it something entirely other.

The Lucasfilm logo, that opening sentence in blue on black and then John Williams signature orchestral blast and the yellow words floating before a star field and instantly it was clear everyone in the cinema was back in the far off galaxy, but here is where the real nerves set in.

The ‘opening crawl’ of the (rightly) much-maligned prequel trilogy had very much set the tone for the poorly written, pointlessly over complicated, story of the fall of Anakin Skywalker. Here though, as soon as the first sentence appeared it was clear things were as they should be and the air of relief was nearly palpable.

X-Wings - The Force Awakens

X-Wing fighters

From there, epic space opera reigned for two and a bit hours as we charted the exploits of the Resistance against the First Order, loosely mirroring the Rebel Alliance and Empire of the original, classic, trilogy. This is something that is a trademark of The Force Awakens.

Throughout, from characters to locations to plot points, there are reflections of what is already familiar. The real trick that makes them work is these reflections are twisted just enough to balance familiarity with something new, vibrant, energetic and modern. In many ways exactly what director JJ Abrams did with his Star Trek movies, but here even more successfully – as if his previous big screen blockbusters had been something of a warm up act.

As with the original trilogy it is the characters that stand out and our trio of ‘new recruits’, Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron, echo their earlier counterparts of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo in unexpected ways, while that original trio also make a return.

Rey and Finn on Jakku - The Force Awakens

Rey and Finn on Jakku

Again the art here is in balance, enough homage is paid to the characters we already know but never at the expense of the new set who all come to the fore and are as relatable and engaging as they could be.

Along with this Rey (Daisy Ridley) shows signs of becoming a true blockbuster movie heroine the likes of which I really don’t ever remember seeing in such a mainstream family movie (the nearest potential touchstone is Ellen Ripley in the Alien series).

When it comes to the villains there is a host of English accented First Order officers and then there is Kylo Ren. Ostensibly this movie’s Darth Vader it soon becomes clear that is to do a disservice to both characters as Adam Driver brings an entirely different presence and take on the dark side of the force to anything we have yet seen, hinting at even more development of the light vs. dark dynamic than ever before.

Of course it wouldn’t be Star Wars without droids. Two droids were the linchpin of the original trilogy and it seems a new astromech is here to add to them in the form of ‘ball droid’ BB-8.

BB-8 - The Force Awakens


On a technical level the apparently mostly physical prop is amazing and I still can’t quite work out how they made it and where the lines of real and CGI are.

In terms of character BB-8 is a genuinely effecting, adorable and above all fun character who, much like R2-D2 did nearly 40 years ago, becomes as integral a character as any of his human counterparts.

Humour is another strong factor in The Force Awakens as, while it is arguably one of the most emotionally intense films in the series, it is also by far and away the funniest.

A particularly striking thing about this is, rather than coming from a designated ‘comic relief’ character, all the hero characters have light and shade in this area, echoing Han Solo in the original films, and in fact here, as Harrison Ford seems to not just be playing ‘General’ Solo but is the Corellian smuggler in a genuinely uncanny way.

In terms of plot it’s hard to discuss much without spoiling things (and I really don’t want to be the guy who does that), but it takes a similar arc to A New Hope with the Resistance working to stop the First Order in their plan to regain control of the galaxy. Again though this is all twisted just enough to make it fresh, exciting and genuinely unpredictable at points.

Kylo Ren - The Force Awakens

Kylo Ren

All of this combines to create something truly special the like of which I haven’t felt in a very long time. Not only is The Force Awakens an epic science fiction/fantasy, it takes every aspect of filmmaking and combines them in the best way a blockbuster picture can.

The performances are pitch perfect (though a few take time to build and coalesce), the script is the right balance of exposition, fun and thrilling suspense and the special effects are second to none.

With this, almost most importantly, the sense of the world in which all the action takes place is one that even its creator once seemed to have lost as JJ Abrams truly returns us to the Star Wars world for the first time since 1983 and, in doing so, shows up the Marvel movies, Transformers and any other of their blockbuster ilk as the pretenders that they are.

Chewbacca and Han Solo - The Force Awakens

Chewbacca and Han Solo

All this said, The Force Awakens is, of course, not quite perfect – there are a few intriguing plot holes and occasional clunky exposition – but it is as close as it likely ever could be and, as well as being an exciting picture in its own right, sets the scene for potentially even greater things to come.

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Los Angeles – October 2015 – Part 2

Melrose Avenue

Melrose Avenue

Much like my first day in ‘The City of Angels’ (something I have never seen, heard or said actually in the city) my second was set to be a hyper touristy one thanks to my two-day bus tour pass. Having left the tour in Hollywood the previous day I thought I’d start the morning on the section of Melrose Avenue I passed through previously and have a look at some of the shops.

Getting there at about 10 I had a chance to explore a little as most of the shops didn’t open until nearer 11 so I walked the length of this section of the street passed The Groundlings Theatre that I visited on my last trip to LA and their new, soon to open school. Most of the street is taken up by clothes shops of different varieties from minor designer style boutiques (none of which I’d ever heard of) along with a few other shops including a comic book store, Japanese novelty & memorabilia store and a toys & games shop.

My first port of call was Mega City One comic book store, on my last visit it went by the name Melrose Music And Comics, but despite the name change the friendly atmosphere, gaming area and great selection was the same. As ever there were many things I could have come away with but settled on a couple of Batman collections and the next in the Transmetropolitan series I am gradually working through.

Further along the street a few of the clothes shops piqued my interest, one in particular, going by the name of Posers, with a great selection of largely British punk, mod and rocker style clothing that was about as far from the Hot Topics and such that sell the mass-produced equivalent of this as you can get. With such a great selection it was all I could do not to leave with a new pair of creepers or ‘Harrington’ jacket.

Dave Lombardo art

Dave Lombardo art

While the clothes in the front of Forgotten Saints looked both overpriced and like they were trying a bit too hard to show their punk credentials, the gallery area hidden at the back of the store held a few things of much more interest.

While only small the walls were lined with artwork created by two of Los Angeles metals most well-known drummers, former Guns ‘n’ Roses member Steven Adler and on-again-off-again Slayer percussion monster Dave Lombardo. Both sets of art were based around their day jobs but showed an interesting new side to the performers and it would have been nice to be able to see more in a slightly more easy to view situation.

From Melrose I repeated part of the bus tour loop up to the junction of Hollywood and Vine where I hopped off to walk along the more easterly end of Hollywood Boulevard. While less notable in terms of tourist attractions this section did feature some notable buildings from the Capitol Records buildings to yet another Scientology centre (there are three or four, including their main ‘celebrity HQ’ within a few blocks) to the huge but seemingly abandoned Pacific Radio building topped with a pair of huge radio transmission masts.

Capitol Records Building

Capitol Records Building

The third loop of the bus tour headed from Hollywood to Downtown Los Angeles. The first chunk of this was a long section with no stops along Sunset Boulevard, passed Amoeba Records, Crossroads of the World (former) Mall and the Cinerama Dome cinema. This was followed by trips through the city’s Armenian neighbourhoods (the area System of a Down originated from) and the Korean community, again showing the diversity of the city.

As we neared downtown we passed through MacArthur Park and I would have quite liked the chance to disembark here and have a look around as, with its lake and fountains, it looked like a nice area. The bus continued though on its route into the man-made canyons between the high rises and skyscrapers at the heart of the city.

I stayed on the bus until we pulled up alongside the elaborate and unique Walt Disney Concert Hall and I headed next door to the newly opened Broad art gallery. Recently built to house the art collection of philanthropist Eli Broad it is itself a striking edifice and free to get in as well. With only three floors I wondered quite how much there would be to see but I was far from disappointed.

Entering the gallery you are directed up a long, tunnel-like, escalator to the top floor where you emerge into a wide, open, white gallery that stretches out all around through various smaller rooms all of which you can see hints of from this central space. Arbitrarily heading right I was confronted by a room of works by Andy Warhol and continuing in a clockwise direction there were hundreds more pieces by artists whose names I recognised and (mostly) ones I didn’t, but all the work was incredibly striking and impressive.

Warhol's Elvis and Marilyn

Warhol’s Elvis and Marilyn

While it was, at points, too busy to easily take in detail, as a collection The Broad was hugely impressive and well worth a visit.

Also fascinating was, on the way out, as I descended the central staircase, I could see into the buildings middle floor where the remainder of the museum’s vast collection is housed in storage.

Back outside I realised that the downtown loop of the bus tour was far from convenient in comparison to the others and I had missed the next bus and there wasn’t one for another hour, so I headed down the hill from The Broad and into the heart of the city.

Walking between the skyscrapers always has an odd feeling and I was surprised by quite how steep some of the hills were in this area, which only amplified the height of some of the buildings. At the bottom of the hill though I headed around a corner and stumbled upon the LA public library, it’s oddly Egyptian styled exterior and gardens entirely out-of-place in this location but all the more striking for it and echoing something of the mall in Hollywood and the old Grauman’s theatre which, I assume, dated from a similar era.

LA Public Library

LA Public Library

From there I headed further into Downtown and got a flavour of what the city must have been like before the evident gentrification began. Heading to Pershing Square and a couple of blocks over to South Broadway the buildings were very dated and, while the architecture could have been striking it all had something of a tired air and I got the impression I probably wouldn’t have wanted to be in the area after dark – though I may have got entirely the wrong idea…

At this stage I met up with my cousins again and we began the drive down to Santa Ana (another of LA counties 40+ cities) where we had tickets to the first night of Tiger Army’s Octoberflame Halloween show. The venue was nicely compact with a unique layout that I wasn’t at first convinced by but was glad of once Tiger Army took to the stage and the pit kicked off. Before the show I didn’t know who the support acts were as I had brought the tickets on pre-sale back in June as I knew it would sell out quickly, so I was more than pleasantly surprised by both The Limit Club (a psychobilly band from Phoenix) and James Intveld (a country performer who produced Nick 13’s solo record).

Tiger Army

Tiger Army

You can read my full review of the Octoberflame gig here but suffice to say it has entered my top 10, and possibly top 5, shows I’ve attended while The Limit Club have since turned out to be a thoroughly nice bunch going by our interactions on social media.

Once again the drive ‘home’ went by with surprising swift and it wasn’t long before I fell asleep exhausted in the early hours of Halloween.

Read about my next two days in LA here

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