Round 9

Smokestacks at the Sun Bar in 2008. Photo by Trevor Sewell.

Bands in the year 2008

Going to Gigs
Round 9

Wednesday 18th October 2017
Instalment 8
by Trevor Locke

In this issue: We look back at some of the local bands that made their name in the year 2008.

Over October, I have been working on notes that I wrote when I went to gigs in Leicester during the year 2008. Below I gave some extracts from what I wrote in my notebooks at the time. It brings out the flavour of live music at the time. It covers the period from January to June of that year. I have also added into this article some content from other sources. As I wrote in my introduction to the year:

I remember 2008 as being a vintage year for live music here in Leicester. Music that was rich and vibrant played on live stages showed that the city offered much that was varied and interesting. Local bands were making names for themselves and bands were coming here that already had established reputations in their localities and sometimes bands with national-level backgrounds. Occasionally a band would arrive in Leicester from another part of the world. The reviews in this section have been taken from the archives of the Arts in Leicester website and have been completed and enhanced with notes that I made while I was at these gigs. My notebooks began in 2007 and ran through to the present time. It was the way I did things: writing down notes while I was at each gig, standing in front of the stage. I did not trust my memory, preferring to write as it happened and not the next morning.  (That was from the chapter of my book Compendium of Gig Reviews – as yet unpublished.)

So, here are the extracts:-

17th January 2008

Shed. Came by Plane, Peterborough. All girl band. 5 Members. Pumped out a great load of beats and rhythms. The lead singer could put out a range of sounds plus one backing vocals. Driving sound. Somewhere between classic rock and heavy, respectable drum beats. A good collection of songs with a well-rounded sound. The singer has a good vocal range. Stage presence was OK but they could have been a bit more animated. Confident performance. A bit of metallic screamo. An amazing lot of bass from the lead singer – quite impressive, better than some boy bands. Next page appears to continue from the previous one with no new date. Heroes didn’t play. Round 1. The Lowries played. Naked Gravy. Silent Devices. [Diary entry for 17/1/08 shows Shed, Silent Devices. Naked Gravy.] Leicester. 4 piece band. Lead vocalist. Good audience. Interactions. Standard 3 guitars and drummer. Song 2. Ska-like rhythms backing the melodic vocals. Lead singer backed by

Next page appears to continue from the previous one with no new date. Heroes didn’t play. Round 1. The Lowries played. Naked Gravy. Silent Devices. Leicester. 4 piece band. Lead vocalist. Good audience. Interactions. Standard 3 guitars and drummer. Song 2. Ska-like rhythms backing the melodic vocals. Lead singer backed by a second vocalist. Lead singer makes statements rather than sings. Smoke machine and disco lights. Lead sings and play the guitar. Song 3. Bouncy dance intro. Similar to a lot of popular indie bands in vogue at the present time. Stage performance good, not over frenetic.

They like to employ stops in their songs. Clearly a popular band judging by the audience. Song 4 got the audience clapping. Songs were all about the same pace; possibly not enough variation. But they could church out a strong beat at times. Need to trace the influences here; which bands do they sound like. Song 5 got the audience dancing. Not the kind of songs you could easily remember the next morning. Even so, they clearly went down well with their fans. Valentine’s night exit avenue my passion taste the chase posters up.

Silent Devices. Song 1. Lead singer. They had a new drummer playing for the first time. Lead has a strong voice. It wasn’t very tight because the rhythm guitarist was a bit pissed. They were on last. Lead singer helping out the drummer by hitting the cymbals. Animated bass player. This time the audience had dwindled. Song 3. Long instrumental intro. They clearly weren’t taking it seriously. But the feel of the songs came through. Strong indie. Some backing vocals from the bassist. Song 4. What you wanted. Characteristic guitar riffs. Current indie sound. It is where it really takes off. Antics with changing hats throughout the set. Lead has a good singing style. Not net perfected the art of backing vocals. But voices are good. Some guitar writing really good. Clearly well-rehearsed and they have worked hard on their material. A band with oodles of promise and potential. As long as their style remains in vogue. Stage act is all there it just needs to be choreographed and worked through.

9th February 2008

The Shed. The Heroes. Lead singer Alex Totman. 2nd lead singer Alex van Roose. Playing a new song that is on My Space. Matt bassist’s last gig with the band. Song 1 New Catering beat. Staccato vocals, typical of this type of indie. Clearly a song that fits with the current vogue of indie. Quite long instrumental passages between clipped vocals. Song 2. Only living for tonight. 2nd vocals lost in the backline. Words that the audience could follow. Song 3. Slower start. Then breaks into a faster beat. Dual vocals. Phrases typical of this of the band. Abrupt ending. Song 4. Alley cat. Strong 4/4 beat. Strong rhythms. Simple tunes. Song 5. Off to a cracking pace. Still the audience not moving. Shouty style of vocals. Lots of short words. Punk style. Staccato arrangements. Song 6. Slower. Thumping start. This is the flow number. Alex sings and plays the guitar. ” leads with the rhythm section. Two lead voices very similar. Last song. Lacks stage presence. Rather static. At last the audience starts clapping. Albeit briefly. Extended shouted vocals. High pitched guitars. Gives a characteristic style. Below this someone else had written: Deck Cheese, Stiff Records, Cave Records, Skylla Records, Lockjaw Records. [Presumably, a member of the Heroes listed labels they like]

Naked Gravy. Vocals more melodic but the voice sounds quite young. Songs have a good bounce to them. The vocalist sings with a guitar. Two vocalists often singing together. Got some audience response. Lead singer vocalises well but needs more presence. Two singers share the songs quite a lot. A certain amount of harmony. A distinctive quality of the two voices working together. The last song was probably their best. Something went wrong with their second-to-last song. The Elite. Looked even younger than the others. Got more from the audience. Even crowd surfing. The young singer got lost in the noise of the backline. Song: Only The Fly. Concentration on rhythm and beat a lot of thumping from the drums. Ska-like sound. Pushed out at a firm pace. Two vocalists blended well together. Age group 16 – 17. Probably all from the same college playing mainly to their friends. Lots of audience interaction. A bit like a private party. They certainly know how to put together some catchy beats. Cannot hear the words; lyrics lost behind the backline. Fast 2-step songs. Brat pack. Songs tended to sound all the same. It was a busy weekend for young bands. Song: Give me a smile. The same relentless beat. They are a bunch of kids enjoying a night out. It lacks originality but no enthusiasm. They had to work hard to produce music like this. How would they cope in a theatre with a 1,500 audience? At least they had an audience that danced. Even a bit of crowd surfing. Always good to have an audience that looks like they are involved. A few parents at the back, watching thoughtfully. Suddenly it was all over. Another sweaty night at the Shed. Next – St. Valentines night. Frenetic. In green pen – published in A in L and included in gig reviews 2008.

In July 2008, for example, Leicester band The Heroes won a competition to be the opening band on the main stage at Summer Sundae. A report at the time said: ‘Thousands of you voted and the results are in… The winners are… Leicester band The Heroes are to open The Weekender in Leicester.’ The Heroes guitarist Alex Van Roose went on to form Midnight Wire and lead vocalist Alex Totman went on to form Selby Court band. [Arts in Leicester magazine]

Quite a few small local festivals were organised, sometimes on a one-off basis. In 2009 and 2008 Arts in Leicester reported on Summer Sundae, the Big Session festival held on Victoria Park, Glastonbudget, Fristock, and regular events that included music in their programmes, such as Gay Pride, Diwali, Caribbean Carnival and the Belgrave Mela. Just over the Leicestershire border, Download attracted large numbers of people from our local area and Arts in Leicester listed the bands that played there. Batfest took place on 21st August 2010 at Battram, near Ibstock, Coalville, and was organised by Elliot O’Brart. BatFest is an annual event held for charity in the tiny but pretty village of Battram. We were going there mainly to see a few bands that we knew, as well as to help the charity and see a few bands we didn’t know. The festival was primarily a music festival with a couple of stalls selling homemade cakes and a raffle stall [Arts in Leicester magazine]

Bands of the Month on Arts in Leicester magazine in 2008: The Chairmen (Oct 08), Kids in Cars (Nov 08), Formal Warning (Dec 08) [Arts in Leicester magazine]

The year 2008 saw the formation of a clutch of local bands including Neon Sarcastic, Little Night Terrors, The Chairmen, Axis Mundi, The Boobytraps, and many others. [Arts in Leicester magazine]

Our pick of the gigs for 2008 – January Deceptikon , Negative Brody, Martyr de Mona , Set in Stone , Aikon play the GYBO showcase at the Shed – one of the best gigs of the year and a great start to the band calendar; February The Pavilion Venue opens its doors to live bands on Saturday nights. The TWANG play in Leicester at Leicester Uni. March JACK PENATE plays at Leicester Uni. April The Heroes, The Midbeats and the Chairman play at the Y Theatre. May M48 and the Codes win the Original Bands Showcase at the Shed. The Glastonbudget Festival takes place near Loughborough and over a hundred local bands and singers play to a gate of 6,000 on the side of the new act of Leicester’s biggest live music event. June Leicester venues and stages empty as thousands of local rock fans head over to Donnington for the Download Festival

M48 win the Original Bands Showcase at the Shed. July The Displacements come home and play their first gig in their home town since they got signed. A huge crowd turned out to cheer them on and M48 played support. August The Heroes open the main stage at Summer Sundae. The Chairmen play the main stage and Tired Irae and Kyte fill the De Montfort Hall. Leicester band Jersey Budd makes a rare appearance in their home town. Hinckley singer Steve Faulkner wins the Silver Bullet/Pavilion Acoustics Competition. The Caribbean Carnival hits the streets for another huge procession of musical floats and marching bands.

Freefall Felix play their last ever gig as frontman Charlie Drew exits the band. September Hinckley band The Chairmen beat 11,000 other bands to become of the overall winners of the national competition Surface Unsigned, playing the finals at the Carling Academy, in Birmingham. October The Black History Season 2008 gets underway in October and November with a series of events under the theme African Renaissance. November Syston band The Mile appears on Channel 4th Orange Act Unsigned. December Leicester’s new theatre CURVE is opened by the Queen and puts on its first show. The Lowreys win the Silver Bullet Battle of the bands at the Pavilion, The Dirty Backbeats play their last ever show [Arts in Leicester magazine archive disk]

The best songs of 2008

In 2008 Leicester bands wrote some amazingly good songs, showing what a wealth of talented musicians and songwriters we have in this city. Here is our selection of the top ten songs of 2008 – 1. “Twenty Twenty Vision” by The Chairmen. 2. “Transmission” by Autohype. 3. “Wake up Radio” by The Heroes. 4. “Catfight” by Razmataz. 5. “Don’t drag him down ” by The Utopians. 6. “From Pyongyang with love” by Kids in Cars. 7. “Out tonight” by The Steptoos. 8. “Frontline Hearts” by The Displacements. 9. “Caroline” by The Lowreys. 10. “Love Letter” by Formal Warning. (Not in any order of importance) But what do you think? If you want to nominate the best song of 2008 by a Leicester band, send us your nomination: title of a track, name of the band, myspace address. Reader’s nominations: “Genocidal” by Slaine (nominated by Pete), “Mick’s Cardiac Arrest” by Formal Warning (nominated by Joe), “Stickers on the Car” by Capture the Flag (nominated by Sarah)
[Arts in Leicester magazine archive disk]

This article has offered up a flavour of the year 2008 in Leicester. It is not comprehensive; it is not meant to be, but it is a taster of what music was like in that year.

Next time on Going to gigs: Battles of the bands.

See our introduction to the series Going To Gigs

About The Editor 536 Articles
The Editor of Music in Leicester magazine is Kevin Gaughan assisted by Trevor Locke