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Dumpster (Dylan Johnson)

WOW! There’s a new band that’s demanding people’s attention and they are from Brooklyn, NYC. This news always comes with a certain sense of déjà vu and more often than not culminates in over hyped poppycock for those that were eager to grab an early taste of the metaphorical bagel. So what am I doing this evening…? I am going to see a band from NYC that is quite hyped and I’m eager to grab an early taste of the action, and that band is Big Ups.

Now Monday night is never the optimum day for a gig as most have spent their due earnings on the lavish weekends leaving one to slowly settle into the hum drudgery of the week. This was very much evident in Edinburgh’s Sneaky Pete’s this evening as myself and my friend in tow were 2 of what seemed like 6 paying punters*. For once the tiny interior of this particular venue felt cavernous, which left me a tad disappointed in my city, who knows how Big Ups felt themselves.

What the environment presented was that this may not be the rowdiest of shows, thus my expectations on what I was going to see took a sharp dip, thankfully was I proved wrong as the band delivered an exhilarating set proving that the hype may be true and due.

Lead singer Joe Calarraga prowled and shimmied around the stage like he owned it, recalling a younger Mark Arm of Mudhoney. Whilst Joe took control guitarist Amar Lal, bassist Carlos Salguero Jr and drummer Brendan Finn kept things tight throughout! Considering that they had only one album to get through ‘Eighteen Hours of Static’ the set wasn’t long but what it lacked in quantity it more than made up with the quality of that which was presented. ‘Goes Black’ and ‘Little Kid’ were particular highlights with the band’s sound in general owing a fair amount to a stream of early ‘Discord’ bands.

At the moment Big Ups very much wear their influences on their sleeves which isn’t a bad thing when your influences are of this quality. With time this may mould into something a bit more individual but hopefully maintaining the sarcasm and snot that they have at the moment. Whatever they do if it matches the sounds of their debut album, and if the calibre of their live performance is anything to go by then it’ll probably be fucking ace!

*I’m not positive if they were paying punters or the support band… as I missed them.

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The Edinburgh Leith Rock and Roll club* is playing host to a triple header this evening with Belfast’s the Bonnevilles headlining; showcasing their hybrid brand of bluesy rock n’ roll. The speakers are balanced haphazardly on a couple of tables, the cheap booze is pouring and you can barely part the crowd to get tae the toilet so it seems like a pretty grand atmosphere**.

First on the bill is Geek Maggot Bingo who were birthed from the ashes of well-known and well-appreciated The Acid Fascists***. Those in attendance are witness to a mash up of garage and surf punk dressed in the fashion of a disgruntled looking shaman on vocals and guitar who upon their exit song starts running into the mass of folk parting the crowd and who then precedes to kick the jams out amongst them. An early treat!

Secondly, and the reason for many being in attendance, is the last show for Edinburgh stalwarts ‘The Seafield Foxes’ who batter through their set with jive and swagger treating those who have supported them throughout their tenure to everything they’ve come to expect. The band oozed with self-confidence throughout, this proved to be a grand finale that lived up to its name!

And to the main event – the two gent’s Andrew McGibbon Jnr on guitar/vocals and Chris McMullan on drums dressed in their highly professional white shirt, black tie attire cascade through a mountain of tracks in their relatively short set time… and they are all immense. With said audience packed like a can of sardines and bouncing about, it doesn’t take long for shower of booze to rain upon everyone especially during ‘1000 days’ from the Bonnevilles most recent studio album ‘Folk Art & The Death Of Electric Jesus ’.

From listening to their discography some may have been lulled into a false sense of relief as there is a dash of lower paced tracks to catch a breather with but no such relief was on offer tonight. As those slower paced numbers on the record are a different and generally more fearsome beast live, so the energy of the set and those dancing**** didn’t let up at any point.

Things come to a close, the cheap booze is swiftly finished and everyone takes their wrecked bodies to the exit. When thinking of greaser Rock n’ Roll and the Delta Blues, my first thought would not be a couple of lads from Belfast. Well from the display tonight that may change from now on!

 

*That would be the Leith Links Cricket Club by the way.

**No jokes.

***Which is where I met my soon to be wife, so they were all good with me.

****If you can call it that?

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What is one to do on a cold and dreary Monday, well my first thought was to stay in but it seemed that Edinburgh’s Sneaky Pete’s was hosting an evening of acoustic punk* with emo god like figure Jonah Matranga headlining, with Oxygen Thief as support, which proved too enticing a prospect to pass up on.

Due to the lack of audience at the early point in the evening, Barry Dolan otherwise known as Oxygen Thief arrived on stage to little fanfare; however the same could not be said at the end of his electrifying set. Showcasing several tracks from his mighty fine début album ‘Destroy it Yourself’ which hosts defiant anthems in the waiting. Amusingly the signature time changes and stop/starts of the set had Oxygen Thief kicking against the pricks that were frequently in conversation early in his set until the aforementioned stop/starts led them to a further away part of the room. With the promise of a full band tour coming soon** left one rather tantalised at the prospect.

Jonah Matranga was sharp onstage with… himself and his acoustic guitar in tow, no backing to speak of. Despite their only being about 20 punters in the audience which made even this tiny venue seem somewhat sparse, to his credit, this did not seem to adversely affect Jonah’s disposition.  If anything it meant that it was a far more intimate experience for those savvy enough to be in attendance.

What followed was a set that covered all stages of Jonah’s varied career; Solo, Onelinedrawing, New End Original, Gratitude, Far and new project I is Another. With so much material to choose from it proved a highlight of the evening when Jonah asked for audience requests – which was greeted coyly as a test by some but as the first few were shouted out the man found himself inundated. This led to one of the odder moments of the evening as Jonah combined the polar opposite sentiments of songs ‘Are you Sure’ and ‘Fight Song #16,233,241’***, which we were told was the first time this has occurred.

Seeing Jonah cascade into a searing rendition of ‘We Had A Deal’ was not only a valiant display of why a solo performer doesn’t necessarily have to be the quiet, reflective song smith. Not only can they rock harder than a good dose of ensemble bands but can also remind you of why you go to see live music – where there is a moment that you are completely mesmerised, where all the other shit you carry is set aside for a few minutes****. This was one of those moments!

Greeted by the man himself after the show on exiting, more a less every member of the audience was treated to a hug and a short conversation. This cemented the fact that this truly felt special, that he appreciated us being there as much as we appreciated him coming to play. It makes me love punk rock and it quantifies why I love this guy and guarantees that every time that he tours I will make the effort of seeing him and will badger others to do the same*****.

*I hate to regurgitate that term as it’s just a bit shit but I’m at a loss to what else to call it.

**Touring but not in Scotland, unfair!

***That was I that requested ‘Fight Song’.

****Sorry to get all Meta on you.

*****Consider this you being badgered!