Tagged: garage rock

The countdown begins! China, ink, and one last great gig in Birmingham.

In exactly one month’s time, I’ll be beginning my internship with Roche in Basel Switzerland. Now seems like a good time for an update!

The Bund by night.

The Bund by night.

Firstly, I’d like to wrap up a few things from U21 Undergraduate Research Conference at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. I had such an amazing time, and met so many fantastic people. At the risk of sounding cheesy, it was genuinely inspiring to hear about the exciting research being carried out all over the world. I can’t thank everyone enough who made the week possible. Here’s some photos that never made it into my blog posts while I was out there!

An amazing street food vendor near the hotel - cooking up fresh rice and noodle dishes to order for only 10元 (about £1) a bowl!

An amazing street food vendor near the hotel – cooking up fresh rice and noodle dishes to order for only 10元 (about £1) a bowl!

More great food - this time at a neat little restaurant in Old Shanghai. This time I was really glad to have some Mandarin speaking dinner companions!

More great food – this time at a neat little restaurant in Old Shanghai. This time I was really glad to have some Mandarin speaking dinner companions!

Gardens in Hangzhou - we came here on a day trip thanks to the conference organisers

Gardens in Hangzhou – we came here on a day trip thanks to the conference organisers

They were even kind enough to send us all on a boat trip around Hangzhou Bay

They were even kind enough to send us all on a boat trip around Hangzhou Bay, which was amazing

We climbed up this pagoda in 38 degree heat - but it was worth it for the view!

We climbed up this pagoda in 38 degree heat – but it was worth it for the view!

The view of Hangzhou city from the top of a pagoda

The view of Hangzhou city from the top of a pagoda

So, that was my trip to China. A week was nowhere near enough to see all of Shanghai, but it was an amazing week nonetheless. It’s definitely given me the urge to travel more though – I came back and promptly booked a holiday to Turkey with my bff Rosie. We set off in about 12 days, so it’s shaping up to be a busy summer!

ink guys

ink guys

In the meantime, you might imagine I’d been sitting around and generally having a rest – ha! Boring. Since getting back from China, I managed to fit in meeting Caitlin Moran (and eagerly blogging about it here) and making a fairly eventful trip up to the West Midlands. I got myself a little going away present; a tattoo that I’ve been after for the best part of a year, thanks to the lovely Lizzie of the appropriately named Bon Voyage Tattoo Studio in Stourbridge. I can’t recommend her highly enough!

I won’t lie, it’s been met with a mixed reception – ranging from a highly satisfying, “Oh my god – and I mean that in a good way!” to a predictable, “I just wish you’d had something prettier…” Nonetheless, I love it. Without boring you with the oh-so-deep-and-meaningful motivation behind it, it’s exactly what I wanted and I wouldn’t change one thing. The detail Lizzie has put into it is just amazing (click on the image to zoom) – as is her other work. Her instagram page is well worth checking out – you might even spot my delightful back on there….

 

Aside from that, I also had the chance to catch Velvet Texas Cannonball supporting Rose Windows at the Oobleck in Digbeth.

I try and catch Velvet Texas Cannonball whenever they’re playing, so this might be the last gig I make it to before I move out to Switzerland, sadly! Thankfully, they didn’t disappoint. If 60s psychedelic garage-rock is your thing, they’re well worth a listen. The headliners, Rose Windows, were also fantastic. They came all the way from Seattle to bring us some great psych-y folk. Recommended.

I stayed up in the area for a little longer to go to a wedding (Congrats to Maz & Stu – have fun in the USA!) and then came back to my Mum’s house in Somerset. I’ve now got 4 weeks to get ready for the move to Basel – wish me luck! Any advice is very, very welcome…

 

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Three bands, no bassists (Review: Blood Red Shoes at Birmingham O2)

Me, bathed in the blue light of the O2 Academy. Subtle branding, guys.

Me, bathed in the blue light of the O2 Academy. Subtle branding, guys.

Ears still ringing slightly, I thought I’d tell you about a gig I went to last night (all in the name of avoiding revision, of course!)

Playing at the O2 Academy in Birmingham last night were Blood Red Shoes with support from Slaves and DZ Deathrays – all three bands being two-pieces. Edgy.

First on were Slaves. I’d already looked these guys up so I was keen to hear their 15 second epic, “GIRL FIGHT” done live:

For anyone who first heard Blood Red Shoes as part of the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Soundtrack (cough), it’s hard not to compare Slaves to “Crash & the Boys”. Not all their songs are < 20 seconds long, but these guys really don’t mess around. A self-described “garage punk band from kent”, most of their songs were prefaced with some kind of explanation for the ensuing wall of noise. It was impressive to see a two piece that seemed too large and loud for the stage they were on, and as an opening act, they really got the audience going; I’ll be keeping an eye out for more chances to catch them. And “GIRL FIGHT”? It did not disappoint. (Incidentally, I saw I guy down the front with a “girl fight” t shirt on – if anyone can tell me where I might purchase one of these…)

Next up we had DZ Deathrays. They really had the grunge/garage aesthetic down, and it was a lot of fun. The guitarist had an orange stack which was making a nice sound, but for me last night it felt like that was about all they had to offer. There was the odd catchy riff in thrown in there, but all in all I felt like I was listening to the same track throughout their set. Technically their sound wasn’t as good as the other two bands – the sound team seemed to be running into trouble all night, and there was a lot of waiting around – so maybe this was what let them down. Listening now to their studio stuff, it seems like they just didn’t really deliver as a live band on the night. Maybe that’s one of the limitations of being a duo – below is a great studio track from them. Definitely worth a listen.

 

Blood Red Shoes (Photo by my lovely boyfriend Bill, @RootFifthOctave on twitter)

Blood Red Shoes (Photo by my lovely boyfriend Bill, @RootFifthOctave on twitter)

After more waiting (apparently “the sound desk was broken or something”), we were treated to a great set from Blood Red Shoes. They came out all smoke and lights, and set the tone for a show that didn’t dip in energy from start to finish. Most of what they played was from their new self-titled album, which is full of not only their most mature tracks yet, but also some riffs that sound really great live.

Their stage presence was understated (guitarist Laura May shyly admitted at the end of their set that they couldn’t match the in-your-face charisma of Slaves) but suited their moody sound, and played well against the lights show, which was delivered by a slightly strobe-happy technician.

As with the other two bands, Blood Red Shoes had ample energy to really fill the room. Overall it was a great night, and everyone in the audience left grinning and sweaty. (Although, at £4.40 a for a pint of Carlsberg, stone cold sober. This isn’t London, O2!)