Three days in May

Loop. Three nights of Loop. Three consecutive, ear bashing nights of Loop. 😀

Ear bashing night 1: Bristol Exchange

Bristol. The scene of past Loop disasters and past Loop triumphs.

I met fellow ‘enthusiast’ Dave in Bristol and we went for a nice cup of tea before the gig. Then we trolled along to The Exchange, running into Soundhead Martin and guitarist Dan in the pub.

Support for the night was by Salope (Gareth out of Anthroprophh, Big Naturals and Kuro), which consisted of a drone of electric cello and theramins. I rather liked this.

When Loop came onstage to their usual drone-intro, which is when I always get a bit excited, they launched straight into The Nail Will Burn. The set included several older tracks and two tracks from the most recent Array 1 ep, Precession and Aphelion but, alas, not the groovy Radial.

Collision sounded great and Arc Lite was spot on 😀 Ending on Burning World is a lovely way to go out too.

I’d say that this was a good solid Loop gig, very enjoyable and a great start to the weekend of Loop gigs.

Set list:

Ear bashing night 2: London, Raw Power Festival

Baba Yaga’s Hut, one of the best London promoters, also presents one of the best London weekenders, Raw Power, now in its fourth year. At The Dome (Boston Arms) in Tufnell Park from Friday to Sunday evening various levels of psych heaviosity is hurled out onto an expectant audience. This year included some Loop heaviosity.

As is the way with me, I didn’t go for the whole day straight through. The Dome is not far from where I live so I can pop in and out. This time I popped in for Japanese New Music Festival (brilliant and hilarious), Qujaku (scary wailing), Cosmic Dead (very hairy) and, obviously, Loop. I think that Loop worked really well in the context of this event. They’re heavy enough to hold their own in the assembled line-up but also dancey enough for people who don’t really know them to just have a good old frug. The sound at the Dome was pretty well spot on so we were getting all the volume and distortion as it’s meant to sound without any mess or superfluous fuzz.

The audience was upbeat and totally went with the band on this journey into sound 😀 Robert was pretty jolly too so there was a nice level of banter: audience member, “play Fix to Fall”,  Robert, ” we can’t play that. It’s too hard” and (while tuning his guitar) “I’m having trouble with my g-string” (how we laughed!).

The setlist was the same as in Bristol.

Ear bashing night 3: Manchester, Transformer Festival

Ooh, controversy. When The Victoria Warehouse announced the ‘too good to be true’ line-up which included Swans, The Fall, Royal Trux and, of course, Loop, the gig-hivemind drew in its collective breath and said, “smells like Barry Hogan”. Barry Hogan; he of a swathe of ATP triumphs and disasters. This assumed connection, together with a couple of, frankly, disastrous and heavily criticized events at the Victoria Warehouse seemed to really put people off buying tickets, despite the hilariously cheap price.

Sure enough, when we got to the venue it was nowhere near full. On the plus side, this made it a much more comfortable experience than friends of mine have had there in the past; no queues for the bar or loos, no crushes getting into the different rooms, plenty of space to just hang out with friends and we were able to actually see the bands. On the minus side, the lack of bodies may have contributed to the extremely echoey sound, rattling around inside this giant box. The Fall sounded (from the back of the main room) like they were playing in a tin can and Loop’s set was definitely affected by an eerie echo.

It sounded like they spent the first couple of songs battling valiantly with the sound onstage before giving up on subtlety and wacking everything up to 11. I think that Wayne (drums) in particular, was having to work extremely hard to hold it all together.

Nevertheless, Loop playing a ridiculously loud, ridiculously heavy set in a disused warehouse is a scenario that I can happily get behind and I enjoyed the gig enormously, despite the problems. And I wasn’t the only one. New best occasional pal Rob was seeing Loop  for only the second time and responded with a level of joie de vivre that is to be applauded. He was giving out badges!

So, of the three nights, I enjoyed all of them but the London gig was the best. A great atmosphere, pretty heavy playing and excellent sound all worked together to make this the best one. Lots of Soundheads were out and about over the weekend so it was also nice to see people and catch up with them (you all know who you are. Thanks for being great company x).

And now I’m looking forward to Liverpool Psych Fest in September for some more Loop action.

PLAY RADIAL!!

Bring the Noise

So it’s time for more Loop. 😀 Yay! Road trip with fellow Soundhead, Dave. Yay! again 😀

Loop have just played a couple of low key warm-up gigs in advance of their appearance at Roadburn Festival and their North American tour. They have a new (to them) drummer to replace John Wills. This is Wayne Maskell from the psych band The Heads (of whom more later) so it was interesting to hear how they gelled.

First up, Birmingham, in a teeny tiny venue called the Hare & Hounds. Its claim to fame?

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I could spot a few familiar faces. Not people I actually know, but those who have been at a few of the gigs. I found out afterwards that some of them had travelled up from Brighton and London for this and I’ll bet they were glad they did. At points, the band seemed to be having a bit of trouble with the sound onstage, but it sounded pretty good, and pretty loud, out front.

Set list, you say?

Head-rush opener Soundhead; The Nail Will Burn; Vapour; Straight To Your Heart; ultra-slow Fade Out; crowd-pleasing people’s favourite Collision; Fever Knife (with that great opening line – “It struck me like a blow to the head”); funky dance choon Arc Lite; for the first time (ever?) Forever; Burning World (they fluffed the beginning but it still ended up sounding lush); and Can’s rocking Mother Sky. I didn’t actually write this down at the time. Someone posted the set list on FB. They had been intending to do Afterglow but, for whatever reason (time constraints?) they didn’t fit it in 😦

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And here’s a rather blurry shot of the hero of the hour.

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It was only announced about six weeks ago that drummer Wayne Maskell would be joining Loop for their 2014 dates so, even allowing for a bit of lead in before that, he’s only had, at best, at couple of months with the rest of the band. This was his first appearance with Loop and he’s officially AMAZING 😀

Just to put this into perspective, let’s talk about ‘deep ends’.

Today (Saturday) Loop will be headlining a leading underground doom/psych/avant garde metal festival in the Netherlands, Roadburn.  From there, they travel to the US and Canada for a (the last time I counted) 21-date tour.

Deep enough? No? How about adding an appearance at Texas’ internationally acclaimed festival of “mind expanding music”*, Austin Psych Fest* and then, back in the UK, the prospect of several double-headers with industrial eardrum-batterers Godflesh, then appearances in Paris (at Villette Sonique édition 2014), Barcelona (at Primavera Sound) and Porto (at Optimus Primavera Sound). So, yeah, no pressure.

On this showing, I’m pretty sure he’ll be up to the challenge. Good job that man 😎 ⭐

There were lots of cheers at the end and desperate hand signals from the newly-deaf crowd as they realised that one of their faculties was now shot to hell.

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The journey home from this gig was a mixture of grinning like loons and eyes-rolling because of an hour-long traffic jam at Spaghetti Junction due to roadworks. Ho hum. The things we do for love.

Work the next morning was a mere trifling distraction before the main business of the latter part of the day: more Loop. Back in Bristol again, but this time at the Exchange. Road music on the way was strictly old skool d’n’b; Planet V and Reprazent. Well we were going to Bristol, so it seemed geographically appropriate.

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We had, more or less, the same songs as at Birmingham, although in a different order and with the addition of Breathe Into Me. Arc Lite was awesome and I must say I’m really loving Burning World. Mmmm, that gorgeous bassline …

We’re also developing a repertoire of standard Loop gig jokes; 1. during the gig, while Loop pootle along at earhole-shredding volume, someone must shout “Turn it up!” and 2. after a gig all posts about hearing/tinnitus must be written in SHOUTY CAPITALS!! We’re so jovial 😀

Again, hats off to Wayne. Between Birmingham and Bristol he seemed to have really gained in confidence despite, apparently, being really nervous of this hometown gig. Well he was proper storming. What a chap.

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Before the gig, in the pub next door to the venue, something a bit odd happened. Dave, seems to have acquired a new bezzie mate! Fellow Cheshuntonian, guitarist Scott Dowson!! Whosiewhatnow?

Turned out that Dave had been plotting to surprise me with a fan-girl-worthy signed record. Cheer Dave and cheers lads 😀 😀 (look: even new boy Wayne has signed it 😀 *yay!*). It’s hilarious really, as I now have three copies of this record (not including digital downloads). What a gigantic geek.

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But seriously, what can I say about Loop that I haven’t said already? They are simply the living end.

We await, with bated breath, the reports from Roadburn and from fellow Soundheads across the pond.

There are much more sensible review of the Birmingham gig here: http://nativemonster.com/music/bands-and-gigs/gig-reviews/review-loop-hare-, and a video clip here –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4ksaDKKq3A&app=desktop and,seeing as my photos are pretty terrible, there are some much much better photos of Bristol here: http://www.middleboopmag.com/music/loop/photos-loop-live-exchange-bristol