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Event Coverage

Sput has had a Youtube channel for nearly 4 years! Feel like I don’t do enough to plug it and make people aware we have one, exacerbated by the fact there’s an inconsistent flow of content on there. Anyway, I saw Wormrot last night at Barrow-In-Furness’ Funeral Fest 2024 and they were excellent; here’s some footage from their face-melting set. Shock-horror, the drummer is fucking insane and their set was a nice balance of old and new stuff.

Follow the channel, and if you’ve got any ideas for content on there, I’m more than open to hearing suggestions.

The Ferret in Preston is a venue very close to my heart, as I’ve played there a few times in various bands over the years. However, I hadn’t been to Preston for quite some time and obviously didn’t know what The Ferret was actually like since the last time I had been there (about a decade ago). When I walked in, the place was exactly how I had remembered it being, only now the vibes were even better. The stage had been moved to the opposite end of the room, with a really eye-catching neon “The Ferret” sign adorning the back wall of the stage, as well as some moody red lighting which receded the room’s dominating darkness.

The first act of the night was Fuck Money – a band I knew by name but hadn’t actually had chance to check them out before seeing the show. Four guys walked onto the stage, with the band’s frontman – a towering, intimidating figure (he’s actually a really nice guy) sporting a striking mouth grill, suited out in a black boiler suit with their logo and some black face paint. Immediately, the band grabbed the audience with their ferocious blend of hardcore, punk, and noise rock. The musicianship was excellent, with bassist Jeremy Humphries in particular really catching my eye with his blistering down stroke technique, but as a whole the band were supremely tight and the songs were concise and engaging to listen to and watch. TaSzlin kept the energy up…

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Hans Zimmer @AO Arena, Manchester 16/6/23

Hype is deadly. From experience, when it comes to entertainment at least, I try and live my life with having very little expectations for things and events. It was only last year I had seen Tool for the first time; despite the band being incredibly important to me, my apprehension for seeing them was palpable. To be blunt, I wasn’t really looking forward to it in a lot of ways, but then when I went, the band blew it out of the water. It was one of the best events I’d ever been to. Fast-forward to this year and I’ve been to two events this year – both of which I uncharacteristically had no filter over my excitement for seeing them. One was Darren Hayes – a bitter disappointment that has tarnished his legacy in my eyes – the other was legendary composer Hans Zimmer. While the gig wasn’t the unmitigated disaster of the former, it brought enough frustrations to the table to warrant it being a disappointment of sorts. For context, I relish in most of Zimmer’s extensive catalogue of movie scores; I listen to them as much as I listen to albums from my favourite bands and artists. His ability to keep with the times and reinvent himself with every passing decade is very impressive to behold. Coupled with the fact I’d never seen a live orchestra and the ingredients created something I couldn’t hold back – this was

I don’t usually like writing about, recording or otherwise chronicling live performances out of respect for the integrity of the moment, or whatever, and in Ichiko Aoba’s case, this effect is so pronounced that I avoid the whole live side of her discography in spite the intimidating levels of acclaim heaped on it. I know what she sounds like live and I would rather revisit my own memories than hear a recording (unpick the cognitive dissonance here as you see fit). This time was different; this show had pronounced discursive questions floating over it, mainly to do with the popularity spike Aoba has enjoyed since I last saw her, but also her incorporation of chamber arrangements into otherwise spartan solo performances. Given the factors that originally made her so compelling to me, I’ve always treated both of these with a certain amount of suspicion, which translated into very clearly defined expectations and reservations for this show; in puzzling out my own answers to these, I inadvertently ended up with ample material for a decent-sized feature. So, in we go:

This was my third time seeing Ichiko Aoba, and she now commands a decidedly larger international following than on the first two (both 2019). Those shows were spent cross-legged on pub floors, spellbound by her tiny figure lit by a single lamp in the middle of whichsoever space, keenly aware of the inhalation and drink-sipping rates of what felt like every other person in the space. Her performances were

 

I was stoked at the opportunity to catch Kayo Dot playing Choirs of the Eye in its entirety for the 20th anniversary. The band was invited to play the Complexity Festival in The Netherlands and also a gig in London as far as I remember. Thankfully, a number of other stops were added, one being in Belgrade, Serbia at the Elektropionir Club where I traveled to see them. Quite a low key tour for a release which has influenced multiple bands and brought something new and unique to the table when released. However, Kayo Dot have always preferred taking the independent route, despite all the inconveniences it caused along the way. The main one would be a lack of agressive publicity amid an insane time for touring. Bands struggle to find open slots in clubs now that playing live is an option again everywhere and I am sure mastermind Toby Driver has had a hard time booking even these 9 gigs. He openly discussed the hardships faced as an independent musician, but this has been a key to remaining true to himself over the years. His music constantly pushes boundaries and for the better of it, there are too many safe musicians trying to capture the mainstream with standard, safe stuff.

For the 20th anniversary of Choirs of the Eye, Toby assembled a seven piece band that includes the Maudlin of the Well members too. This was reportedly the bare minimum required to present the album as close as possible to…

Let us die, let us die, and dying we reply:

someday I’ll find me.”

 

These two lines bookend the discography of mewithoutYou. One screamed out in anguish, in a voice furious at the world and itself, already resigned to a darker fate; one sung peacefully, almost with acceptance, as if the 16 years inbetween were just a pitstop on a lifelong journey of self-discovery. What a stop it was, though: crafty foxes and existential elephants, porcupines with threatening auras and spiders on leaves, apocalyptic prophecies and silly little fables. I could write for days and not begin to sift the multitudes mewithoutYou contained – truly, if any band has ever had cause to lay claim to being more than just the members it was comprised of, this was the one. Perhaps if I stick to their final night, I may find the words before the world ends.

mewithoutYou played their last show on August 20th 2022, and it’s hard to ask for a better setlist with which to say goodbye. Having burned through the big fan favourites on night one, the second night of the farewell tour was almost wall-to-wall deep cuts that would never get airtime within the confines of a normal tour. From their early rippers, receiving one final acknowledgement (god did “Bullet to Binary” go off though) to mid-career deep cuts that rank as some of the band’s best (“Nine Stories”, “The King Beetle on a Coconut Estate” and the bizarrely overlooked “Bethlehem, WV”) to a…

On Thursday 8/11/22, the day after my mom’s 63rd birthday (and 11 days before my 27th (and 9 days before my sister’s 31st)), I flew from JFK to Seattle, arriving at about 8 p.m., to attend a three-day music festival called Day In Day Out. My brother lives in Seattle as a PhD student at the University of Washington, and I stayed with him, sleeping on the couch in his cabinlike one-bedroom apartment that is its own tiny building in which he and his girlfriend live for $1350 a month. I went back from Seattle to NYC on Monday, arriving at JFK at 10:30 p.m. I saw 14 bands that weekend, and missed Turnstile (whose Glow On I really don’t like), Julie (whose EP I really like), and Japanese Breakfast (which is a goddamn crying shame—don’t ask). Armed with the handy Pentax K1000 that my first girlfriend gave me for my 18th birthday, I ended up interviewing five of the artists—a member of the band I call my favorite ever, a favorite rapper of mine, and three artists I frankly didn’t know until seeing their name on the poster. (I didn’t know who The Kerrys were until the day before the first day of the festival, when they functionally replaced the COVID-troubled Soccer Mommy.)

For what it’s worth, barring the dreamlike All Tomorrow’s Parties New York festival that unfolded at Kutsher’s Hotel (?) in goddamn Monticello, NY around the turn of the 2010s, Day In Day Out was probably the…

“In typical fashion,” a phrase synonymous with Tool and one you’ll be reading a couple of times during this review.

Seventeen years ago, an ex-girlfriend of mine handed me a copy of Ænima and told me to listen to it. At the time, my very limited music taste hadn’t stepped outside of the realm of NU-metal, American Alt-rock/metal, and sporadic classic rock bands, but the seeds from that album would be well and truly planted for what would become a total obsession a couple of years later. With the exception of maybe Linkin Park and DIR EN GREY, I haven’t poured so many hours into a band. Justin Chancellor was a monolith for developing my own bass playing; a player who encouraged people to disregard this dichotomy people had with playing a certain way. Their enigmatic disposition, avoiding the spotlight and being as contrarian as possible only stood to bolster my obsession for the band, and by 2010 my fascination for the band was at its apex.

However, by 2013, with a lack of new material and the constant delays with making what would become Fear Inoculum, as well as never doing their own tours – only doing the odd festival (something I’ve never enjoyed going to) I never got to see them live – I eventually began to lose interest in the band and move my interests elsewhere. By the time Fear Inoculum came out, I was so indifferent to its release, given how much time had passed since…

I’ve seen HEALTH on several occasions over the years, and even though their stage production is likely restrained by austere limitations when compared to the band playing in a high-end venue in a capital city, or one of their shows in the States, they’ve always been able to blow it out of the water – no matter where they are playing. Indeed, The White Hotel in Salford is probably the most austere venue I’ve seen them playing in; a venue that literally looks like it was converted from a car garage into a music venue. A solid bare-brick-walled room with a towering PA system and a little stage in the corner. The room was pitch black, bar the slender beams of blue and red stage lighting breaking through the dense darkness and waves of stage smoke, while Max Payne 3’s most poignant track “Pain” played in the background before the band came onto the stage.

One thing that should be mentioned is that HEALTH approach their shows slightly differently to the myriad of other bands I’ve seen over the years. For these guys it’s clear, first and foremost, the music is paramount. That’s not to disparage other artists who perform live, but there’s a brazen and abrupt way to how HEALTH perform live. There’s no banter – bar the quick sentence Jake gets in halfway through the set, thanking everyone who came out to see them play – and most welcoming of all, they never do encores and haven’t done…

Concerts have been a go in New York City for a little while now. Their return on an appreciable scale was first and quietly signaled by rough-and-tumble DIY venues (some of them really people’s backyards) throwing small shows in early June or so, often sheepishly asking for proof of vaccination at the door. Then, perhaps less than a month later, more sizable spaces like Brooklyn’s Our Wicked Lady and Elsewhere (both notably brandishing rooftops) and Manhattan’s The Bowery Electric started to let people into their 200+-capacity spaces, to let those people not wear masks, let them kiss and dance and whatever, usually but not always with proof of vaccination required as well. Fellow Sputnikmusic compatriot ArsMoriendi and I, neither of us from NYC but both sorta equidistant to it, had to check this new (but really actually old) phenomenon out.

Or, well, that’s kinda how it happened. Above all and in the first place, we were stoked to see a Facebook event advertising the first “post”-COVID show of a band whose hyperactive, glammy and psychedelic debut LP we together hawked on this very site, with some minor notable successes. The album is called Long Haired Locusts (2020); the band is called Godcaster. We had heard they were awesome live, and proof of their dominance in the arena of live performance was everywhere on the Internet (check out this clip, awesomely shot by one Santo Donia, of a 2019 show in New Jersey), and even felt like it inhered in the math-y, frenetic hooks that make…

I guess modern problems require modern solutions.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, so many bands have struggled to make ends meet. Without the ability to perform live, they’ve turned to platforms like Patreon to build a subscription-based fandom. Another more frequent occurrence is recording and streaming live shows. Even then, without the energy of the crowd, it’s nearly impossible to replicate the level of excitement that folks go into such an experience seeking. It’s not an easy time to be an artist – but in spite of the challenges, most of them are persevering. It’s a testament to the passion and dedication they pour into their work. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

One band still finding a way is Manchester Orchestra. As one of indie-rock’s more well-known acts, they’ve released five LPs to date including the wildly popular Mean Everything to Nothing and the sleek/grandiose Simple Math – but perhaps none were better than A Black Mile to the Surface, their 2017 emotional magnum opus. Manchester Orchestra Presents: A Black Mile To The Surface (The Concert Film) serves three different purposes. The first is to provide longtime fans with a glimmer of hope during dark times through a live adaptation of Black Mile in its entirety. Secondly, it is to usher out the Black Mile era in a special, memorable way befitting of the four years that fans spent both enjoying it and healing with it. Finally, it teases the release of…

One of the dominant storylines of Coachella weekend was the unusual amount of technical fuck-ups afflicting multiple sets, on multiple stages, over the course of the entire weekend. From mics cutting out, to portions of video screens malfunctioning, to backing tracks just out of sync, the difficulties at Coachella were of the humdrum type that affect festivals all over the world, but given the reputation, size, and, most importantly, historical success of Coachella, it was disconcerting to hear and see so many audiovisual horror stories over the weekend. It seemed to add to the feeling that this 20th edition of the festival was a bit cursed, an idea exemplified by the tragic death of the lead rigger who had ben working the festival since its inception twenty years ago, 49-year-old Christopher Griffin, in the days leading up to the first weekend. It also puts things in perspective – Goldenvoice does its best to position Coachella as the escape of the year, a grass-covered paradise in the middle of the desert where anything can and does happen. Getting to see the imperfections and, more importantly, the very real cost of putting on such a significant festival helps you to realize that a metric shit ton of blood, sweat, and tears from literally hundreds of talented people is put into making the perfect backdrop for the latest influencer’s Instagram post. For maybe the first time in my ten years of going, I truly appreciated what a titanic effort…

No need to bury the lede – I’m not sure if Aphex Twin was the “best” set I saw all weekend, but it was certainly the one that most thoroughly reduced my brain to a quivering, sizzling mass of pink goo by the time it was over. I imagine they had to close the Mojave at an unusually early time (off by 10:35 p.m.) so they had time to scrape the attendees off the grounds in time for the next day. Richard D. James’ records have always interested me as pieces of art and electronic music history, but to be honest, he’s never someone I’m going to just throw on for a casual listen.

His live set, though, was something else: a hectic mix of razor-tipped breaks, high-BPM acid house, industrial machine-music, and tracks that sort of resembled music but really seemed more like chaos and noise engineered from the year 3000 specifically to disorient and disturb, with the titanic “Lisbon Acid” being an actually recognizable highlight. And the visuals, by anonymous artist Weirdcore, were likely the best I saw this weekend. At multiple points throughout the show, the video screens would pick up the faces of attendees in the crowd and at the rail, throw them up behind Aphex, and twist and distort them into shapes and visages that leaned towards the trippy and slightly into the demonic. Or maybe it was just the drugs—I showed my girlfriend the below video and she just laughed…

It was many things, but it certainly wasn’t a landmark. Twenty years old this year, Coachella may be only one year away from legal drinking age, but as it continues to age into a Frankenstein of elite production values, Top 40-busting lineups, corporate greed, and increasingly bonkers art design and food options, it still can manage to shoot itself in the foot with sound issues, absurd catering to influencer culture, and artists that continue to make meaningless what Coachella stands for as a musical destination. And yet: this year marked my tenth year of attending, officially half of Coachella’s lifespan and a third of mine, and damnit, I’m still thinking about pushing it into the teens as I continue to age out of the surrounding college kids, Instagram models, and at this point, a solid majority of the artists.

There’s a simple reason for it – I’ve been to festivals across the country and across the sea, and there’s still something to be said about Coachella as a unique experience. That dry desert air, baking you as you finally slip through another lackluster security line (2019 was the year to smuggle all the booze and drugs you wanted in, unless you had the misfortunate of using the yellow entrance Sunday), past the Ferris wheel and the swamped ID check, and finally cresting onto those impossibly manicured polo fields, the bizarre art installations of past and present floating around you or lighting up in the distance, and…

Nobody else alive can do what Childish Gambino is doing. It’s not a matter of outstanding talent in any one area: he’s far outranked at rapping by Earl, Danny and Vince, can’t dominate a singing feature like Anderson .Paak, hasn’t yet pulled together a concept album the likes of which make big waves in the scene nowadays. But the fact remains: that thing he does, that he did demonstrably, mesmerisingly, ridiculously at Coachella last weekend, is one of a kind.

I think his closest compatriot was actually Mac Miller – another rapper who, initially considered kinda embarrassing to listen to, pulled himself up through a scattershot spread of talent in basically every area. Up into something that looked from the ground like a genuine higher calling. Gambino’s mention of Mac’s name in the show’s quiet pause before an emotional “Riot” gives me hope that he thought the same. Or maybe he was just reading the room, feeling out that the crowd would be receptive to some tributes to fallen brothers – it’s hard to begrudge him that.

Donald Glover the man is brilliant because it seems like he can do everything, but Childish Gambino the artist is incredible because at any moment he might do anything. For example, he can debut a new song at Coachella with no words in English, a primitive tribal ritual which whips the crowd and striking team of backup dancers into a circle pit that feels seconds away from either transcending music entirely or

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