Traditionally July is a slower month for gigs with it being festival season and all, but Cambridge manages to buck the trend somewhat with a host of quality live music to get to this month.
Our top pick is Sheffield’s finest boy-girl duo Slow Club at The Portland Arms on Wednesday 16th. Expect galloping beats and epically soulful pop songs at our gig of the month. The duo are hitting the road this July with ten dates around the UK in support of their third album Complete Surrender which is released on 14 July. The new album was produced by Colin Elliot (Richard Hawley) and introduces a much fuller sound for the band and consolidates the change in direction.
Our next top pick is Ducking Punches’ headline slot at The Portland Arms on 28 July. Fresh off a European tour with Frank Turner, Norwich-based five piece Ducking Punches return to home soil and headline a packed line-up. Starting life as a solo project, Dan Allen ultimately recruited four talented musicians to augment Ducking Punches into the violin-fuelled folk-punk juggernaut it has become. Also on the bill on the 28th is Cambridge based four-piece Akuso, a band full of massive pop hooks and scorching rock riffs and B-Sydes, who will bring an acoustic punk edge to proceedings.
One of music’s most prolific singer-songwriters, Suzanne Vega plays the Cambridge Corn Exchange on 2 July. Vega’s most recent album release, Tales From The Realm of the Queen of Pentacles taps into Vega’s broad range of musical tastes, intertwining Dylan/Stones inspired guitar-driven songs with lush orchestral strings and trumpet, soul-packed background vocals and Vega’s masterful classic folk elements.
Our pick of best new Cambridge acts for 2014, Alicia Catling plays La Raza on 2 July and then the Black Cat Café on Mill Road on the 12th. Indie/folk stalwart Catling produces bare bones guitar and vocal: it’s folky but with quite a bit of reverb. Catling’s music has brilliant songsmithery; it is unpredictable yet flows perfectly and is definitely one to catch live.
28 Boulevard headline The Portland Arms on 19 July. Combining Brit-punk grit with a distinctive pop jangle, Cambridge five-piece 28 Boulevard turned many heads with their Sunclouds EP when it was released in April. Also on the bill on the 19th are Motor Tapes, an alternative-indie four-piece from Cambridge; Rubber Duck, who sound like a punkier take on The Pixies; and Dirty Little Rebel.
An unusual gig to check out this month goes down on 9 July at The Portland Arms, where Felix Martin brings his 14-string guitar styling to Cambridge. Martin is appearing in Cambridge with his three-piece band as part of the Prog Your Chops Off UK tour, ahead of performances at UK Tech Metal Fest. Felix Martin is a left-handed, Venezuelan-born guitar prodigy who moved to America after winning a scholarship to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Instead of merely adding an extra string to his instrument, though, Martin took things several steps further and added an entire second set of strings. His self-designed 14-string custom guitar features two seven-string guitars on one wide neck which allows him to play both guitars simultaneously, allowing for his intriguing unique system of techniques, including eight-fingered chords and slap-tapping techniques.
Cast your mind back a few years and you might remember The Winter Kings: they’re a Cambridge band who stopped gigging, but who are back for a one-off show at The Portland Arms on 18 July. Joining them on the bill are indie-pop outfit Violet Bones and Flaming June.
Autonomads are a dub anarcho punk and ska band and they play the Corner House on Newmarket Road on 25 July, joined on the bill by energetic ska outfit The Sporadics.
There’s a celebration gig showcasing emerging talent from around the region at Cambridge Junction J2 on Friday 25th. The Acoustic Project is a youth music project running open mic/songwriters’ sessions across Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Essex and on the 25th they present Big Gig at the J2.
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