Jordan Worland from local music website Slate the Disco selects his must-see gigs in Cambridge this month
This Image: John Grant
February sees the NME Tour make its return to Cambridge. Headlined by Bloc Party, the bill also features Drenge, Rat Boy and Bugzy Malone, with the tour taking in Cambridge Corn Exchange on the 9th as part of its 11-venue itinerary.
The tour gives audiences the chance to see returning British indie heroes Bloc Party, who headlined Latitude Festival in 2013, perform in the most intimate venues they’ll have played for some time. It will also be the first chance to catch the band’s new line-up. Alongside old favourites and bona fide classics, Bloc Party will be performing new songs from their forthcoming album HYMNS – due for release the day the tour kicks off – for the very first time.
Rowdy Sheffield-based band Drenge will bring the full-throttle force of their second album Undertow to the line-up, while one of indie’s freshest faces, Rat Boy, will ensure each night will be a raucous affair. He broke onto the scene earlier this year with his wide-boy rap, fusing punk and hip-hop beats. Completing the bill is one of 2016’s most hotly-tipped newcomers, Bugzy Malone, the Manchester artist at the forefront of the revival of the UK grime scene.
"Returning British Indie heroes Bloc Party headline"
Also at the Corn Exchange, the 3rd sees John Grant return to Cambridge. The American singer-songwriter and former lead vocalist with cult favorites The Czars released his third record - Grey Tickles, Black Pressure - last autumn. The album was a triumph, refining and entwining the two principal strands of Grant’s musical DNA, namely the sumptuous tempered ballad and the taut electronic pop song.
This Image: Bloc Party
There is a busy schedule this month at The Portland Arms, starting with Barns Courtney on the 3rd. Barns has a bit of an unconventional backstory – he was born in Ipswich but spent most of his childhood living in grunge capital Seattle, before returning to the UK aged 15. This transatlantic upbringing can be heard in hismix of blues-rock, hip hop and grunge with British indie melodic sensibilities, as well as in his US-British twang.
The Wave Pictures bring their latest record to The Portland on the 17th. A Season in Hull was recorded on acoustic guitars live to one microphone. Its songs were written as quickly as possible and the recording captures those moments in all their spontaneous and immediate glory, which should transfer perfectly to the live setting.
"Sundara Karma's innate knack for solid pop hooks"
On the 28th Sundara Karma catches our eye. The school friends have gone from figuring out cover versions to writing their own sun-kissed, uplifting indie pop. Last year after making the BBC Introducing playlist with their early track Freshbloom they were selected to play two of the UK’s biggest festivals at Reading and Leeds. With their innate knack for writing solid pop hooks, an infectious sense of fun and some unconventional methods of inspiring and grabbing the attention of their audience, this is a young band to watch.
Beach Baby, who deal in an exquisite kind of slacker-pop, all bouncy bass and insta-hooks with a shoegaze patina thanks to the tonality of their guitars, will open for Sundara Karma, making this gig even more tempting.
This Image: Sundara Karma
Telegram have proved to be one of the most exciting new live bands around, effortlessly combining their love of Roxy, Barrett, Krautrock and late proto-punk to great effect. They bring their raucous, not-to-be-missed live show to The Portland on the 29th.
Equally busy, Cambridge Junction has a full schedule this month, hosting They Might Be Giants on the 3rd and Jack Savoretti on the 29th.
J2 welcomes local singer-songwriter Will Robert on the 11th and on the 15th HINDS, who play Cambridge for the first time. With a distinctively raw and playful sound the Spanish quartet are tipped for big things. Their debut album, Leave Me Alone, is 12 charmingly lo-fi tracks inspired by contemporary American garage rockers like Mac DeMarco, Ty Segall and
The Black Lips. It’s an exciting introduction to the group who are pioneering the burgeoning indie music scene in Madrid.
Staying with the Cambridge Junction for our final two gigs, Will Varley is firstly also in J2. He’s steadily earned himself a reputation for searching, emotionally resonant observations on modern life and society. Always a favourite in the city, the rambling folk singer is back on the 23rd.
We close with our top tip for this month, the unflinching and brilliant Savages. Renowned for their brutal and spellbinding live shows, they play on the 19th.
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This Image: The Hinds