Tag Archives: Benjamin Booker

T in the Park 2015 (Sunday)

Sunday morning; we’re a couple of bodies light from last night, as a couple of my pals feel the excesses of yesterday a bit much to raise themselves from their bed, regardless those of us with a job to do make the trip up following the daily Greggs cure and the trip up is relatively easy going.

Opting to park near where we parked the first night, meant no issues with muddy hills tonight, but we were anticipating a reasonable amount of traffic tonight as people head home rather than camp another night another, plus there wouldn’t be any excessive head starts are one of the closers tonight is real attention grabber.

I arrive at T Break in time to catch the last part of Be Charlotte’s set; having given them a quick listen prior and having Louie from Hector Bizerk singing their praises at me the previous night, had me intrigued to see what they had to offer live.

Indeed Hector’s Audrey Tait is delivering some powerful rhythms for the innovative Charlotte; all the while sky-teasing synths come in behind a vocal that carries as much gritty attitude as it does technical brilliance.

In the short space of time I see them, she raps and sings with precision and struts the stage with a confident urban swagger and bags of gutsiness; plenty to look out for I reckon.

Wandering over to BBC Introducing and Tongues are already in full flow with powerfully backed tracks full of soaring synths and the occasional captivating harmony.

There’s some nice ideas here from the Glasgow boys, certainly enough to suggest they could be higher up the bill in years to come.

Next up is potentially my clash of the weekend as the chirpy fussy brilliance of The Van T’s at T Break crosses over with the wonderful Bdy_Prts’ set at BBC Introducing for all but five-minutes either side.

So, I start at T Break and it appears the Thompson twins have come a long way since I put them on at Broadcast over a year ago; they have acquired a shit load more presence, yet that fun filled surfy energy still emits from their set.

There’s even corners of their set that angle into full on riot grrrl power as there ‘boyfriends’ dance taps aff down the front; these girls have been coming to T for the last few years and they seem in their element a week or so after their 21st birthday’s.

The Van Ts-7 2

Having to miss the end of the set to catch the end of Bdy_Prts I’m severely hoping I haven’t made the wrong choice, but Jen and Jill never seem to let down.

The crowd is pretty sparse, but the duo is engaging as ever as they syncronise up, clad in the same pink and yellow skintight outfits they sported at The Hug and Pint launch a wee bit ago.

Indeed, each time I see these guys they seem to get more impressive, their set has gone from stripped back quirky harmonics to full on aural assault, all the while the girl’s impressive voices remain rightfully the focal point.

Even their banter is in sync as the duo, who seem clear as day to be best pals just having fun, deliver new single ‘Cold Shoulder’, which floats and weaves with their angelic vocals, backed with that extra push from a rhythm section that enhances their live set considerably; can’t wait to hear more.

Bdy-Prts-10

Next stop is the Tut’s Tent for Admiral Fallow, admittedly I’m not the best guy to be reviewing them as I’ve grown tired of this Scottish singer-songwriter, gone full blown big sounding indie folk band, still Louis Abbott and co. seem as strong as ever and their new material sounds comfortable in the set.

I don’t have to particular like it to say that they are fully entitled to the stature they have achieved in this ‘uplifting indie folk’ bracket, they do it as well as anyone else out there and will rightfully come away with plenty of praise.

After cutting about the press area for longer than anticipated I ample over for the latter stages of Idlewild’s set, and while admittedly they kind of bypassed my musical intake first time around, what I have heard of them has always been of considerable quality.

What the set does lack for me personally, which sadly is pretty essential during a festival like this, is a familiarity; for a band that hold this level of popularity you’d expect to recognise a few numbers, however the set passes by without much of an inkling.

Still, the set is solid and quashes and doubts about Idlewild’s live quality, with Roddy Woomble looking to have not aged a day in the afternoon sunshine of Strathallan.

At T Break Benjamin Booker pulls a fair crowd, and there’s plenty of snarly, guttural energy to them too, it’s deep south rock with plenty of twang and load of drive, that injects a level of power into proceedings before Modest Mouse’s airing over a Tut’s.

These guys have quite a formidable reputation and attract a much larger crowd than anticipated.

Still, despite the large crowd and Isaac Brock and co.’s powered, but disappointingly quiet, performance, this is a festival crowd and one that are hard to tap into unless you play the hits; ‘Float On’ predictably gets the biggest reaction, but this is another example of a band you need to see on a venue tour, on their own terms, rather than at a huge festival.

Cassels are couple of young boys, but their sound seems to pack a fair punch over at BBC Introducing as a cacophony of pummeling drums and crunching guitar form a formidable sound that could easily blast them into the public eye before long.

Indeed youth is their benefit, but admitting you’re in a “shitty mood” when on stage at T in the Park probably isn’t the best way to warm yourself to an audience mainly full of people chancing upon you.

Stumbling into T Break for a bit of Crash Club’s blasting electronics, which sounds massive and draws a big crowd, but still somehow feels like 90s lads throw back and being relatively underwhelmed by the over the top quirkiness of Spring Break it was time for The Prodigy.

By this time the weekend is taking affect, and the sleep deprivation isn’t helping the alcohol tolerance, but this is the kind of situation that is specifically designed for T in the Park.

We don’t manage to really get close enough to enjoy the full effects of the legendary dance aficionados, but still it’s powerful stuff that erupts with hits that you’d forgotten about, alongside ones you were waiting for; no wonder big Geoff Ellis made them the centre-piece of his speech at the line up launch all those months ago.

We have to dash 10-minutes from the end, some of us have work in the morning, but that’s not enough to miss the rush and we end up caught in traffic for what seems like forever; still it’s another enjoyable year.

Granted I didn’t see the campsite, but a few slight alterations in traffic organisation, parking and layout and things should be going swimmingly next year.

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Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Bill Gray

Benjamin Booker, Wild Smiles at Tut’s, 28/2/15

Tut’s is alive with Glasgow’s Saturday-night atmosphere caused by professionals going out and students staying in, but it’s still a bit of a surprise to see the average age of the crowd here to see Benjamin Booker seems to be at least 30.

Hailing from Florida, Booker started his, so far explosive, music career in New Orleans by releasing a very well received EP in 2012, Waiting Ones.

He then released a debut album and fast forward a year or so he’s posting a photo of his name alongside the likes of Hozier and Paolo Nutini on King Tut’s’ famous staircase to the thousands of people that follow him on Instagram.

The lucky band charged with warming up the stage for Mr Booker is Hampshire rock trio Wild Smiles.

Rather impressively, they self-recorded their debut album in a shed after the collapse of a previous band, and their live show displays a tight-knit sound, reminiscent of surf-rock, punk, and grunge.

It appears there is a touch of nerves in the performance; at times brothers Chris and Joe Peden look like they don’t know exactly where to look or where to put their feet and stage banter is tinged with awkwardness.

Fortunately, the nature of their songs is inherently pretty powerful and the awkwardness slips away to make way for a very solid set.

Benjamin Booker‘s three-piece band approaches a foggy stage to the backing track of an old, scratchy New Orleans jazz number and moody, low lighting.

It’s a savagely cool entrance and serves as a good reminder that aside from Booker’s lo-fi, garage tendencies, much of his inspiration is rooted in the blues.

His set begins with swirls of feedback which engulf the backing track and his overdriven guitar accompanies hectic drumming and tight bass.

It has to be mentioned early on that the presence of vocals in the mix is slightly disappointing, given that Booker’s low growl is such a focal point of his exciting sound.

At points he intensifies his singing in bursts of gravelly ferocity, but it almost feels as if he’s holding back to make the crowd lust for these moments, so that when they do appear they are all the more sweet.

At his last showing in Tut’s, Booker referenced Oasis’ discovery at the venue and professed his hate for them by telling his crowd “fuck that band”, and tonight’s set paints a similar punky, disdained feeling into the air, which screeches with feedback and walls of maddening noise; at one particularly drawn out section of feedback, I turn to see several pained faces with fingers in ears.

Booker’s accompanying duo Alex Spoto and Max Norton don the roles of fiddle and mandolin players, allowing Booker the space to croon away to a bluesy backdrop and despite the sudden absence of fuzz or overdrive, it’s an excellently compelling drop in pace.

‘Have You Seen My Son’ roars along with Ramones-esque punkness and ‘Violent Shiver’, perhaps the most popular song on his album, receives a rapturous welcome at the sound of its opening riff.

‘By The Evening’ sways along with melancholy before building into a thunderous and completely awesome outro, which perfectly shows his flexibility as a performer and songwriter.

Benjamin Booker is a force to be reckoned with and tonight’s snarling episode has been an experiential lesson in powerful, completely unchained rock’n’roll.

Words: Greg Murray
Photos: Iain McDonagh