As I constantly harp on, promoting new, original live music in a provincial, corporate, ex-railway town such as Swindon is hard work. I guess that you can’t expect everyone to share your enthusiasm for such gigs but I do sometimes despair with how little lack of imagination people have when it comes to new music. The tribute band nights are rammed, people are happy to pay a tenner or more to hear DJ’s play other peoples records and I’m sorry but no matter how “creatively” they re-mix them, scratch and sniff them…or whatever the terminology is, they are effectively only manipulating music that is already in the existing historical database. Shows such as The Voice, X-Factor seem only to provide water cooler chat regarding which artist is the best at over singing and showboating without bringing much to the table, except lashings of money for the programs originators and associated record label. So where does that leave us? Well without re-iterating the message of my last post, this one is by way of a hurrah, sometimes it does come good.
Songs of Praise is a night all about new music and bookings are the product of two music fanatics who are desperate not to go down without a fight, though I have to admit that the bands booked this Thursday were pretty much all down to my colleague Ed and as such probably reflected his deeper involvement with a more “now” scene though his contacts made working at The Ocelot Magazine. The line up was one of strange eclecticism. Headliners, Super Squarecloud are one of the bands on Secret Chord Records and theres is a strange, warped, pop collage and opening up were Clementines, a band most of whom used to be in the brilliant Crash and The Bandicoots, musical soul mates of the headliners and just starting to make themselves felt on the circuit again. From that point of view, it was like a school reunion. Sandwiched between the two were a two piece band called Vienna Ditto (pictured), first time in Swindon and plying a trade of sci-fi blues, electronica and a feel best described in one review of Portishead playing a Tarantino soundtrack. best of all they looked like a mad music professor aided and abetted by a sultry lounge jazz singer.
With some decent coverage in the local paper and the usual push by ourselves the turn out was not only great but seems to drag out all the great and good of the underground music scene, studio bosses, musicians and even a couple of the guys from BBC Introducing (normally based in Bristol) all mingled cheek by jowl. Not only were all the bands massively well received, judging by the CD sales, Vienna Ditto in particularly struck a chord.
In the last post I spoke about the joys of discovering new music and I think Vienna Ditto might just be my band of the moment. Great music and two of the loveliest and most enthusiastic people you could hope to work with, which is saying something considering the room was full of lovely and enthusiastic people. Some nights I guess it just falls right, the right bands, the right turn out and the right vibes. In the words of George Peppard in his most famous TV incarnation…I love it when a plan comes together.