LeftLion Presents...Fists, Cantaloupe and Kagoule took place at Nottingham Contemporary for Record Store Day 2012 - Photo by Helen Gellion
Saturday 21st April was a special day in Nottingham. From the very earliest hours and throughout the day, a trail of record lovers, differing shades of pale, snaked out of the West End Arcade, waiting patiently for their turn to rifle through the rapidly decreasing Record Store Day stock in the mighty The Music Exchange. I spent about 45 minutes outside Timpsons. I nearly got some keys cut. I can also report that William Timpson, founder of the shop, has a kind face.
When the wind blew in the right direction, and as the queue moved gently up the arcade, I would catch the tunes being spun by DJs Double Denim and Non-Fiction, stationed outside the Music Exchange. I might have imagined Meatloaf, as I stared longingly into Audrey‘s Creperie. I did not imagine Born in the USA or Shimmy Shimmy Ya. Someone punched the air. It might have been me.
Eventually I made it. I witnessed the magnificent decorations conjured up by ingenious design duo fourbeatwalk - cheerful vinyl-headed figures made from wallpaper doffing their record sleeve hats to passers-by; a series of tiles bearing the glowering visage of Iggy Pop; jubilant flags and celebratory bunting. I watched Amusement Parks on Fire mainman Michael Feerick and We Show Up On Radar entertain the queue with two beautifully gentle sunshine sets of dreamy acoustic pop. I even bought a couple of records.
Kagoule at Nottingham Contemporary for LeftLion - Photo by Helen Gellion
Then, in the evening, I went to Café Bar Contemporary to see three of Nottingham’s finest - Kagoule, Cantaloupe and Fists - curated by LeftLion. Booze was consumed. Lots of people were there. Good times were had.
The original LeftLion reviewer failed to show, and much later in the evening, consumed by the aforementioned good times, and perhaps also by the booze, I agreed to have a go instead.
Go easy on me, my head still hurts a bit.
I’ve been told on many an occasion that Kagoule are a band that I need to see. Folk talk about them with real fervour. I was excited. I respond well to fervour.
Kagoule at Nottingham Contemporary for LeftLion
- Photo by Helen Gellion
The teenage trio played a taut and self-assured set of sparse, atmospheric, slightly gothic post-punk. These are great, great songs. The fervour was not misplaced. Anchored by a rock solid and ice cool rhythm section - drummer Lawrence and bass player Lucy - singer/guitarist Cai’s vocals ranged from vulnerable and hushed to tortured and frantic. The dynamics of his guitar shifted around similarly: crisp and jangly one minute, fuzz-laden and grimy the next.
One short, sharp and particularly noisy number rattled its way right through me, in a good way. I think Cai might have announced that it was called Bat Out Of Hell. But I’m probably wrong. As I said, there was booze involved.
LeftLion Music Editor Paul Klotschkow gave an excited shout-out to Nottingham grocer legends the Thompson Brothers as he took to the stage to introduce electro kraut-pop maestros Cantaloupe. You know it’s going to be a good gig when two of our city’s finest veg merchants are standing in the front row.
The three members of Cantaloupe juggle synths, guitar, bass and rigorous, throbbing drums to create a jubilant feast of electronic pop - effervescent and endlessly inventive. It’s music that sounds like it might have soundtracked a series of classic cult sci-fi movies that I really should have seen.
Cantaloupe at Nottingham Contemporary for LeftLion
- Photo by Helen Gellion
During the wonderfully named Das Booty, bare-footed synth-ist Simmo writhed around with his keyboards, bobbing and weaving to the bouncing, bubbling beats. Hubbub, from the band’s forthcoming Teapot EP (released on 25 June through Hello Thor Records), soared relentlessly up and up and up to a mammoth and ear-crushing crescendo. A new song unleashed for the first time sounded like it was really putting the Contemporary’s PA through its paces.
“Yes, we’ve written a heavy one,“ smiled Simmo.
They saved the best til last though - the Battles-esque textures and grooves of set-closer Splish eventually built to another gargantuan, hands in the air finale.
Big grins all round. Big grins.
Righteously rabble-rousing opener Finger marked the start of Fists’ first set since they returned from their recent five date US tour with Sub Pop favourites Obits. They had the attention of a Café Bar Contemporary overflowing with punters, and they held it throughout, performing a confident, robust set of songs bristling with tension and bursting with heart.
Fists at Nottingham Contemporary for LeftLion - Photo by Helen Gellion
We were treated to old songs - including the band’s debut single Cockatoo (a much more muscular beast now stripped of its original synth), and crazed skiffle-punk live favourite 6-5 Special - as well as three immediate and exciting new tunes. One, a rampant, insistent groove that may or may not be named Radio, was particularly triumphant. I felt like I needed a sit down after that one. Again, maybe the booze.
Guitarist James asked for divine assistance in delivering the bittersweet twang of the guitar intro to Ascending, and he got it, launching the band flawlessly into one of its most truly uplifting moments, led by singer Angi’s beautiful, kaleidoscopic vocals.
Fists at Nottingham Contemporary for LeftLion
- Photo by Helen Gellion
Guitarist Pete took the lead on Squirl Squeak (from the Olympic Hits EP), his frail, emotive voice topping an explosive, primitive burst of stop-start punk rock.
A battle roll of pounding tribal drum beats announced Fists’ final song of the night and, I think, the high point for me: Stag. A swampy, staccato drone backed James’ breathless, menacing tale of confusion and fear. It was thrilling stuff, especially when the whole thing erupted into an emotional, visceral and anthemic finale as all four guitar-playing members of the group stepped forward to belt out the astronomic outro. “Shed a tear for the stag, shed a tear for the stag, shed a tear for the stag, on the hill”. A fitting end to a staggeringly good day.
Except it wasn’t quite the end - a group of DJs from Nottingham’s sorely missed record mecca Selectadisc then took to the decks to keep the party going, and the dancefloor in business until kicking out time. Yet more good times.
What a night. What a day.
Thank you, Nottingham.
And very well done, you smashed it.
LeftLion Presents: Fists, Cantaloupe and Kagoule took place at Nottingham Contemporary on Saturday 21 April 2012.