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Live Music Review: Nottingham Indie Pop All Dayer at The Maze

16 October 17 words: Gav Squires
photos: Gav Squires

The Nottingham Indie Pop All Dayer returns to The Maze, running the gamut from doyens of the DIY scene to chart-toppers. Our Gav went down to check it out...

Pete Dale

Opening proceedings is the patron saint of the Nottingham Indie Pop All-Dayer, Pete Dale - his band Milky Wimpshake have played pretty much every year and he's back for 2017 with a solo set. It's a minor miracle that he made it at all, after driving the wrong way down a dual-carriageway on the way home from a gig the previous night. Earlier in the year, Milky Wimpshake played a few gigs celebrating their first album so Pete takes the opportunity to play some songs from their second album, including 2nd Generation Middle-Class Drop Out. The song Scrabble is introduced as a real-life experience, recalling the chess scene from The Thomas Crown Affair but with letter tiles in place of chess pieces. Alice Nebulae sounds like Blur and a cover by Man From Del Monte, The Good Things In Life gets dusted off. The set is rounded off with Milkmaid, an audience request, which sounds like one of those 50s rock 'n' roll songs as covered by a 60s garage band. A great start to the day.

Protection Spells

Up next are Protection Spells, a four-piece from Minneapolis and they are a lot more mellow than Pete Dale. They say that this is the third time that they've been in Nottingham but on one of this occasions, they were taken around the city by a Robin Hood impersonator, who spent the entire time ragging on Kevin Costner. They introduce their music with the phrase, "time for some sweet adult contemporary" but they actually sound more like First Aid Kit, with the dual female harmonies, reverb on the vocals, echo on the guitar - all ethereal and folky.

Slumb Party

Third on are local band Slumb Party and their saxophonist is wearing a "Never kissed a Tory" t-shirt. I wish I could be so sure. In fact the only girl that I've ever kissed where I definitely knew her political alignment was because she was the co-convenor of the local branch of the particular political party. Anyway, I've already reviewed Slumb Party live twice this year and I've also reviewed their EP so I'm starting to run out of things to say. They're still really good, a mix of those early '80s angular post-pink bands and the early '00s bands like Editors and The Futureheads that also mined that seam. There is something a bit new for this gig as drummer Jess takes lead vocals on a song. It's also good to see them earlier in the day so that Joey hasn't had the opportunity to get drunk yet.

Horowitz

Horowitz are a late replacement for Oh Peas and the two-piece use backing tracks for both drums and bass. As a last minute addition to the line-up, they're a tad under-rehearsed and it makes you realise that real people in the rhythm section can help to hide a multitude of sins. They're a cross between the jangly guitars of C86, the slightly heavier sound of early Teenage Fanclub and that post (What's The Story) Morning Glory? guitar sound of a dozen bands that got signed in the dog days of britpop. Nothing new, nothing ground-breaking but a perfectly reasonable 20 minute musical sorbet.

Garden Centre

Garden Centre describes themselves as a "parasite band", featuring as they do, two members from Porridge Radio. They've got a very US college rock sound, a bit like The Magnetic Fields but fronted by Jeff Magnum from Neutral Milk Hotel, although I don't recall him singing about "who is this oracle holding his cock?" as Garden Centre do on Urinal. The band features a frontman who looks like Lou Reed if he'd been in Devo and their sound is augmented by the sound of a harpsichord-like keyboard. Recent single Scrap Yard has some danceable indie Vampire Weekend overtones. All in all, slightly unusual, the way that indie should be, and good for it.

Pete Green

Pete Green walks onto stage with glitter on his face, carrying an acoustic guitar, which brings to mind the old Smiths lyric, " I thought if you had an acoustic guitar in meant that you were a protest singer." Pete does sound a little like Billy Bragg but these are more vignettes of life such as opener, When I Close My Eyes I Can See The Sea. He plays They Played My Song On Radio 1, a song about the time, well I think you can guess. Horowitz join as a backing band for the final songs but he doesn't actually play "the hit". 

The Electric Pop Group

Opening with Parliament Square, The Electric Pop Group have that classic indie sound - chiming Rickenbacker guitar and lush vocal harmonies sounding like a cross between golden era Teenage Fanclub and early R.E.M. Spit In Your Eye has a bit more of a Smiths thing going on. Throughout their set, their guitarist does the cutest little running on the spot dance. As they end with The Way It Used To Do, I can't help but feel that if these guys had been around 30 years ago, they would have been having numerous hit singles. It's nowt new but it's very well done. 

Night Flowers

Night Flowers are very much on the pop end of the indie-pop spectrum. Their opening song sounds a little like an Oasis b-side, one of the good ones, where Noel was still throwing away great tracks on the flipsides of their singles. New song Talk To Me is more like AM-era Arctic Monkeys but more polished and with less Yorkshire vocals.

Porridge Radio

Porridge Radio begin their set with that annoying sound of a jack not plugged in properly somewhere. They keep going so initially I think it might be some kind of arty experimental thing but then they start plugging and unplugging stuff so it was clearly just a technical issue. They've come all the way up from Brighton and they only get to play a short set, which is a shame as they sounded good and I would have liked to get a bit more of a feel for them and their music.

Fever Dream

Fever Dream are more psychedelic and are easily the most energetic band of the day. There is genuine excitement in watching them play, as if the audience could be witnessing the rise of the next big thing. Most of the tracks are from new album Squid and if it captures their live sound, it should be a good album. The set closes with frontman Adrian laying his guitar on the floor and then jumping up and down on the whammy bar, creating an incredible racket.

White Town

White Town, aka Jyoti Prakash Mishra, is a proper pop star, having actually had a number one single. He opens with a song that features an Indian drone, it reminded me of The Stone Roses though for some reason (hands up if you thought that I was going to say Kula Shaker there!) Non-hit single She's A Lot Like You is introduced as featuring co-promoter and member of Horowitz in the video. It's a great song, reminiscent of The Boo Radleys and should have been a hit. Which brings us onto the song that everyone wants to hear. Apparently, it's been streamed "50,000 million times on Spotify" while his "next highest is three!" Of course, everyone loves Your Woman, a great end to a really good set. As a man armed with just an acoustic guitar and a box of tricks, you could easily blame White Town for the emergence of Ed Sheeran but he has far more charisma and better songs.

Luke Haines

Headliner Luke Haines is touring to celebrate the release of Luke Haines is Alive and Well & Living in Buenos Aires, an anthology of his solo recordings. He arrives on stage with nothing but an acoustic guitar and that mischievous glint in his eyes as he opens with England Scotland And Wales from the soundtrack to Christie Malry's Own Double Entry. He then gives Adrian from Fever Dream some sage advice about not breaking his guitar. After Smash The System, the audience are asked to vote for their favourite member of The Monkees, as you do. Saturday Afternoon is introduced as being about the "true stars of teatime in the late 70s" and Lou Reed, Lou Reed elicits a sing-along. Baader Meinhof is introduced with the very tongue-in-cheek, "here's one from when terrorism was fashionable!" An amazing set ends with an old Auteurs song, Lenny Valentino.

12 bands, a long day and another excellent Nottingham Indie Pop All-Dayer. If the rumours are true and this is to be the last one, then they've gone out in some style.

Nottingham Indie Pop All-Dayer took place at The Maze on Saturday 7 October 2017. 

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