"Earth’s distant orb appeared the smallest light that twinkles in the heaven; whilst round the chariot’s way innumerable systems rolled and countless spheres diffused an ever-varying glory. It was a sight of wonder: some were hornèd like the crescent moon; some shed a mild and silver beam like Hesperus o'er the western sea; some dashed athwart with trains of flame, like worlds to death and ruin driven; some shone like suns, and as the chariot passed, eclipsed all other light." From "Queen Mab" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1813)

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Artscare Gig At The Junction

I went to the party for the launch of Artscare Records (www.myspace.com/artscarerecords) CD #2 last night at the new look Junction and what a really terrific gig it was. I knew it was going to be good as the line up included some of the very best that the Bristol music scene has to offer. The full line up was We Are Strangers Minds, The Dagger Brothers, Los Conios, Kid Carpet and headliners The Moles. Plus The Hysterical Injury left their guitar and drums at home and took up DJing duties between the bands. As the great Marc Riley might say, jobs a good ‘un.
I managed to get in on the guest list thanks to Mr Artscare himself, Dave Thomas. Dave is what is known as a top bloke. He runs this DIY label which promotes some of the best underground bands in and around Bristol, he also plays in a fine band called The Broken Arm Of Love (www.myspace.com/thebrokenarmoflove), does some DJing, occasionally goes over to the States and plays over there and has a day job which I think involves him working with prisoners. On top of all that he is one of the nicest guys you could meet and is genuinely enthusiastic about the music we have here in Bristol. And when I arrived he gave me a big hug and called me a legend. It’s hard not to like Dave.
I’m also greeted warmly by all the members of The Moles (above - the greatest band on the planet) with bassist Billy Fuller (who actually is a legend, he also plays with Robert Plant, Beak and Fuzz Against Junk) telling me he misses my voice being on the air waves. In case you don’t know I used to do a show on the radio that promoted local bands and alternative music generally, so I’m fortunate to know a lot of really lovely and hugely talented people involved in the Bristol music scene. After a quick chat with The Moles I spot Annie Gardiner and Lee Stone from The Hysterical Injury (www.myspace.com/thehystericalinjury) behind the decks so go and have a word with them.
Annie (above) is great, she has a brilliant band in which she is an axe wielding rock heroine, she used to drum with the awesome Venus Bogardus (www.myspace.com/venusbogardus) and was fantastic at that too, she writes about music as well and again is just such a lovely, genuine person. That was always the best thing about working in radio was meeting all these wonderful and amazingly talented people. In fact it is the only thing I miss about not being on radio, as I just don’t get out to gigs as much as I used to.

First on is someone called Giles from the band We Are Strangers Minds (www.myspace.com/wearestrangersminds). I don’t think I’ve seen him play before, it’s difficult to keep track and the band used to be called something else. Anyway, his breathless vocals and haunting guitar drift over the noisy crowd who greet the end of each number enthusiastically. They should do, this guy is brilliant. If my broadcasting buddy Richard (www.myspace.com/bristolintroducing) hasn’t already had Giles in on the show to do a session then I recommend he does so.

I haven’t mentioned the comperes yet and I should do as I was always a little frustrated when I didn’t get a mention in gig reviews when I was introducing bands. It’s two blokes who seem to be called Mr Tits (www.myspace.com/mrtitsband). I recognise Ant the drummer from Langur (www.myspace.com/langurmusic) despite him being in drag. They’re doing a nice job of getting the audience worked up and have obviously gone to a lot of effort giving each of the bands a questionnaire to fill out. They pick out some of the bands responses in their introductions, a great idea but not carried out to its best effect as the one who isn’t Ant is reading the answers and having a lot of trouble doing it. The trouble is revealed later in the night when he admits defeat and gets his reading glasses out. But what they lack in style they make up for in exuberance.

Next up it’s the Dagger Brothers (www.myspace.com/thedaggerbrothers) who have style in abundance. You really have to see this duo in action to really appreciate just how good they are and what they are doing. They’re dressed in sleeveless blue jump suits and while one sings and dances, going into the audience, the other interprets the songs through the medium of expressive dance, all to an electro backing track. There’s a whole homo-erotic 80’s thing going on here, they even have a song called “Do You Remember the 80’s?”. It’s very funny and as someone said to me, they have no shame. Good for them. More power to the Dagger Brothers.

Halfway through their act my good friend Mike Territo appears. I haven’t seen Mike for a few months and it’s a nice surprise to see him here. He’s in the music business now himself, working with new bands, acting as tour manager, taking bands round the country, dealing with press that kind of thing. He’s working with a band called Wilder (www.myspace.com/wearewilder) who are being touted as the next big thing from Bristol. He’s just done a session for Hew Stevens with them in London and Steve Lamacq was there too. It turns out that Mike knows The Moles via Andy who is with him tonight. Andy drums with The Ouija Birds (do check them out as well, they’re really something special www.myspace.com/theouijabirds) who it also turns out deps on drums for The Moles. It’s a small world (but I wouldn’t want to paint it, as Steven Wright said).

A word about the venue. The Junction is a very small pub on Stokes Croft that used to be run by a guy called Bob who was a really good chap who put on some terrific nights of music over the years but he never had the money to make the most of the place. He gave it his all but in the end the money just ran out. I lost count how many benefit nights we had there for him. I don’t know what he’s up to now but I do hope his life is less stressful.

Now The Junction is under new ownership and they’re making some big changes, opening the place up so that it now looks twice as big as it used to. There’s still a long way to go but it’s a step in the right direction. The sound was a bit off last night but again that’s something they’re still working on but it’s still a great place to see bands.

The next band on is Los Conios (www.myspace.com/losconios) who are excellent as ever. They played a lot of fine new songs and with new haircuts and suits they look very different to the last time I saw them. They still kick out the jams though.

It’s all running very late now but the night is a long way from done. Kid Carpet (www.myspace.com/kidcarpet) is our penultimate act and he does a lot of new material too. You have to love Kid Carpet (below). I love what he does so much I asked him to play at my 40th birthday party ahum years ago. He uses second hand synths and equipment plus a lot of kid’s toys to make his music and he’s a frenetic mover on stage too. On one level that is entertainment enough but his lyrics are insightful and full of social commentary. There’s a lot going on here and his new material is amongst his best including some “adverts” which are funny and full of meaning at the same time. Top stuff.
Which leaves the headline act, The Moles (www.myspace.com/themolesuk). If you like the psyched out rock of the late ‘60s then you will love The Moles because that’s what they do but not covers, it’s all original. It sounds fresh and new and at the same time could have been made 40 years ago. It’s the real deal and the songs never fail to give me a lift but seeing them live just blows my mind man.
The songs are quite brilliant, I think it's Brin Davies (below) who writes them. He says he's written a rock opera about a ginger tom cat. There must be someone somewhere who can put this on? Anyone from The Who want to help here? The Moles rock my world and I want them to rock yours too, so please check them out. They're playing at The Louisiana in Bristol on 28th April with The Ouija Birds and The Transpersonals - blimey another killer line up. I'll see you there.
So, a top night of music at The Junction was had by all and it's hats off to Dave from Artscare and all the bands.

Suggested listening: Artscare CD #2 compilation


  1. Hi Gary, Thanks for this review it s AMAZING! Artscare loves you and all the bands do too!! Look forward to catching up again very soon!