For the next couple of days I was going to be on my own again. Sybil dropped me at Sheffield station and I headed off to one of the most beautiful parts of the country, Calderdale in north west Yorkshire, and the leftist haven known as Hebden Bridge.
Hebden Bridge was probably the most beautiful place I visited on the tour, the little town just north
of Leeds in the Calderdale valley is proper little leftist haven.
The Trades Club is a lovely venue down near the river; its like an old store house turned into a working men’s club.
There is very much a feel of the venue being a central hub for the community as the locals who were really friendly seemed to hang around there.
Its oak wooden floorboards gave it a grand feel with the high-rise ceiling pointing out above the surrounding buildings. I was given a warm greeting by Chris who was the area rep for Independent Venue Week and Sarah who was one of the bars managers. It was also the only venue that served freshly cooked Indonesian food. Sometimes for touring bands and artists it makes all the difference if the artists are well fed by the venue.
The Trades Club is one of those venues that makes people perform to a much higher standard. I found myself staring at the stage next to the Sam the lead singer from The Howl and The Hum both of us just staring at the stage with our mouths open, in taking the visual beauty of the venue.
Tonight’s gig was an entirely York based affair with The Howl and The Hum joined by their best friends indie eccentrics Bull and Amy May Eliss who has recently moved to Bristol. There was definitely an added sense of drama to Howl and The Hums set counter balancing the emotional influences of The National and Editors. Maybe it was the high roof that allowed their music to really breath.
But for me the real stars of the show were Bull with their concoction of short catchy and playfully pop tunes. The first person I pretty much bumped into whilst in Hebden was Amy May Eliss and she lit up the venue with her lovely indie folk.
Tonight’s accommodation was definitely one of the most beautiful rooms I stayed in. It’s not often in a BnB room would you get a four post bed, help yourself own breakfast bar and a frickin jacuzzi!! Which I took full advantage of, I mean why would you not, I mean come on its not every day!!
It was with a heavy heart that I left Hebden Bridge and headed on my way south down to the Midlands and on to my one none independent venue week endorsed venue, the Bodega in Nottingham for the first of two completely euphoric shows by Crystal Palace based alt punk duo John.
My body was starting to feel the travel lag, and I knew that a 3 hour train ride was probably not the best way of dealing with things, I think I might have been lacking the Caffeine, Caffeine in these times is like and essential part of my diet, like rocket fuel is to a rocket.
Upon arriving into Nottingham I roll out and in search of a cab to take me to my hotel, even though the actual hotel I was staying in was not actually that far from the train station, but knowing my lack of sense of direction I had best get a cab.
I was lucky that my hotel was right slap bang in the center of Nottingham and that the Bodega was only about 15 mins walk away, even though 15 mins could have been about 15 miles away in my mind. I quickly stepped out to try and find the venue, luckily I had google maps directing me, otherwise who the frick knows where I would have ended up.
After establishing where the Bodega was I set of to find food for my stomach was really rumbling so I found a café that I could plump myself in the corner and stare off into the abyss of my phone. I found my twitter submerged with tweets about the Go Fund Me campaign that had been launched to get me over to Texas for SXSW.
Upon entering the downstairs bar i was a bit startled when the bar man who was serving me knew my name, it definitely took me back a bit as I was trying to figure out where i knew He was. This sometimes can be quite a common thing if you are not used to seeing people in certain situations of course it turned out to Lawrence English the drummer for Nottingham based alt grunge outfit Kagoule, band I’ve seen many times over the years. I spotted a few AF Gangers huddling around the bar who came on over to join the conversation, this really did help me feel at ease. Big open bar area pine wood plush finish that looked expensive.
The gig venue was up above the main bar, after a friendly chat with the door man who had waved me through despite the band (John) forgetting to put me down on the guest list. I made my way up the stairs. The room its self, had a rustic dusty feeling with a square box shaped stage and a bar that ran down the side.
Pretty much as soon as I had entered into the Bodega I was greeted by the affectionately named Rock Gods, a name given to the Crystal Palace based duo by the AF Gang. They gave me warm welcome with loving hugs, they were both in awe of the waist coat my mum had made me. It’s a thing of beauty, where my mum had taken a whole load of my old wristbands and passes from festivals, iys the sort of thing.
Tonight was the perfect case of how three different acts can loosely fall within a certain genre yet be completely different, with the Crystal palace duo being supported tonight by the blood and thunderous walls of noise and a broodingly uncomfortable stage presence he kind of bristled like a wound up Ned Flanders, Polevaulter definitely made their presence felt with air pouring out of amplifiers with the sonic heft.
The Room began to swirl with Metz and Idles shirts, this was an AF Gang love in. Tonight’s main support came from Pet Crow, who drew on the much more danceable new wave post punk coming off like something between Soixie Souxie and The Banshees and the Pretenders there was definitely something of the Chrissy Hind about the singert with her purple hair flailing around as she danced about the stage, it was a positive kick of energy.
The rock Gods have been engraining themselves into my psych with their straight up Euphoric punk rock n roll. There is something so endearing about the two Johns Over the best part of 5 years has seen, the duos sound has certainly grown in sonic heft. The Two Johns had bolstered their sound with the adition of a weighty bass amp gifted to them by Idles, it certainly made for a powerful impact as the sound felt fuller and chunkier. It was something that I felt had given the duo much more vitality. Boosted by support from BBC6 has seen the bands fan base really grow.
They Rattled through a grin inducing set of songs taken from both their albums Thank God For The National Speed Limit and last years Out Here On The Fringes.
For those who have followed John for a while you will know the bands schtick but they are two of the most loveable personalities that they are, they gave me a really flattering shout out by calling me the ambassador and stating that the grass roots venues that had supported them over the years were their version of churches.
After the gig I found myself hanging around talking too various members of John and Pet Crow who were Lovely. It was also a great surprise to see my Friend Nick Meadows who was driving John around on tour. Nick is one of those guys who has a friendly and really reassuring presence. I left the Bodega complete with Pet crow record in my hand and a gentle hum in both my ears and my heart as I stumbled back to the hotel.
A big thank you to the lovely folks at Crosstown Concerts for supporting Big Jeff, his blog and his fundraiser.