Monday, February 18, 2008

2008 Antifolk Winter Festival

I arrived just in time to see the tail end of Suzy Almond's performance, but I was encouraged by what I heard. She has a good voice, and articulates everyday life nicely.

Next up was a young guy, Stuart James, who had to rush off to go to a birthday party, apparently. His style was very rhythmic spoken word - I hesitate to use the word rap, but that's basically what it was - played over an acoustic guitar hook. Unfortunately, I was having difficulty hearing most of the words, but I think he was discussing political issues. The formula grew a bit thin after a few songs, but the guy has forged his own sound, and with a bit of development, he could definately be one to look out for.

Immediately taking over the stage was The Bobby McGee's, decorating the mic stand in fluffy things, and toilet signs, and planting their plethora of instruments in the very limited space. Their first act was to start recklessly hurling lollipops and toy soldiers into the gleeing audience, and party bangers, which they instructed to the patrons to save for the end.

The first thing that struck me since the last time I seen them is a lineup change. Gone was the cellist (which adds a lot of depth to certain songs), replaced by a saxophone player. I'm not sure if this was just a temporary arrangement, because the band often does gigs with differing lineups, including just Jimmy solo.

Another major difference was the makeup was ditched in favour of matching maroon suits (Victorian sailors? My fashion history is hazy). (OK - this was the first thing that struck, but I wanted to appear as if I'm only interested in the music, not the cheesy gimmicks).

Jimmy opened the show with a micro puppet show - a small rabbit teddy quoting the lyrics to Jar Jar Binks. The songs were hilarious of course, and meticulously delivered, despite a few false starts by the new saxophonist when she was handed the melodica.

The noticeable crowd-swelling on the floor suggested they were one of the more anticipated bands (they were who I was there to see), and if work commitments didn't summons them back to Brighton, I'm sure they would have fitted in well towards the top of the bill.

Next up was a duo who were making their debut performance - Thee Assassins. They have an image of a Dickensian lawyer (the late 19th century seems to be well represented). I'm not sure how well they fitted in to the gig, but they acknowledged their appreciation at being hosted for the first time.

David Cronenberg's Wife personally encouraged me to stick around to hear Simon Breed - and I have to say, I was most impressed. He has a very bluesy voice, and writes some great tunes. I intend to keep tabs on on him in the future.

Unfortunately, time caught up with me, so the last band I saw was The Sways. They take a lot of influence from Dufus it would seem, keeping it on the lighter side. They are definately more marketable than Dufus (and I don't mean that in a derogatory way to either party), and will also be on my watchlist for the foreseeable future.

I had been slightly miffed when I saw the lineup as I walked in, because I had only heard of the Bobby's, but as is often the case with these, I was introduced to some new artists I'll keep tabs on to see how they progress. The first Antifolk fest I went to (Spring 06) had a large selection of CDs at the front door of all the artists - a feature that was notable by its absence on Saturday. The individuals did invite you to ask them if you wanted a CD, but I missed a few of the ones I wanted.