Hot Summer, What A Bummer Part One

9 10 2009

Now it’s October and it’s as cold as a nun’s nether regions, I thought it might be a good idea to post up some of the festival reviews I did this year as a reminder of warmer times. I took it fairly easy this year and covered Download for NME, Oxegen for Hot Press and Glasgowbury (again for HP) and I’ve some great memories for each of them.

Fist up was Download. Personally I’d like to see a lot more punk bands on the bill, but it was still a great weekend. We got a hotel this year, had a Pot Noodle party on the Sunday, got random body parts sun burnt and Michael McKeegan stood me up during Def Leppard (just joking McK!). But enough of all that, here’s the NME review-

Ever since the dawn of time (well, the ’80’s) Donington has been the spiritual home for boozed-up denim-and-leather clad clans who yearn for nothing more than a few days in the sun banging their heads and playing their air guitars. Despite the digital-age name-change from Monsters of Rock in’03, it has remained a rite of passage for any self-respecting rocker.

Leading the charge in Friday afternoon are The Blackout, an act who have the right ghd-fringed look, but sadly fail to have an original thought in their heads. Sacramento’s Middle Class Rut, on the other hand, are thinking outside the box and although they’re one of the lighter bands on the bill, they pull the right rigorous shapes to charm the crowd, thereby dodging the piss-bottles.

Speaking of a load of old piss, latest addition to the reunion bandwagon Limp Bizkit waste no time launching straight into ‘Break Stuff’. Now we all know that the Bizkit are bad, but it’s one hell of an opener, waking up thousands of the crust-covered crowd. With his red baseball cap once again perched on his baldy head, Fred Durst looks a bit like a giant penis as he bounds around the stage throwing gang signs and using language your mother wouldn’t like, but you know what? ‘Nookie’ might make us feel as dirty as rummaging through Jodie Marsh’s knicker drawer, but their performance is a definite guilty pleasure.

Going on the amount of T-shirts and ill-advised glam-metal haircuts on display it would seem that Mötley Crüe‘s brand of rampant sexism is once again back in fashion. A minute into ‘Kickstart My Heart’ the mystery of why the doughnut stand ran out of produce seems to be solved as portly prima-donna Vince Neil waddles around looking particularly pleased with himself. While he may be, er, a little “lived in” these days he’s still a great frontman. Macho posturing aside, they deliver a surprisingly hit-filled set, too.

A mere novelty, though, compared to Faith No More who are on world-beating form, still working the same frenetic chemistry that made them such an interesting prospect in the ’90s. Ever the joker, Mike Patton comes hobbling onstage with a cane, clad in crimson. Whether it’s ‘Epic’, ‘From Out Of Nowhere’, ‘Midlife Crisis’ or a short-lived rendition of Lady GaGa’s ‘Poker Face’, you can’t take your eyes off their performance for even a minute.

Patton is clearly in his element, hiding behind the red velvet curtain during ‘Easy’ as if ashamed of the novelty hit and poking fun at the crowd (“Hey, this is an ’80’s festival, right?”). As he closes with a set of show-off sit-ups during set closer ‘We Care A Lot’ it’s clear that Faith No More are still more than fit for the task. One of the sets of the year.

The following two days don’t quite live up to that standard, but there are are a few tasty nuggets to keep us entertained, such as a heavier-than-thou slot by Down, with former Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo giving a powerhouse performance. Northern Irish newbies In Case Of Fire and The Answer are maturing in leaps and bounds, the latter sounding like future headliners. Marilyn Manson’s show is a typically run-of-the-mill affair, with the God Of Fuck seeming more like the God Of Fuck All these days. When he dry humps the stage he looks like an OAP in need of a hip replacement rather than an Antichrist Superstar. Now that really is shocking…

Comeback kids Therapy?, however, only seems to get better with age. Their current release, ‘Crooked Timber’, sounds monstrous live and they’re strong runners-up for band of the weekend. More than happy to confirm that metal and cool are not natural bedfellows, Def Leppard close ceremonies for the weekend with some fromage-fuelled anthems, leaving us to conclude that if ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ makes us wrong, then we don’t ever want to be right.

Edwin McFee

More Anti Stuff

17 07 2009

As I’ve mentioned before-the Anti exhibition is now up and running and I thought it might be nice to publish the piece I wrote for the Therapy? section, so here goes.


“I was 13 when Therapy? first burst onto the mainstream boasting short sharp shocks for the masses. The year was 1993 and at that point in history cock rock was still very much in vogue, but these three short haired blokes from mid-Ulster bucked all conventions with glee, irrevocably snaring millions of jaded metalheads under their spell in an instant. While their peers pranced and preened during their endless guitar solos (snore), Therapy? gave us three minute slices of lunacy served up with a side order of perverted punk rock bravado. Needless to say, I was in love the first moment I heard the opening chords of ‘Opal Mantra.’

While I found the skewed guitar solos and oddly named tracks jarring at first, I knew that this was where the future of rock music lay and I wanted in on it too. So, ever the comic fanboy, I sold old copies of Thor, Captain America and others, bought a busted up bass and amp and formed a band in a bid to ape their sinister, but utterly perfect pop songs. I wasn’t the only one either. You see Therapy? gave hope to a generation of NI musicians that it can be done. You really can boot down the doors of convention and “make it” on your own terms. Best of all, the boys (Andy Cairns, Michael McKeegan and Fyfe Ewing) actually cared about homegrown acts too and took the likes of Joyrider and Ash under their wing, giving them their first crack at fame and helped kick-start a resurgence in local music not seen since the seventies.

These days I firmly believe that without Therapy? leading the charge in the early nineties, NI’s music scene would be a very different place indeed. Perhaps what is most exciting is that they’re still continuing to kick ass and take names to this very day, making some of the best music of their career. A few years ago I got the band’s mirrored question marks from their ‘Infernal Love’ album tattooed on my arm and it’s a permanent reminder that regardless of what the cynics say-music can really change your life forever. Twenty years on and the Church of Noise’s sermons are as loud and proud as they ever were and I for one wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Edwin McFee is a music journalist and writes for NME, Hot Press and AU.