[sic] Magazine

Sub-Ed’s Live Events of the Year 2014

Roll up. Roll up. It’s list season once again! And, as usual, to kick things off we start with my favourite live events of the year. But this feature used to be called “Gigs of the Year”, I hear you say. Well, in order that we can crowbar in a couple of festival mentions without fear of reproach, so too double-header bills without favouring one above the other and so on, we’ve got all semantic on you and changed the wording to fit our purposes. Crafty.

So, with that in mind, here we go. Watch this space for the next inevitable instalments of the series: tracks and albums.
1. The Flaming Lips @ Apollo, Manchester, 27/05

Last year’s [sic] album of the year winner, Commander Coyne and I were, remarkably, yet to have a live run-in before this year. The Flaming Lips’ on-stage craziness is, of course, no secret, but finally being privy to his madness in person is almost overwhelming. Tonight they bring 15-foot alien suits, balloon sculpture, glitter bombs and a killer laser show – not to mention a wardrobe to make even the most flamboyant of LSD freaks blush. Oh, and the greatest hits set wasn’t bad either.

2. FKA Twigs @ Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, 04/10

You know you’re getting older when the thought of a seated gig doesn’t repulse you. Still, there are seated gigs and then there’s the stately RNCM. Tahliah Debrett Barnett is FKA Twigs and she dresses the stage minimally, concave mirrors and spotlights bathing her sexual trip-hop in just enough light to let highly styalised choreography do a good deal of the talking. A jaw-dropping show from one of this year’s best artists.

3. Dirty Beaches @ Kino Rialto, Katowice, Poland, 31/07

Alex Zhang Hungtai decided this was the occasion, an ATP-curated warm-up party for the superlative OFF Festival, to lay down some new tracks. As the ever-frenetic strobe show flickers round the former cinema space his newfound Berlin beats capture the essence of the massing grey skies perfectly. It’s Dirty Beaches’ second year running on this list, but all good things come to an end as Hungtai has now retired the project. A must-see no more then, but for once for all the right reasons.

4. Gambles @ The Castle Hotel, Manchester, 04/05

Matthew Daniel Siskin, battered acoustic in tow, moseys up for an on-off relationship with what he calls “the future”, constantly going from unplugged and off-mic to centre stage and jacked into a pedal. Boot heels echoing off the wooden floorboards he’s magnetic. Full of humility and humour Siskin freely admits he doesn’t usually headline making it a special night if for no other reason … but with this sort of performance it’s more than doubly so.

5. Neutral Milk Hotel @ Albert Hall, Manchester, 18/05

Though I’d ultimately be catching him a couple of months later on the festival circuit, the intimate surroundings of Manchester’s best new venue, the Albert Hall, proved too tempting to refuse an audience with Jeff Magnum. And, as that iconic sophomore LP of his rings out evangelically around the organ pipes and stained glass of the former Methodist hall the decision proves worth it tenfold.

6. OFF Festival @ Katowice, Poland, 01-03/08

My third year on the trot, this most perfect of festivals is yet to disappoint. Cheap as chips, unbelievable weather-wise and with an ever-killer line-up it truly is hard to better in Europe. We’re just scared of singing its praises too highly lest the hordes find out and spoil it. Thanks again all the same to the imperious Cerebral Ballzy, Perfume Genius, Black Lips, Protomartyr, Neutral Milk Hotel, Hookworms, Chelsea Wolfe, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Perfect Pussy and, last but far from least, the rather fantastic Slowdive.

7. White Lung @ Soup Kitchen, Manchester, 05/11

Sometimes you hear an album and, thinking it’s great, get an itch that can only be scratched by the live show. White Lung’s excellent Deep Fantasy is such an album. Ferocious yet full of melody it snags deep and just won’t let go. Occupying a number of senses at once, they have a frontwoman you just can’t tear your eyes off too in Mish Way. Expect this one to feature highly on my album list too.

8. Gnod, Forest Swords @ The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 08/02

A double bill made in heaven, tonight the chameleonic Gnod bring their sax-drone dub incarnation and it makes for a superb bedfellow alongside Forest Swords’ trademark soundtrack beats. The place is packed and the stifling electronics duly oblige. There’s not a stationary neck in the joint.

9. The Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia @ The Camp & Furnace/The Blade Factory, Liverpool, 26/09

To my double-booked dismay I could only attend the first of the two-day Liverpool Psyche Fest – a weekend fast becoming legendary and for good reason too. The venue’s spot on, the beer flows like wine and with the likes of Amen Dunes, The Vacant Lots, Black Bombain and the Allah Lahs to keep you company it’d frankly be difficult to find bad vibes.

10. Dead Sea Apes, Horrid, Kikagaku Moyo @ The Roadhouse, Manchester, 22/10

Three top-drawer performances for the price of one. Mesmeric Japanese sitar-psyche pushers Kikagaku Moyo may take the plaudits as “the best live band at this year’s Austin Psyche Fest”™ but the two local supports were not just here to make up the numbers, alternating between the chin-strokingly ponderous and the pummelling with devastating aplomb.

So draws part one of this year’s annual round up to a close. See you down the front next year [sic]koes.