uk

the wave pictures

the wave pictures catch surreal moments and disappointments with silly lines and sad hooks. they like words and amateurism, designed all but one of their album covers themselves, and in their music videos, they’ve been known to walk on glasses, eat spaghetti while singing and play polaroids.

we met david tattersall, franic rozycki, jonny “huddersfield” helm and their friend david beauchamp for an interview before their daylight music gig at the union chapel. they told us about a birthday tradition, apologising to hull and an unsuccessful joke; debated whether or not they are grown-ups, and shared a couple of daydreams.

they also played us two songs from their upcoming album and a grateful dead cover for stockholm clouds (lookee here) and drew us a baffled cat! much love from us to the wave pictures for all these saturday morning adventures ♥

drawing-this-one
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festival: camp wildfire

wildfire01ever since the first rumours that julia lowe of keston cobblers club and lee denny of leefest were planning a festival, part album launch, part childhood adventure, i have been ready, my yellow backpack packed with pens, bubbles and a glow-in-the-dark frisbee, waiting for the train to come in.

half a year later, 19th – 22nd june 2015, camp wildfire turned a secret bit of forest in kent into a 1950s-style scout camp with felt bunting, fairy lights, an on-site radio station hut broadcasting banter, announcements and vinyl treats, an upright piano next to a campfire, a fabric-roofed stage with a painted landscape backdrop, a bar with a library of chess sets and cards, scrumptious food and an alphabet of meeting points for an insane range of activities from treasure hunts to swashbuckling workshops to swing dancing (including rock-paper-scissors moves) to mask-making and ukuleleing. the evenings belonged to secret bands, djs fond of “go your own way” and, of course, keston cobblers club who celebrated the launch of their album wildfire.

“wildfire is the colour of sound as it darts through forests, setting shadows ablaze.”
this line from the wildfire booklet is an excellent description of both a) the radiant new songs about sea leg refuges, days riddled with holes, matchstick hearts, madness, loss and loyalty with their infectious oo-oh-oh-oohs, but ohs, wolves howling and wildfire-crackling and b) the excitingly friendly, inclusive, encouraging and cheerful atmosphere at camp wildfire.

upon arrival, i chose the squirrels out of the four forest animal patrols (stealthy squirrel, bantham badgers, fearless foxes and howling hawks), was given a wildfire necklace (and squirrels had a yellow stripe on their necklaces, hooray!) which also served to collect tokens for outstanding deeds as well as the adventurer’s handbook (including semaphore and morse code, a butterfly spotter’s guide, the camp code and, yes, the camp anthem, no less!). i went by myself but was constantly making friends – in the cab from the train station to the forest, in the queue to enrol for activities, requesting songs by a campfire, dancing ceilidh, swing and helter-skelter, trying to start a fire in a survival workshop, challenging foxes and badgers to games of chess, asking people to play and share their glitter, striking up conversations about anything from children’s literature to portable loo ghosts, unicorn names and childhood traumas. and even on the train back to london victoria.

being an analogue festival, digital technology was thankfully discouraged. that’s where the pens came in handy.

01-4jumping about to mariachi el pinche grin go

02-2euphoria beans led to more dancing, this time with the ceilidh liberation front


02-03swaying with gaps


03-01nighttime campfire singalong & a chat about children’s literature

03-03-----------------

heartening “everyone can sing”-wild choir with tinuke

03-04 tea in a squirrel-yellow wildfire mug, re-learning how to skip (it was more difficult than i remembered but failing was less embarrassing than i remembered), talking a fox patrol leader into giving me a peg and then talking a fellow peg-stealing squirrel into returning said peg to me

04-01bunting, umbrellas and impromptu lunch jams

04escapegetting lost during forest hide-and-seek

04-riot-jazztrusting strangers not to steal my things and not to laugh at my chaotic dance moves during the riot jazz brass band whose encores included a fierce “take on me” and “living on a prayer”

04-02wildfirekeston cobblers’ club lovely wide-eyed madness album launch gig♥

04-05

ukuleleling with matthew and tom of the cobblers. discovering “riptide“, sharing rainbow facepaint and not being able to put down the ukulele (thus, half-learning “i want to be like you” with matthew while they were packing up).

and so on and on and on. camp wildfire was serious fun. from the very beginning it felt like a community – i kept bumping into newly familiar faces, stories spread like wildfire (for example the one about how two german girls drove all the way from cologne just to go to the festival), there was a group picture taken, followed by a huge group hug, and, instead of audience-artist divides, you could skip about with the cobblers as fellow adventurers.

and i daresay i aced camp code #1 (challenge yourself), #2 (adventure like a child), #3 (say yes), #7 (love like your heart’s exploding), #9 (say hello to new people) and #10 (have immeasurable amounts of fun). i learned new things all the time, re-discovered old skills, explored new music, refused to be embarrassed about dancing helter-skelter and wearing a hawk mask, said hello to everyone even if they were in the middle of a game of chess (which they kindly let me join), was given one token for committed singing and one for being nice and scored glitter and hula hoop lessons from perfect strangers. curiosity rules, awoo!

03-02move

thanks a million, julia lowe, for making what lee denny called your “fantasy weekend” happen!

postscript 27 august 2015
more proof of the wildfire loveliness (both the song and the festival) up now:

stockholm clouds | ryan o’reilly

ryan o’reilly‘s music is a confessional poet’s parade of nightmares and daydreams. it sounds like shipside conversations between huckleberry finn and odysseus. or, as someone said at his show at teater pero last year: “his songs are great but he must have a terrible love life.”

with the promise of a tea-and-toast breakfast, we got ryan to play us his song “the first time” in our favourite stockholm living room. to his left, tyler kyte, and, to his right, on our four-string guitar, david granshaw. they got it right, oh yes*

* even when they played it wrong. cheeky eavesdropping on the silly version here:

dry the river : alarms in the heart

the second album, finally. and all our longing lights up and turns to smiles that blend into each other and grow teeth. alarms in the heart is so epic it makes you feel taller. even if you’re walking down to the commuter train in a yellow raincoat that is useless and silly because the rain stopped as soon as you left the house.

alarmssmall

i found dry the river by accident. i went to the gig to see marques toliver (again) but that one line “we danced to the shipping forecast” was all they needed to win me over. and they have won other people over, too, long before their magnificent debut album shallow bed had even been released. shallow bed combines astronomy, greek myths, biblical imagery, animal metaphors, surreal places, folk and some hardcore and postpunk elements. or as their drummer jon warren once said to me, “dry the river is an old folk five-piece disaster from the uk.” they also do brilliant acoustic versions and surprising covers. as their violinist will harvey is pursuing other adventures, dry the river is now a four-piece (peter liddle, matt taylor, scott miller and jon warren) but still a wonderful disaster.

alarms in the heart is alive with complex and astonishing melodies, fiercer instruments,  excellent lyrics and nerve-wreckingly beautiful intonation. peter liddle still draws on religious imagery and creates fairytale wildernesses but darkness seems to approach through more everyday angles. like seeing someone around the neighbourhood and wondering how they are. and then suddenly “half the town are underground / and half are half way there.” or writing a letter to articulate thoughts and then this: “the garden’s overgrown! [. . .] and now it’s just a field behind the house / where the creepers kind of swallow the light. / where you wait for a talking snake, / for a calendar date‒/ something you can rely on.” and, look, peter liddle’s med school past crept in, as well, providing a intriguingly grim introduction for a library longing.

there is a lovely and effortless reference to leonard cohen that might make you cry, a naked moment at the end of “rollerskate” that might make you stop dead with a slow smile, childhood memories, alienation, faintly disappointed dresses, fights, the pixies, saint john of the cross, a hidden track with bed sheet ghosts in driveway snow and all those radiant lines. such as “like a moth goes sad and soft in the streetlight’s umbilical glow / it was love that laid us low” and “it’s peace i desire but i can’t put the fire out or i’d be in darkness again.” and more in “gethesmane” than i can reasonably quote here.

in short, the second album, like the first one, is a treat. and, if i’m reading the tarot cards on the album cover right, the unexpected losses of the past will, through sudden change of direction in the present, lead to a future where a new creative cycle begins ‒ in other words, from here on, treats galore. and, judging from past gigs, all that is left to say now is go see them live if you can. awoo!

a brave account of the failures and growth processes involved in making alarms in the heart (from contrived structures to singing into voice memoes to each other in london to the recording period in iceland).