Mac DeMarco An evening with Vernor Winfield McBriare Smith IV you say? I’m there! Tonight sees Vernor (the lesser-spotted Mac DeMarco to you guys) sojourn to Birmingham for the 1st time since his Institute gig in 2015 to proffer his jizz-jazz wears to us Midlanders…


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Deerhunter Becoming a parent seriously affected my ability to discover new music. The days of scouring Last.fm or some such to find “similar” artists to my ongoing predilections, became the nights of little sleep and my rest-addled brain took succour in the familiar, the easy. Them the breaks… plus, our babies were ace. No problem.


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Amber Run Nottingham’s indie rock quintet Amber Run delivered an intimate, emotional set that captured the hearts of all fans, new and old.


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Camper Calling 2019 Looking for your first festival experience? Give Camper Calling a try. Set in the extensive grounds of Ragley Hall near Alcester in Warwickshire this festival really does tick the box marked fun.


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Fairport's Cropredy Convention Everyday there is a cavalry charge at Cropredy when the gates open. But these aren't your standard gig junkies wanting to plant their elbows on the stage. These are regulars with camping chairs and picnic blankets looking for the best seated view half-way up the slope in front of the mixing desk. If you never felt more like sitting the blues this Oxfordshire festival is the one for you.


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Boat To Row The Castle and Falcon is undergoing something of a renaissance within the Birmingham music scene. Its industrial brick walled cavern of a gig room has played host to artists such as Cloud Nothings, Boy Azooga, Deap Vally and Yak, in the past year alone. The thought of heading down for my latest fix of music in one of Birmingham’s more intriguing venues really pulls me through an arduous day of work. Boat To Row will headline proceedings, with the undercard being Katherine Priddy and Faux Palms. I must say, I've not seen any of them live before but let’s see what I’m in for.


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Hands Off Gretel Allow me to introduce the bubblegum-coated blaze of glory that is Hands Off Gretel. They describe themselves as having “Gwen Stefani style swagger” with “Nirvana-esque grunge”, and I’d say that pretty much sums them up. Their sound is heavy and dirty, with the type of energy and beat that would make the devil himself want to dance.


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Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs stormed into The Hare & Hounds. The five piece Geordie rockers packed the room to the rafters and not a big bad wolf was in sight. With the heat of the room rising, front man Matt Baty shouted to the back regarding sound distortion "Have you got any tape as this keeps slipping and causing impromptu solos?" This all unknown to their adoring fans who were having such a good time they hadn't even noticed.


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HRH Metal 2019 Once upon a time, there was a young writer who found herself presented with the opportunity to review a music festival. But ah! This wasn’t just any festival. This was HRH Metal 2018, and a more magical experience the writer couldn’t possibly have imagined. Sadly the spell only lasted for one weekend, and she had to leave the enchanted world before the O2 Academy turned back into a pumpkin. Or something like that. Many moons she waited for the festival to return. At last, her patience is about to be rewarded. Take her hand and walk with her into the mystical depths of the metalhead Heaven which is Hard Rock Hell. (It’s me, by the way. The writer is me. ‘Sup.)


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John Smith Confined within the grade one Georgian church, fairy lights twinkled from the rafters as the historic St Paul's church's pews filled up with patrons eagerly awaiting the fun filled folk night ahead. The refined crowd waited in anticipation as candles flickered on the stage for the intimate evening with John Smith and Katherine Priddy. Huddled in the wooden pews the crowd clapped loudly as Katherine appeared at the altar.


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All Saints Fans heading to the iconic Birmingham Institute certainly knew where the hottest tickets in town were at as All Saint’s Testament Tour rolled into the second city.


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Kurt Vile Kurt Vile emerges, partly hidden behind a mop of hair, along with his backing band The Violators. They open with ‘Loading Zones’, the first track of his latest album ‘Bottle It In’, and certainly the most popular. It is pretty awesome – it has all the best of his finest work. The instrumental is strong but relaxed, and cleanly played. His voice is powerful but mellow. He sings, almost speaking, plucks his guitar with effortless skill. His music is easy to enjoy; smooth, quirky and assured.


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Wooden Shjips Wooden Shjips open their set with fragments of sound and a TV static type lighting effect. The lights pulsate as the beat creeps in, and I find myself being hypnotised by ‘Eclipse’. This is the opening song of their 2018 album ‘V.’, and a gorgeous representation of their ‘garage-styled psychedelia’. The firm bass and drum instrumentals, layered with murmuring vocals from Erik ‘Ripley’ Johnson, are entrancing.


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Garbage Let me begin with a word on the venue. Digbeth Arena is not an arena. That would be too grandiose a term for what is essentially a small space between a railway track and a old viaduct. The enclosed nature of the space acts as a natural amphitheatre that results in possibly the best sound quality I have ever heard at any gig. In short, this is a dream performance space for any artist worth their salt. In Birmingham, we are treated to three bands worth enough salt to keep the second city in fish and chips for a lifetime...


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