Late & Live Sessions -Breathing Life Into the Live Music Scene

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Late & Live Sessions, image from the official Facebook page

Last Saturday night was a miserable and rainy autumn one in Canterbury. The wind was howling and soggy leaves were strewn across the pavements. Dodging puddles became a necessity every few steps. It was the kind of night where you’d much rather stay in with a pizza and a Marvel film than go out.

However, for those of us who braved these bitter conditions, there was a treat in store at The Lounge Bar and Kitchen. This venue is the Student Union for one of the main universities in Canterbury and on this night in particular (Saturday 14th November) played host to Late & Live Sessions, a new live music event which prides itself on showcasing the best live music offerings from around the Canterbury and Whitstable area. Last week, the event had 4 sets from exciting artists such as Standard Lamps (who have opened for The Who), Hey Maggie (Late & Live veterans and crowd favourites), Noble Jacks (giving off splendid Mumford and Sons vibes) and solo artist Sam Brothers (the guy can play the harmonica and the guitar at the same time…need I say more?) Sounds exciting, right?

I arrived at the venue about an hour before kick-off and the room was thrumming with activity. Cases containing unidentifiable pieces of sound and lighting equipment were being brought in and hooked up; the stage was empty but for a few microphone stands and bundles of wires; the bar was being stocked and was emitting a tempting warm light. But I was not to be distracted, I was there to meet with Chris Monti who is, alongside his father Carlo, co-founder of Late & Live Sessions to talk about how this exciting project came about.

 

“We started the Late & Live Sessions with our launch event on July 5th 2015 based in a venue in Canterbury called Lifestyle Fitness, a 1000 capacity venue,” he says. “We launched it to showcase up-and-coming talent from the UK live music scene. We were really interested in Canterbury with the buskers, the small venue performers, anyone we’ve seen and wanted to give an opportunity to showcase their music. That was the initial strategy because we felt that in Canterbury, there is a big clubbing scene, a lot of house music and really great event companies, but there wasn’t as much offering within the live music scene, so it’s a sort of gap in the market and an opportunity to show that there’s a lot of talent out there and so we brought it all together.”

So that’s how it came about, you wanted to plug this gap? “Well no it actually came about because we often come through Canterbury high street and see a lot of buskers (like Hey Maggie) performing and we wanted to put on a big show where we could showcase their talent. And that was how it sparked the interest. It was something we’ve always planned to do, but we were looking for the right time and the right venue to do it. Lifestyle Fitness gave us the opportunity to do it and it’s sort of kicked off from there.”

How do you go about setting up an event like this? “In some of our venues, we will put the whole production on, so we work with local suppliers, in terms of the staging, equipment and sound systems and then work with local security teams like Akon Security. We actively go round to bars in the high street and meet the bands or solo performers face to face, speak to them and share what we’re trying to do, our vision, and get them on board. It’s a lot of background work trying to liaise with everyone to get it right. Each one of the performers who comes to our venue gets paid and then we’ll run all the marketing and promotion on our side, all the staging, the lighting and the venue. We do all of the logistical side, we just want to let them perform.”

What are there certain steps you’ve got to go through before you can put on such an event? “Yeah there’s a lot of planning that goes on behind the scenes. Depending on what venue we’re using or the size capacity, it could be up to 3 months planning or a month. This one was quite a quick turnaround and because we’ve worked with suppliers on a frequent basis, we sort of understand the set up better now to when we initially started. Our first launch in July was about 3 months planning of trying to find the right suppliers who could work with us and be our partners and finding the right bands to do our launch event who were actively on board with what our vision was. From there, it’s just grown and we’ve actually got bands approaching us and saying they want to perform in our events, it’s great! We now work with 3 venues. Alongside Lifestyle Fitness, we’ve got the Umbrella Centre in Whitstable, now we’ve luckily got an opportunity to work here with The Lounge Bar and Kitchen.”

Who’s involved in your team to help set this all up? “My father obviously [Chris’ father Carlo Monti who is also co-founder of the Late & Live Sessions], and my brother who helps with all the designs, he’s a graphic designer which is very lucky [for us]. He does all the posters we’ve got, all the marketing material for us, and all the social media designs. I run the social media pages, plus do a lot of the logistical operations. My dad runs the business from the Kent side. We’ve got people who promote our events, we’ve got bands who work closely with us, we’ve got some suppliers we’ve worked with for an ongoing basis, and so once we’ve got that structure in place it’s easy to move our set-up to each venue. Hopefully we’ll be able to grow eventually to London.”

What is your vision for L&L? Would a move to London be part of that? “The vision is to build our brand in the Kent area. To carry on introducing amazing bands. What really stood out to me after our first event was that we had Hey Maggie performing at our first event and they’ve come back to us again now. The amount of feedback I’ve had from people who have said “Hey, I’ve never heard of this band before, they’re amazing” is amazing and we’ve got people coming this evening just to see this band again that they hadn’t previously heard about. So that’s what we try and do. We try and get a whole mix of different genres and different live music from the scene, so people who might actually watch rock or go to rock nights or go to house music events see a different genre and absolutely love it.”

What are some of the drawbacks or difficulties of trying to start an event like this? “There’s a number of things that happen behind the scenes: it could be bands pulling out at the last minute, it could be trying to get the right mix of music in the venues sorted. Some of the events aren’t always commercially viable but we want to put on an event that we’re proud of and that people really want to come to. I’d rather spend money and give a really good show than spend less money and have a poor quality show that people don’t want to come back to.”

Who are some of your favourite acts that you’ve had perform at Late & Live? “Everyone!”

You must have a favourite though? “It’s hard to choose because I like all music. I like the clubbing scene, I like going to live music, and there’s some [we’ve had perform] that I wouldn’t actively put on my Spotify playlist or listen to on YouTube, but it’s a completely different atmosphere when you see them live. And there’s some that I’d listen to on a playlist on the tube and then if I go to their show, the performance they put on is outstanding and that’s the most important thing about live music – it’s about really giving the energy, the atmosphere, and everyone getting together. That’s what live music is about.”

Before we met tonight you were out promoting the event, who are the L&L Sessions aimed at? “Canterbury is a student area, there’s 2 big universities, so obviously there’s a student demographic and we’re here [tonight] at a student lounge. But not necessarily just students, we sometimes have families attend our events, especially in Whitstable a lot of families come because they love what we’re doing. There’s a lot of clubbing here, but there’s not so much for all age groups: you could go to the Marlow Theatre, but in terms of just purely live music, there’s nothing really on offer. Really we’re looking at every opportunity to really grow the live scene here and make sure it’s around.”

What do you hope that L&L can achieve in the future? “Next year, I want to do an outdoor, 4 stages, full live production. Time will tell if we can do that next year or the following year. We also want to branch, to London and hit that scene as well. I live in London and the live music scene is fantastic and there’s a lot of amazing bands and logistically it’s a lot harder to bring them down to Kent and make it commercially viable, but if we can branch to London, we could bring Kent bands to London and that would be a fantastic opportunity for everyone.”

What’s coming up next? “December 12th should be our next event and then following that, in the New Year, we plan on going big, but plans are still pending!”

Can we expect more of the same in December as you’ve provided tonight? “December will have 3 sets, and a completely different mix of genres, but we’re going to hold that back until next week!”

Haha fine! So people need to keep an eye on social media to wait for these announcements then. “Yes, the best way for people to find out about our new events is through our website lateandlivesessions.com. We’ve got a Facebook page (Late & Live Sessions), and we are actively trying to push our Instagram page (Late & Live) which shows images from the events. But probably the best one is our Facebook page which features our venues that we’re working with, where we’re going to be next, what the bands are and what we actually want to do is promote the bands themselves, so you can check out their latest videos and click on their pages. It’s not just about Late & Live the brand, we want to share the live music scene too.”

 

In a world where the words ‘selling out’ and ‘just in it for the money’ are  frequently heard, Late & Live is a refreshing break from that and signals that there is life for UK music outside of the commercial, label-backed offerings currently circling the airwaves. They care about putting on a great show for people who love live music. Simple as that. Their vision is infectious and Chris’s enthusiasm for what he and his father are putting together is amazing. For them, the music and the experience of the night trumps all else. They deserve all the support they can get for championing live music – get on their Facebook page, smash that ‘Like’ button and get to the next event. You won’t regret it. Pinkie promise.

Now playing: Marmozets – Cry

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Best. Valentine’s. Ever

You may or may not be aware, but last Saturday was Valentine’s day.

Don’t panic, I’m not going to go off on a romantic tangent about the as yet undiscovered love of my life or highlight why Valentine’s is the ultimate social construction designed to make the proletariat spend money. Instead I’m going to describe to you what I’d consider to be the best Valentine’s I’ve ever had. I spent it with one of my dear friends Katherine and 9 men. Oooh err, Lizzie, get in there! ;)

Relax, on Saturday night, I travelled an hour or so from Canterbury to the O2 Arena in London for one of the most eagerly anticipated tours of the year so far; the You Me At Six and All Time Low co-headline tour! When I told my house mate about this tour and how amazing it was to get two of my favourite bands in the world on one bill, he called it the rock version of the 2011-12 Kanye West and Jay-Z tour…he doesn’t understand my music but the sentiment is there.

The tour was a short 5 date affair hitting some of the biggest arenas in the country including the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff and the Birmingham LG arena and finishing in the O2 on the 14th of February.

From the pictures and comments I’ve seen on various social media sites, the other shows were as fantastic as the one I witnessed on Saturday.

Opening the show was Walk The Moon, a small four-piece from Ohio, who were completely pumped and unbelievably grateful to have been given the opportunity to play a venue with such prestige as the O2. They buzzed around the stage during their short 6 song set and interacted well with the audience who were gracious enough to give them the time of day considering that no one really cared much because what was to follow promised to be full of excitement. Realistically, it could’ve been the band that plays in the pub down the road from your house jumping around up there and people still would’ve been happy. But Walk The Moon entertained us well with an infectious mélange of pop and rock with a dash of gyrating hips courtesy of the front man Nick Petricca…seriously though, the guy has MOVES and his hips have their own twitter account!

I was already familiar with these guys and they did not disappoint! I first heard of them through a friend who sent me an acoustic version of their own song ‘Anna Sun’, which they played to end their set and which firmly set us on the road to good times.

After a short break, we were antsy for All Time Low and they took to the stage in a frenzy that has become synonymous with an ATL show. They jumped around, interacted well with the audience and made a lot of dick jokes. All Time Low have a really unique ability to be able to take one of the best songs from any of their albums and turn it into something even more powerful and fantastic. The example that immediately springs to mind is the song ‘Weightless’. This song is the ultimate pop-punk anthem and is the reason that I and I’m sure many other ATL fans got turned onto them in the first place. Now, on the record ‘Nothing Personal’, it’s a stand-out track and a real crowd pleaser. But on this particular night in the O2, Alex Gaskarth introduced the song saying that they wanted to try something new and what followed was magical. The song was given a new lease of life through a beautiful acoustic-sounding first verse until the chorus when it took off and became the song we all know and love. ‘Therapy’ was also an emotional highlight for me. This song was just Alex alone on the stage with his guitar, his voice and a spotlight. This song is stunning anyway, but between Alex and the audience (all of whom were singing along) the arena became one of those rare places where you really feel as though you’re in the centre of the world, where thousands of people are united and the room is pregnant with emotion. The phone lights were out looking like stars and Alex even said at one point ‘wow you guys are going to make me cry!’

All Time Low

All Time Low

However, this wasn’t the only such moment from the night. You Me At Six brought the whole of the feels parade and marched it around the arena so that there was not a soul in the whole place left unaffected by the emotion of the songs ‘Crash’ and ‘Fireworks’. These were just two of the highlights of YMAS’s extraordinary set. They’re blistering, powerful and take no prisoners as they command the stage and make the whole of the arena swirl like a living creature during songs like ‘Loverboy’ and the ferocious ‘Bite My Tongue’ . The jumping people down in the pit look fucking cool from above.

Every time I’ve seen YMAS live I’ve been staggered by how good they’ve been, and particularly on this occasion. You can really tell that they’re on the cusp of something huge and especially with the success of their latest album ‘Cavalier Youth’, you really get the sense that YMAS will continue to climb.

You Me At Six

You Me At Six

There are many points in the night in which we are reminded of the significance of such shows for both of these bands. Alex particularly highlights the hard work and dedication required of bands of the sizes of YMAS and ATL to make it into venues such as these in a world such as this where rock tends to be shoved to one side. He is right when he says that there is a core of huge bands who can get songs of the radio and play arena tours with complete ease (think Foo Fighters status) but for these comparatively young bands, the way is not paved in gold and they have to work incredibly hard for such opportunities. This evening was a display of the hard work and dedication of these bands and the shining future that lies ahead of them and hopefully the others alongside them charging down the bolted gates of the segregated compound to which they have been previously been designated. The musical revolution is coming.

Now playing: Mallory Knox – Heart & Desire

‘Reckless’

I saw this on another blog, and decided to try this musical challenge :) Play along if y’fancy, I enjoyed it. Just copy and paste the questions into your own note and fill in your own answers.

RULES (NO CHEATING!) –

1. Put your iPod, mp3 player, or music library on your PC on shuffle.

2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

3. You MUST write that song title, no matter how weird it sounds!

4. Post your thoughts after the title of the song

.lets-do-this-rt1b0w

What is your personality? ‘Creeper’ by Mallory Knox……. Oh cripes, off to a good start, eh! I like to think I’m not a creeper…except in my tendencies to enjoy a good Facebook stalking but I think everyone’s guilty of that!

What’s important to you in a mate? ‘All Of This Has To End’ by We Are The Ocean. Oh blimey! I’d like to clarify to my friends that I definitely do not feel this way about any of you! If I did not have my friends then I would have struggled enormously in these last couple of years. I’m lucky in that I’ve met some amazingly loyal people and we’re all as mad as each other really! I love my friends.

How do you feel today? ‘Learn To Fly’ by Foo Fighters. That’s quite apt really: as I write this I’m doing something new and learning to sunbathe. I burn very easily so we’ll see how this goes!

What is the meaning of life? ‘Early Retirement’ by Handguns. Ok, this song is SO much fun! And again quite apt – from the perspective of someone who hasn’t started ‘real life’ yet, it seems like the meaning of life is to be constantly working in order to better yourself and the people you love, a career game if you like. Promotions and pay rises. I imagine that early retirement sounds good to lots of people.

What philosophy do you live by? ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ by 30 Seconds to Mars. I always think that this song is weirdly atmospheric, particularly at the start. I suppose being a stranger in a strange land is how we all feel at some stage of life – I know I did when I moved away from everything I knew in September last year and began my uni adventure. Not a philosophy as such, but definitely something I can relate to.

How do your friends feel about you? ‘Morte et Dabo’ by Asking Alexandria. Oh jeez! The translation of that means something along the lines of ‘by death I shall give’ or ‘the gift of death’ (Latin ed. does anyone know Latin and is qualified enough to verify? Cheers!) and I really, REALLY hope that my friends don’t want to kill me! Especially after the nice things I wrote about them above!

How do you feel about family? ‘Picture a Knife Fight’ by Biffy Clyro! Hahahaha! Oh dear! You can’t make this stuff up :D Granted sometimes it is like this in my house – literally, picture a knife fight and you’ll get it! Nah, I’m joshing, we’re pretty tight knit, so much so that whenever I left home this year to go back to uni after various holidays it brought a tear to my eye. Every time.

What do you think about very often? ‘Back & Forth’ by Foo Fighters. I’m a very indecisive person, I change my mind about everything and overthink like crazy, sometimes to the point where I do go mad. This works – I go back and forth between every decision I make, the options and consequences and it often feels like I get things wrong at the time. Eventually things work out though, that’s always something for me to remember: things do work out, calm down.

What song would you put on repeat for a road trip? ‘Scream’ by Avenged Sevenfold. Fair play! I think if I had it on repeat for that long, I could sing along to every single nuance of the guitar work as well as all the words…who am I kidding, I’m basically there already!

Describe your life. ‘My Last Breath’ by Evanescence. Hmm, an odd one, iPod. The song has always seemed to me to be a ‘I will love you until my last breath’ style jobby and we are NOT getting into this now… Either that or we could think of it as having a living life to the fullest message and living every moment like it will be your last. I wish I was more like that.

What do you dream of doing some day? ‘Five Colours in Her Hair’ by McFly. Oh dear, we were doing so well on the music front! But it’s no secret that I love McFly so I don’t mind and hopefully you don’t! So, what do I dream of doing some day? I’ve always thought that the idea of having a song written for/about me would be rather jazzy. That, and I’ve wanted to dye my hair for ages but every time I’ve been close to doing it, I’ve chickened out. One day, maybe.

What will people say when you die? ‘Not All Heroes Wear Capes’ by Ocasan. Now that WOULD be thinking too highly of myself! But I do enjoy helping people, just not on the scale of jumping around buildings and stopping cars from falling on buggies. I tend to lean towards the shoulder to cry on method.

What do you enjoy doing most (hobby)? ‘Where Did The Party Go’ by Fall Out Boy. Genuis. I’m not a heavy partier, but there’s something really sociable in what others might perceive as a negative trait of our partying/drinking society – going out and having a really good time with friends is what I do it for and there have been many a good memory created on a night out. I’ll only go out if I’m going with people, no one likes the person stood in the corner of the room on their own because they came out alone! And they don’t have fun either…unless they manage to pull with a bored expression and sad ‘no one came out with me’ face. BTW, if anyone is sceptical about getting this album, DO IT! I was too, and now it may be one of my favourites.

What’s your biggest fear? ‘Walking Dead Man’ by Black Tide. Ooh, fair enough. I wouldn’t say a zombie apocalypse is one of my greatest fears but I don’t like the idea of it! That, or the idea of being all alone in life – the song goes “you are nothing, you have no one, you have no heart, no mind of your own” I guess I’m afraid of being like that.

What’s your biggest secret? ‘Days Are Numbered’ by Black Veil Brides. I’m generally quite an open person, partly because things get to me so much that I have to share them. Although, I have a tendency to forget lots of things so there’s probably some secret buried deep within my mind that could number my days if it got out…can’t think what though. Eeesh. Great song though, featuring Bert McCracken from The Used.

What do you think of your friends? ‘Here’s The Thing’ by Don Broco. Yeah, here’s the thing, guys, I don’t actually like you. Awks. Teehee, but seriously, my friends are my absolute world, not like the girl about which this song is written.

What will be the title of this post? ‘Reckless’ by You Me At Six. Good shout, I always feel a bit reckless whenever I blog, I don’t feel like I should be trying to write or talk to internet people :D

What’s your ‘after posting’ celebratory song? ‘With You’ by Linkin Park. Really not a celebrating song, but quite appropriate because I’m completely alone right now and there are people I miss and would love to be with right now to celebrate/hang out :)

McBusted! Oh my goodness! 6/5/14

My name is Lizzie and I am a Busted fan.

Not just a fan, I’m a fan fan. Like other similarly inflicted late teens, I have all their albums (and by that I mean all two and the live CD and DVD). I know all the words…and the harmonies…and use different voices for Matt, Charlie and James. The James singing voice is BRILLIANT, isn’t it!

I saw them live in 2004 and I cried when they broke up in 2005…

Don’t lie, you cried when they broke up too, didn’t you?

I have met very few people in my nearly 20 years on this Earth who didn’t like Busted. They were the spark that started my, and probably many other teens’ love for music in later life and I am not ashamed to admit that. When they broke up, I had to latch on to something else and McFly were there in all their bad haired, bright t-shirted glory. I love them rather a lot too.

So understandably when the news of McBusted came out in 2013 I immediately shelled out some of my student loan on a precious ticket…I didn’t eat that week but I don’t mind because this Tuesday just gone (6th May), I went to Cardiff and experienced something indescribable.

It would always be a tough task for any support act at such an event, but the few bands supporting McBusted did surprisingly well with a restless audience who cared about nothing but the headline act. I have no idea who the first band we saw were – the frontman hadn’t quite grown into his role yet and perhaps wasn’t used to addressing such a large crowd, but as a result nobody caught the name…if anyone can work out what he was saying, let me know! But they were good, catchy, energetic and a good warm-up for the brilliance to follow.

The next support though…I tell you what, everyone go and look up EofE. Right now. They took to the stage with a blistering mash-up of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ which doesn’t sound like it should work but it did! Utterly brilliant, a slap in the face, as a collective, our ears pricked up. We gave them our attention and although they never topped that opening song, the rest of their short set was on par with that incredible opener. They were sharp musically, energetic and had some pretty smooth moves, including an Avenged Sevenfold style Synyster Gates/Zacky Vengeance side by side by side rock out. It should also be noted that this singer had a phenomenal voice; clear, sharp, and my god what a range! If these guys don’t make it I’ll be very surprised – watch out for them.

The next band however…meh. I wasn’t feeling too hopeful when I saw the name on their drum kit – 3 Dudes. Right. And they lived up to my expectations completely. To give them their dues, they were good musically for their age (which I’m estimating is about 12) and were bursting with confidence that would make Jared Leto proud…but they’re those kids. If they were in your class at school, they would be the kid that you’d want to hit in the face every day. If you worked in an office with them, they’d be the guy that comes in on a skateboard and doesn’t do any work because he’s chatting up all the girls  while wearing chinos. They weren’t my cup of tea. Moving on!

The main event kept us waiting until 9pm but I don’t even care because what happened was truly incredible.

When the lights went out for the final time, the room was buzzing with excitement. Everybody was aware of the fact that we were about to witness something very special indeed. When the curtain dropped, the elaborate stage set up was revealed and we were shown a short Back To The Future style film which ended with an actual time machine/car being added to the stage! Such fun!

How familiar you are with the opening of ‘Air Hostess’? Do you always sing along with the ‘Let’s go! Yeaaaaaaahhh! Alrightttttt!’? Well the whole of the Motorpoint Arena did when the band exploded onto the stage. The place was jumping, and looking in front of me, I couldn’t see a single person standing still. It was such a magical moment; I never thought this would happen and I found it surprisingly emotional…I hope that wasn’t just me. I was such a great moment that I don’t even care that they’ve stolen the famous Don Broco ‘walk’.

For me, the evening was made up of 3 components: brilliant songs (some of the classics as well as one or two surprises), brilliant on stage banter and brilliant audience interaction (which included impromptu renditions of both ‘Barbie Girl’ and ‘My Heart Will Go On’…I’m not even joking).

One of the musical highlights was Busted’s ‘Sleeping With The Light On’, which really emphasised the benefits of having so many talented musicians on the stage which was perhaps one of my initial concerns for the super group. The harmonies produced during this song, and certainly in the whole show, were dazzling. The song started with James Bourne in a single spotlight and an acoustic guitar which then lead into a group performance. Together they rendered the song more powerful than it could ever have been on the album through the soaring harmonies and audience reaction – it seems as though this is a bit of a fan favourite…though really, every song played was a fan favourite as everything was both well performed and elevated to new heights and as a result, incredibly well received by us. I was unsure how they’d construct the set list given the amount of songs to consider and the fact that most people were drawn there by Busted. However they came up with a set that could please the both the Busted and McFly fans. Songs like ‘Star Girl’ and ‘Crashed The Wedding’ seem to have been made to have been performed together.

To be honest, the whole evening was built on the positive reaction from the crowd during the songs and it was easy to tell that the band were feeding off this energy too: the more excitable we became, the more the joking and banter continued and the more they appeared to enjoy it too.  So many penis jokes!

But it did genuinely seem as though this was something special: I was looking at Matt during one of the many sing alongs and he looked utterly bewildered and elated at the same time – like us, I don’t he ever thought this could happen. It was utterly brilliant to see these long-forgotten Busted classics given a new life in such a fantastic celebration with so many fans around to see it. They even played ‘Thunderbirds Are Go’ for crying out loud! And they had a t-shirt gun!

Theatrical and brilliant, a night full of memories and not to be missed. If you were ever a Busted fan, you’d be stupid to miss this, even if you’re too cool to like McFly.

McBusted

Now playing: Busted – You Said No