Posts Tagged ‘The Fulford Arms’

Christopher Nosnibor

One of the UK’s biggest beer festivals may be in full swing a mile or so up the road, but a quality lineup is always going to attract a respectable crowd, especially when the headliners have spent the first months of their existence being careful to avoid overexposure. As such, a Stereoscope gig always has the air of an event about it, and tonight is no exception.

Singer / songwriter Meabh McDonnell is first up. Having turned solo after her previous ensemble, Bored Housewife, split, she’s been learning guitar and writing a set of new material. She’s nervous as hell, but makes it a part of the performance with herself-effacing chatter between songs. But she has a brilliant knack for penning amusing – and sometimes really quite sad – vignettes, lifted from the humdrum existence of daily life, and she really does have a lovely voice, and receives the warm reception she deserves.

Meabh McDonnell

Meabh McDonnell

Wolf Solent – former Federal and contributor to almost infinite bands around York, Danny Barton – is an old hand when it comes to performing, but still prefers to keep his presence on-stage low-key. Playing almost in darkness, a silhouette on the stage, he’s sporting a very dapper pale suit and some impressive Cuban heels. None of this really matters, though: what matters are his magnificently understated, lo-fi indie tunes. Despite having only three or four pedals, he conjures a vast array of sounds and textures from his guitar. It’s the perfect accompaniment to his laid-back but poignant vocal delivery.

Wolf Solent

Wolf Solent

Continuing the dark, stark mode of presentation, Stereoscope are a band who play in black and white. It’s a radical shift from their previous incarnation as Viewer: then, Tim Wright and AB Johnson would play concise, danceable pop songs, bursting with pithy social commentary, in front of eye-popping psychedelic visuals. Stereoscope play long, heavy, mid-tempo dirges built on repetition, with introspective and often deeply despondent lyrics in front of black and white videos of rivers and pavements. And they have a live drummer, which lends a whole new kind of aural dynamic to their performances. It helps that Martell James is a seriously good drummer, hard hitting and with precision timing.

StereoscopeStereoscope 2


They’re not going for the mass market here. And yet, ultimately, I prefer this. With Stereoscope, it’s clear they’re dredging deep into the depths of their innermost dark places. Johnson contorts himself into impossibly angular shapes as he wrings the angst from the corners of his slender frame. Immediately accessible, it isn’t, but with a slow-building intensity they grind their way through a powerful set that reaches its final destination: with the emergence of light and colour, it’s ultimately uplifting.


Christopher Nosnibor

What began life earlier in the year as one man’s seemingly crazy idea to organise a festival showcasing York-based bands, tentatively mooted on Facebook to see if there was any interest gained traction pretty swiftly, and a few short months later here we are: 18 bands across two stages. And not only is it a killer lineup, but it’s free. So while I fully intended taking the day off just to soak it all up, socialise, drink beer and watch bands, I figured that since Dan Gott and some of his mates put in so much work to make it happen, then the least I could do was record the occasion.

With bands alternating between the indoor stage and the second stage in the car park from 1.30 to gone 11 (with a civilised break for dinner), it wasn’t an event to race round and pack ‘em in as much as going with the flow, meaning that while I didn’t watch all of the bands on the bill and took some well-earned time out to kick back on the beach (yes, this summer a portion of the car park has been converted to an urban beach of golden sand) or on the grass in the beer garden, I got to see, and hear, plenty.

Anyone who complains that York doesn’t have much to offer, or that it lacks diversity isn’t getting out enough: with only a smattering of indie bands and even fewer acoustic performers, the quality and range of acts on the bill is impressive by any standards. And while it’s about the ‘local’ scene, many of the bands playing are making – or already have made – an impression in much wider circles, building audiences nationally. York may be a small city, but when it comes to its bands, parochial it ain’t.

It wouldn’t be a York event without Boss Caine, and Dan Lucas’ solo set gets the afternoon session going in glorious sunshine on the outside stage. In fact, it’s the perfect way to start a festival: there’s barely a breath of wind, it’s baking hot, but there’s plenty of cool beer served well (the Milestone Brian Clough was nice and refreshing, but it eventually ran out, forcing a shift to the Sunny Republic Shark Head Friesian Pilsener, which was superbly crisp and hoppy), and the sound is excellent.

With each act having a 20-minute slot, no-one outstays their welcome and everything runs smoothly, even giving ten minutes between acts to get to the bar and all the rest. It’s fair to say there wasn’t a duff act on the bill, but noise-rock duo Push provided an early highlight. Fusing choppy guitars with the dynamics of Nirvana and kicking out songs with titles like ‘Kitty Basher’ and ‘Moggy Wrecker’ with maximum scuzz, they’re anything but wet indie and make for an exhilarating experience. Putting on the full-throttle raging racket of Deathmace at four in the afternoon was a bold move, and ultimately a stroke of genius. The purveyors of ‘repulsive thrashing death’ are fully committed as they growl and grind their way through a set that’s a relentless onslaught of rage and monumentally heavy. Just the way it should be.



How I’ve managed to avoid Fat Spatula this long will forever remain a mystery, but hearing the hard-gigging alt-rock foursome leaves me confident I’ll be back for more, and soon. Having a genuine American-born frontman gives their Pavementy post-hardcore / noise pop / surf rock an air of authenticity. The scratchy guitar sound may be lo-fi but it’s eminently listenable and there are some strong melodies that provide earworms galore.

Soma Crew, meanwhile, I’ve seen a heap of times and it’s no secret that I dig their scene. On a good night, their psychedelic drone hits a perfect groove to hypnotic effect, and on this outing they really hit their stride.


Soma Crew

After the break, Naked Six provided another of the day’s highlights. Again, a band who’ve bypassed me on the live circuit up to now, it’s not hard to grasp why there’s a buzz about them right now. They’re a classic power trio with a sound that’s rooted in that classic vintage, steeped in blues rock and with a big Zeppelin vibe and delivered with incredible panache. Making inroads into London and with backing from BBC Introducing, they’re a band on the up.

Naked Six

Naked Six

The last three acts on the bill have all been building reputations further afield and as a killer bam-bam-bam three-way finale, it works well: the power-punk of The Franceens gets things moving down at the front. As is standard for them, they’re on fire and their blistering energy turns the already hot room into a sauna.

The Franceens

The Franceens

It may be their second set of the day having pegged it back to York after playing at Hull’s Street Sesh festival earlier in the evening, but if they’re in any way weary, it doesn’t show. Martyn Fillingham plays the first half of the set, which boasts a cluch of new songs, with a guitar that could reasonably be described as ‘stripped back’: the body’s sawn down to minimal size, with just enough wood to house the essentials, namely the pickups, wiring and controls. It still yields a barrage of noise, it’s treblesome clang pinned down by Steven Reid’s superhuman drumming.

And the Hangnails

…And the Hangnails

And then there’s ((RSJ)). They may not be your everyday family-friendly festival crowd-pleasers, but the this isn’t your everyday festival, even though it’s been very family friendly all day: there’s no doubt they’re the biggest band on the bill, and have the biggest sound o match. That they’ve toured and played with Raging Speedhorn, Orange Goblin, Funeral For A Friend and American Headcharge, and opened for Slayer gives a fair indication of their stature, and to see them in a place this size is something else. Current single ‘Hit the Road Jack’ features John Loughlin of Raging Speedhorn (making it a kind of RSJ / RSH collaboration), and it’s suitably punishing. When it comes to delivering thunderous, sludgy riffs that hit like a juggernaut, ((RSJ)) are absolute masters. They’re also consummate showmen, and the in-yer-face delivery really amplifies the intensity of the material. There’s been much beer drunk and the floor is awash with at least half a gallon, and the moshpit erupts, but remained good-natured. It’s only fitting that toward the end of the set, Dan Cooke should be borne aloft and traverse mere inches below the venue’s low ceiling: because while everyone is melting, they’re also loving every moment, and it’s an uplifting experience indeed.



In all, a great day / night, not just as of and in itself, but also in terms of what it represents: a casting aside of all genre differences and a coming together of bands and fans. There is strength in unity, and in diversity, and Fully York is a triumphant celebration, which reminds us that ultimately there are only two kinds of music – good and bad. And at Fully York, it’s all good.

Christopher Nosnibor

Is it wrong to review an event you’ve participated in as a performing artist? Very probably, but in the scheme of things, and in the current global socio-political climate, a minor display of poor etiquette really doesn’t amount to anything. Besides, this is more about what I – as a writer, reviewer, artist and site editor – believe to be the primary function of running a site dedicated to the coverage of non-mainstream music, namely to give artists and acts I believe in exposure. At times, focusing on a niche – albeit a pretty eclectic niche – feels like the audience are likeminded obscurists but I like to think there are things for those likeminded obscurists to discover here. So. I landed a spot initially to provide a spoken-word interlude to some bands – bands I like. The night before the gig, this evolved into a collaboration with one of the bands, one-man experimental noise act Legion of Swine. It was something I’ve wanted to do for ages.

So I rocked up while the soundchecks were getting going to discuss what we were going to do. The little pub venue was bursting with more kit than many all-dayers and everything was pointing to this being one loud night before anyone even got plugged in.

And the lineup! Five acts, three (and a half) over from Leeds for a measly three quid? You have to hand it to both the venue and first-time booker Jim Osman for the wild ambition here. There’s so much that could go wrong.

Neuschlaufen are only just soundchecking fifteen minutes after they’re due to play, and their bassist, Ash, has to be out and on his way to another gig by 7:45. Yet somehow they manage to pull it together and are churning out their heavy, hypnotic grooves in next to no time. Ash Sagar’s hefty, Jah Wobble-esque basslines boom out, underpinned by Jason Wilson’s uncluttered drumming. In cominationm they provide  a solid base for John Tuffen’s textured guitars, and while the set may be short, it builds nicely, going beyond Krautrock and into territories as yet unexplored.



Immediately after, everyone vacates to cool down in the car park, with its impressive beach art installation. It also serves as a sandy area where people can go and sit and smoke and buy cocktails and stuff and pretend they’re not in a car park in a city pub.

Consequently, I began spouting my first rage monologue (a recent piece entitled ‘Ambition’, if anyone’s interested) to an audience numbering half a dozen (plus sound man and bar staff), but – probably for the first time in the years I’ve been performing – people began to filter into the room by the time I left Legion of Swine to run the set to its natural conclusion of feedback and bewilderment (what other response is there to a man in a pig’s head and lab coat, ambulating the space with a condenser mic taped to his face and a battery-powered 3W Orange amp to his ear?) there was a substantial crowd. Most of them were confused, and more interested in the spectacle than necessarily enjoying watching a 40-year-old man spew vitriol and expletives into a mic, but I had an absolute blast. Literature is the original rock ‘n’ roll and the new rock ‘n’ roll, and the footage of the performance, for which I can take no credit whatsoever, is outstanding.


Legion of Swine


One of the benefits of being lower down the bill is that it’s possible to kick back, drink beer and watch the other acts, and while the temperature was steadily rising, it was a joy to sup a cool pint and listen to Fawn Spots road test a set based on their upcoming second album. I‘ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen these guys since they started out as a snotty York-based two-piece and it’s been a source of pride to witness their evolution to a Leeds-based four-piece with a debut album on Fire Records. Their hard-gigging work ethic is admirable, and they’ve got both songs and attitude. If the new material showcased tonight is a little less frenetic than the older stuff, it’s no less intense, and there’s every indication that album number two will be a stormer.


Fawn Spots

It’s a little over a year since I saw Super Luxury play. Supporting Oozing Wound at the Key Club in Leeds, I’d been impressed by the power of their performance. However, as their gig photos and the anecdote I’d heard from a friend about front man Adam Nodwell delivering vocals for a large portion of a set from inside a box on stage, it seems they’ve been evolving the performance aspect of their show. They pulled out all the stops for this one, Nodwell arriving on stage cowelled in a hooded cloak, stripping it off to reveal some crazy man/badger legs thing that simply looked wrong. With confetti guns bursting all over and crowd-surfing and a general air of crazed mayhem, you might think the music was taking a back seat. But you’d think wrong: with enough back-line to shake a venue three times to size to its foundations, they blasted through a ferocious set with terrifying vigour and psychopathic precision. They may be zany in their presentation, but when it comes to the songs and slamming them in hard, they’re entirely serious.


Super Luxury

Irk are pretty fucking serious, too. It’s barely been a fortnight since I caught their set in Manchester supporting Berlin’s heads, and while they were pretty ripping them, tonight they really do take things to another level. Of course, when I previously stated that they sound like fellow Leeds band Blacklisters, I meant it as a compliment: Blacklisters are one of my favourite bands of recent years. They’ve delivered two gut-wrenchingly hefty albums and are one of the most consistent live acts you’ll find. But it’s on this outing that I first truly appreciate Irk in their own right as the drum / bass / vocal trio lumber, lurch and piledrive their way through a full-throttle set. Jack Gordon – an affable, articulate chap off stage – comes on like a man possessed, hurling himself about the low stage amid crushing bass riffs and powerhouse percussion. While the power trio format is often lionised as the optimal band configuration, there’s even less room to hide when there are only two instruments and a vocalist. And so it is that Irk are tight as hell and double the intensity of the playing to compensate the absence of instruments and bodies on stage. In contrast to Super Luxury, here’s little by way of over showmanship on display here, and instead it’s all about whipping up a blistering intensity through directness and unadulterated force.



With not a weak act on the jam-packed, super-value bill, and every act giving every last drop of juice to their performance, this is going to stand as one of the gigs of the year. The venue may not have been packed to capacity, but there’s no question that those who were there will be talking about it. That’s precisely how legends are made, and I’d wager that that at some point in the future, tonight will go down as one of those landmark events. And if I’m wrong… fuck it, it was a great night.