There's a reason I'm not a poet

Posts tagged ‘so indie it hurts’

A gig around town

Trying to be alternative, I was at a few gigs last week. The first was a night called Output, an annual conference for people in the music production industry in Northern Ireland. I obviously didn’t go to this bit, but in the evening across about six different venues in Belfast there were a series of gigs from Irish artists. Mostly based in the cathedral quarter, the place was absolutely buzzing and people were having a great time running between the gigs- or even just setting up shop in one with a beer and seeing what was in store.

Some of the highlights:

A wee band from Armagh, these guys captivated the back bar in the Duke of York, silencing the room with their melodies (at least until my drunk friend fell off his chair).

Next up is a band from down south called Le Boom, who were having an absolute rave of a time in the Dirty Onion


As well as the Output festival, last weekend I went down to Dublin to see Tegan & Sara. They’re a Canadian band, are twins who are both gay, and their target audience is teenage girls from 2006. So I was kind of excited to see what the crowd would be like now that those gay teenagers are now pushing thirty.

Their past two albums have marked a change from acoustic to a more pop sound, and they changed some of their older tracks to reflect this on the night. Tegan was ill, and pumped up on antibiotics and steroids, battling through like a trooper. There was a lot of jumping, and the place was absolutely packed- the atmosphere was great, and Tegan’s determination to keep going helped to feed that.

Anyway, as per their song for the Lego movie, everything was awesome.



Like the sun on the weekend

I’m a bit shattered this evening: had a few late nights recently, and long days in work. Sunday’s night was a good excuse though: went to see Lisa Hannigan! I’m a big fan of this woman, and remember how supremely excited I was when her debut album Sea Sew came out in 2008. She’s due to release her third album soon- I think the drop date is August 19th (unfortunately just after I go to China so I’ll likely miss out on it!) and this tour was to get back in the swing of things and get the album publicised.

My friends and I went for dinner beforehand (Coppi, was dee-lish) and had the best of intentions of being there early to get a front-row table. Unfortunately we ended up being late, because of ticket failure (by which I mean brain failure: I’m a dope and forgot to bring my bloody ticket). So we were standing, but we were right behind all the tables and it was a small venue so we had a good view.

She came on and opened with Lille, with just her on stage in comparison to the glockenspiel entourage I’ve seen her perform this song with before. Everyone was captivated and silent, and she carried on her control of the audience. Her cutesy shoulder dancing during Ocean & A Rock had us all grinning, and I have to say seeing the new engagement ring on her finger was a bit of a blow. All hope is lost.

She involved the support act Ye Vagabonds quite a lot, and had them playing key roles in multiple songs (at one point one of them looked like he was going to choke on his fiddle out of fear) and at the end the three of them did a stellar performance of Passenger. Her setlist was quite interesting: there was a large proportion of new songs and her choice of known songs was a bit different too. She didn’t play one of her big ones I Don’t Know, for example, and included a few others that it was great to hear. She’s crafted some lovely tunes for the upcoming LP so I’m really looking forward to hearing it. Good oul’ nautical folk, it’ll do a good job of reminding me of home while I’m off climbing in mountains and drowning in cramped Beijing buses.


Not Forgotten

Hello. Long while since I’ve blogged, trying to get back in the habit. Life has been good recently, work going well and time off work obviously going better. I was over in London at the weekend seeing a few people and the weekend basically involved drinking from like 11am and stuffing my face constantly in between uni-people catch-ups. Which was ideal.

Also had a nice time with the family the week before where we all went to my granddad’s old pub. He owned it during the Troubles so there were kind of mixed emotions with some of the generation above me, but obviously managing to get a large group of people together is a positive.

What I’m watching- Attack on Titan, The Walking Dead

What I’m playing- Ni No Kuni

What I’m reading- Twig, Clariel, Worm

What I’m hearing- The Corrs, Wild Nothing, Crystal Fighters

Need to step up my game in planning China. Tourist visas last for three months so I’ll likely go for that length of time, and am thinking of actually starting off in Japan for a bit! When in Rome, why not visit Sorrento. Exact plans will be confirmed a bit closer to the time, for now it’s about converting the pipe dream into some semblance of a pipe.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow, as I will be seeing THE CORRS. They were the first band I really listened to, albeit I was eight and had no choice in the matter of which casette was being played in the car. They’re doing a comeback tour and have released a new album; while it’s not amazing it has grown on me and I’ll happily hear new songs alongside the classics. That is if me screaming the words doesn’t drown out their singing. The only thing less cool than going to see The Corrs is going to see The Corrs with my parents. So I’m ticking that box.

Peace out bluds


Make your own kind of music

On one of my rare weekends off my friends and I managed to fit in a nice bit of music, seeing two artists that I didn’t think I’d get to see in Ireland live, never mind in the same weekend: Sufjan Stevens and Feist. The former was playing two sold-out nights down in Dublin, and the latter was doing “An evening with…” as part of a local festival to celebrate the playwright Brian Friel. To be honest I had absolutely no idea what an evening with Leslie Feist would entail, but I wasn’t going to snuff at the ticket price of £15 to find out.

Four of us headed down to Dublin on the Saturday, stopping off at an artisan farm-house coffee shop/florist/grocer for a game of Spot The Middle Class Hipsters (I’ll stop making so many hyperlinks soon I promise) before a jaunt around Dublin for a few hours. I’d seen Sufjan once before, and remember being amazed as he finished off the show with his 25-minute long epic Impossible Soul, with giant balloons and beach balls falling from the ceiling into a crowd of indie ravers.

His newest album Carrie & Lowell has a slightly different tone, written following the death of his parents. It’s a beautiful (if heartbreaking) piece of work, and so on the night gone was the youthful exuberant wing-clad songster I’d seen before, and instead stood a man crafting some really beautiful music out of his grief. So many of the songs created such an encapsulating soundscape, each cast in front of brilliant backdrops: videos of his family growing up, or stunning vistas of sunsets, forests or oceans. Other songs were haunting: the audience not muttering a word, the whole concert hall together in silence.

The whole thing was just so impressive, that the imagination of one man could make such a beautiful and expressive show. I really enjoyed it. Also at one point he moved away from his acoustic roots and back towards his electronic ones and a space ship happened. It was class.

The Feist evening was a different affair, but one I still really enjoyed. Essentially she was interviewed by some woman (I think an actress but I don’t remember her name) about her musical influences, who inspired her to make the music she does, and where does her inspiration come from. Granted I would love to see her gig but this was the next best thing and I found the whole thing fascinating.

She gave a really intriguing history of her muses, in particular talking about the Archive of American Folk Song– something I didn’t know anything about. Basically a guy called Alan Lomax and his father travelled across America speaking to people in small towns and Native American tribes, capturing the music that the people were singing over the space of a decade. It was a really interesting talk exploring singing in the folk music/in the home setting versus modern day music, which she argued in a sense is being made for consumption rather than expression. It was all pretty fascinating.

She also played two songs at the end of the night, and answered a few questions from the audience. Obviously I wanted to take the opportunity to speak to her, so I stood up and asked some lame crap. But I don’t care how stupid it may or may not have been because now she totally knows my name.

Feist knows my name. She called me young man.

What a stud.


All the trees of the field will clap their hands


Sat outside in the sun this morning for a while, nominally reading a book but in reality working on my sunburn. I love the change of seasons, with the things you’d forgotten about in the past year; today it was the feeling of a hot forehead when you’ve been out for too long, and the smells of barbecues and flowers. Fingers crossed for the tan lines!

I really ought to convert this into a food blog: I’m heading to a friend’s house shortly for a Sunday roast, then later Millbag is having a few people round to make the cookie mix she got for Christmas. Yesterday I visited Bananemesis and we made some cakes, then in the evening Swoon and Yum and I went for dumplings. I can’t wait until I have an income and all of these don’t come with pangs of guilt. Although I suppose by that point my metabolism might have caught up with me, so it’ll be a different kind of guilt.

Had two exams on Friday- one a mock and the other a prescribing exam that we just have to pass. They weren’t too bad, it’s comforting that I do know stuff as I come to the end of my degree. But similarly there was plenty for me to still learn, so that was useful for me to see too. Rather than work however, this weekend I’ve been sorting out stuff for going back home to NI: we were presented with an excel document (here if you’re really keen) of the 238 jobs we have to rank in order from 1 to 238. Great.

I’ve been going through it colour-coding, cutting/pasting and of course cursing- I get easily bored at these things. The problem is that I’m trying to weigh up a few different things in making my decisions, and so as a result the rotations I want don’t often look anything like each other! Some of my factors:

  • Desire to do specific jobs (oncology, A&E)
  • Desire to specifically not do other jobs (obs & gynae, paeds, psych, GP)
  • Want to be out of Belfast for first year, and in Belfast for second year
  • Living with my friends (preferably first year) would be great fun
  • I’d like to minimise moving between hospitals as much as possible

The problem is, there isn’t really any specific rotation that ticks every single one of my boxes, it’s about picking the ones that tick 5 out of 6, and deciding between millions of shades of grey. But at the end of the day, I’m kinda just delighted to actually have a job!

In other news, I’ve been listening to Pharrell Williams’ new album. It’s entitled GIRL, supposedly to take a stand against some of the chauvinist connotations of him singing in Robin Thicke’s song Blurred Lines. Saw a bit from him the other day saying he wanted to be on the side of women when (as Beyonce says) they run the world. Wasn’t sure if it was a genuinely good message or a move instigated by some PR guru, but it’s a decent album with some good tunes.

Anyway, best hop on the old bike and get some roast dinner in me. Hope your days are just as sunny!


Black tie Friday

Had the SJT on Friday- one more hurdle passed! I’m one step closer to the dream of being exam-free. Which, if they bring in consultant re-accreditation exams, won’t be until I’m in my seventies. It was harder than I expected it would be actually; I had myself prepared beforehand to feel rubbish at the end of it as unlike some other exams I’ve done in the past you have no idea if you’ve gotten any questions right- with every question you’re choosing between different shades of grey. Aside from knowing that getting two people who hate each other drunk is a bad idea I was quite unsure about a lot of my answers. But it’s great to have it over and done with- now just have to wait until the Spring to find out where I’ll be next year!

Luckily though we had something planned afterwards as a quick pick-me-up: a black tie ball! It’s not all misery and guts in my life as I’m sure you’ve noticed. I’ll be doing finals at exactly the wrong time in June, so my friends and I were keen to go to this one to make up for missing out later on this year. I went with a bunch of other medics, and after a quick turnaround following the exam we headed off in our taxis and joined the queue to get in. Thankfully it wasn’t raining but man alive it was cold. The organisers very kindly provided mulled cider, pigs in blankets and mince pies though to keep you fed in the queue, and jugglers and an accordionist to keep us entertained!

I foolishly went crazy on the queue food though, totalling 8.5 mince pies, 8 pigs in blankets and 2 cups of mulled cider, which meant I was really flipping full by the time I got inside. Rookie mistake- meant I didn’t get to enjoy the food inside half as much as I could have done! Which was a kick in the teeth, the whole thing being french themed so kitted out with beef bourgignon, ratatouille, profiteroles and ridiculous numbers of pastries. So I paid the price for my greed!

Probably the best bit about the night was the entertainment- the person in charge really did a number on the acts they got. First up was a band called Amber Run, from London I think. Bunch of young semi-hipsters, but they were playing some cracking tunes. Sort of reminded me of a band I’m getting into these days called To Kill A King. Unlike some other small bands/those with young members, they had a good amount of chat and banter with the crowd. The frontman was a bit of a smooth-talker I think, saying “to the guys, you all look fantastic, and to the girls- I wish I was clever enough to date you”. I was up at the front bopping in my tux, and really enjoyed their set so will be keeping an eye out for them in the future.

Next up were The Jive Aces, a jive/swing band who formed in the late 80s but I think recently became a bit more well-known by appearing on Britain’s Got Talent. They were an excellent choice again for the event, because they really worked the crowd, were each fantastic showmen (from spinning a double bass to entertaining moustaches, bright yellow suits and playing the piano with your elbow) and got the whole crowd going nuts attempting to jive. There was actually a group of people at the front who did know how to dance properly, so naturally I gave it a go and tried my hand. I could just about handle some of the solo moves but when Millbag and I attempted to dance together I ended up whacking her in the head with her own arm. I’ll maybe give that one a miss in the future.

The last act were an Irish duo called Husdon Taylor, who got people riled up again into jig-mode, so you can guess that (added to the Silent Disco), by the end of the night there were plenty of sore feet around! Another highlight was the karaoke, and belting out All I Want For Christmas Is You while everyone else judged us- always a plus. With the singing (or rather shouting) and the drinks last night my voice is pretty much in full hibernation at the moment. But it was a great night so well worth it!

On that note actually I’m getting very excited about CHRISTMAS. I’ll write about it in a bit more detail at a later date but with a carol service, eggnog, mince pies and our annual Christmas dinner all coming up things are exciting!


P.S. I just forgot- whole thing was french-themed so I tried snails last night and they were DISGUSTING. Based on how they tasted I didn’t have the courage to try the frogs’ legs