10 Best: Autumn Gigs

As Autumn approaches, it’s comforting to know it brings with it an impressive batch of gigs. We pick our top 10…

We hate to be the ones to break the news, but summer is slowly turning into Autumn; come on now, we’re not telling you anything you don’t know – we’ve all noticed those unusually long days with the light lasting well into the evening already receding.

Nor are we telling you this to bring you down on a Friday afternoon. Far from it, we’re here with glad tidings of the gigs that accompany those cold, dark nights, gigs that – as sure as the next trip to the bar – will warm the cockles.

“Summer 2013 ain’t a thing of the past just yet” 

But, summer 2013 ain’t a thing of the past just yet and before autumn’s grip can tighten, Montreal’s Braids pay us a visit (30/08), touring recently released new record Flourish // Perish, the hotly anticipated follow up to their 2011 debut, Native Speaker. If you haven’t heard it yet, Pitchfork described it as “impressive and monolithic, cold and impenetrable”. Translation? They liked it.

Hot on their heels are those veterans of grunge, Dinosaur Jr (03/09). With a new album last year and rerelease of their breakthrough 1988 record Bug, they show no signs of letting up anytime soon. And  having recent close quarters experience with the J Mascis-led three-piece, we don’t have to gaze into a crystal ball to predict this will be one of the gigs of the next few months; probably the year.  

Just two days later comes another potent blast from the past, with Eels (05/09), this date coming a staggering 17 years since a proto TDN editor bought their debut, Beautiful Freak. We can’t claim that it feels like only yesterday, but still! Another band rocking a new record, this year’s Wonderful Glorious received blanket praise.

Moving briskly away from nostalgic reverie and towards the end of September, we welcome The Wave Pictures (19/09) into the fray. Their music was once described in the Guardian thus: “charming, witty pop songs shot through with Jonathan Richman’s gawky glee and Suede’s doomed provincial romanticism…” Need we say more?

Hailing from Derbyshire but taking their name from the Danish for boys, Drenge (07/10) are brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless. They recently garnered unexpected attention thanks to a mention from Tom Watson, the Labour party’s one-time election co-ordinator. In a blog post explaining his resignation, he also found time to give Labour leader Ed Miliband a tip: “if you want to see an awesome band, I recommend Drenge.” We wouldn’t argue.

“Our ears have detected a happy mash-up of art-rock, psyche, shoegaze and bubblegum”

Less of an odd entry (if no less brilliant) next for Atlanta Georgia’s Deerhunter (17/10). While the 4AD signings have opted for the slightly puzzling description of ‘ambient punk’ for their output, over six albums, our ears have detected a happy mash-up of art-rock, psyche, shoegaze and bubblegum. Whatever epithet you want to go with though, we’d happily listen to them all day long.

A little less prone to the raucous is John Grant (who plays the very next night, 18/10); the beauty of Grant’s output, though never going unnoticed, is often put to one side in favour of a discussion of his well-documented personal narrative – his depression, addiction and sexuality all principle players. It makes for good copy, right? Ignore all of that and get down to see the man do what he does best.

Six albums in, we came late to the Phosphorescent (09/11) party. But this year’s Muchacho turned out to be as good a time as any to experience Matthew Houck’s mournful, rich take on Americana; as it turns out, it’s a lucky one too – three years ago following the tour of the last record (ironically called Here’s To Taking It Easy), an exhausted Houck admitted, “I just checked out of my life for a while.” Whatever checking out entailed exactly, it worked.

Now, we’re aware our pick of the autumn gigs has been drenched in North American acts. If that suits you, good news, because that theme continues to the end! Our ninth band on the list, Low (18/11), celebrated their 10th album this year – The Invisible Way – with absolutely no diversion from their funereally slow M.O. meaning the decision to have them play the Anglican Cathedral is both obvious and apt.   

Okay, number 10, and arguably we’ve saved the best (and most pleasantly surprising) ‘til last. There’s been a great deal of longevity allied to brilliance in this list, none more so than in the case of Yo La Tengo (04/12); around for an impressive quarter of a century, the Hoboken-formed three-piece deserve our attention for that alone.

That they continue to make innovative and varied music after so long is a point verging on the miraculous, but make it they do, most recent album Fade richly deserving of its strong showing with the critics (8.1 in Pitchfork, four stars from the Guardian). And happily, we can’t think of a better band to see in the cold weather with, so warm is their embrace (how could we not plump for Autumn Sweater?). 

We hope the list brings comfort and joy!

Posted on 23/08/2013 by thedoublenegative