Thursday, 29 March 2012

#22//WU LYF//Heaven//London//Wednesday 21st March

Some of you may remember that i saw WU LYF play towards the end of last year at Shepard's Bush Empire. That gig went down as the second best live performance i had witnessed all year, that is some praise considering i must get through about 80 gigs a year, they were only bettered in my opinion by The Strokes set at Benicassim in the summer and you must take into account that i'm a Strokes obsessive and that night they played the greatest, greatest hits set anyone is ever likely to see them play. So you can imagine i was very much looking forward to seeing this band again.


1, Cave song
2, Summas Bliss
3, Such a sad puppy dog
4, Spitting blood
5, Dirt
6, Krusty (papa m cover)
7, Concrete gold
8, 14 crowns for me and your friends
9, Heavy pop
10, Unknown
11, We bros

I should probably start by saying that Heaven has got to be the perfect place to see WU LYF, it's very intimate, it's all exposed brick walls and it's within railway arches deep under Charing Cross Station, it's beautifully, eerily lit and suits the drama that the band produce down to a T.
I have always thought of WU LYF as more than just a band, to me they are like a cult, the huge throbbing neon crucifix that accompanies them on stage, the smoke that fills the room, the organ led sermon like tunes that build and build into blissed out euphoria, not to mention the vocals that are delivered with such ferocity like a preacher spitting down prophecies to his disciples. Even down to the merchandise on sale, all pins, tees and sew on patches emblazoned with the iconic crucifix image, heck i got so caught up in it that i even bought one to stick on my denim jacket, i'm more than happy to be a disciple.

Tonight's set was great, the close setting suiting the band much more than some enormodome, every song was met with deep approval by the enraptured crowd and there was plenty of raving and crowdsurfing to some of the more uplifting moments, personal highlights for me on the night were:
'Spitting blood',
'Heavy pop'
And finally i just cannot get enough of the pure elation of 'We bros'
Click on the links and have a listen to these tracks yourself.


Crowd: lot of cool kids, mixture of ages, i was actually impressed by the number of older people in the audience, i guess this reflects the quite sophisticated sound of such a young band.
Venue: Heaven is one of the best small venues in London and i cant recommend it enough for live music.
Drinks: Same as most places really but it still pisses me off that venues charge you nearly four quid for a fucking CAN of beer.
So WU LYF, cool customers? Real deal? Or just a hyped gimmick?: The hype that surrounded this band at the beginning has been totally justified, they are instantly recognisable, they have a great individual sound and are really intelligent accomplished artists, in fact the only down side to the whole night was hearing Ellery Roberts state that unless they decide they have something important to say then these would be their last gigs, i wouldnt put this past a band that has always like to to do what is least expected of them but i for one hope they keep going because there is no one else like them out there today.

Kassandra Powell, director from Greece

Hey Kassandra! So what did you think of tonight??
I loved it Dan, awesome live performance, great vocals, i can't understand a word the guy is saying but that doesn't matter, it all adds to it for me and there was a really good vibe about the crowd.

What is your fave track?
Cave song, no doubt, i loved it from the moment you first played it to me.

Have you been into them for long?
I haven't actually, you turned me onto them recently and this was my first gig since i have been in London, i'm hooked!!

Who else do you like at the moment?
For me there is no one else but The Horrors.

And finally, what was the last tune you played on your Ipod??
Heartbeats, the original version by The Knife.

Great choice, cheers Kass!!
Stay tuned to Dan In The Front Row for upcoming shows from The Rifles, Bombay bicycle club and many many more, contact me on xxx

Thursday, 15 March 2012

#21//Our Friends In The North

Although i am a loud and proud South Londoner i have a lot of ties with the North of England. My last two girlfriends were both proper northern lasses, i have millions of friends who come from 'oop north' and most importantly half my family moved up to Yorkshire when i was just a nipper. Tomorrow morning i'm going to grab my little bro Lee (remember him, Europe's 2nd best heating engineer) and we are jumping on the train up to visit 'Nan In The Front Row' for the weekend. This inspired me to think about all the great music that has come out of Northern England over the years, below are some of my fave tracks by Northern artists, click on the links and enjoy the tunes x

Joy Division: shadow play:

Oasis: Cast no shadow:

WU LYF: we bros:

The Smiths: there is a light that never goes out:

The Cribs: mirror kissers:

The Sunshine Underground: borders:

The Courteeners: you over did it doll:

Arctic Monkeys: suck it and see:

The Stone Roses: she bangs the drums:

Thursday, 8 March 2012

#20//Getting to know you...//Ca$hback DJs Ash & Steph Barker//Lock Tavern//London//Friday 2nd March

Camden has always been great, for years now it has attracted all kinds of weird and wonderful characters and has been the hub of all the best live music and DJ sets in London. Last Friday i jumped on the Northern line and headed to NW1's best pub, The Lock Tavern to meet party starting Ca$hback DJs (and sisters) Ash and Steph Barker for what proved to be a great night of music, drinking and dancing. The girls were kind enough to sit down with me over a few beers before their set and have a little chat about what makes them tick and how they came to be putting on what has turned into one of London's best nights out.

Ash and Steph rocking out
Hey guys, so from your accents i can tell you're not from London. Where you from?
We're from County Durham, the posh part of the north of England, (well, we tell people it's posh, it's not really!)
So what brought you to our fair city?
Steph: A boy! i came down for a boy! ha!
Ash: and i came down to get her away from the boy! 
Oooooohh scandal! wanna elaborate?
Both: No! 
Hahahaha fair enough! Why did you settle in Camden?
Oh well a couple of years back it was pretty cheap plus all our friends were here so it was natural for us to end up in Camden and we wouldn't swap it, it's awesome.
Tell me about the name, how did you come up with ca$back?
A: well it's a few things, one is an Alan Partridge reference and another is that i used to work behind the bar and all our friends would always ask for cashback...
S: and it's also something our mate Dave Danger shouts at that special moment when he is in bed with a lady!!! hahahaha.
Really?! He sounds interesting!
S: Dave Danger is a legend!

How long have you been running this night and how did it start up?
A: well the the pub approached us to start it really, 
S: i think it started September 2009,
A: i was working behind the bar anyway and the pub was normally taken over with all of our friends so the management thought it would be good to put some bands and DJs on and they knew we would get people down and fill the place up.
How did you two end up DJing at the night?
S: we agreed to do the last hour of each night.
A: we said we wouldn't do more than an hour,
S: we haven't got the patience for more than that and we end up arguing about the songs and stuff!
I guess that's inevitable being sisters?
A: well yeah. we like a lot of the same stuff but when we are both behind the decks we sometimes end up trying to pull in different directions.
So how do you pick the songs?
A: Steph normally pics them and if i disagree then we normally have a fight! 
Both: hahahahaha no we love each other really! We are actually really close.
S: i remember the first gig we ever did we had a massive row before we went on over which songs to play, we were literally stood back to back playing!...
A: but then we played a song that we both loved and it helped us make up and then we were fine! We always make up and it's usually over someone like Beyonce! 
Both: hey! we LOVE Beyonce!

How do people hear about the nights you put on?
 A: we put the stuff on facebook but it's mostly word of mouth,
S: we don't want just anybody coming in, it's normally friends, regulars etc, we never normally let big rowdy groups in,
A: we have people we don't really know that have been coming to the nights for ages, its a little exclusive but it has to be, that's how we want it and the place isn't huge so we want just the right amount of people in.
How often is Ca$back on? 
S: it's only once every 3months now, it's too stressful and too much hard work to do it anymore than that. We both work other jobs, and mainly do this for fun,
A: it's so much easier having two of you doing it, it really helps and is more enjoyable.
S: it really helps if the bands are up for it too,
A: we have had bands that are a bit arsey and it makes everything more difficult but then we have had bands that we haven't been able to pay, just given them some food and drink and they have brought like 30 people down that have stayed and partied all night, if the bands really want it, it makes the nights go off a lot better.
You always get pretty good names here,
A: yeah we have had Tribes play about three times, Turbogeist, Bebe Black to name but a few,
S: we seem to be a lucky charm, every band that plays here seems to get signed pretty soon after!

Fun Bobby and Ash
What do you guys do when you when your not DJing?
A: i work at an advertising agency. it's great and a really creative environment,
S: i work as a PA at a music management company, we deal with some pretty cool people like Suede and Chrissie Hynde, it's all good, it has it's moments.
When i meet interesting people like yourselves it's always nice to hear your recommendations, little pearls of wisdom to pass on etc so here goes:
Can u recommend to me:
A, a restaurant in London?
S: Bintang on Kentish Town rd, amazing thai food and you can bring your own booze!
A: it's got to be the Big Easy on the Kings Rd, its a crab shack, does great American style food, steaks, ribs, wings, lobster, crab etc, its brillant.
B, holiday destination?
S: i will always say New York, i just love the place.
A: Barcelona for me, it's a beautiful place.
Place to shop?
A: there is a place on Redchurch st called Labour and Wait that does great kitchen wear, really quiky stuff, it's a bit expensive but i love it!
S: for the record i'm 23, i'm young and hip, i'm not bothered about kitchen essentials!
A: i love kitchen essentials, so sue me!
S: if it's vintage your after you can't really beat Brick lane or Covent garden, i know everyone says that but it's true, oh and the Rokit on covent garden is better than the one over east by the way.
S: Point Break, no question! Love it!
A: Parenthood, an old Steve Martin film, brilliant.
Tv show?
A: i love the American Office and right now i'm loving Homeland.
S: i'm obsessed with Eastenders and Coronation street!!!
New band?
Both: you have to check out our friend Bebe Black we heard her singing in our kitchen one day and she just blew us away, we told her she has to start making music and she has, she has just been signed and i can't describe in words how good she is.

What are the top five acts of all time you would have play at your dream festival?
S: Nirvana, Johnny cash and Beyonce! i don't need anyone else!
A: Nirvana, Tom Jones (when he was all young and chesty), Bruce Springsteen, Pixies and Tina Turner.
What song are you going to have as the first dance at your wedding?
S: i know i'm not getting married but if i ever did it would be November Rain by Guns n Roses but only if it was exactly like the video.
A: Mine is gonna be The way you make me feel by Michael Jackson!

Ok, slightly random but i have way too much time on my hands and this is something i have thought about a lot; in the film of your life, what would soundtrack the scene at the end of the movie where a, you slip away slowly into death, or b, walk off into the sunset? For example my death tune would be the intro on the XX album on a loop and my sunset tune would be Rebel Rebel by David Bowie, what are your's?
A: believe it or not i do think about this stuff too, my music to die to would be anything by Edith Piaf.
S: oh my death tune would be Bye bye bye by N'sync, defo.
Really? i thought you may chose Interpol or something like that..?
S: nope, N'sync 100 %,
Haha, fair enough.
A: my walking off into the sunset tune is Tiny Dancer, Elton John.
That is a brilliant choice, love it!
S: i'm choosing Pressure drop by Toots and the maytals.
Girls these tracks are fucking perfect! Well done! 

What gigs and festivals have you got planned?
S: Leeds festival is the one we love, we go religiously, adore it,
A: This has got to be the 7th year on the spin that we're going, oh and Field day too.
I think for the line up and the people that go, Field day is London's best festival, i think it pisses all over Lovebox which is pretty popular.
Both: totally.
A: and i like that they have brought it forward to June, the weather will be better. Oh i think i'll go to Bestival too, always a great laugh.

It's a DJ love-in

Was there a special moment that turned you on to music? I hadn't been to a single concert until i was 18 then a load of us went to Milton Keynes Bowl to see Oasis and that was it for me, it just blew me away and totally transformed my life, it was like a message from God! This was where i belonged! i must have been to about 500 gigs since! What was your moment?
A: my story doesn't really matter we've got to talk about Steph's, go on Steph,
S: no its embarrassing, you tell it,
A: when i was about 19, so Steph would have been 15, i was rather lamely, massively into Jet, we went  to this big gig up north where they were supported by 10,000 things, you know Sam Riley who went on to play Ian Curtis in Control, they were his band. Well my sis had never been to any kind of live music before,
S: never, ever,
A: this was the kid that wore a tracksuit and was into Blazing Squad, the whole place was going mental and i just looked round at Steph and she was just going crazy, really loving it, i thought 'ahhhh you cute little bastard!'
S: it's something that can make me and Ash cry when we think about it,
A: you're right it was like a seminal moment that we will never forget.
S: i just changed over night, like, bought my converse, started buying the NME, haha who the fuck did i think i was, but yeah, i realised this is for me, this is my music, i can't be listening to fucking Scooter for the rest of my life! ( even though they are wicked! haha, leave that in).

Photographer Beki Cowey
Any strange shit happen at any of your gigs?
S: hmmmm mostly just Bobby, he's not one for getting wrecked all the time but at our nights he always gets wasted and has the best time, he's so funny, he DJs with us.
A: he says Ca$hback makes him the person he wants to be! hahahahaha!
Fuck, that's brilliant, you should use that as your tag line!
A: yeah 'come to Ca$hback and become the person you always wanted to be!'
S: he makes it for me really, so yeah keep an eye on Bobby.

Are people cheeky enough to request songs?
S: hmmm not really, they can't get to us cos we're tucked up in the corner.
A: i remember one time we DJ'd in Sheperds Bush and i was shit scared that we wouldn't have enough songs so i went and bought this multipack cd of RnB classics, This group of guys kept asking for all these new hip hop tunes and we didn't have a fucking thing! 
S: that's the thing with us, we don't keep our ear to the ground or anything, we play all classic hip hop and RnB, like Wu Tang clan and Jay Z, Warren G stuff like that.
A: i mean all the bands we put on are mostly guitar bands so we like to offset it by playing hip hop in our set.
S: we never have a set list, it's always just what we feel, we DJ off cd's or records, we never have anyone playing our nights off a laptop or ipod, we don't allow it.
A: you won't here any minimal or anything like that, i want to play Michael Jackson and i want people to go fucking nuts i don't want a room full of people standing there nodding their heads.

Do you play drunk?
A: no never,we would mess it up!
S: i did it once years ago, i was DJing at Proud for Smash n Grab and i was off my nut because i was so nervous, there must have been 600 people in the room and i hadn't been doing it long, i was thinking 'shit, i have to play music for all these people, i ended up so drunk i was just slumped in the DJ box, i think Bobby had to come and rescue the set! That was a wake up call, never again.

Is there a song that always makes the room go crazy?
S: well when i was a kid i used to love wrestling and i remember The Rock brought out this tune with Wyclef, i dropped that one night for a laugh and the place went mental! i think it took everyone back to being kids, it was pretty funny, i thought i would get in trouble but they loved it.
i'm really looking forward to playing MIA's new song, Bad girls, tonight, i think it will go down well.

So, the whole thing about female DJs, i must say it's very very hot! Do you get chatted up by the punters? I'm your mate and i know you both have boyfriends but if i was just some punter i would defo chat you up after seeing you in the DJ box! hahaha,
S: would you!? but you said i was weird!
I said i like you cos your weird, it was a compliment, weird people rock, normal people are really boring!
S: ah that's ok then, ah thanks Dan,
A: we have had a few people removed but that's because they were being dicks, not really chatting us up, we always have all our friends with us so we are pretty protected.

Girls I've had the best night, you are both amazing and thank you so much for taking the time for this interview, so finally, why should people come to Ca$hback?
Both: if you want to have loads of fun, see great live bands, dance your asses off to wicked old school tunes and mix with a really friendly crowd then you should hit up Ca$hback! It makes you the person you always wanted to be! hahahahahahaha xxx

I'm a Ca$hback regular now for sure and i strongly suggest you check the girls out, you will find them in The Lock Tavern, 35 Chalk Farm Rd, Camden, it's one of the best pubs in London and you would be mad not to check it out! 

All attached images are strictly © Beki Cowey / Bekitakespictures (2012) and are licensed to Ca$hback for use in conjunction with internet promotion of their club night. Further use is not permitted without prior consent, and unauthorised use in any media is prohibited 

Thursday, 1 March 2012

#19//The Drums//special guest Boy George//Roundhouse//London//Monday 27th February

There are a lot of bands that can claim to have played their first gig in the UK in front of 150 people in some shit hole in East London but there is only one band that can say that two of those 150 people were Morrisey and Boy George, That really is some praise to have those two musical heavyweights thinking you're good enough that they would come and check you out! 
Incidentally you can hear the influence of these two icons all over The Drums and when i say that i mean it as a massive compliment, Jonathan Pierce's vocal  delivery is pure dramatic Boy George, they both have voices that combine 60's soul diva's with a bit of Anthony Heggarty, the result is a very striking sound that is instantly recognisable. Also, boy, you can really tell The Drums love The Smiths. Not since the legendary Manchester band has anyone come close to perfecting the irony of tales of heartbreak, loss and despair set against pop hooks and melodies that are dreamy and floaty and jangly and impossible not to dance to, but The Drums do it to perfection, Moz would be proud! 


Best Friend 
Me And The Moon 
If He Likes It Let Him Do It 
Book Of Stories 
I Need Fun In My Life 
I Need A Doctor 
Book Of Revelation 
Forever And Ever Amen 
Let's Go Surfing 
How It Ended 
Down By The Water 
Baby, That's Not The Point 
It Will All End In Tears 
The Future 

The Drums always put on great show, i remember being at Glastonbury during the last world cup, everyone was crammed into an area watching England vs Germany on the big screens, England did their usual and completely collapsed when it matters most, as the fourth German goal hit the back of the net every person there was pretty deflated and started to wander over to the John Peel tent where The Drums had just taken to the stage, 45 minutes later we were all feeling much better, the boys had put on a blistering show and had everyone buzzing, they are that kind of band, they have a feel good factor about them, anything that can get you over being stuffed by the Germans again is good right?
Tonight's show was a belter from start to finish, it didn't even matter that it hadn't sold out cos those that were there were really up for it, Jonathan was his usual animated self and has his camp version of Ian Curtis' dance moves down to a tee, the larger live band makes for a much bigger sound and the rest of the boys have really perfected their instruments now, i remember in the early days they could barley play and used a backing track! haha how did they get away with that?!
There were highlights dotted throughout the show with Days, Best friend and Forever and ever amen going down a treat but it was towards the end of the night that the really special moment came... totally out of the blue, the band introduced Boy George to the stage! He sang along with a couple of Drums tracks before he and Jonathan did an amazing duet on Culture Club classic Do you really want to hurt me, now George's voice is amazing but i was really impressed with how Jonathan held his own, the whole place erupted and it turned into a mass singalong, it was real 'i was there' moment and i feel very lucky to have witnessed it.
Wanna see it for yourself, follow this link to be taken straight to some youtube footage:


Crowd: really good, really up for it, people on shoulders etc, decent.
Venue: Immense, The Roundhouse is one of the most special venues in the country.
Drinks, fair prices and good selection of wine, spirits and beers.
Did The Drums look cool or what? yeah they look great, bowl haircuts and varsity style clothes, American cool cats.


Hannah Emmerson
Senior account exec, PR and marketing agency from Hertfordshire.

What did you think Han?
Top, top night, loved it, as if Boy George came out with them!!!

Who else are you loving right now?
Oh i'm into Love Ink, Broken bells, Band of skulls, Tribes, Sbtrkt and Black keys, i just saw Black keys in Berlin actually, they were great.

What gigs and fests do you have planned this year?
i'm going to SGP and Primavera festivals and i have Finley Quay, Whitest boy alive, Bombay bicycle club and the big olympics gig featuring Blur, New Order and The Specials.

Ah sweet, i'm going to those last two! see you there! Now Han finally what was the first ever gig you went to and what was the last tune that played on your Ipod???
First gig was Ladytron and the last tune i played was Eyes wide open by Gotye.

Cheers Han that's great. Next review i will be doing is WU LYF at Heaven but keep your eyes on the blog for many features coming up very soon.
Contact me on