By this time of year, you’ve probably forgone a hefty wodge of dollar to one, or more, festivals to satisfy your forthcoming live music whims. But why idle amongst your assorted inflatable crap, value tent and stacks of multipack cider, when there are still plenty of opportunities for a few pre-festival gigs. Or perhaps you have festival phobia and detest mingling with unruly mobs, camping in damp plastic dwellings and have unyielding high hygiene standards – shit son you got some issues. Well in any case, this is your chance to avoid the perils of too brief festival performances, shoddy view angles and inebriated misreading of timetables.
Cockpit, Leeds, 6th June
If you don’t mind stepping a bit further afield, then Battles are well worth venturing out of York’s stony edges for. With the departure of Tyondai Braxton, who provided the band’s distinctive gibberish vocals, before the recording of second album Gloss Drop, there has been much second-guessing over why and more to the point how to fill his place. Well so far the trio haven’t had much trouble recruiting esteemed guest vocalists such as Gary Numan, Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino and Boredom’s Yamantaka Eye to contribute on Gloss Drop. It’s probably unlikely that those three will be making small talk back stage in the Cockpit before a surprise appearance, but it should be interesting to see how the band perform with their new line-up regardless.
Barbican, York, 25th June
It took several hits of the refresh button, on the Barbican webpage, to double-check that Morrissey performing in York was not an odd dream. Somehow the million-odd pounds renovation of the York Barbican has managed to snag the grouchy indie legend, amongst Paulo Nutini and Snooker Legend tours. Morrissey has fared rather well in his solo career, spanning nine solo albums with almost every one finding acclaim. Despite his ever-hilarious trolling of the Royal family, bemusing cover (and promo) art, and occasional on-stage hissy fits, Morrissey remains an unmissable act. As you might expect tickets are sadly sold out, so you might have to sell your soul to touts, or grapple your way to the top of the Barbican to get in.
Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, June 19th
Don’t judge a band by its quirky lettering, tUnE-yArDs is the one-woman project of experimental songwriter and multi-instrumentalist of New-Englander Merrill Garbus. tUnE-yArDs sounds a bit like an unfeasible coincidental meeting of Karin Dreijer Andersson of The Knife, Gang Gang Dance and Konono No. 1. After recording debut album, BiRd-BrAiNs on a handheld voice recorder to old cassettes, it wasn’t long before 4AD jumped at the chance to sign her. Follow-up, W h o K i l l is an ambitious move to kerning, even more chaotic instrumentals and experimentation with vocal loops. tUnE-yArDs live show is surely fantastic given the promise of a saxophone section and a band to add the many layers of electric bass, ukulele and Maori drums. If there is one thing you see before the end of term, see this.
Stereo, York, June 6th
Don’t fancy that straying out into the big city, or perhaps like your alternative rock with fist pumping riffs instead of experimental faffing? Then there is a local alternative in Tribes, who are performing at Stereo. It’s fair to say that 90s American rock has permanently lodged its guitar neck in our current music scene, with alt rock revivalists Yuck also recently performing in Stereo. But if Yuck at least diluted their sound with the narcotic fuzz of My Bloody Valentine, Tribes must be the straight-edge equivalent. Recently released EP, We Were Children, already has the hallmarks of a loser anthem in “Girlfriend” featuring the universal teenage dilemma of “my girlfriend doesn’t love me/my haircut doesn’t suit me”. For those who can’t let the heyday of alt rock go, and aren’t too fussed about authenticity.
Duchess, York, July 4th
If York is slightly jinx or cursed city for musical appearances, it only seems to affect the student population, who have suffered through a number of Summer Ball no-shows and worst yet tantalising tour dates in the middle of vacations. Perhaps the bad luck of a tour date a couple days after term ends is down to FOE, ex-witch child and singer songwriter, Hannah Louise Clark who channels the spirits of PJ Harvey and Peaches. Recently released EP Hot New Trash features a backing of twisted carnival fairground harmonium, Sleigh Bells scuzzy guitars and plenty of grrrl attitude.