This scene needs a name, pt. 2
by Alex Hern
These are the last of the bands that can be called Thamesbeat
Thamesbeat came, and Thamesbeat went. Way Out West died a glorious death at the hands of the licensing laws. And a whole generation of musicians were left homeless.
There was a brief period of upheaval. Bands had to find new homes, promoters had to find new venues, and the fans had to find new off licences. Way Out West tried, unsuccessfully, to find a permanent replacement to the Stripes Bar, meanwhile reinventing itself as a label, a brand, and a large scale promoter, creating in effect a mini-empire for itself.
One of its first signings was Reading-based singer-songwriter Laura Marling. With an acoustic guitar and a nice sense of girlishness, she writes KT Tunstall style soft rock tunes about life and love
in near the capital. During the heyday, Laura was a bit of a Way Out West whore, managing to cram a song or two in pretty much every night, and when the nights stopped, it looked for a while like she would flounder a bit without her regular fanbase. But she bounced back, and her first EP, London Town, was recently released on the in-house label. A favourite sing-along from the old times, the title track is undoubtedly the standout song still. None of the others quite match up to this, or to New Romantic, another fan favourite.
Laura Marling – London Town (Demo) [MP3 Removed]
Laura Marling – New Romantic (Demo) [MP3 Removed]
In much the same boat as Laura Marling are Cajun Dance Party, but I’ve already written about them, so we’ll move on.
Cajun Dance Party – Amylase [MP3 Removed]
Cajun Dance Party – The Next Untouchable [MP3 Removed]
There are three other bands who are recognised as Way Out Westers who should be noted. In no particular order, they are:
The Video Nasties
Another with a debut out on WOW, The Video Nasties are a five piece with more than a little of the Futureheads about them, who play very tight sets with chantalong choruses that get the crowd moving. The Futureheads link shouldn’t be taken the wrong way; these guys are an incredibly tight band, and the double A side I Wanna/The 3 New Ideas is a worthy addition to any DJs collection. Just when you remember that yet another london guitar band have no reason to stand out, a live set will remind you why you fell in love in the first place.
The Video Nasties – I Wanna (Demo) [MP3 Removed]
The Video Nasties – The 3 New Ideas (Demo) [MP3 Removed]
Late of the Pier
The band rip off Cars. What more is there to say? Brilliant, melodic genius. Just horrible thieves.
Late of the Pier – Space and the Woods [MP3 Removed]
Fear of Flying
Somehow, Fear of Flying infiltrated the scene. Nothing wrong with that per se, its just not the kind of place you would expect to find an amazing nu-metal band hawking their wares.
While that tag may be a bit over the top, there is no denying that there is something of the Kerrang! air about Fear of Flying. Clad in black T-shirts and pronounced cheekbones, they play a guitar heavy brand of rock that is always one guitar away from twin harmony solos, and somehow still manage to convince indie kids that they fit in with all the rest. But often, they have provided the pure volume that is missing from so many other indie bands, and, as with all the bands here, their ability and skill is undeniable.
Fear of Flying [Myspace]
Even with the demise of Way Out West, of course, bands were still forming, still rehearsing, and still looking for places to play. With Thamesbeat well and truly deceased, London music was heading band to its natural home, the borough of Camden.
The pub Nambucca has had a reputation for quality for a while. With its (now deceased) Flook night every Saturday, it played host to a number of bands rising fast up the ladder, including The Pigeon Detectives, Babyshambles, and Tilly and the Wall, and when two guys staying in the flat upstairs formed the Holloways, it lept up a couple of those rungs itself.
The Holloways – Generator (Demo) [MP3 Removed]
But most of the time, people visited Nambucca once, when their favourite band played. That was all due to change when Transparent Magazine held their first night.
Although it existed for a while concurrently with WOW, Transparent, after bubbling along contentedly for a while, suddenly became, at the end of 2006, the place to be. It went from being the other place WOW musicians would play to having its own stable of bands and artists, performing to an ever growing number of fans, drawn by the confidence of a guaranteed good night out.
At the same time, the gap in the market left by hundreds of of drunken teenagers was quickly being filled. A whole bunch of all ages concerts, with early starting times and no bar, were being run by, appropriately, All Ages Concerts. With the energy of ‘the youth’ on tap, and no trouble getting their friends in, more and more bands started to play more and more gigs.
Some of these bands are still related to the olden days. Both Ox. Eagle. Lion. Man. and Adventure Playground contain Fred from Les Incompétents, while Laura Marling, Cajun Dance Party et al have played these.
But more than ever, the bands based around Transparent, All Ages Concerts, and all the other venues and nights that swap crowds and acts have nothing to do with WOW. A new scene was born. Doubtless I have made my mistakes, but this is just a personal history. Now, this scene needs a name.