Shiiine On the Underdog

"The fact of being an underdog changes people in ways that we often fail to appreciate. It opens doors and creates opportunities and enlightens and permits things that might otherwise have seemed unthinkable."

David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell, 2013

Shiiine On 3 was a glorious display of David vs Goliath. Every act seemingly should never had made it but did. A fervent reminder that belief can be all, especially when its in the art of our working class.

Headlining Friday night were the indestructible Levellers. Could a group of Marxist folk-cum-punk rockers ever be considered mainstream anymore? Nevertheless, the fire of 'Liberty', rueful melody of 'Fifteen Years' and the togetherness of 'The Road' are a stark reminder that pop music can be full of love, socialism and make a difference.

The examples of the underdog just kept on coming over the weekend. Clint Boon, an organ player from Oldham, now an icon of the industry Dj-ed to adoring fans. The criminally unknown Theatre Royal continued their good run in 2017 in the Inn on the Green pub. Recent single 'Locked Together On The Lines' drew the crowd, but the power of 'French Riviera' will place them in hearts forever.

Amidst the big choruses lay two beautiful. Firstly, celebrating their 30th anniversary, The Orchids played arguably the most angelic indie set known to man. 'Something for the Longing' will ring in the heads of anyone who watched until they next see this remarkable band. The jingle jangle of 'Bemused, Confused and Bedraggle' brought on a freeness that would have had Arthur Lee beaming from his multicoloured cloud and 'Peaches' was, is and always will be a classic.

The second came from a man, without who, this festival simply could not exist, Steve Lamacq. He was this generations John Peel, shining light on anyone who dared record a demo. His set covered his 30 years but more importantly, it gave little indie nights their dignty back. It became about the people in the room singing the 'Size of a Cow' chorus as one, feeling every bit of angst of 'Mis-Shapes' and, as Lammo stopped to tell all, it was about what John Peel fought so hard to give us, 'Teenage Kicks'.

A conclusion is usually appropriate at this time but, Shiiine On 3 can only be summed up by The Orchids' 'A Kind of Eden'. See you all next year!

Absolute Radio’s Final 5: Shiiine On Weekender

Shiiine On Weekender was one of TT’s biggest highlights in 2016. So, to whet our appetite before we venture west, we take a look at the 5 contenders in Absolute Radio’s competition. The winner will open the main stage at this years shindig and win a £1000:

Shakedown Stockholm – Silence

No longer are female twins scaring the shit out of audiences riding tricycles or bullying human scarecrows in the League of Gentleman. Joanna and Davina front Shakedown Stockholm, a seven piece band from the northwest.

‘Silence’, is a classic piece of brooding rock music. Their intense entwined vocals are the stuff of hedonistic sweat ridden nights.

Deja Vega – Eyes of Steel

The Cheshire three piece won many a fan at last year’s Shiiine On Festival, opening for Eddy Temple Morris’ closing party. It would be only fitting for them to step up to the main stage in 2017.

Especially based on ‘Eyes of Steel’. Guitar playing this dangerous demands big stages. Not a big leap from motorik, but, with far more on the line. You’d be forgiven for imagining yourself as Jon Snow charging into the battle of the bastards.

Gypsy Fingers – Hey Maria

Gypsy Fingers are comprised of Luke and Victoria Oldfield, Luke being the son of legendary composer Mike Oldfield.

‘Hey Maria’ sees Victoria take on the vocal duties and delivers a sultry cross between The Bangles paisley era and early Lily Allen.

The Keepers – Here Comes Spring

The Keepers are British psyche-pop band from Northampton. ‘Here Comes Spring’ follows in the footsteps of fellow Northampton band The Moons and Temples.

This slice of haze, melody and big key changes pay homage to Syd Barrett era Floyd and the pop sensibilities of Noel and Ashcroft. While they are steeped in English heritage, lyrically there is more than enough to carry this in the present day.

Iridesce – Rise

Camden was once the epicentre of all things Britpop so, it’s only fitting that a Camden band form part of this competition.  

The Camden four piece are clearly onto something with this epic effort. The simmering vocals saunter through a cascade of guitar riffs seamlessly. They are but one killer hook from delivering something truly remarkable.

Head over to Absolute Radio here to listen and vote now:


Shiiine On: Then, Now, Forever!

“When something's good it's never gone”

New Order, 1990.

From the second summer of love to the end of 1996, saw several cultural spikes from the UK. Acid House, Baggy, the Camden pop art scene and the 60s renaissance of Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene and Cast. They haven't just sound-tracked the lives of the 30 plus crowd at the Shiiine On Weekender, they continue to be the fulcrum for subsequent generations looking for something real. Yes, The Libertines, The Streets and The Enemy have contributed significant albums, but, there has never been that Joe Strummer defamation “finally Beatles mania has bitten the dust” written about the Happy Mondays, Oasis or Stone Roses. Why? Well, as this great weekend showcased, it was music by the people for the people. Not a bunch of tossers kitted out Topman clobber. Every act, DJ, venue host, heck, even the dancing security guard proved that a working class hero is still something to be.

'Do you remember when....' is probably the most uttered phrase this weekend. Do you remember when he Bluetones went straight in at number 2 with 'Slight Return', or, when Steve Lamacq used to help us with our homework on the evening session? On and on the fond memories went.

To cynics, the Shiiine On Weekender is a festival for the outdated and irrelevant. They're wrong. For any artist or band yearning to breakthrough, a lot of these bands hold a the answers their looking for.

Echo & The Bunnymen show the value in looking cool as fuck. Mark Morriss and Rick Witter demonstrate the value of between song banter. Meanwhile, Echobelly's Sonya Madan's ability to connect her dancing to their sound gives that additional meaning to songs and makes her look every bit of a star now as in 1995. In a world where music is stolen as much as its bought, these things matter even more now. Talent is not enough to garner adoration, it's got to be earned!

Recently, the glorious Caitlin Moran spoke about the differences between the approach taken by Radiohead and Kasabian on Richard Herring's RHLSTP (RHLSTP) podcast:

“Radiohead and Kasabian are interested in exactly the same music. Kasabian are a working class band from Leicester and Radiohead are a middle class band from Oxford. I love both intensely and dearly but this seems to absolutely typify the differences between working classes and middle classes.......Where as Radiohead make these impenetrable things and don't really talk to the audience, we make these scary things and to make you cry. Where as Kasabian make the same music and are like oooooaaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh. There was a quote from Serge after a Radiohead gig saying 'there was no birds on blokes shoulders, that's a shit gig'. That's exactly it, they want to share it with everyone and make it joyful.”

This come one, come all spirit is alive and well at the Shiiine On Weekender and can be seen in the various cover songs played. It's an art form often overlooked but cultivates identity so easily, it should be rehired immediately.

The Farm remind everyone of their punk and protest roots via The Clash's 'Bankrobber' and arguably draw the biggest reaction of the weekend when Paul Hooton rightly revels in the victories over the West Yorkshire Police, Thatcherites and the Murdoch press.

The music industry is often looked upon negatively, and often with good reason. The lack of reward for the risk is nothing compared to what it was for this weekends acts. Nevertheless, is there a better time to be in a band? There are more festivals, more radio stations and a ton of more interesting less corporate ways of promoting yourself. The talent that Cabbage, Whistlejacket and The Academic possess, the world is theirs to take if they want it enough.

The odds are clearly stacked in favour of those from more comfortably backgrounds but let the likes of Jake Bugg and especially Skepta and Kano be the example of not only how but why it should be done.


Please go read Mark Beaumont's Guardian review and the beautiful piece from Step On Magazine: