2016 has been, erm, weird to say the least. The UK are to be freed from the EU and left to be alone under Tory rule, which will be a bloody disaster. The US are to be ruled by Donald Trump, which again will be a bloody disaster. Every week that passed in 2016 there was, you guessed it, a bloody disaster.
For world affairs it has been a fairly bleak year, but for here at Loose Cardigan Of Ideas, 2016 has been superb. The site was changed from a .blogspot.com to a .wordpress.com to now a simple .com – that alone is an excellent development. World domination by 2020. Move over, Donald.
Some of the bands I have had the pleasure of interviewing are some of my favourites ever. Like, I have known of Cage The Elephant for years and suddenly I had the opportunity to grill Matt Shultz about everything and anything. Weird. Naturally I asked him all of the generic stuff, but I did get some information out of him about being the first person to crowd surf Red Rocks.
“People are curing diseases or creating amazing, modern technological advances. Then you get to me and all I can say is I am the first person to crowd surf front to back at Red Rocks.” – MATT SHULTZ, Cage The Elephant
It went from strength to strength (pardon the cliche) from there really. Chatting to Tarek from Spring King and The Amazons’ Matt Thomson before the end of February was class, but it was Clean Cut Kid that have made the most lasting impression on Loose Cardigan Of Ideas. I first spoke to fellow North East alumni Evelyn Halls about their [then] upcoming shows with Fickle Friends and by October 2016 Mike Halls and I were discussing their upcoming support slots for Courteeners. Funny old world.
On the gig-front, February was definitely a great start to the year. Plaza at Middlesbrough’s Mixtape event kicked off my 42 gigs of 2016 with a bang. Between then and the end of the shortest month of the year I visited Brudenell Social Club for the first time to see Spaniards Hinds in promotion of their debut LP, The Front Bottoms (after waiting 2 years) and Cage The Elephant, which was quite insane.
March gave me the absolute pleasure of seeing Blaenavon for the second time – just a few months later I would be interviewing one of my favourite discoveries of the past three years. Plaza gave another top class performance, this time at Leeds Santiagos Bar alongside slackers Trash. Trash would then release Workout just a few weeks later, which is one of my favourites from a year of excellent tunes. One of the highlights of 2016, personally, was FINALLY seeing The Last Shadow Puppets. What made it better was that the gig was literally a stone throw away from Teesside University so I did not have to trek around the country for a glimpse of the Turner/Kane combo. Interviews were quite quiet in March, but I did manage to chat to Mattie Vant of Vant (obviously, ey). Vant went on to support You Me At Six, so I guess I got in before they get massive. Ideal.
Catfish and the Bottlemen kicked April off with a bang with a stunning show packed with hits from The Ride at Doncaster Dome – I went on to see them a further three times in three more cities over the year. Decent. Highlight of the month, though, was interviewing Jim Glennie from childhood heroes James. A dream come true, made better by him being so polite! My favourite band of the past few years, Moose Blood, played an intimate show at Newcastle Academy, which was mind-blowing and a real treat.
As summer approached, I interviewed another three brilliant bands. I had the pleasure of chatting to Sundara Karma, Spector and The Joy Formidable ahead of their shows in the North East. Two of our albums of the year, The Ride (Catfish and the Bottlemen) and Holy Ghost (Modern Baseball) were released, too, giving me tunes to accompany an incredible pre-summer period.
Blaenavon‘s headline show at Think Tank, Newcastle was intimately sublime. Quite a contrast to The Stone Roses playing their fourth and final night at Etihad, but equally great nonetheless! June was quite quiet looking back, but it was just a warm up for July. Catfish and the Bottlemen smashed Castlefield Bowl two days before The Last Shadow Puppets followed suit. British Sea Power, who I have adored for years, gave me a chance to interview them, which was surreal.
Summer came to a close, as did the career of The Enemy. The indie-rockers called it a day, but not before I spoke to Andy Hopkins about the highlights of their time as a band. Catfish and the Bottlemen sold out ANOTHER outdoor venue, this time at Newcastle Times Square, just days before I FINALLY saw Modern Baseball at the intimate Cluny. Two of my favourite bands in the same city, but in venues such a gulf apart.
Jamie T and Frank Hamilton dropped quality albums in September. Each boasting different genres, but all being amazing in their own right. In support of the album release, I spoke with Frank Hamilton. He was just one of several amazing musicians I interviewed over September. Boston Manor, Declan McKenna, The Magic Gang, Blaenavon, The Pigeon Detectives, Nina Nesbitt and Johnny Lloyd were all quizzed by Loose Cardigan of Ideas ahead of North East gigs. Weird to think I have loved these for years. Proper weird. Boston Manor’s debut album, Be Nothing, dropped at the end of the month and was one of my favourites. Check it out if you get a chance!
Clean Cut Kid gave me another interview in October leading up to their headline tour; as did Toy, The Front Bottoms, and possibly my biggest to date – YOU ME AT SIX. You Me At Six was my first face to face interview and it was quite bizarre to be sat in a dressing room with musicians that are in one of the biggest bands from the UK. To then see them tear Middlesbrough Empire a new one was wonderful. The Pigeon Detectives made a live comeback and both Drowners and DMA’s returned to the UK for the first time since 2014. Sorority Noise played emo hits to a chilled out Think Tank and Jake Bugg played all the classics to a Rock City crowd as a homecoming show. Incredible to be a part of that crowd.
November saw Plaza release a tasty new single, Youth, which came out just before their support slot with Cabbage. Cabbage will support Courteeners in 2017, but Courteeners played Rock City in November before that. In terms of intimate shows, Jaws and Gengahr visited the region and I spoke to Felix (Gengahr) and Connor (JAWS) ahead of those. Boston Manor was the live highlight for me, though. Blasting Be Nothing around Think Tank was a gig I am so glad to have been a part of.
As a whole, 2016 was quite dreadful. But when I pull it apart month by month, it has been quite a brilliant year for me personally. I hope you have had a brilliant year – if not, just pick at it and I am sure it won’t seem as bad as it does on the surface.
2017 will be bigger and better. I wish you a fruitful 2017. Thank you for the continued support over 2016.
Keep on rocking in the free world.
Lots of love,