Posts Tagged ‘The Agitator



It’s rare that we review anything here on The Recommender, choosing to preview most things instead.  This is so we can keep things positive and remove the pressures involved in reviewing shows, bands and releases that turn out to be rubbish.  However, The Great Escape Festival is such a special event for us, with so many impressive new bands arriving in our home city, alongside the generous helping of unique and memorable experiences, it’s more a case of – where to start!?

We will run through the shows we witnessed from each of the three days and try to include some of the various anecdotal moments too…well, if we can remember them all.  It was quite a messy affair and the hangover has refused to budge for two days now.  Suffice to say, with a couple of Press Accredited passes in hand, we were once again fully able to enjoy this spectacular spectacle, with all the blindingly good experiences it’s able to throw up.

Having decided to co-host The Recommender’s first ever Great Escape party, alongside the Brighton Source magazine, on the opening night of this year’s festival, we were immediately launched into the weekend with a million things to organise.  Starting the whole event by standing in a lengthy queue for our press passes meant that we were late for the start of the band’s soundchecks for our party.  Not the ideal way to begin, but Source legend, (The) James Kendall, stepped in to cover until we got to the venue to help.

The sun was beaming broadly and the first pint of many was poured.  As we sipped our beers we contemplated that drinking this early in the day probably isn’t a great idea when standing at the start of what will be a three day set of Leo Sayers (cockney rhyming slang = an all dayer).  Pope Joan were already there setting up, with Foreign Office arriving soon after.  Mirrors followed and The Agitator hovered around.  Quite a star-studded bar for 5pm on the first day!

We were aware that time was ticking closer to the doors officially opening at 9pm and already the soundchecks were falling way behind.  King Charles arrived last and we all concluded that there simply wasn’t going to be enough time to soundcheck them before their earlier gig that day, at The Queens Hotel.  Like an alcoholic ostrich ignoring the problems we continued to bury ourselves into yet more pints, with Battery Powered DJ (and Recommender contributor), Matt Allfrey, joining me and the delectable Geogre (Poundance) Nunn.  Neither of them are known for their sobriety.  Gulp.

The bar was open during the day, even though we officially started at 9pm, so during the soundchecks you had this strange set up where people were arriving and listening to bands rattle out thirty seconds of a tune, before stopping and shouting and pointing at the sound engineers.  It didn’t stop the crowd actually applauding Foreign Office though.  That’s the first time I’ve ever seen people clap a soundcheck.  Talking of firsts, it was time for me to head over to the first show of the evening, Crystal Fighters, at Digital.  We may have had responsibilities to our own party, but surely we could sneak off to catch a band or two, right?



EXPERIENCE –  Note to self:  Must not forget to eat during the Great Escape weekend.  One rapid Italian bite later we were around the corner at the excellent beach-fronted club, Digital.  With Brighton’s best soundsystem, large stage and larger dancefloor, alongside some fantastic lighting, controlled by our friend Tom, it felt the perfect set up to watch our first show of the weekend.  We got right to the very front, as with a photography pass in hand, we were able to enjoy that space between the packed crowd and stage.  Crystal Fighters walked onto the stage in complete darkness as the crowd spotted them and began screaming.  Boom!  The strobe started as they launched into their high energy set.  One of them already had his top off as he bashed those Spanish wooden planks that are so synonymous with their sound.  With them all having long hair and constantly headbanging, it has a rocking, metal feel to the show, but rest assured this is octane-fuelled dance music at it’s wildest.  The crowd responded as we looked back to witness carnage, fists pumping and broad smiles aplenty.  As much as their track I Love London ruled the set, it had me thinking – I love Brighton!  We grabbed our photos and headed out to run back to our own party before anyone told me off.  The perfect start.  Phew!


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EXPERIENCE –  Now back at our party, we realised that the venue was absolutely rammed.  We wedged our way to the stage area and got talking to James and Ally from Mirrors.  We spoke about how we had seen their first ever gig at last year’s Great Escape, so it felt fitting to have them play our event.  They seem relaxed, the crowd was buzzing and well oiled by this point, so all was well.  As the lights went down and those first few synth bars of Fear Of Drowning started on the empty stage the crowd reacted with the expected cheers and clapping.  Mirrors walked on in their dark suits, looking the sharpest dressed people in the building and burst through a majestic set.  Frontman James has grown into a much more complete and confident frontman, even going down onto his knees, James Brown-style, at one point.  It was particularly enjoyable seeing a band that had clearly evolved from last year’s showcase.  All the hard, grafting efforts from the team involved in the run up to this gig felt worthwhile.  Perfection.


TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford


EXPERIENCE –  This band are the least experienced on show tonight, still without full management, agent or label, but we fully expect that to change in the near future.  Tonight’s performance was yet another example of a band with a packed bag of tunes, ready for the pop charts.  Hassle free to deal with, punctual for soundchecks, positive and appreciative.  Everything you need from bands as a promoter.  Perhaps it’s once you throw managers, agents and labels in the mix that things suddenly get complicated?  Just.  Saying.  The crowd responded well, perhaps knowing less about this band than the others, which meant that this was a true case of ‘recommending’.  Tonight our suggesting skills were clearly on form, as people enjoyed it, dancing and smiling as they watched.  The set was tight and the atmosphere was buzzing like a stomping house party.  There’s something awesome about gigs where the crowd is packed and only about one yard from the lead singer.


TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford


EXPERIENCE –  You simply cannot throw a party like this, with five bands on the bill, at minimal costs and not expect a couple of technical issues, right?  Right.  We should start by saying that our friends Derek and Rob entered the stage to perhaps the most anticipated show of the evening.  Those folk in the audience who have never seen them before were salivating over their reputation for being an extraordinary show, whilst those in the crowd that have seen them before were salivating because they knew this was about to go off!  They kicked into gear with the usual rolling, breakbeat thump and the otherwise meek and sweet Derek Meins began his rallying call.  Political lyrics, along with his usual foot-stomping, jerked dancing and thrashed shaker, accompanied his rasping vocals, that are sung like his head is about to explode.  He got through the majority of his set, before the sound problems occurred, so it wasn’t much really, but sadly three microphones died on us for no reason and the set was cut slightly short.  Disappointingly, Derek walked off fuming at the sound engineer, but we did what we could.  It’s perhaps expected when he gives so much energy, drama and anger into his songs that his emotions were running at full steam.  Me and James duly met him outside and sorted out the apology, but this is live music for you.  To be honest, it actually left the crowd wanting more, which is definitely no bad thing.


TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford


EXPERIENCE – There was a tap on the shoulder from the bouncer.  Apparently there’s been a one-in-one-out policy all night long on the door, but in the queue outside the venue there were eight or nine people claiming to be in one of the bands.  We squeezed our way to the front door to check this out.  Once outside we were greeted by a patient, but confused King Charles keyboardist, James Barnett.  Behind him were the band, including the distinctive Charles himself and a handful of friends, or seeing how good they looked, probably groupies.  We laughed and took them all backstage via the side entrance.  The giant, but lovely Mitch, who manages the band with James, chatted and helped out, arranging for The Recommender to try to meet with them next week to see the rest of their roster etc.  We remembered that there’s going to be a lot of networking done this weekend too.  King Charles kicked off, roughly on time, with a performance, and this was a true performance, of, well, royal standards.  They looked great, the tunes were as upbeat as they were beautiful and Charles is about as good a guitarist as we’ve ever seen.  They totally rocked the crowd, at one point jumping on top of the drums during a guitar solo.  We witnessed a full on, proper star of the future going at full tilt tonight.  It perfectly suited the hedonistic, drunk party atmosphere.  Extraordinary, considering we’d originally booked Velo for this slot, but they pulled out at the last minute, which meant that we had to run around just 24 hours before as we desperately looked for a replacement band.  What a substitution it turned out to be!  We WILL definitely be booking them again.


TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford


EXPERIENCE – Last on tonight was Pope Joan, who had been around the venue all evening waiting for their slot and observing one blindingly great performance after another, so there was undoubtedly a bit of pressure by now.  At least the crowd were warmed up to boiling point for them.  The key thing with this band is that they have an awesome frontman, who comes out of nowhere, performing with his distinctive moustache and quiff.  Mark’s ability to punch the words out, almost headbutting the microphone as he sways back and forth, virtually fucking with his guitar as he does so, is an astonishing thing to witness.  The pressure to perform evaporated immediately and the crowd responded well to their punked, indie rock tunes.  Although pretty much mullered by now, we continued to take photos, of which many more, from the whole weekend, will be posted up on our Flickr site here.  Jumping around the small stage, Mark and the band ended the night flawlessly, completing the perfect start to what would prove to be a very memorable weekend.  The main problem now was, how can any show top this?  We guess that’s precisely what we were aiming for.  Mission accomplished.  At the party’s close we wandered around to Digital again to meet backstage at the club with their Promotions Manager and good friend of The Recommender, Jonny Cassell.  We compared notes on our respective venue’s performances as we walked home.  Bed by 4:40am.  What a day!




Cue the Eye Of The Tiger music…

Brighton’s gloves are off as The Recommender and The Source magazine go head to head with a showcase born in Brighton.

It’s well known that The Great Escape Festival is a massive industry shindig, with tons of music managers, labels, A&R, agents, journalists, bloggers and of course hundreds of artists all taking the seaside trip to London.

Sadly it’s meant that the whole affair has a London-on-sea feel about it and lacks something local.  This year the festival organisers have pushed for Brighton to be heard and asked for our city to try and organise our own shows alongside the others.

This is where The Recommender, a blog born in Brighton and well known here, alongside The Source magazine, Brighton’s ‘going out bible’ that’s been tipping us on music and cool culture for over a decade, step in and show just how amazing this city can be.  We’re putting on what should prove to be THE best Brighton showcase of the weekend.

The buzz is massive, the venue will be packed, the bands are mostly from Brighton and all of them kick ass.  Below we list some tracks for you to fall in love with.  Please note that the Velo sadly had to pull out at the last minute, so although they’re on the poster, we’ve had to replace them with King Charles, who are just as awesome!

Venue: The Black Lion, Black Lion Street, South Lanes, Brighton.
Doors: 9:30pm
Stage Times: Mirrors (10pm) – Foreign Office (10:50pm) – The Agitator (11:40pm) – King Charles (12:30pm) – Pope Joan (1:20am)






This gig will prove that Brighton is packed with talent and will stand tall against anything London brings down.  It looks like the knock out punch will be Brighton made.

On a separate note, we have two FREE weekend tickets to giveaway to our lucky readers, courtesy of VITAMIN WATER.  To obtain these tickets simply email us at and we will instruct you how to collect them.  To qualify you must have left a comment on this post with your names.  First come first served.



Got a couple of Brighton-flavoured talents on show for you today. Big things are very much anticipated as the local buzz is building like an Ann Summers store with a Duracell salesman in it…

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We are a little over excited here at The Recommender, so we better make sure we don’t bubble over on this one. Here is a genuinely exciting two piece band, with one instrument between them – drums! However, banging said instrument is the ex-Maccabees Rob Dylan Thomas, so they arrive with credentials. What has us about to burst though is the massive talent that is the singer, Derek Meins, an eccentric, theatrical poet, but don’t let that put you off. He’s quite simply astonishing. If you want your frontmen to have bags of committed energy, a distinctive, original vocal and a style not seen from anyone in the last half century, then you have it here. Their live show is a mind blowing, rapid fire blast of nuclear proportions. He belts out sweaty, rocking, blues-bang vocals, squeezing everything possible out of his chest. Backing him up is the racing, broken, big beats that thunder on behind him. Empowering lyrics, “tell them there’s no time to wait anymore. Get ready!”, rally the crowd. For their bravery and originality alone they should be praised. It’s direct and guaranteed to shake you up, which is an amazing feat, with no guitars, no keyboards, or anything else, bar the odd sample. It’s stripped down to the bone, but able to rattle you raw in a way that will leave you inspired. Real talent and true songsmiths should be able to play without plugging anything in at all. Never before has an artist been so electrically charged without a plug in sight!   (MB)

Find him here:          Myspace

Hear them here:       THE AGITATOR – GET READY (ysi)

REDLINE.jpg Red line picture by odelaybradford


These next two listings share a certain amount of gloom that surrounds their sound. We mean the sort that’s born out of the kind of school Ian Curtis and Nick Cave are found teaching at. That’s no bad thing so long as you can hear the song behind the fog, the melody in the scary mist. Thankfully this four piece remove the boredom and the tedious noises that often came out of their early 80s influences. Even though they take their name from an old Bad Seeds track, they introduce a modern lift and certainly don’t take themselves quite so seriously as the other recent similar purveyors, such as Editors or Interpol. One single is already out on the Deadly People label, with both the A and B sides having a deathly subject matter. Both tracks successfully bring us a great example of the rumbling doom pop they cover so well, with Tobi’s vocals sounding so baritone it’s as if it’s been slowed down! It’s all backed up by delicate guitars, a sweeping, echoing synth and upbeat drumming that helps build the climactic tunes to bursting point. For music written with the lights switched off they certainly have a bright future, but you won’t find a smile between them. They are playing a part and it’s in this contrast that you realise they aren’t that serious after all, (nobody could really be this moody could they?), and that lifts it. A lesson missed by other pretenders to the post punk and nu wave revival.  (MB)

Find them here:       Myspace

Hear them here:       O.CHILDREN – DEAD EYE LOVER (ysi)

REDLINE.jpg Red line picture by odelaybradford


OK, so many bands seem to leech off of Joy Division these days it could seemingly become a genre all its own! For the extreme evidence of this just see the Russian band Motorama, which we blogged about here. Although Lyrebirds have much to owe Joy Division, there’s just as much to be paid to the likes of Echo & The Bunnymen and Interpol. However, we were invited to see them perform twice in recent weeks, including a charmingly confident show at their first ever headlined gig. Encouraging indeed. their frontman is a chip off the Richard Ashcroft block, with his tight leather jacket, lanky looks, confident swagger and intense, committed performance. This Brighton five piece are at a very early stage, but there’s already a giant buzz around town. Playing dark, brooding rock, they always seem to lift off as the songs middle out to a powerful chorus. There’s a great mixture of pace and patience from track to track, with a lot of talent on show in their pounding guitars, shaking drums and rumbling bass, (which incidentally is played by, ex-Kooks, Dan Logan). Nothing has been confirmed yet, but The Recommender is requesting a photoshoot with them, so we will let you know if that comes off. In the mean time you can see a couple of the photographs we took during these recent gigs at The Recommender’s Flickr page.    (MB)

IMG_8282CR2.jpg Lyrebirds picture by odelaybradford

Find them here:         Myspace

Hear them here:        LYREBIRDS – LOTUS (ysi)

REDLINE.jpg Red line picture by odelaybradford

Don’t panic, we haven’t gone all dark and miserable on you. Perhaps the music we’ve selected today is simply a reflection of the economic times we live in and we know that won’t last forever, so pop back soon for more cheery positivity in the turn around.



It seems that we’ve not done a Gig List for a while. August is a slightly weaker period for live music in Brighton, (with a handful of lucky exceptions), as venues await the return of students in September and October, so here are a couple of highlights as Autumn’s flood gates open.

REDLINE.jpg Red line picture by odelaybradford


Is there a bigger name on the world’s DJ scene right now? This one-man, tidal wave of a DJ launches his next album, Lack Of A Better Name, in the next few weeks and follows it up with a tour around the UK. Out of all the places on this tour, Brighton is lucky enough to get the man-sized mouse for two consecutive nights at our beach-fronted club, Digital, such was the massive demand for tickets. It seems Brighton has a special pull on this Canadian tech-master. His recorded music is often tucked into the minimilist, progressive techno pocket, which suits the fact that he’s rather a techie geek, often spending almost as much time inventing programs and software for his studio productions than he does actually creating new music. However, it’s with his live sets that the mouse truly begins to roar, as he steps into a more thumping electro realm with extroadinary power and finesse. This is a DJ totally in control of any crowd he faces, building up tracks and dropping the breaks to perfection. He’s famous for wearing many different custom designed, massive mouse heads that range in colour from bright red, to black, to diamond encrusted. Prepare to see the giant mouse ears bobbing up and down above the frenzied crowd’s pumping fists.   (MB)

ACT:                    DEADMAU5
VENUE:               Digital, Brighton Beach
COST:                  £ 10.00
DATES:                Sunday 18th and Monday 19th October 2009
WEBSITE:           Myspace

REDLINE.jpg Red line picture by odelaybradford


So big are this indie band that they’ve taken it upon themselves to rebrand the month of October for us. As they drive their UK tour around to most major cities outside London through ‘Bloctober’ they stop off at our largest capacity venue, The Brighton Centre. It’s a pity that this is the only venue big enough to squeeze in a band of this size as the acoustics are piss poor. Really, really piss poor. If a band are to avoid getting lost in this vast chasm they’ll need to create a sound as big as a stampede of horny elephants. Taking in the evidence from their summer festival slots it seems that Bloc Party could scare off a thousand, rabid mammoths with one blast of their bursting choruses, so they’ll be just fine. Adored by millions, Kele will no doubt bring his usual self-assured frontmanship to each set, whilst Matt Tong, a man that is the definition of  extroadinary drumming and technical timing, will provide his usual metronomic brilliance as the back drop. With such a vast catalogue of generation-defining songs in their locker, prepare for mass sing alongs and an atmosphere that The Brighton Centre probably hasn’t seen since the likes of Muse or Kasabian. And that’s saying something!   (MB)

ACT:                      BLOC PARTY
VENUE:                  The Brighton Centre
COST:                    £ 22.50
DATE:                    Saturday 24th (BL)October 2009
WEBSITE:             Myspace

REDLINE.jpg Red line picture by odelaybradford

The Recommender is off to SourceFest tonight for the annual celebration of our town’s best going out bible, The Source Magazine, which I also write for. On show is a truly exceptional line up of Brighton’s talents, including The Half Sisters, The Agitator and The Lyrebirds. All of which are due a mention on this blog in due course.

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August 2020



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