Tag Archives: The Flapper

Off The Cuff @TheFlapperBrum Tickets On Sale

Off The Cuff Festival 23-25 July

Tickets for the three day Off The Cuff Festival at The Flapper are now available form www.wegottickets.com.

With the line up boasting of the likes of 35 Seconds, Pulled Apart by Horses, Dead Lights, Tubelord, Adebisi Shank, Chapel Club, Malpas, Boat to Row , &U&I – the new band from the remnants of Blakfish and a debut show from the much talked about Victories at Sea, the event promises to be outstanding value for money at only £18 for a three day ticket.

For more information, got to www.offthecuffbirmingham.co.uk


Review: Shady Bard / Harper Simon / Ben Calvert @TheFlapperBrum by @JeffStuka

Shady Bard, Harper Simon, Ben Calvert
Birmingham Promoters
The Flapper
8th May 2010

Another cold, damp night sees Jeff Stuka make an incognito visit to Birmingham’s premier canalside basement music hutch.  And damn them stupid buses, I say.  If I hadn’t been required to alight at Five Ways and march down Broad street, I may just have caught the whole of Ben Calvert’s set of lush acoustic melancholia.

I feel a kindred spirit to this plaintive voice detailing dry observations on modern life, and not just for the similar taste in hats.  A troubadour whose songs are rich and full of depth, never falling into formulaic structures, Calvert is a truly talented artist who inspires me with thoughts of what could be.

Another talented artist, hailing from the other side of the Atlantic pond, is virtuoso blues folk guitarist, Harper Simon (yes, Paul’s Son) who arrives on stage with a white jacket and some crazy hair.

Harper Simon

Opening with a rather beautiful cover of The Buzzcock’s ‘Ever Fallen in Love with Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)?”, like Ben Calvert before him, he mines the plaintive troubadour vein, veering somewhere between Chris Isaak and mid-sixties Bob Dylan.  He shows the hallmarks of pro-status by turning a failure to remember the words of a Who song he’s covering into an opportunity for playfully reaching out to his audience, which only adds to the engaging atmosphere. Quite lovely.

I was hijacked in the interlude by 10 Guitars, who insisted I listen to some of his home recordings and can now categorically say that everyone who goes to gigs should be hijacked at least once and forced to listen to the sound of the Pet Shop Boys fucking a glow-in-the-dark Rave Monkey.  Excellent stuff Mr. 10 Guitars.  I’ll be checking out more from you soon.

And now for Shady Bard, more of a light orchestra than a band, whose songs develop moody atmospherics that are more akin with a film score than a pop song.  Promoting new single, ‘Trials (part III)’, the audience are treated to a succession of songs that exhibit a mastery of the same trick, developing a sedate opening into broody concern before peaking with emotional denouement.

Shady Bard

A similarity to Arcade Fire could be loosely argued if you need something for evaluation purposes but personally, I think that Shady Bard are too unique to try to draw comparison and that is surely a good thing.

Jeff Stuka

Review: Tantrums / (silver) souvenirs / New Killer Shoes @TheFlapperBrum

Tantrums, (silver) souvenirs, New Killer Shoes
The Flapper
23rd April 2010

Nothing quite beats donning your summer shoes and heading down to The Flapper to enjoy a quick pint out in the sunshine before going to see an old favourite band and some new faces. Dancing seems to be the order of the day and this includes band members.

The night kicks off with New Killer Shoes who plough through their set with the ferocious speed of a band who just want to play as much material as possible.  The music is upbeat and the lyrics sprint along in an Artic Monkeysesque fashion.  Singer John Kings’s words are littered with modern day references; ‘Leave Me Alone’ highlighting the pitfalls of MSN.

The audience seem energised by the set, ‘Lets Go Disco’ even sparks some ad hoc caterpillaring.  Luckily, reviewers need to stand back out of harm’s way.  NKS don’t seem like the kind of band to attract break dancing fans but hey, we’ve all had one too many beers in the sun on a Friday afternoon.

Five piece (silver) souvenirs appear to be setting Brum alight with a steady string of gigs and complementary reviews so it was a relief to finally catch them.  They open and the audience are immediately transported into their rhythmic, melodic world.  And they seem to have said balls to any kind of indie band conventions; fuck having one or two microphones, stick four right at the front of the stage so the layers of voices and lyrics can be built up and then torn down again.  It’s energetic stuff and more dancing ensues.

Listen to (silver) souvenirs live In The Belly podcast here.

Tragically, we’ve attracted the caterpillar and he seems to be depositing most of his beer on the aforementioned summer shoes; shame they weren’t heeled.

Fortunately nothing can detract from SS’s magical quality, definitely one to watch (and as quickly as you can.)

With our drunken friend now out of the way and stumbling towards the canal the audience are relatively safe to enjoy Tantrums.  These guys just get better and better and new addition Anna, aka Little Palm, seems to have the given the band more room to grow.

Anna’s voice is stunning and the lyrical interplay with Simon works brilliantly.  The gal’s not just there to make up the numbers leading the vocals on some of the tracks and giving as good as she gets with band shenanigans.  New track ‘Steal It Back’ stays true to the band’s guitar pop sound topped with those lovely vocals.  And fear not, the distinctive dubstep interludes are still there, reminding us that this band’s roots are firmly planted in Brum.  Sadly it’s all over far too quickly, despite a quick encore.  The set feels short but it’s great to leave an audience wanting more.

Nic Toms

Review: Rolo Tomassi / Trash Talk / Throats @TheFlapperBrum by Lee Hall

Rolo Tomassi, Trash Talk, Throats
Birmingham Promoters
The Flapper
19th April 2010

From the underground dungeon that’s forms The Flapper, it is only the impenetrable mixture of bricks and mortar that can contain the hellish sounds of Trash Talk, Throats and Rolo Tomassi. Only from the belly of the beast, this den of iniquity can one savour the offering before them. It leaves only one question – is the world getting taller or are we getting shorter?

Beginning what is an impressive double header line up Throats come to Birmingham off the back of their recent Kerrang acknowledgement echoing in the background. It only takes a couple of songs for you to realise that this five piece are worthy of the attention as they provide an awe inspiring performance that could prove difficult to follow. With the front man Mark taking centre of stage to literally mean standing in the middle of the crowd; his fleetingly brief appearances among the nodding heads present a consummate performer ahead of his years.


Whilst perhaps not to the taste of most no one can deny that their sound reminiscent of Breed or Benediction, is something to behold and chances are this is the smallest venue you will see them in for some time to come.

Trash Talk arrive on stage and it’s not hard to see why these intense Californians get their name from. With a pre gig sparring match ending in the trading of a couple of blows between the bassist and a member of the crowd, something tells me that if the gig unfolds with ten per cent of the passion displayed in the antics before the show, we are in for something very special indeed. And with that the pit has begun!

Trash Talk

The intensity that the band showed before the gig, not to mention the unity, transpires into a terrifying display! During the show with the heavy guitar riffs you come to realise you’re scared and you like it. “Fuck Iceland and fuck your volcano” shouts lead singer Spencer, in regards to the recent chaos. “Now our two fans in Iceland understand why we never come over!” Continuing the music, which by this point is strangely coursing through the femoral artery in our thigh, new song explosion brings upon the crowd a palpable building of tension that waits to be unleashed through some better known songs. With the announcement “this is the last date on our tour” the stage once more erupts into insanity.

Introducing new track ‘Pushed Aside’ lead singer jokingly remarks “this is a fast one”. Soon the crowd descend into an obeying mass ready for orders and obligingly the lead singer commands them to raise the roof of this quaint venue. He doesn’t have to wait long for a response and is duly mobbed by the crowd. “This is for the fist punchers” he says introducing new song ‘Rapid Horn’ but fist punching makes way to stage diving and more mobbing of the lead singer and the band in general. Spencer takes it in his stride and seemingly shares a connection with each of those who have taken to the stage with him in what is one of the most respectful (to the fans) performances we have ever seen.

Roll up, roll up for the main event of the evening. Gracing the stage is the mesmerising Eva Spence of Rolo Tomassi, whose small petite frame disguises the set of lungs, each the size of my face, encased within her chest and would fool even the most evasive X-ray machines. The whole band exude an energy and humble nature that puts other bands to shame.

Rolo Tomassi

Their mixture of raw guttural uttering’s and polished tunes makes them a favourite with many. It’s like Mr and Mrs Gallows having a fight on a Friday night with the interjection of some angelic musings in-between. A CD quality performance at its best, these guys are so tight you could hold your phone up and sold it to iTunes! At the climax of the performance the band leave little unexposed. Eva commands the stage with amazing grace and has enamoured the audience. The rest of the band put on an inspiring show that sees each of them venture into the crowd.

It is a fitting last night of the tour and another superb gig brought together by Birmingham Promoters. What next for Rolo Tomassi? “Well we are gonna have a couple of days off and then we go on tour with Biffy Clyro! It’s really cool because they asked for us…it’s very humbling” says Eva.

One thing’s for certain-this band won’t be supporting many bands for too much longer, they are headliners through and through.

Lee Hall

Birmingham Has No Music Scene by @JeffStuka

Blimey, off he goes again. Watch out, Jeff Stuka has the grumpy and he isn’t afraid to use it….

Man, sometimes people fuck me off.  When I come across people who claim Birmingham has no “scene” my rage gets thunderous.  An overreaction I know, but as I look at all the people busting their nipples till they explode to make things happen in this great forsaken city, I can’t help thinking, “WHAT A FUCKING INSULT!”

What people can’t grasp with this city is it’s eclecticism.  I mean there’s so much going on.  Every night there’s some kind of show from hot plesiastic bands, DJ sets of microbasic cleboticism or some specialistic night of supercool human herbaceous border trunt that is low key, sexy and unique. There isn’t a common thread through the Birmingham music scene and that’s why people don’t see a scene.  But, you bunch of wrongform spelliasticle gunterbiscuits, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

The traditional view of a scene has been for too long dictated by the idea that there should be a local style of music that a “scene” can shoehorn itself into. A kind of mould that allows ignorant people to turn around and say, “Oh, they come from Bumsquitterton, I know because they have the Bumsquitterton sound.” That may be ok for other cities but Birmingham isn’t like that. The centre of the country is a melting pot of everything the UK has to offer. Where other cities have in the past been influenced by imports, Birmingham has always seen the world through a filtered view and this is where it’s brilliant unpredictability comes from.

The punk DIY ethic is alive and well here. As you read this you are at the site of the Blue Whale, a Birmingham based recording studio and promoter of local music staffed and managed by Brummagens.  At the same time as shouting about the depth of talent swimming about this city, the Blue Whale has had no qualms about promoting other Birmingham based endeavours.  Gigs from Birmingham Promoters and This Is Tomorrow are trumpeted.  Excitement is generated for acts at the Basement Bar or the Flapper or The Rainbow.  This pleasure in local music is reciprocated by these organisations.

At the same time, we have Chicks Dig Jerks, The Autumn Store and Coffee and Cake, all locals pushing their own local designs for the music they love.  And then there’s Bigger than Barry, which started as a club night and has now expanded to include a record label, championing such homegrown indie heroes as the Scarlet Harlots whilst pushing a dance music agenda and stretching tendrils well beyond this city.

Scarlet Harlots

Birmingham is also served with an eclectic audible mix by Rhubarb Radio.  Broadcast from the Custard Factory, highlights include Brumcast, Birmingham’s very own answer to John Peel.

Not enough for you?  How about Brumnotes, a magazine for the general public with information about the local scene and the bigger acts to visit Birmingham.  A vital link between the underground and the overground that reaches a wider audience and a much needed asset for the second city.

This is just skimming the top of the cream.  There’s not enough space to celebrate what’s going on in Birmingham. Silent Noize, Oxjam Brum’s You’re A Sister, Jason Pegg’s Acoustic Lounge.  I could go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on but you get the point.  Birmingham has a “scene”.  And it’s a fucking great scene.  Something for everyone.  It may not fit some nice music press criteria about what a “scene” is but fuck it, what an exciting place to be!

Jeff Stuka

‘Listening to us is like having your underwear ripped off.’ – Interview with Imperial Leisure

After catching up with two of Imperial Leisure’s members, drummer Scott Vining and vocalist Denis Smith, Jennifer Isles found out a little more about what is behind the music and vibe of the band. Their sound is one that will not be forgotten too soon, whether your kegs remain intact or not is a different matter.

Imperial Leisure by Grove Watson

“Listening to us is like having your underwear ripped off – hurts a little, but you like it,” says Denis when pressed on what to expect when you listen to Imperial Leisure. The band’s music is always changing and of late they have been expanding sonically with their collection of horns and moving from; “the fast lunatic energy of Ska and Punk adding in larger sounds, electronic wizardry and meaningful melodies to take us into the next album and beyond.”

Playing some brand new tracks from their upcoming release as well as mixing up a lot from their current LP; The Art Of Saying Nothing, fans will not want to miss the gig at The Flapper on Thursday 11th March. So, how did Imperial Leisure start out and where did it all begin?

“It began at a happy place in our memories,” quips Scott. “A few years ago, when a bunch of mates decided music was being too serious and people needed a band that would allow them to let loose and have fun.”

“I blame the parents,” says Denis. “Most of us met at school, we used to have a band but got bored of that and started Imperial Leisure, got some horns involved and gigged our asses off, most of the time outside in parks and on the street!”

Describe yourselves in three words

Scott: “Damn, bloody, good or fast, hard, fun or sex, horns, rock and roll.”
Denis: “Musical melting pot.”

The horns are a massive feature in your music, how did this come about, it works so well in your songs?

Scott: “We started using them to create the in-your-face party sound that we wanted, and it gave us some unique performance opportunities for solos and improvising. ”

Denis: “The Art of Saying Nothing featured a two man brass section Mark Rudland and Rob O’Neale, we were really lucky to happen upon them, they can both play like gods but they understood the big picture and how they could fit into it.”

Where’s the best place you guys have performed at?

Scott: “Glastonbury 2008, because of the response we got from over two thousand soon-to-be-fans!”

Denis: “In a carpark in Camden, and Glastonbury weren’t too shabby either!”

Scott:”The last time we played Birmingham the gig was the best on the tour thanks to a load of our own fans and going back there solely for our own supporters is going to be great.”

“London is a good laugh but we need to get out more,” admits Denis. “There’s something special about rocking up to a place you ain’t from and ripping it up.”

Your album ‘The Art Of Saying Nothing’ is out now, what can people expect from it?

Scott: “The Art Of Saying Nothing is about having a good time – that’s it. However you want to do it; going out, getting drunk, chasing girls or staying in and dancing in your bedroom. Either way, this album lets you take that Imperial Leisure gig that you remember home with you.”

Denis: “If you are depressed, get a cheap bottle of Cava, stick us on nice and loud and expect to have a laugh.”

The Art of Saying Nothing - out now

What are your plans for 2010?

Scott: “That’s where our new album comes in. Due out later this year, it shows the next evolution of Imperial Leisure without losing our trademark energy. We also don’t have an album title yet, so any suggestions….?”

Denis: “To vote for the first time, release new Album and ask my ex to marry me…….again. ”

Get down to The Flapper this Thursday evening (11th March) to see Imperial Leisure perform along with the excellent Tempting Rosie and Fistful of Dynamite. Advance tickets £7 from here.

Jennifer Isles


“It all began many years ago when we had mere bum fluff on our faces.” Inteview with OST by @Jennifer_Isles

Originally building the foundations of their band in Wiltshire, ‘OST’ (formerly known as Old School Tie) relocated to Birmingham in order to spread their music and will be performing at  The Flapper on Saturday 27th February.

Jennifer Isles caught up with the band to get the latest on what they are up to in the run up to their latest self-funded album release, called ‘The Live Sessions’ and how it all began as young ones who simply loved to make music.

OST - photo 'patiently taken' by Anne Schwarz

Four piece OST are made up of two sets of brothers who produce an eclectic style of music, electro through to rock, managing to put a unique spin on what the electro music genre typically consists of.

James takes lead vocals and guitar, his sibling Dan plays the drums and backing vocals, Mike is guitars, keys, percussion and backing vocals and his brother Chris is on bass and backing vocals.

So can you tell me a little bit about how OST started and where it all began?

James: “It all began many years ago when we had mere bum fluff on our faces. We met at school and are two sets of brothers. We ended up becoming an instrumental group when we split from our singer, but that allowed us to really explore our music.

“About seven years ago we started as a backing group for a blues vocalist,” adds Mike. “We had entered a battle of the bands competition and our singer dropped out a few days before we were due to play. Instead of giving up we decided to write a 20-minute instrumental piece with no breaks or pauses. We won the competition. It was from this that we started to write and record together as a band.”

Describe yourselves in three words.

James:   “Energetic; Uplifting; Progressive.”

Mike:   “Euphoric; Danceheavy; Rock.”

Dan:    “Ambient; Dance; Rock.”

Chris:   “Broke; Hungry; Homeless.”

What are your musical influences?

“My influences range from a heavy post-rock phase with bands like Explosions In The Sky and Silver Mt Zion to nowadays when I listen to too much Bon Iver, Bob Marley and Delphic,” confesses James. “Basically, I like anything with soul and a great melody. We all have our own tastes and influences which contribute to our sound but often cause the writing process to take a while.”

Mike: “A complete contrast, ranging from classical composers and film music through to reggae and dub, whilst stopping off at Rock City and Trance Nation.”

Dan: “Incubus, Mars Volta and Rage Against the Machine.”

Chris: “I listen to anything which has a bit of soul to it. Arcade Fire always put me in a good place, as well as Youngblood Brass Band and 360. Ben Harper has an incredible bass player.”

How did you develop your eclectic mix of electro / rock?

“It developed from each of us having very different influences and motivations, combined with the way we write music,” begins Mike. “All our ideas come from jams, where we can all imprint our own style and vision for the song into the writing process. This is where our originality occurs.”

“We blend all the sounds we like to hear,” adds James. “We all have a love of big chiming guitars, fuzz pedals, dirty synths and some disco drums, so we just mix them together and different songs get different treatments. We always aimed to make music that people could dance to.”

Where’s the best place you guys have performed at?

“We had a prime-time slot on The Victoria Square Stage at last year’s Birmingham ArtsFest which was pretty epic,” enthuses James. “Playing our hearts out over that massive fountain and watching the crowd swell and responding to us. That certainly wasn’t your normal ‘run-of-the-mill’ gig. The first night of our Norway tour at Blaest Trondheim was the most excited I’ve ever been, many beautiful faces there.”

“For me the Fieldview Festival main stage and The Vic in Old Town and 12Bar, both in Swindon,” recalls Dan. “It was the best atmosphere and crowd we’ve played to, and a great sound engineer.”

Are you looking forward to returning to your roots and performing at The Flapper in Birmingham?

“It’s a great line-up and a proper underground rock place, so looking forward to it, say James. “Been listening to China Red and Hitchcock on MySpace and the line up should be in a big club somewhere. We’ll certainly rock the Flapper.”

Mike adds; “It’ll be nice to see all the people that supported us night after night when we were based in Brum.”

“Might as well be honest,” says Chris. “We haven’t played The Flapper for years. We’ve had issues with the venue in the past, to the extent that we’ve avoided the place, but Carlo’s (Birmingham Promoters) done a lot of work there so it’s going to be really interesting to return.

What other bands are you listening to at the moment?

James: “I’m addicted to the Delphic album, I wanted to find faults with it but it’s pretty perfect.”

Mike: “The Anomalies, Picture Book and 360.”

Dan: “I’m currently listening to lots, Renegades by Rage Against the Machine is my favourite at the moment.”

Chris: “I’m listening to a lot of New Zealanders at the moment – Fat Freddy’s Drop, The Black Seeds, Trinity Roots. Oh and Ben Howard is excellent, he is a West Country boy too I think.”

Not only are the brothers Cameron and Unwin devoting their time to the band, they are also behind the Wiltshire based Fieldview Festival, now in its sixth year after beginning in James and Dan’s parent’s garden and having played host to the likes of Lazy Habits, Blue Whale favourite, Vijay Kishore and Danny and The Champions of the World. According to James, preparations are already well under way: “We have already approached some Brummy bands to play, Goodnight Lenin being one, and also the mighty 360. Hopefully we can strengthen the line-up again this year and build on last year’s success.”

Fieldview Festival

Mike adds: : “It will be bigger and better, but still retaining the friendly and intimate Fieldview atmosphere.”

“Everyone knows everyone because basically most people hear about it through word of mouth, so the atmosphere is absolutely brilliant,” says Chris.

What are your plans for 2010?

“We are busy putting the finishing touches to another album, says James. “We are six tracks in and need to finish the rest. Then hopefully festivals, tours and the usual merry-go-round, which also involves us building the whole Fieldview set up and pulling that off. We also want to go back to Norway and Scandinavia, hopefully calling in to a few other countries on the way. Just need more time and energy.”

Mike: “In addition to maintaining our Birmingham connections, we want to establish ourselves in London. We also want to finish recording a new album with the aim of touring later this year and hitting the UK festival circuit. Should be set for a good year!”

OST at The Flapper 27th Feb

Get down to The Flapper on Saturday 27th February to hear the first of many great gigs for 2010 from OST, alongside ‘China Red’ and ‘Hitchcock’. Go here for tickets and more info.

Jennifer Isles

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