There’s plenty of live music that catches our eye this month in Cambridge.
Over at the Cambridge Junction the exciting day event Junkyard returns for its annual August event. The epic interdisciplinary and cross-arts day event is now in its third year and promises a showcase of music spanning varied genres, visual arts and all round good vibes.
Headlining Junkyard is the super talented Big Heath. The Cambridge-born rapper and songwriter is as far from the city’s stereotype as possible. Raised on 90s Hip Hop whilst growing up around the time Grime was emerging, Big Heath fuses these influences to create a truly unique sound, one that he likes to call – the ‘BiG SOUND’. Having played Lovebox festival earlier this summer and after receiving critical acclaim from the release of his debut EP ‘Christopher’, and the release of numerous music videos, he is sure to be one to watch this year.
On another plane of the jazz spectrum sit legendary New Orleans outfit The Hot 8 Brass Band who have been blowing for over 20 years. They are among the very best exponents of big brass jazz, blending classic covers with new and funk-fuelled original tunes, and are one massive hoot. Last time they played Cambridge it was a sell out, so be sure to move quick to get tickets for their show in the 31st at the Cambridge Junction.
Down Norfolk Street there are a couple of eye-catching shows at The Blue Moon. First up is Irma Vep on the 16th. Irma Vep is the vehicle for the multi-faceted and prolific Edwin Steven’s solo works. Since leaving the spawning pool of Llanfairfechan for the sprawl of Manchester, Stevens has been a persistent presence in the NorthWest underground, featuring in groups including Sex Hands, Klaus Kinski, Desmadrados Soldados De Ventura, and Yerba Mansa. As Irma Vep he balances somewhere between tongue-in-cheek braggadocio and regret-filled introspection, and projects it all through a fog of scuzz and echo, playing unashamedly sincere songs that conjure up images of The Velvet Underground, Robert Wyatt, Country Teasers, and Smog.
Staying at The Blue Moon, on the 27th there is the double header of Housewives and Massicot as their tour hits Cambridge. Housewives’ sound (or noise) is indebted to the scratch and scrawl of No Wave and Post Punk. Melody is often tossed aside in favour of clanging dissonance and sharp rhythmic turns.
The Geneva quartet Massicot sounds as if it can barely keep its own energy under control. The no-frills, bone-dry guitar sound oscillates between hypnotically repetitive passages and noisy outbursts. The quartet’s songs are reduced to mere skeletons that burst with intensity.
There is a trio of gigs over at The Portland Arms this month which we reckon you should get to. Firstly, we have the brilliant Besnard Lakes on the 18th. Fifteen years into their career, with a new line up and a renewed sense of ambition, The Besnard Lakes have created a concise record that expands upon the luscious vocal harmonies, dense guitar-work and classic 70s melodicism for which they have gained huge critical acclaim. They are creating a larger narrative about what it means to be a classic rock band with a deep and rich catalogue in the 21st Century.
On the 19th we have the NMG Award Launch event. The show is to officially launch the awards for 2016 which will be at the West Road on 14th October. They’ll be announcing all the nominees on the night and have some live music performances from local acts Oscar Corney and Staycations.
Meanwhile on the 13th, The Portland hosts a trio of Cambridge’s best alternative acts. Headlining are Prison Whites, a trio who produce awesome new punk crossed with garage rock sounds. Also on the bill are new outfit, Stars Of Track And Field, the band came together over a shared love of 90s slacker rock. Think Buffalo Tom, Alkaline Trio, Dinosaur Jr et al. Completing the line up is Newts, a three-piece noise machine, expect plaid shirt slacker rock.
We end our August recommendations with a nod to the return of Sweet Revenge. The bimonthly club night returns to the Blue Moon on Saturday 6 August. Come prepared to dance to old and new indiepop, punk, new wave, US alternative and girl group sounds from 8pm until late.