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Chew Lips – My Gigging Year

December 4, 2010
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Tigs and bassist doing their thing

It’s December, so you all know what that means: it’s officially Award Season. As an on-and-off lover of all things statistical I often find myself drawn to end of year lists. I like the idea of reviews, of critics, of analysis. I like metacritic especially, as it combines my two favourite measurements of goodness – critical analysis (as opposed to the potentially insidious and often brainless user reviews) and a large sample size (the statisticians best friend). Award Season saves me doing all the hard work of sifting through the 90% of crap out there and presents for me, in bite-sized chunks, the best of the best. I can then go away and download¹ the hell out of their top tips and see what I make of their judgements. Most of the time I will end up discovering something I really like (obviously it depends on who’s list it is) and I hope you have a similar experience with our seasonal offerings. We’ll be bringing you a variety of musical summaries for the outgoing year in the coming weeks, but first out of the gates is the first in my series of gig reviews from 2010. I’ll try my best to keep to an advent calendar style 1-a-day format, but we’ll see how well that goes.

I made a new years resolution at the end of 2009 to see more gigs, and for the first time in my life I followed through with my resolution. Prior to 2010, I had been to less than 10 gigs in my whole life (not counting the numerous gigs I went to see a friend’s band play). This year, off the top of my head (looks at his meticulously organised iCal) and in no particular order (reverse chronological), I have been to see Gorillaz, Jay Electronica, Local Natives, Mayer Hawthorn, Everything Everything, Mos Def, Grizzly Bear, Beach House, Field Music, Maccabees, Bombay Bicycle Club, The Drums, The Big Pink, Spoon, Seal Cub Clubbing Club and Chew Lips. Oh, and I went to Glasto for the first time, the Great Escape in Brighton, a load of friends’ gigs and probably a few more I forgot to write down.

So, there’s a lot to review. I’ll start with the first gig of my year: Chew Lips.

I only knew one song by Chew Lips when I bought a ticket to see them. The song in question was Slick, and it was getting a lot of airplay at the time on 6music. Play the song at the bottom to see for yourself. It was good enough to persuade me to buy a ticket, but all the same I was not sure about this gig at all. I shouldn’t have worried – it turned out to be an amazing start to my gigging year.

I’ve never really been in the situation of only knowing one song by a band before seeing them live, but for Chew Lips this seemed to help their cause if anything. The songs from their debut album are relatively simple in their arrangement and structure, making it easy for first-time listeners to get their head around. Not usually my cup of tea, but Chew Lips do pop with great style – the minimalist synth sounds from their album that can at times leave you wanting something warmer are translated brilliantly when it comes to a live show.

Usually I’m not a big fan of females in bands (yeah yeah yeah[s], whatever) but the front-woman Tigs really helped turn me around at the start of the year. She is one of the best front-people I have seen live, with a great voice that cuts through the live mix hauntingly at times, and with a vulnerable power at others. But it is her seductive style on stage that really made an impression on me – never before had I been moved at a gig by a front-persons sexuality, but in this case it really did add to the occasion. Her bandmates provide her with the perfect foil: autism personified, their performances were not lethargic in the slightest, but the inward way that they expressed their passion would have left the crowd cold if it were not for the performance of Tigs. As a group, they just work.

Song after song, I was blown away. Every song seemed so easy to grasp without ever being overly simple, with some of the vocal melodies following me long after the show (Gold Key’s crescendo was so powerful and haunting live, and it comes across well on the record too). This is how pop should be – immediate, affecting, but with some level of depth. The set was very cohesive, and for someone who revels in variety I found myself appreciating the focus that the band shows (though I did really enjoy a slight deviation when one of the synth players picked up a guitar for Karen – just one of the many highlights from the gig). I left the gig feeling amazing – I heartily recommend you go see them too, preferably at a smaller venue (I saw them also at The Great Escape in a larger venue and it wasn’t as powerful or intimate).

¹ I actually have a needlessly expensive habit of buying music via iTunes from artists I feel a need to support. Small British artists generally get paid for their hard work. My rule of thumb is: if I think they are rich enough without my money, then they don’t get it. Sometimes, though, a rich motherfucker like Kanye West ends up getting my money because, frankly, he bloody well deserves it for making such an amazing album!

I think there should be a debate about paying for music on this blog sometime in the future, but for now my advice is this: if you really love an album, then you should be happy to pay for someone entertaining you. I mean, I went to a restaurant with a friend yesterday and I tipped for the first time in a long time because I was so happy with the food. I paid because I appreciated the talented work of the chefs – there’s a lot of people in my generation who should grow up and really appreciate what musicians do for us. Rant over – for now…

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris Bingo permalink
    December 4, 2010 5:03 pm

    Massive amounts of liking for this band. Straight out to the shop…errr…desk where my PC is and onto Amazon MP3.

    Very nice stuff Jase. Reminds me a little of the electro-musings of Dan Black. Where is that guy nowadays anyway?

    • j-diz permalink
      December 4, 2010 6:02 pm

      I have no idea whats happening with mr. black. nobody really seems to know about him anyhow. i haven’t listened to his album properly for ages, might have a refresh one of these days, but i have a feeling i wont like it that much any more.

      so i never mentioned chew lips to you before? ah well, you know now!

  2. December 4, 2010 7:08 pm

    Hey great write up. Will have to check them out. Thanks.

    Silent G.

  3. Robbie Bizzle permalink
    December 6, 2010 6:26 pm

    Nice article, but I have to disagree completely about Chew Lips – when we saw them I thought the lead singer came across as pretentious, and I didn’t even notice the rest of the band (that can’t be a good thing)… I also didn’t like any of the songs I heard and it made me more unwilling than ever to listen to the album. The venue we saw them at the Great Escape festival can’t have held more than 500 people, and if you can’t perform to a crowd that size then.. well, that’s a write off in my book. I won’t be listening to Chew Lips any time soon.

    Dan Black’s first album UN is pretty darn sweet. One of the songs is on FIFA11.. apparently he is writing a new album at the moment, he talks infrequently about it on his blog. mostly it’s just full of random internet stuff – http://danblack.blogspot.com/

  4. j-diz permalink
    December 10, 2010 8:22 pm

    Pretentious? Maybe a little, but I think their style works. The gig review was based mainly on the first time I saw them, I don’t really remember their second one too well. They were still good though.

    Ah well, horses for courses and all that. Good to get other opinions on it though.

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