The Groove Farm Christmas Party – Bristol – live review

The Groove Farm – Catenary Wires – Jetstream Pony – The Total Rejection – The Rev Johnny Kinkaid – Tim, Rob & Guests Play The Five Year Plan.

1st December 2018

For the second half of Fighting Boredom’s Pre-Christmas Road Trip, we blasted down from Manchester to Bristol in the Boredmobile to go to the Exchange to see an Indie filled bill. With the Garage-Indie of The Groove Farm, Acoustic pop of Catenary Wires, the Indie Pop of Jetstream Pony, Garage Psych Punk of The Total Rejection, the solo guitar punky folk of The Rev Johnny Kinkead and the Alt-Pop of The Five Year Plan this evening promises to be something pretty special. Read what we thought below.

The Exchange in Bristol isn’t ready for us when we arrive, the bands are muffled and sound checking, the bar isn’t open so we retire next door where we are quizzed about the locality of the beer we order. We sit and put the world to rights eventually making ourselves get up and head next door.

I have been following the protagonists of this gig for some time on Facebook, chatting online, reviewing and purchasing bits and pieces of music. The snapper has come to see friends from another band, so it’s a bit of a big event for us. We buy beer and I immediately start chatting to the DJ, an old old friend in every sense of the word. He is explaining every record he puts on in his usual manic demeanor. 

The first band on, once you get past the long merch stand, is The Five Year Plan + Friends. It’s immediately obvious that most people here know each other and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. They start off gentle, very indie sounding with a full sound. The guitars get louder but are still obviously indie. The sound is emotional and rich, there’s no pretension here, just good music. It goes a little fuzzy and a little distorted and when their friend comes on with a fantastic hat, she sings a slow lovely song. They speed up, not quite to thrash levels but the guitar and bass get louder as the band look at lyric sheets and talk to the crowd. The music is eminently dance-able in the vein of true indie and it’s a classic sound with a great feel.

Johnny Kinkaid plays guitar and sings, well, when he’s not ‘just trying to remember the words’. He has a warm delivery and as before everyone seems to know him. It’s got an indie feel as he plays his personal stories on electric guitar. it’s a punk DIY sound, and doesn’t need anything more. I’ve always thought that it takes a certain amount of bravery to get up on your own and play to an audience, he has his eyes closed as he sings. He plays a new song about wanting to be loved and then calls up Arthur to drum, who tells us he is in no way a drummer but Johnny wanted a Mo Tucker thing and so he does, the sound turns totally VU and it’s cool, loose and lost. ‘I want something more!’ and the noise stops and his voice falls away.

I’m back out with Ian on the decks and he is ranting about B sides. Kinks B sides to be precise. I go back in as I’m not missing The Total Rejection, their album a definite contender for my top ten of the year. Arthur is at the front now, surrounded by like-minded misfits. There’s no frills. He tells us they haven’t had a soundcheck almost apologetically. But this crowd don’t care, they just want the music, everyone I’ve spoken to about this gig have told me to check The Total Rejection out, even people from the other bands. So the audience are right behind them. Anyway, they slam straight into a sixties psych groove, pure and powerful. The groove captures you straight away and it’s oh so good. There have been apologies for illness before this performance but in the moment they’ve obviously been lost in the Adrenalin, Arthur is on fire, singing, swinging his guitar around and making the most immense Garage Rock sound.

The vibe is loud and has a looseness to die for. The songs rise from nothing and the drums, fuzz and voice meld into one. The records excellent but this is even better. These cats don’t need to rehearse, they are tight as hell as it is, they probably don’t need us anywhere as much as we need them. They’re playing from their souls. There are people going bonkers at the front and everyone else is well into it. 

The fluffed starts and re-tuning just make this better, you think the sixties ran without a glitch and on time? I think not man. There are new songs and old songs, there are moments of calm before moments of complete psychedelic madness. I’m dancing and my notes are illegible but it’s alright, everything is alright. The band don’t seem to be breaking a sweat at all, even the drummer when he channels Keith Moon. There’s a Suicide throb all of a sudden and the drums get even harder. There’s feedback and explosions of sound. The Total Rejection are unstoppable tonight. I’m pretty sure they won’t have seen it like that, but we know man, we were there. Super cool and bang on. How do you follow that? Where do you go next?

Well, The Groove Farm have an ace up their sleeve with Jetstream Pony. Indie to the core and featuring the tallest guitarist on the bill wearing a Christmas jumper. The guitars are high and fast, drums and bass keeping the way clear and the sweet vocals all merge together to make this indie as it was always meant to be played. A contrast to what has come before but it works and feels good. This is the other reason we had travelled to Bristol tonight, this is what we wanted to see. I have a love for this music that gets lost in everything else I hear but now and again I get hooked by it again. Since I first heard Shop Assistants all those years ago, this music gets me. The noise overtakes the melody but never overpowers it.

Beth looks awkward but that just adds to the whole thing, the Christmas jumper is discussed and then they start again. The drummer is grinning at the bassist and the bassist is dancing as she plays. Beth sings as she moves around the stage and the guitarist stands and plays, the songs are short, sharp and perfect. It sums up the indie mentality of wondering if people really like us, the awkward kids when I was at school with their fringes and badges. For the record, we did like them, a lot. I have to move to the back of the room as my knee gives way. I lean at the back and the fuzzy spiky goodness carries on. Beth switches to bass and the bassist sings, dramatic and cool. They finish as they started with perfect emotional indie pop and we love them for it. 

The Catenary Wires are very very different. A man with a guitar sitting next to a woman with a strange squeezebox both singing. The vocals seem to conflict with each other to start with but they settle down together. It’s very gentle, quiet and folky. It’s the flipside of everything else tonight. he harmonises and backs her high clear voice with his low almost growling sound.

The guitar is slow and delicate to match the emotive singing. She tells stories with a rich clearness. The feeling is almost twee, but there was always a twee edge to indie, they are doing what they love, you can tell by their demeanor onstage. This is music for the quiet contemplative moments and the people in the room love it. I’m left a little cold but that’s just me, and I’m in the minority judging from the applause and the sales of the single at the merch stand as I sit next to it. The squeezebox and guitar make a tender soft sound that complements the voices. As I watch the crowd melt as they stand focused on them.

The Groove Farm are headlining and everyone that’s been on stage so far tonight are either in them or down the front watching. This is rock’n’roll, Arthur has changed into a bright shirt and they are bang on. He starts by reminding everyone that it’s Billy Childish’s birthday.  The music is loud and fuzzy, clear and straightforward and it rocks. The vocal sounds great over the guitar led groove, it’s on a par with the best of the indie rock bands like Teenage Fanclub and surf/garage revivalists The Barracudas, and like both of them it has an edge, an edge of anger and raw emotion. 

Beyond that though is the massive heart beating under the noise, this music has been danced to at indie discos around the country and you can tell why. It’s clearer and cleaner than The Total Rejection and harder than The Five Year Plan, it’s got more of a sixties pop rock meshed with an eighties indie feel which just works. It’s catchy as hell. There are people dancing and it’s real jump up and down music. They play a short, sharp punk song , they play powerful and catchy loud pop and they provide raw unadulterated indie power, the final song even has a surf twang embedded in it. Excellent set.
It has been hinted at that this was the last Groove Farm performance. If that’s indeed the case, it’ll be a damn shame because that was excellent.
The whole night has turned out to be a triumph. We head away musically satisfied, tired and grinning.
The Groove Farm

Catenary Wires

Jetstream Pony

The Total Rejection

The Rev Johnny Kinkaid

Tim, Rob & Guests Play The Five Year Plan

The Groove Farm are on Facebook and have a Bandcamp page.

Catenary Wires’ website is, they are on Facebook and Tweet as @catenarywires

Jetstream Pony have a Bandcamp page, are on Facebook and Tweet as @jetstream_pony

The Total Rejection are on Facebook and are on Bandcamp.

The Rev Johnny Kinkaid is on Bandcamp and Facebook.

All words by Adrian Bloxham, all Photos and Driving by Martin Ward.






Adrian Bloxham

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