Front Page News Leap Day Party February 29th 2020
Every so often we ask particular friends to come to our events. The ones who would tell you when you were having a bad hair day. The kind of friend who would tell you to your face whether or not that wildly unique idea you thought you have is just one that's been caned a million times. One such friend graced our Leap Day Party and this is what he had to say for himself... - Ed. Note
Can you taste the music? by Paul Burnett
There’s an old joke about not being able to organise a few drinks in a brewery, and I can tell you it wasn’t one of those occasions.
Front Page News has been shaking things up on the Barcelona music scene for over a year now; getting up and coming, original artists and bands to play pop-up events in venues to suit the music - from an old vaudevillian theatre to modern, purpose-built concert venues and anything in between. They’ve built up quite a following for good reason and tend to draw a crowd.
Well, the brewery idea worked so well last Autumn, they brought it back. This time on a Saturday afternoon, another unexpected move from Front Page News.
You get out of the Metro in a rapidly gentrifying old warehouse district, well-known for underground galleries and studios and, approaching the building from the outside, there’s a bright graffiti mural that marks it out from its more boring neighbours.
As you enter, it’s clear that you’re walking into a craft brewery in full swing, there’s no hanging around either- with a slick pre-ticketing system, one scan of your phone screen and you’re in.
Inside, it’s a great open space with a stage in one corner and a bar in the other. The walls are lined with huge oak barrels and through windows behind the stage you see the huge operational vats.
There’s already an atmosphere in here, it’s low-key cool, with a laid-back atmosphere and a bubble of chatter coming from a really mixed crowd. This event is attracting a different type, from twenty-somethings and even a few couples with kids to the older hardcore of live concert goers. This is no hipster-only event, nor is it an overly-serious older venue where you constantly feel a little out of place.
There’s an underground, low-tech feel to everything, from the raw concrete floor to the unpretentious bar set-up. A huge blackboard lists the brews on offer, and the variety is almost as impressive as the number of award certificates proudly displayed beneath it.
The bar has a huge number of pumps on the back wall, and the staff are friendly and efficient – they know their business and there is a beer is in my hand in near record time – they kept up with the considerable demand throughout the day and I never had to wait long for a top-up - a huge plus for a busy event. It’s also really reasonable – prices are roughly what you’d pay for industrially produced, bland beer in other venues, but this beer is on another level.
I’m in a heavy mood and decide on an award-winning Imperial Stout, it’s not for the faint-hearted at nearly 10% alcohol but a distinctively rich chocolatey but savoury flavour was just what I needed to get me in the mood for an afternoon of music.
Working my way through the list was just surprise after welcome surprise, and everyone in my group ended up finding a different favourite. And good craft beer encourages the quality over quantity approach.
I catch a whiff of something and move to investigate – there’s a back yard with picnic tables, so the smokers don’t have to leave the venue, but it’s the big barbeque that caught my attention. A quality burger or veggie option means, when I get hungry, I don’t have to go anywhere!
The place is filling up, word obviously got around and I recognise a lot of the musicians who played at other Front Page News events hanging out. You know the Front Page News team are doing something right when the musicians are supporting each other and mixing with the audience, it’s a far cry from the normal event set-up.
A couple of guys are making last minute adjustments to the sound, and again the musicians are helping each other out. It’s not long before a young guy gets up on the low stage and slings a guitar around his neck, checking his mic position. A bassist joins him and they’re set. No ten minutes of fiddling and tuning like amateur night here, we’re off and the blues/folk feel gets you immediately. The chatting subsides…
Dylan Cloud may well have been born fifty years too late, because he’s knocking out classics with his own twist, effortlessly comfortable in this style – with a voice that’s powerful and soft in the right places. Make no mistake, this is no anodyne coffee-house cover band, there’s a thumping beat coming from a stompbox and Ian, the experienced bass player is filling out the low end, solidifying the whole sound. It’s hard to believe this is a duo and the end result of this, is that when you look around everyone’s head is nodding, recognising the standards and smiling at his take on them.
It’s a tight set that builds in intensity until they finish, if anything, a little too soon for me. It’s a great start to the gig and it leaves us wanting more, but I know who’s coming next.
I first saw Titan James in a basement club, and despite the energy in his performance, the sound let it down. I was invited to come and see him perform his original material a couple of weeks ago in a converted theatre at an exclusive show recorded live. The difference was huge – with a decent sound system, you could hear his lyrics and vocal stylings properly. Finally, I get it, this guy’s got something that needs to be heard live. Today at Edge Brewing, the sound’s good and it doesn’t take long for him to work up an infectious energy, it’s so good to see a guy playing off his band – they’re having fun up there and it comes across in the music.
The young Canadian’s songs have a big dose of darker country rock and Americana, a rich vein that is just easy to get in to and he fronts the band with conviction. The crowd are moving, the head-nodding is turning into swaying and we’re hooked. Titan knows how to use dynamics and he builds the intensity to let it drop away and highlight a vocal section that sounds particularly heart-felt. The set builds, the band jams out a couple of the louder numbers and the crowd is really eating it up. Titan’s swinging his long hair in a rocked-out trance and singing his heart out, with a stage presence that’s hard to ignore, not that he stays on the stage all the time.
I head out to chat with some of the musicians hanging outside in the yard, and we’re all pretty impressed by the polished performances from these young musicians. Titan’s definitely one to watch out for.
With a fresh beer in hand, a gorgeously-balanced session IPA (I seriously don’t think you can go wrong with any Edge Brewing beer), I head back inside. I know what’s coming and I don’t have to wait long.
Some of the guys who played with Titan have switched instruments and a couple of familiar faces are making last minute adjustments… and here he is, the headliner - Liam Cloud with his band Jezebel Lies.
Liam is an unassuming, humble musician who has built a following for his own brand of r’n’b influenced, soulful rock over the last few years. When I first saw him, he was writing and practicing hard. Since then he’s appeared on a huge national talent show, which exposed him to the hard, exploitative edge of the music industry, he’s sold out venues and played to larger and larger crowds. He’s become one of the hardest working musicians in Barcelona, hosting music nights and gigging all around town.
That hard work has paid off, and we’re lucky to see him in an intimate venue, doing what he does so well. On this stage, he’s a truly polished professional, singing for an appreciative audience and it suits his smooth style perfectly.
This guy really can sing. I know this, I’ve heard him many times before. Maybe it’s the atmosphere, maybe he’s more relaxed or maybe it’s the band, but he’s absolutely shining up there. He sweeps from lows to a stunningly clear falsetto as if it’s nothing, his technique doesn’t seem like a trick or seem overdone – it’s underlining parts of his songs perfectly. All through his set his guitar work is impeccable – from rhythmic strumming to searing solos, he’s got a great range and tone. There are some great subtle touches from Kaku on keys - filling out the mid-section, giving Liam a platform to switch between his voice and guitar solos.
His bass player Joseph is a revelation – nailing the low end and keeping the rhythm section solid, I love the way he blends into the background when the song’s smooth and steps up the attack for the more upbeat sections. And although the drummer Bryan’s limited to a cajon, he’s getting a big sound out of it and the combination has most people dancing.
Scanning the room, I have to remind myself that this is a craft brewery tasting room on a Sunday afternoon. It feels like an underground album launch party, we’re dancing and cheering every song, Liam always engages a crowd but he’s really working them today.
From now on - this is how I want to see up and coming musicians. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Front Page News and Edge Brewing – you smashed it.