BootsnAll Travel Network

Soaring Kaliedoscopic Electro-Folk

Bec and I have been in Scotland now for almost three months. Coming from Melbourne, we both love going to see live music, as Melbourne is without doubt one of the greatest cities in the world for live music; up there with New York, Austin, and Glasgow. One memorable gig we saw here in Edinburgh back on April 28th featured a band called the Earlies. I sent this review to a few friends back home, and thought it might be worth sharing here…

Until last night Bec and I hadn’t been to see some live music in bloody ages. We did go out with Owen in Winnipeg to see a band, but I’m not sure if that counts. Owen’s musical taste didn’t quite correspond with ours. Basically, if he lived in Melbourne, he’d listen to Triple M, essentially a cock-rock station for blokes. His radio station of choice was Power 97 “Winnipeg’s Best Rock”, which, with absolutely no exaggeration, played AC/DC approximately every 5th song. We’d spend, on average, about half an hour listening to Power 97 “Winnipeg’s Best Rock” each day whilst in the car. We were there for about two and a half weeks, which is a total of around 9 hours. During those nine hours we heard AC/DC’s Back in Black at least four times. That’s a pretty darn good strike rate. Although, to Owen’s credit, the band we did go and see had a singer who played one guitars that are like, you know, double guitars, for half the set.

Needless to say then, we were looking forward to last night. The gig was part of a local festival on at the moment called Triptych, which goes all week and has a shitload of gigs here and in Glasgow, including sets from the likes of Cat Power and Herbie Hancock. We picked this particular gig out of the festival guide, based solely on the description of bands. Headlining were the Earlies, supported by Micah P Hinson, Archer Prewett and Sam Prekop. Don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of them either.

Before leaving home we were describing the bands we were going to see to our flatmate Kara. This isn’t an easy thing to do when you’ve never seen or heard of the bands. So we grabbed the paper and checked the gig listings.

“Here it is… ‘The Earlies, with guests. 8pm . The Venue. Soaring Kaleidoscopic Electro-Folk.’


“Soaring Kaleidoscopic Electro-Folk”

“What the hell is that?”

“Fucked if I know”

“Well, have a good time”

The Venue was a lot like the Corner Hotel, only smaller, about half the size. There were maybe a couple of hundred people in there, with still enough room to move about. The first two dudes, Archer Prewett and Sam Prekop, were from Chicago-based outfit The Sea and Cake, and provided some gentle meandering guitar noodlings, with typically breathy, smooth vocals (for those that have heard The Sea and Cake). Very cruisy.

The next geezer on stage was Micah P. Hinson. He looked a bit like Ben Lee’s younger, but way less dorky, brother. Bec informed me that his recent history included dating a model, her then getting him hooked on narcotics, getting busted for forging prescriptions and spending time in jail, and subsequently getting dumped and kicked out of his home in quick succession, and losing all his money (sounds like the start of some bad movie doesn’t it, or Bill Murray at the start of Stripes. C’mon, it’s not a bad movie). After prison he then checked himself into a cheap motel and banged out 30-odd songs seemingly all revolving around his new-found animosity towards his ex. And all this at the ripe old age of 19.

I won’t tell you straight away what he sounded like, I’ll let Bec spell that one out for you. He’d played a few songs, when Bec mentioned that he reminded her of someone, but couldn’t quite figure out exactly who. His set continued along, not deviating much throughout, when, right near the end of his set, she turned to me and, mustering all the power in her voice, desperately trying to be heard over the shrill guitar, shouted into my ear…

“I thi.. Ad.. Sandles”


This time, just that little bit louder,

“Think… Wedding Singer”

Oh my god if it wasn’t the most accurate comparison of a musician to another musician (ok, so actor/comedian/musician) I’ve ever heard. You know that scene in the Wedding Singer when Adam Sandler plays that song he’s written, which starts out sweet but then turns to a angry screaming match between him and his guitar ….”BUT IT ALL WAS BULLSHIT, IT WAS A GODDAM JOKE, AND WHEN I THINK OF YOU LINDA, I HOPE YOU FUCKING CHOKE”. Well, Micah P Hinson’s entire set was just like this. Every song he played had no more than about four lines, first repeated softly, then with the odd scream here and there, then by the end, he was the wedding singer. Yet somehow, it was pretty damn good.

Whilst he probably wasn’t trying to be, he was without doubt one of the funniest musos I’ve seen.

Photos of the Earlies that I’d seen in the paper showed four guys, apparently two of them being from the UK, and the other two from Texas. As they were setting up there seemed to be a heap of people on stage…

“Bec, how many people are in this band?”

“Dunno, five or six maybe”

Hmmm, seemed a fair guess, a lot of bands have one or two extra members when they play live. Ok, let’s count. Singer, guitarist, another guitarist, keyboard player, drummer, ok that’s five. Think that’s it. Oh, hang on, there’s a dude at a turntable over there, and there’s a bass player hiding back left. So, seven….

“Not bad” I said, looking at Bec, raising my eyebrows and giving a bit of a frown and nod in the international gesture for ‘impressive’.

I turned back to the stage….. “hang on, is that another keyboardist up on the left there, ok, that’s eight, and what’s that dude next to him doing? Shit, he’s in the band as well – nine. And is that another keyboardist up there. Fuckin’ hell.” This band was multiplying faster than a gremlin splashed with a cold glass of water.

But that wasn’t even the end, cause hiding right in the middle of the stage, tucked behind the singer, and seemingly no higher than the bass drum, was a short-arse little girl playing the cello. That brings our final count to eleven, folks. Eleven! These guys made Architecture in Helsinki look like Simon and Garfunkel with a guest tambourine player.

And by golly if they weren’t a bloody happy bunch, but not in that gay, twee, almost annoying sort of way that Architecture in Helsinki are, but just beer-swillin’ tune-playin’ bloody content. One dude, playing guitar/trumpet, had on a straw cowboy hat, accompanied by a thick goatee, the ‘tache of which was of the handlebar persuasion. I swear, you trade that cowboy hat for one of those three-cornered numbers, swap that gee-tar for a sword, and you’ve got the fourth musketeer, the ‘Musical Musketeer’ if you like. Not that I’m even going to refer to him again, but that Musical Musketeer call is gold. Isn’t it? Folks?

Maybe it’d make more sense if you saw a photo of him. But considering I didn’t take my camera, there’s about as much chance of that happening as Little Johnny Howard being remembered for his compassion. (hey, look everyone, Dave just put political grandstanding into his blog. Take that you little rodent!) For non-Australians reading this who’ve missed the reference, just replace Little Johnny Howard with George W Bush, and you’ll get a fair idea of how high my regard is for the Australian Prime Minister.

The music was fantastic. The Earlies had a strong Elbow flavour, especially the keyboard sound, but it had way more depth to it, as you’d bloody expect with eleven people in your band. If you’ve got eleven people in your band and you ain’t got no depth in your music, you better be goddamn funny or unbelievably sexy. Or you ain’t gettin’ nowhere.

Mix Elbow with the grandeur of The Polyphonic Spree, add a bit of countryish Wilconess, and a dash of The Grand Silent System (but without the prog-rock influences – no weird time signatures here people) and you have, what can only be described as, soaring kaleidoscopic electro-folk. These guys were the KINGS of soaring kaleidoscopic electro-folk. Forget this new-wave shit like the Killers and Hot Hot Heat, soaring kaleidoscopic electro-folk is the next big thing. And you know how every second band these days seems to be a two-piece, well, eleven-pieces are the new two-pieces. It’s bound to happen people. Trust me, I’ve got red hair.


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