August is, traditionally, a slow month for live music in York.
With festival season upon us, most bands forego touring, or even playing locally, in favour of playing on a variety of sized stages in fields under the blazing sun (or in front of a mud-covered audience in the pouring rain – this is the British summer after all).
Even if they aren’t playing, social media updates indicate that a lot of bands end up in the audiences of these festivals.
This year is no exception and my trawl of the venues’ events lists revealed just 23 gigs, with four of the venues I usually cover having nothing listed at all.
This is the first month of the year in which I don’t have definite plans to see any bands.
There are a couple of gigs coming up that I would like to be at but our plans for August, which usually see me out of action for a couple of weeks, are still up in the air this year so I can’t commit to anything yet.
Close to… no, not the edge… home
Let’s start with the local acts and Vinnie and the Stars, always entertaining live, bring their “funky hip-hop blues” to The Duchess on the 7th.
Support comes from Ian Wilson, another local act who uses backing tracks behind his guitar and vocals to perform as a one-man-band whose music has been likened to The Foo Fighters and Biffy Clyro.
In between those two acts will be Bingers UK, about whom I can find no details (£5 adv/ £6 otd).
There’s more local support on the bill at Fibbers on the 14th.
They will be joined by the self-styled “genre terrorists” Magnificent Seven, who mix ska, hip-hop, funk, punk and metal, amongst others, to breakdown musical boundaries.
Together they are supporting the punk/ ska / metal combination of Keighley boys Random Hand, who are either calling it a day or going on hiatus, depending on which site you read and signing off with a series of gigs across the country throughout July, August and September (£8).
The same venue hosts a night of rock and metal on the 15th with, again, a near-total local line-up.
Beyond All Reason, Amongst Thieves and headliners The Bastard Sons regularly play their home town and this time Tussk will be travelling up from Staffordshire to add their southern groove/ metal sound to the bill (£5).
On the same date there is, perhaps, an oasis in the midst of the seemingly endless loudness when acoustic pop trio Girl take to the stage at The Basement for what might be their last gig before two of their members move to Leeds (£4 adv/ £5 otd).
Finally, York and New York combine as American rebel-rock duo The Last Internationale play an exclusive date between appearances at the Leeds and Reading festivals.
New two-day festival
There’s a new two-day music extravaganza this month split between two venues.
The In The City Festival takes place over the Bank Holiday weekend on the 30th-31st.
Altogether 22 bands are playing, at The Mount on the Sunday, and the Spread Eagle on the Monday.
I don’t know many of them except for talented York rockers The Filthy Piece. But the idea of the festival is to bring “the best unsigned artists together from all over the North” so there could be some discoveries.
Long distance runaround
There are some big names and some interesting sounds amongst the acts visiting York this month.
It seems that the ska punk metal combination is the trending genre this month and Floridians Less Than Jake, with nearly a quarter of a million likes on Facebook, will be playing Fibbers on the 4th as part of a huge European and UK tour.
Support comes from Saint Albans pop-punkers Trash Boat (£15).
Beggar’s Bridge don’t have as far to travel when they make the journey from Hull to appear at the Black Swan Folk Club and perform songs inspired by the people and places of East Yorkshire on the 6th (£8).
The Basement’s first gig of the month, on the 7th, is Dublin girl Niamh Parkinson, performing as I Am Niamh.
Apparently she cites everyone from Debussy to Deerhoff as influences – I know little, if anything, about them but likening her to Kate Bush is enough to pique my interest (£5 adv/ £6 otd).
I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t quite know what to make of Dingus Khan, who play the same venue on the 8th.
It sounds like it could be an unusual, fun gig, though (£5).
You have a choice on the 11th, as York is invaded, in a musical sense, from the North and the South.
At the Duchess, you can catch Bedford Alt-rock band Don Broco, who will be promoting their second album Automatic (£15 adv/ £17 otd).
Alternatively, over at the Basement, Northumbrian guitarist The Horse Loom (aka. Steve Malley) joins forces with Scottish folk musician Alasdair Roberts and Trembling Bells, a folk rock band from Glasgow (£10).
The Duchess, on the 12th, plays host to arguably the biggest name to play York this month when Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris brings his British Lion tour there.
The album release back in 2012 didn’t exactly wow the critics or the fans but social media updates suggest that the music comes across much better in the live arena.
Iron Maiden are one of the bands I listened to during my formative years as a music fan, so I’m keen to get to this if I can (£15 adv/ £17 otd).
Jess and Richard Arrowsmith will be at the Black Swan on the 13th. The Sheffield duo promise a mix of lively vocals and subtle playing and a mix of ballads, lullabies, jigs and airs (£9).
It seems that fate is against me once again this month. I haven’t managed to catch The Oli Brown Band any time they have played the blues in York in the past.
They are back here on the 14th for an increasingly rare blues show – Brown is spending more time rocking with his new band, RavenEye.
Even if I am in York on that date, it coincides with my wedding anniversary, so I’m going to have to be very lucky to get to this gig… (£10 adv/ £12 otd).
Leeds/ Chicago sound artist Juffage returns to The Basement on the 15th for another gig that sounds promising just from the preview write-up, which cites “sonically powerful and physically captivating live shows”.
The accompanying picture displays a dizzying number of effects pedals and wires arranged in front of an array of instruments – it would be interesting to see how just one man uses them all (£tbc).
Ten Americans come together as The Youngblood Brass Band and try to get the audience to dance till they drop at Fibbers on the 18th (£12.50).
Scarborough’s Anna Shannon – former winner of Radio York’s Song For Yorkshire competition – completes a hat-trick of gigs featuring Yorkshire artistes at The Black Swan on the 20th (£7).
I don’t usually include tribute acts but as there are so few gigs this month it would be churlish to leave Remode, a German tribute to Depeche Mode out, even if they aren’t going to entice me along to their gig at Fibbers on the 21st (£12).
Drawing this month’s gigs to a close, you can hear the indie-pop of Canadian band Alvvays (pronounced “Always”) – another act appearing at Leeds and Reading – as they appear at the Duchess on the 30th (£12 adv/£14.50 otd).
A final word
And that, dear reader, is that. Every gig I could find listed is above. Of course, there will also be the usual free gigs in the pubs and bars around the city, the various open mic nights and, probably, some gigs that I didn’t find details for.
(The Fulford Arms, in my experience always difficult to find details for, is bound to have some gigs on.)
There may be fewer gigs than in most months but that’s still no excuse to get out and support live music.