Thursday, 17 May 2018

Hipsville-A-Go-Go Weekender 2018 - A Mighty Garage Rock Rumble in The Margate

The Schizophonics at Hipsville
Well, I seem to say this every year but the latest Hipsville was the best yet! This year the weekend was billed as Hipsville Jungle A-Go-Go following on from previous themes of Hipsville in Space, Horror, Carnival and Seaside and the excellent props and stage decorations were the usual high standard of imaginative design and humour. Mr A, Alex and Ade really surpassed themselves in providing us with a non-stop-fun-packed-value-for-money extravaganza that featured Gorillas, stunning Go-Go Girls and super cool DJ’s including Neil Sick, Carl Combover, Mike Gunn, Fritz Buzzsaw, Adam Diddy Wah and, of course, more Gorillas. There was a Tiki Cocktail Bar, Roller Disco, Classic Auto Show and a Vintage Market. In addition to all of that, thanks to a fully open and functioning Dreamland Amusement Park, we could also take advantage of unlimited free rides on the lovingly restored old-fashioned funfair attractions. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the small matter of the twelve top quality international bands, but more about those later. Whereas at last year’s Hipsville, Dreamland was still under construction and everything was centred on the downstairs Ballroom, this time round the main event was held in the cavernous Event hall upstairs, which was lit up by some fantastic Psychedelic projections and boasted a huge stage. 

DJ's Fritz Buzzsaw and Adam Diddy Wah at Hipsville
I have to say that everything went to schedule and was extremely well organised so it was easy to plan your weekend’s entertainment. I know how stressful it is just to promote a one-off gig so I have nothing but admiration for the Hipsville organising gang. Even if we take away the stress of the financial side of things, they have to deal with a venue that is pretty new to staging music events and which has to take into account the general public visiting Dreamland too. Mr A, Alex and Ade don’t exactly make things easy for themselves either; for example, they rarely have the same bands back twice, instead preferring to offer a chance to those acts that might have impressed at a Weirdsville show over the past year or a band that they just want to see as fans themselves. Then they up the stress ante even more by inviting over acts from all corners of the globe – for example at Hipsville I have seen bands not only from the Continent but from as far away as Brazil, Japan, USA, Russia and Mexico. So, all this means they have to worry about accommodation and looking after the acts they choose, sometimes even helping to set them up with other UK shows through their network of like-minded friends and promoters.

Dreamland, Margate - home of Hipsville
Quite a few of these bands may well be making their first high profile UK appearance, if not their actual debut but what the organisers can rely is the loyal and open-minded attitude of the audience to welcome these sometimes-unfamiliar acts. You can guarantee that you are going to come away from Hipsville pleasantly surprised with a good number of ‘brand new favourite bands’. Having said that, occasionally I do think it would be nice to see a more familiar name such as King Salami & The Cumberland 3 or Oh! Gunquit but then again most of these bands are there in the audience enjoying themselves as ‘regular punters’ anyway. Either that or they are involved in some way or another, for example, Oh! Gunquit’s Simon Wild is DJ’ing and their vocalist Tina is one of the Hipsville Go-Go girls. Over the course of the weekend, I bump into and chat to Kevin from The Baron Four, Chuchi from Oh! Gunquit and members of King Salami, The Fuzillis, Ye Nuns, The Hare & Hoofe, The Sine Waves, Thee Girl Fridays and The Wicked Whispers amongst others. It would appear that there are almost as many musicians in the crowd as there are appearing on stage. I also had a chat to Gwen Ever who was interviewing the bands and organisers for the excellent “A Low Life in High Heels” show on Deal Radio, which is well worth checking out.

The Hipsville Go-Go Girls with organisers Mr A, Alex and Ade
Margate is a great place for a weekend too, not just for the usual traditional kiss-me-quick and saucy postcard seaside attractions and it does have lovely beaches and a stunning sunset but there is also plenty to do for Hipsville visitors. The old town has some great independent stores, pubs and bars such as Olby’s Soul Café and the quite superb Fez Bar, which could have been created by the Hipsville props department. The Cliftonville area also has some great vintage shops, cafes and record stores. Sunny was a particular delight, a treasure trove of vinyl and movie memorabilia and retro-kitsch items and the friendly and knowledgeable owner was playing King Kurt followed by “Stompin’ At The Klub Foot”, so you can’t go wrong there. However, enough of the sightseeing let us take a look at the bands that were appearing over the weekend.

The Jungle Deviants open Hipsville on the Friday
The bad news started filtering through that Davros and the Deep Space Deviants had been held up at Intergalactic Customs just outside the orbit of planet Skaros. Apparently, they were stopped for being over their limit on duty free booze so their earthbound counterparts The Jungle Deviants stepped in to act as house warm-up band for the weekend. They were dressed as the cast of “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum” and treated us to a set of Jungle themed classics such as “Jungle Boogie” and “Welcome To The Jungle” and they did an inspired version of Toto Coelo’s “I Eat Cannibals” mashed up with Magazine’s “Shot By Both Sides”. There was also the odd curveball such as the Dave Allen theme tune thrown in for good measure to keep everyone on their toes. It’s bugging me, but The Deviants do bear a striking resemblance to The Shook-Ups; I wonder what ever happened to them? Anyway, we are introduced to the wonderful Hipsville Go-Go Girls, Wanda De Lullabies, Celia Aloha, Tina Tuna, Nocturna, Alexandra Beatgirl & Miss Diabolik. Sadly, there was no Dottie Gooseberry this year but new girl Miss Ge Veve took her place and seemed to relish her first Hipsville experience. 

Les Lullies at Hipsville
I had seen the Madrid based band Los Wallas at Weirdsville before and their 13th Floor Elevators influenced Psychedelia punctuated with the occasional Bo Diddley beat went down well on the night. They had a nice line in choreographed moves too and ended their set with a cover of Pixies “Isla De Encanta” which was a rather good choice. I was so looking forward to experiencing Les Lullies blistering full-on high voltage Punk Rock ‘n’ Roll again but poor sound sadly rendered Romeo’s vocals inaudible from where I was standing down at the front of the stage. It was a bit disappointing but I still thoroughly enjoyed watching them, they just have that charismatic energy that marks them out as one band you really have to see. I think they are working on their debut LP now so we will update you as soon as we have more news. 

The Oddballs at Hipsville
One of the highlights of my weekend was seeing The Oddballs for the first time and they kindly brought over the sun with them from their hometown of Malaga. They also happened to bring along a cheerful gang of friends and fans too all dressed in matching stripey T-Shirts who seemed to be enjoying the Hipsville experience to the full. The Oddballs wouldn’t have been out of place in the Klub Foot at The Clarendon back in the day, they just have that vibe about them. Maybe it’s Juanillo standing centre stage playing a floor tom with maracas that does it. They play a kind of Frathouse Rock ‘n’ Roll with a touch of Ska and Garage Rock thrown in for good measure all driven along by Dani’s excellent Sax. They even have their own theme song, the insanely catchy “We Are The Oddballs” which really stood out for me, as did a pounding “Slowly Killing Me”. There’s a nicely chaotic Punk edge too with lots of boozy terrace style choruses and hooks. I really enjoyed their boisterous version of Sham 69’s “Borstal Breakout” which was quite apt as the original Borstal prison was opened in nearby Rochester, home of Billy Childish and the Medway Garage Rock scene. 

Black Mambas with Celia Aloha at Hipsville
L.A.’s Black Mambas took to the stage with a couple of familiar faces in the line-up - Romeo from Les Lullies was standing in on guitar and Shauna Faye was on bass. I always thought Shauna was a really cool bassist when I saw her play with Sex Crime at Hipsville a couple of years back so it was a nice surprise to see her making an appearance in the line-up. Vocalist Michael Price prowled the stage as they stormed through a great set of their ‘wild & savage’ songs. There’s a raw R’n’B edge to them that reminds me of pre-Punk bands like The Saints alongside touches of Californian bands such as The Germs and The Zeros. Their super-fast Rock ‘n’ Roll flies past in an instance and I particularly loved their track “Baby I’ll Give It To You”.   

DJ Mike Gunn with Wanda De Lullabies
We started off the day with cocktails in the Tiki Bar with the majority of people dressed in colourful Hawaiian shirts and garlands. Then it was onto the Roller Disco hosted by the legendary international jet-setting playboy DJ Mike Gunn who blasted out Soul, Funk and Disco classics. We were also treated to special guest(s) Double Dutch the three-legged con-joined twin DJ(s) from Holland, dressed from head to fifteen toes in bright orange. I needed a break from watching all the Roller Disco exertions so headed to the fabulous Fez Bar in town for a refreshment break. I spied the Jungle Deviants drummer and asked what the hell the Dave Allen theme had to do with the Jungle and his answer was “well, there was no danger of anyone else playing that over the weekend was there?” Fair enough. You know, it is bugging me but he really did look like The Shook-Up’s drummer and DJ Carl Combover, uncanny! I must find out who these mysterious Deviants are. Anyway, he also promised me that their next set would see them play a fifteen-minute version of the “Indoor League” theme tune, the naff 1970’s ITV Pub gameshow competition fronted by the fiery Yorkshire cricket legend Fred Trueman. Unfortunately, due to a delayed Taxi I only just made the last few minutes of their set as they were accompanying the end of the Fancy Dress Parade so I missed finding out if he was pulling my leg. As usual, many people really went to town with the Fancy Dress and some of the stunning and truly imaginative costumes on show blew me away. 

Chrome Reverse at Hipsville
The Paris based Chrome Reverse were excellent and despite a few technical problems with an amp at the start they soon got into the swing of things. Leopard skin clad vocalist and guitarist Lili Z is a great focal point and their lithe Link Wray inspired classic Rock ‘n’ Roll was thoroughly enjoyable. Guitarist Dave Rockin’ is a real character, bursting with energy and not to be outdone, bassist Ivan climbed into the Go-Go cage to play at one stage. They were a great live act who went down a storm on the night. The Madcaps from Rennes played a nice set of laid back eclectic songs with a soulful groove thanks to some excellent organ work. 

The Schizophonics at Hipsville
I missed The Schizophonics when they played at Weirdsville unfortunately and I had been hearing some amazing reports about their live show. I was really looking forward to seeing them and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Just before their set, my mate Grant told me that I should expect something along the lines of The MC5, Jimi Hendrix and James Brown all rolled into one and he was certainly not wrong. In fact, they kicked off with a cover of MC5’s “Black To Comm” and from the moment he struck the first chord Pat Beers, the singer guitarist didn’t stand still for a second as he bounced, leapt and rolled about the stage in a quite jaw-dropping display of musical gymnastics. He did the splits, jumped off the drum riser and straddled the security barrier and one point teetered off the stage only to miraculously hop back without any serious injury. I had my heart in my mouth for most of their set, at one point the microphone stand was laying on the floor with the base sticking up and I feared for the worse, it was a health and safety officer’s nightmare! With some superb drumming from Lety and a some great playing from the cool longhaired and laid-back bassist, the rhythm section really locked in tight to enable Pat to free form all over the place. It was refreshing to see a band with a hint of danger and unpredictability and Pat makes Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist of The Hives look like Val Doonican. However, The Schizophonics are not just a visual act or a gimmick, they have the songs to back it all and their new LP “Land of The Living” is well worth getting hold of. But seriously, I would recommend that you just have to experience The Schizophonics in all their live glory at least once in your life!

The Electric Mess at Hipsville
I felt a bit sorry for The Electric Mess on the Saturday night, as they had to follow The Schizophonics. Mind you, I would feel sorry for any band having to follow The Schizophonics! Even Kevin from The Baron Four, a wildly exciting live band in their own right, told me he would hate to have to play after them so they were in a tough situation. I first heard The Electric Mess via Little Steven’s Underground Garage radio show and I really liked their “Falling Off The Face of The Earth” LP so I wanted to see what they were like live. They have a cool 60’s Nuggets style of Garage Punk and Frontwoman Esther Crow with her peroxide blonde hair, mirror shades exudes a sassy New York cool but unfortunately, the all-important organ was lost in the sound mix. A girl standing next to me was desperately trying to get the band and the sound engineer’s attention to sort it out, all to no avail. So, all in all it was an excellent day but was Sunday going to be more relaxed I wondered...

Mighty Tsars at Hipsville
The Sunday afternoon perfectly encapsulated the variety of entertainment that can be found at Hipsville. For example, we started off in a relaxed and sedate manner in the Tiki Cocktail Bar again enjoying the soothing calypso skiffle sounds of the thoroughly entertaining Mighty Tsar and ended it with The Parkinsons, once dubbed the most dangerous and outrageous live band in Britain. In between, we strolled around the Dreamland amusement park and took in the classic car show too. 

The No-Things at Hipsville
I was so pleased to see the Edinburgh based No-Things again especially after being totally blown away by their Weirdsville appearance last year, which you can read about here, and loving their debut LP “Here Come The No-Things”. Somewhat ironically, it wasn’t until the Sunday afternoon that saw the bands daring to actually leap the security barrier and get down with the crowd and I wasn’t surprised that it would be vocalist Laurent to be the first. After all the very first time I saw him was when he was in in Les Bof! and he actually started the set from down among the audience before leaping on stage to carry out his duties. I think The No-Things are one of the best bands around now and were definitely one of my highlights of the weekend so it was just a shame that being early on the Sunday afternoon there weren't more people there to witness such a superb set. Their Punky Garage Rock was full of hooks and perfectly crafted songs all driven along by some great bass, visceral guitar and powerful drumming topped off by Laurent’s live-wire performance. “Don’t Get on My Tits” will go down as an all-time classic rebellious Garage Punk anthem. 

The Parkinsons at Hipsville
This was my first time to see The Parkinsons, not sure why really. I remember hearing some early songs and seeing the chaotic images of some of their gigs and I just had the impression that they were a thrashy Hardcore Punk band. So I was more than pleasantly surprised to be hit by the quality of their songs and like The No-Things before them I found their hooks sticking in my head immediately. The Parkinsons play some classic Punk Rock with terrace anthem choruses that at first seem rooted in U.K. Subs or Sham 69 territory. However, Victor Torpedo’s excellent guitar work adds a nice Post-Punk edge reminiscent of East Bay Ray from Dead Kennedys or bands such as Mission of Burma as he pogos and leaps about the stage. The addition of keyboards and percussion lift and complement the sound highlighting that there is much more to The Parkinsons than their outrageous reputation suggests. It is nowhere near just a punky thrash as I feared, they have bloody great memorable songs and it is evident looking around me at so many people singing along. 

The Parkinsons
“It’s nice to be here by the sea in Brighton” Afonso quips, and later “Thank you Portsmouth!” He playfully derides the English attitude to the good weather and their sartorial faux pas in the sun but ironically, he is wearing garish beach shorts himself. Being a Sunday mid-afternoon the gig probably wasn’t as wild and crazy as they might be used to but like The No-Things, it didn’t stop The Parkinsons from putting their all into the show. “Running”, “So Lonely” and “Heavy Metal” - a great track from their thoroughly recommended new LP “The Shape of Nothing To Come” - were real highlights but they had so many great songs that I am now totally hooked. The show ended with Afonso demolishing the bamboo Go-Go cage and it was the only time over the weekend that I saw a look of consternation cross a security guard’s face. What a great show to end a truly memorable Hipsville and I think that both The Parkinsons and The No-Things probably deserved a slot on the Friday or Saturday nights they were that good. Sadly, that was it, all over for another year.

So, clear your diary for next year’s early May Bank Holiday, I have already booked my Hotel up ready and I am counting down the days! To keep up to date with news on the next Hipsville please check out their web site here. If you can’t wait a year then don’t forget the regular Weirdsville Club nights at the Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden on the last Saturday of every month.

Hipsville organisers Mr A, Alex & Ade
Please click on the highlighted links throughout the feature for more information on the bands. You can see photos of all the bands and various happenings over the Hipsville weekend at our Retro Man Blog Facebook page here. There are also videos at our YouTube channel here. Check out Retrosonic Podcast archive for our previous Hipsville special and most bands have featured in regular Retrosonic episodes too. All photos copyright Retro Man Blog. Here's a little taster of what you can expect at our YouTube channel - this is The Schizophonics....

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