Stellar line-ups: a Next Big Thing 2012 preview

Following newborn stars as they become giants

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Photographer:steve wild

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Chris Eustace | 25 January 2012

It was too cloudy to see the Northern Lights round my way the other night, what hope do I have of musical stars

The HMV Next Big Thing Festival has become a much-loved beacon on the live calender, with established acts alongside the best new and fresh-faced talent from not just the UK but rest of the world, and into space.

So what are HMV doing this time? Bringing in some bands to play in amongst the DVD racks? A couple of DJs next to the 2 for 1 deals maybe?

Er, not quite. They’re heading out of the shops and into London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Birmingham’s best venues to show off the class of 2012. It’s simple really – nine venues, three bands a night, £10 a gig, running from 2-12 February.

Even I can remember that! So where exactly will the gigs be on?

Well, London has indie HQ the Barfly, The Garage, Upstairs At The Garage, the Jazz Cafe and Heaven. The (surprise) HMV Picture House will host the 2 Edinburgh gigs, with the HMV Institute in Birmingham (where Godskitchen was born) home to the second city’s pair of gigs.

Meanwhile, all those new artists will be forgiven for feeling a sense of history when they take to the stage in Manchester. The raft of shows there will all be at the HMV Ritz, which was managed by the the late Sir Jimmy Saville in the sixties, and has seen gigs from The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Arctic Monkeys and some band called The Beatles in it’s time. Why not go and find out if the famous springy dancefloor lives up to its legend?

So who do you recommend I see?

Manchester: Saturday 4 February, HMV Ritz – Murkage / Mikil Pane

If bass is your thing, Manchester’s Murkage will have plenty of it for you at this hometown show, featuring frantic raps and skittering beats. Hard hitting MC Mikil Pane, one of our Ones To Watch this year, opens things, with rhythms as deft as his rhymes. 

Wednesday 8 February, HMV Ritz - XFM New Music Night with All The Young / Dry the River / Spector / Ren Harvieu / Willy Moon

This one should be on your radar, for both sheer value for money and the amount of promising new artists on one bill. Stoke-on-Trent’s All The Young recall Doves at their most everyman anthemic, while Dry the River’s emotionally charged folk-rock is slowly taking over the radio. You’ll also get to see VF Ones To Watch Spector continue in their mission to resuscitate Brit-indie, and there’s a change of pace with Ren Harvieu’s cinematic, charming retro-soul and the intriguing rockabilly-hip-hop stylings of Willy Moon.

London: Tuesday 7 February, Barfly – Toy / O.Children / Red Kite

Toy are making waves with their psychedelic synth-aided Sonic Youth/MBV-style epics, and with The Horrors’ seal of approval already in the bag, it’s easy to look past the fact that 3 of the band used to be in the ill-fated Joe Jean & The Jing Jang Jong.

Get there early to take in goth rockers O.Children and singer Tobi O’Kandi’s amazing baritone, and another band with past form, as The Cooper Temple Clause’s Dan Fisher returns with the promising Red Kite, mixing a bit of Arcade Fire and Elliott Smith in with the odd echo of his former group.

Thursday 9 February, The Borderline – Emeli Sande / Josh Osho / Daley

They missed a trick not booking her to play Heaven (geddit?), but the VF One To Watch and Brits Critics Choice Winner will surely be far too big for either venue before long. With classy soul tunes that run the full emotional gamut, it’s a great chance to get a preview of debut album ‘Our Version Of Events’ before everyone’s talking about it.



In this post-Sheeran chart landscape, it’s a surprise that more people aren’t talking about hip-hop flecked acoustic troubadour Josh Osho, especially as he recently collaborated with Wu Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah and RZA. He supports here, along with R&B singer Daley, best known for guesting on Gorillaz’ ‘Doncamatic’. 

Edinburgh:  Friday 10 February, HMV Picture House – Frightened Rabbit / We Are Augustines / Fatherson

Frightened Rabbit are hardly a new band, but with Scott Hutchison revealing that a fourth album is in the production stages, amid reports that the band have signed a major label deal with Columbia, there’ll hopefully be some new songs on show. Perhaps the rise to deserved mainstream success starts here?

They’re supported by kindred spirits in Brooklynites We Are Augustines and Glaswegian trio Fatherson.

Birmingham: Sunday 12 February, HMV Institute - The War On Drugs / Cloud Control / We Were Evergreen

The War On Drugs deserve to be known for more than just being Kurt Vile’s old band, and current album ‘Slave Ambient’ is doing its best on that front, with its engaging mix of Sonic Youth, Springsteen and Dylan. They co-headline here with the criminally underrated Cloud Control, who specialise in summery harmony-laden pop that you’ll be singing all the way home. The instrument-laden We Were Evergreen have a similarly sunny disposition.


Any of those shows for only a tenner a ticket?! Out of space, I feel like I'm on another world..

Alright space cowboy, click here for HMV Next Big Thing tickets and line up.


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