The XX comes to the ‘diff!

So as a girl from Bristol – a city giving you live gigs left right and centre – coming to Cardiff has left me feeling rather deflated!

Where are the gigs?! Apart from the occasional small bands there just don’t seem to be any big bands coming to the ‘diff. I mean okay we did have the Red Hot Chilli’s pay us a visit recently but all the biggies seem to be flocking elsewhere.

But just when it seemed more likely to see pigs fly…The XX are here! And not just that but they’ve brought Jamie XX with them…ooooh what a treat!!

AND WERE’NT THEY FUCKING BRILLIANT!

I mean don’t get me wrong I was expecting something pretty fabulous with their recent album I See You being (in my opinion) their best so far and I just can’t stop listening to Jamie XX’s new album In Colour…but I wasn’t expecting anything as magical as that!

So to start the night off right getting the booze flowing at 6 seemed like a solid plan! We were certainly smashed by half 7, already had the drunk munchies by 8 and feasted on a veggie burger in a pitta bread by half past. Finally leaving the house we pathetically stumbled out the door in the typical shit storm Cardiff has to offer and in our desperation contemplated a bus into town but fuck knows when the next one would be…so we powered on through with broken umbrellas and broken souls. But it didn’t stop there, by some miracle a friend of a friend picked us up in her car and took us to the gig…what an angel.

We may have missed the support act but who cares – I was there for the XX!!

I cannot tell you how glad I was we made it before they came on because their set list was insane! Not only did they play pretty much all of the fabby songs off their new album such as: ‘Dangerous’ ‘Say Something Loving’ ‘I Dare You’ ‘A Violet Noise’ ‘On Hold’ and my all time favourite ‘Replica’. But it wouldn’t be an XX gig if they didn’t treat us to some old tasty classics of theirs such as ‘Intro’ ‘VCR’ and ‘Islands’.

The great thing about the XX is that their music continually builds upon layers until you find yourself consumed in such rich sounds. Let me tell ya, hearing it live with the booming of the bass and a whopping sound systems just gives you chills!

The stage was just so alive! The lighting bathed the audience in these ever changing blocks of colour and with the stage entirely mirrored and rotating, different shapes and light reflected across the stadium. It was like being exposed to a giant kaleidoscope.

Here’s a shitty video of it from my phone (gives you a glimpse of it anyways):

It was beautiful. I can honestly say it’s the most carefree and ecstatic I’ve ever felt at a gig. Everyone smiling and slightly swaying having been hypnotised by their angelic voices.

Even the songs which feature The XX in Jamie XX’s album: ‘Loud Places’ and ‘Stranger in a room’ were played.

The definite highlight of the night was when the stage lights dispersed into a rainbow explosion aptly replicating the same colours as Jamie XX’s album colour. People then erupted into cheers as Loud Places begins to play…gorgeous!

Another cheeky vid:

 

I swear when coming out of the gig it was like everyone had been cleansed as if by some wacky religious experience…who needs a spa weekend when you can go to see The XX eh.

All I can say is thank you for the experience The XX…you are beautiful people making beautiful music and I’ll be damned if I don’t see you again!

 

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Camden Town Market – it’s one big Aladdin’s cave!

Having previously lived in Camden I am well acquainted with this bonkers place. It’s a place to funk up your dress sense, get a costume together or go to some snazzy bar which has a jukebox and sells cocktails in a teapot. It is undoubtedly a place for the wacky bohemian.

But, alas, with it being a tourist attraction the streets are packed and you have to shimmy through the crowds – especially on weekends! But out of all the markets I’ve been to, this is the most notorious and creative.

As you soon as you walk out from the tube station it hits you!…Heavy rock music is blasting from the shops. There’s a mix of punk rockers with mow hawks, hippy’s in dreadlocks and tourists taking snaps on the streets. Rappers are on the street selling their CD’s. The shops sell punk and goth clothing, leather jackets, London souvenirs and there’s the odd tattoo and piercing shop. It is mental.

With street art encouraged in Camden the place is beautifully artistic and makes it visually surreal. Almost every store has some kind of vibrant sculpture above it and EVERYONE is stopping to look at these absolute marvels!

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Devils and dark angels above a tattoo and piercing shop on the left and a dragon above a Chinese restaurant on the right

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I love the giant Dr Marten shoe!

Eventually you reach Camden Lock and the canal which runs through the heart of Camden. It is the perfect place to sit and eat food whilst basking in the summer sunshine – but not today – today i’m freezing my nips off!

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Camden Lock

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Chinese food from the market..nomanom!

Moving into the market it is buzzing with people shouting and selling on fast food stalls and with starving bellies we hunt out some grub. All the sweet and spicy smells come flooding in from the Mexican, Chinese and Indian food.With my eyes bigger than my belly the giant spring rolls sealed the deal for me on the Chinese but in hindsight I should’ve gone with my nose on those Indian spices!

For a more detailed guide on food and drink in Camden CLICK HERE.

Having refuelled I continued my gander around the market finding: 50’s cocktail dresses, couture headdresses made with raven feathers, hippy wall hangings, a tonne of everything vintage and every kind of alternative dress from steam punk, to hippy and goth.

As for the different arts and crafts I saw: a woman painting on canvas shoes, artist Matyas Selmeczi cutting out silhouettes of customers, jewellery makers and someone sketching geometric sci-fi drawings!

One of the most unique aspects of Camden Market however is the store called Cyberdog – a sci-fi store selling techy gadgets, futuristic clothing, everything and anything that glows, robots and even sex toys in the same store.

 

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Sci-fi store selling techy gadgets and futuristic clothing

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Everything glows!

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More giant robots inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But have I done Camden justice? If not…let me know what I missed! I’d love to know of some other hidden gems to explore.

Aesthetically I just don’t think you can beat Camden Market. It makes your eyes pop, wacks a great big smile on your face and makes you walk with a lot more swag – it’s a must see!

 

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Brick Lane Market

A market open on Saturday’s and Sunday’s but known to be fabby on a Sunday. Whilst Broadway market is clearly all about it’s food, Brick Lane market is all for it’s vintage fashion! Again like Broadway there is sooooo much food of every nationality but for me it still just didn’t quite beat the smells and tastes from Broadway.

In terms of vintage the market was full of boutique shops (a little pricey but there were so many gems!), vintage shops, vintage stalls and a huge vintage market underground…it’s safe to say I was in my element! Considering the amount of vintage I was surprised at what incredible condition it was all in and selling for decent prices…it’s well worth a rummage.

In the underground vintage market I also came across the collage artist Adrian Boswell. He does these surreal psychedelic collages that are just so weird that they are beyond fabulous. Using bright oranges, marshmallow pinks, sunshine yellows – yum! One collage with a shroud of mushrooms with faces and a flying fried egg and another with sword fish, broccli trees, mime artists and free divers. It all sounds so random that it shouldn’t work but somehow it just does! The one I bought had David Bowie, Hitler and these beautiful blue flowers that contrasted to the orange background…funky!

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Vintage Clothing Market Underground

On top of that the whole ambience was amazing. With weird and wacky artworks on the street walls and a bustle of fashionably quirky people. Plus the whole market goes on for such a stretch it’s almost impossible to see it all properly in a day. There is no way you could get bored here!