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!

 

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!

 

Brick Lane

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!

Markets in London you say?…take me with you!

Oooooh I just love a good market and London is the place for them. I went down to London for a long weekend Saturday to Monday and each day I made sure to explore a market each day. Broadway on Saturday, Brick Lane on Sunday and Camden on Monday.

Broadway Market

Broadway market is only open on a Saturday but is well worth the trip if you’re a foodie! There’s food from every nationality: African, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Spanish…the list goes on. I basically walked around the whole place with drool down my face as I was gawping at these magnificent pastries, giant scotch eggs, artwork, crafts, vintage clothing stalls and the odd bit of jewellery here and there. So whilst finally choosing a mix and match of the African fish and coconut pork dish with rice I sat down nomming away listening to the brilliant busking musicians dotted around the place…pure bliss!

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Abnormally sized cakes at the market…I promise they look bigger in real life!

The one thing is it isn’t ideal for the average student…well i suppose quality comes at a price. Whilst the stalls weren’t exactly cheap the shops on the outskirts were flippin’ expensive as well…well out of my price range but then I am a bit of a scrooge with the pounds. In the pub it was £5 a pint!!! Now you can’t tell me that’s not expensive?! And I would say I was pretty used to London prices. But the sun was shining, I’d bumped into some old friends randomly in the market so I just couldn’t say no to a pint no matter the price.

I’d say this market is for someone a little older than myself but then who doesn’t love good food…if your belly is in need of some TLC then Broadway’s a winner!

8 Reasons to go to Boomtown festival!

It’s that time again when we’re bogged down in the grey drizzle of life and we’re looking for some festival frolicking come summer time.

So if you’re a complete fruit loop and a little bit wacko then Boomtown is the place to go!

Here are 8 reasons why:

  1. The Costumes: I think it’s fair to say Boomtown is a land of bonkerdom. Full of nutters wondering around in the most ridiculous outfits I’ve ever seen in my life. Insect looking humans, galactic space invaders and some outfits that are definitely too crude to mention. You definitely won’t see costumes like this at Glastonbury! To get a glimpse at some of Boomtown’s crazy costumes CLICK HERE.

 

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Galactic festival goers I had a picture with!

2. The festival is one giant town: The festival is divided into themed districts and stages such as: Bang Hai Palace (a whopping stage completely lit up at 30 metres high and 80 metres long), Lion’s Den (my absolute favourite stage with it being known for its reggae), Wild West, Barrio Loco, China Town, DSTRCT 5, all the psychedelic looking forests and more!

3. The Music: There are so many music genres to keep you all happy as well. From Drum and Bass, Jungle, Reggae, Swing, Psy-trance – the list goes on. If you like a rave and a proper boogie then here it is! To get a vibe for Boomtown’s music just listen to this playlist

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Lion’s Den

4. Story time: The whole festival has a grungy steam punk vibe flowing throughout and each year the festival runs on a story line. This year the story was about the discontent of the people ruled by the elite and so we became part of a revolution!

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Whiskey Bar in the Wild West

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Old Town Entrance

5. It’s so random: My day’s consisted of pillow fights, paint fights, peering into sex shop windows at robot pole dancers, listening to smaller bands in back street rooms, learning circus skills, and I even had my own funeral in the Rave Yard.

6. The hill is a good thing?!: Boomtown has an insanely massive hill to climb! I have named it ‘KILLER’MANJARO. But after all the booze and fast food there’s no doubt…your poor body is in need of a hill!

7. Zooloos: The compost toilets absolutely pong and there is never any loo roll (always carry tissues!) – but then again what do you expect at a festival? As an alternative there are the gleaming Zooloos. I’m talking fresh towels, a hot shower, a clean toilet and the holy grail…LOO ROLL!

8. It’s like being on a film set: There is no doubt about it though – it’s the actors of Boomtown who truly bring the magic of Boomtown alive. All of whom play the roles of the inhabitants of each district. They amazingly never seem out of character and make the weird and wonderful become a reality. They would put festival goers on trial in the Wild West, there were Cowboy’s looking for gold, geisha girls making potions in China Town, interviews at the Jobshop and interrogations by the police. But that’s just a little teaser for you.

Please let me know about any of your own Boomtown shenanigans…and well if you haven’t had the pleasure of going just yet I’m sure the trailer below will convince you to!

Gimme some o that Cirque Du Soul baby!

So it was my housemates birthday and we were off to Cirque Du Soul.

Now I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sceptical about this night. With it being held in my Student’s Union where everyone goes for the lash completely legless and dressed up in some nutty costume, I was expecting something of the usual for this event to be honest. The same sticky VK covered floors, the packed bars, everyone off their tits on alcohol because the music is so awful…but oh how I was wrong! They transformed the whole venue form top to bottom. Why can’t it be this good all the time?!

Giant inflatable lotus type flowers hanging upside down form the ceiling, vines of leaves, lantern lights, flags and other inflatables…it looked gorgeous. Cardiff was long forgotten as it felt like I was in some tropical jungle or in the film Avatar!

To bump up the night we had MC’s to get the crowd going, glowing cylinders chucked in the crowd and tribal stilt walkers trotting around the crowd.

The crowd was on another level with wolf whistles every five minutes and every gal sitting on some hunks shoulders.

Plus I even got papped by the photographer! (Luckily he got me at the start of the night cuz rest assured I was a sweaty mess at the end).

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groovy groovy groovy

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happy as Larry

With lectures the next day I made my way home pretty early but I was happy to leave knowing that my faith had been restored in the SU’s capability of holding a decent night…job well done!

Hippy Trippy Shakedown

sh With one of my friends working for Regression Sessions we’d bagged ourselves the prize for winning VIP tickets to the Hippy Trippy Shakedown event with a tasty £50 as well…nice one Al you absolute beaut.

So pre-drinks got interesting. To think I’d never drank absinthe before…and no wonder why! It’s 68%!! So it seemed from the off it was gonna be one of those nights…having had my fill of rum and coke followed by a cheeky shot of absinthe we were on our way.

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Absinthe shots…yes please!

 

Now this was the best venue I’d ever seen in my life!!!! I think was probably just the way they’d decked the place up so magically. But with Fire and Lightbox being two venues right next to each other for this event they’d managed to open the doors to connect the two venues so the place seemed never ending.

We began in quite a small space themed room with fluorescent planets which set the tone for the glowing venue.

But things really took a turn when we ventured into the main room. A much bigger crowd, with a balcony, strange random stage blocks dotted around the room for people to stand on (not gonna lie…there were pretty scary…could’ve been caused some serious damage), and a fluorescent camper van for the main stage!

I loved how random the venue was with inflatables, some hippy signage, space and psychedelic decorations. I’m a big one for colour and lights on a night out as well and this place was packed full of it.

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The main stage looking all fluorescent and fabulous!

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Preach it sistaaa

Now whilst the main room was gorgeous I ADORED the lightbox room!!! With led lights embedded on the ceiling and over the walls it was like dancing with the galaxy at your fingtertips. The synchronicity of the lights with the music as well…OH SWEET JESUS…I didn’t wanna leave!

And then there was the drum and bass room. A completely nuts encounter…definitely intense…as good as it was we couldn’t stay there for too long…I think there’s only so much DNB you can take to be honest.

We headed outside chilling in their huge outside seating area to get our bearings but not for long. We were off again till whatever time in the morning.

I literally couldn’t tell you what time we left but all I know is we were leaving as the sweaty glittery messes we were on the tube the same time as people were dressed for work in their corporate suits. We were definitely having the better time on the tube that day.

Regression Sessions…I just can’t wait for another of your events and as for the venue Fire & Lightbox I will definitely be returning.

Best night of the year so far hands down…but then it is only February eh!