Eddy Says

Eddy Says: Get Cape. Wear Cape. Soar

By | Published on Tuesday 14 February 2012

Sam Duckworth

There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when you see a live show that knocks you off your feet. Figuratively speaking, of course (although I’d imagine the feeling of one that literally causes you to fall over is a bit weird too). Eddy went to such a show recently, featuring Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Jehst and Engine Earz Experiment. And here begins his quest to help more people see that show.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a gig review here. But two weeks ago, I saw a show so astonishing that I felt the need to share it with a wider audience than the very lucky four hundred or so people who witnessed this with me at Cargo.

The story starts two years ago at the Lake Of Stars festival in Malawi. It was there that I got to meet and hang out with a marvellous man and musician, Sam Duckworth, of Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.

It’s hard not to like Sam. His music is so likeable, and his character so affable, that it was a given we’d stay in touch. Last year, Get Cape’s bass player had his stag weekend at The Secret Garden Party, and Sam got so busy he forgot to get a ticket in time. While other festivals were experiencing in the region of a 40% drop in ticket sales, Secret Garden Party sold out in record time, leaving many, like Sam, caught horribly short.

He told me of his dilemma, but all my DJ slots had long gone, so I couldn’t help him out that way, much as the prospect of him appearing on my stage thrilled me. I did, actually, have one slot left, but that was earmarked to be auctioned off in aid of CALM. And to his credit, when the time came, Sam queued up with everyone else (virtually, I carried out the auction on Twitter) to place his bid. He ended up paying way over the odds for a pair of tickets, happy to do so because the cause was so good and the reason for his attendance so strong.

Fast forward to January, and Sam and I are talking about Get Cape playing live at Secret Garden Party this year. He tells me he’s doing an “experimental show” at Cargo soon and I should come check it out with the wonderful Freddie Fellowes, The Head Gardener.

As it turned out Freddie was busy ‘gardening’ and missed it, so I’m writing this both for you, and for Freddie, so he can see what he missed.

Sam told me it was a live collaboration between Get Cape, Jehst, a four piece brass section and Engine Earz Experiment. At the time the latter meant nothing to me, but just a matter of days later Enter Shikari introduced me to them when they co-hosted an hour of the show. The tune they played was extraordinary.

I asked Sam approximately how much this live show would cost to stage at SGP, as my budget has to stretch thinner than a really good pizza. Sam replied that he was still scratching his head over the budget, but that there were 22 musicians involved on stage.

“22?!” I despaired.

There’s no way on earth, or in hell, that I could afford to pay 22 musicians in one band. But what the hell, maybe Freddie could look at them for the main stage? And by now I was really intrigued, so I made my way down to the gig to check them out.

The familiar Cargo stage had so much equipment, so many microphones, it was hard to imagine how one band would fit on stage, let alone (effectively) four. When show time came, Get Cape shimmied their way past all the kit and assumed their positions. They played three Get Cape songs. OK, no big deal there, but there was a palpable feeling of excitement and expectancy. Suddenly, a horn section popped up as if they were conjured, to shake things up. Then half way through the third song I looked away, and while I did, the beat of the track had become a little funkier and looser in the wrist.

The horn arrangement shifted towards Motown. I looked back and saw a different drummer, a big fella, with dreadlocks, had replaced Get Cape’s stickman, who was now slowly snaking his way past cables, decks, stands, mics and synths towards the side of the stage and a legion of musos there, in a holding pattern. Another bass player then started playing alongside Get Cape’s, who slowly wound his volume down and headed in the same direction as his drummer. A DJ sprung up, behind some decks, and a girl singer sashayed onstage to join Sam, who was now singing that third Get Cape song with a different band behind him.

They seemed to be improvising a groove and slowing it down to a languid hip hop beat. Then Sam melted away and an MC came on the replace him. The song playing was still Get Cape, but smoother and dancier, the MC and the singer were skitting over the top and creating something new, this was a live mash-up between two bands! Jehst duly stalked onstage and delivered his three songs with great aplomb. Hip hop, reggae, soul, it was all there.

“I can’t tell you how much love I have for this place, but right now there’s not much about Britain that’s great” was a line that stuck in my mind, and he delivered it with so much passion. From my point of view, I could argue with that sentiment at that moment, but I know what he meant. I was entranced by it all, even more so during Jehst’s third track, when the same thing happened, a smooth segue, with other musicians, a tabla and percussion player, another drummer, a singer and a keyboard player, all appearing on stage and riffing together over the Jehst track.

The rhythm and instrumentation shifted, beautifully eastward, towards the Indian sub continent, a wash of sitars, a gorgeous girl voice, soaked in heavy delay, as Engine Earz Experiment blended seamlessly with Jehst’s band, who in turn melted away to leave their front man rapping over Engine Earz, who were moving the track towards a delicious new tempo around 140bpm.

A tall skinny MC in Public Enemy style glamour, bandana, military webbing, gee’d up the crowd and the music shifted from hip hop to dubstep, but performed live, faultlessly.

Engine Earz Experiment provided a lesson in how to do dubstep live. I’ve been talking to Bare Noize and others about this, and I know Ollie and Danny Bare Noize are big Engine Earz fans. The drummer wasn’t even playing to a click-track, the keyboard whizz at the back – whom I now know to be Prash – was playing these dirty, subby, crunchy synth noises live to the drummer! The overall result was mesmerising.

Then, again, Get Cape sidled onstage halfway through the third song, and played along with Engine Earz, and the horn section slid on to glue the whole thing together.

What we ended up with was in the middle of a Venn diagram: Organised chaos, pure genius, orchestration, practiced arrangements, improvisation, with sometimes members of three different bands and a horn section all playing together. Junctions between songs were soft, there were no gaps and the lines between everything and everyone were blissfully blurred. For over two hours they meandered between indie rock, folk, hip hop, reggae, dubstep and dnb.

I imagined this on the main stage of Secret Garden Party, as a gorgeous distillation of what’s been great about British music for the past decade.

Freddie has been on a well deserved holiday since then, but I’ve been bombarding him with emails about this. I’ve already booked Sam to do a late night laptop set in The Temple Of Boom (the new and improved Remix Bubble at SGP), and yesterday fate twisted things a little, in an interesting way. I had saved a slot for Bare Noize to do their first ever live show. But they’ve predictably been so busy, and don’t have a day off until June now, that they’ve postponed their live show until next year. That left me with a rarer than rocking horse shit live slot on Saturday night.

I currently have a list of artists the length of my arm who would each kill, maim, or give up a kidney for that slot, but this night at Cargo, curated by the brilliant Sam Duckworth, blew my mind so much that there was only one band I could book. Engine Earz Experiment, with not even an official release yet, are my wild card for 2012. I remember booking Reverend And The Makers before they released anything, to headline Friday that year. At the time people thought me insane: “You’re paying 800 quid for an unsigned band?” But by the time they hit that stage at The Remix tent, their value was more than ten times what I’d paid.

So. I have a dream. That every lucky person at Secret Garden Party this year will leave it totally and utterly mind blown.

Engine Earz are there.

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly are there.

Freddie, today we are one step closer to the dream.

Eddy x