Friday, November 4, 2011

Supersonic: A Birds Eye View

Who we saw: Mike Watt, Scotch Egg, Secret Chiefs 3, Scorn
What we found: Beards, Menfolk, Beer

We travelled up to Supersonic on Friday night with great anticipation, with so much going on that we wanted to see and we knew it was going to be good being held in Capsule’s capable hands. We were ready for clear skies and some fun in a different city, a city that compared to our hometown Bristol looked big, bad and proper. Getting the bus in from Smethwick suckling on a pop bottle full of rum, watching the suburbs drop away and the bright lights get closer, the city crowded round and invited us in.

 Supersonic is housed in the Custard Factory - a one time industrial space underneath some mighty railway arches, which are lit up for the festival adding to their epicness. Even with maps everywhere it seems like a labyrinth, with lots to discover. There’s plenty of space and a super hot seating area to get in out of the chilly October air. The festival has a small and friendly feel and on this first night there is a buzz of anticipation in the air about the weekend. As first timers to the festival there's some bands/labels that are familiar through links with Supernormal and the Cube, Bristol but plenty of names we're not yet acquainted with .

So we started with a brief look in on Mike Watt, but only caught the last two songs which he gurned his way through to an appreciative crowd. Already we become aware of the man/woman ratio and the man with beard percentage. It soon became clear that the music at Supersonic is made by men with beards for men with beards. More of that later. A helpful punter also informed me that this festival is not about the shagging it’s about the music. Glad we got that one clear so early on. The next music to grace our eardrums was the game boy sounds of DJ Scotch egg, the crowd formed a wall and nodded along in time, and beards grew in time too.
Secret Chiefs
Walked back over to Space 2 for Secret Chiefs 3, brilliant set and lively sounds with some obscure facewear to boot, as their guitarist was sporting a fashionable face doily! These really picked up the pace and it felt like the weekend was fully getting started. The visuals throughout the weekend were consistently ace, and here was no exception. 
                                   Some Vintage Porn-Inspired Visuals
 We got talking about when the use of visuals became popular all those rave years ago, with memories of outstanding ones at gigs. The slowly revolving cassette tape eyes of the Supersonic logo making a regular apprearance whilst keeping watch over all the proceedings in Space 2.
Our final musical adventure that night was to see Scorn playing in boxed, this was intense and awesome. Dirty fat basslines that could be heard way off in the Birmingham backpackers (apparently) and vibrated your trouser legs, your eardrums, your hair! It was an epic way to end the first evening.Toddling back to the suburbs with a taxi driver who got lost (a recurring theme on our weekend) it felt good that the weekend was only just beginning.


Who we saw: Nathan Bell, Agathe Max, Bardo Pond, Antilles, Lucky Dragons, Electric Wizard, Klaus Kinski, Alexander Tucker, Skull Defekts

Also:Panel A to Zine, Napalm Death Zine Exhib (Grindcore Cut and Paste), Conny Prantera Exhibition

What we found: Sheet of paper with lyrics on, Poster Art, Approachable bearded menfolk willing to have photos taken.

Where we ate: Yumm, which turned out wasn’t so yumm after all.
After checking into our hostel on the sunny saturday we found our way through the heaving crowds of Birmingham city centre. Sucking rum out of a bottle in a doorway outside the venue before entering the DOOM we were given a couple of  free art posters to ponder over while we polished off the remainder of our contraband booze. 
                                                Supersonic Mascot                                          Free art!
 With a tinge of hangover we got in in time to see Nathan Bell (from the label Lancashire and Somerset) opening up in the Library. This onetime Lungfish one man band really got the crowd entranced when he invited Liz of Black Octagon on stage to play a duet version of Pilgrim.

Nathan Bell with Liz of Black Octagon
It seems like we got a 80% man to woman ratio on stage as well as off, though next up was Agathe Max, playing some intensely beautiful drone violin. It was one in one out when we first arrived to have a look, so we knew that something special would be going on inside and sure enough she delivered, creating an atmosphere so tense the crowd watched in awe.
Agathe Max

The many different venues used for Supersonic around the Custard Factory make for an interesting and varied viewing experience and if you fancy a sit down or bit of warmth (it may be sunny but it’s not that temperate) the theatre’s the place. With loads of interesting stuff going on there throughout the weekend including talks and films, we caught a spot of Zine chat on Saturday afternoon. The Zine panel had a Q&A with expert ziners including Nic Bullen from Napalm Death who collectively pondered over the ethos of the fanzine and whether the DIY approach has been diluted becoming commonplace thesedays. Interesting stuff.
Napalm Death Zine
The 'Grindcore cut and paste' exhibition was another look into the world of zines, providing a glimpse into the alternative 80’s punk scene with an impressive archive of fanzines from around this time on display, including reminiscences for me on the kinds of animal rights stuff that was happening then. Also an amusing letter from to Napalm Death requesting the group to disband because they're shit!
Home of Metal Exhibition; Grindcore Cut n Paste

Walking through the Zellig area where a number of art happenings were located we came across a dark and mysterious sounding carpeted room with a multi-t.v screened installation by artist Conny Prantera -  a stop frame animation featuring four elements of the natural world creating disquieting visions.
Kore Kosmou by  Conny Prantera
Throughout the weekend there was much appreciation in the ladies toilets about the relentlessly long queue for the men’s toilets and lack of queue for the ladies! Which in turn signified the incredible lack of women present at this man-heavy festival. We love seeing men having to line up for a slash day and night. 

Lucky Dragons encouraged audience participation with some sonic sheets of stripy vinyl that linked up to the visuals while the crowd controlled the electronic sounds and beeps created by moving the sheets about all amid some occasional wailing.

We were glad to have caught the tail end of Antilles set who kicked ass with some enthusiastic drumming, whilst grandfathers of metal Electric Wizard rocked Space 2 as expected. It felt humbling to be in the presence of such legends. Doom or be Doomed!!

Managed to catch the last little bit of Klaus Kinski, enough to see a band member clambering effortlessly all over the rigging, by this point I was pissed so I was mighty impressed with his dexterity and staying on/staying alive skills.Come late saturday night and more than a few drinks later we made it our mission to document the huge and impressive array of facial hair present in the vicinity. Never before has so much course hair sprung forth from so many faces in one place. Click on the link to discover a selection of some of the finest beards seen over the weekend, hope you spot yours. And if not, grow harder!  Supersonic Beard Slide Show 

A Favourite Beard
Alexander Tucker was brilliant as L.E.D eyed hairy faced yeti in the Theatre, and facilitated by the sounds of his synth the warm and comfort of the place sent many a happy punter off to the land of nod (I was one of them, it was well nice and cosy). 
Yeti Man Alexander Tucker Excites the Crowd
In the lack of anywhere local that wasn't a total meat market unlikely to greet a motley crew of beardies and Supersonic go-ers to get more drinks at after chuck out time, we head to Digbeth's finest kebab house for chips and gravy where we came across these two lovely ladies who'd obviously had one too many and that's just the kebabs! And home we went.


Who we saw: Eternal Tapestry, Drumeyes, Barn Owl, Iconaclass

Also: 24 hour Velzuvial performance, ‘Incarnate’ James Robinson, Market Place

What we found: someone’s notes for a talk

Where we ate: Meatballs at the food stalls by Space 2

After a night in a hostel for the first time in a long while and a lunch time jaunt to the Ikon we got to the festival just a little too late for the Tuba drone band ORE and Peppo Kappi, both of whom were rumoured to be great and we’re sorry to have missed them. Even though we arrived after the programme had started it was a quieter more subdued crowd today following the raucous end to saturday night, and the sound of birdsong echoed under the arches above a bunch of ailing flowers wedged in the fence reminiscent of roadside memorials.
Making a beeline to the Market Place in search of some merch was next on our agenda for the day. We called in en route to see James Robinson’s portraits of musicians from previous years at the festival, and also to Get a Grip printmaking studios who had a fine line in t-shirts, as well as offering screenprinting workshops over the weekend. The marketplace was buzzing full of an array of brilliant handmade wares - loads of music stalls; vinyl with incredible artwork, zines, t-shirts and prints. It was great to see such a vast amount of DIY creativity and ideas in one place.

I particularly liked the exhibition in the tiny shed by artist Herman Inclusus which housed his intricate illustrative paintings of all things doom and dark.

It’s super sticky underfoot in Space 2 after a weekend of beer swilling, barefoot it woulda ripped your skin off. 
Caught the tail end of Eternal Tapestry enthusiastic psychedelic folk blend. Really enjoyed their mix of sounds and wished we’d got there earlier.  
Eternal Tapestry
With still more happenings to explore, we made our way down to the 24 hour performance 'Velzuvial' in Eastside Projects which by the time we got to them were 21 hours in. We were intrigued to see how their performance compared to Hákarl's 36 hour performance at Supernormal this year. There were three people remaining at this point with one of them occasionally banging his guitar with a rusty nail and a plethora of instruments scattered around the floor hinting of the ghosts of other musicians now departed.
The performance was housed in the artist-run space Eastside Projects which is nestled away in a nearby side street surrounded by factories and industrial buildings.They had a fantastic collection of art books to peruse whilst listening to the low fi sounds of the Velzuvial orchestra, including a box with books of home drawn porn.In a side room was the Empty Orchestra installation (in association with Supersonic) where additional performances also happened over the weekend.
We wandered back to the main event and came across Drumeyes, there was a lot of anticipation from fellow festivalgoers about this gig and after a slow start they really got the crowd going with Scotch Eggs infamous electronic game boy inspired sounds.

The weekend was almost over for us, we were just about to leave and came across the epic scratching, all-rapping Iconaclass who were reminiscent of hip hop heavies Beastie Boys. A surprise addition to the heavy line-up and the only time we observed the crowd doing more than enthusiastic head nodding. 

We were reliably informed that the Sunday night bands that we missed - Alta Nova and Fire! and Tony Conrad were all blinding.  Would have also liked to see Turbonegro just for their amazingly impressive bespoke jackets. 


And so we make our way back down the M5 leaving the bright lights and dark sountrack of Birmingham and Supersonic behind us. With such a varied line up of excellent acts, films, art and chat, Supersonic delivered a really top weekend. Thanks team Capsule! We’ll definitely be back again.

Ruth Sharman - Words
samfrancisco - Photos & some words

Monday, July 11, 2011


SUPERNORMAL is a surprising new addition to the summer calendar, a spontaneous and experimental artist-led event perfectly located in the magical looking-glass world that is Braziers Park in Oxfordshire. Supernormal returns to the fundamental spirit of utopianism, imagination and adventure that is all too often lost in the financially-driven, artistically nondescript realm of the twenty-first century festival circuit, as a vibrant spectacle of cult live music, performance, discussion and cutting edge contemporary art.

Taking place in the sprawling ramshackle rounds of the 17th century mansion that is home to Braziers Park School of Integrative Social Research (BSISR), Supernormal investigates the power of multiple arts practice to reshape the festival format through collective action thus continuing the tradition of counter-cultural activity established by BSISR, Britain’s oldest secular community that dates back to the Second World War. As well as being the childhood home of Ian Fleming and Marianne Faithfull, the likes of Alexander Trocchi, R.D.Laing and John Latham have all contributed to the revolutionary Braziers spirit.

The first SUPERNORMAL in 2010, headlined by Faust, was a heady, refreshing weekend of magic and mayhem, and this year’s event builds on its spirit by welcoming a host of guest curators, including Rocket Recordings, Heidi Heelz (Dice Club), and visual arts curator Matilda Strang, who have assembled a fresh, diverse and sparkling array of cult musical attractions and curiosities, from the legendary psychedelic transgressions of Skullflower, paragons of ethereal experimentation Cindytalk (fresh from Ray Davies’ Meltdown), glam visionaries David Devant & his Spirit Wife and the last ever show by improv iconoclasts The A Band, to new talent like Gnod, Flats, Toy, Teeth Of The Sea, Gum Takes Tooth, Rose Elinor Dougall, and Maria And The Mirrors, with surprise headliners and alarming special guests still yet to be announced.

Meanwhile, everything from an Anat-Ben David (Chicks On Speed) collaboration with Dirty Electronics to a Sing-A-Long-A-Wicker-Man event, from a 36-hour continuous musical perfomance from Hákarl and friends to a performative lecture entitled Post-Colonial Cannibal will be taking place amidst the verdant English countryside.

SUPERNORMAL is an intimate event for an exclusive audience of five hundred, allowing the exploration of the site and out-buildings where a whole range of events will take place. Not run for profit, it is organised and curated by a small network of artists and musicians who share the aims and ethos of this truly alternative event, and takes place on an eco-site with fresh running water, eco toilets and hot outdoor showers with a wooded camping area.

For more information contact Sam: supernormalfestival@gmail.com

And visit: http://supernormalfestival.co.uk http://www.facebook.com/supernormalfest http://supernormalfestival2011.blogspot.com http://www.braziers.org.uk/ http://www.braziersworkshop.org/ http://www.twitter.com/SUPERNORMALFEST




Friday, June 3, 2011

Artists confirmed for SUPERNORMAL 2011

Visual Arts Programme for SUPERNORMAL:

Lucienne Cole

Dirty Electronics in collaboration with Anat Ben-David (Chicks on Speed)
Tai Shani
The a.P.A.t.T Orchestra
Juneau Projects

Curated by Matilda Strang

A series of talks and discussions will take place in conjunction with the visual arts programme. Participating speakers TBA

(Image - Lucienne Cole and Friends, Here & Now & The Future, IKON, Birmingham, 2008)
About Supernormal:

Exploring cult live music and commissioning contemporary artworks, SUPERNORMAL is a surprising new addition to the festival circuit, a spontaneous artist-led experiment taking place at the wildly left-field, Braziers Park School of Integrative Social Research.

Braziers Park has been the home to Braziers International Artists' Workshop a process based, residency founded in 1996 by artists Andy Cohen, Simon Faithfull, Bernadette Moloney and Gill Ord. SUPERNORMAL is a radical re-working of the BIAW original blueprint, intended to give the experimental arts an increasingly wide audience.

For press enquiries email:
Matilda Strang at matildastrang@googlemail.com

Tickets can be purchased from:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

supernormal website down

am working on getting it back up! please bare with us. thank you SN11 team x

in the meantime tickets are available here...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Rocket Recordings: First Bands Announced

Rocket Recordings to curate Supernormal Festival – first bands announced.

 Chris Reeder, Rocket Recordings:

We are excited to have been asked to curate this years Supernormal Festival on August 19th – 21st.

For those who went last year you are well aware of what an amazing festival this is, probably the best festival we have ever been too, so to be asked to choose the bands for this years event is a real honor.

We are very pleased to announce that the following are the first confirmed bands for this years line up:

Teeth Of The Sea
Thought Forms
Primordial Undermind

We are extremely proud to have the mighty Skullflower playing, we have been a huge fan since the mighty ‘Form Destroyer’ hit the racks of Replay records in Bristol back in 1989. Since then Mathew Bower and co. have been creating mighty noisy psychedelia, with 2003’s ‘Exquisite Fucking Boredom’ being another particular favourite of ours. Skullflower are rarely seen on a live stage but when they do it is as a special event, for those who saw their show at St Giles in the fields back in 2009 know what we are talking about.
Teeth Of The Sea
Don’t really need to say much about Teeth Of The Sea, their second album for Rocket ‘Your Mercury’ made great waves in the press gaining 9/10’s and 4/5’s across the board and faired well in several end of year polls. Live they are going from strength to strength and their recent British Sea Power tour support showed that and with a Parts and Labor UK tour following in May they should be on fire in time for Supernormal.
Thought Forms
Based in Bristol this mighty ‘noisegaze’ three piece create a whirlwind of psychedelic guitar mayhem. Signed to Geoff Barrow ‘s Invada records they are a stunning live band and we were especially chuffed we managed to see their Supersonic and ATP sets and lost ourselves in their ethereal sounds. Also really looking forward to their up and coming split with Master Musicians of Bukkake, which by all accounts is a bit of a monster record!!!
Our favourite live band in the UK, when Gnod play they conquer, and people who saw their Supersonic and Supernormal sets last year will all agree. NME stated that their Rocket album ‘Gnod dropout with White Hills’ was the best album to come out of Manchester in 2010 (even beating The Fall). With a new Gnod album on Rocket called ‘INGNODWETRUST’ on its way and more releases on Not Not Fun and other labels planned, 2011 is going to be Gnod’s year
Primordial Undermind
Formally based in USA and now in Austria, Primordial Undermind are an amazing psych rock band that merge swirling guitars and free drumming and aren’t afraid of a proper freakout. The band are centered around the talents of Eric Arn who was in the great 80’s psych band Cristalized Movements (with Wayne Rogers of Magic Hour and Major Stars), and we first heard of them from their track on the fantastic ‘Hall of Mirrors’ compilation on Emperor Jones that came out in 1995. It is going to be a real treat to see them play.

About Supernormal: 

SUPERNORMAL is a surprising new addition to the festival circuit, a spontaneous artist-led experiment at the wildly left-field, Braziers Park School of Integrative Social Research. SUPERNORMAL explores cult live music and commissions new contemporary artworks at the gothic mansion and sprawling ramshackle grounds.

Braziers Park has been the home to Braziers International Artists' Workshop a process based, residency founded in 1996 by artists Andy Cohen, Simon Faithfull, Bernadette Moloney and Gill Ord. SUPERNORMAL is a radical re-working of the BIAW original blueprint, intended to give the experimental arts an increasingly wide audience.

Visit the website and blog:

For press enquiries email:
Siena Barnes at sienabarnes@googlemail.com

Early bird tickets can be purchased from:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A few comments from Supernormal 2010...

Richard Howard

Richard Howard That was fantastic, many thanks to everyone involved! Faust, The A Band, Big Naturals, Mary Hampton, Alexander Tucker, Gnod & The London Snorkeling Team were all personal highlights. I really hope you guys go for it again in '11 (as did every single person I spoke to over the weekend).

August 24 at 2:31pm · ·
Ben Dickson

Ben Dickson Great festival all round, thanks to everyone who put it on - I really hope you can do it again next year!

August 24 at 2:24pm · ·
Jan Maat

Jan Maat I had a great time, my highlights were Faust, Theatre Transparent, Diagonal, the cinema, and last but not least the two great groups I was honored to play bass with, Rex Nemo and the Psychik Selfdefenders on Saturday and A Band on Sunday. Big thanks to all the organisers and the friends met and made.

August 24 at 2:06pm · ·
  • Stewart Keith likes this.
    • Stewart Keith thanks Jan
      August 24 at 2:27pm · ·
    • Rex Nemo Yes, thank you dear Jan, you were ROCK STEADY! And sorry for using you and your tent as a canvas.
      August 24 at 5:17pm · ·
    • Jan Maat If you had signed that patch of grass I'd dig it out and sell it
      August 24 at 5:33pm · ·
Dan Luper

Dan Luper we had an amazing time, saw loads of great bands, excellent dancing and lovely people. plus really enjoyed playing (velvet velvet spice rack)! x

August 24 at 1:21pm · ·
Sam Francisco

Sam Francisco super-fantastic weekend and super-excellent festival with a super-special atmosphere. was great to meet everyone. love. xxx

August 24 at 12:52pm · ·
    • Emily Breeze great to see you xxx
      August 24 at 7:19pm · ·
Stewart Keith

Stewart Keith On behalf of all the A Band, thankyou everyone for a terrific weekend!

August 24 at 11:19am · ·
  • 3 people like this.
    • Stewart Keith Thankyou, the whole event was amazing
      August 28 at 12:46pm · ·
    • Roy Brown yhea was awsome even the rain added to it
      August 29 at 4:28pm · ·
Kev Nickells

Kev Nickells Cheers to all from Hákarl. Not just great music all weekend, but great attitudes from all concerned. Pats on backs all round.

August 24 at 9:29am · ·
Gnod Gnetwerk

Gnod Gnetwerk Major Blessings from the Gnod camp, the weekend was ace, great bands, great people, great great great. Many Thanks to you all. Gnod Bless

August 24 at 8:16am · ·
  • Hop Man Jr likes this.
    • Hop Man Jr Great. Greaty-greatle-gratt.
      August 24 at 1:30pm · ·
    • Stewart Keith Gnod - you persons were tremendous, see you again sometime, eh?
      August 24 at 2:31pm · ·
Rudólf O'Salis

Rudólf O'Salis A Band ....

August 24 at 2:23am · ·
Deej Dhariwal

Deej Dhariwal Thanks from thought forms! We had a awesome time and met some lovely folk. I hope there will be more supernormal action next year!

August 23 at 10:36pm via iPhone · ·
Lin Sangster

Lin Sangster Many thanks from the Bad Anorak 404 camp for having us play. The festival was great and people were really friendly and kind ....Supernormal glad we played the first, something to boast about when word gets round and next year!! Hope you have us back one day x

August 23 at 9:58pm · ·
Liza 'Radclyffe' Hall

Liza 'Radclyffe' Hall got to find time in my schedule to turn the weekend into a comic - it was hilarious (even the bits that weren't!) xx

August 23 at 7:01pm · ·
Jeff Stonehouse

Jeff Stonehouse Thanks from Listening Mirror to everyone at Supernormal for putting on such a great weekend. We made some new friends, heard some great music and saw some things that will stay with us for a long time! Hope to do it again next year.

August 23 at 2:08pm · ·
David Terry

David Terry Many thanks from all of us in Bong, we had the best of times. Great music, even greater people. Cheers!

August 23 at 5:01am · ·
Chris Schiavo

Chris Schiavo I want a full report after your recoveries XO

August 22 at 10:16pm · ·
Katherine Gledhill

Katherine Gledhill Thank you for having Spinster at Supernormal. We loved every minute of it. Extremely well organised. Loved the showers! xxx