Tilly and the Wall – A Great Festival Band

The rise in the popularity of music festivals is a raw deal for music fans.  A disused airport, the grounds of a castle or even a dusty space on the outskirts of town are all cool locations for a party, but they’re not great places to discover new music or see your favourite bands.  The band are given little time to set up and perfect their sound and most music doesn’t suit a 4pm showtime in broad daylight.  I’ve dragged my friends along to see plenty of bands I like at festivals only to have to make excuses because of the poor atmosphere and sound.  I saw Neil Young headline Hop Farm Festival in a wet field in Kent a few years ago and the wind blew the sound everywhere.  It wasn’t the experience I was hoping for.

It’s disappointing how festivals have come to dominate the musical landscape and the tour schedules of many bands.   Case in point – The Pixies‘s tour of their new album Indie Cindy takes in a variety of festivals across Europe this summer with little or no headline shows planned around them.  It’s common for bands to enter into a contract not to perform gigs alongside the festival dates so if you’re not planning on attending then you can kiss goodbye to the hope of seeing the band.  I’m aware that these festivals are big money spinners for bands and they should grab what they can in terms of remuneration and exposure but still, it’s not great.

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Tilly and the Wall - photo via Peta2

Tilly and the Wall are one of those rare bands who come across really well at a festival, or at least they did at the short-lived Connect Music Festival in Western Scotland.  I was at the festival in 2007 to see Bjork, who was headlining alongside LCD Soundsystem.  Tilly and the Wall were playing at some point during the harsh light of the festival sunshine, where bands can wash over you like music in a supermarket.  Not these guys though – their punchy girl-band-meets-indie-rock really worked well despite their less than fortunate placing on the festival bill.  One striking feature of the band is that they perform with a tap dancer who’s tapping provides a rhythmic accompaniment to the music.  It looks cool too!

I’ve kept listening to the band since, who are from Omaha in Nebraska.  I’ve had their ‘Bottoms of Barrels‘ album a lot recently, which has prompted me to write this piece.  Below is a selection of the best tunes off the album – enjoy!

Bad Education
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3j7W2OgbxY?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

I love Bad Education‘s dual singing approach.

Rainbows In The Dark
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZCZRTcY3uA?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

What’s the bit at the end of a song when a new melody is introduced?  I’m not sure, but this song’s ‘end bit’ is really great.

Love Song
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyRhs3vM-h4?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Sung by the bands guitar player Derek Pressnall, this song features some soppy yet very lovely lyrics.  Pressnall’s voice sounds like another native Omaha musician and friend of the band Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes.

Freest Man
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAzZRtCpgPM?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Freest Man‘ is apparently written about the aforementioned Conor Oberst.

Night Of The Living Dead
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq7-FMEbWOo?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

This classic song is from their first album ‘Wild Like Children‘.

I hope you enjoyed!

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