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On Song Emerging Talent with Tilly and the Wall

Gig Review
Islington Academy, London
21 Sep 2006

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Bottoms of Barrels - Tilly and the WallThe On Song Emerging Talent show on 21 September showcased some of the best indie rock up-and-coming talents, including Nebraska quintet Tilly and the Wall. The Islington Academy's two stages provided ample room for the show's nine bands. Quieter acts, such as Newton Faulkner, stuck to the Bar Stage, while big draws like Tilly hit the main stage in the later hours. Between all of these, the Drowned in Sound DJs kept things spinning.

The shows started early so that all nine bands could get their allotted stage time. In some ways this put a hectic energy into the shows; some bands there only had about an EP's worth of original material, so the scheduled time gave almost exactly enough time to hurry through four songs.

Tilly and the Wall headlined the evening and for good reason. The band originated in 2001; members Neely Jenkins and Jamie Williams had recently left Park Avenue, a Conor Oberst project in those pre-Bright Eyes days. The group takes a strange approach to percussion, using Jamie Williams' amplified tap shoes in lieu of a drum set. On certain songs, the band brings out a drum machine to help them out, but for the most part the percussion is Williams' flamenco-sounding taps.

Tilly kept the crowd engaged throughout, even re-emerging for a three-song encore. Other crowd favorites included Kid Harpoon, whose material had an agreeable, Jason Mraz sort of cadence to it. Indeed, though Tilly was the star of the show, Kid Harpoon was obviously more familiar to the crowd.

On the smaller stage were a large variety of acts. One-man-band Newton Faulkner stood out in particular: by thumping and flicking on his acoustic guitar, which had an electric pickup, Faulkner provided his own percussion to the charming original songs and covers he played. His version of Massive Attack's Teardrop was extremely impressive. The drum track from the original was recreated with uncanny accuracy with simple thumps and flicks even as he didn't miss a note.

Besides this, the Dublin-based group Butterfly Explosion had a driving, retro sound that filled the stage. Sounding like the lonely lovechild of the Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine, Butterfly Explosion veered between shoe-gazer and dark pop sounds without actually settling on one for any length of time.

There isn't enough room here to provide a full listing of the great bands involved in the show, but these in particular are ones to watch out for in the future.

-Nicholas Cater

Buy "Bottoms of Barrels" by Tilly and the Wall at Amazon >>

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