MUSIC: The World comes together in Brixton

Dave Randall’s gig picks of the month are testament to Brixton’s wonderful music scene and the power of music

Say Sue Me
Say Sue Me

I gather my thoughts for this month’s music editorial against a terrifying backdrop.

In recent days it has felt as if the world is only a presidential Tweet or two away from war.

Too many lives are already afflicted by horrendous conflicts, and in Britain citizens have faced harassment, discrimination and deportation due to our own government’s “hostile environment” immigration policy.

More than ever we should be grateful and proud to live in a neighbourhood where the world comes together – for the most part in peace, love and creativity.

We in Brixton are also well aware of our debt to the Windrush generation, whose innumerable contributions we celebrate and whose struggles we will never forget. Musical styles inspired by the sounds that arrived with the Windrush generation remain the cultural life-blood of our area.

Sounds from everywhere else are celebrated too, in our wonderfully diverse live music scene. We should encourage and support such internationalism.

Props this month, therefore, to Brixton venue The Windmill, for hosting all four of my globetrotting music tips.

Let’s start with North Dakota born LA-based songwriter and singer Tom Brosseau who shares his beguilingly timeless tales of life, love and loss tonight (Wednesday 2 May}. His plaintive tenor voice floats sublimely over seductively simple country folk acoustic guitar, creating something rather magical. According to his website, Tom is “gentlemanly and rambling with cowpoke insightfulness”. Sounds good to me. Support comes from the French-born Arizona-based “experimental avant-pop” musician and occasional Calexico collaborator Naim Amor.

On Saturday 5 May, those lucky enough to have nabbed a ticket will be treated to a performance by Damo Suzuki, former frontman of German krautrock legends Can. Suzuki was with Can when they produced some of their most enduring and innovative work, including the classic albums Tago Mago (1971), Ege Bamyasi (1972) and Future Days (1973).

He then left, aged 23, explaining in his characteristically enigmatic style that he was “much more curious about another life”.

On Wednesday 16 May it’s the turn of indie-pop quartet Say Sue Me. The band visit Brixton from Busan in The Republic of Korea, bringing with them deliciously melodious jangly guitar tunes reminiscent of The Cure and early surf-rock. Formed in 2012, they released their debut album We’ve Sobered Up in 2013 on Korean indie label Electric Muse, before being picked up by London’s Damnably Records. Since then Say Sue Me have enjoyed considerable support from BBC Music and have just debuted at SXSW where NPR selected them as one of the hot 100 acts to see at the festival.

Billy Carter
Billy Carter

Support comes from Seoul-based Korean blues band Billy Carter.

Finally, on Tuesday 22 May, there is a rare chance to see Birdstriking who join us all the way from Beijing, China.

The band was born when guitarist He Fan and drummer Wang Xinjiu met at a Carsick Cars show at Beijing’s legendary, now-shuttered rock club D-22. They quickly established themselves among the leaders of the new Beijing indie rock scene.

So there you have it. Political leaders may try to divide us, but music has different plans. Let’s turn up the volume and give peace a chance.

Dave Randall is a musician and author of Sound System: The Political Power of Music.