Culture Column 3 – Cosmo Godfree

Cambridge’s musical deprivation is not all it seems, says COSMO GODFREE.

art brut azealia banks casiokids citizens column cosmo godfree culture elvis costello Gigs Graham Coxon Indie Junction Laura Marling portland arms rock the mystery jets three trapped tigers zun zun egui

Each week The Tab publishes a personal experience of culture in Cambridge. Our third is by Cosmo Godfree, one of our top music critics

I?m not going to lie to you. Having been to a ton of amazing gigs in London over the past four years, Cambridge?s music scene was a massive letdown when I started my fresher year in October. It?s obviously an unfair comparison to make – London is one of the best cities in the world for live music. Home to a number of great bands and venues, as well being a key destination on the national and worldwide touring circuit, it?s been pretty good to me.

Both cities put on a lot of rubbish, and Cambridge seems to be particularly fertile ground for old rock dinosaurs still inexplicably hobbling around on stage. I couldn?t possibly hope to argue that Cambridge is a better city for live music than London. I?m not sure I can even tell you if it punches above or below its own weight.

Nevertheless, I am incredibly grateful to Cambridge. Why? Because it has forced me to dig a little deeper, and doing so over these last few months has produced some fantastic results.

I live and breathe indie rock, so I make no apologies for this particular bias. If I had my way, the legends that are Art Brut would be playing at every goddamn May Ball going (and with that, there go my chances of ever making it onto the Trinity Committee). I?m even attempting to write a book about them (and with that, there goes my degree/sanity).


The thieves of Cosmo’s sanity.

Somewhat irritatingly, a lot of decent stuff takes place outside of university term dates, which seems like a bizarre move on the part of promoters. There?s lots of great electronic/dance nights being put on in Cambridge, many of them by students, but no real equivalent for those of us whose requests for the DJ in Cindies to “play some Pulp!” are serially ignored.

Having to step outside my comfort zone and take a gamble on bands I?ve never heard of has opened me up to some fantastic experiences. Zun Zun Egui, a fantastic group from Bristol, put on a really thrilling show at the Portland Arms back in October. It was even better because I hadn?t been expecting it, and their virtuoso guitar work and tropical rhythms cheered me up no end. Casiokids managed to turn the same tiny pub backroom (only ten minutes walk from Market Square) into a miniature rave with their euphoric Norwegian synthpop. Those are just two of the risks that have luckily paid off.

Of course, there are the bigger names too, and getting my first press pass to go and see Friendly Fires felt like quite an important moment in my life! My Cambridge gig calendar is looking pretty full, and we can all look forward to the pleasure of hearing Laura Marling, Graham Coxon, Elvis Costello, The Mystery Jets and Azealia Banks before the year is out.

Say, if you fancy going to watch some up and coming bands instead, Citizens! and Three Trapped Tigers are my personal recommendations for the next couple of weeks. See you down the front.

If you’ve got an idea for the column, email a pitch to [email protected].