With the speed at which some bands gather fans these days, it's possible to find yourself seeing them perform on vast, impersonal stages before you've caught them at an intimate local venue. So cider company Gaymers has the right idea with the grass-roots gigs it has been putting on at local venues in the bands' home towns.
It may be a canny way to promote cider, but it has had some big names: last month The Futureheads played Sunderland, Young Knives played Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, and Mystery Jets played Twickenham. Next up are indie scenesters The Wombats (right), who head back to Liverpool on 17 June in between their Isle of Wight, Glastonbury and Wireless shows. The Wombats met in 2003 at Paul McCartney's Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) and were the first officially unsigned act to sell out Liverpool's Carling Academy. The limited number of tickets for the show are available via the website www.gaymersmusic.com.
The Mercury Prize certainly has the clout to attract music lovers to its newly launched online recommendation site for fans. www.nationwidemercurys.com/recommends, like the recently launched Pitchfork.tv, provides digital content for music fans, showcasing both established and rising artists. It takes account of all genres of music, including jazz as well as indie, rock and hip-hop, but unlike the annual music prize it includes music from around the world. With headings "Videos", "Tracks", "Live" and "Albums", you can browse highlights picked by its team of writers and, if any tickle your fancy, click to be directed to the recommended videos via YouTube, and tracks via MySpace pages or band websites. Some of Mercury's hot tips include Foals' track "Red Socks Pugie", a live favourite and the newest single from the Oxford band's debut album Antidotes, plus the video to Ohio electro popster White Williams' excellent track "Violator".