Category: Festivals


I have just got back from the Isle of Wight and this year’s Isle of Wight music festival where a fun time was had by all. There was one thing there which really got my goat. The Beer. Now I’m sure that the powers that be have done a lot of market research and deduced the average age of the festival ticket holders and what they are likely to drink etc. etc. But we’re not all 19 year olds with no taste so why oh why do the main bars only give the options of lager and cider? And when I say cider I mean Strongbow, a drink which is so ubiquitous at IoW that it even has a stage named after it!

Looking around the site I saw that there was a huge range of people, from the group of teenages on their first festival, to the family of mum, dad and 2.4 children to the group of ageing hippies who haven’t realised that the summer of love has been and gone. Even the demographicsof these say that some of these people want some ale of some kind, or at least a different cider, one which preferably doesn’t corrode the back of your throat, infact I’m getting acid reflux just thinking about it. Now I’m sure defenders of IoW will say “what are you talking about? there is a tent over there with real ale on”. Yeah, one tent, about 15 minutes walk from the front of the main stage, with one local ale (Island Brewery’s Yachtsman’s, which was rather nice) and one foreign beer (Lindeman’s Kriek, a bit sweet but nice and very popular). The popularity of the Kreik really said it all, in the end they had to stop serving it by about 9 p.m. every evening so that they could ration it for the next day!

So if we want the beer from this tent we have to miss all the good music on the main stage, do we? Well that’s great.

The Isle of Wight isn’t the only festival like this. Secret Garden Party do the same thing, one tent in the arse end of nowhere which has a couple of local beers and all the main bars near the music give you the choice of Kopparberg or San Miguel. Ditto Reading.

Some festivals are catching on Latitude a few years ago already had at least one ale on at every bar, but they made the same mistake as IoW and didn’t order enough. Glastonbury, on the other hand has got it bang on. Real ale at all the bars, even though it’s just one choice, even at the main bar’s near all the good music. As well as that there are several over bars which are more like small beer festivals in their own right and on top of that there is the institution of the cider bus and the brothers bar which is arguably where the cider revolution of the recent years took place.

Why can Glastonbury get it so right and yet the others get it so wrong? I know the first thing that anyone will say is that its all to  do with sponsorship and I realise that but I’m paying nearly £200 a ticket and I can’t even get the drink I want? And on top of all the money they make out of me for the privilege of not having a decent drink is the fact that they make even more money out of the drinks company sponsorship deals.

I realise that people put on festivals to make money. It’s a business after all, but at some point (a point somewhere around overpriced sponsorship deals for bars) it starts to lose the fun and become just a bit tedious. Glastonbury itself has often been accused of selling out and corporate brandings taking over but it is still far and away the best of them all. Why can’t the others learn from them?

I left the hostel after a few hours kip. “It’s  the last day” I was thinking to myself, could it really be over already? It felt like I was just settling in.

Andy Shauf at Blind Tiger

Andy Shauf at Blind Tiger

I made my way, the same as yesterday to Blind Tiger. Distracted by the smell of the free barbeque I’m not sure I really paid enough attention to Andy Shauf, a Canadian bloke with a guitar doing his thing. Listening again back home, I wished I had paid more attention because his songs are pretty good.

Tristesse Contemporaine at a very smokey BermudaTriangle

Tristesse Contemporaine at a very smokey BermudaTriangle

From wishing I had paid more attention to wishing I hadn’t bothered at all in one step. Tristesse Contemporaine were plating at  Bermuda TRiangle, a long, thin venue which was hard to see to the stage. Tristesse Contemporaine were a  less music and more just plain noise, repetitive drivel.

Lazytalk at the Festival Hub

Lazytalk at the Festival Hub

So far, no good. Two bands, one I forgot to pay attention to, the next was so bad that they have the distinction of being the only band which I didn’t watch to the end of their set. The next band more than made up for it though. Lazytalk were fun. A bouncy band which got the crowd on their feet. Even those standing still on the side, leaning against the bar, couldn’t help but tap a toe or nod a head along with the music. The front man had a swagger about him with his mirrored sunglasses and confident smile that drew the whole crowd in. Their cover of Dawn Penn‘s You Don’t Love Me was fantastic.

Disraeli & The Small Gods at The Spiegeltent

Disraeli & The Small Gods at The Spiegeltent

After Lazytown I was walking out of the festival tent and noticed the noise coming out of the Speigeltent, the other tent in the pop up part of the festival. The queue wasn’t that long and even though it was one-in-one-out I persevered and got in to see the last few songs of a set by Disraeli & The Small God’s. I was so glad that I had stayed for this. Think The Streets, Morcheeba and Portishead having a trip-hop-indie-gypsy-rap baby. This was something unique and well worth listening to and after listening back home, something that is really only justified live.

Billy Lockett at The Spiegeltent

Billy Lockett at The Spiegeltent

Having only just got into the Spiegeltent when the set finished I decided to stay for whoever the next act is. Turns out it was a chap called Billy Lockett. A talented gentleman who plays both the guitar and the piano, although not at the same time. He finished his set with a cover of The Lumineers and their only proper hit Ho Hey, which gives you an idea of the direction he was gone in.  He is very insistent that the audience clap along to everything. He was also very keen to tell everyone how he has been played on Radio 1. Get Him!

Carnival Youth at The Festival Hub

Carnival Youth at The Festival Hub

Being very lazy I decided to get a sausage roll and then do very little moving by going back tot the festival hub. Perhaps I could have been a bit more adventurous but the late nights and early mornings were starting to catch up with me and I really didn’t fancy the walk. When Carnival Youth came on I wasn’t all that impressed although I was going to stick through it and remain looking interested if only to counteract the incredibly rude girl infront of me who continually rolled her eyes and faked a yawn at least twice a minute throughout the whole set. There wasn’t anything wrong with the music persay, it just wasn’t pushing anyones buttons.  It wasn’t just me. You could see the glazed over look on the eyes on nearly everyone in the audience. They were clearly going for the indie rock image with some of them wearing suits and of course the obligatory moustached band member.

Pale Grey at The Festival Tent

Pale Grey at The Festival Tent

Not learning my lesson I stayed a bit longer and watched Pale Grey. These were a bouncy bunch of Belgians who just needed to turn the mics up a bit. This was followed by Lay Low, wh in my mind was trying to be Björk and failing (I might just be thinking this because I know she is from Iceland), to be honest the girl couldn’t really sing all that well!

 

Glass Owls at The Festival Hub

Glass Owls at The Festival Hub

Glass Owls were a bit of a disappointment because I was expecting to see Glass Animals… again. They were perfectly good indie rockers who I’m sure will do well on the pub circuit, entertaining in pubs and clubs for a few years before they realise they aren’t going to make it big and all get a job in a bank.

Powder Blue at Audio

Powder Blue at Audio

I moved on after this and caught the end of Powder Blue at Audio. It’s easy to see why the descriptions of them say chilled psychedelic rock. It hits the nail of the head. They have something of a Warpaint vibe about them, which, if you have the same tastes in music as me, can only be a good thing. Unfortunately I only caught the end of the set.

FTSE at Digital

FTSE at Digital

I walked along the sea front, photo-bombed someones holiday snaps and to Digital to see FTSE. Today was beginning to be panning out as a bit of a waste what with all the crap at the festival hub in the afternoon and FTSE didn’t help. This is where live music meets club music and I thought how your standard raver or clubber doesn’t really mix musically with most live music and I seemed to have stumbled onto the rare cross over. I have to say that it really wasn’t my bag, especially after the MC started telling the crowd how crap we all were because we weren’t raving like a good’n. I felt like going up to the stage and pointing out that it was 7 p.m. and most of us have been listening to indie rock all afternoon, how does he expect us all to jump straight out of one frame of mind into another, and in any case the more clubland scene that this will go down well at don’t even open their doors until 10 p.m. usually. What was he expecting. In any case he finished the set by telling the crowd to “Fuck off”. So I did.

 

French For Rabbits at Komedia

French For Rabbits at Komedia

French For Rabbits were the next band and one of the few bands on my mental list of bands I needed to try and see this weekend. On my way from Digital to Komedia I tried to remember what they were like. I remember listening to them online and I remember enjoying listening to them on youTube. I did not remember what they sounded like though. It was heavenly. Their own website says “Somewhat hidden away, in the seaside village of Waikuku Beach, New Zealand you will find the haunting dream-folk duo”. Dream Folk is spot on her voice is something special. I know I have said this a lot over these last few posts but it really was a highlight of the entire weekend for me. Also they were great between tracks while tuning and swapping guitars they were very funny. Two thumbs up from me.

Young Summer at Komedia

Young Summer at Komedia

I stayed in Komedia for Young Summer. It’s clear that Young Summer has ambition. The “band” is one chap on an electro-percussion device while everything else was pre recorded on a laptop, leaving the front woman, presumably called Summer, to sing her heart out. And sing she does, not in the sweet twee way that French For Rabbits did, in a much more sexy, confident Lana-Del-Ray-esque bold voice. I think I still prefer French For Rabbits out of the two though.

Rebeka at The Brighthelm Center

Rebeka at The Brighthelm Center

It’s getting to the point in the evening where I have seen all the bands that I wanted to see and now it’s just time to take pot luck and go for what’s on nearby and what hasn’t started yet. This notion took me back up the road to the Brighthelm Center where Polish Rebeka was about to start. I once new a guy who really over used the word “sick” to mean anything which is good and whenever I catch myself using the term I can’t help but think of him. He popped up in my mind a lot during the set. It’s funny, isn’t it how some bands are wicked, while others are sublime, some are fantastic and another group are sick. I can’t think why I put Rebeka in the sick group but they defiantly are. I felt myself moving through the crowd throughout the set. I started off quite close to the back and ended up nearly on the stage with the band.

You are Wolf at the Dome Studio

You are Wolf at the Dome Studio

I took up residence for the rest of the night at the Dome Studio. I walked in there with the intention of watching one band and then moving on, then I saw Martin for m last nights party at the hostel, the one in the red coat. I remembered immediately that he had wanted to see a band called trans (when I mean immediately I mean as soon as he had reminded me). Trans would be playing later on. For now though it was You Are Wolf, a folk act which uses loops and electronic aids to layer up a giant sound built out of hitting pots and pans together with playing an eclectic array of odd instruments which shouldn’t go together, but it really works. All of her songs are from an album completely about birds. I love an album with a concept rather than just 12 individual songs shoved on one disc. Sadly She isn’t on Spotify.

Arc Iris at the Dome Studio

Arc Iris at the Dome Studio

You knew that you would have to be prepared for the unexpected with Arc Iris from the moment they walked on stage. The costumes were out of this world and the music was just as pot-smokingly out there. Three Keyboards a cello a drum kit and a trumpet by less people than there are instruments musically sometimes working in harmony and sometimes juxtaposed to one another. You might not agree with the sound of some of it but you have to admire the talent of anyone who can play three different keyboards with two people, arms intertwined in the most strange of fashions.

After Arc Iris, whose set seemed to go on for ages, finally Trans came after an age long sound check, which was a waste of time because for the first few songs they were still adjusting the levels. Martin, who I mentioned earlier, was a complete Trans nut, he told me the complete back story to all of the band members before they came on. He had got right to the front so that he could be nearer his idol, Bernard Butler of Suede fame, “the one who inspired him to pick up the guitar in the first place”. I could see him flapping about manically at the front Bernard who eventually snapped and told him words to the effect of “I know now shut up”. Afterwards I asked him what he was doing, apparently he was trying to give him instructions to relay to the sound guy. Anyway, after a few hit and miss tracks they finally got the audio spot on and played for nearly an hour over their allotted time, not that anyone cared. It was proper rock and I loved it. It was a perfect way to end the festival. I had fun, Martin had fun, I think the rest of the audience had fun and you could tell that the band were having fun to. Everyone in that room just loved being there and isn’t that what live music is all about?

Trans at the Dome Studio

Trans at the Dome Studio

 

Trans at the Dome Studio

Trans at the Dome Studio

Martin and I walked back to the hostel together, pretentiously reviewing the gig we had just seen with overly complicated words (what do you expect, I’m a blogger as you know and he is a student music journalist). We talked back at the bar for a bit until a contingent of those back at the hostel decided to join the manager and wander off into the night and find a gay club to finish off the weekend. Not being my cup of tea I stayed back and had a chat with a Czech, an Italian and Andrew the sommelier with occasional input from Irish and Australian from last night.

We all said our farewells in the morning and that was that for another year. You know you have to walk to the station and go home, but you don’t want to. It hadn’t even begun and it was all over. Already I’m waiting for next year.

I like a lie in and for me one of the most irritating things in life is waking up earlier than you have to. I knew that I’d be seeing my first band at about midday and yet for some reason my subconscious decided to wake me up at half 9. This wasn’t funny considering the late night I had yesterday. With all the will in the world a shower does not take three hours!

Kieran Leonard at The Brighthelm Center

Kieran Leonard at The Brighthelm Center

Nevermind, I dossed around the hostel for a bit, went for a walk, had some breakfast and was still the first one in the queue to see Kieran Leonard at The Brighthelm Center. It was a nice way to settle into another day madness. A cup of overly fizzy larger branded cidre, a bloke with a guitar singing songs about hangovers and surprisingly, no hangover myself. Keiran’s catchy tunes got under everyone’s skin and as he played you could have heard a pin drop, if it wasn’t for the fact that their was a giant stack of amps blaring out what was happening on stage, but you know what i mean.

 

I Have A Tribe at Audio

I Have A Tribe at Audio

I Have A Tribe was on at Audio. This was an Irish chap who is usually part of a large group, but the group didn’t show up, so he decided to carry on without them. I always try and see a few Irish bands over the course of the weekend because someone is always handing out a freebee music from Ireland CD. I Have A Tribe’s surviving member has a really impressive beard. You can hear in the music the similarities between them and Villagers, I wouldn’t be surprised if they get compared quite a lot.

I had decided to catch the end of the band that was playing upstairs in Above Audio, The People, The Poet, and on the way out I bumped into Christian and Marcus, two friends from Germany who make their way to Brighton every year to witness the Great Escape. I had met them last year where we saw quite a few bands together, including The Jooles, who still stick out for me as one of the highlights of 2013’s festival.

September Girls at Audio

September Girls at Audio

I had to make a quick decision, go upstairs and stick with the plan or go back downstairs and talk to Marcus and Christin for a bit and watch September Girls instead. I think I made the wrong decision. Don’t get me wrong, The People, The Poet were good, they were a couple of chaps from Wales who do what you do with an acoustic guitar, it’s just when I went back downstairs to catch the end of September Girls set I was blown away. They rocked it like a good’n. Impressed indeed.

Based on a recommendation from Marcus and Christian I went up to the Green Door Store to see Mighty Oaks. I didn’t get to see them even though I got in because the Green Door Store has a room with a bar and a room with a stage. One was full and the other was so rammed full of people that you had no hope. I abandoned my plans and made for The Hope, a pub with a small venue above.

Sun Glitters at The Hope

Sun Glitters at The Hope

It took an age for Sun Glitters to come on and when he started it took an age for him to finish. This was a sort of ambient trance DJ set. I’m sure if you were in the back room of some sort of hipster club in Hoxton at 3 a.m. then that would be fine. Not 3 p.m. in a pub in Brighton.

I left as soon as it finished and practically ran to Komedia to see KiT. Show canceled – crap! Ahh well, back to the festival hub to see what’s happening there then. What was happening was Misty Miller. I was really enjoying Misty Miller, a great rock chick band, to my mind nothing offensive, just good old fashioned rock ‘n’ Roll. Half way through the set they were told that they had to stop because they were too loud.

Misty Miller at The Festival Hub

Misty Miller at The Festival Hub

Too loud?

TOO LOUD!

What bullshit! What the hell do you expect if you book a rock band, I mean they did listen to the bands they booked, didn’t they? So yeah, that was cut short and as I waited for the next band to come on I watched as there were heated discussions backstage, by back stage I mean behind a drum kit. A plastic Rose suffered from this sudden shyness on behalf of the organisers. At least Misty Miller got to play a few songs, A Plastic Rose just didn’t play at all.

A Plastic Rose not playing at The Festival Hub

A Plastic Rose not playing at The Festival Hub

Seoul at The Unitarian Church

Seoul at The Unitarian Church

After the cockup I decided I’d find somewhere else to watch bands, at least they would be playing! The Unitarian Church for me has always had really soulful and exceptionally beautiful music in previous years. So I didn’t even look up Seoul. In the queue I was talking to a couple of chaps who had signed up to the txt alert scheme. They had ended up getting tickets to see Kaiser Chiefs, all for the princely sum of £1.50 to sign up to a txt alert. I will be doing the same next year. So, Seoul. Some say they are dream-pop. Well they certainly put me to sleep. burn.

Theo Verney at Coaltion

Theo Verney at Coaltion

What followed was a long stint in Coalition. I bumped into Marcus and Christian again and this time we stuck together. They clearly have an instinct for the best bands because I stuck with them for most of the night and it was wicked. First on the bill at coalition was Theo Verney. Quite simply Theo rocked! Imagine Chad dickface from Nickelback, now imagine that he was actually good, now try and forget all the crap that Nickelback have put out over the years, now add some personality, some fun, turn the bass up and take away the OTT canadian accent and replace it with an ordinary English voice and you are some way towards Theo. He was so good I was compelled afterwards to go over just to tell him I enjoyed his set.

 

Team Me in the crowd at Coalition

Team Me in the crowd at Coalition

Team Me look like their just having fun. So much so that the audience is sucked into it as well. Probably some of the best party rock I have ever seen live. Honestly if these were playing at any house party it would go on until the police were called. I don’t see how anyone could get bored of these. They finished their set by jumping into the crowd and finishing off their guitar solo’s amongst us all.

Glass Animals at Coalition

Glass Animals at Coalition

I had a vague recognition of the name of the band Glass Animals, I listened to them completely unaware, loving it all the same, right up to the point they played their current single, Gooey. Gooey is a song that optimized their whole set. Not too fast paced but all enveloping and strangely sexy (An odd thing to say about a group of men, I’m talking about the music, not them). The sound hits you and its like you’re absorbed into it. Christ, what were you smoking Looke? No really it’s like that without any mind altering substances. Listen to it in a dark room with the volume up and you never know, you might just feel the same way.

Fat White Family at Coalition

Fat White Family at Coalition

 

The same couldn’t be said for Fat White Family. If you have heard the single touch the leather you might think you have an idea of what Fat White Family are all about. You don’t. The single played on the radio is a dark, brooding slow song which doesn’t give even a hint of their true nature. In essence I left that gig realising that they were in fact a punk band pure and simple. A punk band complete with its very own nutter front man who was more than happy to get half his kit off. I heard about another gig they played later in the festival where the guy was down to just a g-string. I’m not sure if I want that mental image or if I would want to remember the spectacle of the whole event.

Syd Arthur at The Dome Studio

Syd Arthur at The Dome Studio

We left and went to see Syd Arthur at Dome Studio. A relaxed wicked general rock band. Nothing particularly stood out about this band but it was all pretty good. This is where I should have parted company with my German friends. They had been instrumental in some of the best picks of the day and thought they would carry on doing the same. We had thought about seeing Royal Blood at the Corn Exchange but the queue was stupid. We ended up in  pub called the Fitzherbert in a small room above listening to a thrash metal band that was so incoherent that we left pretty soon after they started playing. REally and truly I should have stuck with the queue at for Royal Blood or stayed in the Dome Studio after Syd Arthur and watched Courtney Barnett play again. Instead we ended up having fish and chips on the sea front and then going our separate ways, the Germans went to bed and I went to the hostel.

Back at the hostel I nearly ended up going with an Irish guy back out to watch Fat White Family again, but decided against it. Instead I ended up having a strange conversation with a chap called Martin (who had a very errr.. lets say distinctive red coat) and Andrew the wine sommelier (not a festival goer, just lived nearby and was in the bar). Irish came back at about three in the morning and we had a chat about music and bands etc. with an Australian girl and her incoherently drunk friend until dawn.