Archive for the ‘Festivals’ Category

Summer Days, Drifting Away…

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

One of the best things about being home here in the UK has been dropping straight in to festival season, I really couldn’t have timed it better. So, as the weather turns and we head into spooky autumnal October, I thought I’d reflect on my best bits of summer.

My Top 3 of 2016:

Bluedot 22nd June-24th June, Jodrell Bank

Wow! Right, ummm. Bluedot was all about the science. SCIENCE! Being up at the site of the Lovell Telescope was mindblowing. The festival was basically perfect for me, with exactly the right balance of science, music and comedy. Plus a whole bunch of stands where actual IRL physicists were answering questions, at whom I just shouted SCIENCE through sheer exhilaration at being in their presence.

There was a beautiful, pop-up planetarium, fashioned out of wood triangles and tent, which was an exact mathematical dome, even though it was hand-built and portable. I also ate the best cheese toastie of my life. Bluedot was a field full of nerds, my favourite genre of people. The only negatives were there were only chemical toilets and the festival was very majority white men.

Highlights: Planetarium Show with history of Jodrell Bank, Large Hadron Collider demo, Pulsars & Explosions talks, 65 Days Of Static, Public Service Broadcasting, Gwenno, camping right next to a mini radio telescope.

Afropunk 24th September, Alexandra Palace

A poc, feminist, queer-friendly event, Afropunk was one of the best things I’ve ever been to. Re-entering the patriarchal, white supremacist world again after just a few hours in Ally Pally was strange and scary after that wonderful feeling of a world without those oppressive aggressive forces. I cannot imagine what it would have been like for all the black and brown people whose space it was. I’m super grateful that I was able to go to this event, a celebration of black music and culture. The set-up was perfect, with two main stages alternating acts and a second room full of stalls and another stage.

All the music was brilliant and all the fashion and dancing was amazing. As one Vice journalist recently wrote “Afropunk made Fashion Week look like trash”. There were no negatives at this event for me.

People often ask how they can be better allies, or what they can do to “help” oppressed groups. I have been guilty of asking this kind of question before. As a person with a great deal of white privilege and some gender privilege. The best answer I’ve ever heard is “just shut the fuck up and listen”.

Stop asking the question, stop interrupting, stop trying to help people who don’t need any help, stop inputting on conversations that are not yours, stop trying to prove how ‘good’ you are. This is not your space, this is someone else’s space. Show up, be counted, stand next to people and do not let hate happen in your presence. But mostly Shhhhhh. Listen. That’s all.

Highlights: Big Joanie, Skinny Girl Diet, Young Fathers, Lady Leshurr, Youth Man, Nova Twins, Laura Mvula.

Supernormal 5th August-8th August, Braziers Park

Set in the stunning grounds of an activist commune, this festival had visual and aural experiments everywhere. The sparse programming left a lot of time for thought and reflection, collaboration and creation. The night skies were stunning and I felt pretty honoured to be able to be there in the company of nature and such weird and wonderful artistic minds. The site was covered in beautiful hand-built structures made only days before the festival. The only negative at this one for me is that there is a lot of class privilege within the activist worlds and the artist worlds, so gathering those two worlds together, I didn’t find my own sense of belonging.

Highlights: SamSam Big Band, Melanie Clifford, Moonseer, Graham Dunning & Lina Lapelyte & Angarad Davies.

Standon was Calling

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Wow. What a week this has been. More to follow.

My wonderful friend Emma took me to Standon Calling at the weekend where I got my first festival AAA wristband (I still can’t get over the fact it was BLACK – how freakin cool) and met some really lovely people.

The festival itself was a bit too posh for me but the programming was brilliant.

Along with a lot of running around, dancing, talking to bands and hanging back stage, I also saw some music. Here’s the highlights:

  • Metronomy – We were camping right by the main stage so we heard some of their set and danced a bit while we put up our tents. Brilliant as always.
  • Liars – Blew it out of the water. This is an incredible live band and I am now totally in crush with Angus Andrew. Phenomenal.
  • Dry The River – These boys are ace. I saw them twice at the festival, once the full band on the main stage which was lush (and no shame to say I cried a little in the rain), then they also played an acoustic set at the Rough Trade pop-up shop. They were brilliant both times.
  • The Magic Numbers were superb. We were watching from backstage (I know!) so the sound would’ve been better up front but their set was stormin.
  • British Sea Power – Played a near-on perfect set. I’ve seen them play a few times over the years but not for a while. That day I met them for the first time and just about managed to hold it together to say hi and not fall over or anything. They are such an awesome band.
  • Harry’s Gym were aces. The name doesn’t do them justice, this band were great and their songs are fab. Keeping an eye on this one.
  • Efterklang – totally broke my heart. They are an incredible live band and they mix everything perfectly, the music and lyrics come together to form beautiful uplifting epic pieces.
  • Delorean – are simply electroey – guitary goodness. Hairy spaniards. Brilliant. If I hadn’t danced myself out the day before then I would’ve been non-stop stomping. As they were setting up I think I heard myself yelp with joy at seeing the NordWave. Their synth player/programmer is one of the best I’ve seen live.

I was broken and have only now just about recovered. Brilliant. I totally love festival season.

You might notice that once again I have failed to see Fucked Up when I had an opportunity to. I am gutted about this but more on this to follow!

Back To The Truck Yeah

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Well, actually it was my first time at Truck but that’s not how the song goes.

Unbelievably busy with preparations of a secret nature (announcements very soon, promise), so here’s just a list-based rundown of what Roseanna and I liked at Truck 13:

Roseanna’s favourite (and her Truck discovery): Bellowhead

Anna’s favourites: Islet and Pulled Apart By Horses

(no surprises there, although I did manage to be right at the front for all of them and not rip my dress!)

We managed to catch a tiny bit of Blood Red Shoes before our departure and I was properly gutted to miss Unicorn Kid, Piney Gir, Mercury Rev, 65 Days of Static, Fucked Up and Zinc (due to stupid queuing system).

We saw loads of other stuff but my Mum told me if you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all.

Anyone at The 1234 or High Voltage, both of which clashed and I was gutted to miss, please feel free to leave comments about good stuff to make me jealous!

swn

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

With Welsh blood flowing through my veins and a passion for stormy weather, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go to THE  super-cool music festival in Cardiff curated by none other than the Prince of Wales himself Huw Stephens (Adam W, you’re the king of course and Bethan can be whatever she likes cos she is a goddess).

Because I basically have NO time at the moment at all and the memories of swn festival although will stay with me forever are not as clear as they were when I got back last Sunday, here is a very brief summary and links.

Winners:

Islet – This Cardiff based band with near to no web presence and a retro view of mailing lists (they are sending out a paper newsletter!) are brilliant. The four-piece have superb musicianship and a real hard-to-find chemistry on stage. I loved them and would travel far to see them play again. They also curated the night under the banner of their own indie label and have truly eclectic tastes. This was an amazing start to the weekend. I am now a massive fan of them. Some guys have set up a fansite which is here.

Envy – lovely Envy. This young star rapper is brilliant. She has sponteneity and confidence far beyond her age. Her lyrical flow and ability to improvise and adapt will make her one to watch in the coming years. I was really looking forward to seeing her play and was disappointed when the set was messed up by timings and by lack of a proper audience. Despite these issues, Envy did two storming sets and her energy on stage was not effected.

Soft Toy Emergency – I caught this really great band between Envy’s two sets. They are freakin’ awesome. Proper good rock band with a girl frontwoman, something we don’t really see that often at the moment. I didn’t catch their whole set but I loved their performance and the tunes I heard were really good – I will definitely look to see them again some time soon, (especially since having a look at their online stuff which is quite heavily styled not in a good way, they are surprisingly good live).

Chris T-T – as you know, I am biased when it comes to Chris’s stuff. I can say though, that this was the best I’d ever seen him as a solo performer. He appeared calm and collected (without losing the lovely down-to-earth bimbly personality that his fans admire). He used two guitars and a keyboard which all gave the set a variety not usual for a solo act. The new songs are really really good and my favourite was Nintendo.

Gideon Conn – I really liked this guy, he’s quirky and his songs are good. It took me a while to warm to him as his onstage character appeared to be a bit ‘mannered’ and a bit false. I would have liked to have spoken to him in person to see whether this was a genuine portrayal of himself and he was just nervous or whether it was a ‘put-on’ caricature. A friend who had had a conversation with him previously assured me that he was genuinely a bit weird, which is great!

Internet Forever – this band is definitely gonna be massive soon. I love their quirky rocky keyboardy masky fucked up sound. They could definitely have mainstream success and draw big crowds. I couldn’t hear some of the vocals and I’m not sure if this was the sound they were going for or whether it was technical issues. I’m gonna check them out again. They seem really likeable and really talented.

Pulled Apart By Horses – definitely would have been amazing had I seen them properly. The tiny room was rammed full and the energy from the stage emanated in waves. Unfortunately we were right at the back behind a whole load of tall people who were not dancing and didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves. I was quickly frustrated at not being in the heart of the action and at not being able to see the band so we didn’t catch much of the set.

Meh or Unsure:

Girls – we were some of the lucky few who managed to get to the end of the rainsoaked queue to see this much-hyped band. I hadn’t heard any of their backstory or anything and to start with the music sounded a bit too much acid-60s/70s -throw-back for my tastes. However, the drumming was some of the best I’ve seen and as the set progressed the music developed into more Spiritualized-esque white noise sounds which was great. Due to some good songs and honest-looking stage awkwardness by the lead two members, this band came across well and are clearly very good at what they do.

Los Campesinos! – I love a couple of their songs and the energy was of course brilliant for their headlining set. The room was so hot we had to sit down and fan ourselves (not very rock n roll) and the bars were not kitted out with the right booze and were impossible to get to. The band were good. Having not seen them before I’m glad I went but I heard that they had been better at other gigs. Hilarious stage dives and guest spots from the other bands added to the fun but I was gutted I had missed my last opportunity to see Broken Family Band perform as the timings clashed.

Losers:

I didn’t like Johnny Foreigner, I have to be honest. I thought they were unoriginal and derived, mostly from early 90s indie. This was evident in their songs as well as their stage performance (and even their hair). I sulked until my friends agreed to leave during their set.

Allo Darlin’ – I could see the appeal of this female-led folky/poppy group doing quite sweet twee songs. I didn’t really like it and thought that some of the songs could have been better written.

A massive thanks to Hannah and Mr and Mrs Pagan Wanderer Lu who were lovely hosts and looked after us even when we rolled in at 4am very drunk.

I’ll definitely be at swn next year – one way or another.

x