- Festival Reviews
Tuesday 11 March 2014 Austin Texas
After weeks/months of preparation, it was time to leave our -25 degree city of Toronto and hit Austin Texas; it was shorts and t-shirt time!
Flew into Austin, straight to the convention centre for badges and checked into the hotel and then off to a fabulous brew pub “Craft Pride” for some beauty cask ale. Then off to Moonshine Bar and Grill for a meal at our favourite restaurant!
Now it was time for the first night of shows. Just could not skip the showcase at Haven, with being able to check off so many boxes with one show it had to be done. The venue was crowded which was consistent with the rest of the week. The City was packed. First band was Young & Sick (visual artist turned soul singer). Band is pretty slick..electro pop/r&b, very smooth and I can see why the place is packed, very solid set.
Sadly, this venue is perhaps the worst in the city and its getting really crowded and with a good portion of the venue dedicated to “VIP” table service guests (bottle service starts at $400 a table) it's getting messy in here.
The lovely Syd Arthur is up next on my list of must see’s but sadly the sound issue demons start here tonight and they struggle to get the mic’s working. So out of a 8 song set, we probably hear 4 songs by the band and losing much of the vocals, they lose out. What I do hear is very sweet, he does have a lovely sound inspired by 60’s & 70’s psych-rock and I will be sure to try to see them again.
- Festival Reviews
Wonderful to be back at this festival, having been forced to miss last year due to work commitments. Indeed similar work commitments loomed this year but once Sigur Ros were announced as headliners this became a must-attend event.
As ever, we had intended to do a bit of 'other stuff' (ie not just the bands) but this didn’t turn out to be the case. Testament to the strong band line-up.
Mark Mulcahy - singer songwriter. Some of his songs with drum and guitar accompaniment sounded Lou Reed-y. His best numbers were the ones he did unaccompanied
Filthy Boy - Excellent 40 minute set. Excellent bass player (actually all the band were good). Very young guitar band, good tunes, very rude lyrics!
Braids - we were running late for this set so only heard three songs. There are only
King Khan & The Shrines - precisely why we come to festivals. 9 of em on stage. didn't take themselves too seriously. Mash up of jazz, punk, indie guitar,
Money - superb. great sound. Great songs, Pink Floydy in places
Parquet Courts - What a band! Played a 50 minute set. Downside of this was a couple of very iffy filler tracks in the early part of the set. But good thing was they extended some of their songs off their great album with fantastic guitar jammin’.
David Byrne &
Savages - This band have truly come of age over the last 12 months. From their "girl punk" beginnings 18 months ago they now present a very sophisticated show, leveraging on the superb showwoman skills of lead Jehnny Beth. I think the drummer is still with the band (didn't see her once through the smoke).
- Festival Reviews
There’s a hidden garden in
This is such a lovely small festival, with a big line-up, that I considered not reviewing it at all in case more people came. It’s a Folk Festival but like many such there is a hell of a lot of rock bands. So what is Folk? I heard two great definitions from acts here: from the excellent Efterklang, something like folk came first and therefore must be the root of all music, so all music is effectively just developed folk. And from the equally excellent Be Good Tanyas, great to have them back: its folk if it involves lots of tuning and awkward stage banter. Both sound good to me.
Everyone sounds good in such a nice environment, though there is a temptation to lie down and rest the eyes in the sun to the quieter bands. No worries about that for Sundays’ headliners and perhaps my favourite experience of the weekend (at the festival anyway…) the Dubliners, sorry the
- Festival Reviews
Friday; One sharp shower all weekend otherwise the sun shone on what must have been the largest End of The Road Festival ever. End of the Road is getting very familiar in Rock club circles now, this being our fifth visit, in the row.. No obvious changes to the lay out of the site which was at capacity over the weekend. Rumoured headcount was around the 14,000 mark and I am pretty sure everyone had a cracking time.
We started off with the ‘Man in White’, Mark Mulcahy was in fine form and with his band mates who got the Garden stage crowd engaged for the length of their set, even the animal noises were fun. Talking of fun, Allo Darlin were in fine fettle next up. Braids were running late because of an accident on the M3 so, they only got a thirty minute set in the Big Top tent but, even with 30 minutes they were still able to show their class.
Matthew E.White and band have had a phenomenal rise to popularity out of nowhere this year and packed out the Garden stage whose audience were soon into the groove. Eels were the best band in shell suits I have ever seen. In your face, rocking’ set, just the thing as darkness approached and the rain shower faded and the rainbow came out.
There is obviously no doubting the musical prowess of David Byrne and
- Festival Reviews
The Galtres Parkland Festival is a cross between a country fair and a rock/folk festival, spread across the huge grounds of
The charity running Galtres uses part of its budget on biggish headliners and the rest on supporting local talent – and some of them are SO GOOD, if they lived in
And so, what of the music? Here are my highlights…
Nick Harper – never been a fan but he was AMAZING! Very focussed, incredible vocal range, and did things with a guitar I have never seen before, including selecting and replacing a string WHILE STILL SINGING Shine On You Crazy Diamond – which he was present at the recording of, with his Dad.
He sang a song about his mother getting drunk at 13 and ringing the church bells, possibly from his new LP ‘Riven’, did an older classic Treasure Island which just happened to be the name of the beer I was drinking – how cosmic was that! - and ended with Blood Song, his guitar mimicking a fading heartbeat as he left the tent, then returned to encore with By My Rocket Comes Fire.
- Festival Reviews
This beautiful site is nestled in a valley of the Brecon Beacons in Wales watched over by Table Mountain which makes a dramatic backdrop to the main Mountain Stage.
It was a brilliant festival with some great band playing. The good weather was a bonus as the festival can be quite wet some years. Instead we had bright sunny weather on Friday and Sunday.
Things got off to a fine start on Thursday night with a brilliant performance from Patti Smith. You know who is the boss and so do the photographers when she tells them, after her second number, she hasn’t come to Green Man to sing to them before they moved on. She sang a wonderful version of Neil Young’s After the Goldrush as well.
Haiku Salut started off the day at the Mountain Stage. A young trio playing with a mixture of instruments and some electronica but without vocals. Peggy Sue followed with their fine vocal harmonies. Eagleowl on the small Garden Stage. Some of their band were stuck on the M4 so they played as a 4 piece. We loved the Mogwai like number they finished with.
Then it was off to the Far Out Stage for the melodic sounds of Jacco Gardiner. Julia Holter was impressive on the Mountain stage with her mellow wall of sound. Parquet Courts were a really good guitar based rock band and played a great set at the Far Out Stage. Phosphorecent were superb on the Mountain Stage with their Americana blend of rock tinged with country. Teleman played a good poppy set on the Garden Stage.
Friday evening in the far Out Stage was filled with some great electronica and dance from Darkstar, Beak> and F*ck Buttons complete with some impressive lighting.
The Fence Collective were hosting a special evening event in The Cinema Tent. Johnny Flynn announced there that as Fence was now finished he had started a new label called Lost Map and many of the (ex) Fence bands had joined it. Monoganon, Kid Canaveral, Johnny’s Pictish Trail, Seamus Fogarty and Eagleowl played some good sets. It was very much a party atmosphere.
Everyone danced to Kid Canaveral and it was a late night with Eagleowl finishing their set at at 2.45am! Unfortunately managed to have my little rucksack nicked. (As it contained the zip on legs to my shorts, my mate Les helpfully suggested I could easily find them by looking out for someone wearing trouser legs without the top bit!)
Highlights on Saturday started with Revere. They were brilliant and reminiscent of Arcade Fire. Their new album will be out end of this/beginning of next year. One to watch out for. The 7 piece The Slow Show from Manchester were impressive. Slow and moody with a very deep vocals.
3 Brilliant rock bands on the Far out Stage followed. Wild Smiles an energetic 3 piece band with great drumming. Girls Names followed by superb heavy rock from the Chicago based Arbouretum.
James Yorkston sounded great and played with a large 7 piece band. Very musical, folky ballads with strings and some beautiful vocal harmonies. At one point all 7 of the band were singing in harmony (even the drummer). For one number James brought his Dad on to great applause.
Heard the sweet voice of Oluf Arnalds on the Garden Stage. She sings with her acoustic guitar in a charming Iclandic accent. I enjoyed hearing and seeing John Cale. His backing guitarist was superb and had to rescue him when he had difficulty with his foot pedals. Back to the Garden stage for the beautiful mellow retro West Coast sound of the Allah Las. Then to the Mountain Stage for The Horrors who are so good these days. The day’s music finished with a fantastic rocking performance from Band of Horses on the Mountain Stage. They said they were so pleased to be asked to headline a festival and it really came across as a special performance.
The day wasn’t finished though. After catching up with the rest of the Rock Club at basecamp for beer/wine and cheese we went out again to celebrate Sally’s birthday finishing up at Chai Wallahs with brandy chai before retiring about 5am.
Kicked off with the Australian Nuala Honan at Chai Wallahs’s stage. Lovely voice singing a mixture of songs. Has a good soul voice which I would have liked to hear more of.
Couldn’t resist going to the talking shop tent for a lecture by Pete Brown on matching beer to music. He gave us a sample of 5 beers/ciders to drink to music he played. He chose drinks that were still available from the real ale bar. This bar had had an amazing 100 kinds of real ale and cider at the start of the festival. This beer and cider festival at the festival was a bonus. Anyway his choice of beer and music was;
Stornaway – Beer - Wye Valley IPA
Patti Smith – Cider - Bleangowdi
F*ck Buttons – Beer - Brecon (contains orange juice)
John Cale - Beer - The Celtic Experience
British Sea Power – Beer – Oximoron from Otley
My favourite was the Oximoron, which was a dark IPA! Describing F*ck Button’s music Pete said he’d seen the plastic ear protectors of children melt in the sound!
The folk trio Lau at the Mountain stage were superb. And listening to them whilst sitting in the glorious afternoon sun made it even more special. After their set a pied piper like character appeared from the children’s area followed by an enormously long string of children dressed up and having a great time. This festival is perfect for children as it has lots of activities and landscapes to play in
The folk/rock band Woods were in the far Out stage followed by Unknown Mortal Orchestra. They had trouble with the sound and as a result Ruban Nielson passed the time doing some amazing Jimmy Hendrix like guitar licks. That was the best bit of the set!
More folk from the excellent Stornaway at the Mountain stage followed by British Sea Power at the Far Out stage. The highlight of the day. As usual they had the stage decked out with leaves and fairy lights and as usual they had the grizzly bear and polar bear wandering around. Their music is so diverse from loud rock to the gentle music from the man of Aran soundtrack. This brought fond memories of when I was last at Green Man when they played late at night in the cinema tent to this black and white arts film classic.
Swans were causing earth tremors from their 2 large drum sets and extra heavy rock/metal sound. It was a bit of a relief to finish off with the milder acoustic rock sounds of Ben Howard at the Mountain stage.
The night finished off with the traditional burning of the green man followed by a firework display. What a superb festival!
We are off to End of the Road Festival on the 29th August. Let’s see what I manage to lose there, have also lost my boots at Glastonbury this year
- Festival Reviews
The Green Man Festival was coming off a very wet 2012 event and much to their credit, the team had made a number of significant site improvements last weekend. Some rain but mainly sunshine and a stellar line-up of musicians, meant a fabulous time was in store for all.
Thursday 15th August; the highlight of which was a performance by Patti Smith (the last of her current European tour). Unplugged and accompanied by Patrick Wolf and Tony Shanahan, Patti was in fine fettle for the most part. Plenty of fire still burning there!
Friday 16th August; started with Green man competition winner’s Haiku Salut on the Mountain Stage. A multi instrumental, instrument swapping, female three piece. An original idea and presentation and sounding really different. The closest comparison would be
Peggy Sue with a new record on the way played a really nice set on the main stage followed by a rock out with Parquet Courts who are an enthusiastic bunch kids to say the least. Eagleowl played a sunny
Phosphorescent, laid down the first marker, for ‘band of the weekend’, with a set of
The Pastels, returning to the scene once again with their unique brand of indie were great on the main stage. Darkstar with a new album in tow played a compelling set on the Far Out stage before we all returned to the Mountain (main) stage for Midlake.
With Tim Smith having left the band, the remaining six members of the Midlake touring party continue to fly the flag. “We are still Midlake and we are still from
Friday evening wound up with a mixture of an entertaining Kings of Convenience and a blast out with F. Buttons.
- Festival Reviews
As my first festival weekend, Latitude 2013 was a unique and in many ways unparalleled experience for me; providing some music I may not normally listen to, some people the likes of whom I had never before met and some food which no-one should ever be subjected to.
The adventure began with an unreasonable amount of time spent on the road, this was the result of confusion at the mysterious disappearance of all Latitude signs and all other traffic on a rural section of the A12 followed by the inevitable tailback of traffic to the entrances. Finally at around 7 o’clock on Thursday evening we arrived at Henham Park Southwold, equipped with tents, dodgy clothes and Pot Noodles.
My first surprise when inside the site itself was its sheer size, something about the festivals image as a diverse but relaxed weekend didn’t fit with the presence of 35/40, 000 other people and certainly not the huge corporate tents and stages. However I later grew to love that, I could never have seen everything and that regardless of how lost I was, there was always something new and exciting around every turn.
Once everyone was acquainted and camps were set up I went off to explore the main arena, which at this stage consisted of following lights until I found one of the few acts performing. I eventually found myself deep in the woods with a flashback through many childhood years in the form of a DJ set by Craig Charles (legendary commentator of Takeshi’s Castle and Robot Wars). The set proved very entertaining and a suitably surreal introduction to Latitude.
- Festival Reviews
The Leisure Society first up on the main stage on Friday: This is never the easiest slot, but their sunny folk-pop was perfect for the el scorchio weather, and they gathered a decent crowd. 'We came here last year as punters, so we're really happy to be playing the main stage'. I think they won over a lot of new fans.
Every single teenager on the site suddenly heading en masse over to the Arena on Saturday to watch the Maccabees. How does that work? Do the Maccabees have a special summoning call that is only audible to the under 16s? I’ve never seen such a mass migration outside of a David Attenborough documentary. Truly spectacular.
Hot Chip playing before Kraftwerk on the main stage on Saturday: A perfectly judged set building from the newer 'In Our Heads' stuff through to the older, radio-friendly classics. Cue total pandemonium, massed crowd surfing and lots of people dropping the 3D glasses they were carefully hanging onto for Kraftwerk.
Stuart Maconie in the literary tent on Sunday morning: Stuart saw off the Sunday morning cobwebs with perhaps the most entertaining hour I’ve ever spent in the literary tent at Latitude (and I while away hours in there every year…). He read excerpts from several of his books, delivered any number of amusing off-the-cuff anecdotes and memorably referred to Queen as 'the Matalan Led Zep'. A very witty and likeable bloke, and well on the way to 'national treasure' status IMHO.
Richard Herring's ‘Ferrero Rocher’ gag in the comedy tent on Sunday: I won't spoil it, but it is long and involves anniversaries, pyramid building and exponential maths….
Hookworms in the I Arena on Sunday: Amazing that a handful of blokes could make such a racket in a small clearing in a forest at 1pm in the afternoon.
The weather! An obvious point, maybe, but it makes such a difference doesn’t it? Sitting in flip flops on the grass sipping a beer with some band or other playing in the middle distance beats trudging through the
- Festival Reviews
When my son Matt told me that he was missing Latitude this year, since none of his usual crew were up for it, I put my hand up. Even after all the disasters such posturing has led me into in the past, I still like to shock. But there was something pushing from the back of mind, something unique, odd, not to be missed, German.... Only later did I notice the clash with the Lords’ Test and the enormity of the folly.
Matt has fixed views on these matters, so we were packed and away to join the front of the queue. I had a late panic as we passed the Southwold turn (“Just drop me off at The Crown, Matt”) but held my nerve. My personal Maconie had us set up base camp under his usual tree, shaded from the blazing sun, in acres of space, with just a few neighbours in the near distance to wave to. This is for me!
A lot of the stories proved true. No-one snarled at me all weekend. The only two drunks encountered propped each other up and staggered politely away. And, joy, the shopkeepers all said “please” and “thank you”, rather than advising me that there I went. Shops in profusion, too. Rather surprisingly, no Waitrose, but the Mini Mart used their pricing policy and added a rather Mornington Crescent twist by enforcing queues on the way in, rather than the way out.
Almost anything could be had, including a replacement for the tent you left at Glasto. Those pop-up ones you know they will recycle next year were marginally less than a Rochdale semi. You could fill the fridge, buy a new wardrobe, get a tattoo, recharge the dog, see a Gypsy fortune teller and so much more even before the shake-down at the arena gate. And get the latest test score!
I never did discover what my bag was being searched for. The rather matronly lady I favoured confided in me that “she could tell”, but I could have had a kilo of best Afghani I suspect, all priced up and ready to go. Not that it would have sold: only around one’s own tent did one even discretely puff a little local-grown ganjha. Nobody inhaled.
- Festival Reviews
Arriving at what was now a free festival (if you already had a ticket) in
Still, no 30 minute queues for a beer or food and no gold or silver circles, so it was pretty close to the main stage for Gabrielle Aplin and her set, which I think is still a work in progress. The Bandstand was an easy next call for the fabulous Thea Gilmour. Polar opposites to Ms. Aplin, after a few more years’, albums and, experience in the 'industry'. Just back with a new and very promising album.
A wander around the site. One thing that stood out was a caged off merchandise stall with piles and piles of Rolling Stones tee shirts for the next day. A few bob’s worth there! We also found a decent pie stall as well.
Elvis Costello hits the main stage with hit after hit after, hit. On fine form and in good voice. The only drawback was that a lot of the songs had slightly different arrangements to the originals, which made singing-a-long, a challenge at times.
What then remained as a star of the future and a star of the past, both who found their niche on this hot summer's evening; Lucy Rose ex Bombay Cyclist member is now out on her own. Voice of an Angel, a band that is tight and funky and songs without doubt, from the indie world yet, that fit the Band’s groove perfectly. There were even a couple of Physch-out instrumental moments! With so many singer-songwriters around, believe me, Lucy Rose is something special.
Back to the main stage for tonight’s headliner. Absent friends says Ray Davis early on “We hope bunter gets better soon” Ray and band then proceed to give us a Kinks greatest hit’s set, which in the middle of Hyde Park, in the centre of London, is just perfect for the evening.
The outstanding moment was ‘Waterloo Sunset’ mid set, which the crowd sang with him, word for word in hushed tones before belting out the chorus. Singing about a place just a mile or two down the road was just right.
Thanks to the ‘powers that be’, for keeping this particular show on the road after Elton John's Illness, it really was still a special night.
“Get better soon bunter”!
- Festival Reviews
So...to truly describe this new festival in
But recently, there has been a shift in local politics and attitudes. There is a concerted effort to promote
TURF was created...its site in the downtown core of
A lot of planning later. and the event was upon us.