Category — Festivals
Come back to me at the end of December and ask me what my biggest regret of 2011 is. It won’t be that I didn’t take advantage of the London riots and finally become caped crusader The Woodland Bear. It certainly won’t be that I didn’t eat enough bacon, because I’ll never have enough bacon. No, ask me my biggest regret of 2011 and I’ll answer thusly: “It’s that I didn’t go to End of the Road. Also, not enough bacon.”
End of the Road is, in my mind, the second best festival in the world after Glastonbury. Admittedly it’s not entirely fair to compare it to Glasto. One is the biggest musical event around, the other is 5000 people gathered amongst peacocks and parrots and listening to folk music. And when I put it like that, one seems significantly more tempting than the other. Still – just because we’re missing out, doesn’t mean you are. Here’s our round-up of the Unmissables at this year’s festival.
I had the pleasure some time back of interviewing Dan Mangan for FFS. He is officially The Most Likeable Musician You Probably Haven’t Heard Of. Like a strange crossbreed between Seth Rogen and Matthew Houck, Dan will warm over any crowd with a cheeky grin and an affable beard. Note that Dan has a tendency towards climbing into the crowd during set-closer ‘Robots’. If his Glasto set is anything to go by, he also loves him some Mr Whippy.
If Last.fm took into account vinyl plays, Phosphorescent would easily top my chart for Most Listened To. Every night before I settle into bed (and I really do settle, walking around on it in circles like a cumbersome dog) I put on the band’s wonderful LP ‘To Willie’. Whilst that album is entirely formed of Willie Nelson covers, their more recent effort ‘Here’s To Taking It Easy’ is very much their own. In a live setting the band will steal your heart – it was their EotR set last year that introduced me to them, and now I own three vinyl records of theirs, have seen them live again, and have promised myself to name any first-born child I might have Willie, so I can tell them that they are who the album is dedicated to.
Recently voted the year’s best live act at the Mojo awards, John Grant catches you offguard when first he takes the stage. His strange and soft baritone should come from some gigantic fat man in a fusty old tweed suit. In fact, his remarkable debut ‘Queen of Denmark’ sounds as though it was recorded by someone who looks like the late Orson Welles. But then John Grant comes on stage, white-tee and sunglasses. Strangely glamourous. Beautifully sparse in his performance, there’s room for something special at EotR – his album backing band Midlake are also present, you know… talking of which…
When I chose to see Midlake over Muse at Glasto 2010, I was widely scorned for being a fool. But why? Midlake are, in many ways, the thinking man’s Muse. They share a sense of drama, and for sweeping, epic songs. The only real difference is that whilst Muse write songs that sound like a teenage mathematician trying to work out the meaning of love using a guitar and the voice of the late Freddie Mercury, Midlake sing with soul and emotion and sadness and a real feeling of experience. And live, you ask? What are they like live? I don’t know words that will do that question justice. I could show you through interpretive dance, maybe, but you’re probably better off just trusting me on this one.
Best night of music ever? I don’t know, actually. Sufjan was pretty special earlier this year. A couple of Folkroom gigs genuinely have a look in. But that Midlake night at Glasto, with Laura Marling as main support. That was something else, for sure. I was chatting with Laura Boyle last night about music, and influences and all those vague things. We were talking Marling. You know, there’s not enough women in folk music at the moment. Have a look over the full EotR line-up and you’ll notice they’re a gender in minority. Marling is changing all that, though. Her music alone almost makes up for the lack of internationally renowned modern folk women elsewhere (though there is one more to come, at least). But working in a small London folk gig, you really see the impact Laura Marling is having. Suddenly, from nowhere, dozens of girls with guitars making gorgeous music that is indebted, at various levels, to Laura and her unique voice. Laura Boyle said last night that it was Marling who inspired her to pick up a guitar. She’s one of hundreds (though perhaps one worth watching a little more intently).
And then we have Joanna Newsom. Perhaps the most renowned woman in folk today after Laura Marling. Perhaps renowned further still. How many of her notoriously long songs Newsom will fit into her headline slot at the festival remains to be seen, but nobody is really going to mind as long as the bewitching voice and beguiling lyrics are all present and correct. There isn’t an act in the world today like Joanna Newsom, and you’d be a fool to miss her.
End of the Road is this weekend, and is sold-out, and I am bitter and resentful for not being one of those who made it so.
September 1, 2011 No Comments
A final Glastonbury post now, just to share with the world the rest of WWL’s photos of this year’s event. Tomorrow: back to your scheduled programming with a look at another of our favourite new acts! Click on any of the below photos to have a more in-depth look at the festival…
July 4, 2011 No Comments
That’s me, myself and I up there. Stephen W. Thomas. Glastonbury. Apologies if I look grumpy, but that is a) my neutral face, so shut the hell up, and b) the result of 72 hours of exhaustion. 2011 was the greatest hits of Glastonbury – the year where the Eavis family brought back some of the most historic acts of the past 41 years. The Spirit of 71 stage presented us with bands who had played the festival forty years ago. The Park Stage relived two of the more legendary Glasto sets of the 90s with their ‘secret’ appearances by Radiohead and Pulp. And the weather provided us with memories of every extreme we’ve ever seen at the festival – the miserable rain, the toffee/fudge mud and the sweltering, sweltering heat. Let’s look back at 2011 through photos, and some stories of our… more interesting experiences.
We’d been wishin’ and a-hopin’ for weeks in the run-up to this year’s Glastonbury, but as the train drew closer to Castle Cary it was painfully obvious what was in store, the rain dragging itself staggered along the glass of the windows. Cue a weekend of lost wellies, over-priced ponchos and over-enthusiastic cheers whenever the sun came out. Which made Sunday very, very noisy.
Some bands, fortunately, are made for the rain – Bright Eyes drew a large crowd for his vaguely emo folk-rock, and angry songs like ‘Lover I Don’t Have To Love’ worked well in the cool drizzle come Friday afternoon. There was a suspicious amount of songs featuring the word ‘rain’ or some deriative scattered across the set. Either Conor Oberst was angling his set in a very specific direction, or he’s a bit of a miserable sod. Not our place to say, mind.
This is a cage. With a disco ball inside. Not that this is remotely evocative of Glastonbury’s stand on dancing – after all Kool and the Gang headlined West Holts on the Sunday. A day earlier Janelle Monaé had dragged a thousand feet from the mud as they stomped and twisted to tracks from her debut album The ArchAndroid and a cover of The Jackson 5′s ‘I Want You Back’ that sounded eerily like the original in many ways.
In fact, the best stage all round for dancing and moving and being a little bit surprised was West Holts. We’ve said it once or twice over the years (including in our mini review earlier in the week), but West Holts is the BBC4 of Glastonbury. The gang above are enjoying a much-welcomed burst of sunshine that came both literally and by way of Fool’s Gold, whose summery tones lightened the moods of everyone in the field on Saturday afternoon.
The biggest treats of Glastonbury often come from the smallest acts. Not the insect circus hiding in the Avalon film, but the unsigned acts making their way in the only way unsigned acts can – by playing bloody everywhere. The Worry Dolls, who we go on about endlessly on here played a storming set on Wednesday afternoon that resulted in an unplanned encore. That’s Zoe sitting above, tuning the ukelele on which she had learnt all of their songs the night before (a banjo had seemed to unwieldy for the festival). Twin Brother played the BBC Introducing stage Friday morning. Emily and the Woods stole some hearts with her humble Acoustic stage set – including a delightful ‘Single Ladies’ cover. Incidentally, catch The Worry Dolls at our Folkroom gig on July 20th. That wasn’t a plug. That was me doing you a favour.
I tell you with some certainty that this isn’t true. I trekked 40 minutes through the mud to Coach Gate A in order to bring you that info, but that’s just what I go through for you guys.
A lesson in festival journalism. It’ll take you just seconds to find shots of this year’s Glasto in which people are stranded in great lakes of mud, or covered in it as though they woke in a great silt lake. Do not be fooled, sofa-festivalists of the world! Though the mud was pervasive across the festival, it was stodgy and sticky mud, not big wet mud. The above shot is one of only three puddles or so on the whole site, and the girls walking through it are doing so purely for the benefit of a camera just out of shot. So, yeah. Class dismissed.
Some refreshing optimism as someone speculates on a special guest in the dance arena.
Laura Marling gets a bit of a bum deal during her set on the Pyramid stage.
Saturday at the festival, and some-time WWL contributor Rob has arrived onsite with a PR colleague also called Rob (who, for sake of ease, shall now be called Mark). The two are down only for the last two days in order to sort out some press for a few acts playing. Mark can’t quite get the pass he needs, so after we drop off their stuff in my tent, where we’ll all be sleeping for the remainder of the festival, he and Rob head off to try and arrange something.
Later on, Rob and I meet up and catch Coldplay’s set (which, much to our mutual surprise, is utterly engaging). Afterwards we head over to Shangri-La with another friend. We wander the sordid streets of the temporary city, jive in a jive bar and at half two we go our separate ways and Rob and I head back to our tent. We reach it around 3am, but Mark isn’t there yet. Fair enough, Glasto kept us out til 3, and the music will keep going til 5am. We fumble our way into our respective sleeping bags and drop asleep in no time at all.
When I awake briefly at 4am the tent is already vaguely lit by the half light of the pre-dawn hour, and I am relieved to see that our tent is filled to capacity, myself and the two other bodies, deep in slumber. I go back to sleep. By Rob’s own account, he woke up at half 5 and saw much the same thing. He fell asleep once more.
We wake around 7, and only Rob and I are in the tent. We reckon Mark must have gone of to do some PR work or something, but just to check if he’s left us a message we both switch on our phones. There is a message on each – the same one, sent as a joint text. It goes roughly like this:
“Guys – couldn’t get the pass I needed and couldn’t find the tent. Am driving back to London.”
We look at the bottom of our messages. 1:30am.
WE SPENT TWO HOURS SHARING A TENT WITH A STRANGE MAN.
I spent the last few days hoping that when I got my Glastonbury photos developed there would be a self-shot of our mystery man leaning of Rob and I, giving a massive thumbs up. He certainly had the chance – when we woke in the morning my camera was lying where he had been. Oh well.
There were rumours rumbling around the site all weekend. Arcade Fire were gonna play! (False) Pulp were gonna play! (True) Radiohead were going to play! (True) Prince was gonna play! (You had me going there, Sam…). My favourite rumour was that Marcus Mumford was the illegitimate son of the above fox. But then, I made that up, so I would like it.
And so that was our Glasto for 2011.
Two years til the next one.
July 2, 2011 2 Comments
So, we’re back from Glastonbury. Our clothes our muddied, our bodies resting after the best showers of our lives, and the world’s least likely tanline formed half way up our calves (courtesy of the necessity of wearing wellies in 30 degree weather). In the next week or so we’ll get our Glasto photos up on the site (we went retro with an analogue camera). Until then, enjoy a custom-made list of every single thought we had at Glastonbury this year. Don’t worry, there aren’t many. Mostly we were just trying to stay upright in the mud.
1. Travelling light is key. We had one bag, one tent, and eighteen sherpas.
2. They’re right when they say ‘It’s not the same without the rain’. It’s significantly better.
3. If we were to make a venn diagram where a red circle represented ‘Men who take their shirts off when temperatures hit twenty degrees’ and a blue circle represented ‘Men who could reasonably be described as ‘a bit of a dick”, all we would have is one purple circle.
4. Next time we are for-going tents in favour of bringing sheds.
5. This year’s festival trend is going to be woolly hats made to look like Sesame Street characters. We don’t know who came up with this, or spread it across so many vendors with such success, but they are clearly marketing geniuses.
6. Lemonberry is a better festival drink than any other. Lemonade with strawberry blended into it, and bits floating about.
7. Mumford and Sons are successful because they appeal to two major demographics: fans of well-made, beautiful folk music and people who like to sing loudly while holding a can of Strongbow in the air.
8. This works out very well for Mumford and Sons, but not so well for us. Our enjoyment of Fleet Foxes was dampened by three ‘blokes’ behind us who, whenever they got bored of sumptuous vocal harmonies, started shouting ‘IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT BUT MINE’ at the top of their bleedin’ voices.
9. West Holts is the BBC4 of Glastonbury. You won’t always have heard of the artist playing, but they’ll always be interesting.
10. The BBC clearly know who the secret guests are before the festival: this year iPlayer was showing two ‘classic’ sets from previous festivals prior to the weekend kicking off. One by Radiohead and one by Pulp.
11. Shangri-La remains as scary as it is fascinating.
12. The walk people adopt in order to not fall over in Glastonbury’s sludge is not dissimilar from that of Captain Jack Sparrow.
13. As cynical as we wanted to be about it all, we ruddy loved that Coldplay set.
14. When Stornoway thanked the previous night’s headliners U2 for supporting their Pyramid stage opening slot, we laughed. When Dan Mangan made the same joke about The Chemical Brothers on the Other Stage, we still laughed. But only because he’s so bloody nice.
15. Our favourite sets were (in chronological order) by: The Worry Dolls, Billy Bragg, Stornoway, Emily and the Woods, Fool’s Gold, Elbow, Coldplay, The Low Anthem, Don McLean and his Amazing Twenty Minute Singalong to American Pie, Laura Marling, John Grant and what we saw of Bellowhead before returning to our tent and collapsing into a sunstroke slumber.
June 27, 2011 No Comments
We’re watching the skies nervously, hunting in the loft for our air beds and foot pumps, looking to the skies once again, and twitching excitedly every time someone mentions The Wombles and Michael Eavis. It’s Glastonbury once again, and come the end of this week there will be two types of people at train stations across the country: wellie-clad folk with cumbersome tents getting in everybody’s way, and business people who think they are frustrated now, but will be looking back with sweet nostalgia when the same punters return four days later to cause all the same havoc once again – only this time covered in mud and sweat and dust and mud (again).
Needless to say, we’re all rather excited over here at WWL Manor. We were lucky enough to be involved in this year’s Emerging Talent Competition at the festival, and so we’ll be checking out a few of the acts from that and a few folk acts and a few big acts and… you know, there are too many to mention. We’ll whittle it down to a list of our must-see acts at Glastonbury this year, with a few recommendations from some of our very favourites…
1. Emmy the Great (14:00, Oxlyers In West, Friday) - Winner of our inaugeral Hg Music Prize, Emmy the Great’s debut album was an album that flickered between beautiful sounds and stark, sad lyrics. Her second album, Virtue, was released just this month and is in many ways the more thoughtful of the two records – Emma-Lee Moss’ imagery is grand and verging at times on a sort of apocalyptica (though we aren’t sure if she’d necessary agree with that diagnosis). Catch her set in hope of hearing the two dramatic stand-outs from the record – ‘Trellick Tower’ and much-less-like-The-Darkness-than-the-title-suggests ‘Dinosaur Sex’.
Emma-Lee Moss’ Recommendations: “I am looking forward to Wild Beasts, Lykke Li, Summer Camp, Guillemots, Wu Tang Clan and above all my major grown up heroes Suzanne Vega and Billy Bragg.” – Wild Beasts close The Park stage at 23:00 on Saturday, Lykke Li plays The Park at 20:00 on Sunday. Summer Camp and Guillemots sandwich themselves around Emmy the Great on Oxlyers In West on the Friday, and Wu-Tang Clan play the Pyramid Stage at 15:00 on the same day. Moss’ heroes headline their respective stages – Bragg closing Leftfield at 21:00 on Friday and Vega finishing up the Acoustic stage’s festival at 22:30 on the Sunday.
2. Bright Eyes/Fleet Foxes/Mumford & Sons (from 17:35 on The Other Stage, Friday) - Last year our festival hit its folk peak with the double whammy of Laura Marling and Midlake on Saturday night at The Park stage. This year it’s the turn of the Other Stage to folk us all up. With Connor Oberst playing his last festivals as Bright Eyes this summer, it might seem cruel to put him on so early in the evening – but he is followed by two of the poster boys for modern folk. Robin Pecknold’s Fleet Foxes will showcase the best America has to offer, with majestic harmonies and their new albums really-quite-like-Paul-Simon lyrics. Immediately after them Marcus Mumford and his (not actual) Sons take to the stage, in what will best be described as a ‘romp’. Three very different examples of folk, each as good as any other, over the course of four and a half hours. Not to be missed.
3. Stornoway (11:00, Pyramid, Saturday) – Potentially the most exciting thing about Glastonbury this year for us will be seeing two former Six Albums guests playing the festival’s main stage on the Saturday. Rumer makes her appearance at half three, but not before Stornoway. Their debut album, Beachcomber’s Windowsill, was one of our favourite records of last year (our ninth, if we’re keeping count), and if anyone should be given the duty of coaxing the sun out on a Saturday morning, we reckon Stornoway are the boys for the job.
4. Emily and the Woods (16:00, Acoustic, Saturday) – We love Emily Wood. Over the past year she’s been gracious enough to headline our Folkroom gigs on more than one occasion, always using her last performance as a benchmark she has to top. Incredibly versatile, we’ve seen her perform live with a half-band, a full electric set up and – best of all – completely and utterly unplugged, her audience enraptured around her. Though she didn’t win the Emerging Talent Contest this year, we’re ecstatic to see she’s playing the Acoustic stage and will be dragging most everyone we know to see her. And probably a few we don’t know. We will literally be dragging people up from the Theatre Fields to see her. So if you go, and there’s a surprising amount of trolls and stilt-walkers present, you’ll know we’re there too.
Emily Wood’s recommendation: “Beyonce is totally amazing… She has it all. The voice! The tunes! The moves! Wow- I seriously can’t wait.” - Beyonce headlines the festival on the Pyramid Stage, Sunday night at 21:45
5. Elbow (20:15, Pyramid, Saturday) – We’re actually just doing you a favour here. No, really. There isn’t a single band in the world today who know how to use a festival audience better than Elbow. Take their appearance at the Reading festival in 2005, in which they asked the crowd to partake in a ‘Mexican crouch’, and to point at the sky as if they had ‘just seen a massive alien’. Footage of these actions were used in their music video for ‘Leaders Of The Free World’. Almost ten years ago the band recorded thousands of Glastonbury revellers singing ‘We still believe in love, so fuck you’, and used the cast of thousands first as a choir on their song ‘Grace Under Pressure’ and then as the inspiration for their second album title… Cast Of Thousands. The sleevenotes for that album feature credits for anyone and everyone they could get the names of at that performance. Their last appearance at Glasto culminated in a mass string section, formed of ‘anyone we could find’ gathering on stage for the most audacious performance of One Day Like This yet seen. With recent performances with the Halle Orchestra and in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Elbow are a band that – in the live arena, at least – are impossible to second guess right now.
6. CocknBullKid (13:00, Oxlyers In West, Sunday) - Anita Blay, aka CocknBullKid, might just have released the most underrated album of 2011 so far. Intelligent and soulful pop music that almost nobody seems to be listening to. She’s only recently been announced for the festival, but anyone catching her at the odd little live-music venue in the heart of the Dance Area will be in for a treat. ‘Hold On To Your Misery’ is potentially the year’s best pop song. If ‘Asthma Attack’ isn’t. Or ‘Yellow’.
Anita Blay’s Recommendation: “Beyonce of course! I’ve been a fan, ever since Destiny’s Child released ‘No, No, No’. I have all her albums and think she’s an incredible live performer. I’m literally dying with anticipation!”
7. Laura Marling (15:00, Pyramid, Sunday) – It’s possible that the festival’s iconic Pyramid Stage has never been as eclectic as it will be on the Sunday of this year’s festival. It’s also quite probable that Laura Marling will never find herself acting as one of Beyonce’s support acts ever again. It’ll be interesting to see how she’ll fare on what could fairly be described as the biggest stage in the world – it will be the biggest crowd Marling has ever played to, and that isn’t including any television audience sitting warm at home. There was a time when Laura Marling was renowned for shuffling quietly offstage mid-performance, such was her shyness. Her set at The Park last year was both commanding and arresting, though, and we’ll be there for what might just be her crowning achievement.
8. PAUL BLOODY SIMON (16:30, Pyramid, Sunday) – The half of Simon and Garfunkel that actually mattered, Paul Simon is the undisputed Once In A Lifetime act of Glastonbury 2011. The same title held by Stevie Wonder last year, or Leonard Cohen back in 2008, Simon has made a name for himself unlike almost any other in the 47 years that have passed since he and Art Garfunkel released Wednesday Morning, 3am – an album widely regarded as being We Write Lists’ fifth favourite Simon and Garfunkel studio album. We are, of course, dreaming of a reunion with Art – but we’ll settle for a mix of S&G hits, tracks from Graceland, and eighteen consecutive performances of ‘Me and Julio Down at the Schoolyard’. Yes, that’ll serve us nicely please.
9. John Grant (18:30, The Park, Sunday) – Every time we see John Grant’s name, we see a flash of warm pride remembering his appearance on Six Albums last year (it’s still one of the most interesting reads the series has seen). You see, back then we heard his debut solo album, Queen of Denmark, and we really liked it. Now though – now we love it. We hold it close to us, both sonically, sentimentally and physically. We can’t sleep unless we’re hugging the vinyl tight to our chest. Intense and witty, Queen of Denmark is an incredibly emotive album that is also surprisingly funny throughout. Better still, his slot on The Park stage come Sunday night is just long enough that, if he wanted, he could perform the whole damn thing in order. (Please do this, John, and we will forever be your bessies).
10. Bellowhead (15:30, West Holts, Sunday and 21:00, Leftfield, Sunday) – Though Bellowhead are playing two sets at the festival this year, it will be their second set that you’ll find WWL at. We’ll be eschewing Beyonce’s headline set for their two-hour headline slot at Leftfield – likely to be the biggest, most unashamedly fun party that the festival has to offer this year. There are hundreds of trad. folk acts across the UK right now, but Bellowhead’s popularity is born out of the sheer zeal of their performances. Nobody has ever left a Bellowhead show with anything less than a massive bloomin’ smile on their mug. And our mugs will never turn down a massive bloomin’ smile.
Pete Flood of Bellowhead’s Recommendation: “Robyn Hitchcock is performing the whole of Captain Beefheart’s brilliant Clear Spot, an album that rocked my teenage years, at the Spirit of 71 tent – I think he’ll be just the man for the job.” Robyn Hitchcock plays the Spirit of 71 stage at 18:45 on Sunday.
There are, of course, dozens of excellent bands playing the festival across the weekend, and these are only some of the acts we’ll be catching. If you’re lucky enough to be going, keep an eye out for The Worry Dolls, The Portraits, B.B. King, Caitlin Rose, Johnny and Jenny, I Am Kloot, Twin Brother, Beth Rowley, Tame Impala, Dry The River, DeVotchKa, Aloe Blacc, Janelle Monae, Thea Gilmore, The Low Anthem, Sea of Bees, Dan Mangan, Cocos Lovers and Eels. Happy festivalling, y’all!
June 20, 2011 No Comments
In 2006 we were in our final year of Sixth Form, young and impressionable and ever so poor. It was our year of gigs, our last chance to enjoy the benefits of being located exactly halfway between London and Brighton before we upped-sticks and went to university in Nottingham. We didn’t know at the time, but it was our last summer of care-free gig going, and the last summer that we’d passionately throw ourselves up against the metal railings at the very front of every gig we ever went to. At the same time as all these endings, a small festival was celebrating its inaugural year down in Brighton, and we were going to celebrate it in style. The Great Escape opened in almost every venue Brighton had available that summer – from the smallest venues to some of the very biggest. We caught our first ever gig by WWL favourites The Pipettes, as well as sets by the likes of British Sea Power and The Audreys. It was a very good year.
This year we will be making our first return to the festival since that weekend some five years back, and rather than marking the end of our care-free gigging days, it serves to mark the beginning of We Write Lists’ summer of festival coverage! Over the next few months we’ll be focusing on the best three festivals – all very different in a great many ways – with previews and reviews, coverage and, if we get our way, artist interaction. In September we’ll be hitting the small but perfectly formed End Of The Road festival (headlined by Joanna Newsom, Beirut and Mogwai), and in June we will strike Glastonbury (U2, Coldplay, Beyoncé) with everything we’ve got (and probably a little more). But first comes The Great Escape, which starts on Thursday this week, and runs through three days til Saturday. Here are a few of our must-see acts appearing over the course of the festival.
Ben Howard is a startling folk singer from down Devon ways. We featured him in our regular Tracklistings spot last week, and his two sets at the festival will be the perfect chance to hear his Old Pine EP in action. (Latest Music Bar, Friday, 16:15 & Komedia Studio Bar, Saturday, 21:15)
CocknBullKid is a regular visitor to WWL too – her debut album, out on May 23rd, is a spectacular statement that stands head and shoulders above British R&B in its current state. (Queen’s Hotel, Friday, 22:15)
Dark Dark Dark make chamber folk that will chill you as much as it will inspire you. Their second album, Wild Go, is so gorgeous that we can only listen to it for once a week, for fear of addiction. (Queen’s Hotel, Saturday, 22:15)
Dems might just be our favourite Best Kept Secret ever. So much so, we kind of don’t want to tell you about him. Or his heart-stopping track ‘Lioness’, or his fantastic remix work, or anything, at all. So we won’t. (The Fortune Of War, Friday, 19:45)
A few weeks ago we caught Dry The River at the Camden Barfly, and relished every second of it – from their slightly mis-guided entrance music through to their blow-them-away approach to gigging, it was obvious that it might only a year or two until Dry The River are headlining every major festival going. Catch them early here at one of their three gigs over the course of the weekend. (Above Audio, Thursday, 14:00, Prince Albert, Thursday, 22:15 and Concorde 2, Saturday, 20:00)
If you like your folk quiet and unassuming, Fionn Regan will be the man to catch. Though he’s playing the festival twice, both have the benefit of being mid-afternoon affairs – a rare treat, given that Regan should be headlining some of the smaller venues here. (Prince Albert, Saturday, 13:00 and Horatios, Saturday, 15:15)
Guillemots‘ debut album, Through The Windowpane, is one of our favourite albums of all time. Since then, they’re released two more records of grand indie-pop and fantastically-monikered lead singer Fyfe Dangerfield has headed a John Lewis marketing campaign with his popular Billy Joel cover. (Komedia, Saturday, 22:15)
We’re devastated to be missing James Vincent McMorrow’s Friday night set at the festival, given that his wonderful debut album Early In The Morning has been soundtracking our late nights for some months now. (Unitarian Church, Friday, 21:00)
Josh T. Pearson is a sort of living ghost, who has been spending the last few months haunting everyone and anyone with his beautiful solo debut. Catch him live to check out A) his fantastic beard and B) his pulse. (Pavilion Theatre, Friday, 22:45)
If a band is signed to Bella Union, you know that they’re great. Lanterns On The Lake are no exception to this rule, as they evidenced when we saw them play Union Chapel last December. (Queen’s Hotel, Saturday, 15:15 and Komedia, Saturday, 20:15)
Marques Toliver is our favourite indie violinist since Owen Pallett. He might also be the only one, but we won’t worry about that. (Unitarian Church, Saturday, 21:00)
We championed the wonderful Ramona last year, and still can’t recommend them highly enough. It’s almost impossible to find a female-led alternative rock band that hasn’t been compared to Blondie, and though this band are no different, for once the comparisons are apt. (Fitzherberts, Saturday, 12:30 and The Loft, Saturday, 23:30)
The Staves supported Mt. Desolation when we caught them at Scala last year, and very almost stole the show. Sure, it was partly because we fell in love with each and every one of them. Also, though, it was because they were everything folk harmonies should aim to be. (Unitarian Church, Friday, 20:15)
Sufjan Stevens is our must-see act for the entire festival. In fact, we’ll be missing out on Friday at the festival in order to catch his London show. He headlines the Dome, one of our favourite venues in the entire world (no, seriously, it’s that good), and anyone remotely sensible will be rushing to see him, so get there early. Like, Tuesday early. (The Brighton Dome, Saturday)
Treefight For Sunlight are another former guest of our Six Albums, and their melodious menagerie of music should not be missed live. Just about the most exciting shambles you’ll ever hear. (Komedia, Friday, 21:15)
Villagers stole the show at the Mercurys last year, but lost out on the prize to The XX. This either proves the flaws of the award, or emphasies how great a live band Villagers actually are. Or maybe a bit of both. (Unitarian Church, Thursday, 22:00 and Pavilion Theatre, Friday, 23:45)
Young The Giant are already the most underrated band to hit indie rock in years, and their album only came out last week. Check them out on Jools Holland’s last show to see just why they’re worth catching. (Queen’s Hotel, Thursday, 22:15)
There are still a few 3-day tickets for The Great Escape available from http://escapegreat.com/
May 8, 2011 No Comments