Festival review: Wild Life 2017

Three years in, Disclosure and Rudimental’s south coast weekender continues to show just how much music organisers can cram into a minute airfield, even if it does start to feel like three festivals in one.

Originally published in The Edge

Boarding a train to Shoreham-by-Sea whilst running on about two hours of sleep and with only two-thirds of a malt loaf for company, it’s fair to say that the only tangible spurs of any modicum of festival spirit within me on the way to Wild Life were the bizarrely resplendent south coast weather and the promise of the musical goodness to be found within its fenced-off portion of Brighton City Airport. Eventually, mid-afternoon merriment did make itself known – many a Corona-grasping young person joined the service to the point that I assumed the beer bottles were the festival’s answer to wristbands, and within five minutes of walking from the station the more wild side of the crowd had made itself known by urinating into four separate bushes – but where the festival spearheaded by Disclosure and Rudimental flourishes is certainly in its performance offerings, fitting four substantial stages into a very compact layout. Continue reading “Festival review: Wild Life 2017”

Festival review: Thursday at The Great Escape 2017

Reporting from new music Narnia.

Originally published in The Edge

To an early Great Escape performer caught in a light drizzle performing to a non-existent audience on a stage so makeshift that it was just four stickers on the ground opposite the Theatre Royal, in passing I heard five demoralising yet crucial words: “Do it for the art.”

Brighton, for all its multicultural wonder, is not the most thrilling place at 12:45 on a Thursday afternoon after all, even if it is hosting the start of festival season. Sure, some things are new – posters congratulating the Albion on Premier League promotion, dodgy phone shops flogging fidget spinners, the retail outlet long home to my questionable CD purchasing undergoing a rebirth as Victoria’s Secret, a chap on a bench by the station swearing at the floor with The Sun in his pocket – but the closest anything gets to the traditional brand of summertime debauchery is someone slumped in the doorway next to a bank-turned-Wetherspoon with a two litre bottle of Blackthorn. It was at this point that a man from SoundCloud gave me a bloody delicious marshmallowy ice cream from their branded van, a who’s who of industry folks that I might have emailed once congregated in a queue for the conference portion of it all, and I picked up a wristband from an Airstream trailer in time to completely miss the first of Raye’s three sets of the weekend. In pondering, I decided to take a punt on Crimsons – a band the festival app likened to Jimi Hendrix – as they were on at the first obvious venue I see. Naturally, it’s at capacity, so it’s chicken katsu curry time with Lorde on the radio to plan my next move to. (And yes, to confirm your ridiculous ideas of Brighton, the venue in question was indeed one that sells vegan barbeque from a caravan in the corner of its pub portion. I love this city.) Continue reading “Festival review: Thursday at The Great Escape 2017”

Acts you should catch at The Great Escape 2017

Overwhelmed by a 400+ artist lineup? We’re here to help.

Originally published in The Edge

Imagine the kind of festival that would nonchalantly complete its lineup on a Tuesday morning by adding 150 new names and you can begin to get a sense of what The Great Escape is all about. Forget faffing around in a muddy field and missing out on your favourite bands because your friends are making you wait in a half-decent perch for one headliner – The Great Escape is three days of the music industry converging in over 30 of Brighton’s finest venues to celebrate and be introduced to everything new and ready to take over. The archives are packed with household names who appeared before their big breakthroughs – from Adele in 2007 to The xx in 2009 via Christine And The Queens in 2013 and Bon Iver in 2008 – and this year’s bill now boasts well over 400 names ready to feature in the same conversations. Slaves will kick things off by gigging on the resplendent pier, local lad and two-time performer Rag‘n’Bone Man has already sold out his headline slot at the Dome, and Kano will take over the Old Market for some grime time on Friday night, but here’s just a little taste of the acts that you should keep a particular eye out for.

Continue reading “Acts you should catch at The Great Escape 2017”

Festival review: Saturday at Lovebox 2016

We bear witness to an exclusive London return from LCD Soundsystem.

Originally published in The Edge

Even after two of the finest hours of my life standing in Victoria Park listening to 14 of their choicest cuts, it’s impossible to tell which component of LCD Soundsystem I adore the most. Perhaps it’s the vigour with which James Murphy and co. merrily strike cowbells throughout their sets. Perhaps it’s the sheer number of folks ambling around the stage’s setup of baffling synth equipment having mid-track conversations, sipping glasses of wine, and, at Lollapalooza, whirling out power tools for on-the-go repairs. Perhaps it’s the way they seamlessly incorporate ‘Someone Great,’ a harrowing tribute to a deceased therapist, directly between ‘Yeah,’ a frighteningly intense display of positive affirmation, and ‘Losing My Edge,’ their 2002 bow of spoken middle-aged rambles on the bastard youth (“I’m losing my edge to the art-school Brooklynites in little jackets and borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered Eighties”). Perhaps it’s that their farewell five years ago seemed so utterly definitive with its guest spots from Arcade Fire and Reggie Watts and its subsequent DVD (Shut Up And Play The Hits: The Very Loud Ending Of LCD Soundsystem) and rush to the heart of the sun at a time when nothing of the band appeared to be deteriorating that made the very suggestion that I would ever experience it live so absurd and overwhelming.

“We are retiring from the game,” they said. “Gettin’ out. Movin’ on.” Continue reading “Festival review: Saturday at Lovebox 2016”

Festival review: Friday at Lovebox 2016

Taking in the Major Lazer-led opening day in Victoria Park.

Originally published in The Edge

Friday’s ambience in Victoria Park was extremely youthful and its lineup slightly scattered, contrasting starkly to the meticulous scheduling of Saturday and allowing a far better scope to pick and choose little snippets of the unusual. Rather than risk passing out in Fabric’s felt-lined erection for Kano’s sauna performance with surprise turns from Lethal Bizzle and Giggs, my wanders took me past Shy FX spinning vintage Dizzee Rascal, Joris Voorn playing under the shadow of a disgruntled gorilla at Elrow’s Sambodromo do Brasil, and Temple Funk Collective – a beguiling jazz octet bringing sousaphones to Swedish House Mafia, C+C Music Factory, and The Prodigy – on the quaint bandstand.

Earlier in the day, fleeting glimpses had established things nicely: none sufficiently spectacular to justify the price alone, yet perfectly enjoyable presences on a lovely afternoon of eccentric offerings. Some promised great things. “United Kingdom, much like politicians, we came to fuck shit up. Make some motherfucking noise,” opened the Run The Jewels set, which later moved towards El-P getting his new Reebok shoes dirty as he and Killer Mike rapped about fucking the NSA in some fashion on a track from the imminent RTJ3. Katy B, with more elaborate staging than at Common People in May, drew bafflingly large crowds clearly enamoured with the late-decade dubstep wobbles of ‘Perfect Stranger’ and ‘Katy On A Mission.’ , the charismatic Dane, sounded muffled and slow on the infectious ‘Walk This Way’ and ‘Kamikaze’ before missing the obvious and closing with ‘Lean On’ instead of ‘Final Song.’ GoldLink even went a step further away from such expectations, throwing a dash of Nirvana into his otherwise rapped set, triggering mosh pits more hostile than those created by Stormzy, who spent so long creating spaces before ‘Know Me From’ that some hit the deck to do press-ups. Continue reading “Festival review: Friday at Lovebox 2016”

Festival review: Sunday at Common People 2016

Duran Duran anchors the serene second and final day of Southampton’s leading festival.

Originally published in The Edge

Surveying the Common People site from atop a ferris wheel early on Sunday afternoon, a gentle reggae lilt emanating from David Rodigan and friends on the Uncontained Stage combined with a sky tinted the clearest of blues to paint a picture of sheer tranquility. Lazy days on the Common are tempting enough even without the allure of a fledgling festival. When you mix in a lunchtime workout on the main stage from Mr. Motivator, the presence of new wave royalty with rumours of elaborate pyrotechnics and confetti cannons, and all the cultural delight and gourmet eccentricity of a fancy fair situated within walking distance for most attendees, you’re left with an irresistible recipe for age-discarding delight. Continue reading “Festival review: Sunday at Common People 2016”

Festival review: Saturday at Common People 2016

We review Craig David’s hometown return and debut festival headline show.

Originally published in The Edge

Such is the adoration felt towards Craig David in his hometown of Southampton, he could easily have just stepped onto the stage at Common People on Saturday night to motionlessly croon a hit from the turn of the millennium before retreating to his Miami abode without a word and still cause a city to collectively swoon. Instead, he reminded us all just why he is a national treasure exploding for the second time as he brought a taste of that atmosphere to his family and thousands of friends with an emphatic display of cross-generational skills. Continue reading “Festival review: Saturday at Common People 2016”