I was lucky enough to get press for Common People festival again this year, and much like last time, my favourite part of the day was The Uncommon Stage. Local bands were full of raw passion and the atmosphere in that tent was just unshakable.
Oh lord, oh my giddy aunt, Ry X, you enchanting soul. I’ve been into Ry X’s music for a little while now, however in the last year or so I may have neglected him a little. This was until I found out there was an opportunity to get guest list through Vulture Hound for his recent UK tour. I just had to go to his show at Shepherds Bush.
Here’s a piece I recently wrote for Vulture Hound, find it on the site here: http://vulturehound.co.uk/2016/10/by-the-sea-festival-dreamland-margate-festival-review/
Last year saw Margate’s newly re-opened amusement park, Dreamland, host Hot Chip and Foals as headliners for the first ever By The Sea Festival. The seaside town put on two nights of shows, with its success sparking interest for another show in 2016. Headliners this year included Wild Beasts andSuper Furry Animals on Friday, with Bat For Lashes and Wolf Alice on Saturday.
Here’s a piece I wrote for Vulture Hound a little while back. Find it on the site here: http://vulturehound.co.uk/2016/09/submariner-the-talking-heads-southampton-live-review/
The relocation of The Talking Heads in Southampton has definitely served the venue well – easier to find, closer to the train station, open for business more than ever. Bands pour in and out of this venue, both local and those from afar. Last week the venue saw Submariner, an indie band hailing from the South Coast of the UK, celebrate the release of their debut EP, In The Dark.
Here’s a piece I wrote for Vulture Hound a little while back. Find it on the site here: http://vulturehound.co.uk/2016/07/warpaint-portsmouth-wedgewood-rooms-live-review/
Four piece indie band Warpaint returned to Portsmouth for the first time in years to play an exclusive warm up show before their set at British Summer Time in Hyde Park the following day. The south coast city hosted the band at the Wedgewood Rooms, a small venue for such a huge spectacle.
Here’s a piece I wrote for Vulture Hound a little while back. Find it on the site here: http://vulturehound.co.uk/2016/06/common-people-festival-southampton/
For the second time ever Southampton welcomed a wealth of acts and ferocious sunshine to their Common for a weekend of music, entertainment and most importantly of course, the world’s biggest bouncy castle. Predictions of a rainy weekend were washed away as the sun shone brightly over all the liveliness of the weekend – from local bands to big names, there was a lot to see.
Here’s a piece I did for Vulture Hound: http://vulturehound.co.uk/2016/01/lucy-rose-solo-tour-live-review/
A gig in a library? Are you sure? Lucy Rose talks about how doing this solo tour “is a bit peculiar”, but it definitely works in her favour, with her show at Winchester’s Discovery Centre proving to be a uniquely intimate affair.
Originally posted on Noise Cannon: http://noisecannon.com/2015/10/19/jamie-xx-o2-academy-brixton/
Jamie Smith has always had a modest air about him, from his work with The xx to his latest solo project as Jamie xx, he’s not one to boast. Neither is he one to talk to the crowd, much less to anyone else. However, he is one to stick it to the crowd, with a careful selection of music that he absorbs himself in to. Smith’s lack of vocal interaction puts all focus on the music, and as he mixes those records, the anticipation lies in where the song is going to go. It is perhaps this that has earned him a sold out show at Brixton Academy as part of his In Colour tour.
Opening with a reworked version of ‘Sleep Sound’, the crowd roar as every beat is pounded with a bass that shakes the floor and makes you feel downright dirty. Smith’s absorption in the music is resounded through the room, his energy bouncing back on the crowd. There’s no surge to the front of the stage, there’s no violence, everyone is quite literally all under one roof, raving. Smith holds a very strong presence, but you don’t need to look to the stage to realise it – it’s felt in every beat, every strobe of light, every ecstatic smile you see on the faces around you.
Every track played is mixed into oblivion, offering surprises left right and center, keeping us on our toes, and even ‘Good Times’ – with its general mixed reception among Jamie xx fans – goes down a treat. To pick a weak point is hard, and to be honest, being overly analytic of the night proves a struggle as Smith’s performance is almost hypnotic at times. It’s easy to think of these kinds of shows as glorified DJ sets, but you’d be sorely mistaken to think this is a lazy man’s game. The sheer thought put into how to mix up each song is unimaginable, and then maintaining the crowd’s interaction without forced humour – this is a movements show, with dancing bodies holding more of a seal of approval than any amount of cheering.
The crowd only slows towards the end, in appreciation as opposed to boredom, as the subdued ‘Loud Places’ softens the blow of a heavy night with confetti filling the room. It’s almost as if everyone feels the need to take a snapshot of the night, just before ‘Girl’ kicks in to close the night, and the movement ensues.
Originally posted on Noise Cannon: http://noisecannon.com/2015/06/01/common-people-part-two-240515/
It’s the second and final day of Common People and the magic is still going. There seems to be a greater range of artists on today’s line up and subsequently there are many different kinds of people walking around. Seeing a range of characters all revelling in the same joy is a sense of magic in itself and we haven’t even taken into account the music yet.
The weather is a little cooler but the acts are still shit hot – there’s only so much we can say about a DJ set but you can bet the entirety of the Big Top tent are eating out the palm of Rob Da Bank’s hands, as if praising their King. Let’s face it, if he could rule a world like he could rule Common People, people would be falling at his feet at every opportunity. Most memorable however, is the wonderfully astounding Grace Jones, pushing boundaries left, right, and center, not just stealing the show but outright owning it.
This four piece are like ’90s indie grunge shaken up with some finely tuned attitude, and though frontman Connor Smith comes on complaining of a hangover, their performance is full throttle energy. “Let’s ‘ave it, let’s ‘ave it,” Smith shouts to the crowd, and sure enough, they give it, and the crowd has it. They are the epitome of those who partied hard at Common People on Saturday but are still raring to go on Sunday, filling the Uncommon Stage with gut wrenching vocals and penetrating rhythms.
THE CUBAN BROTHERS
Wow. There’s funk, there’s soul, but more than anything The Cuban Brothers certainly entertain. Phallic references and sexism are sugar coated in the undeniable charisma of lead Brother, Miguel Mantovani, who revels in showing off to the crowd and poking fun at the parents of young ones, raising an eyebrow at his inappropriate (yet highly entertaining) behaviour. It’s not all about Mantovani however, his group today is completed with three dancers, the youngest of which he refers to as ‘One Erection’ and is definitely a favourite among the females, young and old alike. Their dancing is off the wall, and they make sure all eyes are on them. It’s something a little different to your average band performing their songs, and as Mantovani strips down to just his underwear, exclaiming he has three testicles, their performance draws to an end, leaving you with the haunting image of his junk ferociously shaking around.
In most bands, the drummer can often take the back seat, but not for two-piece Slaves. These two are in it together and you can forget taking a seat at all as drummer Isaac Holman remains standing while offering the most interaction with the crowd. Holman and guitarist Laurie Vincent come rough, raw, and ready, yelling at the crowd and generally making a bit of a racket as they bounce off each others’ humour on stage. Nevermind ‘Feed The Mantaray’, Slaves feed the crowd as a friend of theirs runs on stage dressed as a manta ray before throwing himself at the people. It’s a fun-filled set and even Holman can’t help but laugh as Vincent humorously whimpers lyrics from ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie?’. Tipped to be one of the best new bands to come out of 2015, these guys are powerful with the crowd at their feet, yet they still manage to come across relatable, as if they’re two guys you’ve bumped into at your local pub.
YEARS AND YEARS
It’s time for some pop, and sure enough, Years and Years serve it with a side of indie and house that sets them apart from your average pop group. They are well in their element and take their first ever main stage slot firmly in their stride. Frontman Olly Alexander not only expresses the music through vocals, but also the twisting and turning of his body, as if his favourite song has just come on in the club.
It’s clear from here that Alexander, along with his bandmates, is fully invested in their music and they aren’t afraid to show how much they enjoy it themselves. Mid set he sits down at a keyboard to slow down to something calmer, yet there still remains peppy spirits through little snippets of electronica. They might be pint-sized musicians but their music is huge, filling Southampton Common with dynamic melodies and vocals that hit impressive pitches.
BAND OF SKULLS
Probably one of the biggest bands on the bill to have come out of Southampton, Band of Skulls truly bring it home, entering the stage while guitarist Russell Marsden strums along to ‘All The Saints’ in homage to the city’s football team. This then transitions into ‘Hoochie Coochie’ with riffs, basslines, and drumbeats all being ridden hard. Band of Skulls command the stage as they perform some of their biggest songs with a difference. Their set is deep and rich, with the simplicity of slower moments in ‘Sweet Sour’ creating a whole new sultry sound, proving this band to be adaptable and forever growing.
Band of Skulls may offer a huge, dominating sound across the Common but they have not forgotten their roots; Marsden gives a shout out to all the venues in Southampton who have helped them to get where they are today, and the local pride is blooming. Much like they opened with a reference to the football team, drummer Matt Hayward dons his Saints shirt for an extended version of final song ‘Death by Diamonds and Pearls’, closing the set on a high.
Having played at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Norwich on the same day, there’s some concern that Clean Bandit might not make it. Nevertheless, they light up the stage with an abundance of vitality. The group kick up a party on stage that channels through the crowd via soaring vocals and the striking elegance of the violin, with each member shining in their own way. Standout songs are ‘Real Love’ and ‘Rather Be’, putting the crowd into full on sing-a-long mode as the band perform with glee and great showmanship. Like Years and Years, they find themselves dancing to their own music, not in a choreographed way but more like ‘Hell yeah we did well with this one’. They are not big-headed mind, just clearly in tune with their own sound, their passion for music and performing shining through the entire set.
What. A. Woman. Recently turned 67, Miss Grace Jones parties harder than anyone else over the weekend. She comes out on stage decked out in what seems to be a cat suit from a distance, but get closer and it becomes apparent she’s barely dressed – she’s wearing a corset and thong with a white pattern painted all over her nude body. She stands on a podium, fully in control of the crowd as she croons deeply and seductively.
For the next song Jones dons a cape and steps up towards a higher podium, fully dominating the entire Common. Her ensuing diva moments are wholly acceptable, even to the point where she’s demanding a drink, “or a spliff, shall I say a spliff would be better.” Though she may not have been granted her herbal narcotics, her cries of “Can I have a glass of wine baby please?” are answered as she kicks off a little romantic number, looking gorgeous with said glass of wine in hand.
Jones is not only versatile but timeless, going from dancing in a grass skirt with a male pole dancer, to wearing a big white head piece with a pony tail and being carried directly in front of the crowd. It is also apparent she has more than one cape in her array of costume changes and even as she falls over, she’s truly amazing.
Regardless of her music being to your taste, she’s an incredible woman to watch and a particular favourite costume change is the disco ball hat. She looks ready to party, to be the centre of attention, and the sight of all the lights reflecting off her head just elevates her status further. Then, as she closes the set with ‘Slave to the Rhythm’, Jones astounds us all with the power of a hula-hoop, maintaining the motion throughout the whole track, as she sings her heart out and moves across the stage. The word impressive just doesn’t cut it.
Originally posted on Noise Cannon (joint piece with another journo): http://noisecannon.com/2015/05/31/common-people-festival-review-2015-part-one/
Upon entering Southampton’s Common, a place usually reserved for strolls in the sun or a run in the park, we feel as if we’ve been transported into another world entirely. The sun is shining, there are colourful flags decorating the skyline and an abundance of different foods, and fashion and activity stalls are scattered among the different stages.
Festival fever has hit Southampton in the form of (the first ever) Common People, which offers a taste of the Bestival spirit from curator Rob Da Bank. The Common opens itself up to musicians and DJs from around the world, and from local bands to legends, Southampton is in for a very special bank holiday weekend. It’s quirky, it’s fun, it’s really bloody entertaining, and we can’t wait for the next one. Here’s our lowdown of the very first day of the very first Common People that has left us hungry for more…
Earning a slot on the Uncommon Stage through a Battle of the Bands competition was one victory, proving themselves on the day was another. Bel Esprit’s astounding surges of energy in all the right places contribute to a set in which each song out does the previous, and they certainly don’t do things by halves. Blending the modern indie sound with elements of classic rock, they serve the audience with an edge of confidence and a sense of togetherness as their energy bounces off each other.
GEORGE THE POET
Now this is a guy who can transition smoothly from the deep and meaningful to a fun-filled attitude. George the Poet flows delicately between rapping, talking to the crowd, and performing spoken word pieces. One minute he’s preaching about the government and education, the next he’s spitting out a cliché love song. George the Poet is a difficult man to figure out, with some people dancing and others simply listening intently, he keeps us on our toes. Though not always necessarily family friendly, he caters for the majority of people there, at least if only for one song at a time.
Coming on rather unassumingly, there’s no telling on what these guys are about to do on stage. However, as the first chord strikes there’s attitude and angst and whole lot of energy to come. The music is both loud and on point, dominating the small tent and drawing people in for more than just some booze from the bar. Frontman Chris Peden seems to have a thing for wearing his guitar as a hat between songs as he stares out into the crowd, checking up on the mosh pit in the middle, watching people go crazy to his band’s very own songs. A broken string later and the energy is still going thick and fast, with intensified vocals wrenched from Peden’s very soul keeping spirits alive as the first day of the festival approaches the evening
Closing the Uncommon Stage with some dreamy indie melodies, Jaws serve as a relaxing break from the crowd across the field who are in eat, sleep, rave, repeat mode with Fat Boy Slim. It’s more of an intimate end to the Saturday night with their warming performance of a sound that sits somewhere between The Cure and The Drums – bringing the old with the new. Technical issues are forgiven as the rest of their music sways through the tent, emitting a glow of delicate energy with a powerful undertone. Nothing stands out as significantly memorable, nevertheless, Jaws’ set is tight, lovingly soothing, and mesmerising, spreading warmth through the tent.