Festival Reviews

Realised after dinner that Campfire Trails show did not start until 9pm so got antsy and decided to push my luck and hit another club first.  

Hype hotel with a huge line was starting Tuesday night and first band of the evening was Oberhofer..lots of buzz about this Brooklyn band so we took the chance, and though there was a huge line, badges went on in.

 

The spirited, Strokes"ish" Oberhofer hit the stage and these kids were fantastic, highlight of the evening for sure. Young but very polished, energetic little fellas, floppy haired and rocking. it was a hoot. 

 

Then it was off to Bat Bar for Campfire Trails night. First off,. Apache Relay.  Almost Dry the River but not quite there, their set was haunted by what I thought was no vocals audible for the first few songs. This turned out to be an issue all night.  Good little band with a little Springsteen thrown in with a cover of State Trooper. 

 

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Supersonic Festival The Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham, 21-23 Oct 2011

 

 

Supersonic - probably one of the most original festivals around.  Musicians mix with the

audience, as both get the same – to see challenging new music, and acts who rarely

play live in the UK. The setting is perfect - huge railway arches shelter eclectic food

vendors, and a narrow bridge over an urban river provides a crossing between venues,

which include warehouses and an old library, which ironically plays host to some of the

loudest bands.

 

And loud is the order of the day. Electric Wizard, Wolves in the Throne Room, Skull

Defects (wonderful repeated rhythms, SO loud)…but one of the most powerful sounds of

the whole weekend is the final track by aPAtT (think I got that right),  a Sunn 0)) ‘pastiche’

which echoes around the room and shakes you to your core. Serious or an expertly played

 joke?

 

Interpreting humour was a big issue for me this year – lots of Scandinavian bands, all

with a weird sense of humour. Circle – great band, very heavy, but are they being ‘ironic’

looking like a hair metal tribute band? Not until the singer stuffs his water bottle down the

front of his spandex tights, do we finally know the answer for sure. Turbonegro – they

dress like the Village People, with sailors hats, bowler hats and handlebar moustaches –

and play like a pub band playing punk anthems. Great fans, biggest mosh of the weekend,

who dress in matching badged denim like 70s Quo-ites. Ironic, post –ironic, or just having

a laugh?  And does it even matter? Not just the Scand bands either -the Secret Chiefs,

 in monks hoods and a net curtain hijab, play wonderful versions of Dallas soundtracks.

The funniest words came from Pekko Kappi describing the subjects of his eerie folk drones

 – as in ‘this one’s about a woman so evil that her husband sent her to hell and she beat

up all the demons’.

 

Maybe the really big names of last year were absent – and the planned collaboration

between David Tibet of Current 93 and jazz rockers Zu fell through for some reason –

but its those bands we’ve never heard of that make the weekend so special. For  example,

Klaus Kinski rocked the library – rampant energy, indie jazz rock, and a singer with a

penchant for self-abuse not seen since the salad days of Iggy Pop. A charmingly quiet

chap afterwards, onstage he French-kissed his guitarist, beat his head til it bled with what

he afterwards told me was a sock full of drawing pins (do all singers carry these, in case

they get the urge?!), then rolled on said pins, finally mounting the amps to walk perilously

along the gantry. Now I didn’t know they could do this, but the backdrop people can type

messages in extreme circumstances – and he was rewarded with a big white on black

blast of ‘Get Down You Dick’!

 

Those backdrops are another star of the festival – works of art in themselves, in keeping

with the variety of media used in the festival. Its not just music. Occasionally the images

are so striking they detract from the musicians – as when Mike Watts quirky songs were

given a backing of lurid images from old horror and porn movies. Perhaps they were

practising for Drunk in Hell or whoever.

 

Overall a great, warm experience, made even more special by the volunteer staff,

the enthusiasm of all who play here, and the wonderful duration of the Capsule girls who

organise it – truly a fans festival!

 
Kevin Hand

 

 

 

Our fourth visit to the Larmer Tree Gardens for the End of the Road festival reveals a few changes. New main stage (Woods), new pathway and entrance to the site from the car park (which was the only real negative issue all weekend, being a trolley-busting experience made up of large sharp rocks) and a new layout meaning a wider expanse and no overcrowding on the site. I would guess the capacity was around the 8,000-10,000 mark and still a ‘small’ festival...

 

A great selection of food and a brilliant selection of beers and just like the Green Man festival, a nice, friendly mix of people of all ages. What everyone had in common was with an appreciation of the music, their surroundings and fellow festival-goers. I really cannot recommend this festival highly enough along with Green Man - they are both just perfect weekends, whatever the weather.

 

Arriving at the Green Man festival site around mid day on Thursday and avoiding the wristband exchange queues later in the afternoon  also meant plenty of lush green grass to pitch the tent on. The weather held for the entire weekend. Very cold Thursday night and very overcast on Saturday but, whoever was controlling the water tap above the mountains this year, kept it in the off position, with just the occasional drip of warm Welsh rain, all weekend. Tans and smiling faces guaranteed!

 

I don’t think I have even seen so many children at a festival but there was plenty to keep

them occupied including the rather wonderful Einstein’s garden (for big kids too).

 

Thursday night had the brilliant (twin) guitarist, Rodney Branigan delivering an acoustic

blues set, followed by the hilarious Tim Minchin with a guest spot on the Far Out stage.

The end of his set included a crowd 'sing along' to Leonard Cohen’s hallelujah.

The crowd actually sang serenely on the chorus.

Seattle’s Capitol Hill Block Party began almost by mistake in 1997 like an impromptu band practice crashing into a backyard bar-b-que spilling into the neighboring streets. Back then, it was a one-day event on a single stage in the epicenter of Capitol Hill. 

Capitol Hill is arguably the most eclectic and entrepreneurially driven neighborhood in the emerald city. 14 years later this three-day festival happens on multiple stages with line-ups that have included MGMT, The Dead Weather, Sonic Youth, Vampire Weekend, The Dodos, Visqueen, Silversun Pickups, Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, The Gossip, The Thermals, The Melvins, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Mudhoney and Built to Spill. 

Three consecutive days of perfect sunny summer weather in Seattle is a rarity but luckily this year for the 20,000 plus in attendance to catch headliners like TV on the Radio, Ghostland  Observatory, Explosions in the Sky and The Head and the Heart sunscreen and cold beer beat out coffee and wellies.  

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