My favourite time of year is the summer, festival season. Not only is it warmer (maybe not the case this weekend though), but I have no work to do, and I get to spend a large chunk of my days wandering round new and interesting places seeing bands bands bands. Couldn’t really ask for much more now could we!?
This year my festival season started 2 days ago at the infamous Camden Crawl. The festival takes place over two days and it is your typical multi-venue type festival where you run around venues trying to catch as many bands as you can. Thankfully, I am quite familiar with Camden and knew the whereabouts of a lot of the venues so the usual getting lost part wasn’t an issue. I had a whole host of bands to see on my list, and I got to see quite a few of them and also quite a few of unexpected surprises.
My weekend began in the lovely St. Michaels Church with Evi Vine. It’s always a huge advantage to me when festivals like this have church venues. Most of St. Michaels was being used for a record and comic fair so the music happened in a tiny cubicle in the corner. It was a busy turn out for Evi and I ended up peaking my head through an arch. Still, she was lovely and ghostly and a great start to the festival.
I then walked to the Colonel Fawcett which is a little hidden. I turned up at 3:30 to watch the Hall of Mirrors, but to my surprise walked into an empty room and Eliza Doolittle was sound checking. The whole day at the Colonel Fawcett was an ATC Management showcase. The day started with Eliza and then hosted a whole range of new ATC Management acts. The room is beautiful, light and airy and well decorated unlike most venues so I decided to stay even though i’ve never been a big Eliza fan. However, she completely blew me away. She played an acoustic set, just her guitarist and her flawless pitch perfect voice. She has a kooky, sweet attitude, coming across to the audience as a genuinely nice, talented person. She played a couple of her hits’ and I think everyone in the room was genuinely impressed.
I decided to spend the rest of my day there, I liked the fact that no one knew who was going to get up on stage next and everyone that did seemed to be amazing. Next on were Belgium duo Oh Burgundy. It was only their second live show ever, and they did a pretty brilliant job. Their music is ghostly and softly beautiful. It’s folk but it’s got a alternative edge to it, particularly in the drum machine lines. It will be interesting to see where they take their sound, they could appeal to a lot of Bon Iver fans for sure.
Next up were the band who I actually turned up to see, The Hall of Mirrors. The band who I have previously featured as a New Treat are fronted by the 60’s loving Jessica Winter. She dresses like Twiggy and her voice has all the quirks of Kate Bush. Plus the songs are quirky and catchy. The standout of their set was ‘Bittersweet Love’ when Jessica left the safety of her keyboard and become a proper Florence-like front woman. The end of the song she speaks over the band singing the chorus and it was quite marvellous.
With a lot of festival performances, the best things come when you least expect them. And that completely applies to the next performance. A shy, pretty girl got on stage and sat behind a piano. I had no idea what to expect, I didn’t even know her name. But what she gave left everyone in stunned silence. Her voice is soft yet confident, with a soft of Lianne La Havas tone. The songs sound like what would happen if Daughter covered Adele. Pop, but dark and wonderful. I have since found out that her name is Laura Mvula, and she unfortunately has nothing online, but watch out for that name.
After a long afternoon at the Colonel Fawcett, the next place I headed to was Heroes, to see Boy Friend, who were one of my must sees of the weekend. I arrived at 7pm when they were meant to go on stage. Unfortunately due to sound issues and bad organisation, they didn’t end up starting until 8:15, which meant I missed my next band. It was a shame because when they did start, the sound was so bad it was pretty unbearable, so I left after three songs. It definitely wasn’t the fault of the band though, who were clearly also frustrated by the situation. I hope to catch them another time in better circumstances.
My day ended with Veronica Falls. I had a couple of bands I wanted to see at the same time but chose Veronica Falls because I hadn’t seen them before and felt like something new and interesting. I absolutely made the right choice. They were excellent. Grungy, girlie, catchy pop at it’s finest. The band all looked like they were genuinely enjoying themselves and I think the whole audience did too. A fine, fine end to the day.
Sunday started at 7pm in Koko with Niki & the Dove. My original plan was to go and see The Barr Brothers, but I had already seen them that same week and since my Saturday was best when filled with surprises, I headed to Koko. It was yet another great surprise and a pat on the back to myself for making the right choice. I had always been a bit sceptical about them, I like the sound but I wasn’t sure if the songs were strong enough. They proved that not only do they have some incredible club-worthy pop hits, but they also have incredible stage presence. Front woman Malin Dahlström jumped and twirled around the stage in a Bat for Lashes kinda way, while her band were impressively tight. The last song they played stood out for me the most, turns out it is called Tomorrow and is the first track from their debut album which is out next Monday. I walked in unsure about them, and left a definite fan.
Then back to Heroes for the For Folk’s Sake stage. Surely, the same venue couldn’t be late two days in a row? But yes, I walked in at 8:05pm, when Lucy Rose was meant to be getting on stage and actually found a young man pressing a lot of buttons to make some kind of dance music. Not exactly what I was expected but I stook it out and about an hour later, Lucy Rose finally came on. I’ve seen her several times before, both solo and with a band but she definitely sounded more impressive yesterday. She has built her lovely pretty folk songs into a big strong sound, separating her from the Laura Marling comparisons. She is currently in the process of recording her debut album and I think it’s gonna be rather good.
Cashier No. 9 were next. The Irish psychedelic rockers who are signed to Bella Union played well but didn’t really grab my attention. So I headed off, the end of my first festival of the season. Bring on the rest!