Hosted by Stolen Body Records it was a pleasure to be at the 5th birthday of this great (and growing) festival once again.
Featuring a host of underground bands from the realms of psych, my first thought was just how it would work split across three venues? Essentially it did, with more bands and more diversity encouraging a wider audience. The flip side was that from a personal point of view I somehow felt I had seen less bands the previous year.
My review focuses on bands which played at the smaller two venues of The Lanes and Rough Trade but first a mention of Anthroprophh who kicked things off at SWX. A mind-bending, head-expanding band if ever there was one. The boy Cope must love this band! Tribal, fuzzy, experimental and well worth checking out.
We also caught Yo No Se at Rough Trade having been impressed with them last time around. It would have been nice to have seen them further up the bill but I think members are involved in putting on the event so fair play. Their debut album is excellent but live is where they show what they're truly made of.
Back over at The Lanes a band called Slift from Toulouse, France really took the place by storm. Their set built nicely and the audience did with them and they really harnessed the energy of the crowd and put it to good use. Two brothers front the band, backed with a distinctly soulful drummer. They are a heavy band with elements of Krautrock built into the rhythm but so much more as well. There is a real interplay among the members which means they can build and build their tracks whilst retaining interest. An album is due out shortly so don't die wondering!
Another great French band whose set I missed a good chunk of are 39th And The Nortons who stood out with their clever take on 60's classic pop. Not to be missed if you get the chance. Bad Pelicans (France) were a band I was keen to see and their set did not disappoint. Veering from punk to psych to metal whilst still maintaining a cohesive sound they also don't appear to take themselves too seriously but when you're this good maybe you don't need to. Cool merch.
Is Bliss are from Portsmouth and already catching the eye and ear with their take on bass heavy shoegaze. It was nice to hear some true melodic guitar lines above all the fuzz, psych and din provided by other bands. Of course they know how to make a real racket as but it was the use of melody that won me over and could win them a wider audience as well. Classic British.
From what I could tell the 'special guests' at The Lanes were Wych Elm and they made for an interesting and arresting proposition. They seemed to be unhappy about something, what I don't know? Even in spite of themselves, the quality of their material shone through. If they can continue to write songs of such a high standard they will undoubtedly have many more captive audiences in the future. Dream punk.
I was determined not to miss Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs at The Lanes as my neck was in need of some exercise. It is a difficult one to review as the mosh pit was in full effect and I spent most of their set looking at the floor and getting picked up off it. Having said that they are a great heavy British psych band and obviously in their element playing live. I think the vocalist had issues with his mic but there is enough going on in the overall sound for this not to detract too much. In some ways they remind me of Ministry. Powerful.
It may not be relevant to anything but it was interesting for me to note how many of these bands are three pieces. All hail the power trio! Apologies to all those bands I didn't get to see (maybe next time) and thanks to Stolen Body for hosting such a fantastic event once again.