Festival Review: Festevol Part 2

festevolFestevol Part 2

The Kazimier August 8th 2015

Words and photos: Gary Lambertfestevol

Warning: This review contains no song titles or insightful technical details on music performance. This is a study in the sheer enjoyment of being with friends, having beer in a plastic cup and watching live music.


After Festevol Part 1 and a draining day of watching band after band and sensibly making copious notes I wanted to offer the Popped Music readership some thing a bit different. After all, we don’t just go to watch bands for the music every week. There are roasting hot days which are too warm for a tweed jacket and a sticky sugary drink – especially when you live in a football city and it is the first day of the season. This review isn’t necessarily to convince you to give a listen to certain bands – although I will be disappointed if at least one of you doesn’t listen to one of the seventeen bands I watched that evening. The purpose of this review is to convince people to get out and watch some music and have fun.

Unfortunately due to events at Goodison Park keeping me there until the final whistle, I was not able to see Popped Music’s friends Scarlet perform the second of their three gigs in one day. My first band of the day were Holy Thursday ,who performed ably enough with a nice organ-infused sound, but generally I prefer it when the keys are riff-based and propel the tunes along. A good start to the entertainment for me to be fair.

There was enough time to grab a beer and get a good position to watch the genius that is Bill Ryder-Jones perform with the Immix Ensemble. In a preamble to the playing of the music, Bill explained how he was asked to write a piece on anything he wanted so he chose three episodes within his own battle with mental illness. What followed was a burst of stark beauty as BRJ sang simply about waking up after dreaming he had died. The simplicity of the lyrics and the open vulnerability of the vocal was too much for me to handle and a sudden blast of tears had me moving away from the stage. I think the line of “everybody has problems” reminded me so strongly of my own battle with mental illness, in my case depression caused by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, that I had to rush to the exit. Except not quite as just as I reached the doorway the beautiful backing from the ensemble kicked in and I sat down next to the doorway, still inside the warehouse, and sipped at my first beer of the day and let the beauty of it all massage me. Don’t worry, I haven’t suckered you in by telling you it’s going to be fun and then hitting you with an emotional hammer, but sometimes music does that to you and it isn’t something to be afraid of. Celebrate it!! Think of the skill it takes to write a film or a book or a TV show that can move someone to tears. It’s impressive. But generally those emotional connections take time to develop; yet a song can do that to a person in less than five minutes by conjuring up memories and feelings. It is a truly magnificent feat. That said I was after fun times at Festevol so I didn’t stay for any further of this performance.

Back in The Kazimier proper and clutching the sugary hit I wasn’t in the mood for just an hour earlier, I stood in awe watching the amazing, cooler than *any expletive of your choice*, Xam Volo. The man with a name like a Star Wars villain was on form with his modern Marvin Gaye style. This guy is going to be huge in my opinion with songs that demand you dim the lights and grab the girl or guy of your choosing and get a slow dance groove going. I was on my own and settled for some foot tapping, but it was sensual foot tapping I will have you know! Out on the interweb his music is available to listen to. Treat yourself. Especially if you want to look cool in front of a date.

After the smooth cool of Xam, it was time for one of the acts I had been looking forward to, She Drew The Gun. Last time I had watched Louisa Roach and her band perform it was in the foyer of a cinema after the heavens opened and sent the excellent Astral Coast festival indoors. That time was an acoustic set, but this time we were treated to acoustic and electric. It was expectedly fantastic and a highlight of the day for several people. The politically charged, If You Could See, is one of my favourite songs I have heard performed all Summer. It is the kind of track that when someone plays it to you for the first time you secretly curse them as it makes them automatically cooler.

Next up was LIVES. Previously a brooding, guitar band, things had changed and I couldn’t take to them. The sound was relatively unaltered but lacking a certain je ne sais quoi. I continued to watch though hoping to snap out of my ennui and gather a bit of momentum with the band, but it struck me what was putting me off so much. The singer was acting a bit too “T4 on the beach” and thus faced with a more seasoned musical audience it came across flat and a waste of effort to try to grab attention in such an obvious manner. I don’t want musicians to stay still when they are playing a rock gig, but I cringe seeing someone bouncing around because they feel they should or need to.

sankofaFollowing from LIVES I had to make a decision on The Clash of The Popped Picks as Sankofa and Rongorongo were scheduled for the same time. I decided the only fair way would be to see a couple of tracks of Sankofa followed by a similar chunk of Rongorongo. This proved to be impossible though as Sankofa decided to show everybody how well the Pledgemusic campaign money will be put to use, with a set that was nothing short of spell binding and ass kicking. In the big warehouse, I found myself drawn closer and closer to the stage by the music and spent the latter part of the set changing my standing point at the front of the stage to see if this bluesy brilliance sounded good from all angles whilst dancing around with similarly enamoured music fans. The bluesy rock sound was reminiscent of Kings of Leon when they were fun and still wrote their initials on their drum in duct tape.

Before taking in some of Pink Film, I was able to speak to one of my cohorts about the missed Rongorongo set and her excitement was near the equivalent of mine so I was disappointed I hadn’t caught any of the set, but show me a festival without clashes and I will show you a festival for people who don’t like music.

Anyway on to Pink Film, a band I was not very enamoured with but definitely one for fans of White Denim, which I am most definitely not. They have a strong sound and a decent name, but I saw it as an opportunity to try out another alcoholic offering and check out some of Strange Collective. There was a party happening no doubt with their effects-laden psychedelic garage rock sound throwing grooves and tunes at all comers.

moats Now, hands up who feels pleased that they tipped Moats to watch in their preview. If you can’t guess, I had my hands up then in the pause after the full stop. Anyway, Moats produced a blinder of a set with a sound far more textured and immediate than that on record. It was as though someone had solved the mysteries of musical alchemy and added the elements of festival enjoyment into a serious sounding rock band. It was an absolute joy to watch. The kind of set that after you have enjoyed it, you share knowing nods with people to say “oh yes”.

Some rest and recuperation was needed if I was to fully conquer the slopes of Festevol so I stealthily slipped into the new bar turned art gallery to take in the snaps of local gig photographer Michelle Roberts. There were some great memories on display and facepalm moments as I realised I had missed out on some wonderful gigs, but then I was overjoyed to see a crowd shot I recognised of Sleaford Mods playing at The Kazimier. My healthily overinflated ego was searching for me in the crowd so I could point me out to the next person unfortunate enough to come near me. And then it hit me. It was a different photo of the crowd than I’d seen before and it was due to some cruel miracle of angles and photography, it was a Gary-free zone.

Nevertheless, I was still smiling when I left the hut and took in some tunes being dropped in Rat Alley, made some new friends and was coerced into a selfie with an old friend and Bill Ryder-Jones. It’s a tough life. And it was about to get so much tougher with an enjoyment-friendly line up to finish off the night.

First up was rock n roll act, Broken Men who surprised me by having about 4-6 band members less than the previous occasion I had watched them. This was not to their detriment though as the new four-or-five piece played their bluesy rock n roll hearts out and I got to dance around, clap along and generally have a roaring good time. This was definitely music for beer and smiles.

Music at times is magic. It doesn’t just entertain, but it can act as a time machine either sending you back to forgotten memories or sending your teenage self hurtling into a future where he is now thirty five and bearded. The quick shot of Jaegermeister probably aided that like a flux capacitor too. Do you like your music loud? Do you like your singers shouty? Do you like jumping around like a lunatic? Yes! Yes!! YES!!! It was a good job that Bad Breeding were outside in the Garden as they would have blown the roof off the place with a performance of such energy that I couldn’t stop myself from reeling back the years and pogoing and slamming around in front of them. There is a lot of evidence of this on social media and I am not bothered in the slightest. Why be shy about having such brilliantly intense fun?

sugarmenIn years to come I am certain that thirty minutes of Bad Breeding will be one of the highlights of 2015’s Summer, but it won’t be the only one, as after supporting the likes of Blur, Paul Weller, and The Who those pesky lads from Sugarmen were back in town. And they delivered in a big, big way. Following the rock motif of Bad Breeding, Sugarmen played loud and fast and angry, but with the pop influence of The Clash, Oasis, The Cure and all our other crossover giants. They were brilliant!! They owned the stage and controlled the audience. At least I guess they did as once again the majority of the audience were behind me as I jumped, punched the air and la-la-la’d my way through songs I wished I knew the words to.

Did the party end there? No chance! Keeping up the momentum we had The Tea Street Band, Liverpool’s go-to-guys for the last few years when you want to get people dancing and throwing their arms in the air and having a good time. I’ve seen them often enough to know their schtick and I can understand the description that it is music for forty five year old men to remember their youth to, yet none of that matters as it is so bloody enjoyable. They do what you expect them to do and in turn you do what is expected of you and dance around like you’re in Quadrant Park.

Was that the end of the night? Not yet. If you haven’t heard or seen All We Are then you have been missing out. A curious three piece who have grown from quirky graduates with the stage presence of an uncomfortable love triangle to stars of the Liverpool music scene who radiant power, confidence and pop tunes every time they walk on the stage. I dare you to listen to them and not enjoy it. They might not be the type of band you usually go for, but nobody I know does not love going to see them. And in showpiece Keep Me Alive they have a Merseyside classic which crosses genres and boundaries and should be heard live as it is wilder than on record replacing sweet pop with funk and power.

The final act of the night for me was The Kazimier’s own Dogshow and their art house dance music. And it was smoky, messy and the perfect end to a brilliant day. The Liverpool music scene is absolutely on edge right now waiting for something to drop that sends everything stratospheric. This pair of Saturdays showed the amount of talent in the city is astronomical at present. And a word of thanks too for the people who aren’t on stage without whom these parties wouldn’t be possible. There’s a lot of graft that goes in to having a good time.


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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

    All articles written by Elena Katrina unless otherwise stated.

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