Festival Review: Festevol 2016

festevol 16 bannerFestevol 2016

1st May 2016, Liverpool

Words: Elena Katrina

Photos: Gaz Jones//Elena Katrina

festevol posterFrom the get go this festival was always going to be of interest, after all Liverpool promoter Evol is well known to us  for putting on great shows featuring many of the bands we love. Gary went along last year, and this year, well half the popped team congregated from all over the UK to hit up on this year’s new warehouse vibe, that was host to some of the best up and coming new bands and some pretty damn well known ones too.

Where do you even start with a line up as strong as this one? I swore, a lot…”For the love of new music!”….. this was going to be a challenge. It wasn’t actually as difficult as I thought though- when the stages are but minutes away from each other it’s pretty damn easy to snatch moments of sets, if not the whole set, of many bands which were clashing on my schedule. We’d sat opposite a band while we’d had our pre-festival grub over the road at neighbours Baltic Social… we’d all tried to guess which band it was as none of us could 100% place them (even though Gary’s seen them twice!).  I took an educated guess at Red Rum Club and not long after we left our empty plates behind and entered the festival but there they were up on stage – Red Rum Club it was indeed – and a post-lunch-post-punk aural punch is what we needed to wake us up from our full-bellied sleepiness. One of those bands who you just know will be so much higher up the bill this time next year but happy for now to play their dues.

feral love gaz jonesA short but no longer sluggish, scurry across the main venue warehouse and I found myself surrounded by a rather large crowd of people all itching for a glimpse of Liverpool’s latest ones to watch – Feral Love. It was the ultimate who’s who of the North West’s music industry at every which turn yet the duo seemed un-fazed by any of it. Smart, confident and stylish both in terms of style and performance. Playing side on to your crowd is a difficult one though and perhaps a re-position of the keys might make some of the crowd feel a tad less alienated.  That being said though, it didn’t detract from the vocal performance and some might say only added to the intrigue.

Cardiff’s latest new music export taking things by storm is Estrons. They made it to our best tracks of 2015 and so of course, we had to watch them! I wasn’t sure if it was my ear plugs or a problem with the sound at first but I couldn’t hear the vocals and yet you could clearly see lead singer Taliesyn was giving it her all. It took a few songs but eventually the technical issue was fixed (sadly it wasn’t to be the last time for a technical hicup, or tech-up for short). Was this band worth waiting for or what! The stage performance was thrilling and I could feel the energy positively bouncing off each band member and into my face as they played with abandon. I’d told Popped’s Lauren Grigor to make sure she caught these and she tapped me on the shoulder.. “yes!” she exclaimed… and I knew just what she meant.

The great thing about FestEVOL, aside from the mental line up, was that despite the horrendous clashes it didn’t matter. You could watch half a set of most the bands you wanted and that’s pretty much what I did. LUNGS were up next and although I know plenty of people who are rating them right now, for me they didn’t really hit the spot. They shared part of their stage time with The Orielles who seemed much more my cup of tea on record than they did in the flesh. I didn’t quite “get” anything from them on stage – apart from a hint of whiplash from bassist Henry who was merrily throwing his head around and loving every second. The rest of the band though – nothing. I thought they looked a bit… bored. I still love their music and I know the whole appearing disinterested can be a “thing” but it’s not mine – I’m far too excitable for all of that brooding. I’ll definitely check them out again though – I’m all up for throwing my head around too!

man made festevol elena katrinaTV Broke My Brain is the debut album from Manchester’s Man Made and what an exciting time to be able to watch them play, just a few weeks after the album’s release. A band I’d seen play to about 20 people in a glorified cabin just last Summer now had a queue of people outside chatting about them and rightfully so. These guys play as though they could do it in their sleep; it’s natural and effortless, like there’s nothing else they know how to do, no one else they know how to be and watching them feels good, like you’re in safe hands.

I’ll admit that most of the bands I wanted to watch were in the confines of one building, one giant building but one building none the less. This meant that there was a very slim chance that I would leave and venture all of a one minute walk over to District. I did though, as I chased after Gaz and Gary who were headed out to catch up with Popped pals Scarlet. It was on our way that we came across Black Honey hiding out (with the door wide open, so not really hiding at all), in their tour bus. We got to introduce them to Indigo Moon frontwoman Ashley and felt a bit bad that we’d intruded on time between BH and their biggest fan Mr Von Pip but I think he knows we follow in his shadow of love for the honeys. …. I digress…

Scarlet, in District; the band took time out from the studio, where they’re busy recording their debut album, to play FestEVOL and despite a slightly faulty mic stand there was no problems here. A very famous man, William Shakespeare, one wrote “though she be but little, she is fierce” ( A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and if Jessie had been around then, well I’m fairly sure this could have been about her. She’s tiny and lovely but boy can she kick arse on stage like the best of them. On stage she’s a 6ft tall and all eyes are on her, not in a ogling way but she’s captivating to watch, which is what a great front person should be like. My favourite track remains the same, Anyway, and for me it’s always the highlight of seeing them live and the massive slog (ha!) across the road to witness it was obviously worth it.

zuzu festevol 16 gaz jonesI had a difficult task next because I could only watch Zuzu or Psycho Comedy and I wanted to watch both. I plumed for Zuzu seeing as I’d featured them in our preview! An absolute highlight of FestEVOL! Who are this band and where the heck have they come from – I’ve never seen them live before. I’d not really even seen their name floating around – must have lost my way somewhere along the line but ugh everything about this band screamed “hells yes” at me. It was a delight to get to catch up with the band not long after their set too – it’s easy to catch up with bands at this sort of thing, and they were so so approachable and chatty. Bring them to me at once – I want them to live in my wardrobe and play on demand! I feel that I made the right choice here based on my personal taste in music but I have been hearing mumblings of how great Psycho Comedy were so they’re now on my hit list to see in 2016.

Somehow between Zuzu leaving the Furnace stage and Manchester’s Girl Friend taking to it something went horribly wrong with the sound. Gone was the crystal clear perfect sound and in it’s wake was a distorted crackly noise, coupled with feedback and a microphone which constantly cut out. I really felt for Girl Friend but Lauren and I sang and danced our way through their set in solidarity, determined to make the most of our first live viewing. They didn’t do a very good job of hiding their disappointment and frustration and eventually cut their set short after playing just shy of 20 minutes. Sound issues and unhappy faces aside, I’m still feeling rather chuffed to have finally seen them play live having supported them for the last 18 months or so!

Cupids seemed to be another band who was doing well with capturing the attention with the North West’s industry bods and didn’t just have a mountain of photogs in the pit but also a team of videographers too – while I’m sure this is a necessary and great thing, it was a tad distracting and I found myself watching the band from odd angles via a screen in front of me rather than taking in what was going on with the band and the crowd around me. I can recall Julia, who spent time interviewing the band for Popped last year, being very excitable and leaping around next to me – somehow she knew all the words and I couldn’t recall a single one. You win some you lose some!

One of my personal favourite up and coming bands to come out of Liverpool in the last year or so who also played at last year’s FestEVOL is Cavalry. Having recently signed them selves a deal with independent label Fierce Panda and gained themselves a new manager to boot these guys had it all to play for and they didn’t disappoint. I’ve watched them grow as a band, I’ve sat in on rehearsals and I’ve seen them live many a time. There was something different about this show though. I don’t know if it was just the lighting, the exuberance that was bouncing off their new manager in waves as he danced around (to an entirely different pace than the band play at) to his newly signed up band, the smoke machines, or a change within the band themselves but I genuinely felt emotional. Their music is brooding and highly atmospheric and as they went on everything built up and up and the applause from the crowd seemed louder too as each song passed. Genuinely cannot wait to see these guys play again.

black honey festevol gaz jonesI’ll admit that Black Honey was the main attraction for my visit to this year’s FestEVOL. It wasn’t Blossoms (who I’ve now seen more times than I have fingers to count on), nor was it the ever immaculate The Vryll Society (who I’m also clocking up serious stage time views with), or even the fabulous mega star that is Juliette Lewis (whom, I’m told, my friend  had to buy tampons for in the ladies earlier that day…as you do!). Nope, none of them. It was Black Honey. I can’t even really put into words what it is about this band but from the very second I heard them, I fell in love. The first time I saw them I fell a little harder and well let’s just say that they’re lucky I didn’t sneak back into that van and demand to be taken on tour as a replacement mascot to our dear flamingo friend Jerry.

Lead singer Izzy Bee often terrifies me… when she’s on stage. In person she makes me grin like a loon with her inner sparkle, but on stage she is an altogether different beast. Possessed by something dark and captured by the flickering stage lighting. A few times during the set her psychotic mask slipped and she let loose a gleeful smile but for the most part she remained in character – a live wire looking for the next thing to reign in on. She decided that the stage was too far away from the crowd and so took it upon herself to clamber on in … not too far, not over the barrier but close enough to crawl her away along until she reached me. I realised, maybe a little too late that I was singing along and that the mic was as close to my mouth as it was to hers – whoops. I tried to hold her gaze as she stared at me, in character, but lost my nerve as her hand moved out and caressed my face. Oh boy. I’m in trouble. Or they are. They absolutely nailed it and with that I decided I’d about had my fill and left the team to actively peruse the rest of the night’s entertainment – which I’m told included Gary busting some moves in Paisley Park Disco (Prince tribute), Gaz playing band matchmaker and introducing one cool band to another, Lauren singing along to Radiohead between bands, and Nick finally getting over his disappointment of a cancelled Steve Mason slot (due to technical skulduggery that refused to be overthrown – technology eh!!) and ended up dancing on stage at gone 3am with The Strange Collective!

They rolled in back to Chez Popped, where I’d been for hours curled up asleep in my pjs, … at 4.30am having spanked FestEVOL silly for a good 12+ hours. I think you can safely say, that overall, we all thought it was a resounding success despite any issues, which we think will be ironed out next time around, and we’re already planning for 2017!

Festival Photo Gallery:

 

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  • About Popped Music

    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

    All articles written by Elena Katrina unless otherwise stated.

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