Festival Review: Bushstock 2018

Bushstock 2018

Words & Photos: Elena Katrina

The thing about Bushstock Festival is that, as with many multi-venue city/town festivals, it has a major flaw. What?! What a way to open a review, I hear you cry. No, no, no…. you’re getting me all wrong. The flaw is too many top notch bands to see and not enough versions of you to go and see them all. That’s some flaw to have huh. For the first time ever I actually arrived in time, pass in hand ready to see an opening act. It doesn’t happen as often as it should you know.

The Beach was the first act of our day. An acoustic set that was relatively short and sweet giving us just a taste of what a fuller set could deliver. An amuse-bouche if you will. His impressive vocal clear to hear, if you could concentrate over the chitter chatter. It was, after all, a glorious day in London and people gathered at the only outdoors venue to soak up the rays, the beers, socialise and begin their festival with a bang. It goes to show what a great festival this is too, as there was a solid crowd. Something that is often missing for early doors at many festivals.

 

Another thing that always impresses me about Bushstock is their ability to pull in a really mixed crowd. Often with festivals that host a whole load of new acts, there is a tendency for there to be a younger crowd. Not at Bushstock, there’s no age limit whatsoever, everyone’s invited and everyone gets stuck in.

Some highlights from my visit to this year’s Bushstock include watching the immensely talented Lily Moore play in a tiny library to a very small and fortunate crowd. I queued to get in for this, something I don’t do very often but Lily has a vocal, writing style and way of delivering that really calls to me. She has something really special and I tell you now, you won’t be catching her in small venues for much longer. As there often are with new singers there are comparisons but she can more than hold her own.

I usually want to get into Albertine’s Wine Bar and see the surprise guests. Over the years they’ve had the likes of Amber Run and The Amazons. This year I missed out on Matt Maltese and Genghar who played to about 50 people in the popular and tiny wine bar of Shephards Bush. Always be sure to have this venue on your hit list at Bushstock.

As a total aside to the music another of my personal highlights was running between venues when I happened upon a kebab shop with 4 tv screens. Three of them showing the world cup the other trying to get me to buy their food. I ended up enthralled with the football, watching with utter dismay as Germany thumped in that winning goal in the last 20 seconds of extra time against Sweden. I had become surrounded by people, of all Nationalities too and it was just one of those things – a London thing, where we all came together cheering and not cheering. And then I was on my way because…. welll… Sam Fender innit.

To witness the above we did have to miss some of our beloved Aquilo, who were serenading us, and only us (obviously), in the stunning surroundings of St Stephen’s church – the glorious holy epicentre of Bushstock Festival. The band had some technical difficulties and so ended up starting their set late. Ever the professionals though, they didn’t let it phase them and they got to it as soon as they could. Their vocals so full of emotion, it’s just so great to see. I have to say this was probably the best I’ve ever seen them too, the atmosphere and setting seemed just so ideal. I was sad to leave… but, well… again…. Sam Fender innit.

I had to get in for the boy Fender. The thing is, at the start of the year I picked up on a little thing and that was that he was awesome. The first time I saw him live was for Communion’s showcase in a church in Austin for SXSW. Since then, any time he’s playing a festival that I’ve been at – I’ve been there. Fairly sure he is freaked out as he doesn’t know who I am, but I find it all highly amusing as well as highly entertaining. His performance is so strong, he rattles through his festival playlist like a cowboy in a shootout. Sam Fender knows his crowd are keen to hear as much of his music as possible and he wants to give it. Although he didn’t want to give Friday Fighting, no, that one’s saved. “You’ll have to come to a full show for that” he called back to the fan behind me who was insistent that he played it “you’ll shout with me” she said… err no… but I’ll hold you up in the air! I said. I didn’t. Kind of regret that. Sam thanked his band and gave us an introduction to them at the same time before he took the chance to add a beautiful rendition of his latest single, Leave Fast.  Lyrically masterful with a real eye for social commentary all of Sam’s tracks have something to say and we love him for it.

I was on an absolute high by the end of that set and didn’t want to go home. It was a mighty good job then that I didn’t have to. Wondered straight on in to find Communion’s Maz dancing on the seats watching Haus. A high five later I was busy dancing and singing myself silly. I couldn’t see anything though. I ended up side of stage belting out the words with a couple of guys who were equally as excited as I was at the prospect of Haus playing in front of our very eyes. “I thought I’d be the only one into them” said one guy, a huge smile on his face. Not on your life I thought. A perfect end to the night with these guys, both the band and the audience. Singer Ashley has a really distinctive vocal and a larger than life stage presence. He bounced around the stage like a ball of energy before finally breaking free, no longer able to be just confined to his stage, the bar became his stage before he eventually took a (literal) leap of faith and threw himself into the crowd. I’d pick out a bunch of tracks that I enjoyed but really it was all of them. Go and listen to them, go and see them and ask all festivals everywhere to book them. Well in Bushstock, my night ended with the biggest smile and a racing heart.

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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