Festival Review: 2Q Festival – Lincoln

2Q Festival

Various venues, Lincoln, 3rd November 2018

Words and photos: Gary Lambert

Anteros

Lincoln, a relatively sleepy town famed for a cathedral, a castle and being in pretty much the middle of nowhere would not normally be the place you would head to early on a Saturday morning. Unless you lived somewhere in that particular nowhere – or you had seen one of the best metropolitan festival bills anywhere in the country was being put on.

Make no mistake 2Q Festival had a bill that turned my head enough to travel 140 miles for it. And I would have gone further if the truth be told. I’d normally be happy with 13 bands to target over a two/three day festival, yet on the Friday night before 2Q I was looking at 22 bands I really wanted to do my best to catch – and I knew it would be impossible to get any more than about a third of them. Out of a total of 80 bands that is exceptional – and I had already made some hard cuts on bands I love like Public Service Broadcasting.

For future reference, if you think Lincoln is too far to travel for this event, you’re wrong. With the right choice of playlist and snacks, the journey from the north west of England isn’t too bad, and with the prices for infrastructure such as hotels and parking being nowhere near as punitive as a trip into Liverpool, Leeds, and Manchester, the money you spend on petrol can comfortably be saved elsewhere. It is also a gorgeous city with some cracking venues.

First band up was Kings and Bears. Curiously because of some very officious stewarding, they started playing before anybody was in the venue. They were mid-song when the first ten of us came in from the cold. It must have been a strange experience for them – or maybe starting to play was the signal the bouncer was waiting for. Anyway, this immediately presented a festival feel as you walked in almost accidentally catching the band before as though you were wandering past a big top and decided to check out what was happening inside.

Kings and Bears are committed to their art when they are on stage that’s for sure. I’ve seen headliners play with less enthusiasm and gusto. It was a great way to start because it made the festival feel proper somehow.

Swimming Girls

The only band on the main stage, The Engine Shed, I targeted to catch was Swimming Girls despite only watching them recently supporting Pale Waves.

Without doubt this is a band destined for bigger and better things than playing to rooms not yet at full audience capacity because they have everything. Whilst the stage is dominated by the prowling cool of singer Vanessa, her skills would be lost in the myriad of stylish singers we have available to watch if it wasn’t for the musical and performing efforts of Jay, Max, and Roo who weave the cloth on which their frontwoman adds the design. I love watching this band play as they put on a show, get your emotions on point, and leave you in no doubt that you’re theirs to do as they see fit.

Unfortunately, watching The Seamonsters was cut short by myself due to a venue failure. I had been so excited to watch one of the most exciting upcoming talents in The Seamonsters in a bar named after Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing callsign in the original Star Wars film, Red Five (I’m a nerd as well as a music fan). Alas the pillars which structurally held up in the bar, crammed everybody in to a pretty small space as so many other points had the sight lines blocked, so it was just too awkward to find a decent spot to watch them.

Saltwater Sun

After playing the most recent Popped Music Presents, it was good to catch up with Saltwater Sun again – and this time be able to focus on them on stage rather than split my attention between the stage and knocking back drunks from stumbling into the gig.

A bit of insider information afterwards, bumping into the three members of the band in Subway, told me that they had issues with the sound on stage and were working off their wits and visual cues instead of monitors. It was impossible to tell this from the audience as the band sounded fantastic and got the crowd dancing and cheering along with them. It is such a pleasure to watch them play, but I had to miss the last song due to a terribly unfair on me (sulk) clash with the one band I knew I had to see.

The Mysterines

The Mysterines have controlled the access to their music to primarily live sets, but have recently dropped their first single, ‘Hormone’, which at the time of writing has had 18,140 streams on Spotify, so I was expecting quite a sparse audience for their set. It was something I got very, very wrong as they had the room at Liquor filled to bursting. Word must have spread down to Lincoln in a big way.

After squeezing and snaking to the front, I was left with no doubt that I was watching a special set of talents on stage. They were raw, angry, and able to twist that energy into a series of punk-tinged rock songs that reminded me of Patti Smith fronting The Clash. It is hard to picture what happened on the stage in hindsight because of the sheer effort it took watching them – apart from being able to clearly remember singer Lia kicking the mic stand off the stage during the latter moments of the set. I may have stayed behind at the end to excitedly pester the band with my congratulations once the finished – but I’m obviously too cool to fanboy like that. Honestly.

No Hot Ashes

No Hot Ashes have been steadily growing bigger and bigger over the last few years, and their current status was shown by the even bigger audience following The Mysterines somehow. It was only a technicality as you could not notice that more people had squeezed into the room, but the stewards had to employ a one-in, one-out policy.

No Hot Ashes are a slick, funk-driven rock n roll unit now who will undoubtedly become really successful due to their ability to make you want to dance, tap your foot, or punch the air depending on which genre of music fan you are. They are the sort of band who look like they make music they want to listen to on a Saturday night before hitting town. There is more than a hint of Happy Mondays in their song structure, but with a singer in Isaac Taylor rather than the wondrous, iconic, drowned cat yelpings of SWR. This was the last gig of 2018 for No Hot Ashes, so roll on 2019!

Anteros are a band who manage to somehow play in the small intersection of the musical Venn Diagram of indie, dance, rock, and chanson, and it is sumptuous every single time. There is almost too much going on when Anteros are in front of you to take notice of it. Lead singer Laura Hayden patrols every inch of the stage like a friendly version of the Siamese cats from Lady and The Tramp, Jackson Couzens on lead guitar acts as conductor and unassuming rock star, and the rhythm section of Joshua Rumble and Harry Balazs propel everything forward with unstoppable groove-laden momentum. I would watch them play every day if I could and never get bored of it. It is always important to get a sense of the chemistry bands have whilst on stage, and Anteros give off a feeling of togetherness and confidence.

The Orielles

The Orielles, on the other hand, give the impression of knowing they are able to make brilliant pop tunes, but are more focussed on the fact that they are doing it with their closest friends. Every chance they get you can see the band smiling across the stage towards each other, sharing in-joke smirks, and genuinely having the time of their lives. Obviously that atmosphere rolls out into the audience like a fog coming in off the river.

REWS are a curious mix of folk-hued vocals and good old fashioned, high energy rock n roll suited to playing festivals as they energise those who spend time watching them. And to be honest, up in The Loft there was no room for half measures given the band and audience were separated by nothing more than amps and wires. It was a bit of a squeeze to say the least, but it allowed you to feel the music on a literal rather than emotional or metaphorical level.

King No-One

At the moment, there is talk about the death of stadium rock in light of the lack of young, traditional style bands coming through to play the likes of Wembley compared with their veteran counterparts and pop acts.

Well either nobody has told King No-One’s lead singer Zach Lount, or he has taken it upon himself to act as a defibrillator for the genre. Speaker stacks, safety barriers, and fans were all used to raise the frontman beyond the stage in eye-catching glamour. I apologise profusely to the rest of the band, but I forgot you were there such was the power and magnetism in Zach’s performance. Even now I think about it with a shake of my head such was my disbelief in seeing a someone behave like this on stage once more without irony but with drama and panache. King No-One have the chance to become rock royalty no doubt.

2Q Festival was so good that on my way home I had to stop and text some members of Team Popped with ideas of where we can stay, how we can get there, and what we can do when next year’s festival comes around. There’s no doubt about it I will be coming back, and I’ll be dragging people with me.

PS A big thank you to the various teams behind 2Q Festival for an event that ran on time, was superbly organised, and generally gave off a feeling of promoting Lincoln as well as the bands. All of us in the blogging world appreciate efforts like this.

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