Festival Review: 2Q Festival Lincoln 2019

2Q Festival

Various Venues, Lincoln, 9 November 2019

Words and Photos by Gary Lambert

It was seven o’clock in the morning when my journey to 2Q Festival started. Despite spending Friday night in the far reaches of The Lake District celebrating the love of two of my friends, as soon as best man duty finished I went into Popped Music mode and celebrated my love of a little event packed full of the finest bands known to my ears. It was borderline obscene the amount of quality bands that squeezed into a square mile or so of Lincoln’s city centre. Fortunately the obscene amount of rain which had seen towns not that far away flooded was not enough to make the River Witham burst its banks, but it was high enough that the pubs and restaurants down by the riverside had their sandbags out.

I had hoped to start the day watching The K’s, but they had been waylaid so I took myself to see a couple of local acts to give support to the people who play in the city throughout the year. First off was Concrete Ships. A noisy slice of psych rock, they cleared the cobwebs from the long journey and gave me a much needed energy jolt considering I’d set myself the objective of seeing at least three acts play before eating breakfast. Next on my wandering was Sam Varlow. Sam caught me by surprise as he was with a band rather than a solo artist, but more pertinently, he moved from sounding like your average white soul boy for his opening number to showing off a far more rocky approach to his music especially in terms of his vocal. It was a growl rock vocal showing off the influence of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.

If I was pleasantly surprised about Sam Varlow, then there was no surprise from Liines. Despite the early-to-mid-afternoon slot, the Manchester post-punk future giants packed out The Loft, and hit it with all the punch we associate with the trio. They are a band who are getting better and better, and perform in such a way that it makes me think of Picasso’s cubism in how they create a grand sonic picture from sharp geometric sounds. I think I’m an arsehole for typing that so I understand if you do too, but it’s the best way yet I have found to describe Liines. If you don’t believe me, listen to them. Liines have probably been my favourite musical discovery of 2019. They’re a band I have found hit the spot for me musically, and they never fail to meet my high expectations.

After a quick break, I headed over to Moka to catch Orchards, but I got mixed up following the map on my phone and stumbled into BBC Introducing Lincoln’s stage at The Alleykat Club. In there I was confronted with my second most hated musical trope Solo Singer Sat on a Stool with an Acoustic Guitar in the form of Ben Simmons. As it wasn’t jazz, I decided to be polite and stay in the room for a song. This turned into the entire set as fuck me this lad can sing. His folk-blues offerings were sung with such honesty dripping from each note so I, and the growing audience as nobody was leaving once they’d stepped inside, bought into each track being a glimpse into Ben’s life. His performance might have been unassuming, but he hit it perfectly.

Gary, have you not seen Orchards yet? You’ll love them” has been said to me several times by Popped Music‘s Editor-in-Chief Elena, usually when I’d made the choice to watch someone else at a festival. But 2Q Lincoln was finally the time I was to cross paths with the Brighton band. And I realised quickly that Orchards are my kind of band when I’m in the mood to smile and dance. I loved their set, and it flew by for me in a whirl of fun and pleasure. Their newly released single Sooner summed up how I felt about Orchards perfectly, “you should have loved me sooner”.

I was far more familiar with the work of October Drift than Orchards to the extent that they were one of my Popped Music picks for the festival. I would be a liar though if I was expecting to see the performance that they hit me with at 2Q. They truly laid waste to Home and turned it from a nightclub venue into Wembley Stadium playing host to the musical genetic experiment created from splicing the best parts of acts like Muse, U2, Oasis, and Foo Fighters into one gigantic beast of a band. It was stunning, and obvious from pretty much the first moment the band started playing in a storm of strobe lighting. Looking at the band on stage, you could see the confidence emanating from every inch of their being. It was intense, wild, and made you feel ready to conquer the world. They have an album coming in the new year. I cannot stress how much this set has made me excited for that album.

Tasked with following up that set was Working Men’s Club, a band I had heard lots about, but I hadn’t checked out yet. My appetite for them has been truly whetted after this set of aggressive dark pop which made with think of Iggy Pop circa 1977. They were so strong on stage creating a thick fog of sound that I felt that I could reach out and grab the music. I loved too how the band built the power of their music to a crescendo, but somehow stayed in complete control of it. If their music took you to a height, it was only because Working Men’s Club wanted to get you exactly that high, no more no less. It is quite easy for bands who indulge their experimental side to lose that control in terms of performance, but this was beautifully balanced.

There are times in music that you can almost forget how much you love a band. I have done that with Black Honey. I would say that familiarity bred contempt, but I could not hold them in contempt. Instead, I neglected my love for them. In The Engine Shed, I could pinpoint the moment my love reignited. Corinne, one of Black Honey’s oldest songs, is not usually my favourite in their set, but as Izzy B Phillips crooned the name, it felt like every great memory I have of Black Honey’s music was re-ignited in my soul. Suddenly I burst out crying. Admittedly not a new thing for me in terms of live music, but normally I have a feeling that it is coming. This was so pure as I fell in love with today’s Black Honey, with their less rambunctious take on their work.

My one disappointment with 2Q Lincoln was the balance within the festival. According to social media, there were hefty queues to see bands like Yonaka and The Blinders in pretty small venues, but the largest venue, The Engine Shed felt uncomfortably lacking in numbers. There’s always the chance that such things can happen at a festival where one venue is considerably larger than the others, as other bands tap into the zeitgeist in a way that couldn’t be predicted six-twelve months earlier when the bookings were done. It probably didn’t help that The Engine Shed was a five or ten minute walk from the other venues (as opposed to one or two minutes as the others were so close to each other), and The Engine Shed did not start until late in the day compared with the noon starts of the other venues. It meant that people needed to walk back across the city centre on a bitterly cold day.

Also it meant that Band of Skulls played in front of a somewhat meagre crowd, and I had the photo pit to myself, but the Southampton trio were magnificent. Broody, dark, and filled with claustrophobic musical angst, it was the kind of set which makes me wonder why Band of Skulls have never become one of My Bands, the bands that I love and live for, as everything is there. Yet without the energy of a big crowd creating the heat to stoke the fires of Band of Skulls, it just felt a missed opportunity of a gig. It was brilliant, but not starkly memorable.

I finished 2Q Lincoln at Red Five where the stage was being curated by This Feeling. I caught the last couple of songs from Liverpool band Rats. Now Rats can divide my opinion, often in the same song, but the likeable nature of the band keep me persisting with them. This was my first time of seeing them play outside of an L postcode, and I was happy to see they had kept their scouse confidence intact, and it was deserved as they played with a swagger without a sneer. It was a much more rounded performance than their hometown shows which I find result in the band trying too hard to match expectations.

Now I had no expectations of The Clause. I could not tell you if I had heard them before or even heard of them, I thought I had but with their rather generic name I just wasn’t sure. After their thirty minute set, I could tell you that The Clause are one of the bright young hopes of the UK music scene. The Clause were not raucous, overly loud, or deliberately stylish or edgy. Instead, The Clause have great songs that they play well, and they perform with such freshness that you cannot help but like. The Clause make you want them to be successful.

The last band of the night for me before my long journey back to Liverpool was fittingly Liverpool’s Red Rum Club. We’ve covered Red Rum Club many, many times before, and we will continue to do so because The Not-So-Sinister Six continue to get better. They are unrecognisable from the band who released Matador at the start of this year. Nothing has changed, although Kids Addicted has now been added to their arsenal, but they have grown into the men they have threatened to be. A Red Rum Club gig is guaranteed to be one thing… FUN! Their music is going to make you dance, the lads are going to make you smile, and by the end of the show there is only one answer when Fran asks you the important question, “would you rather be lonely or be mine?”. If you don’t know the answer, I’ll tell you… You are theirs, and you will love being involved in that singalong.

2Q Festival once again hit the spot perfectly for me. I’ll warn everybody now that I’ll be telling you how good it is until 2Q 2020 comes about.

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