The tagline “A festival for the people by the people” sums up this Hull festival, which showcases the city’s local talent through music, art and voice. 2012 saw the first Street Sesh, marking the 10th anniversary of ‘The Sesh’, a weekly night of local music and talent held at The Linnet & Lark, Princes Avenue. Three years later saw the introduction of a £3 wristband required for admittance, with free wristbands for under 11s. That 3 little coins opening the gateway to over 150 music acts; a string of DJs, dance acts and performances; entry to the Cult Cinema; a variety of local cuisines; and a collection of local art work from pencil drawing to giant graffiti pieces.
Humber Street Sesh has everything to offer, for people of all ages, and is an all-day event which doesn’t get dull.
I arrived, friend in tow, at around 11am. A vibrant buzz of activity could be heard as we passed The Deep, a collection of sounds from the Rock and Dance stages. Humber and Wellington Street were busy but not heaving – just right if you want to stroll around and get your bearings. Artwork had begun – some of the prep work had naturally occurred in the late hours of Friday night – with a knitted welcome and some sketches on the walls. We wandered around, taking everything in, stopping at 12:30 to watch a show from Team Extreme, showcasing skateboarders, bladers and BMXers. This was a popular event throughout the day, with crowds gathering to show their support and awe.
We grabbed some lunch, and listened to the first band of the day (for us): The Craig Dearing Band, performing on Cosmo Stage. The rain was drizzling at this point, and the sound of guitars and cajón developed a thick atmosphere, not quite liquid but a humid sense of calm as you listened to the instrumental openings to each song. The song Bones, stuck with me: the introduction was haunting, giving you a real sense of the talent between these four men which was then pierced by Dearing’s sharp and distinctive voice. The chorus sings “I feel it in my bones, I feel it in my toes…” and this just about sums up their music – it isn’t something you hear but something you sense.
Unfortunately, some time after this the heavens decided to open to their full, in order to demonstrate that whatever level of preparation I go to, it is never enough. Bring your festival mac, I thought, in case it rains. Well did it rain! So, I had to take a break and head back home to change from a sodden set of clothes to a cleaner, warmer set, ready to take on the evening festivities.
We returned just after 6pm, and headed straight to the main stage, named Spiders from Mars after David Bowie’s backing band which featured Mark Ronson, also of Hull origin.
The first band we saw on the headlining stage was Life, a 4-piece punk band consisting of brother Mez (lead vocals & guitar) and Mick (vocals & guitar), alongside Loz (bass) and Rich (drums). Their SoundCloud site only has two songs on it, but, credit where credit is due, these were produced by former Kaiser Chief Nick Hodgson and both tracks echo classic punk reminiscent of The Clash and Ramones. Life have that eclectic mix of well-played instruments, memorable lyrics, and enough stage presence to take your mind away from the fact that they had some technical difficulties. Mez spent most of his time playing the audience, and this worked wonderfully, as he delved into the crowd and took control of the stage.
Up next were The Hubbards, a band consisting of Reuben, Alex, Ronan and Joe. A softer sound after Life, where vocal and music became entwined into a very fluid sound. Playing to such a large audience, you could feel everyone relaxing and enjoying the music, simply taking everything in. It was too easy to compare them to Life, who took the stage in a storm, whereas these lads were calm about the delivery of their music, gently teasing the audience and telling their story through song. Something very different, not entirely unique, but with a place alongside the likes of Sam Smith, whose songs are like deep narratives.
One of the bands I was thrilled to see live were Black Delta Movement, who recently supported The Stranglers at Hull City Hall. On Facebook, they refer to themselves (themselves being Matt, Dom, Liam & Jacob) as neo-psychedelia, Garage and Rock ‘n’Roll, all of which can clearly be heard as influences on their music, though I would not place them specifically in any of these boxes. Which is what drew me quickly into their music, as it was matchless as a whole with undertones of the familiar. You felt secure in the knowledge that you would enjoy the next song while the previous one came to a close, so that the anticipation which can often build up to an anti-climax within a live gig was not there. As with The Hubbards, they created sound from sound, making it work in a whole new tide, only with Black Delta Movement the lyrics were sharp, both separating from and enhancing the atmosphere created by the instruments.
Which leads me to the band I was really there to see. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all the singers and bands we saw, from the acoustic Buskers stage to Spiders From Mars, but we were there, at that stage at that time, to see these guys…
Counting Coins consists of Harry Brumby on lead vocals, Matty Dennison on bass/guitar, Rob Green on bass/guitar, Sam Burnham on drums and Will Chalk on trumpet. Yes, trumpet. They were also joined by Adam Thompson on trombone, adding a whole extra layer to their sound. I first saw these guys last year at the Freedom Festival when we were unable to get into The 1975’s stage area. Best thing that happened at that festival – instead we bounced our way through 40 minutes of Counting Coins in the middle of the street. And bounce is the only way to describe the reaction to these guys. A mixture of jazz sounds from the brass instruments, Ska and punk as well as just simply hypnotising bass beats – nobody can stand still in their presence. From the first note, you are moving; perhaps slowly swaying at first, but by the end of the first song your feet have left the floor numerous times as you bounce to the beat. 30 minutes on stage, and it felt both too quick and much longer. These guys take their influences from anything that grabs their attention, and delve into a crazy world of energy and electricity. Like a good wine, once you’ve had a taste of them you never go back to the other stuff; you get the same feeling of sheer joy and buzz from any Counting Coins set, and Brumby mentioned on social media networks later in the evening that he should have been more tired but was pumped by the reaction from the audience. Counting Coins are an all-round good show. They will have your nana dancing in the street alongside your youngest niece and nephew. I urge you to get your fix as soon as possible (live is better than anything you can find on YouTube, but you get the idea here).
And so, another Humber Street Sesh is over. Does that mean you need to wait another year to experience what I experienced this past weekend? NO! Because most of the bands are also playing Freedom Festival in just over 4 weeks time.
I’ll be there.
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