Category Archives: Hull bands

Freedom Festival 2017

Freedom Festival: the three-day weekend where chaos reigns in Hull’s city centre.

I didn’t attend for full days like I have done in previous years, but in the eight or so hours, stretched over two days, that I did attend, I was captivated by so much that it is difficult to say which one aspect stood out me. I watched acrobatics like no other, sipped soup with a stranger, was attacked by prehistoric creatures and witnessed a bodiless lady drink wine through a straw.

 

I’ll start with the music, because when I plan any festival weekend this tends to be key features on the list. And I actually only saw one band for any length of time. Having missed Mighty and the Moon at Humber Street Sesh, I made sure to attend their set in the Speak Out Stage, as part of the Three Minute Heroes campaign run through The Warren Youth Project.

I was running late to everything that I planned, so found myself at the rear of a very busy Speak Out tent. Rushing down Queen Street I could hear Emma Fee’s sweet tones and it drew me into the tent, and I was so excited that I didn’t mind that I couldn’t see the stage. However, for the first few songs I was agitated by those small crowds of people who loitered at the opening chatting and just simply not focusing on the music, which should have been why they were there.

As difficult as it was to focus entirely on the music, I was still blown away with how fab the band are. I’ve always enjoyed Emma Fee’s sets at gigs and festivals, whether doing her solo work or performing with her band Happy Endings. When I heard that she was joining Mighty and the Moon I was so excited (I’ve said that already) because I could picture the beautiful harmony of her voice alongside Martin Clappison’s. In fact, I’d built such an aural image in my mind, that my biggest fear was that it wouldn’t sound as good in reality as in my head. But it was everything I had hoped, adding both to the Mighty and the Moon’s emotional tracks and their more uplifting, dance along sounds. Musically and lyrically, they’re just a beautiful band and you should definitely go and see them – I should go and see them more often.

I had planned to see other musicians but got caught up in a chat with a wonderful woman named Elaine. This wasn’t quite random, although for those who didn’t know that While Having Soup was happening it may have felt that way. Along Princes Dock Street, a stone’s throw from Ask, chairs sat in pairs and people chatted while eating soup. The soup was lentil soup made at Kardomah94 and was very yummy, but the menu had bites of conversation rather than food orders. The idea behind it was simple: to get people talking. You start by giving your name and being paired off with a stranger. My stranger conversationalist was a woman named Elaine who was wonderfully positive and easy to talk to. The menu is tailored to the city and we were asked to discuss whether or not a new narrative was needed when discussing Hull. We were given 15 minutes to discuss the topic, and I’m sure we went over that, never pausing, never feeling uncomfortable discussing personal opinions based on personal experiences.

FreedomFestival - While Having Soup picture with Elaine
Our morsel of wisdom

For dessert, we were asked to leave a morsel of our discussion which would then be written up onto a photograph taken of us both. These photographs of strange pairings with their offerings of wisdom were then displayed on a screen in the centre of the al fresco café.

 

What I loved about this the most was that as someone who often attends things on their own, I was made incredibly comfortable in volunteering myself. Elaine’s daughter joined in as well, but they were separated so that each had a different perspective. And both pairings continued conversation afterwards, introducing the others and bringing people together who wouldn’t necessarily ever speak to each other. In an age when you can sit on your phone while having a coffee alone in a café, people don’t spark random conversations, but they were forced to in this environment. And it was incredibly positive: the waitresses told us how inspiring and interesting the two days’ worth of conversations had been.

Elaine and I didn’t swap numbers or anything like that, but maybe our morsel of wisdom will help people see Hull in a different way, discuss Hull in a more positive manner.

The front page of the guide for Freedom Festival showed The Bullzini Family, famous highwire-walkers who have performed at a variety of festivals. They told a simple story of man meets woman, man and woman fall in love. But metres in the sky, far above the onlookers below, and a rope being their only means of reaching each other.

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The Bullzini Family 

The acrobatics were amazing. The entire performance was terrifyingly fascinating. Not only were they walking along the tightrope, but they hung from it, twirled on it and cycled across it. There were fireworks and confetti and an overall good time was had by every person watching. The crowd was a mixture of suspense-filled intakes of breath and loud clapping in support of their amazing skills.

It’s difficult to describe in words because it was watching something which on paper sounds somewhat basic but in reality is incredible. Everyone who asked, I suggested they catch this performance simply because explaining it wasn’t enough – you had to see it.

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Sky-high cycling 

And, looking up at even the grey sky, I caught a bit of sun during the whole thing.

I caught a few performances, mostly dance performances. And I enjoyed them all.

I was quite excited by the blurb in the programme for Compagnie Dyptik performing D-Construction. Again, I was little late so four deep into the crowd, which made this difficult to see much of what was performed at ground-level. However, the performance involved them scaling a fence, which I could watch and was incorporated brilliantly into the dance. The blurb described the setting as a playground but that playground could have been anywhere in your imagination: with Arab hues in the music it could have reflected Syria, Afghanistan, or Palestine. With audience participation, it brought all of that to Hull. Even the choreography left your imagination to fill in the story: aggressive movements which could have been intended as playful or violent. The performance ended with the dancers on the opposite of the fence, seated amongst the Hull crowd and looking back at where they’d started, either longing for home or free from what was home or both.

The story of D-Construction inspired me, but the performance which amazed me was Joli Vyann and L’Eolienne performing Lance Moi En L’Air. Translated this means Thrown Into The Air. And that’s basically what happened. The entire dance told a violent love story and both male and female dancer pushed and threw the other around. It was a series of lifts and throws and every time they finished one terrifying lift, you assumed they’d done everything that they could, only to watch on as they performed more.

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One of the many lifts 

There’s only one negative that I can consider with regards to the weekend’s events. The moaners. Every time I found myself moaning, it was about the moaners and the people who just weren’t embracing or giving their full energy to the festival and the acts that work hard to perform as wonderfully as they did. Struggling to listen to an amazing band is annoying; I understand it happens, but the conversations were unnecessarily loud and could have moved elsewhere. And those who joined the back of a crowd only to complain that they couldn’t see because of the crowd, really should have moved on. Last year I joined the back of a crowd, realised that I was missing something wonderful and made sure that I came back in time to see the entire performance when repeated. Because the majority of performances are repeated at Freedom, so that the majority of people can see and experience them. There are no excuses for moaning about not being able to see a repeated performance. And if it is a one-off performance and you’re not interested, make way for those who are.

The weekend was exceptionally chaotic and it was wonderful. The positives massively outweigh any negative. And reliving it by writing a review or looking over the photographs, you feel like you’re experiencing the joy and excitement all over again.

This has been a long one, but there is so much I’ve  not told you about. My advice? Get yourself to Freedom Festival 2018, experience it for yourself. And if you can’t do that, invite a stranger for a cup of soup and a chat.

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Humber Street Sesh – The Unorganised Chaos Formula

So, tomorrow is the first day of August and I’ve realised two things. One, I haven’t been successful at keeping the blog busy this year. City of Culture, I have struggled to balance you with work. And two, Humber Street Sesh is this weekend!

As with every year, my best friend is moving herself North for the weekend of Sesh. We literally only plan that one day. But so busy have we both been that this year we haven’t really found the time for even that. So, instead of my usual organised band-by-band what you should see preview, here’s my plan on ‘winging it’.

I’m usually one of those people who can write up a plan months before an event, especially something like HSS which I look forward to for most of the year (I bought my tickets on October). But when you overly plan things, it is more likely that something won’t happen. Last year, what happened was standing in front of the main stage waiting for one of my favourite bands, only for them not to go on. I could see the lead singer, I watched the lead singer waiting, waiting, waiting…

Streaming Lights - Steve & Ryan
Festival Faves, Streaming Lights

The band subsequently announced that they were no longer a band the following month.

The moral: winging it means no heartbreak. I don’t plan to see much, so I can’t be upset if I don’t see certain elements. I can simply blame the Unorganised Chaos Formula.

So, this is how it works. We turn up on the day with three acts on the Must See List. THREE. One headliner and two other acts.

Disclaimer: I will miss out on amazing acts that I would love to see. I will feel disappointed at this. I will bump into a bandmember I am friendly with and feel devastated that we missed their act. But I will simply say, “We’re winging it this year” and all will be fine.

To decide on my Must See List of three, I have to consider the bands which a) we both love and adore, and b) will ensure we are not disappointed.

So, start with the headliner. This is a lot harder than it sounds, because this year there are four headliners that I love and adore. They are The Quicksilver Kings (Speak Easy stage), Fire (The Unstoppable Force) (Strummerville Stage – many brackets), LIFE (Main Stage – and totally deserving, because they’ve had an epic year), and finally, Counting Coins (Fruit 2 stage). Thankfully, my lovely bestie helps with this decision. If I ask her which Hull band she wishes to see, especially at 10pm when we’ve spent twelve hours watching bands, she will say two words: Counting Coins.

Counting Coins
Counting Coins from a previous HSS (when I didn’t have a great camera)

We will be at the Fruit 2 stage at about 9:45pm and we will dance our tired feet off, doing a little salsa when necessary, and singing to our broken throats content. Because that is what the lady wants, and it’s actually been a whole year since either of us have seen them live.

That leave two Must See acts for my list.

First on the list, performing at 3pm on the Fringe Stage, I’ve selected Loudhailer Electric Company. I’ve seen them perform a few times at Kardomah94 but never on an outdoor stage, so it’d be fantastic to see them in that different setting. They’re loud, they’re funky, they’re amazing performers and songwriters. And the bestie hasn’t seen this band perform, so it’ll be good to introduce her to something new.

Loudhailer Electric Company Paul Newbon
Loudhailer performing at K94 (photo credit to Paul Newbon)

The last of my Must See is a little tricky. I had two bands in mind for the last slot. The Mighty and Moon are fantastic and now perform with the addition of the amazing Emma Fee. I haven’t seen them perform with this line-up of musicians, and I’ve just built up this beautiful image in my mind of how they’ll sound. But there’s one band that’s always on my Must See List, and they’re playing at the same time. Mighty and the Moon are on the Main Stage at 1:55pm, and Streaming Lights are on the Fruit 2 stage at 2pm. It’s no argument: Streaming Lights are my festival favourite, they’ve not played for ages due to various reasons, and I just know that it’ll be a set which either meets my expectations of wonderfully blows them out of the water.

So, my Must See List is 2pm Streaming Lights, 3pm Loudhailer Electric Company, and my headliner is Counting Coins.

Aside from that, we’re planning to wander relatively aimlessly around the 14 stages.

hss app

And to help with the Unorganised Chaos Formula, there’s the addition of a Humber Street Sesh app this year! It’s got an hour-by-hour guide to the line-up across all stages. There’s a map so you can see where everything is (including the Caffe Gelato stand!). And it’s going to be the most up-to-date way of finding out what’s on.

You can download the app onto the usual platforms – just search for Humber Street Sesh in whichever app store you use.

In fact, with the app in my pocket, all I really need to plan is my festival outfit.

 

If you haven’t been organised enough to sort out tickets yet then you can pick them up at a range of stores across Hull. Go to the festival’s website for a full list: http://www.humberstreetsesh.co.uk/tickets/

Hull Help for Refugees: A Night of Hull Talent

So often we read the horrific tales of refugees making their way to safety, some not surviving the journey. Hull Help for Refugees does everything it can to support those in need, not only here in Britain but further afield in such places as Calais and Greece.

On the night of January 28th, a cold evening with a scattering of stars marking the sky, the charity held a fundraiser at Kardomah94. It wasn’t an evening to wallow in misery. We can do that by watching the news. This was a night for likeminded people to get together and enjoy local music and raise some money for a fantastic cause.

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Emmie Craft opened the night with a cover of Guns and Roses ‘Sweet Child of Mine’. It was a fitting start for many reasons: it’s a popular and well-known song the audience could connect with; it highlighted elements of the images of refugee children shown on the slideshow which filled the brief intervals; it showcased Emmie’s fantastic, malleable voice. That opening song established the professionalism with which this young performer brings to an event, as well as setting the pace of the evening.

She performed a mixture of covers and own compositions, not sticking to one genre but mixing rock with modern and classic pop. What struck me the most was how much her own songs stood out against the cover tracks. One girl and her guitar, she owned the stage with her words. Singing about memories and love and the beauty of the world, she captured my full attention with an original track she has yet to name.

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One performer in, the crowd was surging, and the room was already buzzing with energy. Emmie had warmed the night, and we welcomed Warthilas to the stage. Warthilas is a man named Farid whose stage-name means Without Borders. His collection of songs were sung in English, Berber, Spanish and French, and his banter even chucked some Deutsch in there too. It took no time at all for the audience to join the stage: tapping feet, clapping along, singing the chorus of “Freedom” to one song.

The whole room became one body: a community brought together by the solidarity of passionate entertainment and a worthy cause.

Central to the evening, Little Crooked Weather took the stage; a stripped-back version of the main band, consisting of Will, John and Roy. I’ve seen the band in various guises – stripped right back to just Holly and Will, to the full six-piece ensemble – and timg_7074hey always deliver a fantastic set. Their sound is country, rock, folk. It’s catchy and soothing and possesses the soul.

Their sound has the power to engage with you one-to-one regardless of the size of the crowd. And I spend every set saying I love each song. My stand-out favourite is ‘Control Your Blues’ which I was blessed with having dedicated to me on the night. The guitar introduces the beat in which possesses your body, you’re swaying slowly to the sound, from one side to the other. Will’s deeply soothing voice enters your mind, releasing any negativity. You are liquid, floating above the floor as you are taken into the embrace of the music. And Roy’s harmonica is the final casting spell to take your mind drifting away.

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Sometime after performing this, they invited the next artist onto the stage prematurely. Cecil Jones, with his saxophone, was welcomed to join them. And his addition, which Will described as a battle between saxophone and harmonica, created such a powerful moment. The somewhat improvised instrumental with which their set finished lingered throughout the night, with people returning to it in their discussions.

And so when Cecil took to the stage on his own, we were all already enticed. His performance was a mixture of popular songs, with Cecil alternating between lead vocals and instrumental performance. Tracks such as George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper’ took on a new life, and brought every age bracket and nationality in the room together.

His final track was his own composition celebrating the twinship between Hull and Freetown, Sierra Leone. It celebrated the City of Culture and touched on the similarities between the two.img_7004

In a couple of the intervals, we’d had further entertainment from two young lads, Ronith and Shobal. They had performed a song together and Shobal had wowed the audience – shocking and very much impressing them – with his street dance moves and light-up shoes. As our final act, Rowland took to the stage, he was joined by Ronith. A young teenager, he’s not had many performances on a stage such as this, but his confidence was uncountable. Together they performed a couple of tracks, completely unprepared. It summarised the freedom of the night: it was one to celebrate any local talent that was willing to take to the stage. All the performers volunteered their time, and Rowland went that extra little mile to support another young and enthusiastic performer before completing his own set.

Mark Rowland’s sound has adapted over the last couple of years since I reviewed his EP. With a loop pedal, he is able to create a more layered sound, performing his own melodies and beats. His song ‘Bread and Butter’ talked to us about the need to embrace each other regardless of our background, and this ideology summed the evening up wonderfully.

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It was late by the time his set started, and as we’d had some young members of the audience, many of them had departed for the night. The handful of us who stayed until the end were able to enjoy his track ‘Tears Fall’ which was written with the current wars and violence in mind, and was first performed at his own fundraiser for War Child.

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I think Will from Crooked Weather actually summed up the night perfectly: “Eclectic, diverse and beautiful.” It was an evening of people who were enthusiastic both about music and the plight of refugees. The event didn’t pigeon-hole any aspect of the night. It was a night for everyone with the aim to support as many people as possible.

 

Thanks to all who attended the evening and donated money to the cause. Hull Help for Refugees raised over £400 with this event. To keep up to date with the work of the charity, please visit their Facebook page (link above).

 

Photos | © Melvyn Marriott

Electrifying and Thunderous: The Loudhailer Electric Gathering #1

A kaleidoscope of colours, sounds, personalities and guitars: the Loudhailer Electric  Gathering was a night to evoke the imagination.

Warming Kardomah94 from 8pm was Cathy and Dez Allenby, a former third of folk acid trio Forest. Armed with a range of instruments, including a shruti box which was introduced to us, their performance was a mixture of Forest tracks from albums Forest and Full Circle. The room was filled with an ethereal sound which always brings to mind the fairy tale element of folk music, but with a clear modern overlay. Cathy and Dez’s vocals worked wonderfully together, to the backdrop of a haunting tone from the instruments.

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I was struck with awe by how fluidly Dez worked all the instruments, admitting that he couldn’t manage the bouzouki and the whistles used in one track. His harmonica balanced around his neck, he switched between bouzouki and English concertina, adding percussion where he could. I loved that each song had its own clear sounds, demarcated by each musical instrument.

For the second part of their set, they invited Lou and Rich Duffy-Howard up on to the stage with them, adding an enriched sound with Rich’s guitar and the beat of Lou’s bass. Des himself summarised this modification when he told the crowded room “We’re all peace and love and things. But we’re all rockers at heart.”

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The sound was further amplified when Lou and Rich returned to the stage – a wardrobe change and mixture of faces as Loudhailer Electric Company started their set. Ignited by the lightshow from Josh Bell of L.A.D. Events Limited, Lou and guitarist Jeff Parsons, clad in a bright pink two-piece, were luminous on stage.

Jeff Parsons LECo

Electric and Loud are two words which certainly suit the band – not only in image but in their sound. The room was rocked with from the first track On The Run, “a murder song” we were told by Rich, to their en core, a cover of Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit’ which Rich declared was in tribute to “Paul and Grace” of Jefferson Airplane.

With members of former bands such as Dead Fingers Talk, Red Guitars and Planet Wilson, I knew the night as going to be fuelled with energy. What I hadn’t expected was to be quite so caught up in the verve. Lou’s constant smile was captivating, their enthusiasm as they performed songs about mental health and travelling to the Adelphi on a bus from Holderness was captivating. I’d fallen somewhat into a winter slumber over the past couple of months, but this gig has certainly woken me up.

Lou Duffy-Howard LECo

My favourite track changed from one to the next as they worked through the setlist. I have to say that Out To Sea was my favourite of the night: featuring all the sounds of Folk and Rock music that I adore. The searing guitar in the arms of master Jeff Parsons, the heavy beat of Rich Walker’s drums, Rich’s soulful harmonica and Chris Heron’s sweet violin all working in harmony with Lou’s powerful vocal leadership was mesmerising. Together it produced something which literally moved me, forcing me to react even in this seated venue.

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I found Loudhailer Electric Company difficult to compare to any other musician. With such an eclectic array of influences, all of which you could taste in their tunes, they’ve developed a powerful sound which is entirely their own. Mesmerising instruments – the backdrop to the stage a line-up of them – were used to tell enticing tales through the voices of such electric personalities.

If you do nothing else this year, get yourself to another of their Psychedelic Gatherings and enjoy their sound for yourself. I know I aim to be there at Gathering #2.

Jeff Parsons, Lou Duffy-Howard, Rich Duffy-Howard, Rich Walker, Cathy Allenby, Dez Allenby, Chris Heron
Jeff Parsons, Lou Duffy-Howard, Rich Duffy-Howard, Rich Walker, Cathy Allenby, Dez Allenby, Chris Heron

All photo credit goes to Paul Newbon. 

Highlights of the Humber Street Sesh

Humber Street Sesh is a moment of joy, written into my diary before the new year has even started. It is where my blog began – the moment, last year, when I decided to start writing again.

And so I decided to treat the festival like one giant Sesh.

I try to attend as many Tuesday Sesh nights as possible, which is difficult when you work a Monday-Friday day-job (and also want to attend gigs on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday). My rule for Sesh is simple: either I have to be entirely free (a school holiday with no plans to catch up with friends or other work business involving Browse) or I have to be enticed by one of the bands. This meant that I didn’t use Street Sesh as a means of finding those bands I haven’t seen before. If I stumbled past one, great, but if I didn’t, no worries. There’s plenty of time for this at other Hull festivals – we’ve got Folk Festival, Freedom Festival and Trinity Festival in the coming weeks.

So, instead of reviewing everything here (after all, you can read my reviews of the festival on other platforms), I’m going to give my highlights of the day, in no particular order.

BABIES

Ryan Smith, Babies
Ryan Smith, Babies

It’s been long enough since they announced their split for me to cool down about it. I had expressed my upset to lead vocalist Ryan, but assured him that I would support them until the end. Performing on the Newcomers Stage, it seemed haunting that this was their last performance together.

I stood before the stage minutes before they were due to start, and noticed that there was some issue with a gizmo in Ryan’s hands. This issue seemed to be fixed, but it did lead to technical difficulties throughout their set. Fortunately, Babies have become used to this misfortune (at their EP launch it was Joe’s lead which lead to us not hearing his bass at all) and performed to their best ability.

Full of energy, full of smiles, Babies performed their last set with passion. The scattered crowd – their stage placed on Victoria Pier, they seemed to tower over us – congratulated them loudly as they concluded, and I spotted a couple of faces wash with momentary sadness.

All the best to the boys of Babies and their future endeavours. I doubt this is the last we’ve heard from them; music lovers tend to get drawn back in at some point.

LIFE

Mez Green, Life
Mez Green, Life

It was this time last year when I was first introduced to Life, before embarking on my first press conference with these boys. So, I just had to see them perform Street Sesh again.

The Main Stage had the largest gap between performers and audience, with quite a drop were a member of the band to jump down and try to physically engage with the audience. And that’s a typical part of Life’s performance; Mez hurling himself at the crowd in a fit of energy.

I hadn’t needed to worry. Their set was as wonderful as ever. Mez moved around the entire stage, he and his brother Mick stepping over the monitors onto a platform just before the stage, conversing with the audience. Stewart Baxter, stepping in for Rich on drums, was all energy – it’s often such a shame the drummer gets hidden at the back of the stage.

The band had also been in the crowd for Babies, with Mez taking a moment of their set to comment on the band and wish them all well. Before launching – literally – back into the music, taking that dive off the stage to meet the crowd and circle the grass before the barrier during ‘Take Off With You’.

STREAMING LIGHTS

Another band who are all energy is Streaming Lights, who have been a highlight in the music scene for the last twelve months for me. I don’t think I’ve missed one of their gigs so far this year, and they never disappoint.

Performing on the Dead Bod stage, they were sandwiched between two equally popular acts – Folk royalty Hillbilly Troupe and the fantastic Danny Landau Band. Lead vocalist Steve Minns stated at the start of the set that their sound was quite different to that of the others which fit more comfortably into the Folk genre, though it worked to introduce the more rock sound Danny Landau offers.

Sadly, the lighting was too much for my camera. So I pinched this photograph of Streaming Lights from Paul Newbon.
Sadly, the lighting was too much for my camera. So I pinched this photograph of Streaming Lights from Paul Newbon.

Still, it didn’t matter whether or not they fit into the genre of the stage – that’s one of the joys of the Sesh, that all genres are represented and get their chance to perform to a diverse audience. The crowd remained, shifting slightly as some moved backwards to the Minerva bar and others moved forward to embrace the music.

Streaming Lights have adapted their set recently, taking on more instrumentals and with a range of new songs in addition to bringing back some of their older rockier tunes. A thoroughly positive performance, the crowd reacted with equal vitality; at one point what appeared to be an item of clothing being thrown onto the stage, to which Ryan Gibbins retaliated by hurling toilet roll into the audience.

They even teased the audience with my favourite song – possibly their only slow one – ‘Slipper Song’, Steve singing the first word before announcing “it’s not the night for it”, and instead launching into their latest single, ‘Box Room Boy’.

Fantastic stuff, keeping the energy at a high and ensuring that the cold of the darkening sky didn’t get a chance to seep in.

BABY TOOTH

This was the first time I had seen Baby Tooth perform. I only caught the very end of their set on the Green Bricks Stage, and I was impressed that their live sound is pretty much what you hear on their recorded tracks.

What captivated me even further was what happened when they realised there was another ten minutes in which they were entitled to perform. Instead of launching into an original song or a cover of a popular grunge track, which would match their look, lead singer Nanny McGee unhooked the microphone from the stand and launched into a rather psychedelic version of ‘The Real Slim Shady’. It was totally unexpected and hilariously different to their look, but executed perfectly. I was amazing, grinning throughout the performance.

COAVES

I’d expressed the difficulty in which I had in selecting a headliner when such a wonderful selection was on offer. My decision to see Coaves was based on a number of things: the Newcomers Stage was in close proximity to the Dead Bod stage where I was seconds before; it was drummer Conor’s birthday, and I’d started the day with him supporting Mark Rowland in the Acoustic Marquee; and, simply, they are bloody brilliant.

The crowd was scattered. There were ten other amazing acts on, so this wasn’t a surprise. But for Coaves, this was fine because you need space to move. Their set is fuelled entirely by high octane energy, and this is mirrored in the reaction from the crowd.

They concluded with ‘Change Your Mind’, Jonny inviting everyone to have “a really good dance”. And with the addition of a new outro, all four members huddled around the drumkit, and two confetti cannons to just clinch that loud, frantic ending which you just don’t forget easily.

I’ve heard amazing things about the all of the headliners, but as someone who’s also been a part of the local music scene for around a year the Newcomers Stage felt appropriate. An amazing day for everyone, with eleven amazing headline acts sending the crowds away from the marina with smiles on their faces and all the adrenalin to fuel whatever they planned for the rest of the night, whether that be at the official After Party or not.

Artwork on Victoria Pier
Part of the Photography Exhibition on Victoria Pier

On top of all this, I was proud to see just how involved members of Browse were in the festival. Our Arts Editor Lucy Howson was painting live alongside other artists. Three of our photographers, including my good friend Paul Newbon, featured in the Photography exhibition which spread across Humber Street and Victoria Pier. And our Editor-in-chief Mike White was a headliner himself, DJing inside the Silent Disco.

A festival for the people by the people of Hull – everyone involved, in whatever role, should be very feeling very positive right now.

Humber Street Sesh – Decisions to be made…

Next weekend, on the first day of August, Hull Marina will be taken over by Humber Street Sesh. And with over 180 acts across twelve stages, how are you possibly going to plan your day and get to see everything?

If you’re me, and you’ve worked with several of these artists, you’re in a losing situation: there’s going to be a clash somewhere. But if you don’t have that issue, and you’re just out to soak up as many acts as possible, you may still consider planning your day beforehand.

I’m not saying that to make the most of HSS, you have to plan. No way! By all means, wandering rather aimlessly is a fantastic way to come across a diverse range of bands, solo singers and artists of all shades. By all means, discard the map, let your feet make the decisions. I’ve stumbled across some amazing bands this way: Streaming Lights, King No-One, LIFE

But, if you’re a little bit like me, then you’ll want to plan out at least some of the day.

Stages list
Stages list (click to enlarge)

So, my first suggestion is that you pick a genre. Let’s say you just want to see guitar-fuelled indie rock. It’s a popular genre for festivals. And Hull has loads of such performers. You’re going to want to start at the Hull College Group Newcomers Stage, with The Magdalenes kicking things off at 11:40. Stick around for a couple more acts – maybe have a picnic in front of the stage – because The Shed Club and Office Party are well worth your time. They’ll be the perfect indie warm up. Next, I’d advise the Alternative Main Stage: to be honest, to cover the sub-genres of indie, you want this to be your comfort zone of the festival. At 3pm, you’ve got BREEZE followed by Audio Subscene and Affairs. For the evening selection, head over to the Green Bricks Stage, where Rebel Sell perform at 5:30, followed by Magic Carpet Factory; two fantastic bands, who I certainly aim to see. You want to settle yourself here, or end up back at the Alternative Main Stage for the duration of the evening, taking in either headliners Age of Atlas or Black Delta Movement.

Stages list
Stages list (click to enlarge)

My second suggestion is pot luck. Pre-prepared pot luck. The danger here is that you could end up running from each stage throughout the day, therefore tiring your feet out more than needed and being unable to dance as much you may want to. However, if you take out the stages which really don’t interest you – genre-wise – then at least you know that each selection is likely to please. Pick a time and then pull a stage out of a hat. You could start off with a Break Dance Workshop at the Sesh Urban Quarter, taking in the fringe options at Corn Exchange with Mr Sneaks, and ending up at the Newcomers Stage with Coaves.

Third option: build the noise. Start off mellow, and meander the stages until you’re fuelled with a heavy, loud sound. Test all genres, and see a full range of acts. You could start at the Acoustic Marquee with Mark Rowland and The Dyr Sister, two fabulous storytellers. Then try out the Speak Easy Stage, with the charming Neil Thomas and Will and Holly (Little Weather) who are on at 3:40. Then check out the Newcomers Stage with the last performance from Babies followed by Fronteers. You’ll want to head off at this point, as Cannibal Animal follow – too loud and energetic for just yet – over to the Dead Bod Stage for the full band Crooked Weather and Quicksilver Kings. By this point, it’ll be turning to night-time and you’ll be up for a dance. You could stick around here, because the next few bands are a lot of fun, but for more noise you want to be heading over to the Alternative Main Stage for La Bête Blooms. You can pick a genre for the end of the night, deciding on the one which best suits your mood: Ska at the University of Hull Main Stage with The Talks, featuring Neville Staple; the Fruit Stage for some hairy punk sounds from Ming City Rockers; or popular local metal artists at the Rock & Metal Warehouse with The Colour Line.

Silent Disco HSS2015
Silent Disco (click to enlarge)

You could plan your day based on the artists you know and love. As I say, this would cause major issues for me; mainly at 10pm when I’m ready to park myself in front of my chosen headliner. Coaves, a band I’ve done loads of work with and who have the perfect summer sound, are taking over the Newcomers Stage. The Finest Hour, hailing from over the bridge, are at Corn Exchange. Danny Landau Band, another funky summer sound, are on the Dead Bod Stage. I might even decide to support my editor at Browse in the Silent Disco tent. But then there’d be the Black Delta Movement versus The Talks argument I’ve been having since I first saw the line-up, as they take to the Main and Alternative Main Stages.

Fact is, there is no perfect plan. Because on top of the music, there’s art, there’s activities for the kids, there’s generally just bumping into friends and socialising. So perhaps the wandering aimlessly option is perfectly valid.

That, or you select no more than five acts – allowing both an element of organisation and the freedom to find new and wonderful acts unseen at previous festivals. If you do this, I can highly suggest stopping at the Youth Stage, where you’ll find Yasmin Coe headlining at 8:30pm (an early night for the young performers) who is launching her single ‘Nothing Better’, collaborated with Endoflevelbaddie, at the festival.

Whatever your plan of action, the day aims to be fantastic. A family festival for the people by the people of Hull.

See you there.

Just in case you want to plan - a map of the area.
Just in case you want to plan – a map of the area. (click to enlarge)

Streaming Lights Headline The Sesh 30.06.2015

Last time I was at the Sesh, we were interviewing Streaming Lights. On the stunning evening of the 30th, I met up with the lads again for their headline slot and launch of their new single ‘Box Room Boy’.

Imogen Hart
Imogen Hart

A small crowd had gathered quickly, there near the front of the room to support 16-year old Imogen Hart. This was her debut at Sesh, though she has performed at other events. Imogen has a voice which you can easily lose yourself in; her songs laced with emotions. There are many young singers surfacing – from Freedom Road Creative Arts, as Imogen has, as well as other institutes – and she is one of the brilliant performers who will be taking to the In Training Youth Stage at Humber Street Sesh.

It was a powerful warm-up which got you moving to the beat. Mak compared her to Emily Moulton, stating that he was “in awe” of her talents. I have to say that I am rather enjoying these Sesh nights which start with an acoustic act: after a long day at work, you often find the need to be gently eased into the mood.

Jon Calvert - Coaves
Jon Calvert – Coaves

Next up were Coaves, who don’t do anything in moderation. They started their set in high energy with ‘Waves’, a summery upbeat number which you’d struggle not to dance to. The crowd were clapping along, singing the chorus and moving with the boys on stage. Even with their slower tracks, all four bandmembers are bouncing with energy – it’s really quite intoxicating – Jonny climbing on the furniture and Liam spinning in circles.

The only downside to their set was that it lacked their usual outro: missing their heavy attack on the drumkit.

Fronteers
Fronteers

The Polar Bear was quite busy by the time Fronteers stepped up to the stage. This band is the one I have not seen for the longest time, having seen all three others on the bill in the last couple of months, and I was glad to see that they had grown in confidence. They’re developing their sound: less cover tracks and more conversation with the audience. But I still found it was lacking something. They had regular followers dancing in front of the stage, but their set didn’t work for me with that placement: sandwiched between two physically energetic bands, I felt there was a dip in on-stage charisma. Which is a shame, because I did enjoy their set – it just wasn’t the one I remembered upon waking up the following day.

And I was there mostly for Streaming Lights, headlining Sesh for the second time this year. Mak had warned the crowd that their set would be “eventful”, stating that they were “everyone’s favourite” as he welcomed them to the stage.

Steve Minns - Streaming Lights
Steve Minns – Streaming Lights

Opening track ‘Shake It Up’ seemed to act as an instruction; the crowd quickly regaining their energy. In between songs – those from album KICK, a few older ones and newer ones – Ryan handed out CDs of their latest single. People quickly moved forward to claim this prize, though sadly the music video had not been completed on time (it is now available on Youtube) for us to take home this piece of joy.

Their funky tunes had people moving in full swing, their entire body reacting the sound. Considering the heat we’ve had, it was impressive that people had this energy left. It was certainly a rather sweaty affair; bassist Ryan Gibbins declared “I need a Solaro” before they introduced ‘Box Room Boy’, intended this to be their penultimate song. However, ending with a long instrumental, and Steve Minns telling the crowd “I love you”, we called for more. Much more: this was the first time I had experienced a double encore at the Sesh, with Steve admitting that he wasn’t sure he could remember how to play any other songs. Mak was ready to lead them into more tunes, perhaps keeping them there all night, but it was not only us on the floor who had work in the morning.

A warm night of fantastic music from four extremely talented acts: The Polar Bear was well and truly struck by a wave of scorching energy this Sesh night.

Photos by Paul Newbon

Streaming Lights

“The main benefit of being in a band is about having a good time, while also doing something you love and are passionate about. Effectively this band is our 5-a-side football team.”

Except there’s only three of them. Streaming Lights consists of Steve Minns, Ryan Gibbins and Chris Flynn.

Founded in 2010, they’ve become a recognisable name on the Hull Music Scene. Known for their energetic stage antics and Minns’ distinguishable falsetto tones, their music is incredibly difficult to pigeonhole. When I first saw them perform, in their earlier days, they produced a much heavier sound with clear rock influences. Now, I’d be inclined to use the words ‘electric’ and ‘fun’ (these words, and synonyms of these words, being ones I have certainly used when reviewing the band). And it is this which draws you in: the boyish frivolity (synonym) of their stage presence, entertaining the crowd with humorous banter and general silliness.

Their lyrics too are cleverly comical. On 2014 album ‘KICK’ you’ll find songs about the addictive lure of EBay, the all-encompassing allure of a pair of slippers and the desire to see inside someone else’s mind. With catchy choruses and buoyant beats, it won’t take you many spins before you’re singing along at one of their shows.

“a patchwork quilt of different things”

And now that their audience has become comfortable with these songs, the lads are producing new tracks in the hope that it won’t take another three years before the second album. ‘Box Room Boy’ is their new single, launched at The Sesh on June 30th, with the video being released a couple of days later.

And this weekend they are performing at The Big Gig alongside other popular Hull bands. If I haven’t already convinced you that these boys are something to experience, then get down there just for the fun of it – see what the fuss is all about.

Photograph credit goes to Chris Pepper (Jemstar Images)

New Music: Assembling Languages

Assembling Languages are a synth pop duo, brining you electronic beats and catchy lyrics. Influenced by a wide range of music genres, they bring a crisp pop sound with a little something for everyone.

Attempting to keep their identify a secret, their Facebook page lists no bandmembers. However, after an initial spin on BBC Introducing Humberside, Alan Raw was quick to recognise the vocals of Steve Minns, lead vocalist of the already popular Streaming Lights. His falsetto voice, teamed with the mixing brilliance of Kev La Kat, brings two very well-known faces around the city into one place.

Their debut track ‘Boundaries Of Us’ has received very positive feedback from bloggers who are willing to shout about is new transition in music. Admittedly, I am one of those eager bloggers, who included them on a list of new tunes to hit Soundcloud in March. And I’ve been trying to get it out of my head ever since. It’s a tune which crawls into your brain and leaves you stepping through your day to that beat alone.

No doubt there is much more to come from Assembling Languages. But for now, there’s just the one tune for you to add to your playlist. Keep your eyes peeled and ears open.

A Busy Day in Hull City Centre (20.06.2015)

I knew it was going to busy day, especially after a reduced sleep post-gig. It’s always busy in the city centre on a Saturday. But this was more than your average Saturday.

First of all it was the Lord Mayor’s Parade, an annual event with a ‘green’ parade walking one mile around the Princes Quay and Old Town section. This year the theme was ‘Hats Off To The Mayor’, with a competition open to the public to make their own hat.

Up until last year, I had been a part of the parade, walking with a local group of Rainbows. However, our unit has now disbanded and so I watched the groups of participants assemble along Princes Dock Street from the window of Cuckoos, where I ate a delicious lunch with a friend. A pirate ship (which my friend argued was inadequately entitled, as it held only two pirates) was parked directly outside our window, and we were able to see the range of costumes pass us by.

The Pirate 'Boat'
The Pirate ‘Boat’

Our lunch consumed, we headed to the bottom of Whitefriargate where Steel Trinity were positioned. They played music to onlookers awaiting their glimpse of the parade, which seemed to have timed itself perfectly with the heavens opening their bulbous clouds.

It didn’t dampen the spirits of any of the participants, even if it did affect the moods of some of the onlookers. There was dancing and singing, musical instruments and puppets, all joyfully playing to the crowds. Some costumes were very well designed for the troublesome British weather: umbrellas transformed into jellyfish and large hats designed to look like other creatures.

Underwater creatures getting a watering
Underwater creatures getting a watering

While all of this was taking place, there was a demonstration happening in Queens Gardens. An anti-austerity protest.

At 2pm, I headed over to The Warren, a resource centre which opens its doors to young people during weekdays. Saturday 2th June, however, the doors opened to the general public in order to host a special gig in partnership with the anti-austerity demonstration.

Hull Against Austerity gig poster

I entered as Joe Solo performed a song of revolution to a scattered crowd, some stood and some sat directly before the stage. He song further songs about protest – describing the mining strikes of 30 years ago – and songs in protest – one about a friend who was arrested for setting up a soup kitchen in a disused building. For his song ‘No Pasarán’, he had the crowd get involved. A song about a Hull volunteer who fought against fascists in the Spanish Civil War, the title means ‘They shall not pass’, and when this line was sung during the chorus we were invited to join in, producing a tuneful chant. “It sounds better with your fist in the air,” he told us, highlighting the need for strength in numbers but also representing the non-violent approach to this protest.

He also took time to promote the We Shall Overcome events which, similar to this gig, have no monetary ticket prices. Instead you are invited to bring along donations of tinned and dried foods for the local food banks. A positive reaction to the recent election results, there will be a series of events over the weekend of October 2nd-4th across the country, celebrating music and culture while supporting those affected by the cuts. This was met by the loudest applause of the gig, showing further the solidarity in those gathered.

Next onto the stage was the manager of the Warren with a few words about austerity and how his organisation fits into this. He opened with strong words: “the whole theory of austerity is bullshit.” He stated that it was fantastic to see so many people, young and older, at both the demonstration and the gig, explaining that this is “your future… this is where it begins again” and that we needed to “get angry in a controlled and measured and campaigning way” because “that’s what scares them the most”.

Performers in Queen Victoria Square
Performers in Queen Victoria Square

Following him was 12 year-old Eva Davies with her original songs. Not a protest singer like Joe Solo, she was singing about those things which affect teenagers in Britain; opening with a re-telling of Romeo & Juliet did elude to the theme however. The point being made here is that opportunities such as this will become lessened if too many cuts take place. With so many volunteer-run organisations struggling and venues being strangled with legislation, there are fewer chances for someone like Eva to share her talent.

Nothing’s Happening were next onto the stage; a punk band full of political opinions. The crowd – all besides one very young boy who sat right up front – were on their feet for this act. Lead vocalist Casey Stead referred to another punk singer: Jon Lydon, better known as Jonny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, who has quoted in several newspapers for telling everyone to make sure they use their vote and calling Russell Brand a “bumhole” in response to his political “revolution” last October.

Fact: everyone is talking about austerity. Even if they don’t fully understand what it entails, or how it will directly impact them, the idea of it is absurd. Martin Deane, MP for the Green Party in Hull North, spoke further to that which he had said earlier in Queens Gardens at the demonstration. He declared that “austerity is a con” and that “we’re a city of culture, not a city of cuts!” With a view of cuts to libraries and hospitals, not to mention the way education is falling down the plughole of politics, he said that he encouraged everyone present to fight against austerity.

Last to the stage were popular Hull band, LIFE, with Stew Baxter taking to the drums as Rich is unable to perform at the moment. Starting off with their first single ‘Crawling’, they encapsulated the frustration many felt at the election results. Guitarist Mick Sanders declared, “I hope everyone stuck it to the man today,” before they launched into catchy tune ‘Money’ – during which Mez Sanders added to the lyrics “who even likes money anyway?”. Their set was one which could bring the crowds in – a popular local band who are making their name across the UK – but also one which demonstrated the power of political beliefs and in giving words to your opinions and emotions. They performed as they would any gig, but embedded in the lyrics are the political views of these young men living in a torn society.

Steel Trinity
Steel Trinity

It was a day to feel accomplished, and a day to feel a part of something. I do what I can for charity, supporting local organisations as I do local bands. I wanted to be there for my students and for the local community and for those who had come together to fight a worthy cause. I managed all of this, though I left feeling that in order to do so I was unable to give myself entirely to any in particular.

This is true of many things. Hull is so alive with activity that it is difficult to attend everything – support everything. But I do my bit, and I hope that others too did their bit on this busy Saturday in Hull city centre.