Category Archives: The Sesh

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/

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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

Humber Street Sesh 2015 – a preview

A very important announcement has been made this week. Humber Street Sesh wristbands went on sale Tuesday 21sy April.

At an advance price of £5, you’re getting a huge collection of music, art and local culture packed into the one day festival.

LIFE
LIFE

On Saturday 1st August, over 180 bands will play across ten stages. There will be over 50 DJ’s in the new Original Brew’s Art and Soul Warehouse as well as at the Resident Association Disco tent. So, musically, there is something for every taste.

Humber Street Sesh is a 12-hour showcase of the huge wealth of talent Hull has to offer. For those who engage with the weekly Sesh at The Polar Bear, you get to see your favourite local bands up on the bigger stages, mingling with even more like-minded people. For those who can’t always get down on a Tuesday night, this is your chance to support those acts. And yet there is so much more besides this.

A new addition last year, returning to the Skate Park this year.
A new addition last year, returning to the Skate Park this year.

There will also be the usual markets, street food, live street art, children’s activities, comedy and cult cinema, in addition to breakdance and rap battles, a skate park, street theatre and much more. After last year’s brief downpour, there is the aim to have more sheltered bar areas this year. Not that the rain stopped many of us from finishing our drink or heading down to see  our favourite bands who happened to perform at that point.

Under 12s go free (collect your wristband as you enter the gates), and so this truly is a festival for the people; regardless of age or taste, you’ll have a fantastic day.

Streaming Lights
Streaming Lights

 

With 40’000 attending last year, we know we can get more through those gates this time.

Tickets are available from Hull Box Office or by phoning 01482 221113, and will be sold in various locations across the city at later dates. Note, a booking fee will apply.

Humber Street Sesh info poster

All photographs are by Paul Newbon, taken at last year’s HSS. 

First Avenue – ‘Dark Days’ EP review

The competition, advertised on Facebook
The competition, advertised on Facebook

I was fortunate enough to win a copy of First Avenue’s EP ‘Dark Days’ in a Facebook competition. I rarely involve myself in such things, but after seeing the band perform at Hull’s weekly Sesh, I couldn’t say no to giving it a try. I’d already decided that I would probably purchase it, and having not got round to doing so figured I might as well give a freebie a shot.

And I did win a copy. So I felt it only fair to review, using a different style to my usual EP/album reviews, by going through it track by track.

First Avenue started out as a guitar duo made up of Chris Key and Rob McIlwrath. Now with the addition of Louie Scott on bass and John Dye on percussion, they are taking the city by storm. I don’t think I know a band performing as often as these guys. They have several gigs this month alone, so do check them out.

Track 1: Intro starts off with an introduction of each instrument, building up to a regular, rather hypnotic, rhythm. You’d expect that, right? But then the music loses volume and is replaced with the sound of chatter. Like the first song performed to a crowded room, there is interjection, conversation overshadowing the tune.

Luckily, the music picks up again; the same rhythm but in faster tempo, with the addition of Chris Keys’ equally hypnotic vocals. I’m completely absorbed in the music before even track one has ended, drawn in by his husky voice and the gentle harmonies in the background. A wonderful start, perfectly named as it sets the scene for the rest of the EP.

First Avenue, Sesh 18.02.15
First Avenue, Sesh 18.02.15

Track 2: You begins with a focus on the vocals. I like that more people are keeping the focus on the lead, with the lyrics taking a more prominent role. But again, there’s that rhythmic heartbeat from the drums which keeps you hooked on the sound. It’s a mellow tune, with emphasis on key phrases.

Track 3: Survive is led by the guitar. The initial vocals are less catchy, making it more difficult to hang on them as with other tracks. However, the Latin influence of the guitars makes you move to this track in a way you don’t so much with the others.

Track 4: Broken is my favourite track on the EP. Introduced by the same chatter as in the opening track, the guitars slice through and welcome the vocals again. The chorus is catchy enough that I remembered this song from their live set, singing along to the words “I’m not broken yet; I’m may train to forget.”

This tune summarises the tracklist for me: a solemn set of lyrics with an upbeat guitar which gets your feet moving to the rhythm.

Chris Key
Chris Key

Track 5: Cry Out has a different sound. Still solemn, but more haunting than the other tracks. Keys vocals underpin the guitar, echoing through the sounds of the instruments. It ends rather too soon for my liking, as I just get into when the harmonies fade and the track moves on.

Track 6: Fire of Light opens with the sound of crickets, making me picture a quiet night around a firepit. The music is gentle and relaxing, fitting this image comfortably. About a minute in, the pitch and tempo increases, introducing the chorus alongside a similar rhythmic beat the others. The sound comes in waves, picking up and lulling.

Track 7: Burning Up (Bonus Track) mixes the Latin vibes in with the relaxed vocals which bring all of these tracks together.

Overall, an easy listening collection which will get you moving if you are in such the mood for this.

You can see First Avenue performing in Hull throughout April
You can see First Avenue performing in Hull throughout April

The Sesh 20.01.15

There are two ways in which a band will keep you out late on a chilly winter’s night. The first is loyalty: being one of those bands you just adore, knowing they’ll put on a good show and keep you entertained. The second is to catch you when you’re already out and draw you in for more by simply being brilliant. Often the second comes first.

In the case of this week’s Sesh, I was drawn out by loyalty. My first Sesh of 2015 featured two bands I have not seen previously and one I’m rather attached to. I’ve written quite a lot about Streaming Lights, admitting my reservations when first introduced to them years ago, and then my falling for their charms.

And so, this Tuesday, I stepped out into the cold air and made my way down to the Polar Bear. Meeting with my Browse comrades – Paul and Luke with their cameras, and Darren reviewing for the mag – I was rather giddy.

Magic Carpet Factory
Magic Carpet Factory

I arrived, as I often do, during the soundcheck for the opening band, Magic Carpet Factory. Lead singer, Adam Desforges, stepped up to the mic, a guitar around him and a maraca in his hand. Turning to Paul, I joked that they “had me at maracas”, having previously got quite anxious when Black Delta Movement hadn’t played my favourite tune ‘Butterfly’ (featuring maracas). We chatted quietly through their soundcheck, growing louder as the music over the system came on. The audience grew too; the room becoming busy but not heaving.

Magic Carpet Factory
Magic Carpet Factory

The joke turned more serious as the band started their set with a bass beat from the drums coursing through the veins of the crowd. Hiked up by the guitars, the music cradled Desforge’s voice. I struggled throughout the night to say who they reminded me of, having a rather classic indie rock sound – enjoyable easy listening which got our feet tapping. I particularly enjoyed their song ‘Midnight Kiss’ which has catchy lyrics I felt I could sing along to. An ideal warming opener, especially as I anticipated the energetic set to come.

Paul’s verdict on Magic Carpet Ride was that they were ‘very good’, giving them both thumbs up (again demonstrating why he doesn’t write the reviews).

And The Hangnails
And The Hangnails

And The Hangnails from York took to the stage next. They had been highly recommended by Black Delta Movement, who they have seen and played along previously, and so I expected a similar sound from the two men and their instruments.

Being a duo, I was quickly impressed with the power they created on stage. Martyn Fillingham, on guitar and vocals, and Steven Reid, on drums, performed with as much energy and presence as a larger band, pulling the crowd forward. I was just getting used to their sound, when Fillingham stepped up the vocals, screaming the lyrics into the mic and hooking us in once again as we became comfortable and enticing anyone not already knee-deep in their sound.

And The Hangnails
And The Hangnails

And again, as I got used to this faster rhythm and increased volume, they altered the tempo and brought everything down to allow us to focus on Fillingham’s voice during a calm moment.

They demonstrated a professionalism which many Hull bands can learn from. Two men on stage, captivating the audience with such precision, making those alterations when we’d just begun to attach a specific sound to their name. This short set was a collection of their songs, including some newer ones, which demonstrated their diversity as musicians. We’d been talking only earlier in the night about how bands we’d grown up with had lost our favour because they’d changed their style, moving on when we weren’t prepared to. I’d commented that one thing I love about the Manic Street Preachers is that they have adapted to move with the times, developing their own style to suit them as they change through the course of life, admitting that there are albums I rarely listen to but adore simply because they are theirs. With And The Hangnail, this worked to keep the audience fresh.

Their last song was a full showcase of their talent, starting heavy and powerful, then mellowing to a rhythmic drumbeat and simple chords, ensuring the Fillingham’s voice was a fierce focal point on the stage, before jumping straight up again and concluding loudly.

Paul’s verdict on And The Hangnails was a difficult one. Having not considered that he’d already used up both of his thumbs, he settled with doubling up in order to offer four thumbs.

I knew he’d struggle further with the headlining band, as we’d both come out to see them and had been sat with them for a proportion of the night.

Streaming Lights
Streaming Lights

Playing tracks for their album ‘Kick’, as well as one of their “rocky ones from back in the day”, Streaming Lights performed with the energy and excitement I have come to expect from them. All three – Steve Minns on guitar and lead vocals, Ryan Gibbins on bass, and Chris Flynn on drums – were smiling throughout the set, at each other and out into the crowd. The sheer enjoyment of being on stage filtered through the room, and people stepped forward to dance in front of them.

It’s difficult not to repeat myself when reviewing a band I’ve seen recently before or spent time with. Streaming Lights put on a show as only they do, chatting with each other and the crowd, posing for pictures when the camera came around and throwing themselves about the stage.

Streaming Lights
Streaming Lights

I have said before that it’s saddened me to see them play to scattered crowds. The last time I’d seen them, they’d played during a meal at a charity ball, giving the energy to their music but not receiving much back as their audience was more interested in the food. They’d agreed that it was difficult to engage with this crowd. But this was not an issue as they headlined the Sesh, with eager fans moving and singing along. Yet, their banter was mostly negative. However laced with sarcasm, it struck me that if they are to knock themselves down then it offers others the opportunity.

Steven Minns - Streaming Lights
Steven Minns – Streaming Lights

I am a fan of Streaming Lights. I like that their sound is different – something you may not engage with straight away, but which grows on you quickly. I like their silliness, their drunken performances which are still perfectly executed. Though Steve consistently questioned Ryan as to which song was next, they launched into each song as a team and played them all with the velvetiness of their mastered tracks. I like that they are so energetic and eager, on and off stage.

Paul’s verdict was five thumbs up, though this was slightly biased and mostly based on his previous use of the system.

Overall, it was a fantastic night. I left the house giddy with anticipation, knowing it would be a good night. Magic Carpet Factory were really enjoyable. And The Hangnails had be hooked throughout, dragging me in if lethargy even winked in my direction. Streaming Lights were as wonderful as I could expect. I left The Polar Bear buzzing with the energy of the night, convinced that it was somewhat warmer.

The New Years Eve Eve Sesh 30.12.14

I’d never seen so many people packed into The Polar Bear as I did for their New Year’s special Sesh. In contrast to the icy outdoors, we were warm and comfortable, enjoying the jolly folk music of three fantastic bands.

Mick McGarry - Hillbilly Troupe
Mick McGarry – Hillbilly Troupe

Hillbilly Troupe, unable to play the headline spot, took over for the warm up. Performing acoustically, they stood in front of the stage; a more intimate setting which enabled the crowd to huddle around, engaging with the band. Playing tunes from their album, with one Des O’Connor track which they’ve only played a few times before, we were all able to join in, singing and dancing. I was with friends from two corners of the country, visiting for New Year celebrations, and they knew the songs well enough to join in and become one with the crowd.

Christopher Frost on piano - Hillbilly Troupe
Christopher Frost on piano – Hillbilly Troupe

A firm favourite in the city, Hillbilly Troupe performed a fun and energetic set. Never ones to let anything stop them, when facing an issue with the bass guitar Mick McGarry simply stepped to the rescue by singing ‘Luckiest Sailor’ unaccompanied by the instruments. Sadly, being in the warm up spot meant that many people were still deep in conversation, and this was the first time I had experienced anything but silence during this track: usually, the full audience is captivated by Mick’s voice and his sorrowful tale.

The Quicksilver Kings lead singer Keith Hogger
The Quicksilver Kings lead singer Keith Hogger

The Quicksilver Kings were next to take on the stage and the now swollen crowd, stood right up to the front even between performances. Their sound is blues/folk with a pulsing rock beat. More mellow than Hillbilly Troupe, I recognised that they would have suited the warm up spot; the audience swaying in reaction, where we’d been tapping our feet and bouncing to Hillbilly Troupe.

The Quicksilver Kings
The Quicksilver Kings

Their energy increasing throughout their set, we were moving more and more, warming the room again, and preparing ourselves for the headliner.

With Danny Landau, it’s easy to assume you’re getting the one man and his guitar experience – not something you expect for the final slot of the night. But the stage was filled with characters, playing a range of instruments. With Landau as the focal, centre stage, it was easy to compare with similar great singers as Frank Turner, who performs with equal levels of enthusiasm when acoustically solo or supported by a full band.

Danny Landau
Danny Landau

We were dancing again, whether we knew the songs or now – I was pleased that I did recognise more than expected – and the room was a wave of energy. The sound was powerfully upbeat, easy to enjoy and move to.

They concluded at midnight, with a loud, crashing instrumental, after having been called for en core and playing popular song ‘45’. If anyone’s enthusiasm for the night was beginning to wane, if tiredness was taking hold, this was cast out. The cheerful DJ set which followed continued to keep the room filled with merry characters.

Folk music is the true nature of storytelling, and this was a wonderful way to conclude the year, for many of us acting as preparation for the exhilarating New Year’s Eve celebrations. All singers had voices which drew you in: Mick McGarry, the Godfather of Folk, a jovial heart-breaker; Keith Hagger’s charming tones; and Danny Landau’s enigmatic charisma. It was cold outside, but in The Polar Bear, it was warm and charming: a fire lit in everyone’s hearts.

We certainly enjoyed ourselves
We certainly enjoyed ourselves

Originally written for Browse Magazine.

Photo credit goes to my good friend Heather Irwin.