SXSW 2016 | 2015
| 2013 | 2012 | Live at Leeds 2016 | 2015 | 2014
Sound City 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Great Escape 2015 | 2013 | 2012
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When you think of Neverland, you consider the following synonymous: timelessness, youthful vigour and a certain transcendence. In the middle of a forest in Kent, near Edenbridge, Neverland became a reality through the help of Lee and his homegrown festival Leefest 2016. Though the weather was not quite ideal upon first landing, it was far from an issue. The moment you wandered into the main arena, it was clear the only thing that would stop a good time being had would be those adult thoughts that should’ve been, at this point, relegated to the outside world. Neverland’s sole purpose over these 3 days was to be a vehicle for your removal from society and instead to provide you a good time.
Split into three main sections, The Neverwoods (main arena), Mermaids Lagoon (rave central) and Skull Ridge (rock city), you were never far from some form of entertainment. The introductory day, Thursday, saw the smallest of the lineup but definitely the strongest. With only Tootles Circus, your average festival tent, operating as a stage, all four acts were nice and accessible. Peluche and Loyle Carner eased the gaining crowd in, but it was the main attractions of Everything Everything and Ghostpoet (pictured at top) who garnered in the big numbers. With Everything Everything, they perfectly stoked the crowd’s fire and brought their unique blend of rapturous choruses and genre bending music. Conversely, Ghostpoet gave the tent a dark atmosphere with his blend of hip-hop-cum-rock-assault.
Friday brought forth the first full day affair, with Peluche once again kicking proceedings off, but this time on the main stage, aka the ‘Bangerang’ stage. The overall setup of the main arena was easily navigated but with the two stages being centrally located, sound spill was inevitable. Fortunately this didn’t happen frequently, though it’s a dangerous game to play. Highlights from the second day included Corey Fox-Fardell and his brand of songwriter electro melding, which was a particularly pleasant listen whilst grazing in front of the Bangerang stage. Little Simz proved why she is one to watch in the UK hip-hop game, leading the enthusiastic crowd through numerous chants as she dominated the beats surrounding her. In a similar fashion, Roots Manuva brought domineering and commanding beats that just reinforced the entire notion behind LeeFest: you can be who you want, and listen to what you want, as long as you have a good time. Rockers, hip-hoppers and the like were all moving and shaking to the sounds that flowed from the Bangerang stage.
Current London-based pop troubadour Oscar provided his blend of melodic darling instrumentation and baritone vocals. One thing’s for sure, you can’t not have a good time at an Oscar show, no matter the crowd size or venue. Dinosaur Pile-Up sat on top of the kingdom of chaos and noise after a headlining set at the Hook Rock stage in the Skull Ridge. It’s was a venue reminiscent of small clubs, where the noise cascades from all orifices and you’re able to lose yourself in the darkness amongst your other perspiring peers. Barrelling through their grunge/punk hybrid hits, the volume was overbearing at the front. We recommend you watch from a safe distance if you’re stupid enough to forget ear protection (a particular note to self).
The final day started off in stereotypical British style, with grey clouds and intermittent rain, but this didn’t affect the atmosphere. Hannah Lou Clark was a particular highlight: sans band, she used both her pure talents and an iPod to create a wonderfully relaxed and charming environment. Everybody’s favourite indie twosome We Are Scientists provided a particularly raucous set that included singer Keith Murray venturing deep into the crowd during ‘Textbook’, where he proceeded to enlist the help of a particularly fluorescent orange Poseidon who was amongst the crowd. Following these shenanigans was current electro-indie darling Shura, having released her debut album ‘Nothing’s Real’ in July. Delivering a captivating set that never failed to both strike you emotively and melodically, the biggest draw of Shura live is the fact she is clearly there because of the sheer love and devotion for her art. She knows what she likes to dance to and fortunately, we do too.
Originally announced to take place on the Thursday, after a mishap with the programs and the cat being let out of the bag early, the not-so-secret secret set from Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes Saturday evening was the perfect climax to this weekend of escapism and release. The pure fury that comes with any Frank Carter show is cathartic enough to make sure you leave with a weightlessness, one that can only be achieved by taking part in both a circle pit and storming the stage, two things this fortunate writer was seen doing.
After all is said and done, the aforementioned sole purpose of LeeFest was achieved. With pirates and lost boys running around shooting each other with water pistols and climbing aboard the decorative dens around the stages, it was impossible to not get lost in the affair. A festival that catered to both families and those of all ages looking to simply cut loose, the promise this event holds is even grander than its current fasthon. Considering this was Leefest’s largest year yet, the sky’s the limit. And with the lead lost boy at the helm, LeeFest could very well be a major player for years to come.
As Glastonbury fades into the distance, the only evidence that it ever happened being clods of mud on the soles of one’s wellies, hours of BBC catch-up to plough through, and the occasional sweaty 3 AM nightmare featuring a gurning Charlotte Church. Oh, and several acres of Somerset farmland piled high with litter and abandoned tents. I’m sure we all had a blast. Whether you were there in body or only in spirit, those wishing to relive the hedonistic peaks and chilled-out troughs of a top-class festival, without, shall we say, the negatives of an enormo-fest like Glasto, should look no further than Kendal Calling.
Less crowded, less pretentious, (slightly) less muddy, and, most importantly, more Northern, Kendal Calling has occasionally been called the Glastonbury of the north. And in spirit, that’s certainly true. Fair enough, it can’t attract the likes of Adele as a headliner, but if you want a sweary Londoner there’s always Rat Boy. Kendal’s biggest strength is its party atmosphere: wherever you are, you’re never very far away from the hoedown that goes on in front of the main stage all day. This year will climax with sets from d’n’b stars Rudimental, Brit-ska legends Madness and a prime slice of dad rock from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (pictured at top). There’s something for everyone on the main stage: hard rock from Band Of Skulls, The Hives and the Darkness, urban sounds from Sugarhill Gang and Too Many Ts. And, um, authentic North West humour in the shape of the inimitable Lancashire Hotpots.
Having said all that, TGTF’s favourite stage is the Calling Out tent. Want to know who’s going to be big next year? Look no further. From burgeoning youngsters like Sundara Karma, The Amazons and Rosie Lowe, through acts on the verge of mainstream breakthrough like Teleman, Eagulls and Spring King, this is where the smart money hangs out. Headliners Blossoms, Ghostpoet, and, astonishingly – if he turns up! – Pete Doherty, make Calling Out a mini-festival all of itself.
That’s not to mention the other little nooks and crannies of the beautiful Lowther Deer Park. Those fond of a hot spiked beverage can chill in the always-reliable Chai Wallahs. Obscurantists and beard-strokers are to be found in the Riot Jazz tent, hosting the unique brilliance of Gideon Conn (again, hurrah!), with the Riot Jazz Brass Band performances always a Kendal highlight. If you fancy a Tim Burgess-themed bacon sandwich, then head to the Tim Peaks diner. If, instead, you’re partial to a sit-down and some profound spoken words, Carvetti’s your spot (last year’s Aziz Ibrahim interview was particularly instructive). And let us not forget the 3 AMm intensity of the Glow Tent’s beats. There’s only a handful of tickets left at the time of writing. What are you waiting for?
The last few adult weekend tickets to Kendal Calling 2016 are available for £135 plus fees. To purchase yours, get them from Ticketline.
This year’s LeeFest marks the 10th anniversary of the independent arts festival, which started in 2006 in founder Lee Denny’s own back garden. Dubbed LeeFest Presents: The Neverland, the festival’s motto this year is “Never grow old”, and it promises a “stunning musical lineup” along with a host of other wide-ranging entertainment opportunities. The exact location of The Neverland’s new secret venue and campsite near Tunbridge Wells, about an hour southeast of London, will only be revealed to ticket holders near the time of the event, which is scheduled to take place on the 28th-30th of July.
What we already know about LeeFest 2016 is that its strong live music lineup presents an enticing mix of established artists and up-and-coming acts. Headliner Lianne La Havas could possibly fall into either category, after her breakthrough 2012 album ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?” She is currently supporting Coldplay on their ‘A Head Full of Dreams’ world tour and is scheduled to open for fellow soul singer Leon Bridges on his September and October dates in America. La Havas released a new EP ‘Blood Solo’ back in February, providing solo interpretations of tracks from her second full album ‘Blood’, as well as the delicately haunting new track called ‘Fairytale’, which you can hear just below.
In contrast to La Havas’ soulful folk stylings, Liverpool rockers Circa Waves join the LeeFest headline bill in the midst of their own summer festival circuit. They recently appeared at Live at Leeds 2016 and will grace their hometown stage at Sound City 2016 at the end of this month. Circa Waves have been quiet so far in 2016, but their emergence back onto the live scene, including a handful of upcoming headline dates around the UK, might be a hint that something new from the band is forthcoming. In the meantime, you can get in the festival spirit with their video for ’T-Shirt Weather’, which featured on their 2015 debut album ‘Young Chasers’.
The LeeFest 2016 docket features a wide array of other artists previously covered here at TGTF, most notably 2015 Mercury Prize nominee Ghostpoet. The LeeFest lineup also includes a lengthy list of our SXSW 2016 alums: Manchester art-rockers Everything Everything, dance pop duo Formation, Liverpool’s own Clean Cut Kid, indie pop wunderkind Oscar, Kent ‘dirty-pop’ bangers Get Inuit, Sheffield rock duo Nai Harvest and Tunbridge Wells native Will Joseph Cook.
Newer acts like London all-female quartet The Big Moon and Belfast alt-rock duo exmagician (pictured above) hope to build their reputations on LeeFest’s stages as part of their summer festival tours as well. Given that LeeFest’s past lineups have hosted such heavy hitters as London Grammar, Jack Garratt, Years & Years, and Clean Bandit, it seems like a safe bet that if you’re not already familiar with the names on this year’s list, you will become so in very short order. (On that note, stay tuned to TGTF for our pre-LeeFest interview with exmagician, which will post in the coming days.)
The live music portion of the festival will also include DJ sets from Submotion Orchestra (pictured above), The 2 Bears, Midland and Horse Meat Disco. Aside from the musical festivities, LeeFest also offers a variety of other entertainment categories comprising Comedy, Spoken Word, a generic Performance classification, and the very curiously-titled Sillyness. Divided among three so-called “realms”, The Neverland aims to provide “immersive adventures at every turn”, even including a Family category for arts enthusiasts with young children.
As a preview of the main event, LeeFest: The Neverland is partnering with the Tunbridge Wells Forum for a free festival launch party featuring a surprise headliner starting at 6 PM on the 3rd of June. Keep your eyes on LeeFest’s official Facebook page and Twitter feed, which are being updated with further details as the 2016 festival approaches.
Now that we’re into 2016, it’s time to get excited for the year’s festival season. We’d already seen a few of the lineup revealed for Live at Leeds (read this previous preview post), but now we’ve been not as much teased but inundated with over 65 new acts.
Joining the already stellar lineup of Circa Waves, We Are Scientists and Jess Glynne, we have a nice variety of genres being represented, from the small and unsigned to those acts who are well established in the festival circuit.
First of the major players is Ghostpoet (picture at top), who you may remember had his 2015 album ‘Shedding Skin’ nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. His is pretty much the name on the tip of the tongue of anyone involved in the industry at the moment. On playing the festival, Ghostpoet says, “It’s nice to be returning to Live at Leeds after playing it for the first time a few years back. Should be fun!”
Another name everyone should be familiar with is Mystery Jets, who over the past 13 years have been unrelenting in their output. Flirting with a mixture of genres has ensured they always have a fresh sound that’s apt for the time. They’ll no doubt be playing tunes from their latest album effort, ‘Curve of the Earth’, which was released last month.
There’s also Stockport’s Blossoms, who return after a triumphant show at Leeds Uni Stylus last year, as well as coming fourth in BBC’s Sound of 2016 list. They are certainly going to be a crowd pleaser and not to be missed.
Milk Teeth are another band that have been gathering a lot of attention of the past few months. Their style is reminiscent of early 90’s pop-punk with a twinge of grunge, a sound that is slowly making its way back into the mainstream consciousness. Their debut record ‘Vile Child’ is out now on Hopeless Records and will no doubt leave a massive impression on those who manage to catch their show.
Live at Leeds is fast becoming a staple in the festival season and is going from strength to strength. The way this lineup is shaping up, along with announcements for other festivals slowly creeping out into the daylight, 2016 could turn out to be one of the strongest festival seasons yet.
The entire plethora of announced acts can be found on the Live at Leeds Web site. Tickets are still available at http://lunatickets.co.uk/live-at-leeds-2016.html.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 10th December 2015 at 6:00 pm
‘Be Right Back, Moving House’ is the latest Ghostpoet track from his 2015 Mercury Prize-nominated album ‘Shedding Skin’ to get its own music video. The man has always struck me as an intelligent, forward-thinking chap, so I’m not surprised this new promo is thought-provoking. Using stairwells, landings and lifts as metaphors for the difficult climbs in life, some of them that leave us stumbling and gasping for air, ‘Be Right Back, Moving House’ is a compelling watch. You can view the video below.
Read Carrie’s review of ‘Shedding Skin’ here. Our archive of articles on Ghostpoet can be found this way.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 16th November 2015 at 10:00 am
It’s good to be Ghostpoet. He has three studio albums to his name – 2011’s ‘Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam’, 2013’s ‘Some Say I So I Say Light’, and this year’s ‘Shedding Skin’, released in March – and now two of them have been nominated for a Mercury Prize.
We won’t know who has won the gong until next Friday, the 20th of November, but in the meantime, he and his ‘people’ have been kind enough to make his newest single from ‘Shedding Skin’, ‘Be Right Back, Moving House’ free. Yes, this is not a drill! Follow the link below to get it for your very own.