Today's Music News
Matt's Blog Day 3
Reporter Matt Everitt's at Leicester's Summer Sundae Weekender09 Aug 2008 - Summer Sundae gallery
Sunday - 5pm
Now this is what i'm talking about, 'Reverand' John McClure has just done a beautifully received show for The Hub Tent, eight-piece experimental Danish electro collective Efterklang have just rocked the indoor stage... Actually, rocked is definitely the wrong word. Let me put it this way, Efterklang has just swooooooooooohesddddnnnnmmmingmingming-ed the indoor stage, and Jeffery Lewis flew the flag for excellent anti-folk (what would the flag for anti folk look like? A stiletto stamping down on a mandolin flanked by two rampant beards?
Speaking of folk, Jose Gonzales played a lovely set on the main stage to a blissfully happy cross-legged audience. When he plays Heartbeat, its almost as if a hundred thousand coloured balls of joy have been bounced across the festival site.
A James Taylor for the Guardian, Whole Foods and Birkenstock generation?
Sunday - 3.00pm.
I hate to keep banging on about the weather. It's one of those really predictable festival topics (like toilets), that always seem to get mentioned, but it does make a difference, as it does now with the sun beaming through the passing clouds.
As we speak, Wild Beasts are now on the main stage (they've been shifted up the bill as the Mystery Jets have sadly pulled out) and they sound rather fine. I can't help but think they're a bit like Curiosity Killed The Cat. But not in a visual, stylistic or musical way. It's just a vibe. Like if you spent too long staring at a Curiosity Killed The Cat-shaped lightbulb then suddenly looked at Wild Beasts - the image of the former would remain floating on your retina while you looked at the latter.
Wow, this cider's good.
We're back to that schizophrenic weather thing again. So far its been rainy, then sunny, then rainy, then sunny, and so on. However, due to the smaller capacity of the site (about 6000) and the layout (there are few 'heavy traffic' paths) there's very little mud around. So, that early morning slog for breakfast and a trip to the loo that one has to endure at other festivals doesn't exist.
Similarly, as we're so close to the town, there are a lot of people who just rock up for day, meaning there's some fresh faces amongst the hungover frowns. Plus the family-centric nature of the festival means there are lots of kids pottering about giving the whole site a kind of picnic vibe. Its all very nice, I can tell you.
Saturday - 10.45pm
And of course she plays her classic hit, I Try.
"I try to say goodbye and I choke,
Try to walk away and I stumble,
Though I try to hide it, it's clear,
Apple crumble when you are not here...
...now she's playing a medley of Rod Stewart's Do You Think I'm Sexy and Dee-Lite's Groove Is In The Heart, which has just gone into a bizarre Russian Cossack tune, there's been a mini-stage invasion with people playing bits of orchestra percussion and Macy's band are all wearing pink Andy Warhol wigs.
It all feels like a musical version of Banana Splits directed by Hunter Thompson,
I don't know what i'm more surprised by; the fact that Macy Gray is currently onstage playing a cover of Radiohead's Creep.. Or that i'm enjoying it.
Would Thom York approve? I have no idea. She's making a pretty good job of it. Maybe Radiohead should bust out a version of 'I Try' at their next show.
She's now wearing the plate as a mask and it sounds like she's singing the theme from Batman accompanied by Sparks. Aaaaaand she's gone. Leaving the stage without playing a single Moloko track. And to be honest, she didn't need to. She was awesome.
She's playing Overpowered, a frankly incredible song made more incredible cos (MOU) she's wearing an outfit made up of long black stripe of cassette tape and what looks like a white paper plate on her head.
MOU: silver jumpsuit with air stewardess cap (costume change) sparkly silver sequined wide-legged cap sleeved jumpsuit (costume change) purple hat white space blazer with shoulders like Sydney Opera house (costume change) gold sequined bomber jacket (costume change) back to tight white top, before tackling her bass player to the ground, before donning a huge red boxing hood thing, (costume change) spiderweb and feather bolero (and she had nice shoes).
Roisin Murphy takes the stage and with help from her frighteningly tight band, precedes to cut a massive groove of electro into the festival site, Murphy Outfit Update (MOU): Wraparound sci fi shades, skintight white top an odd leather corset.
Highlights so far today have been many and varied. Rachel Unthank & The Winterset played a beautiful set in the Indoor Arena. Despite being nominated for a Mercury Prize they are as charming as ever and even treat the audience to a spot of clog dancing, which was ace. Plus the hauntingly gorgeous Dawn Landes played Bodyguard, which is one of my favorite songs of the past few months.
...interestingly, the minute it stops raining, they play Staying Out For The Summer.
Like i said, its an immutable law of nature.
7pm – Dodgy Weather
So if you remember, in an earlier blog posting, i theorized the weather would improve by the time Dodgy come onstage as "its an immutable law of nature, God and all humankind that it never rains during Staying Out For The Summer."
Well, proof (if proof be needed) that i don't know what I'm talking about, as the weather's been lovely since lunchtime, but the minute the newly reunited Dodgy take the stage, it starts chucking it down.
Hey ho. Anyway, in summary, In A Room, Grassman and Good Enough sound pretty summery, and despite the rain, the umbrella touting crowd are happily singing along, Britpopped out of their minds.
And more news for Dodgy fans, as the band told us they're playing on recording a new EP and sticking it out. Tenir la première page!
Laura Marling will be smashing up her dressing room if her sandwiches don't have the corners cut off
As soon as Danny & The Champions Of The World started playing, the rain stopped. It was almost as if their zealous power folk thrust the clouds away. They were also joined by a huge 7ft furry creature with horns, as you can see in the gallery which resembled a massive hairy egg shaking a pair of maracas. D&TCOTW are a supergroup including Romeo from Magic Numbers plus members of Goldrush and Grand Drive, and they raised the spirit of the whole event. Job done.
Other things occurring include Dengue Fever, who're described as mixing "funky brass, surf psychedelia and lounge jazz" - to be honest, it's all a little much, but the bass player has the biggest beard I've ever seen. He makes Scroobius Pip look like Duncan Goodhew. And that alone makes the whole thing bearable. Or should that be beardable?
We've also had our first "there were so many people there, that you couldn't get near the tent" moment. In this case, it was the comedy tent and the act on was Robin Ince, who went down a storm. He's actually playing twice today, like Phil Collins at Live Aid... Only not rubbish.
In addition, I just interviewed Matt from Dodgy and Henry Rollins back to back. Very weird. Two more different people I have never met. Both lovely though. I told Henry he was dressed like a girl, flicked his ears and asked him outside for a fight.
So we're back in the swing of things now and the bands have started to play.
Admittedly my optimism for the weather hasn't been rewarded as yet, as it's tipping it down. But no matter. One of the nice things about this festival is that the Leicester De Montfort Hall is actually onsite, so there's a whole indoors stage line up happening if the weather gets a little too wet for you.
It's here that I see local band Maybeshewill who make a massive driving rock racket. Bit like early Muse. Oddly though none of them seem to be singing. Maybe I've missed the point (maybe they're instumentmental?) but for the ten minutes I watch them, there are no vocals. Odd. I wander over to the Rising Set to see New York Alcoholic Anxiety Attack, who wear their guitars a bit too high for my liking - there's even bass solo there somewhere too. Troublesome.
On the main stage, local favourites The Chairmen open proceedings with some energeitic Arctic-esque indie and go down very well with the crowd (though their intro music seems to go on longer than their set) and as we speak another local mob Jersey Budd are cracking out some old school Americana. What Sprinsgteen is to The Hold Steady, The Hold Steady are to Jersey Budd. Not bad though, but it does prompt the question, is there a band in New Jersey called Thurmaston Speckled Hen?
The sun rises, and bleary eyes open to peer out of tent flaps to witness what - sadly - a rather damp scene as the clouds have burst and it's raining rather heavily here in Leicester.
Now this isn't too distressing as a) it always rains at some point during every festival b) last night's headliners were amazing (Supergrass - storming, Howling Bells - hypnotic, The Count & Sinden - technical problems at the off, but managed to wrestle a rave from the jaws of defeat) c) the weather is s'posed to be improving after midday. d) Dodgy are playing later and its an immutable law of nature, God and all humankind that it never rains during Staying Out For The Summer.
So all in all we're not too concerned.
Before they came onstage, the compare introduced them as one of the bands "That have Summer Sundae written all over them" and by the end of their set Supergrass illustrate the point exactly. The good natured atmosphere and general goodtime vibe of the audience perfectly matches the band's sense of fun and love of big sing-a-long tunes. Starting off gently, the set builds as the night draws in, new songs of Diamond Hoo Ha (including highlights of a balls-out Rebel In You and a surprisingly tender Ghost Of A Friend) are peppered with classic back catalogue tracks.
But it isn't until a rabble-rousing Richard III that things start to really kick right off. The three-piece line up of old are now nepotistically supplemented by keyboardist Rob Coombes and guitarist Charlie Coombes, and the evening hurtles towards a finale of Movin, a cover of the old Police track Next To You, and the always welcome Pumpin On Your Stereo and Caught By The Fuzz before the band leave the stage to huge applause.
Seemingly happy to run over their allotted time, they return for an encore of Sun Hits The Sky followed by two I Should Coco-era crowd pleasers Strange Ones and Mansize Rooster. The crowd goes nuts, the band grin like loons, drumsticks are thrown into the air, plectrums are chucked into the audince and everyone wanders - dazed - back to their campfires. Job done.
Day one over! Bring on day two!
Now we all assumed that The Coral would just be playing an acoustic set. We assumed this as, on all the posters, it said 'The Coral - Acoustic Set'. Now there's nothing wrong with that, especially with a band like The Coral. but one couldn't help wishing they'd play with all the proverbial whistles and associated bells. However, they've just started their set and lo and behold, it's a full band set.
And they sound awesome. A little like that television advert said, you don't know how many Coral songs you know till they start playing them. Admitted singer James Skelly doesn't spend too much time chatting to the crowd, but the vibes are so upbeat, the audience so happy and the instantly recognisable songs so... well, instantly recognisable, that no one cares.
Supergrass have also arrived onsite and we managed to catch up with Danny, Gaz and Micky (something of a coup) to talk about their life in festivals, and you'll be able to hear the whole of that interview on The Music Week on Sunday from 1pm.
Shameless self promotion, shameless.
The way the stages are scheduled here means that when there's a band on the (very loud) main stage, there's no one on playing anywhere else. Conversely, when the main stage is clear, all manner of other stuff goes on.
This is a positive as I can see ex-Delgado Emma Pollock (a tad fey, but beautifully phrased folkish tunes), Errors (live funky rock electronica, and not half as disagreeable as the music you imagine when someone says 'live funky rock electronica') and The Mae Shi (lanky American guys playing what can only be describes as a musical version of an episode of My Name Is Earl played by RATM roadies).
Sadly though it also means there's nowhere to go when Royworld start playing. On record, their high sheen smoothrock sounds inoffensive enough, but live they appear soulless, overtly polished and a little pre-programmed. It's like listening to Faithless play ELO covers. Which can't be good for anyone.
However, Scotland's King Creosote bring humour, charm and a handful of beautifully diverse tracks to the event. They're the aural equivalent of being wrapped in your favourite patchwork quilt, and they provide a fitting accompaniment as day slowly starts to turn to night.
The many and varied differences between SSW and the majority of other festivals are becoming more clear the longer I wander about. It's probably fair to say that I've never been to a festival with more 'green' eco-friendly aspects.
Most predominately the number of recycling bins per punter ratio is massive. Not just just your usual 'cans', 'plastic' and 'glass', but there's also 'food', 'paper', 'cardboard', 'napkins and plates', 'composting' and something that's just referred to as 'general waste'. Spookily the chemical toilets are spotless. Coincidence?
It's all kicking off by this point as Fight Like Apes play the main stage. Despite twisting his ankle "ghost hunting in a Scottish castle at midnight" keyboardist Pocket secures his reputation as "musician most likely to attack a bandmember" leaping all over the shop swinging his equipment about like it's some kind of medieval weapon.
6 Music Hub Tent - Noah and the Whale
The 6 Music Hub tent has seen no small amount of action too. Adam Buxton granted the audience a rare treat with a live acoustic performance of early Bowie rarity Bomber and (of course) the Adam & Joe Festival song.
Following that Noah & The Whale played a two song set to a happily sun-kissed crowd who whistled along to their genuine, actual, proper top ten hit single Five Years Time. The band also promised that their show at The Roundhouse in London on Monday (which coincides with the release of their album) will include no less than eleven musicians, including a full-on horn section and string quartet.
They also discussed conducting their UK tour in a gold plated private jet. One sniff of success and a once humble nu-folk outfit mutate into Led Zeppelin (next thing you know Laura Marling will be smashing up her dressing room if her sandwiches don't have the corners cut off).
Alongside all the usual musical type stuff, SSW also includes the de rigeur comedy, alternative remedy, massage and mung bean enema stall, as well as a dedicated spoken word tent. As much as the phrase, "Next will be the first poem I ever wrote...." sends a spasm of fear through every fibre of my being, Andy Craven Griffiths delivered a rather rousing take on the Gill Scott Heron classic, with his poem Your Television Will Not Be Revolutionised.
On a similar theme, Henry Rollins will be growling and glowering at the audience on Saturday with what will no doubt be a typically 'intense' selection of poetry and raconteuring (is that a word?).
Right, we're on. This year's Summer Sundae Weekender has officially started. While other 'boutique' festivals have suffered this year, SSW (as it shall now be known - like SXSW without the X) seems to have gone from strength.
It's now in its eighth year, which is pretty impressive when you consider that over twenty similarly sized festivals have been cancelled this year.
The weather is what can only be described as changeable. Overcast and cold, then warm and sunny, then hot and raining, then cold and sunny, then muggy and bright, and so on, and so forth.
Local band The Heroes
But the site looks great, and the first few hundred people have taken up their positions on the grassy hill in front of the main stage to see the very first band on, The Heroes - a local band who won a BBC Leicester competition to start proceedings.
Notably they play furious indie guitar racket with the tightest trousers I've ever seen. Members of the audience actually seen to wince, and shed a tear when the singer attempts a scissor kick.