We followed the sound of a beating drum through the slightly windy paths of Waterloo Park and soon reached the open field and stage, watched by a set of three monkeys atop the pavilion.
With the help of these unusual guardians and a mix of punk, rock, folk and experimental music, we hoped to keep the rain at bay for the forth Walkabout Festival in Waterloo Park.
The first band to attack the minimal crowd was Rek, a local punk-rock band with a simple guitar, bass and drum line up. Whilst they were passionate about their playing, they lacked anything past the female vocalist to make them different enough to be interesting.
However, when they did deviate with an imaginative drum intro or guitar riff, these sections really did stand out. With a little more song-writing practise, Rek could bring these exciting elements to the forefront of their playing and their fiery dynamic on stage would make them an exhilarating live band.
The sound of guitar music from the park managed to draw some more people into the grounds and the steps and grass were starting to fill up with expectant viewers.
Handclaps at midday
I’m sure all their expectations were fulfilled when Bearsuit took to the stage with their off-kilter sporadic, schizophrenic art noise and started to shake bells and make mouth noises in a way that you could've mistaken for a rain dance.
The handclaps of old favourites like Itsuko Got Married went down well and Chargr finished the set on a high of distorted guitar, twinkling keyboards and chanting vocals that seemed to capitalise on the acoustics of the outdoors.
|Stars Of Aviation having fun|
Florence And The Goodgirls and the Stars Of Aviation brought some feel good folk to the day, with Florence performing their last ever gig and going out in style.
Stars Of Aviation added to the standard guitars and drums with an accordion player and some keyboards, and their sound started to veer into a side not seen very often in folk, with a slight experimental edge.
Johnny announced that they “always insist on a moat” at their gigs, referring to the one surrounding the stage, “in case anyone tries to invade.”
The banter of guitarist and vocalist Johnny and keyboardist Nathan is so deadpan that it becomes funny even when the jokes are appalling and it somehow perfectly represents the laid-back, summery atmosphere of the audience lounging on the grass.
My Visor add to their usual boy-girl line up with two extra boys to fill in on live drums and bass. What starts off as a basic garage band formula takes some unexpected and welcomed turns. Kathryn's voice makes the band sound much more like PJ Harvey than the initial Jet-type sound, which is a refreshing change to the current suffocating environment of retro garage imitators.
|Sennen's mesmerising set|
I'm sure The Shadow Project would be happy to simply win the award for looking the hippest, but the problem is that they also sound amazing.
I'd be very surprised if this band hadn't been listening to heavy doses of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, with their spoken word samples and slowly building compositions leading up to huge symphonic cacophonies of guitars and found sounds.
However, this is defiantly not a bad thing, as the band pulls it off with aplomb and the subtle electronics and live drumming give the performance an urgency that has everyone doing something to keep along to the pulsing beat.
While they have clearly used certain bands as a starting point, The Shadow Project has made this project uniquely their own. At a time where post-rock is getting a depressing influx of similar instrumental bands, The Shadow Project stand out as something worth listening to.
Sunset for Sennen
The final band to hit the stage as the sun starts to set was the sublime Sennen. While they tell me that they don't actually listen to a lot of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive or Ride, you can hear the influence of these infamous shoegazer bands, even if it is indirect.
Some of their wall-of-sound technique is lost in the open air as opposed to the forcing, enveloping noise of their indoor performances, but it is still possible to see that Sennen will go far, especially once their debut album Widows is released, hopefully later in the year.
The day was a definite success, and with so many of these bands just getting on their feet, the Norwich scene and the future of local promoters wombatwombat looks a lot brighter than the clouds were today.