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Rockaway Beach - Sunday

  • Published in Live

Having once again taken advantage of the glorious sunshine to fit in a couple of pints off-camp (and in the process become acquainted with the joys of John Inman’s ‘Are You Being Served, Sir?’) Brighton’s Prince Vaseline were the first act I popped in to see in action today. Some good moody indie was what I got for my efforts, with a really nice interplay of male & female vocals running through the bulk of the set. In their faster numbers there’s a definite Stereolab influence which was a further pleasing element.

Stepping back into daylight and a more traditional sound for the location was wafting from the Skyline stage in the shape of Big Hogg and their brass-infused pop. Pleasant enough but not what I was looking to sit around and experience long term. This was though a stage throwing up oddly placed acts today. Later on Walleater displayed far fewer teeth than their name would suggest whilst Skinny Girl Diet (who drew a good sized crowd) alternated between trying to destroy the place with crushing riffs and screeches and applying the band aid of sweet pop vocals. A visceral act who were definitely placed wrongly. Following them came the dream pop of Emmecosta who played away manfully despite having an audience in single figures. Unbilled there was also an angsty indie trio on later in the evening but as the singer wasn’t clear when saying their name I’m clueless as to who they were.

Opening the main stage was the thoroughly energetic and cheery Misty Miller and her band. Top marks for wit for the song ‘You Can’t Date A Model’ and for letting me witness four older ladies make use of Shazam when a cover version was announced but the title kept a secret (turns out it was a 1D one but I bet Misty’s version was better). Whilst maybe not quite the female version of Theo Verney her’s was an infectiously upbeat performance and definitely crowd-pleasing.

Another cheery chappy was Jonnie Common. Having last seen him in Edinburgh a couple of years ago and recalling that show as fairly dour the other side of the coin was most definitely to the fore here in Bognor. Chatty, cracking the odd joke, querying who’d enjoyed Public Service Broadcasting the night before & generally obviously having a good time his was a fun set to watch. Involving a live drummer throughout also paid off in spades. As it did for the massive performance from Young Fathers later on the same stage.

As Mercury Prize winners they could easily have viewed this date as a contractual obligation they were now too big to do justice to and just gone through the motions. Clearly though they have the pride and desire to give the utmost of themselves when in a live setting. They’ve things to say and aren’t going to let the message be diluted by laziness. Someone I passed by later on described them as punk. Not a description I’d previously have thought of applying based on the contents of DEAD or White Men Are Black Men Too but with the extra urgency the songs gain from the physicality of the band’s performance it’s not very far off the mark in a sense. In years to come being able to say you saw the band give such a vitalic show in a venue of this size, with no security barriers or worried looking chaps in luminous vests between you and the stage, will be a tale to inspire envy.

Pinkshinyultrablast were the first of the night time acts on the main stage tonight. Their sound lacked a bit of presence although that seemed to be the case if you ventured to the back of the hall no matter who was on so possibly it’s a design feature of the space, allowing you to talk without the murmur annoying those more into whomever’s on stage. They rattled through a good set (possibly finishing 15 minutes early) and did the shoegaze revival proud. Things here finished off in mildly psychedelic vein as Lola Colt’s hypnotic, emotionally charged set preceded headliners Spiritualized. As assured as when I saw them play the Liverpool Psych Fest the other year you would hope that they’re one of the acts to have benefited from garnering a bunch of new fans from this weekend as, despite the size of audience they’d attracted, it wasn’t wholly clear many there already knew them.

Fresh from headlining this year’s Psych Fest Spiritualized teased out their arrival onstage with an over long intro tape and then suffered IT issues with their projected backdrop for the length of their 90 minute set. Either that or they were being sponsored by Benq. Jason Pierce played the entire show seated, whether through injury, illness or tiredness was never made clear. Kicking off with ‘Hey Jane’ from the most recent album Sweet Heart Sweet Light they enjoyed sound that was extremely well mixed, meaning the backing vocals and even the drummer’s chimes were easily discernible throughout. Visually though the backdrop, when working, wasn’t really enough to keep that element of the senses fully engaged – a fully mobile frontman would have done that a lot better and as such from about the point that ‘Electricity’ ended there was an air of self-indulgence in the lengthier instrumental parts.

With no overruns it was easy to close out the three days back in Reds one last time to enjoy the final act of the festival, Cult Of Dom Keller. Only a select few had decided to do the same so it was rather like seeing one of the afternoon bands in that respect. Theirs is a distinctly late night sound though – dark, swirling and enthralling as time and again someone’s reminded “You are not my god”. A fine end to a good first effort. 

Further photographs from the event can be found here.

Earlybird tickets for Rockaway Beach 2016, from as little as £79, are available here.


Rockaway Beach - Saturday

  • Published in Live


Having lost the will to stay out and see the final bands last night it seemed only fair to catch the early performers today. So, after a walk around the town and a pint in The Alex openers Fever Dream were checked out. The trio turned out to be excellent purveyors of good, fast shoegaze so this was definitely the right decision. Singer Adrian Fleet even owned up to having been born in Bognor and the fact that his Mum had at one time worked for Butlin's. A nice homecoming touch to an already rewarding performance. 

Zyna Hel were on next door in the Skyline tent, bringing to mind Sarah Brightman fronting the likes of CHVRCHES or Daughter. They'd a decent line in beats but failed to engage me. Something more traditionally indie was required and Orange Yellow Red duly supplied that, along with an excursion into rumbling instrumental work over impassioned vocal samples. They've a nice line in jangly material, particularly on 'Time Slows Down' and a surprising number of spare guitars.

Back in the Skyline Glasgow's St. Deluxe were making a glorious noise, fusing all of the best parts of grunge together into a great racket that was well served by the sound desk but which should really have been experienced in a far more intimate setting. Still, they seemed to enjoy the amount of space afforded them by the stage and got stuck right in. Taking up more room on the main stage were the Band Of Holy Joy, a group who it seemed had chosen that name as an ironic moniker for their singer's dead pan delivery. Droning Puritanism as opposed to the fire & brimstone of John Knox Sex Club yesterday. They brought to mind a performance from over a decade ago by The Nectarine No. 9 and I wasn't impressed by them either.

The Monochrome Set are another of this weekend's longer in the tooth acts and so have a good solid fanbase in tow for their main stage performance. They're another band originating in the tail end of the Seventies that up until now I've only been aware of by name. Those who have known what to expect are clearly well served by the band but for me they lack any real oomph so I head off for more modern fare, albeit as it's Ghostpoet I've equally little acquaintance with his tunes.

He and his band are in full flight when I make it into the Red stage and the crowd are fully involved dancing and jumping about. There's a real Saturday night party atmosphere been created and the songs have a far greater urgency live than on record it seems. Ghostpoet himself is sweating cobbs as he bounds about the stage, whoping up the crowd and band alike. A fellow audience member is overheard comparing the show to the work of the Lost Poets and that's pretty fair. I need to give his albums another listen in a new light.

Back on the main stage Nadine Shah is a performer I'm more familiar with, albeit more from her time in Trans Global Underground (which wasn't exactly yesterday). I'm therefore not really expecting her to be weilding a guitar in a fairly standard rock and roll kind of way. Initial adjustments of perception made her set's one of great radiance, despite a recurring farty bass sound. Current album Fast Food gets a good work through and all round this is the sort of performance you'd expect from a strong act of Shah's calibre. One of the clear highlights of the three days.

Shah was though, by my reckoning, around about 30 minutes late hitting the stage. Public Service Broadcasting appear to have topped that by 15 minutes as I'm expecting them to be well into their alloted 90 minutes when I get back into Reds yet sound levels still seem to be getting tested and equipment plugged in. The downside of making use of a lot of techy stuff beside guitar, bass & drums maybe. The audience aren't phased though and greet the successful start of the show with a resounding cheer. Similar to the Ghostpoet set elements of the band's work that aren't readily obvious on their records come to the fore here, particularly the drumming and therefore the danceability of many songs.

The stage here isn't maybe quite large enough to give full rein to the projections they employ and the Sputnik-like model they have sticking out of the back wall ends up looking rather more Carry On than was probably intended but, for a bunch of guys looking like runners up in a Dr. Who impersonation contest, this is a seriously enjoyable show, not least for their Speak & Spell-like take on the fact they're playing Butlin's in Bognor.

The final act on the main stage tonight is another old hand whose earlier work is where my familiarity lies. Johnny Marr's done the guitarist-for-hire bit for a few years now but with the release of The Messenger and last year's Playland he's back taking centre stage as both singer and guitarist. The latter of those jobs is a sight that anyone with a love of top class guitar playing should make a point of seeing at least once, both in terms of ability and the way in which the instrument is dealt with as if it were a part of Marr himself. However, as with a couple of other performances I seem to be at odds with the bulk of the crowd as the kind of dad rock of 'New Town Velocity' and other songs saps my energy rather than leaving me wanting more. A trip back to see PSB finds them doing a slow number and so, lacking the will to stay up until possibly 2am to see Teeth Of The Sea again (assuming my calculations of the earlier delays are correct) I slink off to bed.

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