Monday, May 29, 2006

Soundstation Festival

For the bank holiday weekend, the choices were A) Gay Pride or B) Soundstation Festival. I went to Gay pride last year and didn't enjoy it too much compared to some other similar themed events I've been to. It seemed more like Chav Pride than Gay Pride. My friend Tom (new Tom for those of you keeping track) had told me about Soundstation and I had only heard of one artist but after checking out who else was playing and liking some of the sounds I decided to go. Bri and her mom and aunt (who were visiting) and my friend Martyn and his mate Jason all ended up going as well. I went with Martyn and Jason, which meant there was a couple pub stops before we made it in to the festival.

Three pints of Guinness later. . .We found our way to the festival and the six of us met up with Tom and his sister briefly as they headed for the BLive tent- where all the DJs were playing and we stuck around to see what was happening on the main stage. So, I am not even going to bother listing these bands that played at the beginning of the day because they all sucked. They were all pop-alternative, claiming to be indie, teenie-bopper bands (including that Boy Kill Boy crap!). The festival was not marketed very well at all, I only heard about through Tom and the rest of our group heard about from me at the last minute. It was supposed to be this great eclectic mix of indie/alternative and DJs and I guess, eventually it was. After putting up with the crap bands in the main stage for a while I joined Tom and his sister in the BLive tent and Martyn, Jason and Bri eventually joined me. Bri's family wasn’t feeling it at all so they headed home early. As the day went on the music gradually got better. I made it back with Bri to the main stage for the Guillemots and ended up standing through Boy Kill Boy. . .then Martyn and Jason left after that performance.

Finally, the Guillemots came on and they were fabulous! I had only heard of them because of this festival. I looked them up when trying to decide whether to go or not and was intrigued by their website. I did a bit of research and bought their album and loved it so much I knew most of the words by the time I saw them live. They were energetic, unique, and melodic. The repertoire included organ/piano, stand up bass, percussion, various horn instruments and a typewriter. I would strongly recommend checking them out if you get a chance.

It got mighty cold as the evening grew dark and we headed back to the DJ tent to hear Mr. Scruff and warm up a bit. Another artist I did not know much about before I heard about this festival but bought an album of his soon after I did. He played the crowd wonderfully with some basic animation and conversation on the screen with the audience. As you all know, I am not and never was into raves, trance music and a lot of drum and bass, but you can't help be exposed to more of it here in the UK (it's much more popular here than it ever was in the States) and I have started to like the more melodic attempts at spinning something old into something new. Mr. Scruff does a good job of this, creating an eclectic funk, jazzy, electronic sound.

We left Mr. Scruff, reluctantly early so we could catch all of Graham Coxon, the one artist we all actually knew. He was the guitarist in Blur but has been flying solo for sometime now. He capped off the night nicely and with him and the other two performances mentioned made the 25GBP worth it. Graham Coxon is kind of on the smallish side and not your typical rocker, but he's got that dorkish cute quality that I like in some guys (with the added bonus of the thick rimmed glasses). His appearance gives way to a phenomenal guitar sound, good lyrics and a very entertaining performance. I guess he actually played his guitar with his teeth but I think I was in the port-a-loo when that happened.

So, it may have started off bad and they definitely need to do some work if Soundstation is to come back strong next year, but the later afternoon and night made it all worthwhile!

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