South London’s vibrant music scene has in recent years become synonymous with mind-boggling experimentation and unmatched talent. Bands such as Fat White Family, Shame, Goat girl, and Midi black have found their marks in the places of Brixton, gaining places like the cult status of the Windmill as centers of chaos and innovation. Today the scene has taken it up a notch, with the first-ever Wide Awake Festival taking place in Brockwell Park to showcase the large number of extraordinary artists that South London and the UK as a whole have to. to offer.
Combining the most exciting parts of the British alternative scene, and with stages staged by the famous Windmill and Moth Club venues as well as So Young Magazine, Wide Awake has hosted an impressive roster of bands, many of whom are associated with the revered Speedy. Wunderground label (AVP, Squid, and Black country, new road to only cite a few). We headed over to the brand new festival to see what it was about.
As SLOW MOTION‘The rowdy lunch hour ended on the Windmill Stage, Brighton’s Boiled radio took the smaller scene from Bad Vibrations. They opened with ‘Give / Take’, singer Dana watching the crowd grow as she sang the biting chorus “How can I say no without sounding like a little bitch?” The song ended and a look of relieved gratitude passed over Dana’s face. “It’s so nice to play at festivals again,” she said with a shy smile, before the familiar “Circling” opening synths kicked in.
The band mainly performed tracks from their Mercury-nominated second album. Every bad – an album that, for obvious reasons, they can only now play in front of a live audience. Dana spoke each word with intensity, watching the crowd, and her bandmates filled with insane energy as the set progressed. They ended on “Sweet” and Dana appeared in her element as she relaxed in the moment. “She’ll love me when she meets me,” she repeated, with a playful glint in her eyes.
Exploding on the So Young stage in the early evening, Lynks delivered a set of infectious energy that ended up being one of the highlight of the festival. There’s really no one like Lynks: Dressed in neon green from head to toe and flanked by three leather-clad dancers, they circled the stage nonstop for an hour, performing every song with overwhelming confidence. The crowd got involved from the start, chanting the chorus to “Everyone’s Hot (And I’m Not),” and Lynks expressed their glee: “This is only the second song and I’m having the best time already! ‘
If there was someone still still during the first few songs, it didn’t last long. Lynks’ indulgent and catchy cover ‘Pedestrian At Best’ Courtney barnett song, made everyone bounce in the tent. The atmosphere was electric. “Since this is a post-punk festival, I thought we should all do a choreographed dance routine,” they said sarcastically, teaching each a short sequence of movements before jumping into ” On Trend ”. Towards the end of the set, Lynks brought Shame frontman Charlie Steen on stage, and the duo performed “This Is The Hit” in perfect unison, Steen hitting every dance move without a hint of hesitation as the crowd encouraged him. They closed with ‘Str8 Acting’, and it was as if the crowd could happily enjoy an extra five hours of their music. It was a triumph of a show that set the precedent for the rest of the evening.
Black country, new road
Of all the acts of Wide Awake programming, Black country, new road were without a doubt one of the most anticipated. For such a new group, the seven musicians have built an indomitable reputation for themselves, remaining elusive and unpredictable even with (and arguably aided by) the release of their debut album. For the first time at the start of this year. They took the stage just as the sun was starting to drop across the sky, casting a golden glow over the festival that complemented their set so perfectly it seemed orchestrated. Beginning with ‘Instrumental’, the opening track on For the first time, BC, NR drew a crowd.
The set continued with ‘Science Fair’, saxophonist Lewis Evans delivering a magnificent mid-way solo. The band then performed a new, more moving track, with the festival vibe changing as everyone let themselves be swept away by the music. ‘Track X’ was one of the highlights of Black Country, the New Road set; the sounds mixed seamlessly as the sun receded behind the stage. The group showed off their technical skills in ‘Opus’, before ending up on the unreleased ‘Basketball Shoes’. Interestingly, they chose not to play any of their better-known singles, “Sunglasses” and “Athens, France”, instead favoring more recent tracks. Typical BC, NR: never bend over the crowd but do things completely on their own terms and push their own musical boundaries in the process.
Midi black never just come in, play their songs and leave. When they performed at the Green Man Festival, they were joined by mimes for half their set. This time they were presented by a boxing announcer who woke the audience up and, in a grotesque American accent, shouted “Are you ready?” before the band took the stage, Geordie Greep looking like a Bugsy Malone character in his long coat. The crowd quickly descended into a maze of mosh pits, Black Midi providing a dizzying soundtrack as the shoes were tossed into the air and people collapsed in heaps to the floor.
With Morgan Simpson’s relentless drumming and Greep’s odd stage presence, their set was overwhelming for the senses, but it felt like that was exactly their goal. Black Midi doesn’t want to entertain their fans, they want to keep them on their toes, bombarding them with a frenzy of sounds without giving them a second to breathe. As a result, the whole sounded like one long, continuous progressive rock song. The group members seemed to communicate in their own unintelligible language throughout, which only added to their existing mystique. There’s no doubt about it: Black Midi is one of the best bands in the UK right now, and South London is in a class of its own when it comes to cultivating revolutionary new talent.