Liverpool Sound City 2009

Various venues, Liverpool – May 20-23 2009

These city-based festivals are becoming more popular of late. An interesting innovation, but they just aint like the usual field-based variety. It’s impossible to ‘lose yourself’ in the atmosphere when you have to traverse a city, go back to a hotel or home, constantly cross roads and non-festival people and get in and out of all kinds of different venues all other things like that. So they always end up just feeling like a massive concentration of gigs in a short space of time that you couldn’t possibly see all of, leaving you knackered and still feeling like you’ve still missed so much.

Still, if you going to try anything like this in the UK, Liverpool is the place. Compact, easily navigable, and with a mood in its population somewhere between the sublime and the ridiculous, it’s the nearest you’ll get to a festival atmosphere in the middle of a city. Of course, as the organisers are keen to point out, this isn’t just a series of gigs, as there’s all kinds of talks and debates and blah blah blah. But we’ll leave the ‘industry’ machinations to those with their noses more firmly in the trough. EMI, NME, BPI and BBC may be imploding, but there will always be music and who-da-fuck cares how we ingest it.

So many bands, so let’s just pick out some highlights you might have missed. Headlining Static on the Thursday we have Wave Machines (pictured), Liverpool’s best little-known band. There, I’ve said it. Three of them share vocal duties and make sometimes epic, sometimes delicate songs with a mixture of unsanded jangly guitar, taut rhythms and deft keys. Most of their output is instantly catchy and sticks in the mind long after. They’re lo-fi much of the time, but unafraid to go for the oomph occasionally, and recent single ‘Keep the Lights On’ is almost Scissor Sisters in style. They end on the sweet and catchy ‘Punk Spirit’.

Maps, Northampton-based musician James Chapman, first caught our attention with the laconic indie electronics of 2007 debut ‘We Can Create’. He must be keen to get promoting that second album though, as Maps come on in Static well early. The second surprise of the night is their ‘new sound’, less dreamy keys and more hard-edged beats. This change of direction was signaled by recent single ‘Let Go Of The Fear’, and judging by this show that certainly isn’t a one off. We’re more bemused than anything, having signed up for a chilled-out rumination not a hepped-up semi-rave. Still, Maps have not settled for standing still and have ramped up their sound with ease. We can’t wait to hear what the album sounds like.

In the basement of Monochrome, one of the city’s newest venues, we find where Clinic has been buried. A cult success worldwide, they’re still little known in their hometown of Liverpool. They still play in the masks and surgical suits they’ve had since ‘IPC Subeditors Dictate Our Youth’ was made NME Single of the Week back in the mists of time when that was important. And, indeed, behind the masks they continue to produce the same uncanny funk, esoteric grooves and odd vibes. They take us down dark and interesting avenues and keep us dancing on the edge to how those grooves will shift. But those interesting avenues remain side roads and those edges merely kerbs a few inches off the ground. Which is probably why, despite their originality that they stay out of the mainstream.

A few gems in a fine city. This show can stay.

By Kenn Taylor

Sound City 2008: Hadouken! Crystal Castles, Does It Offend You, Yeah?

Liverpool Carling Academy

Tuesday 27th May 2008.

By Kenn Taylor

As they have a tendency to do, sections of the nation’s youth, influenced by the media and the never-ending angst of adolescence, have formed a new tribe with strange customs based on ancient alternative ways of life. The organisers of Liverpool’s Sound City event ‘SXSW without the sunshine’ have handily assembled some of the deities of the movement together in one place for our thorough examination. Tonight DiS descends into the Heart of Darkness, otherwise known as the Carling Academy, an errand boy send by a grocery clerk to collect the bill.

Your correspondent has heard rumours that these nu-ravers ritually commit suicide at the age of 18 by ingesting a glow stick, in order to avoid the corrupt and grey adult world. This we can’t confirm, though there are many strange activities in evidence, such as them grinding their teeth incessantly and sucking at the ‘NOT DRINKING WATER’ tap in the toilets like it is dispensing ambrosia. Welcome to the new society, it’s like Lord of the Flies but with a box of Shamen records instead of a pig’s head.

Does It Offend You, Yeah? are the first act we witness. The yeah says it all. Yeah, Yeah? YEAH! We don’t care what you think! We have come to pollute your sickening, simpering world with our big beat electro Chemical Brothers lite. There are no subtle nuances here. This is in your face party music for a new generation. If rave was society’s response to Thatcherism and de-industrialisation, then maybe this new version is its response to global warming, terrorism, American Imperialism and all that jarg. Big overwhelming things require big overwhelming responses, and Does It Offend You, Yeah? are not short of power and force. Unfortunately, they’re also all shoutyness and no actual heart, head or balls. They do show some skill and promise when they push things away from the band set up and into the realms of screaming disjointed electronica. If they’d only stop ramming the keyboards hard up your arse for five fucking minutes. Is not that offensive really guys; it’s bland and lacking in ideas.

We hang fire for Hadouken! another band for whom an in your face name, fuck you attitude and loud, simple sounds just isn’t brash enough. They’re also heavily into the use of the kind of colours that you normally only find in the ink reservoirs of highlighters. Musically we’d hazard a guess that they ‘listen to the same records’ as Does It Offend You, Yeah? It all feels glaringly similar live, big squeaky keyboard, rapid light beats and a few ‘Demo button’ sound effects. Hadouken! seem to have more to say though, possessing some easy-on-the-ear hip-hop phrasing that means they’re still just listenable when you’ve not drank more your own bodyweight in pissy Carling. The love from Hadouken’s fans seems more intense than for the other bands, and the dancing more frenzied, though they could all just be coming up at the same time. On pissy Carling of course.

“We are the wasted youth/We are the future” Hadouken! sing and it’s true. There is few from the industry at this event, few people over twenty in fact. The audience consists mostly of nice boys and girls from the suburbs. The ‘music biz’ are no doubt drinking to their health and watching some avant-garde nonsense elsewhere, dismissing this line up though they’d all be out of a job without it. And as they lig, the youth as ever give you hope. For there is much spirit and spunk in this music, and we’re going to need it in the future. But with our old heads we’re prompted to think, do they know their history? Do they care? Will they save us? Or will David Cameron ride into office with a thin strip of pink day-glo paint just underneath his left eye?

We descend the ‘suicide staircase’ into the depths of the Academy 2 to see Crystal Castles. A nu-rave band? We doubt it. There’s no ramming a keyboard up your arse here. More like force feeding you crunched up game-cartridge PCBs and pushing your face through the monitor-screen glass.  If Hadouken! are Super Mario, then this is some twisted little game put together in darkness by a disaffected GTA4 programmer in the early hours of the morning as a distraction from his incurable insomnia, a game that, once begun, has no end.  DiS no longer stands by maintaining a slight ironic distance. We jump headlong into the black. There’s no day-glo paint here, just intense white lights and that pocket rocket Alice Glass, who adds a violent humanity to Ethan Kath’s machine utterings. There’s a different atmosphere here than with the other bands, people are dancing on a more intense individual level. The other nu-rave acts seem to be about mindless but fun collective celebration, whereas Crystal Castles prompt more extreme, indefinable self-expression. This is not the finest performance of there’s we’ve seen, but after a slightly underwhelming debut album, Crystal Castles remind us of the possibilities of live electro music. Liverpool rave on.

By Kenn Taylor

The Last Ever Munkyfest 2006

Kinglsey, nr Frodsham, Cheshire.

In a little known corner of North West England, surrounded by rolling fields and the towering chimneys of chemical works there is a farm and on that farm is the Lord and protector of all DIY music festivals. Beginning 8 years ago in someone’s back garden it now reaches its pinnacle. But alas, it is also the last ever Munkyfest.

Musical fun on the two hotch-potch stages varies from Honey, Ride Me A Goat’s concentrated, confused and gripping jazzrock in aprons, Get Chevyed’s Yank, infected, Scouse tinged jokepunk that bounces about beer bongs and the Jamaican bobsleigh team, the duo of National School who play squeaky keyed witty genius and Dave from Stoke doing a 40 minute drum solo which is actually REALLY FUCKING GOOD.

We lose the ‘Musical Bingo’ – ah if only ‘Ebenezer Goode’ had come up we could have won a DVD about Margaret Thatcher. But no matter, as we sit on a tractor tyre and watch people mingle over Crepes and booze and football a local brass band play the theme from the A-Team and all is good in the world.

Voo play a sadly shortened set, but their knack for powerful harmonic grooves is still evident. Gareth S. Brown fills proceedings as day turns to night with some majestic ambient sounds before Hot Club De Paris pull us up and down on their mad lyrics, madder time signatures. All finished off by the last ever gig by polished pop punks Tokyo Adventures.

There’s time left for more drink and a shuffle in the rave tent before we sit by the dying embers of the crackling camp fire and think. Munkyfest is no more but we’ve seen the light. Go forth, set up your own music festival in your own town. It will be good.

By Kenn Taylor

Accelerator Festival 2007

Stockholm University, Sweden

There is a country and in that country there is an archipelago and in that archipelago there is a city and in that city there is a university and on its pleasant grounds The Fly is mashing its already tired bones in a frantic attempt to ride The Gossip’s groove. Those behind this small but oh-so-perfectly-formed festival have seemingly rounded up three-quarters of all interesting alternative acts in the world onto this compact site. We move with ease from the five horsemen of the rockapalpyse that is Modest Mouse and the scratchy, soulful layers of TV On The Radio to the weird Welsh wonder of Gruff Rhys, and much more besides. Our only hesitation in recommendation is that there may be less room for us next year.

By Kenn Taylor

Beat Herder 2008

Sawley, near Clitheroe, east Lancashire

Out high in the northern Pennines, between farms and mills towns, where life is hard, men are men and women are women, lays the Beat Herder, where men are women, women are cows and cows aren’t sacred.

Despite our foreign dress, we’re welcomed, and the locals show us the many delights of this isolated pagan settlement. There’s jerk chicken, THE Lancashire Hot Pots, living rooms in tunnels, Can-Can girls, the hardest of drum and bass and Dewsbury’s finest cabaret singer. By the fall of night we go walking in the wild wood, where we find their temple. The children watch us as we disappear into the flurry of beats and watch through ominous trees the sky turn from red to black to blue and, as the birds start to sing, we run, freed at last from the head-down mentality of the city. We worry the sheep, but there’s not need to be worried. Jeff is with us, and there’s no turning back.

By Kenn Taylor

Liverpool Music Week 2008

30th October-6th November

This is the fifth Liverpool Music Week and the biggest yet. It’s the UK’s largest winter music festival and one of the biggest events in the city’s musical calendar.

Since it began in 2003 as a Merseyside answer to Manchester’s In The City music business showcase, the event has changed it’s spots every year, but has grown consistently in both size and the profile of its headline acts, though the event still puts on a large amount of local talent.

Suitably on the opening night, the first act we catch in the chilly confines of Nation, a venue more used to housing 3,000 sweaty clubbers than a few hundred grimacing indie fans, are The Seal Cub Clubbing Club. Over the last couple of years, this band have consistently been one of the most original and exciting of Merseyside acts, but have so far failed to make that leap into the popular consciousness.

Their music is based around intense and multi-layered soundscapes and frontman Nik Glover’s atmospheric vocals, all tinged with an element of pop. This is the first time we’ve seen them for a while, and there seems to be a renewed sense of purpose in the band tonight though and they play with a whole new level of tightness and vigor, pushing the experimental aspects of their sound even further. Hopefully the new, improved Seal Cubs will find the audience they deserve soon.

Post Seal Cubs, The Fall, emerge, minus Mark E. Smith, all looking fresh-faced and young – unlike their boss. Despite the lack of Marky, we’re straight into classic Fall mode: dark, twisted and funky.

Smith eventually enters stage right and casts a beady eye over the audience before shifting into his unique vocal style. Like with the Seal Cubs, the Fall’s music is all about the feel that they give off, vibrations that get deep inside you and lead you to somewhere between the sublime and the ridiculous.

Other Fall fans have informed us that a gig with these guys is either going to be one of the best or worst shows we’ll ever see. Well, tonight, E. Smith, wearing something resembling a grin, is on form. He manages to convey this despite the fact that he’s clearly fucked off his face and greatly resembles the mad old man on the bus who makes you nervous when he whispers in your ear.

But despite this, Mark E. Smith conquers this night by doing what he does best – putting an unintelligible world to rights, unintelligibly. Encore? What do you think?

We’re out again on the next day for Goldfrapp at Liverpool University and, suitably for Halloween night, the soundtrack from The Wicker Man is playing as they emerge, dressed as druids, save of course for Alison Goldfrapp herself, decked out in her usual extravagance.

On arrival, she asks the crowd to desist in any flash photography, as it’s ‘distracting’. Most punters take her advice, but the odd flashgun still goes off and two songs in, we only get a few bars into ‘A&E’ before, apparently angered by the continued flash, Ms Goldfrapp storms off the stage in a huff.

As might be expected there’s a lot of dissent in the ranks, and bitter murmuring as people contemplate that a show they have just paid £22.50 plus booking fee to see might be over after less than two songs. A few minutes later though, one of the band emerges and announces that they’re going to come back on, but will leave again if there’s anymore flashing. As Alison et al return to the stage, the majority of sound coming from the audience isn’t relived cheering, but dissatisfied murmurs and booing. Goldfrapp have got to do a lot of work to win this crowd back.

Once the music starts up again though, things quickly start to look up and the murmurs die down as ‘U Never Know’ kicks in. We quickly fall for Goldfrapp’s unique style; disco with depth, glam with a dark underbelly, and their great knack for shifting quickly from throbbing songs that make you grind to delicate and multi-layered songs like ‘Little Bird’.

We tease and encore and, as the whole shebang ends of a thundering ‘Sex Machine’, the earlier incident is forgiven. Maybe you can get way with being a diva in this town, but only if you deliver the goods.

Having been felled by illness, it’s the following Wednesday before we can sample Music Week events again, but we’re back out at one of the free all-evening events featuring local and up-and-coming bands that has always been the core of Music Week.

Unfortunately, some of the city’s best bands have had to pull out of tonight’s proceedings at the last minute, all struck down apparently by a similar condition being bravely fought by yours truly, but we do have Voo, who’ve been plying their stirring jangle around the city for a few years. Influenced by the likes of Guided by Voices, they make heart tugging but dynamic pop music that is both joyous and sad in equal measure.

Next up is a lad called Hackney Carriages, who looks to be another one of those MacBook troubadours in the same vein as Patrick Wolf and Get Cape.Wear Cape. Fly. His lyrics are more G.C.S.E than Sixth Form and his overloud computer backing tracks are creative rather than good, but he’s pretty, emotional and wrapped in a plaid-shirt, so no doubt he’ll find an audience.

In the next room, The Down and Outs do a good impression of an American-pop punk act, somewhere between Dropkick Murphy’s and Less than Jake. All good clean unpretentious fun, but after the umpteenth song that sounds exactly like the last one, we disengage our attention.

Back in the backroom are Dananananackroyd bright young things who ignite straightaway and keep on burning with little let up throughout their whole set. Playing with mind-grabbing volume and effort, they have enough bounce and visceral power to hold you attention for a long time, and a fair amount of audience interaction keeps everyone on their toes. It’s their sheer enthusiasm that keeps them going, but they have an edge of depth in there as well.

goFaster >>are another local band also apparently also hit by illness tonight, but they solider on. Based around an infectious keyboard-pop assault and local-dialect lyrics, they’re like Mates of State on cheap Scouse speed. They hold their own despite being obviously subdued, but weren’t at their best tonight.

Johnny Foreigner share what a lot of tonight’s bands have – enthusiasm and oomph – but they’re just not as good as Dan Ack. More dynamic perhaps, but there’s less feeling and consequently they’re less overpowering. Overall this year seems to lack some of the bustle of previous Music Weeks, and we feel that the larger amount of headline acts have spilt the crowd somewhat from just hanging around in a venue and seeing who might turn up, which has been key to the fun of Music Week in previous years. As JF grind to a halt though, things end on something of a high, and it seems there’s hope yet for next year’s week of music.

By Kenn Taylor

Swn Fest 2008

Various venues, Cardiff 15th/16th November

That’s pronounced something like ‘Swoon’ by the way, if you come from the land of double-height road signs that is. That’s right readers, The Fly has headed down to Cardiff to check out the second year of Huw Stephen’s very own Swn music festival held in his hometown and dedicated to the best in new music, especially that from Wales itself.

Having trekked from THE NORTH it’s Saturday before we make it down to catch the festival, but we throw ourselves straight into the city and it’s sound. We head up past the Reflex’s and Subway’s that epitomise what is it  is to be British and come across something strange an unusual, a big bloody castle, right in the middle of town. We’re impressed, and handily right next door is Cardiff’s very own Barfly.

The first people we catch on entry are Broken Records, who play (Melo) dramatic indie rock pop. It’s mostly good, but every now and then they ramp themselves up a little too much and turn into a Killers pastiche. Stick to your roots lads, it’s always best when it’s real passion.

Next on Amazing Baby are from Brooklyn and mates with MGMT apparently. Though they have an electronic element they’re quite different from their friends and initially have a rather unconvincing Stone Roses vibe. As we go along though, they hit a darker, deeper groove and we’re a little moved. One to watch, maybe.

Queues bar us from the infamous Club Ifor Bach we so hoped and we have to make do with the delights of the local indie discos above the pub at Dempsey’s and Barfly

Saturday, and having also sampled the delights of a chain hotel on an industrial estate, we’re back at Barfly for Friends Electric. There’s an obvious Gary Numan influence on the name there. They begin with fairly mediocre indie, but start to slip in those electronics and things get a little better. There’s a touch of new rave about them but they have more subtly and that can only be a good thing.

Skipping to the Buffalo, a lovely little bar off Queen Street, we get the classy delicate folk of Pete Greenwood before we head back to Barfly to catch Picture Books in Winter. It’s a name that sounds like you put emo+twee into a computer and asked it for an answer. Despite this, we enamoured by their stomp, which combined with quality guitar work, some jig-style violin and the passionate vocals of the frontman add up to something that is possibly our fave act of the festival.

Tubelord follow them with gusto. They make a lot of noise for three people and, throwing themselves into the crowd, they nicely wake up a subdued Sunday audience. They seem to owe their melodies somewhat to Hot Club de Paris but with less wit, but they make up for that in dynamism and sheer force.

Once again we walk up Queen Street to the Buffalo and we switch from the bright young things which dominate this festival to John Head, one of the brothers from seminal Liverpool band, Shack. John carries an air of having seen much and, armed with just his voice and acoustic guitar, plays plaintive but beautiful songs of hope, regret and most of all, experience. It’s some of the most moving music of the festival.

We venture out of town to the shiny regeneration land of Cardiff Bay, and into the cool converted church venue that is The Point and we’re soon greeted by a show from Newport’s finest, Goldie Looking Chain. Some would have them down as a joke act and, while they’re not Bon Iver, with their re-appropriated beats and witty lyrics, they say a lot more about life in the UK than a thousand whiny indie bands could do. Crucially, they’re also really fucking funny. We question whether we’re drunk enough for this sort of thing but it’s fun and riveting and we are clapping along by the end.

Genod Droog are the last band on. They’re a welsh hip-hop act, but unlike the last act they peform in welsh, they’re passionate, and have a dark edge. Unhinged, mesmerising and loud, the group is made up of two lads in hip-hop gear, two geekyish guitarists and a woman, all steaming drunk. . It’s strikes us that might be something uniquely Welsh and we’re sad to hear it is their farewell gig.

Rob da Bank graces us with his DJing and then the carnival starts. Stiltwalkers, big lasses doing mad disco dancing on stage,  ballons, fancy dress and general decadence. Sportsday Megaphone interrupt the records with their music, they have nice line in urban alienation euro electro srock, but we’re more interested in dancing by this stage.

We’ve had a good time in Cardiff and this is a suitable ending. There has, as always, been plenty of chaff and only a small amount of wheat, but that is good enough for use, especially when combined with Cardiff’s unique charms and party atmosphere but having been to a lot of these urban music events, we can’t help thinking that the fundamental flaw of having so many bands on in such a short space of tine, when people are constrained to a place like at a real festival, is that fatigue inevitably sets in and you don’t see all that you could do. Either that or we’re just getting old.

Now, if we’ve learned one thing from Cardiff that we’d like to pass onto you dear readers, it is that the best place to get your brains, is in the goat major. Farewell.

By Kenn Taylor

Liverpool Music Week 2005

Condensed damned shebang: 9 days, 8 venues, 150 performances, top hats, Norwegians, a free buffet, all in the city which gave the world Sonia. Still, singer Magz slides from sweet to samba and back again before some matching aprons and thrash metal on piano-accordion from a.P.A.t.T, and the apocalyptic, entertaining damnation of Multi Purpose Chemical.  The V.C.s demonstrate excellent ElectroSurfRock and we’re treated to muthafucking-brilliant jerky punkage from 28 Costumes. Ambulance make a lot of noise – mostly long winded and pretentious –  while Lovecraft sing of trees falling in love with each other. Former Miss America’s synth-folk veers between brilliance and blandness and The Silhouettes party like its 1969.  Scouse. Future. Bang.

By Kenn Taylor

Bestival 2009

Robin Island Country Park, Isle of Wight

11-13th September 2009

There aren’t many festivals that you need to get a ferry to, but Bestival is one of them, and it’s a really pleasant way to arrive at the beautiful bays and rolling hills of the Isle of Wight.

Conceived as a ‘boutique’ event by Rob da Bank and his wife Josie, Bestival has grown year-on-year from its inception in 2004 to reach its current 40,000 capacity.

Despite this, the event still manages to maintain a homely feel, and this combined with a line up filled with big name acts makes it fairly unique.

You can’t organise the weather, but this year it couldn’t have been better, and we are blessed with sunshine and warm breezes for almost the whole of the festival.

You can plan the line-up though, and one of the masterstrokes of this festival is its realistic, audience-orientated programming. Friday night, when the audience are at their most up-for-it, has perhaps the strongest line-up, and The Fly finds itself running from stage to stage to cram it all in.

Wave Machines are a great upcoming act that we catch on small stage. Armed with masks and a collection of songs that manage to be rhythmic, ethereal and accessible, we have no hesitation in predicting that they will go far.

Other Friday highlights include Florence and the Machine, who wow us with great stage presence, though they don’t seem yet to have enough tunes to be playing in the festival slots that they’ve got. Then there’s Massive Attack. It takes them a few songs to get into it, and for the audience to get into them, but when tunes like ‘Teardrop’, ‘Risingson’, ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ come out, they’re nothing short of breathtaking.

Less impressive however, are MGMT. An act that should be a top festival band, they seem totally spent, suffering from some of the worst sound of the event and, despite their lavish costumes, lacking any sort of presence on stage.

The sound on the main stage was a major niggle though throughout the whole of Bestival. I’m sure there’s a good logistical reason for having the stage at the top of the valley, but as anyone who knows anything about acoustics will tell you, that’s not brilliant for live sound, especially on a windy, exposed island.

Saturday is fancy dress day. This year’s theme was ‘Space Oddity’. The Fly wears a fetching Disco Ball hat, but is easily outclassed by a myriad of other festival goers ranging from Button Moon to the Beastie Boys.

It’s great to watch everyone dressed up and chilling in the sun, and as with all festivals, it’s really the stuff that happens around the music that makes it a great experience. Despite the homely and ‘quality’ feel to Bestival, such as gourmet curries rather than rat burgers, the festival is still lively. That said, if the intensity and madness of Leeds or T in the Park is more your thing, it may seem a little tame.

Saturday appears to have been programmed with dance/party in mind. Returning to the music, Klaxons end their four years of touring promising “a new Klaxons” on their return. They’ve survived the ‘nu-rave’ bollocks and here at Bestival prove that they have great skill in creating overwhelming dance-pop that can ignite a big crowd.

They warm up well for Kraftwerk, who proceed quickly to cool things down. Clinical as ever on stage, but this is easily made up for by the visuals and those songs which, even putting their influence aside, are nothing short of brilliant.

As you’d expect from an event organised by a DJ, there are some great sets on offer too. Annie Mac Presents…a very sweaty tent featuring Toddla T and Erol Alkan amongst others and some very good vibes. Robbie himself DJs on several occasions, including a classics’ set he plays from his very own pod made out of an old jet engine that shoots flame up into the air. It’s eyebrow singeing but good.

Sunday meanwhile, seems geared up for relaxation and reflection after all that action. We sample some more of the different festival delights that Bestival does so well, including high tea and entertainment with Time for Tease Burlesque. Something of a trend recently, Burlesque has suffered at the hands of a lot of poor amateurs, but these girls show how it should be done, and you get tiny cakes and tea along with it to boot!

Mancs’ Doves and Elbow, with their rhythmic melancholy and jovial stage presence, are brilliant acts to finish the final day with. But for those with a party left in them there are still samba bands and a Carl Cox old skool set going on into the night. We, however, retire to our tent very satisfied with this event.

Leaving on Monday however, is not so nice. There are massive gridlocks at both the camp exit and the ferry terminal. There’s also poor management of the crowds, with little information given and, at the ferry terminal in particular, large numbers of people hemmed in with no way of getting out for water or the toilet. Bestival is a great, but it seems as if the event and the Isle of Wight just can’t cope with the amount of people that now want to attend it. If they want to retain the special feeling at Bestival, the organisers need to think about either limiting the numbers next year, or moving to a bigger site because, if not, they risk losing the great thing that they have created.

By Kenn Taylor

Roskilde Festival 2006

Roskilde, Denmark

Maybe it’s the frenzy watching the fractured crystal disco of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or hearing 200 – the Faroe Islands answer to Dead Kennedys. Perhaps it’s Sigur Ros filling our hearts till they almost burst or wandering across the common with good tunes and people coming at us from all sides. Though it could be dancing to Northern Soul in a sand-filled barn at 2am. We’re not sure when, but at some point it strikes us: this is how it should be done.

Once a year, the fine city of Roskilde is invaded for a music party with all the profits going to charidee. The fun begins with the ‘pre-festival’ several days before the main shebang. Danish acts provide the tunes and other thrills include skating, swimming and drinking too much reasonably priced lager. As the big bands roll in, the weather shifts to head-cooking heat, while music wise there really is summat for everyone. From the witty spits and beats of Lady Sovereign to the Gypsy-punk jiggery of Gogol Bordello, the Lo-Fi, doom-Blues of Silver Jews, the ferocious grinds and scratches of Coldcut, and the fast and loose discolicks of Franz Ferdinand. England go out of the World Cup, but with an atmosphere like this who cares.

Roskilde is about top music and great times, not making a fast buck and it shows – even the security shakes their booty. As the sun sets on a great festival, Infadels keep the last loons standing with their anthemic Trance Punk as The Fly hits the road with sounds ringing in our ears and the smell of urine in our nostrils. It’s been a good week.

By Kenn Taylor