Last weekend saw the start of the festival season with an alternative music showcase in Norfolk – Play Fest. It’s a festival in its infancy and with a few niggles, but despite the slightly muddled nature of the event, the line-up was impressive with a good few local bands too. The audience was a little small for the stages at times and the layout a little strange, which meant there was not always that festival atmosphere – but despite, my criticisms of the festival, as music goes the organisers really had the right idea. All of the bands we saw put on great sets for the small but appreciative audience over the weekend.
Opening the main stage on Saturday were Rabo de Foguete an eleven piece band from Norwich, who played a mix of Brazilian/south American inspired music.. It was a great start to the day, with the use of multiple voices, guitar bass and cavaquinho as well as an array of drums. It was lively and striking set, with lead vocals of Marcus Patteson being particularly memorable. Despite their lively attempts they failed to bring out the sun during the ever increasingly grey day.
I have to congratulate Play Fest for selecting Olympians as the winner of their competition to play on the main stage. The band can be considered as anything from folk to electro and indie, with synth and guitars, and a bit of trumpet for flavour. They seemed to honestly enjoy playing, and it was great to see an upcoming band put on such and engaging and energetic show.
Foreign Language by Olympians
Another local band, ‘Empire’ formally known as ‘The Interpreters’, put on a similarly exciting set in the Big Top, offering the audience a selection of their ballad like tracks, discussing the topics of love and loss in a seemingly heartfelt way, without the usual cliques.
While both The Kabeedies and Club Smith performed to their usual brilliance, it was the energy of Max Raptor that really began to enliven the festival atmosphere. The four piece midlands act, despite the small audience, threw themselves into their performance, screaming and chanting at the crowd in their usual punk-rock style. Lead singer Will Ray, at one stage, jumped into the tiny group huddled at the barrier and began chanting the chorus of one of the bands most rousing tracks and began passing the mic round. Honestly, I don’t think the band actually needed an audience there to perform as they did.
Max Raptor – The Great And The Good by Cannonball_PR
As I now spend much of my time in Leeds it seemed appropriate to add Dinosaur Pile Up to my list of the best acts to catch – I wasn’t disappointed. As soon as the band came out (to find that the lights had stopped working) they demanded that the front of the stage was to be filled and as if from nowhere teenagers seemed to flock from all sides to create the largest single crowd of the day. The atmosphere at that point totally changed, and I finally began believing there was some life in the festival goers. The band worked the crowd well, and they in turn responded energetically to the band’s Ash-like style, chanting for their well-known tracks including ‘Mona Lisa’ and ‘My Rock n’ Roll’.
MONA LISA by DINOSAUR PILE-UP
As headliners go, Darwin Deez drew the biggest crowd of the evening. He performed a set with his unique style – a mix of the band playing and then dancing between tracks. It was lively, engaging and generally enjoyable, yet we wondered whether the dancing was actually to break-up the onslaught of annoyingly similarly sounding songs. Nevertheless the crowd were pleased by the performance, but perhaps a little disappointed by the band’s decision not to play their radio-friendly hit ‘Radar Detector’.
Darwin Deez – Bad Day by LuckyNumberMusic
Frank Turner came on around 10.30pm, by which time some of the large crowd had begun to disperse. It was the first time I had seen him play solo, last seeing him perform with his band at the Latitude festival last year. The slimmed down set was impressive, the artist being a master at crowd interaction. He played a mix of new and old tracks, with both unusually pleasing the crowd. I had yet to hear anything off his forthcoming album, and was generally impressed by the feeling of nostalgia the tracks seemed to hold. One track in particular, sung solo in an almost fable style, described the death of William Rufus in the New Forest. It was haunting and charming, the crowd seemed to stand in silence waiting for the next line. The highlight of the set had to be his cover of Queen’s ‘I want to break Free’. He claimed it was the greatest love song ever written and the crowd sung and swayed along with the performance. It was a truly great end to a slow starting, yet musically pleasing day.
Frank Turner – I Am Disappeared by Epitaph Records
[Photos courtesy of Andi Sapey]