Thursday, June 28, 2018

Live Review :: Bushstock Festival 2018 :: Various venues, London - June 23 2018


Bushstock Festival 2018

Various venues, Shepherd's Bush, London

June 23 2018

Reporting team: Elly Bailey, Izzy Butler

Pictures: As credits

It's a gloriously hot and sunny Saturday as thousands pour into Shepherd's Bush for Bushstock 2018. Six stages and over 40 artists covering folk to rock, it's all go for a day of musical delights.

Bushstock, now in it's eighth year, is a one-day music festival that takes place in the heart of the West London area, curated by Communion Music, and which has been the starting ground for some now huge artists such as George Ezra, Hozier and Bears Den.

The wide span of the festival was always likely to prove a problem, especially when artists either clashed or had very close set times. Due to some of the venues being situated so far apart, fans had to plan their schedule with precision if they wanted to see all their favourite acts, even if that meant cutting short seeing one band to make the journey to another. Nevertheless, the beautiful weather made it an acceptable trek through the area perhaps known predominantly for the Westfield shopping mall.

Maisie Peters

One of the early starters of the day was Maisie Peters at the Bush Theatre Library. With a queue already forming for the 18-year-old with a penchant for storytelling, those through the door saw her accompany herself on acoustic guitar with support from a keyboard player, delivering her set with a quiet assurance and absorbing vulnerability.

Stereo Honey (Andrew Watson)

Under a shower of umbrellas suspended overhead, almost 'locals' Stereo Honey played the open-air stage at The Courtyard. They have been consistently winning over crowds at their festival appearances this year, and they soon got the Bushstockers onside with their ebullient, yet thoughtfully conveyed set of songs that fans have come to know and love, like 'The Heart', 'The Bay', and you could almost hear the swoons when thinking person's heartthrob Pete Restrick, clad in loose-fitting tee with his guitar slung around his neck, poured out his beguiling voice on ‘What Makes A Man’.

Only The Poets (Elly Bailey)

Only The Poets (Elly Bailey)

Indie-pop quartet Only The Poets took to the stage in the packed out Defector’s Weld, their audience a younger crowd, who gazed in admiration as the boys dramatically walk on to a voiceover and launch straight into their first song, instantly getting the audience moving.

“How are we all doing, London, on this sweaty afternoon?” lead singer Tom asks the audience with a chuckle, as the Reading outfit manage to take an already hot venue and turn it up to boiling point with their performance. But the heat did not deter fans or band members from giving it their all during the set, and they finished on a high, yelling out "thank you" to the room before stumbling off into the sweaty masses.

Kyan (Elly Bailey)

Kyan, up next on the same stage, is a jazz/r&b musician whose use of synths and hip-hop beat added a modern twist to his music. His performance featured a complicated set-up of three keyboards connected to a laptop and he took great pleasure in swapping between each instrument, his immense musical talent shining through.

With a bit of research into the artist, it turns out that normally for live performances he has a backing band, but for this performance he was flying solo and without that research, there would have been no way to tell that this wasn’t how he normally did things. His smooth powerful voice quietened the mesmerized audience, and at the end of his set eagerly welcomed him back on for an encore!

Freya Ridings (Andrew Watson)

The acoustic surroundings of St Stephen's Church provides the right environment for the music of Freya Ridings; not least in that last year's debut album, 'Live at St Pancras Church', as the title implies, was also performed in an ecclesiastical setting, where she seems to excel. ‘You Mean The World To Me’ - dedicated to her mum - ‘Black Up’ and latest single 'Lost Without You' are executed in an alt-pop style with ethereal vocals, while seated behind a keyboard.

Sea Girls (Elly Bailey)

Back at Defectors Weld it was a capacity room for Sea Girls. Grinning from ear to ear with happiness at the size of the crowd that had filled out the room. “This is a very different setting to at All Points East,” people could be heard saying, very excited to see this band play in a much smaller setting.

Sea Girls (Elly Bailey)

It didn't take long for vocalist
Henry Camamile to leave his stage position and get up close and personal with the front rows. During 'Adored' he jumped down to walk through the crowd, before climbing up onto the bar, a very clever tactic to bring the audience closer together. He accepted a pint from the bartender and took a sip of it before getting back down and asking the audience, “are you going to jump?!” He let himself be thrown around in the crowd, whilst still singing and miraculously managing not to spill his pint. The band's upbeat indie-pop sound and songs like 'Call Me Out', 'Heavenly Ear' and 'Eat Me Wholw' caught the audience, who were singing back the words, making it very clear that Sea Girls are finding themselves a solid and very supportive fan base.

Paris Youth Foundation
 (Elly Bailey)

The Courtyard also played host to Liverpool's Paris Youth Foundation's set. All dressed in various shades of dark clothing, this band was definitely different from the previous ones seen that day. The heavier side of indie-rock, singer Kevin Potter sang effortlessly, his voice powerful and moody. Appearing to be in a world of his own, there was definitely a slight disconnect between the band and the audience, not helped by the fact the stage was so high up, compared to the little grassroots venues were others had been playing.

“Hope you enjoy Peace,” he says to the audience, revealing a rather charming Scouse accent, his blue eyes sparkling as together they started to take their gear off the stage.

Paris Youth Foundation 
(Elly Bailey)

At Bush Hall, London quartet Another Sky play a commanding set, obviously governed by their evocative new single ‘Avalanche', the dark ambience of debut single 'Forget Yourself' and ‘All That We Do Create' - enhanced by a stage lit only by spotlights, adding to the fluid electronic lines and rousing vocals they carry.

Peace (Elly Bailey)

Peace (Elly Bailey)

Peace, of course, were as amazing as one might expect them to be. Funny and charismatic, they filled out The Courtyard with thrift 14-song set, and got an entire audience dancing. Fans were treated to some of the band's biggest hits - from opener 'Money' to 'Lost On Me' - and the songs off their new album that you can’t help but move to, with 'You Don’t Walk Away From Love' being a particular favourite of everyone's. Definitely a change of pace going from seeing smaller, up and coming bands to seeing a band that had just played O2 Kentish Town, and they were definitely a perfect choice of headliner for the day.

Sam Fender (Andrew Watson)

It's been a good year so far for Sam Fender, whom Little Indie had previously caught down in Brighton at The Great Escape. His guitar-driven songs have seen him shortlisted for the BBC Sound of 2018; their easy style belying the often heavy subject matter from the political to the despair of small towns in the North, government surveillance, harassment, and youth punishments. 'Millennial', 'Take Me Home' and new single 'Leave First' all show the 21-year-old singer-songwriter's calibre.

AURORA (Izzy Butler)

One of the late evening top draws was at St Stephen's Church where Norwegian starlet AURORA entranced in floaty dress and magnetic stste presence that had fans in rammed pews eager for a better view. Fresh from Pinkpop festival in the Netherlands the week before, "This is my first time headlining a festival in the UK. Thank you all for coming," she said at one point, as she wove her magic around ‘Warrior’, 'Forgotten Love', 'Under The Water', 'Running With The Wolves' and a crowd requested ‘Through The Eyes Of A Child’.

Flyte (Elly Bailey)

Flyte closed out the night at Bush Hall, and what a lovely closer they were too. A band that label themselves as ‘alternative’, Flyte have gained a huge fan base over the past few years. Known for their more folky, acoustic sound and their beautiful voices, their set was a relaxed affair, charming the audience with their shy smiles. It was almost like they couldn’t believe how much people loved them, but how could you not when their breathtaking voices (especially heard through an a capella cover of 'Archie, Marry Me'), brought shivers to your skin.

And with that, Bushstock was over for another year. A day of perfect weather, and perfect music. Who could have asked for more.

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