Homespun Festival 2013 Saturday 13/07/2013
Sarah Quinn – GIGgle Pics
After attempts to put on a music festival in conjunction with the local council, Medway promoters decided to get together and do their own thing. What rose from the ashes of nothing, grew into something mighty, proving what can be achieved when lots of like minded people group together. Friday 12th and Saturday 13th July saw Homespun‘s first ever Medway independent festival and what a festival it was. Promoters Medway Eyes, Tea, Motherboy and Surburban Kings grouped together to organise an independent multi venue festival, with the Saturday holding bands/artists all day and evening across 8 different venues. What this meant was there was something for everyone and boy did they take advantage of it.
I headed out on an extremely hot and sticky Saturday morning in preparation for a very long day and evening packed full of awesome original music and upon arriving in Rochester town centre it certainly felt like a festival day. People wandering around with instruments strapped to their backs, others with the official Homespun planners in hand, cameras and general merriment. Glancing at my itinerary I noticed that the Guildhall Museum Chamber was the first venue of the day with an hour’s worth of music, so with a look at the map I took a wander up. Unfortunately however, when I got there I could find no indication of music so decided to head straight for the Singapora Lounge, Motherboy’s venue for the first band at 1.30 pm. Having a few bands on the line up that I play on my weekly radio show The GIGgle Pics Monday Mix-up on Federal Radio I wanted to see them live so knew I’d be staying here for a little while.
Line up for the day and evening: Sean Bean Death Scene – The Reactor Core Is Splendid – Frau Pouch – Philtrum – That Massive Bereavement – Sans Pareil – KILL RPNZL – Zombie Met Girl – Punching Swans – Pity Party – USA Nails – Whitedevilwhitedevil – Ice, Sea, Dead People – Honey Ride Me a Goat.
Heading out to the beer garden/court yard with a cold and refreshing Shandy (believe me it did not stay that way for long) I was delighted to see a marquee/tent sent up for the bands that overlapped outward. This meant that as long as you got in there early you would have some protection from the sun, two guesses where I headed?! Believe me, it didn’t make life any cooler but did provide some welcome shade.
Sean Bean Death Scene were the first band to hit the stage promptly at 1.30 pm and I was delighted to see Suzanne (one of the Motherboy team and drummer from Frau Pouch) was indeed the drummer in this band. An all female (girl power) 4 piece band consisting of a guitarist who played in a way I have never seen before in my life, strumming along the frets. Lovely clean vocals playing punk/rock and the last song ‘Declaration’ was just that in both delivery and lyrics. A pretty awesome start to the day!
The Reactor Core Is Splendid was something very different. Taking to the stage and a set of guitar/almost poetic songs and sound effects produced from various pedals ensued to much applause and some really strongly driven home messages. I have a CD so will be bringing some tracks on my radio show to the masses.
Frau Pouch up next and I now realize why the drummers for the day have an amazing fan pointed on them as Suzanne again takes a seat (lol seriously the drummers would have passed out without it). I’ve reviewed these guys before and they knocked out another awesome set of garage art punk, a particular brand I like very much. Belting out tracks such as the ‘Kitten Song’ to the delight of children present when the meows bellowed off stage and ‘Space Chicken’. A general theme of animals, monsters (‘Godzilla’), eating space dust and satellites ensued with passion and gusto. That in itself was valiant in the now searing heat of the day.
PHILTRUM and their brand of real Punk performed in true style, so true that they actually had to turn the set down in volume due to local complaints. This didn’t deter them at all and considering they had a stand in drummer, they really knocked everyone’s socks right off their feet (well they would have if anyone was wearing any). I would never have known that not only was this a stand in drummer but also his first ever gig, if the guys hadn’t told me. Another band I’ll be checking out again the future and a set I didn’t want to finish. I am lucky enough to have some of their music though and it’s well worth you doing the same.
That Massive Bereavement a Scuzzy garage-punk-grunge band and man did I enjoy this set. ’9 Toed Woman’ particularly stood out and appealed to me and I’m hoping the guys will record this one so I can play it to you all. ‘It’s Son of McGyver’, ‘Snatch’ which they also entitled the ‘Whale Song’ due to the whale like noises produced on guitar. ‘Gorilla’ carried the theme and singing of Spiderman slippers in bedrooms and a monkey. Well I won’t give it away, go check them out. Their set produced the first dancing of the day and sadly it was time for me to move on to another venue.
However I did return to the Singapora briefly at 11 pm before heading home and caught a small part of the Honey Ride Me a Goat. Describing themselves as experimental jazz punk insanity from Medway, they certainly are a ‘noise’ band and I wish I could have stayed longer but after a few photo’s and a couple of songs it really was time for the long drive home, exhaustion setting in.
Lineup for the day: The Dredgermen – The Tonks – The Flying Isaccs – Mourning Birds – Black Lion Courtiers
Wanting to cover as much of the festival as is humanely possible, for one I next headed down to The Eagle Tavern, one because there were bands playing here that I specifically wanted to see and two because conveniently it was the next venue down the road. Wandering in from the now burning hot rays of the sun (not complaining here at all though, despite now being rather sweaty and flushed) I was greeted with a huge pub packed full of people, crowded around watching the band on stage playing. So nice to see genuine music fans gathered in such large numbers to watch original bands. I queued up and purchased my second Shandy of the day and squeezed my way through the crowds to see the band on stage.
The Flying Isaacs were already in full swing and I only managed to catch around 3 of their songs at the last of their afternoons set. However while taking a few quick snap shots (a few so as not to annoy the crowd to much) I couldn’t help but notice how infectious this band were. A really cool blend or Indie/Rock/Pop emanated from the stage and as soon as they stepped off I asked for some music. They thankfully fulfilled my request the very next day and I have to say how much I’ve enjoyed it!
Mourning Birds are a band I’ve seen before playing with Frau Pouch and Ragweed at the Motherboy gig and the surprise was they were minus their drummer. So this was a slightly different set/sound in an acoustic form but just as good and just as popular with the crowd. The same powerful tortured vocals in an alternative/blues/noise style came from the stage and I didn’t feel at all cheated by the absence of the drummer. Sometimes it’s nice to hear these bands in a stripped back way.
At this point I was seriously flagging and had to run out and grab something to eat. I was as fast as I could be and upon re-entering The Eagle Tavern I was pleasantly surprised to see some familiar faces. People were doing the same thing and making their way along the High Street to the various venues to see different bands and styles.
Black Lion Courtiers are an Indie Folk quintet from Medway and one that I’d been told to keep an eye out for. I would have done anyway as I’ve played them on the radio show and also had their music reviewed by one of the team. I’m glad I made it back to see them though, only missing about 1 or 2 songs. The addition of a violin is always a love of mine and the crowd agreed. Playing to a packed out pub, vigorous clapping in time to the music ensued and an infectious toe tapping ensemble of songs floated around the venue. Sigh, this was a really lovely set.
The Black Lion Courtiers heralded the last of the live music for The Eagle Tavern so it was time to move on and cover the next venue. I’d checked the amazing printed clashfinder I’d been handed earlier in the day and noticed that there were a couple of bands playing at The Nags Head I wanted to catch. One of which was the amazing RoKoKo, having been given their debut album pre-release for review I knew that I liked this band a lot.
The lineup for the day and evening: Reavsey – Jack Cade – Didi Bergman – Chris Allen – The Chaundeliers – RoKoKo – The Only Sun – Balance Lost – Crybaby Special.
Not a venue I had ever been to before and this one was a little further down the high street, after the main junction. Wandering in I was presented with a friendly but stifling hot atmosphere and already a fair few packed into the smallish back bar. An unusual venue and layout with the stage area being a raised room knocked through but creating a large platform for the bands.
I managed to time it perfectly for in between bands and was therefore there for the very start of The Chaundeliers set. Describing themselves as a 60′s psychedelic punk band I’m not sure I completely agree with that self described genre but who am I to argue? Taking to the stage vocalist Fran Lal instantly captured my attention with his matrix board style belt buckle scrolling the band’s name over and over, although I felt slightly uncomfortable at the whole, staring at his crotch thing lol. Fast paced, galloping sounds filled the room with tales of love, cheating and its clear these lyrics are heartfelt and from experiences over the years. Raspy vocals and passionate delivery saw a tight set that was well received by all.
RoKoKo up next and their description of upbeat Indie is just that! Local band from Medway and I’ve had the pleasure of playing them on the radio and having their album reviewed (highly recommend it by the way!). We were treated to a pleasant surprise when the band switched it up a little and had the amazing Rory Bell (previously Wildfoul who has sadly now split) joined on stage for 2 songs with the keyboard/piano. This brought a new and rich sound and was vastly enjoyed. Unfortunately with the day running slightly over they had to cut their set but one song and played out with the awesome Hatty Days which involved a chant and audience participation proving how popular this bands music really is. Also they gave a shout out to GIGgle Pics, telling people to check us out and all we do on the scene which was immensely appreciated (and I promise not the reason for a glowing review lol). It does follow my Mutual Promo ethos though and makes the whole scene work so much better when everyone works together in promoting each other.
Time for the last venue change of the day having crammed in as much as possible and trying to give the entire festival as much coverage as I could (except for a quick pop back into the Singapora Lounge at 11 to say goodbyes and catch a little of their last band). I’d been lucky enough to have been given a wrist band for the paid venues to allow me to cover it all (huge thanks to Phil Dillon for that and to Suzanne Freeman for arranging it) so I headed a little way back up the road, off the main high street to the Billabong Club.
Exactly as its name suggests, this venue is indeed a club. A nice sized dance floor with a small corner stage, small bar and a sort of spectators area in the downstairs room. An area is partitioned off with glassed windows, a breakfast bar running in front of with high stools, I’m not entirely sure as to the purpose of but included in this area was also a pool table. The venue was to hold 3 acts at this paid gig and the first was already under way upon my arrival.
These Guilty Men were already full flow when I entered and after taking a couple of photographs I settled to listen to the beautiful set. Filled with intricate guitar overlays, structured and precise bass and heartfelt lyrics telling of ruling the world for his baby, Simon Bunyan delivered the songs with passion. The final song was dedicated to Gabby and featured heavy guitar instrumentals but still delivered with a really melodic voice. A shame I didn’t catch the entire set.
Lupen Crook moved to the stage after a brief interlude and really blew me away. Describing his genre as Broken Artist / Expressionism I have to say he delivered a set that I’ve never seen equalled in its style and delivery. At times the delivery was held back, Lupen obviously deliberately restricts his vocals at times and it adds a nice edge to his music. An acoustic guitar expertly played with outstanding vocals and tales of fighting to the death for his love. The passion and energy put into this acoustic set is astounding and Lupen almost appears tortured and manic at times but it is at the very heart of what he does. This is a guy you need to check out.
Gravenhurst came out to a now much fuller venue with many coming purely to see Nick Talbot’s performance. Describing himself as Indie in genre Gravenhurst is the work of singer-songwriter and producer Nick Talbot who currently resides in Bristol. Signed to Warp Records with two albums already released, the gathered crowd were stood around intently watching as the music started. A haunting beautiful set soared in magical waves from the small stage and the crowd instantly engaged and moved closer and closer to the source of the sound, as if being called too by an invisible force. Of course it was, the captivating and intricate guitar work and stunning melodic voice just pulled at peoples souls. I unfortunately had to leave after the rendition of The Ghost of St Paul from the new album that was released last year, but the magical notes floated around my mind as I strolled exhausted and content back up the high street. A fitting end of an amazing day!
I’m aware that this has become an epically proportioned article/write up/review of the day, but the very nature of this festival in itself required as such. Mention needed to go out to all that I saw and at this juncture I need to also mention the other amazing venues (The Crown, Gordon Hotel , Granville Arms and Ye Arrow) for also putting on a splendid day of original musical entertainment. I’m sorry I could not clone myself and get around to you all. The fact that this was the very first Homespun Festival is astonishing, the organisation and professionalism of the entire event, the publishing’s/clash finder and promotion was first class. It is also testament to the amazing people involved, the dedication and passion so very evident. With the recent problems from the council, noise complaints and noise abatement orders being slammed on venues, they battled against the odds and won the day. A huge congratulations to each and every single person involved in this event and you can be sure you’ll be seeing me again next year. With maybe a team next time.
If you’ve read this in its entirety, I hugely applaud you. Many, many thanks to all I met/spoke to/was welcomed by, truly a day to remember!
(Any tags for pages/websites I’ve missed, please get in touch and will gladly add them. Have done my best to find you all but was not able to on a couple)
Photography Sarah Quinn
Here follows a small amount of the day’s photography. Please head over to our Facebook page, this day only folder and feel free to tag/use or share anything.