Friday, 21 August 2009

Summer Sundae 2009 - Part 3

Day three of Summer Sundae continued where the other two left off. More good weather and more diverse music. The highlight of the day, if not the whole festival, was the Israeli band Monotonix. Yet we have to admit we weren’t there. We missed them, instead choosing to watch indie rockers Flashguns. So how do we know they were the highlight ? Quite simply after they had played, everyone who saw them was talking about them. There was a complete buzz around the festival about their performance. Yet hardly anybody mentioned the music. You need to read about Monotonix first hand, so please check out Rullsenbergrules Blog and the Safe Concerts review and watch the video clips of the balcony escapades here to get an idea of what went on. There, see what we mean ?

So what of the acts we experienced ? Well, under spinning glitter ball lighting Woodpigeon bring softly sung acoustic bliss with loving delicate organ and keyboard sounds. The highlight of their set was a gorgeously idyllic and emotive cover of the Abba song Lay All Your Love On Me with Beth Jeans Houghton providing additional backing vocals whilst dressed in a frightful blonde afro wig and tiny mini dress. The band made the song their own, but unfortunately their self penned compositions can’t compare with the cover, although they are gracious and charming enough.

Whilst Monotonix are tearing up the De Montfort Hall four young men from Brighton step up to the Rising stage. “The name of this band is Flashguns,” lead singer Samuel Felix Johnston states confidently. With a Weller / Bragg type lad look, dressed in denim, Johnston is blessed with a strong voice, competent indie guitarmanship, a neat line in twitchy bent leg dancing and the sweat and passion of a man who utterly believes in what he is doing. The band have yet to write any distinguishing songs but their snarling indie growl certainly has some promise if they can continue to develop. St George is one of their best moments, it finds an atmospheric misty broodiness amongst the spunky indie rock.

Next up is Micachu And The Shapes. The newly blonded up Micachu has received some critical acclaim, but on this performance we see no justification for it. Her scuffed experimental tunes and droaning vocal lack any sort of charisma. There are moments when a riff or a rhythm will jump out for a nano second, but then scuttle away back into a hole. We applaud Mica Levi’s attempt to be innovative, but the messy random nature of her songs sits too far to the left for Breaking More Waves to enjoy.

The sister duo of First Aid Kit are much better. They are from Sweden but their music sounds like it has come from Kentucky. With just simple acoustic instrumentation, warm mesmerising harmonies and some of the most beautiful songs we hear all weekend, they prove that Swedes can do far more than the upbeat pop of Abba and Alphabeat. It’s almost worrying how two girls who are still in their teens are singing such world weary and heavy songs at such a young age, we wonder what their parents are like. Tangerine is the sad tale of an affair told from the perspective of the person left behind at home “Another business trip, another reason to stay away,” they gasp mournfully. They show that they haven’t lost all of their young innocence yet though, dedicating their cover version of Fleet Foxes Tiger Mountain Pleasant Song to “the blonde boy sitting on the barrel,” with a cheeky mischievous grin. Towards the end of their set another cover comes in the form of Donovans Universal Soldier, which as the girls explain was written by Buffy Sainte-Marie. Its theme of individual responsibility for war is as relevant today as it was when it was originally written, and First Aid Kit give it a more modern context by changing some of the words to suit the year we find ourselves in. It hushes the whole audience and receives rapturous applause at the end.

The haunting and slow folk vibe continues on the main stage with Bon Iver. Justin Vernon has been pedalling his trademark falsetto vocal and simple acoustic instrumention across the world for some time now, and as wonderful as Breaking More Waves favourite For Emma, Forever Ago is, his set is just starting to become a little bit tired now, being not that different from when we were first astounded by its performance a year ago at the End Of The Road Festival. The treble drumming Skinny Love, engrossed beauty of Re:Stacks and the gently rocking Blood Bank with its lyrics of “As the moon waned to crescent, we started to kiss,” are all wonderful, but the announcement that this is their last show in Britain for some time seems well timed. Not everyone seems hugely impressed with Bon Iver however, a significant number of the audience disappearing halfway through the set to go and watch The Lightning Seeds.

It’s left to headliners The Zutons to close Summer Sundae 2009. Its been a difficult time for the Liverpool band having been dropped by the record label following the poor sales performance of their last album, and at first it’s easy to see why the record didn’t sell. Songs such as Always Right Behind You sound like a horrible mix of Status Quo and ZZ Top; swine flu seems almost preferable. But as their set progresses memories are jogged as to why The Zutons were once the toast of the town and picked up a Mercury nomination for Who Killed The Zutons? Songs such as You Will You Won’t and the much extended crowd pleasing Zuton Fever are expert pop tunes with a hint of soul, and sometimes we need reminding that Valerie is actually a Zutons song and does not belong to Ms Winehouse. The band are also cheesy enough to give the audience plenty of fun, from encouraging them to wave their arms side to side Take That style to shouts to “get involved,” over their old school grooviness. “Can you understand a word I’m saying?” Dave McCabe asks the audience in his broad accent. It doesn’t matter if they can’t, The Zutons do their job well.

So Summer Sundae 2009 was a success. It’s a very well run and organised festival, with good infrastructure, and the most friendly and helpful stewards / security that Breaking More Waves has experienced at such an event. With its well planned running times enabling punters to skip between the main stage and smaller stages without missing anything on the main stage and a huge range of diverse music that mixes older established bands with bright young new things and more obscure acts, its claims of being ‘a musical treat’ are exactly right. Breaking More Waves highly recommends it as excellent value for all discerning music fans.

This chap seemed to be enjoying himself as well......


Imogen said...

Great write up of Summer Sundae. Thanks for posting, have enjoyed reading, came across this through Efestivals.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Thanks for the mention -- you're right that the music was perhaps almost incidental to Monotonix at Summer Sundae, but the thrill of the sound, movement and general euphoria certainly compensated!

Robin said...

No worries Lisa. I really wish I had seen Monotonix :(