Sunday, 15 June 2014

Bushstock 2014 - Review

Not all festivals are created equal and Bushstock stands out because of its convenience and well -mannered audience. If you want dangerous, dirty and full-on moshpits then Bushstock is probably best avoided, but for the rest of you, it is if nothing else, a very painless festival and an event that oozes quality.

Based in Shepherd’s Bush, West London, this now annual one dayer took place in four venues all within easy walking distance of each other. It’s centre piece was (as in past years) St Stephen’s Church (pictured above) which hosted mostly, but not exclusively, acoustic based artists and remained busy all day. There were also three other venues; the elegant Bush Hall, complete with chandeliers, disco ball and grand ornate mirrors on the wall, plus two pubs, The Sindercombe Social (which replaced last year’s sweatbox underground bunker Ginglik) and the smaller Defector's Weld. Due to the close proximity of the venues it was possible to catch a large number of full sets with very little effort and venue hopping was straightforward - we experienced none of the ‘at capacity’ problems that many multi-venue festivals face.

Here are 10 things that we learnt at Bushstock 2014:

1. The early bird really does get value for money.

An early bird ticket for Bushstock 2014 set you back just £15. For that we saw 10 bands – just over 5 hours of live music.

2. There still is very little bush at Bushstock.

We mentioned this in our review last year and it continues into 2014. Because Bushstock had a relatively high quota of acoustic and folk acts (amongst their number Hozier, Eaves, Luke Sital-Singh and Alex Vargas) if you believe folk music clichés you might have expected the number of beards in the audience to be high; however, almost exactly the opposite seemed to be the case. It seemed that in this corner of West London beards are out and clean shaven is in. Hats off to Jack Garrett though who delivered a fine beard, as well as a deeply impressive mid-afternoon set that marks his name down as the UK’s rising answer to Chet Faker. Clearly excited at playing to such a large crowd (his inappropriate exclamation of ‘Jesus Christ this is surreal’ in the church got a big laugh) his deftly executed mix of electronic soul and twisted guitars fully deserved the standing ovation he received at the end. Listen to him below.

3. A cushion is the new ‘must have’ at festivals.

Or at least at Bushstock, for sitting on a hard wooden pew in a church for a number of hours requires some extra padding in the backseat area.

4. Chlöe Howl might be making pop music, but there’s a rock star inside her wanting to jump out.

The evidence?

Her band. 

Put it this way, this man doesn’t look he would have been in Steps, Girls Aloud or One Direction does he? Yet he rocked out with Miss Howl.

Her footwear. 

Not just DMs straight out the box, but proper scuffed up and well worn. 

Her energy.

Temperatures in Bush Hall may have been bordering on sauna like but that didn’t stop Chlöe Howl giving it her all, striding the stage with a don’t mess with me stomp suggesting that if Paramore ever need a new singer she could do a pretty decent job.

5. Shepherd’s Bush loves chicken.

As we walked between the 4 venues of Bushstock 2014 we counted 11 different fast food chicken takeaways / restaurants and very little else. Yes, of course there was a Nandos.

It's a shame this website (click here) never got going. It could have just posted pictures from Shepherd's Bush.

6. It’s not always Christmas at Chicken Cottage.

Last year in our review of Bushstock, we suggested that at one of these fast food joints, Chicken Cottage, it’s always Christmas, as dusty and tired looking Christmas baubles hung from the ceiling, every day of the year. We were wrong. The decorations are no more. Christmas has cancelled this summer. But you can still get a burger (chicken obviously but veggie varieties are also available), chips and a soft drink there for £2.89 (a 4p increase from last year economics fact fans). Now that’s what we call cheap festival food.

7. Layla is another word for lovely.

Shoved into a small corner stage of The Sindercombe Social, Layla’s blend of girl next door piano based pop was utterly adorable, possessing an intimacy that had the ability to turn even the most rugged football hooligan into a fluttery mess of sweet affections. Songs like Yellow Circles, New Year and Black Mud were rolled out with an easy on the ear sensitivity that felt perfect for the later part of a Saturday afternoon – the musical equivalent of a great cup of steaming coffee, a good book and a hug from someone you love. 

8. If we were to define cool we would write it like this: Honeyblood.

Two girls. Guitar and drums. A ‘we’re just doing this because we like doing it and don’t give a sh*t if anyone else cares or not’ attitude in The Defector's Weld pub. Great clothes. Great hair. From Scotland. The sort of band that make you think ‘yeah I want to be in a rock n roll band.’ That is Honeyblood.

9. Even god cannot stop corporate sponsorship.

Posters for the beer company that was one of the sponsors this year’s Bushstock inside the church? Yes, the power of the sponsor is more powerful than the lord. Praise the lager.

10. Saint Raymond does what he does well.

His indie pop may not have smacked of originality but it was packed with hooks, riffs and summery jangles that were virtually impossible not to shake a leg at in the live environment. All this with a guitarist who looked like the rock version of Gary Barlow and some men dressed in banana costumes in the audience as well.

Bushstock 2014. For fans of great music and chicken; one of our favourite one day multi-venue festivals in the UK.

Jack Garrett - Worry


Anonymous said...

A great event, one worth looking out for next year.

On the food front I shouldn't really promote the excellent Abu Zad just in case I don't get a seat next year! Great food, good value, excellent service but do double check your order to make ure they know what you want!

Agree with all you say about Chloe Howl and Saint Raymond, enjoyed both waiting for my favourites, and the reason for getting to the event, the Felice Brothers. It was a shame there were not more there for their set, but those who were enjoyed the extra space!

Well done to all concerned.

Pics from the Felice Brothers on their forum:

Anonymous said...

What other bands did you see - you didn't mention them all? Surely a review should review the bands not write crap about how much a burger was and how many men had beards.

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Hey anon.

Looks like we didn’t read the ‘gig going review rulebook’. Maybe you’ll find other reviews elsewhere that are more your cup of tea. But it’s not what Breaking More Waves is about. Sorry if you don’t like, not sorry for doing what we do.

For the record we saw : Tor Miller, Eaves, Farao, Jack Garratt, Layla, Fickle Friends, Honeyblood, Saint Raymond, Chloe Howl and Peggy Sue.