One of the best things about running your own small independent festival is that you get to help book the bands. Whilst I don’t book everything on the Dials Festival line up, somewhere between 30 – 40% of the line-up has been my own selections and as a small team we all have an input into the final bill.
Being a fully independent festival gives us the advantage that the team take some risks in what we book, choosing some acts that we personally like, irrespective of if they’ll sell tickets or not. Yet clearly we also have to find artists within our small budget that will help make punters put their hands in their wallets, buy a ticket and come along to the event.
We also have to try and curate a line-up that makes sense to people. However, for me it’s also important to trust in some of my own judgements and put a few curveballs on the bill to give variety and people some choice. Of course, some of those curveballs may end up playing to virtually nobody, but I have to trust the audience of what is essentially a new music festival to be open minded enough to not just sticking with what they know - discovery is key. As a music listener I don’t listen to one genre or style of music and I’m sure many of you reading this don’t. I like indie, pop, ambient, electronica, soundtracks, folk, hip-hop, country, soul and many more genres, so I want, within reason, the festival programme to represent that variety, yet retaining a consistency that makes a complete bill.
With that in mind here are 3 further recommendations from the Dials bill for the middle part of the day, two of whom should be no surprise to regular long-term readers of the blog and one that I’ve yet to feature, but I’m very excited about.
17.00-17.30 Curxes - The Loft
Curxes played the very first Dials Festival in 2015 and return in an evolved form. Since that last performance the project has downsized from a band and is now just essentially the solo creative vehicle of Roberta Fidora who has moved away from the mainland, across the Solent, to take up residence in the Isle of Wight. In 2017 Roberta released her second album Gilded Cage – a weird experimental electronic ghostly pop record which made it on to the Breaking More Waves 2017 Album of the Year List.
Live shows to promote the album have been relatively few and far between although Curxes appeared at this year’s Isle of Wight Festival and last year there were a number of gigs supporting Blancmange where a mysterious figure dressed as some sort of dancing bear accompanied Roberta on stage. Will we get the bear at Dials? You’ll have to be there to see. Expect to possibly hear some brand new tracks as well.
18.00-18.30 Salt Ashes - The Loft
You could consider Viega Sanchez aka Salt Ashes as one of the curveball choices at Dials Festival. There are after all a lot of bands that play guitars and couldn't necessarily be considered pop.
Salt Ashes is the antithesis of that. She does bangers. Electronic ones. Dark ones. Sultry ones. Very modern ones. There won’t be a guitar in site. Just her, some pitch perfect vocals and someone behind her creating the music. She’s probably the most pop act on the Dials 2018 bill and is all the better for it.
At this point in the evening you have a very simple choice – the psychobilly garage punk sounds of Sleepeaters in Bar Acapulco or some badass dance jams with Salt Ashes. Also, if you choose Salt Ashes you’ll then only have a one minute walk to catch my next recommendation in the venue opposite (Note: All venues are subject to capacity) who start as she finishes, so hopefully you’ll miss very little.
Why not get your disco shorts on (I'd suggest dark leather ones would be appropriate) and give Salt Ashes a go? Listen out for recent single Girls – which has clocked up close to 300,000 plays on Spotify this year.
18.30-19.00 Penelope Isles – The Vaults
For anyone that has ever been to a gig in the West country or pretty much any festival, the chances are you’ll have heard of Big Jeff John. He’s the big guy (obviously) with the big frizzy blonde hair and a heavyweight load of festival wristbands on his arm nodding his head, waving his finger and throwing himself around to the music at as many shows as you have had hot dinners. He’s been hailed as a hero by many, including lots of musicians, who now treat it as an honour to have Big Jeff at their gigs. Rumour has it one of Haim tried to propose to him.
So when Big Jeff recently tweeted “I’ve got something big that I need to say, it’s pretty big, so deep deep breath, build some serious tension. I fricking love all the members of Penelope Isles. They are a great band. Take the dreamy melodies of Beach House and the chunky lo-fi riffs of Grandaddy,” you’d better take notice.
Thankfully I think everyone in the Dials team agrees with Jeff. Penelope Isles is a great band in the making. I saw them at End of the Road Festival earlier this year and their last two songs were so incredibly powerful they made me well up. Having already toured with The Magic Numbers, Dials is extremely grateful that Penelope Isles are coming to our festival. They’ve been signed to Bella Union records and will have an album out next year. Ones to Watch for sure.
If you want to come to Dials 2018, don't delay. Tickets will be more expensive on the day. Grab them by clicking on this link: www.dialsfestival.com. £16 in advance plus a small booking fee. Exchange them for a wristband on the day at The Wedgewood Rooms Box Office from 12 o'clock.