Sunday, 19 June 2016

LIVE: Bushstock Festival 2016

Yesterday I went to my last gig/festival as a teenager and my first for a month, the sixth Bushstock Festival (my second) and experienced some wonderful live music amongst passionate music fans. Organised by Communion Music, the festival was almost guaranteed to be a winner in terms of the line-up, with the label championing so many superb up and coming artists in London and beyond (Ben Howard, Nick Mulvey and James Bay to name a few!) Being the cheapskate (and student!) I am, I didn't buy a ticket, but entered all the competitions I could find, and won a pair of tickets for the festival through TOMS (thanks TOMS!) A part of the prize was also access to an acoustic garden set by Dan Croll, the headliner of the biggest venue on the night.

Until that set, I didn't have anything I was desperate to see, but knew that if the festival was like last year, there would be a secret line-up (last year I saw Alex Vargas, Nick Mulvey and The Staves in the secret stage). There was, but this year they'd split it into two venues, meaning more people would get a shot as last year most people seemed to stick around for all three sets. I checked Twitter and they'd announced Luke Sital-Singh as the first secret act - I'd heard a lot about him but couldn't remember listening to him, so figured it was the perfect opportunity and headed to the venue.

I loved his set and his humour, particularly when he forgot one of the verses to Nothing Stays The Same (below) and the guy sat next to me helped with lyrics. While it was all new to me, he played tracks from his new record which is ready, and they sounded pretty good!

When Luke's finished, they tweeted that the second secret set was going to be The Beach. As I caught his set on the recent New Faces tour I decided to give it a miss and headed over the road to see MarthaGunn. I'd listened to a couple of the tracks in the run up to the festival as I have seen their name recently as supporting Toothless and Bear's Den, so I figured that they must be worth checking out. It was pretty full for them and they really impressed me and I look forward to seeing where the rest of the year takes them. Loving their recent release Heaven which they finished the set off with, the studio version is below but this acoustic session is worth a watch if you enjoy!

I wandered off to find something to eat, and as I walked across the road from the venue where the third secret set would be at 5, it was 4 so I expected an announcement at any minute, before I noticed three of the guys from Amber Run coming outside. I was there pretty early but luckily so as the venue filled up by 4.25, and the guys played a beautiful stripped back set. I had actually been tempted to go to the London Contemporary Voices show yesterday, where the band were performing, so this was a great surprise! 

The set started with Joe playing the band's track I Found by himself, not too unlike this session... it was great to see them again after catching them at one of my first shows in Oxford back in 2014 on the Communion New Faces tour.

Next up I headed to St Stephen's Church and caught some of Charlie Cunningham's set. I saw him back in November supporting Stornoway, a show which was also in a church. While I haven't got anything else to compare it to, I feel his sound probably works best in this kind of environment where his beautiful voice can fill the whole room. Even his Facebook cover photo is taken in a church... One song that I'd really remembered from the set in November is Telling It Wrong, which went down really well last night - the church was pretty full for Charlie's set! 

Once my friend arrived, we dashed to the Dan Croll set at the TOMS Secret Garden Stage, which it turned out was in fact exactly that, somebody's garden! While I couldn't see much to begin with (I took the pic below to see where Dan was even stood...) I could hear, and it sounded superb! Very lucky to catch Dan in such a small crowd before he headlined Bush Hall in the evening!

When I won the tickets, I hadn't actually listened to Dan that much (a bit of a recurring theme!) but after checking out his videos online, found that I had heard From Nowhere before. I listened to and loved his track Home, and found it pretty funny hearing the track last night. The lyrics "so if you ever come round to my house take your shoes off at the door, cos it's impolite not to, you'll be damaging my floor, cos it's my home" made me chuckle, considering we'd all just walked through someone's house with our shoes on! Rubbish house manners aside, a lovely little stage and a great set!

After Dan's set, we rushed back over to St Stephen's, where Bear's Den were headlining in just over an hour. Matthew & The Atlas were up first and it was already pretty much at capacity but we managed to squeeze in. The title track of his latest record, Temple, is on the record which Communion released for Record Store Day, so I'd listened to this and the session below, but the music was mostly pretty new to me but I was just as impressed as the rest of the church. As Davie of Bear's Den said during their set, he sounds like he's "a million years old, but still sexy.... we can all only hope to be sexy when we're a million years old."

Finally, the main event - Bear's Den took to the stage (a little late) and instantly wowed the crowd, opening their set with the title track of their new record Red Earth & Pouring Rain. They played a few more tracks from the new record (including the beautiful Auld Wives which they released recently), and all are sounding great - can't wait to hear the record in full! The hits from the debut record were great too, and it was a massive shame to leave just as they started playing Agape in their encore to make sure I could catch my train (which I only just did!)

The set was superb and I'd really recommend taking a listen, buying the record next month (July 22nd) and going to their tour in November (they're also playing some in-stores around the album release date.) It seems fitting to finish off with a video of them performing Agape for a session in the church back in 2013 - it was completely packed last night and deservingly so!

Overall I had such a great day and it's testament to the brilliant organisation both in the run up over the last months and on the day - I say it a lot but I have a lot of faith in the music that Communion get behind, making a day like yesterday pretty difficult to plan out. I caught seven brilliant acts but there was still so much more going on and I only wish I could've split myself in half and seen more (ShuraFlyte, Tempesst etc!) As well as that, every act I saw throughout the day seemed genuinely humbled that people had turned up to watch them, which is always so lovely to see as a fan. Long may Bushstock continue!!

1 comment:

  1. Great review Meg, now I'm even more gutted that I didn't get there! Can't wait to see Bear's Den later in the year. Now off to listen to your other recommendations! Jules ��