Tuesday, 13 June 2017

LIVE: Bushstock Festival 2017

At the weekend I caught my third Bushstock Festival, a day of superb music curated by the lovely folks at Communion Music in venues around Shepherd's Bush. Highlights of 2015 included seeing this year's headliners Nick Mulvey and The Staves play secret acoustic sets in a tiny wine bar, and last year's festival gave me the chance to see Bear's Den for the first time alongside the likes of Matthew & The Atlas, MarthaGunn, Dan Croll and Charlie Cunningham. A glance back at the past line-ups shows the likes of George Ezra, Bastille, Michael Kiwanuka and Hozier playing before they were well known, so as you'd imagine the atmosphere is great and the festival has a loyal following, there to try and discover the next big thing (and like I've said many times, a line-up curated by Communion is bound to be wonderful!) As with any festival there are clashes galore and the strength of the line-up doesn't help in this respect, however despite missing the likes of The Staves, Rhys Lewis, Isaac Gracie, The Big Moon, Spring King and loads more I had a great day, here's a little round-up of who I managed to catch!

Kicking off my day was Rukhsana Merrise, who I caught on a Communion New Faces tour a year or so ago and really enjoyed. Yesterday was her first live show for a while and a chance to debut tracks from her forthcoming record, and despite playing pretty early in the day she drew quite a crowd at the Courtyard stage. The venue was a trek from the others (I thought) but worth it once you got there with food, drink and a little pop-up record store surrounding the stage which was underneath a sea of rainbow umbrellas - luckily none of them needed as the sun came out and made the day even better! Check out the absolute tune Money below...

Rukhsana Merrise at the Courtyard stage

Next up I was headed towards Defector's Weld, where two friends I'd met up with were keen to see John Joseph Brill. He seems a lovely chap and I enjoyed his EP so was up for checking his set out when my phone buzzed with a twitter notification - Seramic were the second secret set of the day. Sad to miss JJB but I'm sure another chance to see him play will come up soon, so I headed to the wine bar, met up with another friend and waited... they ran behind schedule while they waited for a keyboard stand but it was completely worth the wait. I've seen Seramic play as a full band a few times over the past months and in this stripped back set-up for a couple of tracks at the Bear's Den Christmas show in December, so knew that I was in for a treat but even my high expectations were blown out of the water. I couldn't stop smiling, the tunes made me so happy and as I watched Marcus and Layla grin to one another it struck me how important it is to see that the band are enjoying playing for you to really take something from a set. Taking us through some tracks from their two EPs, they finished off the set with Trying, my favourite track from the recent I Got You EP, wowing the crowd with some seriously crazy notes. With two really strong EPs under their belts and some seriously impressive live performances I can't wait to see what Seramic do next!

Seramic secret set at the Albertine Wine Bar

We headed back to the Courtyard stage after they had finished to catch some of Ten Tonnes' set - I've heard good things about him but hadn't listened to his music before, all I really had to go on was that he's George Ezra's brother, which seems like a pretty good sign of musical quality. I was impressed by his voice and the crowd seemed to be having as much fun as he was up on stage. He released his second EP, Born To Lose, on Friday, and I'm digging the title track (listen below) which went down pretty well on Saturday afternoon - stream the whole EP on Spotify here!

Ten Tonnes at the Courtyard stage

After a quick stop off for some food came a tough decision between Isaac Gracie and Tender Central... I've been wanting to catch Isaac for a while and after missing his set at The Great Escape had assumed I'd definitely watch him at Bushstock, and was particularly keen as he was performing in the beautiful surroundings of St Stephen's Church, but I was also curious about Tender Central, and it meant less walking as I was sticking around for Banfi in the same venue afterwards. TC is the project of India Bourne, who plays in Ben Howard's band, and for the show she was joined on stage by Banfi's own Aaron and Joe, and while I heard great things about Isaac's set from friends that were there, I was glad I'd stuck around and really enjoyed the set! Check out the beautiful Wake Me Up below...

Tender Central at Traid

Next up and also playing in Traid, one of my absolute favourite bands of the moment, the lovely Banfi chaps. It was my seventh time seeing them and they're getting better every time, the busy touring schedule is working wonders for their live performance, with slots at Dot to Dot festival a couple of weeks ago and Citadel coming up in July, as well as heir first headline tour (dates) in September which I can't wait for! Having seen them lots in such as short space of time even the unreleased tracks feel incredibly familiar, so it'll be great to hear more of them recorded as studio versions (check this exciting tweet about album mastering!) and I'm chuffed to hear that they're releasing She Comes Home at the end of this month! Get listening to the tracks they've put out to date, including Rosedale House which is below and fall in love with them in time for the September tour!

Banfi at Traid

After some quick chats and hugs with the band it was a rush back to the Courtyard, where it was far easier than I'd expected to get in for Nick Mulvey's albeit quite early headline set. He's been away working on new music and with his beautiful baby boy for a while now and it was so great to have him back playing his first live performance for some time, with a stripped back version of his new live band. I was a little unsure as the crowd chattered away over the first chords of the first track, the recently released single Unconditional, but they soon fell under Nick's spell and spent fifty minutes totally entranced by his beautiful music, as did I! Sneaking only Fever To The Form and Meet Me There into the set from his first record we were treated to an array of entirely new tracks and it really felt like we were all part of something special, singing along to tracks as we heard them for the first time, and it feels amazing to have Nick back - and the joy at the crowd's response was so clear across his face too!

Nick Mulvey at the Courtyard stage

The second Nick had finished the crowd all rushed out of the venue, with most headed towards the church to try and get in for The Staves. I knew there would be no chance of getting in for their set so headed back towards Traid where I'd left my friend, whose favourite band Seafret were headlining, so of course I had to see what all the fuss was about. The venue is a charity clothes shop, raising money through donated clothes to target child and sweatshop labour in fashion, a really interesting and worthwhile concept, and as I stood at the back of the crowd a friend from Oxford tapped me from behind the clothes rails, isn't it lovely to bump into friends unexpectedly?! Stood quite far back it seemed as if the stage was a little dark but the sound was great in the venue and I definitely hope that they use it as a venue for the festival again next year. The singer Jack has great hair and a great voice and they were a really fun way to finish off my festival - I already can't wait for the next year of Bushstock!

Seafret at Traid

If you like the sound of Bushstock, be sure to sign up to the Communion mailing list for a weekly mailout about their upcoming releases and tracks. After ten years in the business they are continually killing it, working with some of my favourite artists on some really special concerts in London and further afield. Long live Communion!! 

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