LIVE: Deer Shed Festival 2022 (Day 3: 31.07.22)

It’s been a while since I attended a festival… Obviously, there were so many cancellations throughout the last couple of years due the pandemic, and I missed out on 2019 as I was busy hosting my own (well, my wedding which I aimed to be as festival-like as possible). So, this year I was desperate to find one that was as lovely as possible and suited my needs of being perhaps a little older than the average festival-goer without missing out on any of the best new music. Sadly, the last festival I went to in 2018, and my favourite ever festival experience – Indie Tracks – did not survive Covid, and so I was looking for a replacement; something equally as inclusive, chilled-out, family friendly, and of course hosting plenty of amazing female and non-binary bands and artists. And then I came across Deer Shed… And it was just what I was after! Highlighting a real family-friendly focus, whilst hosting an incredible range of exciting new artists, the North Yorkshire based Deer Shed perfectly filled the festival-shaped-void I’d been feeling for the last few years.

With the rain having relentlessly poured down from about 8pm on Saturday until lunchtime on Sunday, I greeted the last day of Deer Shed with a desperate need for some great live music to distract from the mud seeping through my tights (and ideally some sunshine), and I wasn’t to be disappointed…

After some much needed tasty sustenance from Earthworm Kitchen, and a visit into the In The Dock stage to catch the immersive psych-rock of Leeds band Van Houten, we put our hoods back up to head to the main stage to see the swirling alt-pop of Liverpool’s Natalie McCool. Combining gritty hooks with her lush, sweeping vocals and endearing charm, she delivers a joyous set providing a bright start to day, despite the dark clouds.

I’d shamefully not heard of the next artist to grace the main stage, the wonderfully named Bored At My Grandma’s House (not be confused with GIHE faves Grandma’s House or Let’s Eat Grandma….), but I will certainly be listening to them a lot from now on. Treating us to their dreamy lo-fi offerings with a shimmering allure, they manage to entice the sun to shine on us for the entirety of the twinkling splendour of their set.

Our first and only trip to the little Acorn Stage offers an experience I’ve been waiting for probably for a few years now: seeing ME REX live. And they’re just as lovely as I could have hoped for. Oozing a swirling emotion alongside jangling melodies and luscious harmonies, they deliver a rich, soothing catharsis with each of their lilting indie-pop offerings. A truly immersive set flowing with the band’s stirring lyricism and impassioned energy, I could lose myself in their glistening musicality forever.

Returning to a packed out In The Dock stage, Welsh trio The Bug Club deliver a fantastically expectation-exceeding set. Although I had been looking forward to seeing them live ever since interviewing them for Get In Her Ears last year, their immense frenzied energy and vibrant charisma is even more incredible than I’d hoped for. As their uniquely uplifting, frenetic brand of garage rock blasts throughout the tent to a sea of buoyant fans – singing along to every word -, a playful sense of euphoria fills the air as the band deliver their gloriously scuzz-filled, fiercely catchy offerings.

Back to basking in some very much welcomed sunshine, we return to the main stage to catch Liverpool’s The Mysterines deliver their seething rock anthems. With a fierce, driving energy and sultry splendour, each offering oozes a colossal, gritty power propelled by a soulful, angst-driven spark.

Despite the tinge of disappointment at Dry Cleaning not being able to make it to the festival (hope they feel better soon!), all is not lost as Dutch band Pip Blom take their spot on the main stage to deliver a gloriously uplifting collection of their trademark sunny indie-pop. Having been a big fan of this lot ever since first hearing the catchy fuzz of 2017’s ‘I Think I’m In Love’, it’s wonderful to finally see them live. As the crowd shimmy and shake to their scuzzy, whirring hooks and Blom’s distinctive honey-sweet vocals, the band showcase their ability to create the slickest of lo-fi anthems, juxtaposing a subtle gritty edge with an endearing radiant charm.

To end the surprisingly sun-filled day, and the festival as a whole, it’s a wonderful surprise to happen upon drag queen Ash Kenazi at the In The Dock stage – first being treated to their fantastic fusion of traditional opera and fun-filled lip-syncing, and later dancing the night away to the perfectly pop-tastic choice of tunes at the Silent Disco (hearing Shania’s ‘Man, I Feel Like A Woman’ for a second time this weekend being a particular highlight).

So, thank you Deer Shed – not only did you offer a fantastically dreamy line-up consisting of favourites old and new, but the warm, family-focused vibes and inclusive sense of unity that persisted throughout the weekend was particularly heartwarming to experience. Here’s to the little moshers of tomorrow!

Words: Mari Lane / @marimindles
Photos: Paul Dawes / @paullikesrobots

Track Of The Day: Midnight Ambulance – ‘Smoke and Sweets’

In 2020, old friends reconnected after years apart and formed Midnight Ambulance, and boy are we glad they did! This perfect partnership has crafted an eclectic and dark sound which has gone on to see the Edinburgh based duo shortlisted for BBC Introducing Scottish Act of the Year 2022 and as support for Texas at Fringe By The Sea this August

Latest single ‘Smoke and Sweets‘ is a captivating offering, reflecting on feelings of isolation and someone’s reality slipping away; written through the Covid-19 lockdown, where isolation was experienced by many. The subject matter is clearly reflected through the powerful soundscape the duo have created, cleverly blending an exquisite folk-inspired musicality with electronic sounds and fuzzy in-your-face guitar, building to an immense frenzied climax. This eclectic fusion of sounds really gives them an interesting edge where you don’t know what to expect. 

Opening with an electronic drone and reverb-washed yet detailed vocals, Midnight Ambulance set an atmospheric scene with a stunning traditional folk melody sung with haunting close harmonies. A distorted drum enters, panned hard to one side, demonstrating interesting production decisions. For fellow audiophiles, this track must be listened to with quality headphones or a good sound system to truly experience the beautiful intricacies of what’s going on.

At one and a half minutes in, you are hit with a delicious drop – introducing heavier and more distorted territories. The vocals become faster, more urgent and desperate – “I don’t know how to let it go”. There’s feedback on the guitar, breathy vocal chops, vocal vocoders and smashing cymbals, poignantly mirroring the protagonist’s loss of reality. 

‘Smoke and Sweets’ was recorded at North Road Studios, which uses vintage equipment – giving the song a unique gritty warmth. 

Watch the stirring live video for ‘Smoke and Sweets’ here:

Ella Patenall
@ellapatenall

Photo Credit: Gareth Goodlad

LIVE: Deer Shed Festival 2022 (Day 2: 30.07.22)

It’s been a while since I attended a festival… Obviously, there were so many cancellations throughout the last couple of years due the pandemic, and I missed out on 2019 as I was busy hosting my own (well, my wedding which I aimed to be as festival-like as possible). So, this year I was desperate to find one that was as lovely as possible and suited my needs of being perhaps a little older than the average festival-goer without missing out on any of the best new music. Sadly, the last festival I went to in 2018, and my favourite ever festival experience – Indie Tracks – did not survive Covid, and so I was looking for a replacement; something equally as inclusive, chilled-out, family friendly, and of course hosting plenty of amazing female and non-binary bands and artists. And then I came across Deer Shed… And it was just what I was after! Highlighting a real family-friendly focus, whilst hosting an incredible range of exciting new artists, the North Yorkshire based Deer Shed perfectly filled the festival-shaped-void I’d been feeling for the last few years.

Although the second day of Deer Shed got off to a rather damp start, this wasn’t going to dampen our spirits, with a day of such lush live music ahead of us. Kicking things off at the In The Dock stage, it’s a new discovery for me: the dreamy, ethereal scuzz of trio Honeyglaze. Delivering shimmering shoegaze-tinged soundscapes that build with a raw emotion, they leave me captivated and eager to hear more.

Our first outing to the Lodge Stage sees us treated to the majestic grace of Marianne Parish – aka Maja Lena. With her beautifully sweeping alt-folk musings propelled by resplendent vocals and exquisite layers of intricate instrumentation, her set offers a perfectly comforting shelter from the pouring rain outside.

Having enjoyed the joyous energy of London African collective Balimaya Project earlier today, we return to the main stage for Irish pop artist CMAT – one of the performances I’ve been most looking forward to this weekend, and she doesn’t disappoint. Taking to the stage to the sound of Shania Twain’s ‘Man, I Feel Like A Woman’ (just like ARXX at our gig last week!), she gleefully introduces herself – “Hi, it’s me – Shania Twain!” – as she’s welcomed by excited yelps from a front row of adoring young fans. And I feel a rush of comforting warmth come over me – seeing the pure elation in these young girls’ faces, just being in the presence of their heroine, brings me a lot of joy; the fact that they have a pop icon (though she labels herself a “country singer”) to look up to with as much humour, humility and empowering energy as CMAT – the unified warmth of Deer Shed and its family-friendly focus making it possible for these experiences to happen. And, as the set continues – complete with impromptu romantic dances between CMAT and her keyboardist, and Beyonce-inspired “pop show” manoeuvres – I find myself pretty much falling head over heels with the all the fun-filled charisma and joyous energy emanating from the stage, whilst singing along to tongue-in-cheek anthems such as ‘I Wanna Be a Cowboy’ and ‘Peter Bogdanovich’.

After some delicious ‘Phat Thai’ from vegan food stand ‘Earthworm Kitchen’, I’m ready for another Irish highlight of the weekend – Denise Chaila. Accompanied by two other rappers and a DJ on stage, Chaila immediately has the crowd fully immersed and singing along with her immense, gritty anthems. Propelled a swirling drive, she combines a tongue-in-cheek wit with poignant cultural references, whilst charming the crowd between songs – and even teaching us a bit of Irish Gaelic (and I realise I’ve been saying ‘Anseo’ wrong all this time…). Oozing a beautifully compelling energy as the unashamed confidence of her lyrics flows with ease, she creates a joyous atmosphere, which is only heightened when one of her crew launches (with care) into the crowd, much to the delight of the buoyant youngsters in the front rows who dance around him with glee. A truly memorable set that leaves me feeling elated and inspired.

Completing my run of epic pop icons, it’s time for Self Esteem on the main stage – a moment I’ve been looking forward to ever since becoming addicted to her Mercury Award nominated album Prioritise Pleasure last year. Welcomed by a sea of whoops from the adoring crowd as she takes to the stage accompanied by her entourage of fantastic dancers (one of whom is GIHE fave Seraphina Simone) and musicians, she immediately radiates a shimmering, vibrant charisma as she delivers a truly empowering set with a fierce emotion. Between moments of finding tears rolling down my cheeks whilst singing along to inspiring anthems such as ‘I Do This All The Time’, and grinning from cheek to cheek as she dedicates the set to her friend’s young daughter (who happens to be on the shoulders of her parents next to us), I’m utterly mesmerised by the magnificent performance. Not only is Self Esteem an incredible and thought-provoking songwriter, but her exquisitely choreographed set and glistening stage presence mark her out as a completely unique modern pop star.

Ending the day’s musical delights, we return to the Lodge Stage for the lilting Americana-tinged folk of Samantha Crain. Delivering her beautifully strummed melodies with a stirring warmth, the impassioned subtle power of her rich vocals flows with a captivating raw emotion. As Crain’s immersive lyrical storytelling emanates alongside twinkling hooks and a rustic charm, each offering graces the heartstrings with a comforting allure.

Thanks to Deer Shed for another wonderful day of live music! Stay tuned for our review of the third and final day of the festival!

Words: Mari Lane / @marimindles
Photos: Paul Dawes / @paullikesrobots

Track Of The Day: AGAAMA – ‘Sarehole Mill’

A captivating blend of hypnotic vocals, experimental instrumentation and altruistic beats, Birmingham-based artist, composer, vocalist and producer AGAAMA has shared her latest single ‘Sarehole Mill’. Taken from her upcoming EP Wandering Worlds, which is set for release on 15th September via The state51 Conspiracy, the track is a warm musing on the importance of spaces that nurture creativity and humility.

“‘Sarehole Mill’ is about places and people that ground us,” AGAAMA explains about the context of her new single. “We all have these spaces and these people. I hope that when people listen to the track (even though they may not know what or where Sarehole Mill is), that it makes them feel nostalgia, safety, fondness and love and makes them think about being in their own city savannah with their mates.”

Exploring this notion through her atmospheric electronics and cinematic orchestral horn arrangements, AGAAMA creates a palpable atmosphere of contentedness, soothing listeners with her jazz-inspired vocals. Her eclectic sounds stem from a childhood rich with varied musical experiences. Growing up in a British-Jamaican household, AGAAMA was influenced by the contemporary classical tastes of her Father and her Mother’s love for Sarah Vaughan and Quincy Jones. She sang in Church on Sundays and studied classical trombone as a teenager, but she also spent her weekends raving to UK bass music and writhing in the mosh pit at metal gigs. This glorious array of musical experiences have all informed her work as AGAAMA, making her sounds as vast and altruistic as her collective memories.

Her upcoming EP, Wandering Worlds, reflects this kaleidoscopic musical vision perfectly, whilst also tapping into something darker. “I grew up listening to a lot of angsty, heavy music – metal, dubstep, prog rock and bass music. I wanted to make something where you could explore angst and frustration,” AGAAMA explains. “I found that having a space to release angst within music was healthy and helpful on my path toward healing. I really wanted to incorporate this brooding, meditative, almost primal thing that hooked me into music. At the time of making the record, I lost complete interest in beautiful sounds and music. I was craving something darker.”

Listen to ‘Sarehole Mill’ below.

 

Follow AGAAMA on Spotify, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

AGAAMA UK Tour Dates 2022
19th August – London, Shacklewell Arms (with Muna Ileiwa)
22nd September – London, Hootenanny (with Jack Tyson Charles)
29th September – (EP Launch) London, state51 Factory
3rd October – Birmingham, The Night Owl

Photo Credit: Lucy Feng

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut