5 Things We Learned At Wide Awake Festival

Brockwell Park was buzzing with excited energy on Friday 3rd September, packed with hundreds of music fans keen to hear the sounds of the eclectic mix of underground talent who were booked to play Wide Awake‘s debut festival. Postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the appetite for hearing live music was unsurprisingly tenacious from the moment the festival gates opened and watching the crowds dance and sing along to the likes of IDLES, Goat Girl, black midi, Lena Willikens, Black Country, New Road and headliners shame gave us an overwhelming sense of joy (heavily aided by multiple cans of Red Stripe.)

We’ve condensed 10 hours of live music down to 5 key points that we’ve filtered through our GIHE lens and shared them with you below…

1. Self Esteem is a beacon of hope

Rebecca Lucy Taylor and her bandmates delivered a truly empowering set during their headline slot on the Moth Club stage, complete with a stunning light show and dancers too. When Taylor walked on stage with the words “But There Is Nothing That Terrifies A Man More Than A Woman That Appears Completely Deranged” lit up behind her silhouette, we knew we were in for a treat. Her powerful voice and relatable lyrics filled the tent with a sincere and playful joy.

2. Porridge Radio are great

We’re well aware most people already know this, but Brighton four piece Porridge Radio really impressed us with their stellar mid-afternoon performance on the Bad Vibrations stage. Fronted by captivating vocalist & lead guitarist Dana Margolin, the band ripped through their setlist full of indie bangers with impressive flair. We’ll definitely be catching them live again in the future.

3. Stumbling across a new favourite band feels just as good as re-visiting old favourites

We’ve missed the electric feeling that flows through your cells when you unexpectedly hear a great song in the distance by a new band you’ve never seen live before. Porridge Radio are a prime example here, but we also found ourselves drawn to the sounds of Snapped Ankles and The Murder Capital on the Moth Club stage, as well as Mandy, Indiana‘s set on the So Young stage. We were sad to miss Dream Wife, who had to cancel last minute due to contracting Covid-19, but GIHE favourites Goat Girl distracted us from this gap in the line-up with their charming yet brooding set on the main stage.

4. Brockwell Park is an ideal location for a music festival

We may be saying this solely because 2/3s of GIHE are based in South London, but Brockwell Park felt like the perfect location for a day of indie, leftfield and electronic music. Packed with independent food & drink stands as well as the main bars, it felt like we’d been transported out of London for the day when the sun was shining and the music was blaring from all directions.

5. We’ve really missed music festivals

From running into old friends, making new ones in the queues for the portaloos and generally just watching everyone else have a total blast, Wide Awake really made things feel “normal” again for a split second. We’re hoping that next year, everyone will feel confident enough to come back to Brockwell Park to sample some of the incredible bands and artists who made the festival feel as exciting and unique as it did this year.

Photo Credit: Luke Dyson (www.lukedyson.com)

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: Krush Puppies – ‘Slay The Dragon’

Having charmed us with their immersive live performances on more than one occasion, Alexa Daly, Jenny Wells, Jess McGill and Heather Britton – aka Krush Puppies – have been establishing themselves on the London scene for a few years now, with support slots for the likes of Squid and Sorry already under their belts. Now, they have shared a unique, medieval-inspired, new single.

Propelled by an eerie, synth-driven drive, ‘Slay The Dragon’ is a poignant reflection about “transcending the monsters we’ve all had to endure“. Showcasing the band’s swooning harmonious vocals, which flow throughout with a mystic allure, the track builds with a gritty, swirling energy and scuzzy hooks to a frenzied cacophony, suddenly coming to a halt with a resonant, impassioned wail. Oozing a whirring, bewitching splendour, it oozes a raw, haunting majesty reminiscent of fellow London post-punkers Goat Girl. Offering equal parts playful wit and angst-driven emotion, ‘Slay The Dragon’ cements Krush Puppies as definite ones to watch.

Recorded during Lockdown No.1, ‘Slay The Dragon’ is out now via Strong Island Recordings.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

ALBUM: Goat Girl – ‘On All Fours’

With a renewed approach to structuring their songs and a fresh desire to improvise and enjoy the music they’re making, Goat Girl have channelled their joys and frustrations via electronics and FX pedals on their second album On All Fours. Released via Rough Trade Records, this new offering retains the band’s trademark cynical charm, whilst offering listeners a route to escapism through jazz-infused beats and soft vocal melodies.

Guitarist & vocalist Lottie Pendlebury’s calm delivery of mantra-like lyric “I have no shame when I say / step the fuck away” on opener ‘Pest’ epitomises the defiant, dancing tone of On All Fours. Inspired by the colonialist undertones of 2018’s tabloid newspapers who dubbed a storm that hit the UK as the “beast from the east,” the track laments western society’s dangerous habit of “othering” any issues it falsely believes it’s not responsible for – making it the “pest from the west” that Pendlebury sings of.

As with their 2018 self-titled debut album, Goat Girl’s left-wing sensibilities are at the forefront of their song-writing, but they’ve made space for carefree tunes on their new record too. The playfully named ‘Badibaba’ bubbles with jazzy electronics and eccentric time signatures, while ‘Jazz (In The Supermarket)’ showcases how the band’s jamming sessions have blossomed into organised, erratic sounds. The infectiously upbeat ‘Once Again’ and the swaggering rhythms on ‘Sad Cowboy’ and ‘The Crack’ punctuate the album with a light-hearted, but tenacious attitude.

While ‘P.T.S.Tea’ is a fun play on words, it’s underscored by drummer Rosy Jones’ distressing memory of being on tour in 2019. Jones was badly scalded after a random man on a ferry spilled tea on their arm, leaving Jones unable to complete the rest of the band’s dates. The man never apologised, so ‘P.T.S.Tea’ is an aural scald on male accountability and privilege, as well as an exploration of Jones’ own gender identity, reflected in the lyric “to say what I am / well I don’t have a clue.” Jones’ gaze was also fixed on the reversal of gender normative roles when they penned closing track ‘A-Men’ too.

The swirling sounds on ‘Closing In’ are a vibrant personification of Pendlebury’s own struggles with depression, while following track ‘Anxiety Feels’ gives a gentle insight into bassist Ellie Davies’ crippling panic attacks. Her lyrical musings on medication and dealing with negative thought patterns are delivered with tender sincerity. Both songs explore gruelling subjects with genuine charm and care.

The parasitic ‘They Bite On You’ bleeds into the explosively named ‘Bang’, on which Pendlebury extrapolates on the nature of her ego. The woozy sounds of ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’ were born from a weekend retreat where the band spent their time writing, drinking and mocking the intensity of such an ambiguous question. Sweet self-deprecating moments like this galvanized the sound of On All Fours. Goat Girl’s ability to make their second album feel like a light listen despite the contexts of their songs being rooted in difficulty, is a refreshing and admirable quality for band releasing new music in an already tumultuous new year.

Listen to Goat Girls’ new album On All Fours here.

Follow Goat Girl on bandcamp, Spotify, Facebook & Instagram

If you like the sound of Goat Girl’s new album, you can read more about what inspired them to make it in my interview with them for The Line Of Best Fit.

Photo Credit: Holly Whitaker

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: Montauk Hotel – ‘White Billboards’

A luscious shimmering soundscape with a poignant context; Montauk Hotel have shared their new single ‘White Billboards’. Released via Reckless Records, the Dublin-based band say their new track is a “reflection on the power of advertising in our society and how models and [industry] standards influence our choices, happiness, and feelings of adequacy”.

Montauk Hotel’s music is influenced by the glimmer of early 80s indie-pop, full of glistening guitar sounds and shining melodies. The band released their self titled EP in March 2017, and have shared stages with the likes of Goat Girl, PINS and Beauty Sleep. Across Ireland, they’ve played venues such as Whelans, The Workman’s Club and Roisin Dubh, and they’ve performed at Electric Picnic too.

Their new single ‘White Billboards’ is sure to take them back to these stages. Speaking more about the track, the band explain: “The song pictures an imaginary future where as an result of over-saturation, people have become indifferent to commercial models. Advertisers and brands have run out of slogans and have lost their impact on people and society. There is a question left open, which whether a society with empty billboards would indeed set us free to be happy or whether it would leave us lost and unable to regain a personal identity”.

Listen to ‘White Billboards’ below and follow Montauk Hotel on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut