Despite being a pretty scary year in the grand scheme of things, 2018 has actually been exceptionally great for new music. And seeing live music has, as ever, provided a necessary catharsis and enjoyment; forever giving us something to look forward to.
Having witnessed an uncountable amount of women/non binary folk being awesome on stage this year, it was hard to pick out our highlights … But, from some of our DIY faves, to Fever Ray and Courtney Barnett (and – yes – Indietracks Festival features twice, it’s that great), here are a few events that stood out as particularly special for us…
Witch Fever Live @ The Finsbury, January:
2018 has been of year of many incredible gigs, not least our own gigs that we’ve been lucky enough to host at The Finsbury. And, whilst I have a massive amount of love and pride in all the gigs we’ve hosted, the year kicked off with a pretty immense one. Manchester’s Witch Fever, who made two six hour coach journeys to be with us, treated us to their frenzied, raucous offerings with an incredible, un-matched power. As front woman Amy’s incredible, snarling energy stole the show, we were all left completely in awe of this band’s formidable intensity. And they weren’t the only amazing band of the night; joining them was the empowering force of The Nyx, the grunge-fuelled energy of ARXX and the gorgeous pop-punk of Militant Girlfriend.
(Mari Lane – Managing Editor/Co-Founder)
Fever Ray @ The Troxy, March:
Fever Ray’s fierce, focused, sold out performance at the Troxy proved she’s an inimitable talent with a vision, generosity, and energy unlike any other. In Fever Ray’s space, no-one is an outsider: everyone is welcome in her warped and wonderful world. Emerging from the lights in her trademark “I heart Swedish girls” t-shirt and bare scalp, from start to finish the sound was flawless. Each lyric, synth sequence and drum beat was more distinct and discernible than the next – if you weren’t there, you definitely missed out.
(Kate Crudgington – Features Editor/Co-Founder)
Petrol Girls @ Shacklewell Arms, April:
Mari and I were so excited to see the brilliant Petrol Girls live for the first time this year, and they did not disappoint. Loud, lethal and life-affirming: their headline show was a raw, frenzied, furious affair. The band packed out the venue with the help of their friends Pretty Pistol and Screaming Toenail (our new favourite band), and played our favourite track ‘Touch Me Again’ with all the ferocity and energy we’d come to expect from this brilliant band of activists.
Indian Queens @ Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival, June:
Hackney trio Indian Queens performed to a packed out Purcell Room at The Southbank Centre this year, after being hand-picked by The Cure’s Robert Smith to play his (exceptionally well curated) 2018 Meltdown Festival. The band delivered a mesmeric, sharply executed performance that ended in a well deserved standing ovation. I felt like I’d witnessed something truly special from the Cool Thing Record signees when I left the building, and I look forward to catching them again in 2019.
Indietracks Festival (and its sense of community), July:
There is the smell of long past years in the carriage as the rails clackity-clack below you, the signalman waves from the box as you pass, and behind the sidings crammed with moss-windowed rolling stock the natural amphitheatre of the main stage hoves into view.
Indietracks is hidden away but for those in the know it’s not just the boutique festival quietly winning at line-ups, it’s home. Not only welcoming and familiar, but full of friendship and love. The diversity of the billing, the cute touches and culture-clash between trains and music will delight newcomers but the community sustained between years – by the festival and railway volunteers, each band, every festival-goer – is something to be really astounded by. At a time when togetherness feels more elusive, but is ever more vital, Indietracks should be both celebrated and cherished for the community its nurtured and welcomes home each summer.
(Sarah Lay – Contributor)
Indietracks Festival (and the diversity of its line-up), July:
With our ongoing disappointment at the lack of diversity on the majority of mainstream festival line-ups this year, I was particularly excited to discover Indietracks – one that refreshingly, consistently, champions DIY bands and artists of all genders and genres. And, I wasn’t to be disappointed; the weekend – set in the idyllic Midland Railway Centre near Ripley in Derbyshire – exceeded all expectations.
Ask me about any of my favourite bands of 2018, and they were probably playing at Indietracks Festival. From an array of glorious indie-pop (Wolf Girl, Colour Me Wednesday, Happy Accidents, Worst Place), Feminist punk (Dream Nails, The Baby Seals, Dream Wife) and all the scuzzy, dreamy sounds in-between (Ghum, Sink Ya Teeth, Sacred Paws, Girl Ray), every single band I saw filled me with an empowering sense of joy and blissful gratitude. And I think all those I saw consisted of female identifying/non binary artists.
So, whilst it still seems to be unusual to attend bigger festivals these days and not encounter ingrained misogyny or disrespect of some kind, Indietracks felt like a different world; a safe, joy-filled world, and one jam-packed with all the best music (plus owls and parrots!).
Qween Kwong @ Rough Trade East, July:
I remember this gig for several reasons. Firstly, because I arrived soaked in sweat and rain from the downpour that briefly broke the overwhelming summer heatwave, and secondly because I was lucky enough to interview Queen Kwong before her set. She was just as cool (and as cutting) as I’d imagined her to be, and her live performance was a visceral, loud, defiant example of her songwriting talent.
Wendy Rae Fowler @ The Finsbury, September:
I won’t lie; prior to Wendy Rae Fowler headlining for us at The Finsbury this September I was overwhelmingly excited and a little nervous. I’ve been a huge fan of her work over the years, and to have her play for us stands out for me as a particularly special moment (or 45 minutes) of 2018. Immediately creating a captivating, cinematic atmosphere, she filled the room with a majestic sense of wonder, delivering a soul-grabbing, breath-taking set that I’m truly honoured to have hosted.
Courtney Barnett Live In Berlin, November:
Touring her second album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, Courtney Barnett was a sight to behold this year: quite literally. I looked on with envy when the Deal sisters provided backing vocals for ‘Nameless, Faceless’ at the BBC’s Biggest Weekend Festival. But, fortunately, a trip to Berlin also included seeing Courtney live at the city’s Huxleys Neue Welt venue. Seeing the songs played on a larger scale, contrasting with the more laidback atmosphere of songs taken from her debut and early EPs highlighted Barnett’s brilliance and renewed my appreciation of her songwriting.
(John McGovern – Contributor)