Independence festival – review

It is a rare thing that I like all the bands I see at a festival, so Independence was a rare thing indeed.

2 days of fine music kicked off for me with a late appearance of Blossoms.  This five piece, who bill themselves as 'Ethereal nostalgic sonance' were probably a bit more lively and less shoegazing than the description suggests. I spent the whole of their set expecting a couple of jumps for a decent pic which never came. I particularly enjoyed Charlemagne and penultimate tune Blown Rose as did the crowd.

What became apparent from the off was that there was to be a particularly taxing lighting set up due to the fact that the spots had been set at a point 1 metre BEHIND the front line meaning that the moment that anyone stepped forward to sing/play guitar they were instantly enveloped in blackness, hence noisy 10,000 iso shots. So sorry bout dat. Also evident was that there would be a large amount of hair going on, thus many pics of Cousin It.

The stage management had left generous gaps between acts so I had the chance to wander round and have a chat with security, bars staff and randoms  as and when. The Engine Rooms is a pretty friendly venue and it's always worth striking up a convo with people you find there.

Anyway before long it was time for The Sunshine Underground. It's been a long time since the Leeds based songsters had played Southampton but the audience were in a forgiving mood and sung back the songs with gusto. I found the first few songs a bit bland but the set warmed up and by the end I was well happy with what was occurring. Certainly one of my favourite bands of the weekend, and worth attending just for this.

It was a pleasure to see a band that looked like they were enjoying themselves and frontman Craig was a gift for photographers. Only slight issue was that at one point I convinced myself that I was watching the Bohicas. Too much lime and soda will do that to you. Some people may say that a cock up on the last song is a bad thing. Nay say I, for you get to hear it again so you get double bubble. Boom!

Last up at the Engine Rooms for Saturday was The Rifles. Moddish, professional and full of energy they finished off the night in style. Some have said that they tend to be a bit inconsistent, but I've only got good things to say about them. Once again a band that like to enjoy themselves onstage and a well oiled crowd joined in the fun on a now sticky dance floor.

Sunday in Southampton began with an excruciating visit to a well known Scandinavian furniture store not a million miles from the Engine Rooms. It's blue. With a big car park. OK it's IKEA dammit! This made the missus happy and meant that I could spend the remainder of the day of rest in The Engine Rooms on day 2 of Independence fest.

First up was one of the must see bands for me - Kassassin Street. They were good, Very good. Lively on stage with a highly individualistic streak, lyrically intriguing and catchy toons. Very indie rock with a sprinkling of Libertines they produced a very strong set indeed. Yep certainly in the top three of the bands I saw on a high quality weekend.

Tigercub bounded onto the stage with a set full of heavy sounds, verging on metalcore at times but without the screaming bollox that goes with it. A satisfyingly tight band (oooh er missus) giving forth head bobbing tunes and seriously dirty guitars. Like.

By the time we get to Kagoule the crowd had become disappointingly small, possibly a product of a school night gig  and a long and somewhat emotional night before. Sad really because Kagoule were worth waiting for. Very indie and almost shoegazing without ever becoming inaccessible Kagoule are one to watch. Striking bassist Lucy has an energetic line in dancing avec big guitar and is a lovely person to chat to also. I'm forgiving them for being from Nottingham because they are so good. Another of my picks of the weekend.

A proper bastard to shoot was The Wytches who played almost in the dark with a backlit stage. To be fair there are only so many silhouettes you need and the profusion of hair made clear and acceptable shots a killer to get. It was almost as though they didn't want photographers to get any good shots of them, like they had a photo product to sell for instance maybe.

They were pretty OK actually but my enjoyment of the music was hampered by the monk I got into because I knew I had no decent shots in camera so read my thoughts with this in mind.I could have done without the long gaps for tuning and the bad earth feedback through the first songs but the grungy, metallic sound was very acceptable. There was a birthday cake then they just fucked off.

Last popular beat combo of the weekend was the mightily impressive  Toy. Again, sadly the crowd had diminished a bit by this point but it was their loss as Toy came out all guns blazing. A big guitar sound, almost like a wall of sound and hairstyles by Peter Frampton and Jeff Beck circa 1975 they present a different prospect to the music fan. Best for me was 'Join the Dots' which completed a fine set and indeed put the cap on a great festival.

Sadly there were a shed load of other artists that I didn't get to see but you have to be philosophical about these things, the gig was over two venues and there are only so many hours in the day right?

The fact is that this was a superb festy and IMHO pretty good value at £30 for the weekend of £15 a day (I think?). Like I said I didn't see a band that I didn't rate and my hat has to go off to the curators who put together a superb line up. Can't wait to see who they book for next year!

The Sunshine Underground @Independence festival 2015
Sunshine Underground@Independence festival 2015
Sunshine Underground @Independence festival 2015
The Rifles @Independence festival 2015
The Rifles@Independence festival 2015
Toy @Independence festival 2015
Kassassin Street @Independence festival 2015
Tigercub @Independence festival 2015
Kagoule @Independence festival 2015
Wytches @Independence festival 2015

Independence – the gallery

So here's a gallery of our least crap pics from the night. Don't judge me. The light was awful.

No snipping off of watermarks now. And make sure you credit us biatch.

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