Sunday, 15 April 2018

Yeovil Beer Festival - Music Review.

Hello again folks. Yesterday I was lucky enough to be invited to the Yeovil Beer Festival by my friend Laz. Despite having a fucking horrible week and not really having any interest in Ale I decided to go along and watch some music. I’m so glad I did. Due to most of my friends’ acts being on the second stage and being able to smoke outside, I spent most of the day outside and missed a large proportion of the main stage acts. I’ll write about anything I actually managed to catch more than one song of. Hope you enjoy.

Laz Clements.
Laz invited me to come along and give him a bit of support through the day, which mainly involved grabbing his beer for him between songs, which I was more than happy to oblige. Laz is an absolute soldier and stalwart of the last 10 years of Yeovil music, his bluesy acoustic songs defy the simple ‘breathy white boy with a guitar’ stereotypes that dominate the airwaves. His gruff voice tells stories of his interesting life and his many years of entertaining. A true gent who loves what he does and stayed right to the end to support the other acts.

Andy Merritt
I’ve got to admit I only caught a bit of Andy’s set as I was buzzing around doing other things, but I saw a couple songs of his and thought it unfair not to give him some love here. The guy’s got a velvet voice and I even sat through a Sheeran cover, which if you know me will know is a struggle for me. Great talent and potential for such a young lad. Very impressed.

The Stand Alone Empire
Aaron is a friend of mine, but anything I post beyond here is not influenced by the fact that we know each other. His set was fantastic with some incredibly well picked songs for his position on the bill, he has a real knack for selecting the most upbeat well known songs to cover in his stripped back acoustic style. A funky cover of ‘Get Lucky’ and a rousing version of ‘Mr Brightside’ (which I audibly predicted before he even played it) were the most popular with the crowd. However I know how well Aaron delivers a Weller tune and I was not disappointed when ‘That’s Entertainment’ rolled around. An absolute pro who can light up any room (or tent) he is in, wether its solo or backed the guy can just turn it on. The sun was breaking through and the atmosphere was amazing.

Out Of Order
Just before Aaron started I ended up in the main room having a sit down and managed to catch a bit of Out Of Order, they were trotting out the typical pub covers to a largely empty room. They did pull out a reasonably spirited version of INXS’ ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ but I think this is one of those bands that thrives off atmosphere and there was none of that in the huge dark room while everybody was outside in the sunshine. Can’t really offer a judgement as I don’t think they were putting their all in just to play to the backs of peoples’ heads who were queuing for the cider bar.

Banana High
Fucking hell. Most improved player award for sure right here. I hadn’t heard the Bananas for a good 18 months and these guys are like a different band! Anyone who knows me knows the problems I have with traditional Ska music, I just don’t get it. However these guys sound more like best-era RX Bandits with a Bedouin Soundclash chaser now. Upbeat and joyful, these guys played harder and faster as they tried to drag the sun through the clouds. The sun finally obliged just in time for new single ‘Rhythm Of Your Soul’ and the  crowd finally loosened up, dancing and singing along to the couple of expertly chosen covers scattered among their stacked catalogue of original material. Lead singer Nathan has stuck with this project over many years and I’m delighted to say that the current lineup is the best he’s ever had, hope the success that they richly deserve follows on. Saw a couple people fishing for CD’s after the set, which shows they won people over with their uptempo goodness.

The Window Trees
My mum always tought me that if you have nothing good to say.  then say nothing at all. However that doesn’t make a good review. The only positive thing I can say is that it takes a particular talent to make an hours worth of different songs all sound exactly the same.

Sinful Maggie
The sheer gulf in talent and quality in comparison to the band before was phenomenal. Like night and day. A whirlwind of noise akin to Rancid or one of the Duane Peters bands had the crowd in absolute raptures. By this point of the night everyone was fully steaming on the Ale and Cider and this was the perfect place on the bill for this band. Accordion fronted punk rock is niche as fuck and these guys bring the noise in spades. The bass player had a Nekromantix t-shirt on so I was sold from the outset! The biggest crowd by far for the second stage bands were dancing and singing and hanging on every word. The band have just released their debut full length and the future is looking incredibly bright for them. I didn’t notice any obvious covers and to get up and play a full set of original material in front of a drunk crowd who don’t know the songs takes brass fucking buttons. Tied between these guys and Banana High for my highlight of the day.

Bowie Fashion
Back into the main room for this sort-of Bowie tribute band. The singer delivered all the songs in the style of Bowie but without going into that false reverb ‘Flight of the Conchords’ style Bowie piss-take voice. The crowd was building in the main room and absolute bangers like ‘Modern Love’ and ‘Lets Dance’ were delivered perfectly and had the crowd ready for the main act.

Ocean Sunset View
I’ll admit to only seeing this band once before and I didn’t get a particularly good feel for it. I told Nath I was just gonna write ‘Pop Punk’ here and have done with it but my fucking word was I wrong. The band have been out and about on tour the last few weeks and you can tell they’ve tightened up tenfold. The interaction between the band and the crowd was electric, everybody was really into it. A strategically placed Blink 182 cover picked up a flagging crowd and by the end of the set the tent was bouncing. Lets be honest a Pop Punk band are never going to be featured on the front of Prog magazine for their complicated song structures, but the originals in the set were tight, well constructed and catchy. Singer James’ barnet is a bit out there but his vocals and stage presence are phenomenal. Ones to watch, 100%.

Starting with ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ in the main room is never going to go down badly. What could have been a nightmare placement on the bill due to room full of flagging tired drunk people was instantly turned into a high-energy up front glam rock extravaganza. These guys have caught lightning in a bottle with this act and deserve all the success that they’re currently getting. A unique act for sure, but everything Larry turns his hand to turns to gold so what can you expect? A perfect headliner for a great day of local music.

Overall I feel that the quality of the music on offer over the course of the day was excellent, a great variety of covers and originals and something on offer for everyone. I’m not gonna make comment on the Ale other than it was perfectly drinkable and had me bed bound til lunchtime today. That’s what happens when everythime you order a drink you just say “The Strongest thing you’ve got left”. A great day, and roll on next year, although if the fates are good some of these bands will be too big for these stages next year. Thanks to everyone who came up and chatted throughout the day, you’re all amazing. Hope you enjoyed this and I’ll try to get some more live reports down over the next couple weeks. Thx, Craig.

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