Cast your mind back to the beginning of May, when the sun made a brief appearance, Topman suddenly got their summer collection of wife-beaters in, and there was that one man wearing shorts in Co-op buying burgers and a four-pack of Fosters. It meant one thing; summer was finally here and the festival season is officially upon us. Over the past month, Bokah were lucky enough to attend two of the early summer gatherings: Land of Kings and The Great Escape.
Both are town-takeover styled festivals, celebrating their community’s most inspired and proudest venues by showcasing a whole host of new and exciting musical talent. Land of Kings in Dalston, North London, and The Great Escape in Brighton have well and truly kicked off the festive-filled summer season. Read on to find out our best bits from both events.
Land Of Kings
Set on and around Kingsland High Street, Land of Kings took over a hand full of venues for two nights on the 4th and 5th of May. From Dalston’s finest late-night haunts, including the well established Alibi and Shacklewell Arms, to vacant studios and an underground bunker, to North London favourite, the Vortex Jazz Club, and even a stunning rooftop garden complete with stage and bar. Bokah attended on the Saturday night, delving into Dalston’s burgeoning creative scene, and were not disappointed. Our best bits were:
Ben Westbeech at Magnolia: Representing UK house and disrupting dance floors under his other moniker, Breach, Ben Westbeech is something of an intriguing musician. Playing at the spacious banqueting sweet turned club venue, Ben wooed the crowd with his elegant soulful vocals, whilst simultaneously fiddling with buttons and faders on his mixing deck to deliver those catchy house hooks that kept the floor moving.
Ben Westbeech: Photo courtesy of Dan Medhurst
Drunk barman at the Print House: Dropping a bottle of vodka and nearly falling over his makeshift bar (a table with some spirits on) at the intimate Print House Gallery, this barman was certainly making sure to sample the Punch he was concocting before selling it. Greeting partygoers with open arms and exclaiming “welcome to my bar” – this guy was hilarious. We salute you Mr Barman. The venue was host to London Fields Radio DJs, who were spinning some seriously catchy garage tunes when we stumbled across it.
Paulskiart’s live visuals at the Roof Park: Atop Dalston’s Roof Park, in the glossy drizzle of the night, were some local DJs rolling out some choice tunes to a backdrop of swirling, colourful visuals provided by Paulskiart. The moving images were created by dripping ink into a rotating petri dish on an old-school over-head projector, which displayed the magnified images on the screen. It sounds complicated but it really wasn’t, and mesmerised the crowd in one of the coolest venues the festival had to offer. It was hosted by the Hackney Film Festival who were screening local short-films throughout the night.
Dalston Roof Park: Photo Courtesy of Dan Medhurst
Rastafarian in the street taking Bob Marley requests: We’re pretty sure this guy wasn’t on the line-up, but he should have been. Maybe he’ll be discovered as Hackney’s newest underground talent and will be hosting his own disused-space-come-venue at next year’s festival. Maybe not; we had to help him out with some of the lyrics to ‘Three Little Birds’, but it was a beautiful rendition and provided a lovely sing along whilst we were waiting to use the cash point.
Raf Daddy’s end of night set at Arcola Studios: Raf Daddy is The Daddy, simple as that. He took the late-night punters by storm at Arcola Studio 3, a second floor gallery space with a wooden floor that shook from the bass, and steamed up windows from the moisture exuding from the dance-crazy crowd. Being one half of The 2 Bears, Raf Rundell showcased his masterclass in stupidly infectious house music, keeping the party alive to the early hours by throwing in some winning classics from the 90’s.
Other festival highlights included; Brownswood showcase at The Shacklewell Arms, experimental dancing to Trevor Jackson’s set at Birthdays, Speech Debelle jamming at Vortex Jazz Club, and Magic FM playing some undeniable classics in the taxi on the way home.
The Great Escape
Celebrating new and emerging acts from across Europe, The Great Escape takes over many of Brighton’s favoured venues for three nights every year to showcase a whole host of fresh and exciting talent. Along with the live music side of the event, The Great Escape also hosts it’s very own convention, where industry heads gather together to have a bit of a jolly, but more importantly discuss the state of the industry. Bokah went down on the second night, Friday 11th May, to see what this buzzing seaside town had to offer. Here’s our pick of the bunch:
Gang Colours at the Unitarian Church: We were fully aware that the venue had ‘Church’ in the name, but didn’t quite realise that it would actually be in a church. There was an organ, lots of old looking wooden chairs, church-like decor, and a grand piano at the front, which Will Ozanne (Gang Colours) sat casually behind. So, like the rest of the crowd, we sat down, and watched as Ozanne played though his debut album, The Keychain Collection, to stirring effect, fitting the grandeur of his setting perfectly. He finished by covering fellow Southampton musician, Craig David, with a rendition of his hit, ‘Fill Me In’, which strangely worked and certainly put a smile on a few faces.
Gang Colours: Photo courtesy of Tim Boddy
AlunaGeorge at Brighton Coalition: Possibly our most anticipated act of the night; we waited underneath the dimly light, low swung arches of the cavernous sea–front haunt, better known as the Brighton Coalition, for Aluna Francis and George Reid to grace the stage. Following their recent release on Tri Angle, with three tracks that quite simply hooked us like nothing else around at the moment, we had high hopes for these two performing live. They didn’t disappoint; playing with a drummer and bassist, George jammed on his keyboard/mixer, wowing with strange effects, whilst Aluna owned the stage with a somewhat mesmerising swagger. As they lit up the room with their hip-hop styled, beat-driven pop, the crowd couldn’t help but move along with Aluna’s off-the-cuff dancing.
Aluna and George: Photo courtesy of Dan Dennison
Michael Eavis’s short shorts: One of the hotly anticipated panel discussions at this years Great Escape Convention was ‘The Great Festival Conversation’, which saw Michael Eavis (Glastonbury) and Rob Da Bank (Bestival) on stage with a few other leading festival curators, all having a chat about the growing festival industry. Aside from this being a very interesting conversation indeed, one couldn’t help but be distracted from the outset when Michael walked on stage dressed smartly in a shirt and blazer combo, coupled with, oh wait, shorts. Incredibly short shorts. Besides this daring look, and what will probably be this summer’s new trend, Mr Eavis made for a very entertaining guest.
Other highlights included: Koreless and Stay+ at Brighton Coalition, Guardian’s Band of the Day stage hosting the woozy pop of Keep Shelly in Athens, missing the ridiculous Trippple Nippples (Damn it!), and meeting the exceedingly chatty Dan Le Sac.