Summer Sundae Weekender 2011
Posted by Guest Writer on Mon, 12 Sep 2011.
On arrival at Summer Sundae 2011 the familiar senses were awakened, the heavy burdened campers in sight, the stalls shouting for business, the sizzling food flooding nostrils and the first notes of music in the air.
Everyone knows and loves most of the common stalls around the village, back again are the hats, scarves and sunglasses stands as well as the falafel cart, smoothies and pie and mash. This year though the crêperie and pizza stand have been replaced with two Indian stands and a Caribbean stand - seems SSW is bringing more culture than ever before. But on to what everyone is really here for, the music!
Friday saw a host of new and established bands from Dancing Lotus starting off the whole weekend to The Maccabees closing the first night. People are just getting warmed up on the Friday and getting into the swing of things, fast food in one hand a beer in the other and some friends around them that most people will loose later in the campsite.
This Oklahoma band have two albums out at the moment after recently releasing the long awaited 'Tamer Animals'. The five piece band have come to SSW for their very first UK performance, the one and only before flying out to a German festival the next day. Their perfect harmonies and dreamy melodies were a great start to the festival which drew quite a large crowd in the hot tent. The band seemed a little shy of the audience and were at their most confident in the centre of their songs with small 'thank you's every now and then, they showed their talent with ease and slid off stage just as simply as they had come on. Everyone was glad at the chance of seeing the mostly unknown band and the few dedicated fans of theirs were over the moon as they walked away humming their favourite lines.
Heading inside to the indoor stage, De Montfort brings us a Tetris themed backdrop to the next band on display. This five piece from Glasgow performed a great set of lyrically driven numbers along with an impressive white light show. The accent indie pop brought a large following indoors in the Friday warmth, their huge songs doing justice to the large hall with every note and lyric bursting the seems of meaningful. Even to new ears this band would leave a great lasting impression. Look out for 'Boots Met My Face' their debut album, released only two months ago.
A large crowd gathered long before the nights headline act were supposed to be on, a warm air and a warm buzz about what was to come next. The lights went out and everyone cheered the band walked on and everything was going as usual, until it seemed that the lights would never return. The band spent the whole set without a single spotlight on them only coloured backlights pouring into the crowd. It wasn't just me, lots of people around were also complaining that they could only see mysterious silhouettes and a decent photograph was out of question. But turn to the music and it was flawless, as if someone had just put on their CD at full blast, the band performed without a note out of line. A few favourites were noticeable like 'Lego' and 'Love You Better' among a lot of new songs. They seemed like long versions of the same style they already have but with a lot more guitar riffs than singing. The real fans could appreciate the new songs but this is a festival where people are looking for the singles to chant along to. Playing mainly new songs off a yet unreleased album, maybe this set would have been best suited to a smaller gig of theirs rather than the festival. I hate to say it was a forgettable performance and it left most people walking away feeling a little disappointed that they hadn't heard the famous 'Toothpaste Kisses'.
I Am In Love
Formally known as Autohype, the Leicester band return to the festival on a new stage with a new name. The band have been doing the Leicester circuit and going from strength to strength for a few years now. Here on the main stage they can reach an even bigger audience as well as performing to their large group of die hard fans. Lead singer Seb charmed the crowd with his confident presence on stage, climbing onto the speakers and running into the audience people couldn't get enough of his unique performance. Even involving an audience member as he brought a snare drum into the middle of the crowd and hit it along with the brilliantly performing band left on stage. Overall it was a treat to be there at this time, the band are clearly more talented than the 'just another local band' name and will defiantly be ones to watch for the future.
Just passing through the relaxed afternoon crowd where most are sat eating noodles or a free yoghurt where on the main stage are Leicester's own. Of what I could see a lot older fans were up at the front but the majority of the crowd were chatting amongst themselves ignoring the stage and the few minutes I stood listening to the colourfully blazoned '70's group felt like I was trapped on a cheap cruise, glad when I realized that I could actually walk away.
Benjamin Francis Leftwich
New to the scene with new album 'Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm' came English singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich. Influenced by the likes of Dylan and The Stones he forms lyrical poems into softly strummed songs, a pleasure for anyone's ears.Odd silences formed in between songs but later into the set and Ben actually thanked the crowd for being so respectful. He seemed like a shy performer, alone on such a grand stage, but it worked. His smooth voice and effortless guitar playing made it easy for the crowd to stand still and appreciate his work. 'Pictures' and 'Atlas Hands' were among his performance, each song melted into the next and it was over far too quickly. It was as if time stood still while he played and the air became clear, the silence only broken at the end by a roaring and well deserved applause.
Only a few notes of a Bellowhead song need to be heard before a smile creeps about your face. Perfectly situated on the main stage in front of a hearty crowd the band were something special. Quite a few fans were noticeable all around the site today covered with Bellow merchandise and what a great show it was for them and everyone around. Performing is second nature to the folk kings, most of the time having what looks like as many people in their band as in the audience (for anyone that doesn't know, that's a lot!). The stage filled with an ensemble of musicians as the crowd also filled with old and new fans from every teeny bopper to every old rocker. Most people were sat down with an ice cream when the band started but Jon Boden's charm and banter during 'London Town' couldn't keep them down for long. More and more people gathered to the front of the stage to dance with the band and enjoy the uplifting quirks of the English folk. They carried on bouncing through their set enjoying their great reception. Maybe true country folk is not everyone's cup of tea day to day, but the time and place of this set was perfection for everyone involved.
With their powerful drone of post-punk anthems it was time for the London five piece to walk out to a full house. From start to finish the band mastered the stage with strong drum beats and raw guitar based verses. In a lot of songs the band switch it up a gear with belting choruses that match the unique range of Lewis Bowman's voice. Though standing still throughout the show they still had a bursting stage presence and a real chemistry with each other. They have been talked about in the media so much recently it was great for a large crowd to finally see them. In between songs the crowd roared for the singles 'Eastern Girls' and went mad for 'Surfacing', the charisma of these songs entertained everyone and the band certain fulfilled peoples expectations. I feel though their charm and connection to the crowd was a little lacking. But as a new band on the block I'm sure this will get better and I wouldn't hesitate to go and see them again.
Originally a one man band made up by New Yorker, Peter Silberman, The Antlers are now a three piece and have come a long way in the last four years. Signing to Frenchkiss Records in '07 and making their mark with their first concept album 'Hospice', the band are moving from strength to strength and churning up audiences where ever they go. This set consisted of tear jerker's, powerful guitar riffs and haunting but seducing vocals. Another band that took the opportunity, interestingly to play only new songs off of recently released album 'Burst Apart'. The perfect music for the indoor stage, where people want to hide away in a dark room and be whisked into another world by sultry music well this is what The Antlers provided. Each audience member was static as they were wrapped up in their own thoughts and surrounded by the anthemic music. The humble band thanked the UK crowd and finished with killer track 'Putting The Dog To Sleep'. Each loud guitar strum penetrated every body and the high pitched vocals rang in every ear before the band simply packed up their own equipment and walked away.
The Young Knives
Widely anticipated The Young Knives took SS11 in their stride. Pumping out the pop indie sound with well known songs like 'Terra Firma' and the new 'Human Again'. The band played with the crowd about being born and breed in Leicester which gave a ripple of cheers each time it was mentioned. A tidy and quite short set that was very crowd pleasing and maybe a little dry. There might have been more dancing or more of a spark if they had played later in the day instead of while the day was still light.
Though not really being an Example fan, anyone could pick up a prominent buzz in the air as everyone grabbed their last meal of the day and headed to the main stage. The girls were screaming as the sun began to set and one of the most famous acts of the weekend came strutting onstage. The crowd bounced with every beat as the full band rocked out, surprising most people that there even was a band instead of just a mixing desk. Half way into the pounding set Example joked with the crowd, 'Right that's all the s**t ones out of the way, lets get on with the good ones'. He went on to play a string of singles which even the toughest of rockers I'm sure would have had to have jump around to. 'Kickstarts' and 'Changed The Way You Kiss Me' were among the screams from the crowd as Example really revved them up in true festival style. Everyone got involved and everyone knew the chart hooks and beats, no-one would have been able to leave without admitting he gave a great performance. I'd put money on it that Example is a new guilty pleasure of many a rock fan.
Want an alternative to mainstream Ed Sheeran? Check out Ben Howard for his crazy acoustic playing and soulful tone but without the common song topics. Having to wait four hours to his rescheduled slot Ben was the last to play the Rising/Last FM Stage in competition with McFly on the main. That didn't hinder in the slightest, it seemed that all the sensible adults, and some hippies, turned out for Ben instead of the teen heart throb band. A large crowd welcomed the young musician and his back up bass and drum players as they laid out the last songs of the night with ease. All of Ben Howard's songs have heart in them and tonight he shared them with the loud and slightly drunk crowd. Each quick lick and deep groan was imitated by the audience that knew every second off of the online EP 'Old Pine'. It was a special treat also to hear a few new songs off of upcoming debut album 'Every Kingdom', it was one of those nights where everyone was enjoying themselves and having a dance to the summer music. Sift through all of the interesting guitar riffs, funky rhythms and special techniques that Ben uses and he is just human, proving this by forgetting some words to his single, laughing it off with the crowd it was really like nothing could stop this man from playing a great set. He spoke to the crowd and promised to return to us, a delight to end the weekend with and just as we thought it was coming to the end he was thankfully allowed one more song. Check out singles, 'Old Pine' and 'The Wolves' to see some real talent.
McFly rocked the crowd, the first half of their set being album songs and the second half classics for the whole crowd to sing along to. 'Five colours in her hair' went down a treat, as well as a their commonly covered 'Pass Out' by Tinie Tempah which had the whole crowd screaming. The use of a t-shirt cannon added even more excitement to the already buzzing crowd, as lead singer Dougie fired to whichever lucky fan could jump the highest. Having toured for so long the band connected with the crowd incredibly and really owned the show, instead of being the pop act that most think they are they proved tonight that they are a real rock band with real talent. Even though a few lads were interesting chanting Busted songs, McFly played a great mix of old and new tunes of course all being classics that everyone knows the hooks to. By the time Sunday came they were all anyone could talk about and although the opinion of many of the festivals regulars was that McFly were changing the dynamics of Summer Sundae, they pleased all who went to watch them and certainly deserved their spot as the headline act.
Wrapped up for another year…
It's always great on the Monday morning at SS, the security are walking round the campsite shaking tents, some early birds are already packed up and trudging out worse for wear and others are loosing tent pieces in the wind. But the guaranteed conversation is about all the best bits of the great weekend now sadly over. 'Remember when…' and 'That was so funny…' stories can be heard all around along with some hung-over people still singing the songs from the night before. Everyone goes home happy and already anticipating what exciting things will be to come next year.
Word and pictures by Jodie Totman
(Credit to Charlotte Lambert for the McFly writeup)