Bushstock- Various Venues in Shepherds Bush, Saturday 2nd June 2012
By Ryan D Hughes
A beautiful day in a great setting and a line-up of brilliant folk, a man couldn’t ask for anymore. There was an excellent buzz about this festival and evidently this buzz had stretched further afield than just England, as we spoke to many a European music enthusiast.
Our viewing action for the day started with the amazing Fink, performing as an acoustic two piece in a pub. Wow, what a start. Two guys that are as cool as it gets, in a ‘bin man chic’ kind of way and so talented. They opened with ‘Wheels’ a song about being on the road, showing off Fin Greenall’s excellence as a vocalist and as a guitar player and Tim Thornton adding interesting and highly talented touches throughout the set, on both the acoustic guitar and drum box. The set although short due to the nature of the festival was brilliant with a great flow, spreading out the bangers. Unfortunately they left out ‘Sort of Revolution’ but finished off with the catchy as hell ‘Pretty Little Thing’. Everyone had a massive smile on their face after this amazing set from one of England’s most important acts in modern day folk, pushing boundaries is what Fin does. I was really excited for this band as I’ve been a fan for some time without seeing them; I’m now looking forward to seeing it in full flow drums, affects and all.
My first exposure to this fabulously interesting Belgian synth-folk two piece. With affects pedals, multiple synths and a real darkness to their music they really shouldn’t be folk but the vocal arrangements and the lovely combination with acoustic guitars is beautiful. Surely they will be expanding on this two-piece soon and adding live drums? That said it’s beautiful as it is. They spoke of an EP which I can’t find as of yet and they are unsigned but this can’t be the case for much longer. Check this band out they have a stripped back Antlers feel to them. ‘Fragile’ is a song to be reckoned with.
MATTHEW AND THE ATLAS
Matthew Hegarty once had an atlas; he then had two continents and now appears to carry the weight of the world on his own shoulders. But when you’re as great, and I mean great, as this guy you can do anything you want. Along with Monument Valley he’s the best solo folk artist our country has produced in a long time. As gifted with lyrics as he is with vocal ability and guitar playing, Matthew stands on stage with no airs and graces and he just captivates an audience with sublime levels of talent and excellence in crafting folk bangers. The set consisted of mainly old material, he threw in a new song about not changing, which did feel like a question about whether to continue his career…I bloody hope his answer is yes! Whilst this song is so new it’s unnamed, it was brilliant. Leaving two big folk anthems till the end ‘Within the Rose’ and ‘I Will Remain’ Matthew really got the party started. One thing I noticed at this festival is that Italians love ’getting their clap on’ and once prompted by excellence and some crazy Italians’ entire capacities of London, pubs enjoy it too. Definitely the highlight of a great day.
My favourite find of recent months having randomly seen him in a church in Salford, this shy indie guy along with a good backing band appears to be creating waves in the folk scene. Lyrically, vocally and musically he is awesome. I own both EPs and you should too. Think if Mystery Jets did a folk album it would sound like this. His music is catchy, dark and intriguing. ‘Appointment to Samarra’ which he played second is my favourite song at the minute and it was nailed live. Paul has a very awkward yet endearing stage presence and I genuinely think he is unaware of quite how good he is. Only problem is if Paul makes a full length album it will have to be double disk due to the length of each track and the printers will have to have a lot of ink in as he loves a long title too. ‘Good Time Rags and Requiems’ is his other masterpiece.
LET’S BUY HAPPINESS
This North-East five piece added some great energy and pace to previously mellow and at times sombre day. Lead by Sarah Hall but comprising of group harmonies sporadically throughout the set. They are an interesting, very relevant band with folk undertones to a slightly The Long Blondes-esque indie pop exterior. Stage presence could be more eye-catching as they are a five piece but musically they are very strong, as is the single ‘Fast Fast’. Ones to watch this year as they don’t seem to try too hard to be anything other than themselves and I like that about them. Happy, energetic and at times dreamy.
I don’t really need to say much about this amazing young lady and her band as I’m sure she is by now on everybody’s radar. Headlining in an atmospheric, intimate yet pretty big church can’t be easy but when you are as good as these guys it must be a doddle. Rather like PTS, Eleanor’s stage presence is shy and awkward and whilst Igor tries to be slightly more banterous, he’s a bit awkward too, but once they start playing and she starts singing the whole crowd is focused on their brilliance. Playing all the big ones, ‘Landfill’ ’Home’ and finishing with ‘Candles’ this was a great set by a great emerging/newly emerged band.
How will Communion find a better way to end a folk festival in coming years? The dancey indie Londoners always put on a great show and get everyone moving. Performing somewhat of a best of set, this was one full hour of happiness. Sing and recall, dance and get as sweaty as you possibly can. I genuinely love this band; have done for many a year now. A fantastic set containing ‘Radlands’, ‘Serotonin’, ’Alice Springs’ to name just a few anthems.
Great festival, go next year, but don’t stand anywhere near me talking
Ryan D Hughes