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Soul Rida at Staxtonbury

Staxtonbury 2014

Our summary of a number of the acts playing at this year's Staxtonbury Music Festival, the 6th year this event has taken place. 

Reviewed by two of our Yorkshire Coast Gigs regular contributors, Tessa Hughes and Luke Webster, with photos by David Ruston (Rusty Imaging) and Joseph Fowler (Joseph Fowler Photography)

Friday:

Tyler Jack Smith
Skapegoat
Luke Smythe
Two Men and a Beard

Saturday:

Trilogy
Rat Catchers Mallets 
Leanne Burton
Terri-Ann Prendergast
The Supersonic Jets 
Soul Rida
Jo Bywater
Innes
Little Big Horn
Lucy Rose Boxall
The Kets
String Theory
Alabama Paydirt
Ashleigh McPherson
Huge
Dogfinger Steve
Shamrockers
Snatch

Sunday:

Adam Chodan
Hi Heel Sneakers
Tom Davenport & Friends
Bluephunk
Twister
Unit 3

Comments

 

 

 

Tessa's Friday

Tyler Jack Smith

The first act I managed to see all of was a young man from Filey by the name of Tyler Jack Smith. Taking the stage accompanied only by his keyboard, Tyler delivered a set of ballads both soulful and melodic, including an original by the name of 'Let Me Go' and a number of covers, each with his own style applied. His interaction with the audience was animated and amusing, with the sheltering crowd more than happy to engage and sing along. For a pleasing ending alteration, Tyler was joined onstage by a cajonist and a female singer / acoustic guitarist, who helped him finish his set on a fantastic high note. Tyler was to be seen twice more during the festival delivering the final ballad of the night as the crowds left the arena on Friday and Saturday night.

Skapegoat

Another act from Filey continued my night in the shape of Skapegoat, who graced the main stage with a power-packed set of rock and pop covers, all worked over with a heavy punk vibe, which saturated the feeling of the set.  They began with a version of McFly's 'Five Colours in Her Hair', accompanied by a mention of the recent McBusted gig (much to my personal amusement, having been the reviewer for that too) and the relative crowd size at Staxtonbury (which admittedly was much bigger). The punk feeling strengthened as the group plunged into a very fast-paced version of 'Blitzkrieg Bop' which resulted in the guitarist's new amp blowing, presumably because it couldn't take the sheer speed and force! Amp removed, a call went out from the band for some wider crowd involvement, and the standing space began to fill with people ready to dance as the band stormed through the remainder of their set, including a particularly punk version of 'Shine' and finishing with 'The Great Pretender'.

Luke Smythe / Two Men and a Beard

As the night wore on I progressed to the acoustic stage, just in time to catch the end of local favourite Luke Smythe's set, and became privileged enough to witness (and film) him finish his set with the first-ever Staxtonbury proposal! (Congratulations from everyone at YCG, guys!)

Following on from Luke was the act I would call my favourite of the weekend - the Staxton-based Two Men and a Beard, the fantastically bizarre posters for which many festival goers may have spotted floating around the festival. My first impression on seeing the act arrive was that there are indeed two of them, complete with two guitars, but I saw no beard present! The confusion of this titling soon became perfectly logical as the nature of the act made itself clear. Clever humorous music, occasionally verging on tongue-in cheek, teamed with impeccable theatrical timing and hilarious banter between performers and audience made this the treat of the weekend. Amusingly familiar were re-written tunes such as 'Knocking on Kevin's Door' and 'I Would do Many Things For Love', but the real laughs came from the more original numbers such as 'What Would Iron Man Do' and 'A Brave Explorer', which I won't spoil, but I would strongly recommend finding on YouTube. Two Men and a Beard reminded me of some of my favourite comedy musicians - Tim Minchin and (even more so) Flight of The Conchords, and I would strongly recommend anyone with a sense of humour to check them out at any given opportunity.

Luke's Saturday

Trilogy

I've never been to Staxtonbury before, but since I like fields and live music and easy puns, I was already looking forward to it long before I got to the venue.
I turned up early enough to liaise with the other members of the Yorkshire Coast Gigs team, and to get a decent seat on a bale to watch the first act, Trilogy.
Opening with their own rendition of The Black Keys' recent hit 'Gold on the Ceiling' was a sure-fire way to instantly win me over – following it with The Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'The Zephyr Song' made certain I was going to stick around. Looking around at the already heaving crowd, I knew I wasn't the only one for whom this was true.
The riffs were crunchy, the drums propulsive, and familiar songs were rapidly transformed into something fresh and new, while still being recognisable (which is exactly what you want from cover songs).
As well as the afore-mentioned, Trilogy also covered 'Teddy Picker' by The Arctic Monkeys and AC/DC's 'Highway To Hell', showing that they really know their way around tunes from a range of different genres and eras.
It was with their take on that hard rock classic that they closed their highly enjoyable set, covering a great song in a great manner. If every other act can be as good as this, I thought, then the song title would be in no way portentous – the weekend was more likely to end up as 'Stairway To Heaven' than 'Highway To Hell'.

Trilogy

Trilogy

Trilogy

Trilogy

Trilogy

 

Rat Catchers Mallets 

I wasn't intending to review these lads from York, but with other reviewers covering other stages already and me really liking their name, I decided to stick around. It was definitely worthwhile.
Playing mostly original material, their sound drew heavily from the worlds of indie, folk, and country & western, with just enough of a wild Celtic twang to draw easy comparisons to The Pogues, circa-'Rum Sodomy & The Lash'.
The songs of Rat Catchers Mallets – led by acoustic guitar and sandpapery vocals, with the gently plucked strings of a banjo offering a wistful counterpoint – were generally quite melancholy, painting pictures of downtrodden gents yearning for loves long lost.
The sombre mood was slightly at odds with the retina-scorching sunshine of the afternoon, but I think it was testament to the group's songwriting and performance abilities that a large proportion of the audience, having been drawn in by Trilogy's more upbeat sound, stuck around to enjoy the entire set.
If I hadn't been driving home later, I reckon I'd most certainly have got inordinately drunk to Rat Catchers Mallets moody and contemplative songs, and I really do mean this in the most complimentary way possible.

Rat Catchers Mallet

Rat Catchers Mallet

Rat Catchers Mallet

Rat Catchers Mallet

Rat Catchers Mallet

Rat Catchers Mallet

 

Leanne Burton 

Leanne Burton was the first act I went to watch on Staxtonbury's Acoustic Stage, and following the various different types of loud noise from the Main Stage, it was nice to hear something a little more restrained.
Armed only with a microphone and an acoustic guitar, she began confidently enough with 'Annie's Song', seeming to draw into the tent at least a half dozen people per verse, before segueing neatly into a stirring cover of Dolly Parton's infamous 'Jolene' (perhaps a neat little nod to that other recent '-bury' festival you may have heard about).
Her strong, clear vocals and picked guitar style brought to mind a slightly firmer-voiced Laura Marling, especially on her country & western-tinged, falsetto-laden original material.
Of the cover versions, however, I must say I had a hard time picking a favourite. Firstly I chose Leanne's rendition of The Cranberries evergreen 'Zombie', which was as full of wounded melancholy as the original, but then after watching her croon her way through 'At Last', I had to change my mind – here was a truly soulful performance the likes of which Etta James herself would surely be proud.
By the end of her sadly quite short set, I doubt there was anyone in the tent uncertain that Leanne Burton is a name to remember for future reference.

Leanne Burton

 Leanne Burton

 

Terri-Ann Prendergast

The Main Stage was definitely the place for Terri-Ann Prendergast – her huge and exuberant personality couldn't really have been held on any of the smaller ones.
Showcasing the on-stage confidence, verve and poise one might expect of a much more seasoned performer, Terri-Ann launched into a set filled with soulful, often sultry songs, largely piano-led and with something of a jazzy kick to them.
Though the majority of her set struck me as downbeat and restrained (in the best possible way), she was obviously equally comfortable stretching out on the faster tunes, like her highly enjoyable cover of Pharrell's recent hit, 'Happy'. It was certainly an apt cover, as most of the audience that I could see did indeed look very pleased by the choice.
Terri-Ann's backing band were more than proficient enough to deal with the varying styles and speeds appearing in the set, shifting from song to song as though it took them no effort at all.
With her strong and confidently radio-ready voice, catchy hooks and clear comfort in being on-stage, I imagine Terri-Ann Prendergast could well be on her way to bigger things in the near future.

Terri-Ann Prendergast

 Terri-Ann Prendergast

Terri-Ann Prendergast

Terri-Ann Prendergast

Terri-Ann Prendergast

Terri-Ann Prendergast

Terri-Ann Prendergast

Terri-Ann Prendergast

Terri-Ann Prendergast

Terri-Ann Prendergast

Terri-Ann Prendergast

Terri-Ann Prendergast

 

The Supersonic Jets 

As the first band I saw on the Marquee Stage, The Supersonic Jets did a fine job of demonstrating that regardless of size, this stage really is the loudest.
Mixing two guitars, bass and drums with catchy vocals to great effect, these boys from Beverly played a set full of the type of gloriously stomp-along indie rock that The Arctic Monkeys used to make.
Not to say their sound was in any way derivative. 'Empire', for example, smashed a heavy, almost martial beat together with an instantly hum-able riff and hair-raising guitar solo to create an undeniably memorable song.
'Tonight' was another personal favourite – a song with a riff so sharp you could shave with it, and the kind of harmonious chorus that should rightfully be known off by heart throughout every indie nightclub in the county (or country, even).
The guys in the band displayed a definite chemistry throughout, crashing headlong through their set with barely a moment's hesitation.
With their mixture of excellent riffs and ear-worm melodies, The Supersonic Jets are most certainly a band worth watching, no matter what size stage you happen to be seeing them on.

Supersonic Jets

Supersonic Jets

Supersonic Jets

Supersonic Jets

Supersonic Jets

Supersonic Jets

 

Soul Rida

My first thought on Soul Rida – probably as close to seeing a real-life representation of The Commitments as you can get.
It's been a while since I've seen a band so readily drag a crowd into participating. By the time the group were even halfway through their horn-heavy cover of Robbie Williams 'Let Me Entertain You', the crowd had practically no choice but to jump around and dance along like a pack of maniacs.
With some interesting harmonising between male and female vocals and (as I may have mentioned) a lot of horns, Soul Rida quickly whipped up a party atmosphere which enveloped the entire field full of revellers.
Steamrolling their way through party classics such as 'Valerie', 'Love Shack', and the unavoidable '70s funk juggernaut that is 'Disco Inferno', the band made sure nobody watching had time to think of doing anything but dancing.
All in all, Soul Rida's entire act was undeniably funky, full of wonderful melodies, shout-along choruses and an entirely impressive stage presence from every band member. I doubt anyone in the audience will forget their performance.

Soul Rida

Soul Rida

Soul Rida

Soul Rida

Soul Rida

Soul Rida

Soul Rida

Soul Rida

Soul Rida

 

Jo Bywater

I won't lie – the audience for Jo Bywater's appearance on the Acoustic Stage was much smaller than it ought to have been. That said, I don't think I've ever seen such a quietly appreciative crowd offer up so much heartfelt applause between songs.
In many ways, her sadly quite short set was split into two halves. The first couple of songs were full of gentle finger picking and Jo's strong, jazzy vocals; the second lot featured a steel guitar and some lovely slide-work.
Of the first half, my personal favourite was the gorgeous 'Sun Shines Under Water', which, aside from combining intricate finger-picking with vocals not entirely unlike Fiona Apple, also sounded enough like Nick Drake to be highly enjoyable.
However, for me, Jo really showed off her prowess in the second half of her set, as she brought out an absolutely beautiful steel guitar for songs such as the pastoral 'Silence Changed'. This song was so utterly absorbing, so quietly hypnotic,that I didn't even scribble down any notes during the performance – just sat there staring, transfixed. I honestly think I may have just forgotten that I was sat in a tent in some field near Scarborough until the song came to a close.
Another favourite – 'Chopping Wood' – operated as a perfect opposite to this gentle, shimmering number, acting as a stomping and instantly memorable blues-driven finale to a highly enjoyable set.
It's always hard to pick a highlight when visiting a festival, but after her performance on Staxtonbury's Acoustic Stage, I genuinely think Jo Bywater may have been mine.

Jo Bywater

Jo Bywater

 

Innes

By the time 9:30pm rolled around, there was a massive crowd gathered around the Main Stage, all ready and rearing to hear some more music. I'm sure this was most pleasing to Croatian-born singer-songwriter, Innes.
Collaborating excellently with her backing band, she largely performed great covers of popular songs by artists such as Ellie Goulding and Lorde – in many instances, I felt her heartfelt renditions actually topped those of the original artists.
There was also – with the assistance of Innes' superb guitarist dad, Tiho – a dead-on version of Phil Collins' perennial classic 'In The Air Tonight' (and don't you just bet the drummer loved performing that drum bit).
Innes' own original songs fit in easily among the popular cover versions. In fact, I'd probably say that all in all, they were actually more catchy. Given a few more listens, I'd bet the entire audience would have been singing along to every word as surely as they would to any massive radio hit.
One issue I did find with this performance was that the sound was, on occasion, patchy to the point of being unlistenable. However, with her on-stage charisma and powerful vocals, Innes managed to make this seem like more of a mild misstep than a gig-ruining problem.

 

Innes & Mr T

Innes

Innes

Innes

Innes

Innes

Innes

Innes

Innes

Innes

Innes

Innes

Innes

 

Little Big Horn

Any act – and I mean any act – that opens with a note-perfect cover of The Blues Brothers' 'Can't Turn You Loose' is certain to grab a crowd's attention. Little Big Horn did just that, and then some.
As their name may suggest, horns were prevalent, with the three-piece brass section blasting out infectious, fast-paced rhythms from first to last, while added keys introduced a certain honky-tonk element at some points.
The group's sound – sometimes smooth and jazzy, sometimes bouncy and upbeat – filled the entire tent fully and lead to outbreaks of dancing throughout. I don't think there was a single person (myself included) who wasn't at the very least tapping a foot along to every song.
Little Big Horn's mastery of different tempos and moods was a thrill to behold. Whether they were eliciting audience participation with their spot-on rendition of Cab Calloway's 'The Hi-De-Ho Man', or rampaging through BB King's 'Paying The Cost To Be The Boss' as smoke from the smoke machine billowed out (giving the entire tent something of a New Orleans feel), there was never once a missed beat or note.
One of my highlights from their set was a version of the classic 'Soul Man'. As I listened, I realised I couldn't decide whether my enjoyment stemmed solely from the song itself, or more directly from Little Big Horn's take on it – I think there is probably no greater compliment you can give a cover band.

Little Big Horn

Little Big Horn

Little Big Horn

Little Big Horn

Little Big Horn

 

Tessa's Saturday

Lucy Rose Boxall

My schedule for Saturday was supposed to begin with New Strings, but when I arrived at the marquee stage I found instead a young lady from Malton by the name of Lucy Rose Boxall, who delighted the afternoon crowd with her acoustic guitar and beautifully clear singing voice. Her interactions with the audience were very pleasant and easy-going, while the highlights of her set included an original song about Alice in Wonderland, a fabulous cover of Beyonce's 'Single Ladies' and a very uniquely styled cover of 'Amazing Grace'.

The Kets

Next on Saturday's menu was a band from Durham called The Kets, who brought a set of slightly folky feel-good originals. They kept up a happy and enthusiastic show with sounds reminiscent of Paolo Nutini and Frank Turner, with one particular song called 'Brand New Song' which was catchy and bouncy enough to be a typical feel- good summer hit.

String Theory / Alabama Paydirt

Next came a pair of Scarborough favourites in succession.  First a round of well-delivered popular covers with some audience singalong moments from String Theory, then a burst of heavy funky rock from Alabama Paydirt, who stormed through their set with the greatest speed and efficiency and cheered the crowd with their infectious mood and energy.  Both bands were, of course, excellent.

String Theory

String Theory

String Theory

Alabama Paydirt

Alabama Paydirt

Alabama Paydirt

Alabama Paydirt

Alabama Paydirt

Alabama Paydirt

Alabama Paydirt

Alabama Paydirt

 

Ashleigh McPherson

Following this up on the Acoustic Stage was another Scarborough act, Ashleigh McPherson, a girl armed with an acoustic guitar, a pure voice and a mellow style. She delivered a range of covers including the classic Elvis tune 'Can't Help Falling In Love' and 'Mardy Bum' by Arctic Monkeys alongside a newly learnt version of an Ed Sheeran song and a fantastic cover of 'Teenage Dirtbag' by Wheatus. Also included was an original called 'Home'.

 Ashleigh McPherson

Ashleigh McPherson

 

Huge

Returning from last year were York-based covers band Huge, who come equipped with a brass section and ready to make people dance. Requests came straight away from the band for people to come down to the front, and just kept coming from there. The crowd was asked to hold hands for 'Don't Stop Me Now' and taught a dance routine for 'Blame it on the Boogie'. Activity continued on with plenty of singing along to 'Video Killed the Radio Star' and 'I Predict a Riot' followed by more synchronised dancing and finally a conga line formed to 'King of the Swingers' from The Jungle Book, that claimed many members of the audience and got around a fair few times before finally dispersing.

Dogfinger Steve

My final sit down of the day before getting jammed into the main stage crowd came while taking in a fantastic act from Dogfinger Steve, with a set of bluesy rock songs played on a very unusual guitar - most likely one of his own creations, as he is known for this, too. Steve's smooth and soulful originals were clearly written with feeling and called forth echoes of Seasick Steve, while having a great vein of passion and a tendency to call for some heavy rocking out. Highlights for me were a fantastic cover of 'Peaches' by the Presidents of the United States of America, and an original apparently inspired by Terry Pratchett.

Shamrockers

I managed to secure myself a spot at the front for the end of the night, and due to late running times managed to catch the entirety of The Shamrockers' set, which didn't fail to disappoint with its usual energetic Irish-themed covers. The main bizarre feature of this set was not only an appearance from some Irish dancers, but a small dance off between one of the usual dancers and Staxtonbury comperes Jez and Tim. The best song in my opinion was a brilliant cover of Paolo Nutini's 'Funky Cigarette'.

Snatch

Rounding up the night on the main stage was the grand Scarborough institution that we call Snatch, which for many people needs no explanation. For those still in the dark, Snatch are a three piece group who for many years have been delighting Scarborough by taking the songs you love and promptly shoving them through the punk rock mincer to come out screaming on the other side. Saturday night was no exception as bassist Ben Dobson took to the stage in a Superman costume and frontman Mick Murtagh wasted no time in stirring the crowd's already high spirits. The set was raced through at breakneck speed, featuring 'When I Saw Her Standing There', 'I'm a Believer' and 'Karma Chameleon', with all the trademark rocking energy fans expect. Next up came a special appearance from the Abba Girls who, having played the marquee stage earlier in the night, joined the band to sing 'Mamma Mia'. The guys then rounded out the set with 'Teenage Kicks', 'Too Much Too Young' and a rousing version of 'What a Wonderful World' that lifted the spirits for the final number, 'I Will Survive', which had everyone bouncing while the guitar shredded away, making a perfect finale for a Saturday night.

Luke's Sunday

Adam Chodan

I think, all in all, that the Acoustic Stage was probably the best place to see anyone perform at Staxtonbury. While the Main and Marquee stages had their charms, there's something so much warmer about an acoustic gig.
The soft vocals and gentle chords of Adam Chodan's mostly original material therefore fitted neatly into the Acoustic tent, leading to a close and intimate gig.
His 'Song of Freedom' had echoes of Bob Marley's 'Redemption Song', sounding particularly heartfelt and moving, and the rain which began to pitter-patter on the tent roof during the forlorn melodies of 'Breaking Out' couldn't have been more beautifully apt.
The mood was melancholy without being morbid – a tricky feat to pull off – though the generally downbeat vibe did seem to get even to the giant Staxtonbury teddy which wandered in halfway through (bears don't usually get the blues).
Not that it was all admittedly lovely-sounding doom and gloom throughout, as Adam closed his set with a brilliant cover of Johnny Cash's 'Folsom Prison Blues' which had a fair few members of the audience singing along; for the sake of my fellow gig-goers, I merely mouthed the familiar words.
All in all, Adam Chodan provided an excellent and highly intimate performance full of stirring original material.

Hi Heel Sneakers

As the last band of the weekend that I personally had the chance to see, you could almost say that Hi Heel Sneakers had a lot to live up to in my eyes: they certainly delivered.
Mixing keys, drums, bass, guitar, synths, and both male and female vocals, they managed to create a heady stew of soul, funk and rock.
Sadly, just before their set the rain had ceased, meaning a lot of the audience had wandered off to enjoy the brief good weather. However, as the band's set got going, they largely succeeded in drawing these stragglers back in.
With great harmonies and incredibly tight musicianship, their driving, organ-led sound went down very well with a largely older crowd, though I definitely saw some kids dancing along as well.
During their cover of The Doobie Brothers' classic 'Long Train Running' in particular, Hi Heel Sneakers seemed to get a large number of people moving with their bluesy groove and stomp.
Nette Devaney's guitar-work shone through, especially on songs such as 'Gimme Some Lovin'', giving well-known tunes a certain special something that really sticks in the mind.
As my final band of the weekend, Hi Heel Sneakers really summed up what makes Staxtonbury so much fun – there was something incredible and genuinely wonderful about seeing different people from entirely different generations all enjoying the same act so much.

Tessa's Sunday

Tom Davenport & Friends

On Sunday I awoke to a thunderstorm, so armoured in my raincoat I made my way over to the marquee to see Tom Davenport and Friends, a variety of groups all led by Tom and consisting of various students of all ages, each very competent in their respective fields and clearly taught to enjoy their performances, as they each held a strong stage presence. Even with a changeover in lineup after every song the set was fast paced, striding through a range of complex songs such as 'Wipeout' by The Ventures, with an 11-year old boy on drums with impeccable drive and timing. Also featured were several fantastic female vocalists, ranging in age and each with her own specific vocal style. Finishing up, a large number of students formed a band to perform Gnarls Barkley's 'Crazy', again with a very impressive female vocalist.

Bluephunk

In the continuing rain I headed over to the main stage to discover the times were running late and I had the good fortune to encounter Bluephunk, a band from Norton lead by Adam Laird, the head of music at Norton College, and partly comprised of students from there. Encompassing a brass section and two female vocalists as well as the usual bass, guitar drums and keys, Bluephunk win my vote for most infectious enthusiasm of the weekend. In the ongoing rain festival goers danced away regardless to funk and soul tunes such as 'Car Wash' and 'Love Shack', with surprise sections in songs featuring 90's rap classics 'The Bartman' and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme tune, which got a few people, including myself, singing along. Bluephunk can be found on Facebook and I personally would recommend taking an opportunity to see them.

Twister

As the rain finally cleared, the main stage saw the arrival of a band from Durham by the name of Twister. The currently-touring five-piece rock outfit took the stage by storm and began drawing a crowd with 'Watch Over You', an original from their new album, which was both energetic and catchy. A favourite feature of mine was their cover of Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love', a fantastic version complete with a top notch drum solo and a thundering finish, during which the guitarist's strap broke, presumably under the strain of all the rocking! Following this was a cover of Bastille's 'If You Close Your Eyes', which got the crowd singing along. Next up came recent release 'Feeding Frenzy' a bouncy tune with a catchy chorus and, if you listen closely, a distinctive melodic bassline. Another cover followed, then two more originals, one older and one a strong ballad with a fierce kick. Twister's sound is guaranteed to please rock fans and their album 'This Isn't Wonderland' Is currently available to buy from Amazon and Itunes.

Twister

Twister

Twister

Twister

Twister

Twister

Twister

Twister

 

Unit 3
The final band of the main stage was Unit 3, sadly running to a clipped set. They rounded off the weekend well with a set of much loved sing-alongs from various decades including 'Wishing Well', 'Get Lucky', 'Can't Stand Losing You' and 'With Or Without You', all filled with perfect classic-rock style guitar solos. The final number was a suitably dramatic 'Live and Let Die', and with thanks from the comperes the damp crowd dispersed to head homewards.

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