Bushstock Festival 2016: A Review

Our man Christian travelled over to Shepards Bush on Saturday 18th June where he saw no less than fifteen (yes, 15!!) acts take to the various stages that were set up in the area.

Below, he provides at least a few words about each of the acts that he saw perform.

Harry Foxx

With a slight late start, walking on stage with no introduction. Harry makes his first song hit with impact. “I will be your remedy” echo in his opening track. For half of the set you can hear only electric piano and vocals filling the church, it seemed a powerful way to open the festival. Then moving later into the set, a sub bass and an organ keys sound was present. Being seated in a church, it was almost impossible to escape the bass rumble on my bench. Harry brings a charismatic voice that reminded me of Sam Smith and Charlie Puth. A stripped, jazzy and soulful cover of ‘Sorry‘ by Justin Bieber was a pleasant and satisfying surprise to hear, carried out in a similar vein to his ‘Retrograde’ cover of James Blake. He ended ended his set with songs: (now I’m guessing here) ‘Youth’ and ‘If You Wanna Find Love’, Harry Foxx definitely is an artist to keep your eyes on.

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Lyra

In front of me stood flowers in line with stage monitors on the Courtyard stage. She brought a war cry of battle drum rolls with her chilling yet voice and synth textures. A style that I thought was not too dissimilar from Florence Welch. Lyra informs the audience when she moved to the UK, she was told by people to act differently to what she is used to. She expressed the message behind a few of her songs that it is so important to stay true to yourself. Lyra may appeal to fans of Aurora and Purity Ring. The band also did their own dark spin to Hozier‘s classic ‘Take Me To Church’ that sounded wicked.

MarthaGunn

In a packed Defector’s Weld filled with sweaty festival attenders and passerbys staring endlessly through the windows to take a peak on the action. The band played a set of perky and hammering indie rock tunes. The frontwoman announced “a slight change of plans”, when the singer was in process of getting an acoustic guitar out of a case. I thought to myself they may have changed around a few of the songs in the set. Possibly sticking to a set of louder songs to combat the antics of the busy pub. Overall it was a energetic and loud alternative rock set filling a joyful atmosphere.

Shells

St Stephens Church welcomed it’s third act that filled the venue with trap filled enchanting soulful pop. For me it was the second act I’ve seen in the church and the sound is well balanced. The duo brought soft and blissful electronic/pop to the church. The entrance of smoke added to the mystical and mysterious electronic wonder that surrounded the venue.

Tibet

Opening with previously released single ‘I’ll Be In Your Pocket’ indie/punk rock, manly chants and guitar. The band make for a refreshing take on old school garage rock. Shaping a fun day at Bushstock, there was a great atmosphere about.

Seramic

The frontman honing skill in his emotional guitar playing and huge voice. Seramic hold a massive electronic and rock sound, with the help of a backing vocalist, their powerful sections almost appear gospel sounding. The packed St Stephens Church, crowds were told to watch their set with recommendations from shells. The quartet brought a huge electronic sound to Bushstock. Oh, and ‘Found’ sounded huge.

Matt Maltese

On a small stage, roughly around 4 ish in a busy pub next door to Shepherds Bush Empire holds a man being exposed in red mood lighting. The constant red lighting was quite relevant regarding the seductive and intimate lyrics about love. ‘Studio 6’ was captured really well in the Sindercombe Social. Obviously these were quite personal and engaging songs to Matt. I thought he wasn’t too dissimilar to Father John Misty with story telling lyrics without the comedy and exaggerations.

Amber Run
Amber Run
Albin Lee Meldau

Appearing like a sermon. Albin brings a strong emotional vocal performance at St Stephens Church. I could feel the warmness and character in ‘Lou Lou’ as he performed the song so well. Although his stage persona seemed exaggerated, it was a particular memorable set.

Sara Hartmann

Tasty guitar chops and hi hat grooves. Sara’s set had a slick approach to folk pop the vocal was hard to hear, which was disappointing but the songs were fun and the whole room had a great atmosphere to it.

Keir

A set that stood out to me and the most dramatic set of the festival. Filled with Queen influenced shouts and melodies. With their third song in, I could hear crunchy distortion from the bass guitar and a visage of clear vintage rock shrouds me heavily. I was overwhelmed by the performance pulled off to the previously released soundcloud single ‘I Don’t Need Anyone Else’. A definite highlight of my experience at this year’s Bushstock.

Dan Croll (TOMS Secret Garden Set)

Playing under a small roof and slightly enclosed by bushes in a small garden of house in Shepherds Bush holds the TOMS Secret Garden Stage. It was Dan and three members of the band, minus the drummer. Dan joked that (as the drummer watched and eagerly listened), “He refuses to play a cajon”. Jokes aside, hearing songs like ‘Thinking Aboutchu’ and ‘From Nowhere’ in a stripped back form, made me feel a lot more connected to the lyrics more and felt only satisfying standing in a peaceful garden.

Shura

In the centre of the Courtyard stage with the full use of impressive stage lighting Shura makes an exciting presence here. Playing more well known songs such as ‘What’s It Gonna Be?” and ‘Touch’ early into her set. The crowd were heavily dance engaged and crowd looked busy. With a sound inspired by 80’s synth pop with hints of duelling guitar melodies and vintage drum machines makes Shura‘s imprint so interesting. She plays around with her synths and makes most songs blend into each other, this was exciting to see. Although the band had a slightly disappointing stage sound and the vocal slightly muffled, these guys easily had one of the best sets of the festival.

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Flyte

A fun set for new and old fans. The frontman announced they finished recording their debut album and we’re excited to perform their new songs in this set. Their set contained a majority of new joyful indie tunes with a few old favourites including ‘Light Me Up’ to spice up their set. As with their sound I thought their sound was somewhere in between Death Cab For Cutie and Vampire Weekend. Playing the Sindercombe Social in the early evening, that seemed to only hold smaller stripped back acts. Their sound was truly great, everything is clear and being in a pub where you can actually move about without passing out is always nice! A fun and bouncy set filled with guitar noodling and piss-take rockstar guitar solo on the floor in one of their last set finishers.

Rationale

The upcoming r’n’b/pop sensation played second to last at the Bush Hall stage. From receiving positive comments from Pharrell Wlliams and deserved recognition on music blogs. The band took fifteen minutes into their set to solve technical difficulties. I presumed it was frontman’s sample pad as later in the set it caused some loud intrusive feedback. The band opened with a cover and their own twist ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’, which went down a treat. Rationale continued with ‘Fast Lane’. Filled with tasty stops and drum chops. This made the performance much more exciting.  I enjoyed watching the vocalist grabbing a tambourine in his hand and enjoying working the stage with his natural prowess. ‘Something For Nothing’ went down well and I noticed how passionate and how much fun his fans were having. Being told they had only one more song they pressed on. Despite all the waiting with only being able to play four songs in their half hour set. The crowd were very familiar to his music, it had one of the best atmospheres (if not the best) of the whole festival in that large room. People were standing on shoulders, half of the audience knew all the lyrics and dancing. His set was something to remember and he is sure to go far with the direction he and his band heading.

Dan Croll

Boasting the best visuals for the festival. The crowd witness a cut in all lighting and backing music moments before Croll’s appearance. Dan brings an incredible dream like set of immersive indie rock/electronic mesh of songs. Tracks like ‘One Of Us‘ hit the crowd with a blast of fuzz rock guitars and odd prog like moments that you can expect in Dan’s musical mind. In one of the so far untitled new songs, I hear the return of his more indie rocky style and added moments of cheesy slap bass. This was of course great. All in all it was a perfect end to the Bush Hall sets and I thought remained one of the most memorable concerts in Bushstock history.

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