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Handmade Festival 2016 – Day 1 Roundup

 
By on Wednesday, 11th May 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

If the only music festival you’ve been to (and this is potentially more aimed to UK readers than U.S. fans) consists of standing in a muddy field in wellington boots or becoming heavily inebriated while trundling to the next stage to see a mildly hyped-up indie band, then an indoor festival, or metro-festival, is a highly different experience. Leicester’s 4th annual Handmade Festival took place on the May bank holiday with the stated goal of gathering “the best new and forward thinking music, comedy, art, film, performance and photography and bring(ing) it all together for one weekend”.

When I first arrived at the University of Leicester on the Friday, the welcoming sign of ‘H A N D M A D E’ spelt out up the stairs in large plastic letters beckoned festival-goers into the venue and gave a great indication as to how the festival sees itself: welcoming and with a hint of non-seriousness. Being a completely independent venture, Handmade is unique in that it prides itself on being a place to discover brand new things, and this is most prominent in its musical lineup. The headliners themselves are tenured enough in the industry to draw a crowd, particularly We Are Scientists (pictured at top), Deaf Havana and Lonely the Brave, who jointly win the award for “Largest T-Shirt Representation”. With these crowds drawn in, it was up to the acts beforehand, both local and national, to cement the weekend, and this they did.

On Friday, we were given the choice of either Lacura or Estrons, two bands that cover the rock spectrum nicely, with Lacura taking on the dreamscape, ease-you-in side of things and Estrons taking the face grabbing route. With both sets comfortably and officially kicking things off, the small crowd that had gathered at this early stage of the festival soon ventured to the weekend’s main stage, Academy 2, to witness Ash Mammal. This was the first sign that it would be easy to find your new favourite or soon-to-be favourite band here. Ash Mammal brought a raucous set, reminiscent of early Placebo and not easily forgotten.

An important aspect to mention before heading into any more detail on the weekend is the venue layout. In total there were three main stages for music, not including the smaller stages in the venue landing area. The main stages were the aforementioned Academy 2, the Academy 3, which was found by venturing down into the basement of the complex and through a labyrinth of corridors into a seeming ex-dance studio, and also The Scholar Bar. The initial trial of finding your way around the complex was confusing, but after one trip around the available open areas, it turned out to be a well-laid out routing that consisted of a multi-layered circle. Getting lost was a fool’s errand, and a mistake only made once.

The rest of Friday’s highlights included Black Honey, who are already gaining a serious amount of traction and for good reason. They combine blues-tinged, reverb-heavy rock with a frontwoman who has the sultry and confident attitude of Debbie Harry, Alison Mosshart and Cherie Curie combined. Sheffield’s 65daysofstatic brought an electronic turn to the proceedings with a light show and tunes to make a strong enough statement that should also aide their current hype. By far the biggest highlight of the day was punk band Pretty Vicious in The Scholar Bar, a tiny venue that already made the softer acts seem edgier than you would believe. Pretty Vicious brought out their re-birth of British punk and showed us exactly how they’ve managed to score a major label deal. Snotty, abrasive with purely fantastic riffs, they’re enough to give the Sex Pistols a run for their money.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/X6uBrek6Kd4[/youtube]

Headliners We Are Scientists proved why they’re still going strong in the game after over a decade, a solid set full of the massive hits that first put them in the spotlight, peppered with newer songs which sounded just as strong. The show itself did feel like a watered down version of an atypical We Are Scientists event, at times feeling rushed. However, having taken to the stage 15 minutes late this was potentially an executed measure to get through all of the crowd pleasers.

Stay tuned to TGTF for parts 2 and 3 of Steven’s roundup of Handmade Festival 2016, which will follow in the coming days.

 

Handmade Festival 2016: writer Steven’s best band bets

 
By on Tuesday, 26th April 2016 at 11:00 am
 

Header photo of The Magic Gang by Dan Kendall

If you didn’t already heed our warning that Handmade Festival this weekend in Leicester is the festival to be at this season then perhaps, just maybe, the below list of acts that you’re going to be missing out on will change your mind. And for those who will be joining us in during the weekend, take the below list as a starting point for your own weekend musical adventure, there’s plenty to not miss out on so let us give you a bit of guidance. (To read Steven’s earlier preview of Handmade, go here.)

Lacura – Academy 3, Friday 29th April, 17:00

Drops of psychedelia amongst massive indie sounds, Lacura are your perfect opener to the weekend. It’s a toss-up between Lacura or ESTRONS, and Lacura just pip it with their dreamscapes and ethereal feel.

The Magic Gang – Scholar Bar, Friday 29th April, 18:45

To continue your ease into the festival, The Magic Gang (pictured at top) will use their harmonious, ‘60s psych-pop style to command your elation and help you forget about that outside world. Friday afternoon’s never sounded so good. (For past coverage on The Magic Gang on TGTF, go here.)

Black Honey – Scholar Bar, Friday 29th April, 19:45

Black Honey are gaining a lot of momentum with their dreamy, shoe-gaze-esque rock and vocals that call to mind Lana Del Rey if she actually gave us what we wanted rather than slow tempoed ballads. (For past coverage on Black Honey on TGTF, go here.)

We Are Scientists – Academy 2, Friday 29th April, 22:00

As mentioned in our preview piece, the indie duo who are affable beyond belief are gracing our shores again in support of their fifth studio album. With a guaranteed good time to close out the first day of Handmade, to miss out on We Are Scientists would mean depriving yourself of laughs and such major tunes as ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’, ‘After Hours’ and new single ‘Buckle’ from brand new album ‘Helter Seltzer’. (For loads more coverage on We Are Scientists on TGTF, go here.)

Jurassic Pop – Scholar Bar, Saturday 30th April, 15:00

In case Jurassic Pop have slid under your radar, they are a band who write songs solely based around the Jurassic Park film series. Debut EP ‘Jurassic Park 4 1/2: The Erotic Adventures of Jeff Goldblum’ is filled with punk, indie and spoken word. If this alone isn’t enough to get you to see the band then nothing will.

OhBoy! – Scholar Bar, Saturday 31st April, 17:45.

This will be around the half way point of the festival, so chances are you’ll be a pleasant state of jubilation and will want to continue this. OhBoy! are you best bet here, with songs that are both ferocious and charming, they’ll certainly kick your Saturday evening off.

The Xcerts – Scholar Bar, Saturday 31st April, 21:15

Powerful pop songs that call to mind fellow Scotsmen Biffy Clyro at their lightest. The Xcerts have been around for 10+ years and over this time you’re guaranteed they’ve worked out a killer live set that will match the brawn of their sound. (For past coverage on The Xcerts on TGTF, go here.)

Johnny Lloyd – Academy 2, Sunday 1st May, 17:15

If you haven’t heard ‘Hello Death’, the debut single from ex-Tribes frontman Johnny Lloyd then you are missing out something extremely special. Heartfelt and solemn, it’s a thunderous track that is surely going to be a wonder to behold live.

USA Nails – Scholar Bar, Sunday 1st May, 19:45.

Harsh, abusive sounding punk that calls to mind Black Flag and Minor Threat, USA Nails are a safe bet to ensure you leave the festival with ringing ears and to get that final bit of energy out of your system.

Beans on Toast – Academy 2, Sunday 1st May, 22:00

Of course, the hardest question of any festival is who to see to on the closing night. With a couple of fine choices, Beans on Toast is potentially the perfect physical representation of that festival ideology, be it a metropolitan one like Handmade or Glastonbury. With songs filled with observation and thought that appeal to every straight minded one of us, when this is matched with the sing-a-long stylings, you have a guaranteed memorable closer and one that will stick with you on that tired, hungover train journey home. (For past coverage on Beans on Toast on TGTF, go here.)

 
 
 

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