The 2016 Norfolk and Norwich Festival for me began at Norwich Arts Centre with Pony Up bringing three bands, the main draw for me being our own Graceland.
Undeterred by a nasty looking foot injury Ellie took to the stage on crutches but still managed to power her way through the set. As Rosie indicated midway, of the five gigs they have played so far she thought this one was her favourite. Having seen three of the five I would certainly go along with that, it was definitely the best I have seen them, fresh from playing with Emily Winng in Brighton for Fem-Ale they are really tight. Confident, strong, compelling, funny and with bloody good songs they played brilliantly. Cool (even Chastity Belt in the audience said so) and with plenty of attitude they are rapidly making themselves one of my favourite bands. I am already looking forward to gig number six, I only wish there were some more recordings to tide me over until then. Go see these girls, they are the real deal.
I confess I didn’t really know the other bands on the bill but always enjoy Pony Up nights, and next on were Glasgow’s Tuff Love. Perhaps not quite as visually engaging as Graceland they had some interesting songs, some powerful chords on guitar and the bassist was just superb. The more I think back on this set the more I feel I want to hear them again. Fuzzy, surf guitar pop and as I say, the bass was just fantastic.
More attitude from the four girls from Seattle who make up Chastity Belt, they came onstage and as they tuned up were still in fits of laughter from recalling a taxi ride in Manchester to somewhere called Potato Wharf. Again they had a strong bassist and for one number drummer Gretchen swapped with singer Julia to play guitar and take lead vocals. I think they found the far from full crowd a bit quiet but to me the audience seemed to be punching well above its weight, especially for Graceland who for me stole the show with the most memorable set of the evening. If not full it was a very appreciative audience, this being one of dozens of gigs taking place as usual on a Friday in Norwich but it being the first day of NNF16 it was clashing with what, by all accounts, was an extraordinary gig at OPEN for Sun Ra Arkestra.
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