The Norwich Sound & Vision Festival 13-15 October 2016, the seventh NS&V felt to me like the biggest and best yet with more stages and venues, some of the best up and coming musical talent – not just national acts but local too – and a brilliant line up of conference speakers. Passing by the NAC on Saturday afternoon I saw Rat Scabies, Viv Albertine, John Rob, and Brix Smith all in the garden, it was quite surreal. The NAC in fact had food being served on the front lawn for the festival duration and had claimed some more recognition with Best Venue Team Work in an Arts Centre at the Live Music Business Awards.
My festival started at The Octagon Chapel where Dreams Music beautifully hosted a dual album launch for Jess Morgan’s Edison Gloriette, and Alden, Patterson & Dashwood’s Call Me Home, you can read my review for this on the Outline site. It’s a brilliant album, as is Edison Gloriette which I have been enjoying immensely, in all its oxblood vinyl glory. This was a lovely gig in a stunning venue, another nice touch being the pop-up bar in a converted horsebox outside, courtesy of The Bicycle Shop/Eaton Park Cafe.
In true festival style I wasn’t able to make it in time to Space Studios afterwards for the Maya Law & Allergy Kid album launch put on by Tilting Sky as planned and hoped so headed to the NAC to catch half an hour or so of Lucy Rose’s set, where there was a wonderful vibe and much singing along from the audience.
Friday saw me once again at the Octagon Chapel for the Sound of Silents, this year three acts composed original scores to accompany East Anglian Film Archive footage with the theme Pasture and Plough, rural life in the region. As last year this was a festival highlight for me with Sink Ya Teeth, Broads, and Alex Carson with some of Wooden Arms all creating wildly differing but cohesive and matching live scores which sounded sensational in the beautifully lit venue. The music really brought these films to life. This felt very special indeed and it was an honour to provide some photos to Milly for the interval slideshows.
The gig was finished shortly before the venue’s 10pm curfew so I once again headed to the Arts Centre who, luckily for me, were running a little late so I caught a bit of Flamingods in the auditorium, some glorious “feminist punk riot grrrl” attitude from Peach Club on the Sonic Youths stage in the bar and the late set back in the auditorium for a whole lotta psych from Purson. This was much fun. Alas I missed BK&Dad, local favourites of mine and Purson are a band I was desperately disappointed to miss on a recent visit to Norwich so I am grateful to NS&V for bringing them back, and the delayed start (they weren’t onstage til 11:15pm) meant I didn’t miss a thing. They look and sound the part and are a dream to photograph but musically they cut it too. It felt at times like one could be listening to an English Jefferson Airplane, largely due to the charismatic Rosalie’s formidable voice with the whole band rocking out but all the time carrying their own identity with a confident swagger with a touch of glam. Compulsive viewing and listening.
Already flagging a little it was an early start (for me) on Saturday to support the NHS Norfolk Action Group, a coalition of local groups opposing government cuts to the NHS. Some great speeches ending with rousing and defiant words from Ian Gibson and Clive Lewis plus some music from Zach Lambert.
In the afternoon I listened to the Rat Scabies interview before making my way to the Forum to catch Chad Mason and Abigail Blake in the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library ahead of a couple of hours rest before the evening’s gig which was creating quite a buzz in the city, especially with the news that headliners Let’s Eat Grandma will be appearing on Jools Holland’s Later next week. The duo have been involved in the past few NS&V’s but tonight they headlined the whole festival, closing it with a sell out gig. A mixed audience with even a handful of kids right at the front. Something about LEG provokes strong opinion on both sides but the girls themselves don’t seem to give a damn what people think and I find that rather refreshing. The show was theatrical and compelling, like a weird dream set in a child’s bedroom, instruments treated almost like like toys, recorders tossed around the stage there is a fairy tale magic amidst all the Rapunzel hair and nightmarish mantras over hypnotic beats. It was a sight to behold, not just onstage but on the mesmerised, confused and absorbed faces in the audience too. There’s a strong Brothers Grimm vibe at times and a feel of toys gone crazy in the bedroom. The only words spoken to the audience was an almost shy “Thank you” at the very end of this crazy dream and then they were gone. Theatrical, weird and wonderful. Brilliantly different.
Meanwhile in a slightly noisy bar we had solo acoustic sets from Matt Watson, Chris TT, and the ever brilliant Milly Hirst who dealt with the chatter by singing one song acapella, the set highlight for me as it certainly killed a lot of the noise with this sensational voice. I was rather pleased that what transpired was my 200th gig of the year was one which featured Milly.
Tired though I was I didn’t really want the festival to end so it was good to have a wind down and chat at the Bicycle Shop before heading back and reflecting on all the brilliant music of the past few days. I missed so much I’d have loved to have caught but cannot complain at all the superb music I did catch.
Many thanks to NS&V, NAC, Dreams Music, Milly and Cinema City Education
all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2016