Finsbury Park, London
1 July 2017
Marcus Jamieson-Pond took in Community Festival in London to provide a photo-review of the day for Louder Than War.
With a name like Community, it would be fair to expect a superabundance of face-painters and an appearance from the odd CBBC presenter, maybe a Mr Tumble or Mr Maker – as well as a petting zoo. I had visions of stalls selling carved tree stumps next to posh cheese merchants and celebrity chefs showing us how to spiralize a cucumber.
Today was entirely different. The event was a lot more straightforward – all about the music and the Londoners who came to watch it. The dictionary defines a community as a noun meaning ‘a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common’. People and music. We had the right ingredients.
Festival Republic had created a community of 35,000 music lovers than would last a single day. The location has seen some big name gigs over the years – Pearl Jam, The Stone Roses, New Order, Oasis, The Sex Pistols, Madness, and even Jimi Hendrix have taken turns to annoy any non-music loving locals.
Finsbury Park has recently been in the news for the wrong reasons, with an attack on the local mosque still fresh in the collective memory – the minaret within view of the main stage. So there was a slight act of defiance as people gathered on the naturally slightly sloping grassland to engage with some of the best indie music about. And at £35 a ticket for 14 bands, it was a great value act of defiance too.
Having been given the wrong press pass (which would have given me AAA if someone hadn’t spotted it), I found myself in the photographers’ pit for the first band of the afternoon – Red Faces. The fresh faced four piece set the tone for the day – playing strong indie pop songs of the fast/slow, loud/quiet variety to an enthusiastic, mainly teenage, crowd.
The day was structured in such a way that it was possible to catch every band on offer across the two stages, even if that meant frequently having to take a short walk past a beer tent and various reasonably priced airstream-type food outlets.
Here’s a quick summary of what was on offer (in the order they performed).
N4 (second) stage:
Rosborough – Irish singer-songwriter played his guitar and had a drummer for company. Great start to the stage thanks to powerful soaring vocals.
Saint Phnx – When these two brothers from Glasgow get going on their drums, it’s more than just kids messing about in the playpen. Seriously exciting for a lunch time.
Wild Front – Clocking up more frequent festival flyer miles. Tuneful, pleasant, enjoyable, even though they are not exactly wild.
Stereo Honey – Soaring falsetto vocals and choppy indie songs. Reminded me of something from years gone past (and I’m not talking about The Temper Trap).
Anteros – Now that was entertaining. Laura held the crowd in her grip and we didn’t want to be let go. I suspect they’ll be playing main stages very soon.
Clean Cut Kid – Best beard, but worst home made tattoos, I saw all day. Great poppy indie tunes too.
Red Faces – fresh faced indie.
Fickle Friends – “We’re just a little pop band from Brighton. This is mental”. Soon to be a big pop band from Brighton one suspects.
Darlia – Whiny vocals, whining guitars. Retro feel to it. Nirvanaeque in places.
The Hunna – A real crowd pleaser. They have the looks, they have the sing-along tunes and the adoring fans too. What’s not to like?
Nothing But Thieves – Haunting songs. Some real hypnotic ‘chuggers’ delivered with gusto from these regulars of the festival circuit.
Slaves – From the ‘Tories Out’ sign being carried onto the stage, to the lack of hi-hat on Isaac’s kit, to the life-story banter, to the short sharp songs in homage to punk days gone past. These guys know how to play a festival.
The Wombats – Energy max. The Wombats commanded the stage. All the faves played out in front of a giant soft toy who was watching from on top of the back line. I am definitely going to New York the next time I have problems with my sleep.
Catfish & the Bottlemen – I had thought they were an interesting choice of headliner and was worried that the Wombats may have stolen the show. But no. Catfish are becoming more than just another derivative indie band, with soaring songs that tell the story of being a teenager.
In Van McCann they have a front man who demands to be listened to and watched. He’s here, he’s there, he’s everywhere. He jumps on speakers, he slings his guitar round his back, he creates classic rock poses. It felt like he was channeling Springsteen. A great end to a great day.
Will the Community Festival go down in the record books as one of those ‘I was there’ events? Time will tell. Maybe it would have been nice to have seen a few more faces that weren’t white or male on the stages. But did the day do what it said on the tin? Absolutely. Our community spirit will never be broken as long as there is music.
All words and images by Marcus Jamieson-Pond. This is his first piece for Louder Than War. You can find more from him on his website.