Catfish and the Bottlemen headline London’s new Community festival in Finsbury Park
With the current and political happenings in the world, there is no better name than Community for the exiting new London festival. In a time where it feels as if, in the words of the Wombats frontman Matthew Murphy, “we need a lot of community spirit”, the event felt much like a coming together of compassion and a celebration of diversity. The small, one-day festival, located in Finsbury Park, consisted of the Main Stage and the N4 Stage, both of which hosted lively, electrifying sets throughout the warm July day. Gem Precious, one of the UK’s leading female DJs, supported the sets on the Main Stage, keeping the audience active and entertained with her indie and alternative-appropriate song choices and mixing.
The day kicked off with RedFaces, a group of four young but talented boys from Sheffield. They wowed music lovers with their three singles: Wise Up, Katie Come Home and Kerosene. And while it didn’t seem like much, the short but sweet set was enough to make an impression, putting the festival-goers into a lively mood for the proceedings – which included groups such as Rosborough, Fickle Friends, Saint Phnx, Darlia and the band in which an electric guitar was played with a violin bow: Wild Front. The crowds were modest but enthusiastic, singing, jumping and growing as the day progressed.
The Hunna, a recently formed band from Hertfordshire, opened with the solid, thrilling You and Me and announced that the Community crowd was the biggest they’d ever had, demonstrating that the festival’s purpose to showcase the UKs best new indie rock talent was succeeding. Nothing but Thieves’ If I Get High was a soulful performance. The heartfelt vocals of Conor Mason pulsed throughout the venue, and felt like a tribute to the victims of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire.
Slaves, possessing an odd sleazy charm, were by far the most entertaining. They held the audience captive as the two-piece paraded shirtless and sweaty, displaying “Tories Out” signs, provoking the now famous “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn!” chant to the tune of Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes. Their tracks, such as Lies and F*** the Hi-Hat, were aggressive and politically charged, stirring the crowds as bottles spun through the air, spraying anyone in their path. Isaac told little profanity filled stories between songs, such as why there were only two band members and sang: “I don’t watch television it’s a load of s***, I don’t watch television unless David Attenborough’s… on it”, drawing a roar of collective laughter.
The penultimate performance, by Liverpool group the Wombats, put everyone in an incredible mood as bassist Tord Øverland Knudsen, who a few hours before described his fans as “an extended family” and are to thank for their success, grinned, his exhilaration contagiously spreading. There was something pleasant and genuine about the set; whether it was the cuddly wombat sat atop the amps, Knudsen’s elation, or the LGBTQ, wombat-shaped sticker on each of Matthew’s guitars: a small tribute to the festival’s theme, everyone sensed it, turning the set into one of the most enjoyable of the day. Moving to New York, Techno Fan and Let’s Dance to Joy Division were clear favourites as festival-goers sang and jumped along.
As the sun sank behind the trees, the festival came to a close with the long-anticipated Catfish and the Bottlemen, preceded by Dean Martin’s Ain’t That a Kick in the Head. The band, formed in Llandudno, North Wales, released their first record, The Balcony, in 2014 and their second album, The Ride, last year, simultaneously winning a Brit for British Breakthrough Act.
At the back of their black-and-white set hung the alligator from the cover of The Ride. Yellow light filtered into the crowd and they began with Homesick. The guys certainly looked the part, adding to the indie aesthetic with shaggy hairstyles and leather jackets. As screams and cheers erupted from front to back, the rockers put on an energetic show, varying between hits from both albums from their older, most popular ones such as Kathleen and Cocoon to Twice and 7 from their new release. Frontman Van McCann has previously said that they write songs with live shows in mind, which came through in their set. Each track had its place in the setlist and the atmospheric, intense Tyrants was an incredible ending to Community Festival, finishing with the poignant lyrics: “Tyrants help build us/And they won’t mind throwing us away”.
Photos: Mike Garnell
Community festival was a one-day event on 1st July 2017. For further information visit here.