The Kooks reaffirm their status as indie kings at a sun-drenched Community Festival
Community Festival returns to Finsbury Park with an eclectic host of indie rock acts, celebrating the best of guitar music. The event is spaced out in two parts of the green, the N4 and Main Stage, the latter hosting headliner indie kings The Kooks along with Kate Nash, Don Broco, Blossoms and The Hunna, while the former presents bands such as APRE, Bloxx and The Amazons.
Kate Nash appears in a long silver and pink sequinned dress, yelling, “Hello London! How you doing?” The singer’s set up is a classic one of electric guitar, drums and keyboard. Life in Pink, taken from Nash’s latest album Yesterday Was Forever, reflects the artist’s attire, and is a hark back to her indie roots. The album deals with mental health matters, for which the vocalist strongly advocates, and it is good to see her confidently stride the stage.
Sleeper hit Mouthwash is far from drowsy, with fans singing along joyously, while Hate You, another from the new album, shows off its cool bass riffs. However, it is the older tracks that stand out, Nash dedicating Dickhead to her ex-manager, encouraging fans to think of unpleasant people in their lives and show the middle finger in solidarity. Her personal introduction reveals a punk attitude, unheeding and bold, as the musician moshes into the swarm, exclaiming, “no one fucks with a Londoner and gets away with it.” The performance goes slightly downhill with Trash, Nash’s vocals losing their audio, and a clip shows a bored, indifferent audience – though the set is ultimately salvaged by 2007 hit Foundations as she surfs the mass, everyone singing along.
The Hunna take the stage by storm next. Aesthetically, the group is the epitome of a cool, attractive rock band – with tattoos on all members – and it’s easy to see why a demographic of young adolescents make up this festival. Lead vocalist and guitarist Ryan Potter sings We Could Be, a punchy track with catchy riffs, unsurprisingly an anthem for Hunna fans. Dare powers through with pounding drums, while Babe Can I Call? sees the ensemble approach with lighter melodies. Potter relates how their management also deceived them – seems like a running theme in today’s festival – and plays unreleased I Get High to Forget. The bass and chorus of Y.D.W.I.W.M. undeniably resonate with Rage Against the Machine’s Killing In the Name, the alternative rockers finishing off with She’s Casual, Bonfire and Don’t Give a Fuck; a band, some might say, ideal for angst-ridden teens.
Critically acclaimed Stockport five-piece Blossoms play a joyous set at the sun-drenched festival. Though a little delayed, the band don’t waste a moment once they begin, opening with At Most a Kiss, Tom Ogden’s singing nostalgically akin to 90s musician Bernard Butler; the vocalist is fairly inactive on stage, but the music more than makes up for this. Your Girlfriend contains sunny cowbells and a lap steel guitar – a highlight, as is their first single, Blow, along with Giving Up the Ghost and the optimistic How Long Will This Last? With a Blue Monday New Order intro that gets everyone dancing, the rousing hit single Charlemagne completes a performance that is nuanced and genuinely interesting, proving that the indie music scene still has some life in it.
Playing their biggest London headline gig to date, The Kooks put on a stunning show. The set, comprising songs from across their five albums, is expansive and a great way to end Community ’19. Always Where I Need To Be emphasises the band’s status as one of the best British indie rock groups, followed by Sofa Song with singer Luke Pritchard and guitarist Hugh Harris vocalising together, while Eddie’s Gun is another fan favourite and a rocking tune. The screen visuals go missing for a period, which the technicians eventually fix, all the while The Kooks maintaining an infectious energy. Pritchard compliments Harris as the best guitarist of his generation, and it’s not an exaggeration, the musician riffing effortlessly, Pritchard commenting how he “feels 21 all over again.” The songwriter plays See Me Now solo, an affecting track dedicated to his father, and touching for anyone who’s lost someone close.
The chants grow from hushed tones to loud with Do You Wanna, catchy and euphoric. Further highlights include She Moves in Her Own Way, Sweet Emotion, Westside, Bad Habit, Around Town, and Junk of the Heart (Happy). Finishing off with the decade-defining highlight Naïve, a gorgeous shower of confetti rains on the crowd, who sing off into the evening’s golden-hour sun.
Photos: Virginie Viche
Community Festival was at Finsbury Park on 31st June 2019. For further information and future events visit Community Festival ‘s website here.