With August bank holiday now behind us, we head closer and closer to the end of festival season, and unfortunately for me, this will be the first time in 5 years that I don’t attend a festival and I am absolutely devastated. Sure, there are things to hate about festivals: dickheads that decide to throw themselves into a pile of mud on the first day, 15-year-olds thinking it’s cool to take copious amounts of ketamine the first time they are away from home, and the price of cheesy chips (£9? You’re joking aren’t you?!). However there is so much to love about festivals too: the sense of community, the organisation to build a city in a field for just one weekend, the forgetting of all outside worries, and the ability to truly let your hair down.
However, for me the best thing about a festival isn’t being able to get away with only cleaning yourself with a wet wipe for 5 days – it’s actually the ability to discover new bands and musicians just by stumbling into a stage. Some of my favourite acts have been discovered in that way, and this article is designed to highlight a few of them. So don’t expect to see Queens of the Stone Age or Arctic Monkeys here – this is strictly for bands I first heard, and fell in love with, at a festival.
Superfood – I Can’t See (Leeds 2017)
One of the great things about Leeds festival, in particular, is the eagerness to showcase smaller bands at the festival, the Festival Republic and BBC Music stages acting as hubs for new music. At said Festival Republic stage, I escaped the dross on at the main stage to witness Superfood absolutely storm it. My friend who I was with had seen them previously with an old lineup but was as unaware as I was when we entered the tent just what we had got ourselves into. A really good set by a really good band whose really good new album is well worth a listen.
The Seamonsters – Lost and Found (Outlines 2017)
The smallest of the bands to make my list, The Seamonsters were a local band that were chosen to play Tramlines’ sister festival Outlines in 2017. Giving smaller bands a chance is an excellent thing about festivals, and at Outlines, I fell in love with this band. Although young, they seemed comfortable and as though they enjoyed themselves on stage. They are one of the few bands on the list that have etched their way into my regular listening, and rightly so – their glitzy sound is infectious and puts a smile on your face. Avoid the It’s Coming Home cover and listen to their studio tracks and you’ll know what I mean.
Ekkah – Figure It Out (Tramlines 2016)
As a student in Sheffield, Tramlines became the highlight of my year. The festival combines a wonderful main stage lineup with smaller bands at venues dotted around the city, and then come night time – you really are in for a treat as the city plays host to some astounding lineups of DJs. A standout act for me, though, are Ekkah – the electronic two-piece really had me hypnotised with their melodies at the intimate venue that is The Harley and although I haven’t listened too much since then, I would take another opportunity to see them live in a heartbeat.
Savages – Strife (Leeds 2013)
This was my first ever festival, and I went with my best friend, with whom I have a very similar taste in music. In an almost 1-upmanship way, we took the weekend as an opportunity to introduce each other to as many bands as possible, across the weekend we saw acts including Tame Impala, Twisted Wheel, Time Burgess, Haim, and many others. However, the one recommendation that really stuck out was Savages. I had managed to put off listening to them on his advice for some time, but the live performance really captivated me and was well worth missing Eminem for.
Slaves – Where’s Your Car Debbie? (Leeds 2013/Tramlines 2015)
Sometimes, when you’re not paying that much attention through the boozy haze of a festival, you see a band and forget about them. For me, that band was Slaves. I saw the two-piece place at Leeds in 2013 but ultimately had completely forgotten they existed until 2015 when my housemate and I went to watch one of my favourite band The Charlatans headline the opening night. Slaves (in an incredibly bizarre billing) were the band playing before The Charlatans, and the two-piece absolutely nailed it. That day, it all came flooding back to me and I realised what an idiot I had been previously. What a stunning way to start your weekend.