Summer Sundae Weekender 2011 preview - Part 1: The Cream of Delights
You definitely know that summer's arrived (well, summer as the UK knows it) when the buzz is not so much where you're going for your holiday anymore, but which festivals you'll be taking in. And with the number of such events increasing every year, it's likely to cost as much as a few weeks in Majorca too, but maybe not half as much fun as communing with nature, enjoying a feast of music mayhem and indulging in an excess of practically anything and everything if you so choose - and that's not forgetting a good downpour of rain as well, no doubt. But barring the weather, whatever your particular predilection - boutique, dance, metal, indie, folk, dance - you can be sure there's one going on somewhere to whet your aural pleasure.
Now celebrating its 11th year, the Summer Sundae Weekender sees Leicester once gain getting its hip vibe on to play host to a raft of musical and fun delights that caters for the whole family. Ideally located in De Montfort Hall and Victoria Park gardens, just a mile from the city centre and railway station, with its own free bike park on site, it ensures that the festival continues to uphold its Greener Festival Award for its efforts on reducing its environmental impact.
While adults are free to enjoy more than 80 artists who are taking part this year across five stages, the Kidzone will endeavour to keep the young ones happy and out of mischief. Treasure Hunts, Punch and Judy shows and a Victorian Children's parade on the Sunday, will no doubt be a draw for those too young to appreciate the likes of the Warpaint guitar divas, the charm of Delta Maid, or, erm, McFly.
Ultimately, festivals are all about the music and with its strong emphasis on folk and indie, this year's Sundae line-up looks like being its best yet. With so many to see, who are the ones you mustn't miss? Here is a selection of just some worth checking out over the weekend, many of whom are either festival first-timers and/or releasing their debut record in 20011.
Sisters are doing it, and not just for themselves; two pairs for the price of one into the bargain. First up on the Friday are London duo 2:54, made up of Hannah and Colette Thurlow. They may be relatively unknown as yet, but their smouldering vocals, grungy guitars (think The xx) and doomish atmospheric songs are sure to create a buzz. Alabama's Alison and Catherine Pierce, aka The Pierces, re-emerged with their California soft-rock last year (their third and last album appeared four years ago), largely due to Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman offering them a support slot and an appearance on Later...with Jools Holland. The recent release of their fourth album You & I has garnered them notable reviews and R2 playlisting of singles You'll Be Mine and Glorious.
Chapel Club have had a pretty fine start to the year so far, with a sell-out UK tour, support shows with Suede and the long-awaited release of their debut album Palace. A guitar band that is not afraid to dwell on the dark side with lyrics of literal imagery, vocalist Lewis Bowman is sure to win a fair few hearts in Leicester. Indie Brooklyn rockers The Antlers follow in a similar vein, of fairly despondent lyrics and lush electronic textures. They have produced one of the best albums of the year so far with Burst Apart where Pete Silberman's falsetto vocal washes over you in a storm of emotion.
Dry the River
"Emotive, lilting folk and upbeat impassioned rock", is how Dry The River was described by Q magazine. Appearances at SXSW and The Great Escape this year have won them over many new converts. With No Rest being glowingly hailed, expect to be hearing a lot more of this London quintet. Likewise, Dutch Uncles, the bouncy indie outfit that have crafted some artfully clever math pop songs (check their latest album Cadenza) that touch on prog rock with a few sonic cherries thrown in for good measure.
Benjamin Francis Leftwich
The nu-wave of singer/songwriters is upheld by two newcomers on the block. With his debut album Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm released in July, and prior to a 24-date UK tour in October, 21-year-old Benjamin Francis Leftwich's distinctive vocals and wistful, melancholic songs will surely leave you drifting on clouds after his Saturday Sundae outing. Ben Howard, meanwhile, has won a strong fan base via Radio 1 and 6 Music airplay and for his intricate finger-picking guitar technique and complex tunings - as displayed on his recent debut EP, Old Pine. Fond of poignant and heartfelt laments, Howard will be of undoubted interest to the Sundae guitar aficionados.
In the hip, happening and much talked about arena we have the four-piece all girl LA art-rockers Warpaint, who are sure to be one of Sundae's biggest draws. Exuding ambience at the cutting edge, they lend as well to acoustic with sighing vocals as they do the electronics with belting songs like Undertow and Elephants. Home-grown Manchester-based indie quartet The Heartbreaks straight from their Morrissey support - rock out on Saturday with their own brand of heartfelt melancholy that nods not just to Moz, but Orange Juice and Elvis Costello.
Pete and the Pirates
"Something like a cross between the Kinks and Television Personalities", said the Guardian of Reading's indie-pop Pete and The Pirates. Think whimsy with a little electric psych and synth, coupled with intelligent lyrics and strident tunes. Little Comets, Tyne & Wear's 'kitchen sink indie' stars, parted ways with drummer Mark Harle recently; hopefully this won't detract from their usual effervescence, spiky guitar pop and crowd pleasers like Joanna and Dancing Song.
And if none of the above whet your appetite - there's still another 70-odd that may!
In Part 2 of our Summer Sundae Weekender special, we throw a few questions at some of the artists who will be performing to get them - and you - in the festie mood.
Taking place from Friday 12th to Sunday 14th August at De Montfort Hall and Gardens in Leicester, tickets are on sale now, ranging from £115 (adult, no camping), to £127 (adult, quiet camping), with the standard camping costing £124. Under 5s go free and tickets for 5-15 year olds cost £40.