This weekend saw Float Along Festival hit the streets of Sheffield for the first time. It spanned four venues, six stages and encompassed the best of psychedelic rock as well as a medley of the best in indie and alternative.
I arrive in time to watch local ladies Sister Wives at Record Junkee. The four piece are bilingual dreamweavers who offer blended folk and psychedelia with a garage rock edge. They wear uniquely designed outfits that give them a domineering stage presence and despite the early stage time, the room soon fills with both people and their sound. They’re a great way to ease into a long day.
Next over at Sidney & Matilda is Noon Garden, a one man exotic psych pop offering that produces a sound much bigger than him. His jangly tunes invoke soundscapes of the California coast and allow you to drift from Sheffield to Los Angeles by shutting your eyes. The echoing space only adds to the appeal as his harmonies bounce off the walls.
Back to Record Junkee we have husband/wife Manchester/Japan duo The Dirt, who are a transglobal collaboration of the finest shoegaze waves and spoken word accompaniment. From established tracks like ‘The Bully’ which started life as a spoken word entity from Leon the Pig Farmer, to newer tracks like ‘Power Junkie’, their sound is transcendental and appeals to all because its spoken from truth. With big plans in the works, these guys are ones to keep your eyes on, watch them in small venues while you can, they won’t be there for long.
Mandrake Handshake are one of the largest bands on the bill, with six members taking the stage at Sidney & Matilda. Their dreamy pscyhedelic melodies are taken straight from the 1970s handbook and they hold universal draw. Having come from seemingly nowhere overnight, the Oxford based sextet are now all over the underground scene and its not hard to see why. Their happy go lucky style with lashings of panache and complex melodies make them easy to watch and listen too and they are rewarded with a packed out room and grateful woops from the crowd.
Regressive Left are a diverse three piece, channelling funk, disco and post punk seemingly all at the same time. Their dance invoking set features tracks from their EP The Wrong Side of History which was released earlier this year, and was incidentally, also recorded in Sheffield. Highlights come in the form of the track of the same name, single ‘Take the Hit’ which is probably their most well known and watching their single have an endless battle with the mic stand, he laughs about it and wears it well by the end.
Brighton’s Speedboat are, without doubt, the band of the day, and given the bands on show, that’s quite some achievement. They take to the stage with headstock-less guitars, clad all in black and have instant appeal. Laughing and smiling throughout, as well as interacting with the crowd in a way many forget these days, there is nothing not to like. Their sound is playful and distinctive, dripping in irony from the offset whilst channelling all the best bits of the 80s and almost, but not quite, sounding exactly like something at the back of your mind. The best 80s band you’ve never heard of? Probably.
Los Bitchos need no introduction, they have achieved almost notoriety in a very short period, if for no other reason than there is no one else doing what they do. Their sound utilises a cumbia base and adds a dose of fun to make them truly unique. Their set relies heavily on tracks from their album Let the Festivities Begin and with Noon Garden on guitar tucked away at the end, they are flawless as always. Ending with their version of ‘Tequilla’ which anyone who knows anything about them is their favourite drink, the crowd lap it up and the packed Network venue is really starting to sweat now.
Brighton’s art rock quintet Youth Sector are up against some tough billing and I sacrifice a chunk of Los Bitchos’s set to go and check them out. The stylish group in mismatched, half cut out suits hold their own in Record Junkee and the curious are rewarded with a well executed performance which more than compares to the bigger names they are up against.
I found myself at the front for the start of Warmduscher; it doesn’t last long. The opening notes of ‘Big Wilma’ see an instant surge and before they’re two tracks in I’m somehow 10 rows back and off to the left – I genuinely have no idea what just happened. That aside, as is to be expected now, they are spectacular. The set spans their discography and highlights include ‘Midnight Dipper’, ‘Hot Shot’, ‘Twitchin’ in the Kitchen’ and ‘Disco Peanuts’. From a safer distance I observe the crowd go wild throughout and judging by the sweat pouring from heads as people leave the venue, they’ve gone down a treat. There are not many bands who you can rely on to be incredible every time you see them, Warmduscher are in that category.
Float Along Festival was ambitious in its line up, and despite the brutal clashes the talent on display has been second to none. The great thing about festivals like this is even the mates you came with have had a completely different day to you because they’ve seen different bands. Incredible day of live music, everyone involved should be very proud of their accomplishment.