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Festival Review: 2Q Festival 2016


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2Q is a new multi-venue, inner city shindig in the heart of Derby. Yes, you read that correct – East Midlands backwater city Derby.

Why even hold a festival there? Nothing happens there, etc etc etc! Surprisingly, the city has always been a hot bed of great music talent and the surrounding region is already home to some of the best festivals in the country.

I’m sensing an air of disbelief, from you, the reader, right now – but hear me out.

The festival's inaugural effort was a laid-back, intimate affair that took away the hustle and bustle of bigger events whilst still delivering on the music. This was due in part to 2Q’s back bone of local acts.

Take the 2pm slot at a near-empty The Venue filled by recently formed noiseniks Unqualified Nurse Band. Just six months into their existence they have become a ferocious live prospect, akin to Mudhoney filled with the ghost of rockabilly past. The band coerce the fabric of rock n roll into new shapes through a maelstrom of feedback and danceable rhythms. Even if it does all feel a little wasted this set was a grand, and noisy, opener.

Over at Bar One’s outdoor stage Eva Plays Dead had a singer with some serious lungs on her, but the power of her voice did little to drag any form of life from their staid, by-numbers rock. They are making waves at the moment, which probably shows that rock fans really don’t want to be challenged. It’s riffs and vocals, like every other rock band.

Then something strange happened. The band that have emerged out of the ashes of Fixit Kid, are Replica Jesus and they don’t mess about. This band didn’t just perform for the audience but accosted them – aurally and physically – the front-man stalked the stage and the crowd like a demon possessed, grabbing crowd members in between setting free his guttural tones. The band set their amps to pummel, forgoing nuance and complexity for unrelenting sludge-rock noise. This was a rock experience as it should be – confrontational, loud and slightly unnerving.

Graw!ix are a completely different prospect but no less enthralling. Dream-pop rarely sounds this ethereal and the band created a sound that washed from the stage. James Machin’s echoed heart-felt vocals floated above a subtle sea of electronics, chimed guitar and downbeat rhythms to beautiful effect. A newer, electronic number added a dance-edge to the dream-pop template that bodes well for the forthcoming new album. As they progress and develop their sound so does their live performances, this show was testament to that.

Unfortunately, Strange Bones don’t do enough to complete a trivector of awesome in the Old Bell. Their by-numbers blues rock, would of excited anyone who has never heard the genre before, but for the rest of us it was a style-over-substance reimaging of sound that has been done before and better.

It is received wisdom that Cornish alt-rock band Bangers put on the show of 2Q in the tiny upstairs room at Vines. The pure energy of their performance evokes the ghost of Husker Du, which can be no bad thing.

“It’s like a worse !!! (Chk Chk Chk)” is an overheard, in-crowd verdict of nu-disco Derbyshire trip Patawawa. True their funky disco sounds brighter and more polished than the Californian dance-punk legends, but there is something endearingly fun and likeable about their tunes. There’s not much of a show to speak of, and some very questionable dad-dancing, but they bring some good-time-vibes that don’t go amiss as the Saturday afternoon rain-clouds gather.

I’ve seen Haiku Salut more than any other band over the past two years and they never disappoint. The regal setting of Guildhall Theatre is perfect for their indefinable sound. For half an hour, the trio swap instruments and unravel their intricate tunes.

After several pints of the 2Q ale it was hard to know what to make of Belfast based singer-songwriter The Duke Special! I caught the last few songs, a vaudevillian piano number full of pomp and screeching vocals and an acapella song about fields. He is no doubt a character and his own unique type of performer, which at very least makes it all worthwhile.

Nottingham’s April Towers had more than a little of classic New Order about them – which can only be a good thing. Obvious perfectionists when it comes to their studio work this performance proved that they understand that in the live arena it pays to let loose and let the energy of the performance drive it. ‘A Little Bit Of Fear’ is a undoubted contender for future synth-pop classic. Expect to hear a lot more from April Towers this year.

I’d heard Eliza and the Bear without really realising it. ‘Friends’is one of those ubiquitous anthems, that seeps into the corners of your brain. Delivering a band on the verge of massive things in a tiny venue like Bar One is what 2Q delivered wonderfully. The set was joyous and uplifting from a great pop act, with the aforementioned tune transforming place into one en masse sing-along.

2Q has already been announced to be returning for 2017 and off the back of this first event it’s hard not to see why. It was an event built on discovering great new bands in intimate venues, which is exactly what a smaller festival should be.

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