Community Festival 2017
Saturday 1st July
London’s Community Festival from the outset was a line up dense with rock and indie talent, the more up and coming acts in good company with the huge names set to perform throughout the day. Despite being a physically smaller set up of London’s day festivals, there was not a lacklustre experience throughout the whole day, naturally due to the concentrated but strong line up.
The festival had two stages, the main stage and the smaller N4 stage, which despite being smaller, saw acts such as Clean Cut Kid, Rosborough and Saint Phnx generate attentive crowds. Across Finsbury Park, early on Fickle Friends dominated the main stage with their pop infused indie sound, which brought easy happy listening to the chilled crowd. Dreamy vocals and mellow electronic sounds mixed with the band’s indie stance greeted a receptive crowd. The band mused on the aptly named festival’s ability in reinstating the power of music to create a sense of community, especially to London this summer, due to the fatal incident that had recently occurred in Finsbury Park, a sentiment emphasized by other acts throughout the day. The female vocal provided by Natassja Shiner was refreshing in a very male dominated line up, as the positive energy of track “Swim” effortlessly generated crowd sing-alongs, foreshadowing the energy from the crowd throughout the rest of the day.
Next to grace the main stage, eagerly awaited were The Hunna. The crowd had noticeably increased, the festival well underway as the magnetic energy of the band had the massive crowd on their feet. Despite frontman Ryan admitting this to be the biggest crowd the band had played, they were far from out of place. The passionate audience simultaneously sang along word for word, especially obvious on the instantly likable “Casual”, the end of which saw a tender moment in the excitable crowd. If that performance and reception is anything to go by, the band are on the brink of havoc. The energy was infectious throughout the set, a performance the band visibly enjoyed, this vibe infiltrating the crowd. First mosh pits were ignited off the main stage, even the slightest of teen fans were undeterred.
(The sun was out as a top lineup delivered London's first ever Community Festival - Photo: Ben Gibson)
The energy carried on for Nothing But Thieves, who delivered a honed and perfected performance. Cool throughout, lead singer Conor Mason’s vocals were impeccable and polished, the whole performance emphasized the tightness of the band. The sun came out for vivacious crowd pleaser “Amsterdam”, one of the band’s most well-known tracks as the atmosphere became enigmatic, in the responsive huge crowd. “Trip Switch” translated amazing live, a spectacle to hear and to watch performed, contrasted against heart wrenching “If I get High”, which was captivating and beautiful, Conor Mason’s distinct voice even more so live.
Slaves next on the main stage saw an onslaught of spectators. The entertaining playful vibe of the band cannot be correctly apprehended unless the performance is watched live. The charismatic ‘garden of England’ hailing pair swept through a mixture of tracks from Take Control and Are You Satisfied? albums. A crowd chanting “Where’s your car Debbie?” mingled a hint of the ridiculous with the primitive energy of the pair, in the simple set up of just the two dominating the stage with a guitar and the drums, that in no way hinders the impact of the band. A minor technical glitch saw the infamous Corbyn chants return amongst the crowd, fitting as the duo donned the stage with ‘tories out’ placards, undeterred the sound was restored to the eager crowd. The beginning riffs of track “Lies” sounded perfect in the sun in Finsbury Park, as surprises came in the form of Suggs of Madness fame joining the band on stage. The set ended abruptly and left the crowd wanting more, unwilling to see the pair go. Regardless, the performance was undeniably an exciting and compelling spectacle before the arrival of The Wombats.
The crowd for The Wombats saw the main stage its most crowded of the day, the vibe of the main stage changing again, “Let’s Dance To Joy Division” saw the crowd revelling in nostalgia. The stage was certainly set for the headliner and the band on everyone’s lips, Catfish and the Bottlemen. Anticipation had amassed and the climax of the day had arrived. Before the band even began the crowd was already chaos, a fitting reception to the performance that was to follow. Immediately launching into energetic crowd favourite “Kathleen”, what was then to be a constant sing along through the whole set ensued from the crowd. Seeing Catfish and the Bottlemen live not only amongst a killer line up, but also as the only instance of the band playing in mainland England this summer emphasised the unique feel to the band’s set in Finsbury Park, combined with Community Festival’s status as a new festival. The atmosphere was charged, and the set seemed to flash by as hit after hit was executed passionately by the band. No song greeted a flat reception and the band’s stage presence is something to be rivalled. Van is the kind of front man that possesses the ability to commandeer a whole crowd whilst maintaining that relatable vibe, characteristic of the lyrics of the songs and what the bands about. The excitable atmosphere left the crowd reeling as they exited the festival. The day felt authentic, filled with an array of talent that was not to be missed. The festival is something to undoubtedly keep an eye out for next year, if organisers retain the ability to book such a strong concoction of rock and indie bands at the frontier of the genre.
(Catfish and the Bottlemen drew a huge crowd at Finsbury Park - Photo: Sarah Bennett)
Main photo courtesy of Sarah Bennett
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