IN THE WOODS FESTIVAL 2013
By Kate Prendergast
In the Woods Festival 2013 lived up to its name as it took place at a secret location in some beautiful woods in Kent. The festival creates a mystical and magical atmosphere with lights trailing all the way through the woodlands marking out the journey to the campsite and stages. Animal masks, a Wild West saloon and lots of quirky seating areas for some chill out time provided ample surprises for the campers. Reaching the Quarry main stage involved meandering through the aesthetically awe-inspiring woods decked with baskets of flowers and secret little snugs to stop off and drink in your surroundings along the way.
On Saturday morning the sun was streaming in through tents and the skies were clear and blue ahead of a jam packed day of new music. XFMs John Kennedy was the compere throughout the day and it kicked off in the Laurel Lounge. This was the smaller stage decked out with palm trees and coloured lights. It was such a small and intimate venue that almost every musician had a packed attendance which spilled out into the walkway for the likes of Nick Mulvey, Marika Hackman and Fimber Bravo. ITW festival offers that rare package of a perfect location, amazing musicians and a brilliant chance to listen to some new bands that are sure to do great things in 2014. It had such a friendly vibe as well as excellent organisation by the Laurel Collective. Here are some of our highlights:
Lianne La Havas
Having played ITW festival a few times before, Lianne was a pro at getting the crowd involved. She played her most notable hit Is your love big enough? to a warm ovation, as well as Forget and Lost and found. She also surprised us with a new song Shapes, which was a slow and poignant love song full of depth and emotion. To close her set Lianne covered Little Dragons song Twice, to the pleasure of the audience who all got to their feet and swayed to the sound of the very last song. The atmosphere was like the amphitheatre in Athens with Liannes soulful and delectable vocals rushing around the Quarry stage like the wind through the trees and mesmerising everyone within its reach.
Fun Adults are a 4 piece band from Bristol but based in Leeds. Their sound was a full on fusion of different beats, a real clash of sounds that shouldnt work but fortunately did. They are signed to Tough Love label and are heading out on tour in October.
The Quarry stage was host to Phox, an 8 piece band from Madison, Wisconsin, USA. They were a real breath of fresh air and had an infectious upbeat tempo. There was even a trumpet player, which is just a treat within itself. Lead singer, Monica Martin was so sweet and endearing on stage and when she spoke she had an air of nerves as she described the band as circus freaks and how they feel at home in the woods. When she started to sing the ethereal tone of her voice carried confidence as well as a Country twang. Their stand out song was Your Blood is Our Blood Too, a sweet song that ended with an emphatic Yeehah! Phox were a joy to listen to and created a melody of sumptuous sounds and evoked an air of something really special. Definitely one to watch for 2014.
Playing at the Laurel Lounge was Rosie Lowe, a 4 piece all-girl band. The band has a real electro vibe mixed with lots of synthbeats. It was a mash up of vocal changes juxtaposed with electronic percussion from the MP3 merged with the drums and bass. Rosie played 10,000 Blinks and What Did I Do about a family feud. Their last song was Me and Your Ghost, showing off her mellow vocal tone with textured rhythms and layered synth sounds. Well hopefully be seeing a lot more of Rosie Lowe- she cuts a unique and fresh wave in todays market.
There was a lot of buzz and eager anticipation about 21 year old Marika Hackmans performance at the Laurel Lounge Stage. The Brighton based singer/songwriter took to it with a stripped-back performance that was all about the sombre and often haunting lyrics. She was enchanting and captivated the audience with her quirky, folky tunes juxtaposed with an element of something darker. When she started to play the song Cannibal she joked about how she is always being told to smile more on stage and did a cheesy grin, which made the crowd laugh at her Heres Johnny expression! The song itself evoked an eerie and heavy sound, created by the use of her mini sitar played with a bow. Mountain Spines was a song about going down to the woods and dying before love finds you. The lyrics were so hauntingly dark yet it pulls you head first down the rabbit hole into the mysterious world of Marika.
Scottish alternative hip hop trio Young Fathers had to be one of the highlights of the festival. Their electro, psychedelic sounds ramped up the tempo in the Quarry and you couldnt move for people jumping about. The whole set was mesmerising and the stand out tracks were I Heard for its slow delicate lyrics that had the crowd swaying and Queen is Dead for the complete opposite, as it was full of mental beats and fast-paced lyrics that had everyone involved.
Manchester band Findlay, fronted by the effortlessly glamorous Natalie Findlay, played on the Quarry stage in the evening. Natalie entered the stage to rapturous applause and started the set with a solo performance of Sweetheart that showed off her range to move from light to shade and captivate the audience in the palm of her hand. Then everything turned on its head as she jumped feet first into her comfort zone of heavy dark rock melodies with so much energy. She oozed confidence and control in equal measures as she worked her way through the high impact Fever, Angels Or Machines, the catchy head banger Off & On, and finally the simply stunning song Your Sister which was an instant crowd pleaser with everyone singing along. Natalie even popped her mic into the crowd to an audience member who belted out the next few lines of the song.
After the set we grabbed a brief word with Natalie and asked her what shes up to over the coming months, Ive got a UK tour with Johnny Flynn in October; hes the nicest guy and amazing with his lyrics. Ive also got headline shows coming up in November and December all to go with the new EP out at the end of September or early October.
So there you have it – we haven’t even touched on the magnificent secret headliner of Ghostpoet but we’re guessing that he will be reviewed to death by everyone else.
Well done to everyone at this years festival, we cant wait for next years mysterious musical weekend In The Woods.