Finally, the wait is over. After five breakneck months of careful planning, the black drapes of The Green Door Store’s stable-like music room are pulled open for the very first Hidden Herd Festival. Today, Hidden Herd presents a boutique all-day celebration of up and coming artists from across the UK, featuring some of our favourite new music finds since our inception in 2015.
Guitar-pop maestros The Villas are the first of ten on this ray-soaked Saturday, christening the Hidden Herd Festival stage with a fresh batch of harmony-laced concoctions. While older cuts like ‘I’ll Wonder Again’ still grab the ears, the new more band-centric creations since their rebrand signal a vibrant future. Opener ‘Funge’ is the best of them; a skittering palm-muted slow-builder with a vague air of Mystery Jets circa ‘Twenty One’.
South coasters Safe To Swim are another band who come armed with glistening new material. The heavy pop anthems that established them as a force to be reckoned with (‘Boyfriend’, ‘Struggling’) still pack a significant punch, but their set is now scattered with lighter angular offerings that sit them closer to the likes of Blaenavon and Sundara Karma. Noisy or not, there are still whopping choruses throughout and the big refrains ricochet around the room in triumphant fashion.
South London-based psychsmiths Yawwn bring a change of pace, braving a chocker A23 to come and flaunt their psych-flecked sounds in front of a pumped-up Brighton crowd. The tropical-tinged five-piece – who today play as a four – have more than a few groovy hook-loaded gems up their white denim sleeves, with kaleidoscopic bursts such as ‘Be a Man’, ‘Mercy’ and ‘Partisan’ sounding just as magnificent as they do on record.
Brighton alt-rock newcomers Drip Gloss have yet to unleash their recorded wares on the world, but there’s sure to be a stampede when they do – debut single ‘Fame’ lands this Friday (14th September). Like fellow sonic experimentalists MOONOVERSUN, their ambiguous fusion is tricky to pinpoint, but the foursome’s perfect storm of pop, psych and punk – which sounds like Dream Wife covering Charli XCX with MGMT behind the mixing desk – wins hearts during their mid-afternoon stint at Hidden Herd Festival and deservedly so.
PNKSLM slack-rockers Beachtape are a more straightforward, but no less exhilarating, proposition. There are no gimmicks with the quartet’s sun-bleached grunge-pop, just fuzz-drenched glimmering bar chords, jagged basslines and Pavement-esque songwriting. Brand new off-kilter nugget ‘Fix It Up’ sounds Americana-tinged and evocative, but ‘Rearranging My Ways’ is still their set’s pinnacle today thanks to its big hazy refrain that burrows into the brain and takes up residence.
On the other end of the guitar-driven spectrum, atmospheric indie outfit Hot Dreams fill the four walls of The Green Door Store with Grizzly Bear-ish gang harmonies, lush soundscapes and reverb-doused guitar lines. It doesn’t take long for the Londoners to have the festival throng in the palm of their hand; ‘Another Night’ is a dreamy delight, ‘Will You Dive’ is a wall of wondrous noise and ‘Plungepool’ is a perfect slab of euphoria. Soaring and spine-tingling, there’s an ethereal effortlessness to their whole performance that should see them go far.
Ever the eclecticists, Hidden Herd Festival’s next act on the bill is something different entirely. Infectious wonk-pop duo WOOZE are today’s sonic curveball, equipped with mind-expanding musical morsels that bridge the gap between Berlin-era Bowie, Led Zeppelin and Devo. Dressed head to toe in Crayola yellow, the duo benefit from added live bass this evening and let off a kaleidoscopic explosion of vibrant sounds and visceral thrills, with giddy first single ‘Hello Can You Go’ and latest spectacular ‘Party Without Ya’ helping to reel in a gaggle of new devotees.
Taking up their mantle, 80s-indebted London band Pelicandy are a ball of endless energy with more electro-pop bangers than you can shake a stick at. Synth stompers such as ‘Waiting Room’ and ‘Animals’ are just as neon-bedazzled and ear-pricking in the flesh, but bassist Junior Cobbinah and frontman TC Beecham elevate their live show to new dimensions with their slick moves and magnetic stage bravado. The latter pogos around the venue during their hook-packed finale, bouncing off the walls and wielding his six-string in an erratic fashion, much to the joy of the Hidden Herd Festival horde.
Rather more restrained are otherworldly electro-poppers Another Sky, who reduce the galvanized room to pin-drop silence with their broodingly powerful output. The bewitching Londoners are an enveloping sonic experience, echoing everyone from Radiohead to alt-J, and the crowd before them watches each of their tightly constructed songs unfurl in quiet awe. ‘Forget Yourself’, ‘Avalanche’ and shiny new single ‘Chillers’ are utterly hypnotic, with singer Catrin Vincent’s extraordinary voice taking the spotlight throughout.
Then it’s over to The Ninth Wave to conclude the day in emphatic style, proving once again that they’re a well-oiled and unstoppable machine. The Glasgow noise-makers are utterly scintillating from the get-go – just as they were at The Great Escape Festival earlier this year – bringing their jet black onslaught of Gary Numan-like synths, Interpol-ish throbbing bass and heavy clamorous cymbals to Hidden Herd Festival‘s headline slot. Their lifeblood, however, is The Human League-like vocal interplay between front duo Haydn Park-Patterson and Millie Kidd, which as ever sits above a blitz of glam-noir guitar that echoes ‘Disintegration’-era The Cure. The combo makes for a first festival finale to savour, and opener ‘Swallow Me’ and closer ‘Reformation’ serve as the perfect bookends to a set of skyscraping proportions.
Join us for our next Brighton show, Hidden Herd Presents: Saltwater Sun – with support from Thyla, Circe and Lacuna Bloome – on Friday 14th September at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar. Tickets available via DICE.