Words: Saam Das
Earlier in the year, we announced that we'd been asked to return to judging duties as part of the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition - giving three acts the chance to play at the 2014 edition of the fest. Well, the ETC longlist came out yesterday, so it's time to deliver some thoughts on our choices and the longlist itself.
I had to whittle down 150 acts to just three - Louis Barabbas, Fickle Friends, and Lily & Meg emerged victorious in my heat. Competition was arguably the strongest its ever been - at least in my alloted acts. Hotly tipped upcomers Fé and FOREST were cast aside, and the likes of Delta Sleep, Febueder, and Desperate Journalist just failed to make the cut. All of those names are in with a decent chance of appearing at the fest regardless.
This year, I had much more of the live performance in mind when making my choices. I'd seen the charismatic Louis Barabbas and his touring party, The Bedlam Six, at Portsmouth's Victorious Festival - enjoying their enigmatic performance, even if the baroque-esque music wasn't quite my style.
Brighton's Fickle Friends have started the year strongly, with infectious new single 'Swim' proving particularly popular online. Watching their submitted video, and seeing the band members actually smiling while performing was a refreshing contrast to the sombre mood of most of the other submissions.
Falmouth duo Lily & Meg were the odd ones out, in terms of my choices, offering more of a relaxed vibe, which (pardon the pretension) I think would fit well with the mise en scene of Glastonbury. I found their upbeat folk ditties particularly charming, although they're not afraid of also turning up the melodrama.
There were plenty of other acts that we've supported on the blog before who pleasingly made the longlist. Black Plastic chose Benin City (unexpectedly comparing them to TV On The Radio) and the frustratingly anonymous Brolin - both of whom have impressed us live. Another impressive live act is the wonderfully experimental Cosmo Sheldrake, who Robin from Breaking More Waves selected.
Another friend of ours Leigh from Just Music That I Like opted for slick grooves of Leisure, who we interviewed late last year, as well as having a special extra selection with solo talent Only Girl. Moving away from the mainland, Crack In The Road picked Belfast's GO WOLF, whose 'Even God' was certainly one of the best tunes we heard in 2013.
Considering this post has only mentioned ten or so of the 120 emerging talents on the longlist, we suspect there's plenty more good stuff to be discovered. And even more great bands who unfortunately failed to make it through. Just eight acts will make it through to the live final in April to play in front of another judging panel, hoping to join bands like Stornoway and The Subways as previous winners.
For more info and the full longlist, go to glastonburyfestivals.co.uk.