Festival Review: Bushstock 2017

on Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Bushstock Festival (10 June 2017, various venues across Shepherd's Bush) // Words: Saam Das

The Communion Records-run Bushstock Festival is only into its seventh year of running, yet feels like such a vital staple of the UK festival scene. The 2017 edition once again offered the usual Bushstock mix of upcoming artists and notable headliners, with The Staves and Nick Mulvey appearing. A much delayed review of the day follows.

We began our day at the umbrella-laden outdoor Courtyard stage, catching Communion's own Rukhsana Merrise and one of our tips for the festival. She did not disappoint, delivering laidback numbers such as 'So They Say' alongside more driven efforts including 'Two Hearts'. Laughing (or rather, sweating) in the face of reasonably hot weather, we dashed over to the Defector's Weld - a worthwhile venture to catch the beguiling alt-pop of Avante Black.

Back at the Courtyard, the understated Mosa Wild were making a solid impression, quietly growing in confidence as the set progressed. Soulful and introspective moments were combined with impassioned choruses, the result falling somewhere along the spectrum of Alt-J to Kings Of Leon.

A small attempt was made to catch Seramic's secret set at the impossibly tiny Albertine's Wine Bar but with a considerable queue having already formed, we popped over the road to catch the remainder of John Joseph Brill's set. His booming baritone showcased especially well on tracks such as the crashing 'False Names'.

Heading to arguably Bushstock's finest venue St Stephen's Church, the-band-formerly-known-as-Nocturne-but-now-known-as Nocturn impressed despite some initial issues. Their elongated instrumental opening combined with angelic vocals offered an atmospheric soundscape particularly well suited to the iconic setting. Certainly ones to watch, even if they don't currently have any music online.

A relative sprint to Sindercombe Social proved needless as Minke was bogged down by technical issues in the build up to her set - somewhat understandable as this was Leah Mason's official debut show under her new moniker. Offering up melodramatic pop songs, it's not surprising to find out she's already attracted a large following, including none other than Lindsay Lohan.

Sydney's Gordi has drawn many a comparison to Bon Iver, perhaps understandably as the woman behind the moniker Sophie Payten has contributed live backing vocals for the latter as well as covering '00000 Million'. St Stephen's Church proved a wise choice for her placement during the festival, enhancing her beguiling efforts amid an enraptured audience.

Arlissa graced the graceful Bush Hall stage - more ballroom than gig venue - and strongly demonstrated why she was sought after by the likes of Crystal Fighters and Nas for collaborations, following an appearance on the BBC Sound Of 2013 list. Her career might not have reached the heights that it perhaps should have since then, but nonetheless, her charm and powerful vocals shone through, with only an acoustic guitar(ist) as accompaniment.

OUTLYA were arguably the most energetic band of the day, bringing their anthems to the Defector's Weld, perhaps enjoying a more intimate environment than when in their previous Port Isla guise. Tracks like 'Higher' and 'The Light' imbued an exuberance to the venue, and a second wind for any flagging festival-goers.

An enormous queue put paid to the idea of finishing the evening off with Benjamin Francis Leftwich and The Staves at St Stephen's Church so it was left to the capable hands of Bushstock veteran Nick Mulvey to finish off the evening. With the sun setting on the Courtyard, Mulvey's adeptly demonstrated his folk fare/flair, with 'Fever To The Form' particularly rousing the crowd into a singalong.

Another year, another successful outing for Bushstock.

Early bird tickets are available for Bushstock 2018. Find more info at bushstock.co.uk.

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