Monday, 10 October 2016

Live Review: AMP Festival ~ 07/08.10.16

2016 seems to have been the year of the inner city music festival- and AMP Festival is yet another all day musical extravaganza making it's debut this year and ensuring that festival season continues even if Summer is over. I've been incredibly excited about this one for a very long time as the line up boasts so many incredible acts, and all in one of Sheffields' most intimate venues.

It has to be said I've always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with The Rocking Chair; on the one hand whenever I've attended gigs there the atmosphere has been nothing short of electric, but it's such a tiny place and becomes as hot as the burning pits of hell when it's at capacity... which can be a little bit uncomfortable! However, this weekend definitely saw me warm to this venue because it gave me the opportunity to spend time with friends old and new, all whilst watching some of my favourite bands- and falling in love with a few new ones in the process.

An empty Rocking Chair- just so you can get an idea of how small it is!
Bad traffic on day one unfortunately meant that I ended up arriving a little late, and so the first band I saw was the brilliant No Hot Ashes. I caught the Manchester based band live for the first time a few months ago at Tramlines, and this performance was even better- despite frontman Isaac's declaration at the beginning of their performance that he was suffering from a bout of man flu! They are such a polished and ardent young band who have a real creative flair when it comes to their music; it's fun, unique and delightfully funky. Definitely one to watch, and I can't think of a better way to start a festival.

No Hot Ashes
I've seen Cupids a number of times now, and can safely say that they're one of the best new bands on the block. There's something incredibly raw about their sound, and they manage to give off a somewhat 'old sounding' vibe, whilst still remaining cool and contemporary at the same time. The band has two equally compelling vocalists in Sid Cooper and Jake Fletcher, and what also impresses me the most about them is the simple fact that they're a band with something to say- which I feel the music industry is seriously lacking in at the moment. They don't play it safe with their lyrics, or their sound in general, and I have a lot of respect for them because of that.

The band I was most looking forward to seeing was undoubtedly Paves; they blew me away when I stumbled upon them at Leeds Festival in August, and this performance only made me fall all the more in love. There's a real bluesy and refined edge to their sound; I find them quite relaxing to listen to, and they perform with such ease and control that you can't help but be completely mesmerised. There's something inexplicably intriguing about them, and perhaps this is more than a little corny to say but everything about this performance was nothing short of perfect. One thing is for sure, Paves are a very special band indeed and I think I appreciate them all the more for having seen them perform in such intimate surroundings.

Friday nights' headliners were Sheffields' own The SSS, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing a couple of weeks ago. What always gets me about this band is their obvious dedication to what they do; every time I see them, they've upped their game. They're constantly growing as a band, and their set at AMP Festival was proof of that. Forthcoming single "The One You Need", an articulated and purposeful track, was the highlight of their set for me and I'm sure this one will go down extremely well once released officially. The crowd hung on the bands' every word, and once their performance came to an end and they took their leave they quickly found themselves being called back up for one last track. Frontman Josh Coddington gladly obliged and gave us a solo acoustic grand finale- a beautiful end to a brilliant night of live music.

After a fantastic Friday evening, the bands playing day two of the festival had a LOT to live up to. I ended up discovering a couple of brilliant new bands, which in my opinion is what the festival experience is all about. I knew straight away that Manchester based Ethan & The Reformation were going to be an exciting find. The word that first springs to mind when trying to describe them is slick- both in terms of image, and sound. They draw you in with soaring, note perfect instrumentation and smooth vocals... all in all, they gave an enthralling, memorable performance. This was their first time in Sheffield, but they were well received by the audience so I'm quite sure it won't be their last.

Ethan & The Reformation
The Strawberries are fast becoming one of my favourite bands, but as much as I love the studio recordings of their work, I definitely think they have to be seen to be believed; it's all well and good being able to perform live and do it well, but this is a band who know how to put on a real show. Sam Neil is one of the most charismatic, interesting frontmen I've ever come across, and as a whole there's a real sizzling chemistry between them that only adds to their presence and on stage dynamics. This performance was probably the strongest I've ever seen from them, the highlight for me being "Caramel Eyes", their hard-hitting and infectious new single, released only last week.

The Strawberries
I've probably seen The Barmines live more than any other band this year, and they never fail to impress. Their set was short but sweet, and comprised of their usual dosing of huge, crowd pleasing hits. Even the newer, as of yet unreleased additions to their set are by now known and loved amongst their ever growing legion of loyal fans. Their live performances are always a bit of a whirlwind... fast paced, tumultuous and unforgettable.

The Barmines
When listening to new music, it often takes me a couple of listens to really 'get' the band and what they're about. However, every now and again a band comes along and immediately manage to pique my interest and this was definitely the case with Kashmere. As soon as they took to the stage, I was instantly impressed not only by the songs themselves but also the way they composed themselves throughout; there was a real polished edge to their performance, and I genuinely think they have the potential to follow in the footsteps of recent breakthrough acts such as Catfish & The Bottlemen and fellow Stockport citizens Blossoms in terms of commercial success.

Fresh from a triumphant television appearance on Soccer AM that morning Judas, as always, delivered an exceptional, action packed performance which had the crowd dancing and singing along- much to the obvious delight of the band themselves, who barely stopped smiling the entire time. They've had an incredible Summer, and a number of high profile festival appearances have seen them really flourish. It's easy to see that this is a band who are in their element when performing live, and they seem to get bigger and better every time.

It's been quite a while since I saw headliners Glass Caves, and I was delighted to hear a couple of brand new additions to their set, the most exciting of which was their forthcoming single "Do You Have A Name" which I'd not heard until then, and proved to be an exciting teaser of what's to come when album two hits the airwaves. One of the best things about festivals is seeing bands interact with and support one another, and about half way into this performance, in came Judas who subsequently started a riot and had the rest of the crowd rocking with them... all in all, the perfect culmination to a perfect weekend of live music.

Glass Caves
As far as festivals go, it was definitely one of the most impressive and well organised that I've ever been to and so I must praise Aaron Procter for all of the hard work he's put into making this weekend such a success. I'm sure AMP Festival will return, and I for one can't wait.

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