Hidden Herd Festival – Green Door Store, Brighton – 1st September 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

Over the last 12 months, online magazine Hidden Herd have announced themselves as a fantastic promoter offering up the best of indie music. Thus, their very first festival was an eclectic affair showcasing bands from Brighton and further afield in an all-dayer that grew more and more in strength as it escalated up the bill. From prog-rock to operatic pop, this wasn’t only an entertaining day of music, it was an exciting portrayal into the strength of up-and-coming British guitar music.

Brighton’s very own The Villas opened proceedings with their brand of wholesome indie-pop. This is the first time we’re seeing them since they dropped the ‘Charlie and’ moniker, and it was a confident opening to the festival. Likewise, next band, Safe to Swim, offered up their euphoric pop in an impressive set we’ve seen many times before. Nevertheless, the likes of ‘Struggling’ and ‘Boyfriend’ are still as captivating and catchy as they were the first time we ever heard them.

Despite their weary name, London quintet Yawwn proved to be anything but tiresome. With a sound that borrows as much from art-rock as it does indie-pop, there’s a unique, more modern take on pop that sounds like pioneers such as Talking Heads and Sparks. Much of the seduction of the band comes from frontman Toby Hasler-Winter, who proved to be a dynamic presence. Debut single, ‘Partisan’, brings the best out of his voice too, with its chorus steeped in ecstasy.

Brightonsfinest favourites Drip Gloss were up next. Having first caught them at the back end of last year, we were desperate to hear more from the band and their set brought good news. Their debut single, ‘Fame’, will be released in October and on this showing it’s sure to be absolutely dynamite. A slice of indie-pop, with lyrics that borrow from Charli XCX’s feminist pop manifesto, it was an absolute delight, as was their entire set.

A change of tact was necessary for Brighton’s Beachtape, who exhibited their brand of alternative grunge. Unfortunately, it was at this moment where the crowd suffered from gig fatigue, which is always a factor in an all-day festival, but it made their performance no less impressive. Having just announced a new single, they exhibited their latest, ‘Fix it Up’, which is a gloomy, yet jangly delight with an even breezier chorus. It’s only a matter of time before Beachtape’s time comes to take on the entire country.

London’s Hot Dreams offered up something different next with atmospheric, harmonic indie-pop. Instantly evident was the band’s impressive singing abilities: from drummer to lead singer, each member brought a different side to their vocal performance and it provided a powerful, well-rounded performance. Next single, ‘California’, was perfect evidence of this with its escalating, dramatic chorus and brilliant aura.

However, the most exciting band of the festival has to go to Londoner’s Wooze, who provided the most captivating, dynamic and downright impressive set of the day. With a sound that half evokes the art-rock of Devo and half conjures up images of prog-rockers The Physics House Band, they’re an incredibly unique prospect and, in the live sphere, a distinct sound that isn’t heard in many place. With a striking look, and a single to drop next Friday, Wooze are no doubt about to blow everyone away.

From Wooze onwards was where Hidden Herd Festival started to show its eclecticism. From their thrilling progressive rock came the neon sensation of London’s Pelicandy. Sounding like an offshoot of Hmltd’s South London art-pop, as well as the likes of Metronomy’s addictive pop, they were a glamorous presence. With frontman TC’s excitable nature too, which saw him literally bouncing off the walls, Pelicandy are pure pop bonanza.

Arguably the most unique band on the bill was electro-pop band, Another Sky. With a social media presence that can only be described as mysterious, I was interested to see how they’d adapt that to the live sphere. Essentially, they let the music – and vocals – do the talking for them. With incredibly clear cut vocals, and a dead silent Green Door Store, it was an incredibly emotional set that evoked the quiet pop of Aldous Harding.

Additionally, the off-kilter pop continued with Glasgow’s The Ninth Wave. With dramatic power pop songs, and a gloomy aesthetic, as well as a brilliant combination of vocals between frontman Haydn Park-Patterson and bassist Elina Lin, they had all the pop gravitas to end a brilliant day of live music. Built from a sound that evokes the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Interpol and The Cure, they look and sound like a big deal and have all the attributes to go far in the industry.

Liam McMillen

Website: hiddenherd.com
Facebook: facebook.com/hiddenherd
Twitter: twitter.com/HIDDENHERD