Sunday Special: Freedom Festival

Been a while since I’ve done a longer piece on here, yes? Let’s fix that.

So, I’ve been going to the freedom festival for a few years now, and I recommend to all people who love (or even just have a mild interest in) the arts. Unlike the street sesh, Hull’s second wonderful independent marina based festival is dedicated to all forms of artistic endeavour, and you’ll find poetry, theatre, circus, dance and street shows to go along with the music. Because it’s more my scene I focused on the bands while I was there (it is also generally the focus of my writing here, after all), but I feel it’s important to empathise that there’s loads going on all over the city while the festival is going on and I only got see a small fraction of it, especially as I only arrived on Friday due to travel. Did I mention that the vast majority of it is free, as well? Because it is, and that’s amazing; nothing is free in this day and age, and anything that is should be cherished like the precious endangered animal it is.

There was a stage set up on Humber Street on the Saturday, and I and my housemate took in a few bands while we were sheltering from the absolutely terrible weather. The first of these was Mastiff, a band we had actually seen at the sesh but not really taken to. I enjoyed them much more here, possibly the outside atmosphere and the space and bad weather suited them a bit more. They were still very screamo, so if you don’t like death metal steer clear, but I quite enjoyed them this time out.

Next up was a bunch of guys making some technical sounding rock. Age of Atlas are Hull based, and made some good sounds, but had this slightly odd air to them, like the thought they were playing the O2 and not Humber Street. IT was quite enjoyable music though, provided you are a fan of progressive metal type things and vaguely emotional vocals (not to mention lyrics. I liked the records quite a lot when I looked them up later, they were suitably over the top if perhaps a little bit too serious for my taste. Exciting listen though.

Somewhat annoyingly, my favourite band that I heard on the stage I only caught a few of the songs, and I’m not sure I got their name correct. I thought they were called Stimpy Myth, but the band I saw live had a real Placebo vibe going on, and the Myth folks sound a lot more Husker Du on the tracks I’ve found (which is actually pretty great, I really like their songs and have already resolved to buy their album if I see it). Two options here: either I’ve accidentally discovered two great new bands, or I’ve discovered one super great band who have a lot more range than just the songs I caught them doing live. That would be cool. I’ll research that further at some point.

Then it was time for some British Sea Power, which I had a fantastic view for, literally right at the front and just a little of centre. They did a mix, and got right into it crowd interaction wise, not to mention busting out most of the hits. They seemed like they were having a fair bit of fun with it, which was enjoyable to watch, not to mention the two giant bear suits they unleashed upon the crowd. A lot of the songs went down well with the crowd, and while it wasn’t the best coordinated show in the world, they put a lot of effort into the big instrumental bits and tried to get people bouncing. Maybe I would have liked a bit more polish? A bit of a silly thing to ask for from a rock band, probably, and I had fun, but it didn’t sear into my brain immediately like other gigs have done. They were good, and it’s a fantastic show for fans of the band, but I reckon Public Service Broadcasting last year was a better show overall.

On the Sunday, I had a late start, but when I finally dragged my sleep deprived arse out of bed, I pulled myself down to the amphitheatre on the marina to check out some of the New York Brass Band (and a bit of swing dance featuring at least a couple people I know, which was very enjoyable). I have to say, the brass band were fun, with a capital f. They loved interacting with the crowd, and with people (mostly young kids) having a big old dance at the hits. Considering that it pretty much looked like a scratch band based on who that had around on the day (there were six of them) they made a good noise, did a bunch of big songs, and had the assembled people really enjoying themselves, which is the most important thing. I really like street brass music and that’s basically what this was so I’m slightly bias, but I had a great time watching them. Plus I got some extra dancing afterwards, so it was a good deal all round.

Then it was Eliza Carthy (and The Wayward Band), who is someone who has had loads of hype but I’ve never really caught up on. That hype was well deserved, she’s an absolute force live, with all the confidence and joy that I enjoy in live acts. Her band were great as well, a huge group including strings, brass, multiple percussionists and the usual assortment of hurdy-gurdy type instruments. They were lovely to watch, and sounded incredible; I’d go as far to say that if you like folk music in any way, this is a must see show. The crowd really loved it as well, she had loads of people of all ages around by the end, many of whom clapping along to the final little jig number. I’m gonna try and catch up on some of her music, because it seems like an absolute party. Also might see if they’re playing the Bev folk festival next year, because they were exceptional enough to be worth a second look.

On my way home, I also saw a couple of clowns doing some stunts with water and getting lots of people very wet. That was good fun

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