If you’re a fan of hypnagogic pop then you are in for a treat, and if you’ve no idea what the first word even means today will be somewhat educational. Meet Neon Indian, the creative brainchild of Alan Palomo. Specialising in mangled synths and ethereal sounds, Neon Indian is a brilliant example of how versatile electronic music can be. What impressed me the most when listening to his expansive repertoire is his ability to connect a whole range of different sounds with his own unique stamp: he isn’t afraid to try new things; to experiment with syncopation where it normally shouldn’t fit and to synth the living daylight out of anything that so much as flinches. The result is a beautifully current yet retro-inspired catalogue of easy listening. Take a look at “Slumlord” below and prepare to be transported into a world of gyrating walls and oversized floating rabbits:
“Always” is the youngest creation in the auditory family of Great Good Fine OK, a synthopop duo originating from Brooklyn. With an equally strong track record including the hits “You’re The One For Me” and “Not Going Home”, it seems that Jon Sandler and Luke Moeller were a match meant to be. It’s always exciting to find a new sound, and I think Great Good Fine OK certainly qualify for this category with the ‘dreamy electro flutters’ with which they define their sonorous identity.
I’m sure that today’s Song of the Day will be well-known to many, having been championed by late night BBC Radio 1 among others – and it’s easy to understand why. Having recently made the transition from support acts to tour headliners there is a great satisfaction in watching Birmingham-based indie quartet Superfood find the success to which they have been so long heading. Soulfully blending jazzy undertones with slightly grittier guitar they achieve a really interesting effect. Effortless music will be well received, and if “I Can’t See” is anything to go by then we can expect great things to come.
After such an amazing weekend I could not wait to go out with a bang – the Sunday headliners were to be the infamous Kings of Leon – but when the time came the most enjoyable thing about their set their departure from the stage. Now I put my hands up here, admitting that I’m not familiar with their songs save for “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody”, but I could’ve said the same about a whole host of other artists of the festival. It takes a real nerve to assume that you can walk under the spotlights and everyone will know your music. Of course a handful inevitably will, but performing is just one aspect: you must also entertain. Very few songs were introduced, there were no opportunities to singalong and any opportunities to warm to the crowd were ignored. Now obviously a set can be successful without these things but it appears that they need some suggestions. In fact, they appeared to walk on, play the songs (in which they looked rather bored if I’m going there) and walk off to reap the shrivelled fruits of a lacklustre attempt at headlining. It took all of my energy to resist joining the hoards of bored festival-goers dribbling away from the Main Stage to find something more exciting – there was grass underfoot and I’m sure I would have had more fun counting its blades.
Arguably (and I say this because of my own identical preconceptions) with electronic music, live performances do not require the same level of talent as other genres. With pre-recorded synths you need only press play on a laptop, pair it with some impressive (yet unrelated) pyrotechnics and bam: you have a flawless set. Clean Bandit, however, do not fall into this trap. That is, members Grace, Luke and Jack ensure the focus of their music is live instrumental, and along with accompanying vocalists and backing musicians the result was the perfection of pre-recorded electronica achieved through a more classically-trained medium. They played a variety of their hits, bringing Louisa Johnson out to sing “Tears” and Anne-Marie out to sing “Rockabye”, who had performed on another stage earlier in the day.
As I have said before, Lorde may have been the Queen of Saturday’s performances but Christine and the Queens completely stole the show the day after. Even though I was quite familiar with her tracks, it soon dawned on me that the music is only part of the package. When you watch Christine and the Queens you are immersed in a world of delicately twisted movements and French discotheque: you are immersed in an experience rather than a sound. From the word go she completely blew me away – from the simple lighting behind her to the impeccably choreographed movements of her five dancers, she took us on an emotional journey that went everywhere from pushing the boundaries of gendered expectations to the victims of Manchester. Clearly the inspiration she takes comes from real-life, and that is the reason why her music is so powerful.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Rita Ora performing. It dawned on me that she is the type of artist who perhaps as a household name isn’t on the forefront of the typical musical radar but is actually responsible for a huge wealth of hit records. You could sense how much she genuinely enjoyed the festival – her body language radiated with ecstasy as she weaved in and out of her backing dancers with a huge grin on her face, and when we thought it couldn’t get any better she treated us to a surprise appearance by Raye (the singer on “You Don’t Know Me” by Jax Jones) and Charli XCX with who she performed the new record “Girls”.