REVIEW: X&Y Festival, O2 Academy and East Village Arts Club – 6-7 July 2013


In its second year as a festival, stepping up to feature headline performances from national touring bands such as Dog Is Dead and The Heartbreaks, taking place in 3 venues over 2 days with 30 bands and weekend tickets that cost only £15, on paper this sounds like the perfect weekend of live music. But one thing you can’t second guess is the British summer. Mark Johnstone reviews

With a much improved line up on 2012 this should have been a well attended festival, unfortunately this wasn’t the case. Confused perhaps by a scorching hot summer weekend, it seemed like fans would turn up to watch one band then leave straight after instead of staying to see the rest of the show. And early on the first day with young local bands on supporting duty, it seemed more like an under 18 event than that of a fully qualified urban festival.

Run Tiger Run

Last years inaugural event was spread over the O2 Academy and the open space of St Luke’s (the bombed out church) but the al fresco stage fell victim to torrential rain and half the festival was cancelled on the day. To avoid this happening again, the promoters made a decision to host the whole event indoors and by a cruel twist of fate the current Mediterranean conditions put many punters off staying around for any decent amount of time in the dark, sweaty academy spaces. Due to its more intimate nature the smaller Academy 2 seemed busier and more vibrant throughout the day but at times in the vast Academy 1 you could hear the music bleeding through from below.

XandY festival

It was a real shame for the touring bands who are used to performing in front of a bigger audience especially Brother and Bones (shortlisted for Best Live Act at the 2013 AIM awards alongside the likes of Sigur Ros and Vampire Weekend) and Dog Is Dead who were fresh from playing the John Peel stage at Glastonbury.

With all that being said there were some great performances throughout the day most notably from Catfish and the Bottlemen and Brother & Bones who despite the sparse crowd, delivered assured performances.

With day one over, focus was now turned towards the East Village Arts Club to close out the weekend. Again plenty of good music and (damn) beautiful weather. With the venue being smaller than the previous day I hoped this may have had a positive effect but sadly this was not the case. At times it seemed the only people in the audience were photographers or friends of the band. A shame because bands like Dumb, Young Kato and The Thespians all put on stellar performances with the latter, as expected, pulling in a decent following.

Overall this weekend had a lot of great bands who didnt get a chance to showcase their music to a decent crowd. My advice for next year would be to choose a single smaller venue with both indoor and outdoor space such as The Kazimier or Heebies.

 

WORDS: Mark Johnstone

IMAGES: Ellie Gillard | Nikki Higgins

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