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FESTIVAL COVERAGE: BBC 6 Music Festival 2019 In Liverpool; ‘By Night’ Highlights

‘Every performance we saw throughout the weekend was either great or mid blowing; we’ve never been to a festival with performances of such a high quality!’

Last weekend Underscore Part 3 attended the BBC 6 Music Festival which headed to Liverpool for the first time so we followed close to see what the fuss is all about; let’s just say we weren’t disappointed.

This year’s festival took place across 4 venues with Friday hosting 2 ‘night’ events and 1 ‘late’, Saturday consisted of 1 ‘day’ event, 2 ‘night’ events and a ‘late’ and all wrapped up on Sunday with a ‘day’ event and 2 ‘night’ events. The ‘night’ events took place at The Olympia and The Mountford Hall simultaneously between 6-11pm as ‘standard’ gigs; here’s some of our personal highlights; it’s worth noting that with fantastic shock every performance we saw throughout the weekend was either great or mind blowing; we’ve never been to a festival with performances of such a high quality!

Friday’s ‘Night’ Event At Olympia Highlights

Bodega’s drummer Tai at Olympia

‘Bodega [arrived] on Olympia’s stage there is an audible excitement from the expectant crowd who are not left disappointed.’

In 2018 Bodega burst onto the BBC 6 Music airwaves with regular play of their single ‘How Did This Happen!?’ Quite rightly their presence has been a constant on the station with every release since. It’s inevitable the 6 Music Festival is full of their listeners so by the time Bodega arrived on Olympia’s stage there was an audible excitement from the expectant crowd, something Bodega take in their stride.

‘[New Bodega drummer] Tai [added] her own primal drum style to Bodega she feels like the missing piece of the puzzle that we didn’t know we needed.’

Bodega commanded the audience with Ben at stage left predominately covering lead vocals and rhythm guitars, Nik E ikki fronting the band with expressive dance, vocals and percussion, new member Tai adds to Bodega’s performance art rock playing the Bodega ruled minimal drums but with a fury and drive that comes from her previous guise as a member of performance theatre group STOMP and to finish the line-up the group are complimented with bass and a second guitar player; Bodega do not put on a live gig they put on a performance and aura of energy to absorb. Having just released live album ‘WITNESS SCROLL’ we’ve all be reminded of the power the Bodega live shows come with but with Tai adding her own primal drum style to Bodega she feels like the missing piece of the puzzle that we didn’t know we needed. Bodega will be releasing a new EP this year which we have little information of but we’re aware that the B side is an expanded version of debut album track ‘Truth is not a punishment’ which gets a live outing at the 6 Music Festival fitting in with the current set seamlessly; we’ve got high hopes for the upcoming release.

Anna Calvi at Olympia

‘Rarely a still crowd is a good crowd but Anna Calvi’s performance was one to watch, absorb and remember not one to dance drunkenly.’

Olympia’s Friday night headliner is gender powerful icon Anna Calvi, and although Anna’s gender challenging lyrics have caught the attention of the press Anna proves live that being a female is a not important what keeps every eye transfixed on the stage is Anna’s skill as a songwriter, guitarist and singer. Anna Calvi’s latest album is passionate and epic at all times verging on self-indulgent and her headlining performance follows in the same style; Anna headlining in a room steeped in such history was the perfect choice both acoustically and stylistically. Rarely a still crowd is a good crowd but Anna Calvi’s performance was one to watch, absorb and remember not one to dance drunkenly.

Saturday’s ‘Night’ Event At Mountford Hall Highlights

Little Simz at Mountford Hall

‘All sets of the weekend except headliners were a snapshot of the artists work at only 40 minutes and there was a feeling of disappointment when Simz finished, clear that the room was left wanting more.’

Little Simz had been described by one fan as ‘the big ticket’ of Saturday evening putting further promise on the middle set of Mountford Hall that was already one of Underscore Part 3’s key acts. Our anticipation increased when Little Simz spoke to Lauren Laverne in the day saying that her touring sets this year are the first time she is performing with a live band having previously toured as a duo with a DJ.

Little Simz took to the stage in a visibly buoyant manner uniting the crowd instantly as much with her smile as her music, this was the beginning of Simz victory lap celebrating the hugely deserved success of latest album GREY Area. With such a well-received latest album and a new live band leading to an expanded sound the set was geared around this but with such well crafted songs and frankly her most well-known output the audience were thankful for her set list choice. With Simz music being in the widest sense ‘hip-hop’ or ‘rap’, filled with expletives including the contentious ‘n word’ and patriarchy challenging lyrics she could easily be scapegoated as another angry rapper but with musicianship that spans almost all genres and the largest smile we saw all weekend it’s impossible not to see the positivity oozing from the stage. All sets of the weekend except headliners (and the mysteriously short ‘put back’ Slowthai) were a snapshot of the artists work at only 40 minutes and there was a feeling of disappointment when Simz finished, clear that the room was left wanting more.

Jon Hopkins at Mountford Hall

‘Jon’s mix coupled with his flawless visuals the crowd meant the were drawn in and Jon did not let go.’

Jon Hopkins did not take lightly his invitation to headline the BBC’s Mountford Hall choosing to pay for his own visuals covering the stage with a full backdrop of video sequenced with his set coupled with 4 large searchlights. With ‘just’ a DJ on stage, masters in the art know that it is all about building an experience; Jon’s mix coupled with his flawless visuals meant the crowd were drawn in and Jon did not let go; although we were at a students union at 9pm on a Saturday anyone watching back on iPlayer would have easily been fooled that they were watching a 1am set as the crowd immersed themselves in Jon’s music physically with a feverish dancefloor. Sometimes perfection cannot be put down in words and that was Saturday night at Mountford Hall.

Sunday’s ‘Night’ Event At Olympia Highlights

Charli 2na at Olympia

‘Krafty Kuts mix reminded us that this is not a Jurassic 5 rip off, this is the coming together of 2 of the industry’s best, if this is anything to go by the album and tour will be ‘going off’ every night.’

Probably the biggest surprise of the weekend came from Krafty Kuts and Charli 2na’s set; by the time Krafty Kuts and Charli 2na took to the stage the crowd was nearing capacity with many aware of Krafty Kuts work as a DJ but weren’t even sure how to pronounce ‘2na’. As soon as the pair arrived on stage and Charli’s baritone spoke over the microphone and any in the audience who had any question as to who Charli 2na was were frantically Google searching knowing that this is the voice of a seasoned professional. With a short set the duo focused on getting the crowd bouncing (something they managed to do immediately) and making their stage time memorable (yep, they managed that) to encourage the crowd to check out the long-player they’ll be releasing this summer. As an accomplished breaks DJ Krafty Kuts mashed up a set comprising of old school US hip hop, UK hip-hop, fitted a medley of Charli’s previous outfit Jurassic 5 and a dappling of their work as a duo; Krafty Kuts mix reminded us that this is not a Jurassic 5 rip off, this is the coming together of 2 of the industry’s best; if this is anything to go by the album and tour will be ‘going off’ every night.

Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor at Olympia

‘[Hot Chip] surprised us with 2 new tracks (the now released single) ‘Hungry Child’ and (unreleased) ‘Spell’ plus a surprisingly well fitted cover of Beastie Boys Sabotage!’

Being the final set on a Sunday of the packed weekend we already felt we couldn’t have deserved a set from Hot Chip let alone the set they gave us. The band covered as many areas of their career as they could in their 1-hour time slot and surprised us with 2 new tracks (now released single) ‘Hungry Child’ and (unreleased) ‘Spell’ plus a surprisingly well fitted cover of Beastie Boys Sabotage! With it being a career spanning set it is worth noting that to begin with coming from a powerful but lower tempo Cinematic Orchestra set the crowd appeared still but once the crowd got going they were most certainly ‘dancing like a monkey with a miniature cymbal’. Having been dormant from touring for a few years seeing that back with a sold out crowd was a pleasure and with the band having just announced a new album to drop this summer and an extensive tour this is Hot Chip back to their best.

Full BBC coverage including videos.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e92mzc/play/p074vv8b/p0750c1f

Words: James Wadsworth

Photos: BBC Pictures



Underscore Part 3

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