January 28th was the first ever Beat the Streets festival. It was a one day festival with over 80 artists spread over 6 venues around Nottingham. All proceeds from drinks and tickets went to Framework, a charity that helps the lives of homeless people. Of the 80 acts, I sampled 3 very different ones from earlier in the day.
An unlikely duo, The Sleaford Mods were a great fit for such an event. If things hadn’t come good for Andrew Fearn and Jason Williamson, it is hard to imagine what else they would do, and they too may well have ended up on the streets (see ‘Jobseeker’). They are known nationwide but the sound is colloquial. It was good to hear some flattened Nottingham vowels and inflections.
Jason Williamson makes shouting musical with his great timing, rhythm and dynamics in his voice. Along with the permanent frown and a way of moving eccentrically in time with the music, arm frequently coming up to brush his head in a dog-like fashion, it was a compelling performance. Andrew Fearn did the music but as one gig-goer said ‘it was just him and his mate bobbin about’. Andrew does, indeed, tend to stand there and ’just bob about’ in between pressing play.
Some of the basslines sounded quite similar such as in ‘BHS’ and ‘Tweet Tweet Tweet’ which were played next to each other, but with lyrics like ‘this is the human race, UKIP and your disgrace’ it could be forgiven. Besides, Jason, after offering the audience out, said that anyone who didn’t like them could fuck off.
The logistics of that were made apparent when, after the set, 2000 people tried to cram through some double doors, all at once. The main hall at Rock City was filled to capacity. We were squeezed in like hotdogs in a can and if anyone had taken up the offer, they would have had to fuck off inch by squashed inch. No one wanted to though. All 2000-odd people were there to see the Sleaford Mods who were giving the people back to themselves, just as they are.
In contrast to angry punk rock, Dan Chapman mellowed me out at the Bodega with his dreamy Fairy-Folk. The Tolkien/Fairytale lyrics were enhanced by adding lots of echo on guitars, harmonica and vocals giving them an ethereal quality. Moving the cappo up his guitar also gave an unexpected echo-screech which actually sounded ok. First he played ‘The Hierophant and the Hermit’. I’m still not sure what a Hierophant is.. Next, ‘The Call’ which he told us was about living in the present. He also played a rather harrowing ‘Strange Fruit’ which seemed to fit well with the rest of his set.
One of the earliest acts on at the Bodega was ‘Giant Head’. Giant Head (not sure of his real name and his head was not that big), spent an awful long time fiddling with lots and lots of wires. I could make out a keyboard and a theramin which he rapped over but unfortunately, he lost me at the rhyme ‘suicide’ and ‘cried’.
Beat the Streets ran on until late in the night and was very well organized with other acts including ‘Kagoule’, ‘The Invisible Orchestra’ and ‘Unknown Era’. It started to get busy later in the afternoon (when I sadly had to leave) but judging by that, a lot of money must have been raised. A great day out for a great cause!