If there’s one thing DiS loves this time of year it’s festivals – come rain or shine, you’re sure to find some of us in a field every weekend of the summer. And one of our favourite festivals is the Summer Sundae Weekender in Leicester, held partially in the city’s De Montfort Hall and the outdoor stages in the surrounding Victoria Park. It’s a family-friendly event, attracting music fans of all ages.
This year, DiS curated the festival’s Rising Stage for the Friday – find photographs of the five acts that played the day here. Below, DiS contributors Rob Webb and Jordan Dowling select their highlights, and disappointments, of the three-dayer; photographic evidence courtesy of Gary Wolstenholme.
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Lots of people onstage? A plethora of instruments? An uplifting, orchestral sound? Aha, Efkterklang must sound like Arcade Fire, then? Not really, but on the surface their cotton-wool symphonies have that same euphoric, transcendent quality that first made us fall in love with the Canadian troupe circa Funeral. In truth, there's more of a similarity with Sigur Rós or even the UK's own Field Music: harmony led, percussion heavy and more choral, then. Much of last year's Parades (a rare 10/10 album) is delivered to an audience left bewildered by what they're hearing - there's even a moment where the Danish outfit pause mid-song, and leaving us hanging for ten, maybe twenty seconds without a single sound from the crowd. It takes a special performance to render an entire room speechless, but that's exactly what this is. RW
Youthmovies (pictured, top square) open the weekend’s proceedings on the Rising Stage, and it’s today that 'Soandso And Soandso' becomes the band’s defining statement, fitting epileptic flashes of math / post-rock / hardcore / pop into random-number generated time signatures, and whilst the band sometimes drift into noodly territories they are far too kinetic to become stagnant. JD
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The final set in the Rising Stage belongs to Lykke Li - and after Fuck Buttons and Howling Bells on Friday, that's as tough a billing to live up to as it gets at this festival. Still, the Swedish pop princess triumphs with consummate ease, and material from debut album Youth Novels is delivered in stripped-down and sexed-up style; big singles 'Little Bit' and 'I'm Good, I'm Gone' are early picks, but the pace is soon raised by an unexpected (we're Lykke virgins - maybe this happens every time?) version of Vampire Weekend's 'Cape Cop Kwassa Kwassa'. Star quality goes a long way in pop music, and that's something this chanteuse has in spades. That her voice - reminiscent, live, of a much, much less-annoying Macy Gray - is so expressive helps too, but like her teen idol Madonna, this performance is as much about the personality behind it. RW
Maybe it's the weather, maybe it's the surroundings, but in a spell of consistent rain to an alarmingly nonchalant audience Camera Obscura fail to impress. Their songs, full of majestic melodies and irresistible indie-pop hooks on record, fall flat in front of the half-empty expanse of the main stage and sound resolutely dull, and although it's arguable that the band, who are almost motionless and look bored throughout, could have done more to stir the audience in the face of such disinterest. JD
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Most critics, quoted even on the band’s own MySpace page, would have you believe Leicester’s Tired Irie are another pretender to Foals' dance-math crown. Don't believe it for a second. What Tired Irie lack in crystalline production and major financial backing they make up for with energy, drive, soul, originality and passion, and whilst the indoor stage is not the best setting for their glitchy Forward Russia-meets-65daysofstatic in the House of Leaves concoctions, they still thrill. Without a doubt the festival's most promising locals.
The Errors boys don't like to make a fuss. They wander onstage in nondescript fashion, pick up their instruments nonchalantly and then... BOOM! ... treat us to half an hour of mind-blowingly intense instrumental electro-rock from their really-rather-good debut LP It's Not Something But It Is Like Whatever. The Glaswegian quartet pitch themselves somewhere between Foals and Rock Action label owners Mogwai, and as synths bleep and squeal in tandem with the impressive light show, we're momentarily transported from a subdued Friday afternoon in Leicester to a raucous Saturday night in Glasgow. As narrated by Irvine Welsh. In other words, we feel like we're on drugs, but we're not - it's a natural high, but infinitely better than one of those things you can buy from the stalls. And cheaper. RW
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Performance of the weekend undoubtedly belongs to Kevin Barnes and friends, who temporarily transform De Montfort's inner hall into a theatrical spectacular. What we get isn't so much a conventional set as performance-art set to music, with fighting gimps, water balloons and assorted foliage joining the band onstage at various intervals. No, really. Looks-wise, it's like British Sea Power with pseudo-masochistic tendencies; musically, Barnes is perhaps the closest we've got to a modern day Bowie, a gender-defying musical shape-shifter whose every move fascinates. If the tunes weren't great, too, this stage show would be nothing more than ridiculous pantomime, but last year's synth-heavy opus Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? was one of 2007's strongest LPs and tonight we're treated to most of its gems. Interestingly, there's precious little from forthcoming release Skeletal Lamping, but who's complaining when we walk away with grins the size of plates? RW
What is it about Nina Nastasia that makes her acoustic balladry so utterly affecting? The voice is one thing. Forceful without ever becoming shrill yet somehow subtle too, her striking delivery is a rare gift but one she knows how to utilise to maximum effect, reining it in where necessary. Certainly, there's no Regina Spektor-style over-singing, nor affected kookiness, with Nastasia. It just seems natural, genuine and wonderful. As a songwriter, the New Yorker's also a clear master of her craft: every nuanced syllable is matched perfectly with a delicate stroke of thumb on string, and weight is added to words at only the optimum moment to reinforce the line. The inner sanctum of De Montfort Hall is the perfect setting for her spellbinding early evening set, and she, perhaps, is as perfect as singer-songwriters get. RW
This man isn’t in a band, but he may be watching one
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Hometown boys Kyte take to the stage after Tired Irie, and cast their post-shoegaze magic to a well-attended room. The band sound much more focused and much less fey than on record, which is a very good thing, but lose none of their naive beauty. 'These Tales Of Our Stay' is a perfect storm of glorious harmonies and crashing guitars, softly touched by ghostly electronics. JD
Selkirk's favourite sons are the highlight of the Rising Stage, and possibly the whole festival, on its second day. Whilst it takes the band a couple of songs to find the right sound levels, leaving new single 'I Feel Better' sounding weak, once they do hit their stride they are exhilarating, with their boundless energy turning songs into world-beating anthems backed by a choir of hundreds. On 'Old Old Fashioned' the band make like a Scottish Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, all caterwauls and broken syllables, and perfectly encapsulate the best parts of their sound and appeal. JD
Find the Summer Sundae Weekender’s official website here. Thanks to all involved for having DiS curate Friday’s Rising Stage programme.