Words and photos by Keira Anee
Going to any festival with LOUD WOMEN accreditation tends to get defences up. ‘Am I here to criticise the lack of women?’ comes up a fair bit, and for good reason generally speaking!
For Wide Awake Festival, the lineup I have no trouble saying is excellent. 80% of the bands playing (I didn’t count.. 5 stages with around 7 bands? ‘A lot of bands’ seems to cover it) I would buy a ticket to see separately, and the other 20%, I was able to discover yesterday.
The first band I see after arriving are Maripool‘s ‘DIY Bedroom pop music’ that ‘wide awakes me up’ perfectly (sorry?).
A big draw for LW was Dream Wife, who sadly had to pull out due to covid (feel better soon!) However, singer Raquel was spotted DJing at the Bad Vibrations stage.
Dream Wife’s replacement band, Dry Cleaning, I’ve been wanting to see again since Simple Things Festival in Bristol in 2019. Their debut album released this summer, it’s incredibly satisfying to have a band that uses spoken word in their music, have another band to be compared to other than The Fall (which doesn’t mean I love The Fall any less). Singer Florence looks angelic and her lyrics and presence give off a confusion, annoyance, bafflement and I suppose what is reality in modern day life, “How I feel about, hair removal…” With the band tearing up the (very big) stage, there’s an absurdity about it that works very well.
I stop by and see PVA for the first time on the main stage, and I’m annoyed i haven’t before. A show on 17 September has them playing with The Umlauts and Paddywak, who I have also been saying I want to see for some time now, at 100 Club. Want to come?
After recently missing Porridge Radio at VISIONS Festival (….I got lost), it was nice to sit on the not even that damp grass and watch. I think about band names – getting real good aren’t they? And I mean that; they were never great (The Doors, anyone?) but now I’m able to say I attended a festival and watched Porridge Radio, Squid, Dry Cleaning, Goat Girl and I’m not even a bit sorry.
Another big pull for me is Goat Girl, who have also released an album ‘On All Fours’ this year. On the main stage the crowd is huge and they remind us all to put on suncream. It’s great to see Ellie on stage saying this after having overcome cancer in the last few years, Goat Girl defy expectations continually by being true to themselves, and I love it! Bass player Holly has her arm in a sling, but is still on stage singing with the band. I recognise Campbell playing bass in her place, and it reminds me of the sense of community this band, and this stage (The Windmill), have. I’m certain I’ve seen Campbell play with at least 2 other bands at The Windmill; the whole thing feels really down to earth: and the sun even says ‘hai’.
Later in the day on the same stage, another band that are no stranger to The Windmill, Black Country, New Road are playing, fronted by singer Isaac whose lyrics are for me wonderfully honest and a good example of the benefit of feminism for those who are more manly inclined!
Pozi played on the So Young (I know So Young have great taste already, after seeing Deep Tan play for them, at The Windmill, this summer) stage and wow, I didn’t realise how much I needed to see them! Described as a ‘skeletal sound of drums, bass and violin’ seeing Rosa dance around the stage playing and singing is so much more.
Now, Lynks (you know, like the shower gel,) isn’t a Loud Woman. But his team certainly are Loud Women, and their set is worth mentioning not least because of the LGBTQ following. I remember him asking at a set a few years ago at The Old Blue Last, ‘So; who here isn’t straight…?’ Back then, there was a poor response, but I certainly feel represented by this set and it feels safe and inclusive today. Plus, outrageous, and I definitely want to be one of the cool girls onstage!!
For Wide Awake Festival’s first year, this is no less than incredible. The atmosphere and line up are incomparable to any other I’ve been to; I really hope the organisers are having a great day sitting in their pants today!