While most of the rest of the Demon Pigeon staff are off to Bloodstock this weekend (and Noel goes to a beer festival to get silly on Cider) I thought it would be nice to head off to the more family friendly and local Moor Music Festival. I even packed up my three year old for her first ever festival, safe in the knowledge that with the bands all being local talent rather than the likes of Meshuggah (not at all bitter about not seeing them, honest), I wouldn’t be all that bothered if I missed anything.
With these small festivals it’s as much about the experience as it is the music anyway, and on that front Moor Music does pretty well, but not outstanding. Mainly this is because there appear to be two festivals stuck in one place. The first is a chilled out hippy-lite festival that has two stages ranging from indie to folk and blues, has tents that cater to families with young children, other tents that preach sustainability and global warming solutions, food vans that sell organic food at decent price and a beer tent that has a variety of lovely cask ales rather than the horrible muck that passes for beer at your larger festivals.
But then you have the other festival, where there’s a big tent playing wall-to-wall dance music for pissed up chavs; where there is a slight sense of menace, hooded teens walking around at night selling M-Cat at the top of their voiced and not enough toilets. Where the staff directing people to the campsites don’t think to tell people arriving that they’re about to camp in the family field. And most of all, where it decides to piss down buckets of water for two solid days, at one point so bad on Friday night that I’m convinced I will awaken to a mud-based Armageddon that would force us to abandon the whole thing.
Still, mindful that after two days of downpour the site still doesn’t turn to mud, and the sun does come out, put the two aspects of this festival together and you have a very nice festival that has the potential to be more, but which after a while grinds on you a tad. In the end we only stayed for two of the three days, so apologies in advance to the bands who played on Sunday, but I didn’t see you.
Of the bands that I did see, on Friday morning The Tempus (6) have the unfortunate duty of opening the weekend’s proceedings in front of a crowd that doubles when I enter the tent, which is a shame as they’re not half bad. They play a mix of Nick Cave and bluesy stoner mixed with unfortunately predictable indie fare, but if they were to dirty up and thicken their guitar sound and write more songs like their set closer, they could be a good band.
The Luminaries (6) are on next, and despite all resembling freshly birthed calves in trendy shirts, are the band of the day that are most likely to become stars. It’s not my cup of tea really, this new indie thing essentially being nothing more than a retread of The Smiths with added harmonics on the guitars, but while they are far too young and out of step with each other to make much impact, their frontman is very assured, quite talented, and possessed of the sort of presence that may see them very well in the future, once they’ve rehearsed a bit more.
After this promising beginning to the day it all goes a bit horrendously indie for a while, and the next band I want to see, The Suzukis, don’t show up, instead replaced by two teenage fucknuts called Alt Track (1) who seem to think bleating over the sound of a Casio keyboard constitutes a valuable way to spend time. We retire to our tent for some grub and return in time for Kong (8), who proceed to piss over everything else that I’ve seen so far. Dressed in matching red uniforms (well, if you can call red Y Fronts a uniform) and grotesque masks, Kong peddle a snarling mix of Jesus Lizard and Fugazi, all accompanied by a belligerent drunken swagger that is excellent, and nearly starting fights with the somewhat bemused audience. A fine way to round off the day. Or it would be, but there are two bands after them that are so hideously awful that I wont even give them name.
Saturday takes a little while to get going, the first band worth mentioning being Tigers That Talked (5), who peddle a reasonably proficient but somewhat bland mix of Arcade Fire and Sigur Ros. It’s nice enough, but lacks any real hooks to keep you interested. Next up are Jon Jon & the Beatniks Movement (7) and as they warm up I reason that they are going to have to be very very good indeed to pull off looking like such an absolute cluster of cunts. But as soon as they come on stage, all MC5 swagger and Iggy Pop moves, married to Amen-esque riffing, it all comes into focus. Like all the bands here, as undiscovered local bands they have a way to go before they can be real contenders, but there’s enough talent on display to think that it’s not outside the realms of possibility that it could happen to them, even if their lead singer does look like a Russell Brand clone gone a bit wrong.
Bo Ningen (6) are next, four horrifyingly thin Japenese men who play a distorted and fractured breakneck version of Rock n Roll. They’re not actually very good, but they are tremendously entertaining, not least because the lead singer throws some of the silliest shapes I’ve ever seen. After this I was supposed to go and see Male Bonding, but got distracted in another tent by the excellent Being 747 present Amoeba to Zebra (8) who are back from a recent stint in Edinburgh to do an hour long musical based on the evolution of life on Earth. It’s barmy and funny as fuck, and instantly becomes my favourite thing of the weekend. At least until fifteen minutes after they finish and Chickenhawk (8.5) walk on stage in the other tent.
I’m not prone to getting many predictions right, although I did win my World Cup predictions league at work, so maybe I’m getting better at it, but I predict that within the year Chickenhawk will be a very big deal indeed. What we have here is a four piece Brit Metal band who do that thing that the kids seem to like where they make everything sound a bit dancey every now and again, and they have bloody great big melodies that will make teenage girls and boys in tight jeans go all giggly and squee. On the surface I should hate them, but what they also do is marry their commercial sensitivities with a love of dirty great big Helmet riffs, Will Haven bludgeon and a bloody magnificent drummer. The melody is far more weighted towards the earthtone9 end of the spectrum rather than the woeful BFMV chud that everyone else seems to do, and the dancey bits are more 65dos than anything else. It’s a triumphant homecoming, and the crowd are clearly fans going into the gig, but I hear a lot of ‘bloody hell that was good’ type chatter from the crowd on the way out.
At this point I should really have just headed back to the tent, sated, but instead I go up to the dance tent out of curiosity, only to leave approximately 15 seconds later, when I set eyes on a scene that makes me feel both self-righteous and old at the same time. I am well aware that in this country more people will listen to the sort of bilge spewing from that tent than will ever appreciate ‘teh metulz’ (Editor’s note: I am putting at least one hideous ‘internet-speak’ line into every review from now on, because it annoys Dan) but I despair when confronted by this fact. It’s just all so fucking horrible. But anyway.
I return to the main stage for Errors (3), who from their description could be a bit math-rock. The clue that they weren’t going to be should have been when lots of people around be started dancing like gurning tools to the background music before they even come on. When they do come on they start with 20 seconds of the lushest and most beautiful intro outside of a Mono song, but then it all goes crushingly wrong and descends into dancey shite, and everyone around me starts making odd shapes, and staring at me like an interloper for daring to stand still. To be fair everyone else seems to rave (no pun intended) about them the next morning, and they seem very capable. But to me it just sounded like someone playing crushingly boring and self indulgent indie over a cacophony of car alarms.
The next morning I am faced with the choice of trying to do one last day with no money and no supplies, or going home to a nice warm shower and Mad Men on the telly. It wasn’t an easy choice, dedicated as I obviously am to giving you dear readers the fullest picture of events, but I am really getting into Mad Men, so I went home. So, Moorfest, a highly enjoyable weekend that provided a much better quality of bands than I had any right to expect from a local festival, and a great place to take a young one for their first festival. On these grounds, a top weekend.