REVIEW: LeeFest 2011

British Sea Power
British Sea Power astonish crowds with their eclectic stage show.

 With the festival held over two days for the first time in its history, LeeFest scores its most successful year yet. Across two tents and the main stage, the best in upcoming indie, rock and dance are given the opportunity to shine before The Whip, Fenech-SolerThe Young Knives and British Sea Power take over entertaining the crowds of Highams Hill Farm this weekend.

The event stays true to its grassroots ethos by reinvesting half of its proceeds to financing the festival for the following year. The other half is donated to this year’s nominated charity – Kids Co, which highlights and raises awareness around the issues that vulnerable inner-city children face, and the essential care and support they provide for them.

Following in the footprints of other boutique festivals such as Truck and Lounge on the Farm, Leefest endeavours to provide a platform for unsigned and up-and-coming bands, eschewing the pretentiousness that is an occupational hazard of larger, corporate festivals. Instead, Leefest holds firm to its mission statement and lets festival goers get on with the business of having fun – which is refreshing; I felt like I’d done some good by attending Leefest, without really having done much other than turn up and enjoy myself.


This sentiment is shared by fellow revellers who saw The Whip‘s set on Friday evening. Their funky indie-electro sound is the first to draw a good crowd, with a set of bangers getting everyone jumping. Fenech-Soler are in equally fine fettle, at one point enducing the young crowd to attempt -with varying degrees of success- moshing. Elsewhere on Friday, the Lava Lounge plays host to the brooding, indie-folk of To Kill a King and the surfy, dance vibes from the pink-shirted David’s Lyre: both bands are worth checking out, having released EPs in recent months.

On Saturday, Loose Talk Costs Lives brings their Foalsmeet-Vampire Weekend’s afrobeat to the mainstage, including a great cover of Roger Sanchez‘s ‘Another Chance’. Man Like Me go down a storm and, as a friend remarks,  [they] are ‘like Madness on drugs’, while over in the Lava Lounge Dinosaur Pile-Up turns out to be an uninteresting Foo Fighters rip off, with their ‘new’ track sounding like a child trying to cover ‘Monkey Wrench’. Champions of Geek-Chic the Young Knives always put on a good show though, and despite – by their own admittance – not being as big as they used to be, were still able to put on a great show without resorting to some of their bigger numbers like, ‘She’s Attracted To’.

British Sea Power are stalked by the Foxman throughout their set.

But stealing the show on Saturday night were British Sea Power. A raucous set of classic BSP hits, replete with jungle foliage, a fox-man with pet falcons, a 10-foot bear and two tin-foil androids (will I ever be able to write that about a gig ever again?) astonishes the crowd for over an hour. Having released fourth studio album, Valhalla Dancehall earlier this year, the band are at their eclectic best, closing this year’s festival in epic fashion.

A great little festival that is able to draw some fantastic artists without having to sell-out, cram us in like sardines, nor rip us off with over-priced food and beer, Leefest is spot on, and is now an essential part of the summer festival calender. Long live LeeFest.

Photography courtesy of Ben Mercer.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.