DRILL Brighton 2014 – Various Venues around Brighton, 4th – 8th December 2014 2
Photo by Andy Sturmey

DRILL Brighton 2014 – Various Venues around Brighton, 4th – 8th December 2014

Unfortunately the first thing that became instantaneously apparent whilst venturing into Sticky Mikes, down by the pier,  to collect wristbands and press passes for DRILL festival, was the lack of organisation and coherent understanding on the guidelines for guest passes, but it was a new festival and hopefully one that will grace Brighton’s well-suited door again. The crowds were hip music enthusiasts that were glad to witness such a fantastic line-up so close to home, but obviously disappointed with the last-minute pull of Gold Panda, otherwise known as Derwin Schlecker.

With some of the gigs a little too quiet (we certainly did not expect to be able to move whilst SAY/Mercury Music Prize Award winners Young Fathers were playing) but those that were packed generally frequented by a mass of matted beards (there was an orderly queue surprisingly waiting to see Zu on the Sunday), it was difficult to pinpoint the general atmosphere at the festival.

Some venues were busier than others, as when we initially walked into The Haunt to witness Fujiya and Miyagi on Saturday afternoon, we were overwhelmed by the support for this festival and this band. However, immediately after, we wondered into the wonderfully named, yet spacious, practically empty Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar to Monsters Build Mean Robots, an ambient/shoegazing band that actually disappointingly had similarities to Snow Patrol with additional pedals and reverb thrown in, short of substance but fairly stimulating to watch.

Photo by Jon Southcasting
Photo by Jon Southcasting

After MBMR there was a slight lull, which I was suppose was factored in for people to go get some food or more pints from the Prince Albert, but there was the notion amongst some that bands scheduled for over this time would have been appreciated also, especially as there had been many clashes with this festival, between bands that were on the priority list at DRILL. Amusing ourselves until Speak Galactic, a Brighton band, which there was no shortage of at this festival, playing at the hipster-friendly, majestic-smelling Green Door Store, it was refreshing to watch a band that captured its audience, as they watched both the saxophonist and drummer in awe, as it was palpable that there was no shortage of technical talent within this three-man project. encapsulated East India Youth, otherwise known as William Doyle, it was surprising that there was space to mill about, dance, as the club venue, Audio, was sparse with bodies.

Unusual for an artist that was recently shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize, I presume William himself was disappointed with the turnout, himself. His set, however, ranged from the showy guitar sound sampling to the more impressive euphoric climatic house-techno, that allowed for nineties nostalgia to emanate, reminiscing of old Underworld albums. With only one album under his belt and a name for performing frenetically with a dapper suiting, he fantastically created a show that will sit forever in my memory, as it was certainly not forgettable, despite the quietness of this venue.

Photo by Andy Sturmey
Photo by Andy Sturmey

Unfortunately on the Sunday once again, another Mercury Music Prize-nominated artist, (the winner in fact) Young Fathers, who hail from Edinburgh, played to an unusually small crowd. Perhaps the 2:30pm scheduled slot affected the turn-out or maybe it was the general lack of tickets sold for a festival that needs a little marketing assistance.  As a spectator there were absolutely no complaints from me regarding this performance, with the freedom to move in a venue and sound that oft made the floor of The Haunt vibrate. With a performance like that which impressed the crowd, I was a little overwhelmed only for the drummer’s stern stare, and energetic thrashing whilst he mostly and unconventionally stood. Whether it was the sound of the venue that lured the punters in, or just too early a time slot, it was significantly busier whilst leaving the bar, than it was when we first entered.

Swiftly moving to the Prince Albert where Italian trio Zu were playing, we found the pub was too small a venue for this much- anticipated gig to be held in, as we joined a lengthy queue of those waiting patiently to join the intense sauna upstairs on the next level of the bar. Still, standing outside, we could still voyeuristically plug into the insanity, with a little more space, as it appears that some opt for outdoors than the gig upstairs; perhaps too penetrating within that small confined space.

It was unfortunate not to hear them in full force, but as others will contest, the music even pervaded the outside space. From this we slipped over to the bohemian Green Door Store to swiftly hear some of Lies + Lies , graciously prior to the climactic moment of the evening, Swans, collaborating with the festival co-curators, Wire, which was an experience enough for music enthusiasts to welcome back this festival to Brighton, as it would appear that most attending this festival were locals. It did not get nearly the same numbers as the fully-fledged Great Escape but it’s an extremely young festival that has ambitiously not only opted to create a programme for those with their ear to the floor of a musical discotheque but also in the month of November.

However, there are lessons that I hope DRILL will take away from this year’s festival. Firstly, are the programme time slots, and also venue considerations. East India Youth’s clash with Courtney Barnett meant that a venue the size of Audio was definitely not necessary, it might have been better suited for Zu and their fans’ discomfort. If they can make the experience a little more beneficial for all involved, aficionados, press, and well, the musicians, the talent, coupled with a little more marketing then there may be hope for the success of DRILL yet.

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.