Rhythms of the World 2015 (Sunday)

I kind of have a love/hate relationship with ROTW. It’s a local festival, so I find it difficult not to go. It does a great job of including the community and the people of Hitch seem to love it. 

The first few years I attended, the festival was free and based in the Hitchin town centre and had a lovely feeling. With local businesses and community getting involved. They were also constrained by the location. So had to put on more quieter folk music and the church ‘stage’ always featured interesting world, folk and classical-type music. When it moved to Hitchin Priory the focus shifted to music that was loud enough to be heard on big open air stages and in my opinion has become far less interesting musically.

On the surface, it should be a decent festival. There’s still a quieter ‘church’ stage. (with massive sound leak from the noisy main stage). There’s a ‘new music’ stage (BBC Introducing), a big main stage and a few other smaller stages. But it doesn’t work. One small stage, is a ‘mates stage’. The guy running it, puts his mates on each year and it’s lineup is a bit stale. The BBC Introducing stage seems to be 80% ’emo’ rock and despite having 100s of band in London to call upon, only seems to put bands from the ‘Three Counties’ radio catchment area. The main stage is mainstream with ‘festival world music’. You know the type, most of it sounds the same. Music styles that have been westernised by the inclusion of electric guitars and the band dress in ‘traditional dress’. It tends to be bouncy with shouting sections. It’s usually enjoyable, but it’s not something you’re going to listen to afterwards.

Cost wise, the ticket prices have jumped from £6 to £15 per day. As the early bird price of the Great Escape is only £45, you can see that at £15 per day, it’s no longer exceptional value. Last year, they also removed a stage. So there’s even less music than there used to be. Yes, it’s still ‘good value’ for a festival, but it’s not good value from a music perspective. With London on the door step. I can often see a whole day’s music for less than £15. (This weekend I saw 9 bands for £6 and my train ticket was £10). So for me, the draw to the festival isn’t as strong.

But what was the music like this year?

First up was Worry Dolls a band a friend had recommended. They sounded good and had some nice songs. But I’m not a fan of country music and they veered off into a fuller ‘Nashville’ sound far too often for my liking.

Worry Dolls
Worry Dolls

Worry Dolls
Worry Dolls

One thing they have got right, is that they have a ‘community’ stage for young local artists. Some of these were pretty decent. First person I caught on this stage was Charmaine Dawson who sounded nice.

Charmaine Dawson
Charmaine Dawson

Over on the ‘Arcade Electric’ stage, or the ‘mates stage’ as I call it, due to the regularity of bands getting a repeat booking, one of the said repeat bookings were playing. Maharaja Blues, mix sounds from India with American blues. It sounds okay. But this was the third time they played. If ROTW is a music festival, it should feature new music. If it’s a community festival, then it needs to drop the pretence and price.

Maharaja Blues
Maharaja Blues

On the main stage, was one of the ‘World Music’ fusion bands that have become so popular at ROTW. Blending Brazilian rhythms with Ska. They sounded okay.
The Fontanas
The Fontanas

The Fontanas
The Fontanas

The Fontantas
The Fontanas

Back to the little community stage and one of the first pleasant surprises of the day. A band called Adiescar were playing. The lead singer had a great voice. Her vocal style reminded me of the lead singer of Esben and the Witch. Unfortunately, the music wasn’t up to their standard. But her voice kept me interested. Unfortunately, I only managed to catch the last two songs.
Adiescar
Adiescar

Over on the BBC Introducing stage was the Roxy Searle Band. They didn’t really do anything for me.
Roxy Searle Band
Roxy Searle Band

Back to the ‘mates stage’ and a very young looking artist called Izzy Rowland. As you can see from the photo. She looks very young and appeared to only sing cover versions. But it’s all good experience. 
Izzy Rowland
Izzy Rowland

Back on the main stage was another returning artist. Raghu Dixit played a few years ago. They have an ‘indian style’ fusion music. The lead singer is very engaging but the music wasn’t too strong.
Raghu Dixit
Raghu Dixit

On the Introducing stage were an interesting band called ‘Live//Learn’. They’ve got a very heavy electronica sound. At times it was layered so heavily that it was almost goth. But they put on a decent show. Not my type of music. But they kept me interested
Live//Learn
Live//Learn

Another young band, Such Strange Arts, put in a good performance. But they were the standard type of indie that Hitchin seems to like. Another pop punk band.
Such Strange Arts
Such Strange Arts

An example of where the festival messes a up from a music perspective. Los Pacaminos are not a Mexican band, but 80s pop star, Paul Young’s country music band. Women of a certain age crowded the front of the stage. But the music wasn’t to my taste. It would have been much better inviting over a real country or Mexican band
Los Pacaminos
Los Pacaminos

Back on the introducing stage another loud rock band, Scar City. But the lead singer put in a great performance. Sadly the crowd were small. Maybe Hitchin’s youth is growing out of punk, emo, hardcore, PPP punk, skater rock music

Scar City
Scar City

Scar City
Scar City

Rhythms of the World 2015

Rhythms of the World 2015

There were some ‘world’ instruments. But not sure playing a ‘world’ instrument should classify the performer as a world music artist. But at least he was closer to the festivals core. 

My surprise for the day was a Dutch(?) band called My Baby. After a slow start with several technical problems they finally got going and their rhythmic blues sound was fun to watch and listen to.

My Baby
My Baby

My Baby
My Baby

My Baby
My Baby

English Manner
English Manner

The Skints
The Skints, playing a mixture of ska, reggae and hip hop played the main stage. The crowd enjoyed their performance. But they did little for me 

The Skints
The Skints

Soma
Soma

Keid
Keid

One new band (I think) on the mates stage was The Fierce and the Dead. The bits I heard were almost prog-rock. But the guys seemed pretty talented. 

The Fierce and the Dead
The Fierce and the Dead

The Fierce and the Dead
The Fierce and the Dead

DSC02122

Closing the Introducing stage were an Elbiw like band, Amber Run. Sadly the crowd was still small and they missed the best band on this stage. 

Amber Run
Amber Run

The Brand New Heavies
The Brand New Heavies closed the main stage. Meh

Affinity Tribal & The Drum Work Collective
Affinity Tribal & The Drum Work Collective closed the Church stage. Frankly this confused the hell out of me. They should have been on at the beginning of the day not the end

As you can probably guess. My love/hate relationship continued. The festival really needs to work out it’s identity. Is it Hitchin festival or a World music festival. If it’s the later, then it needs to start to improve its programming.

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