Jul. 26th, 2009

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Yesterday, Colin Clary of The Smittens ran a songwriting workshop. I arrived a bit late, due largely to the train schedule along the line not quite syncing up with the event schedule, but it was good. He took ideas and suggestions from the crowd and started writing various songs with them, playing them on guitar, with people contributing lyric ideas, melodies and such. One thing I took away from it is that one needs to just sit down and do it, otherwise one will be stuck on all the songs one didn't write.

Bands/music I saw include:

  • Little My. A bunch of kids from Cardiff in animal ears playing chaotic indiepop. I saw part of their set, though left to go to see Sucrette.

  • Sucrette. A Japanese band, consisting of three girls (on keyboards, vocals and drums) and a guy (on guitar and laptop). They sound like classic Japanese pop; no other country would combine 1990s Eurodance drum patterns/synth arpeggios with jangly guitars in quite the same way.

  • Fitness Forever. An Italian lounge-pop band who sound somewhere between 1960s film scores and cruise-ship disco from the 1970s, and pull it off with panache. The guitarist (the chap in the captain's hat with the sunglasses and the cigar) is the unchallenged winner of the title of Most Stupendously Bad-Ass Motherfucker at the festival.

  • I caught part of Camera Obscura, on the outdoor stage as the sun was setting. They played well.

  • I saw Emmy The Great playing in the train shed. Though I was mostly towards the back or sides of the audience, not seeing much of the band, and the acoustics there aren't great. Anyway, Emmy and her band seem to be following a cue from a lot of other folkies, such as Jeffrey Lewis (and, indeed, Dylan) and rocking out more.

  • La Casa Azul, or a Spanish guy in a white jumpsuit who alternated between playing piano ballads and singing/playing guitar in front of a video screen projecting videos of computer-generated musicians playing backing parts or videos based on 8-bit video games. He was entertaining, even though I can't understand a word of Spanish.



The festival seems to be bigger than last year, with more tents, food and merch. The organic nachos from the Undergrowth Cafe (with bean salsa and olives) were excellent; there was also a curry place and the old burger shack from last year. And in the evening, someone set up a pork roast near the entrance to the train shed, and we were met with the gruesome spectacle of the charred, tortured body of a whole pig on a spit, its eyeless, notched face bearing witness to great agonies. The whole thing made me think more of mediaeval woodcuts of the suffering of martyred saints than of an apetising meal. As the night wore on, they cut strips off this porcine Saint Sebastian and sold them to people, until all that was left was the ghastly head. I can see why people become vegetarian now.

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