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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Finals – Pilton Working Men’s Club (April 11, 2015)

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Finals – Pilton Working Men’s Club (April 11, 2015)

Posted on 12 April 2015 by Joe

It was the closest Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Contest finals I’ve seen in three years as one of 40 music writers, who help sift through thousands of entries in the early judging stages.

Last year as soon as innovative electro pop act M+A had completed the first of their allotted two songs the audience at Pilton Working Men’s Club near the festival site, knew they had watched the winner. The same happened the year before with the beautiful folk of Bridie Jackson and the Arbour.

K.O.G. and the Zongo Brigade

K.O.G. and the Zongo Brigade

But this year was different. At least half of the eight acts tonight put forward a great case for being chosen as the winner by the judging panel, that included the festival’s stage bookers and organisers Michael and Emily Eavis.

In the end it was 16-year-old singer songwriter Declan McKenna who won.

Why did he win in this closely fought competition? The power of a song helped. In Brazil, the first track of his two song set, this bandana clad kid had the best song of the night, an immediately catchy track with a great melody all from him, alone on stage with his guitar, synth and box of tricks for company.

Declan McKenna

Declan McKenna

Also the focus of the contest, to uncover original emerging talent, shone through. His precocious talent was hard to ignore. If the 16-year-old McKenna can create music like Brazil now then what can he do in five, ten, 15 years time? This boy will go far and the judging panel knew it.

If second placed Shields had won there still would have been a worthy winner. Their powerful rhythm section elevating them above the usual indie pop fare. So too with third placed K.O.G. and the Zongo Brigade, who started proceedings with an energetic set combining African music, funk and rap.

Shields

Shields

But there was far more than these three. MoD was sensational with his hip-hop jazz fusion. And Princess Slayer, with their stadium friendly set were another valid contender for the top prize

While the rest of the acts may have lacked the eventual winners’ originality they all were worthy finalists, from the folk of Lucy Kitchen to the well-worked vocal arrangements of Isaac Lee-Kronick.

Declan McKenna receiving his prize from Michael Eavis

Declan McKenna receiving his prize from Michael Eavis

Shortly before presenting McKenna with his prize of £5,000 and a main stage slot Michael Eavis announced that all the acts would be appearing at the festival. It was a fitting end to a contest that continues to impress.

by Joe Lepper

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition Details Announced

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition Details Announced

Posted on 15 January 2015 by Joe

Glastonbury Festival has announced details of its Emerging Talent Competition 2015, which offers new acts from UK and Ireland the chance to compete for a main stage slot at this year’s event.

emerging

The competition is free to enter with the winner also netting a £5,000 PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development prize to help develop their career. Two runners up will receive £2,500 from PRS.

Those interested are urged to be quick. Entries are only accepted for one week, from 9am Monday 19 January to 5pm Monday January 26, via the Glastonbury Festivals website.

To enter, acts will need to supply a link to one original song on SoundCloud, plus a link to a video of themselves performing live (even if it’s only recorded in a bedroom).

Previous entrants have includes The Subways, Stornoway and last year’s winners M+A.

2014 Glastonbury ETC winners M+A

2014 Glastonbury ETC winners M+A performing at last year’s event

Once the entries are in a panel of 40 music writers, including Neonfiller.com’s Joe Lepper, will whittle down the thousands of expected entries to just 120 acts. This longlist will then be handed to a judging panel, including Michael and Emily Eavis, who will filter it down further to just eight artists. These eight artists will then compete in a live finals at Pilton Working Men’s Club in April to decide the winner.

Glastonbury co-organiser Emily Eavis said:  “New music is such an important part of Glastonbury, and the Emerging Talent Competition is always an incredible way for us to find fresh talent from across the musical spectrum. In fact, eight of the acts that entered in 2014 ended up with slots at Glastonbury 2014. I can’t wait to hear who we discover this year.”

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Glastonbury Festival 2014

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Glastonbury Festival 2014

Posted on 30 June 2014 by Joe

Everyone has their own Glastonbury experience. It’s so vast, with 200,000 people and thousands of acts scattered across two large Somerset farms that this giant muddy city is able to offer something for everyone. There are those that like the big name acts of the Pyramid and Other stages, some who can dance all night at Shangri-La and Arcadia and then there’s some like me who enjoy finding new bands and watching music in the many smaller, more intimate venues.

Storm clouds over the Pyramid Stage

Storm clouds over the Pyramid Stage

I was attending this year as a judge for this year’s Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition so was especially keen to catch up with some of the finalists. During this review I’ll cover each of my day’s trek around the storm hit, mud strewn site’s smaller venues to bring some new acts to your attention.

Friday

After discovering it was Kaiser Chiefs not my dream of Prince playing the surprise slot opening at The Other Stage I headed to this year’s best venue, William’s Green, where new bands rub shoulders with more established acts looking to play a second, more intimate gig. Ralfe Band were first on and provided the perfect start with Oly Ralfe’s accomplished Baroque pop on keyboards and acoustic guitar putting in great versions of tracks such as Crow and Ox.

Ralfe Band

Ralfe Band

As I made my way over to the BBC Introducing stage I stopped off to watch a little of Blondie. I knew it would be a soul destroying experience for this fan and was proved right. Debbie Harry, Chris Stein and one of the world’s best drummers Clem Burke remain from the original line up but they were supplemented with some rent a rock session musicians and were now very clearly a spent force. Harry shouted rather than sang her way through the classics like Hanging on the Telephone and their bland ‘new ones’ were met with groans and sighs from the crowd. Is it time to call it a day? In Blondie’s case, definitely.

Wood Burning Savages

Wood Burning Savages

Over at the BBC Introducing stage Dan Hyde proved a welcome antidote, backed by cello and giving a new take on the skinny jeaned young singer songwriter genre. Derry’s Wood Burning Savages were next and immediately looked like a band destined for bigger things. Every track in their short 20 minute set of fast paced indie rock sounded like a single, especially Lather, Rinse, Repeat. In singer Paul Connolly they also have a great frontman; part Bono, part Danny Kendall from 1980s Grange Hill.

Carnabells from Leeds were next at BBC Introducing and were brought on stage by fan Steve Lamacq. All giant hair, paisley shirts and velvet jackets they play rock and roll with a huge dollop of indie rock and did Steve proud.

The beauty of the BBC Introducing stage is it is next to the Gully Outer National stage for world music as well as John Peel for the more established BBC 6 Music style acts. Birmingham’s Eternal Taal – Bhangra Entertainment Team were hard to ignore with their energetic crowd participation act at Gully as were Temples over at John Peel with their carefully crafted late 1960s psychedelic rock. It’s a little Tame Impala light but they still do this genre justice.

Carnabelles

Carnabells

Following a brief burst of sunshine some menacing clouds began to appear. I sought shelter back at William’s Green to see We Were Evergreen. Anyone who has heard Canada’s Rural Alberta Advantage will be impressed by this smart, Parisian electro pop act.

The next event was the weather, with a truly frightening electrical storm bringing the festival’s music to a brief close due to health and safety fears. Everyone at the festival will have their tale to tell of where they were when this intense rain came down. For me it was in The Leftfield where Neonfiller.com favourites The Tuts were just getting going in their punk pop set when the generators were shut down. Billy Bragg, who is curating proceedings at The Leftfield apologised but audience didn’t care though as they launched into a Cliff Richard at Wimbledon style sing-along to Bohemian Rhapsody. The guitar solo bit was particularly funny.

Young Knives

Young Knives

Back at William’s Green and the electricity back on, Young Knives played a storming set, filled with tracks from Neonfiller.com top 20 album of 2013 Sick Octave and an incredible performance from lead singer Henry Dartnell as he snarled, barked and jerked around the stage.

Billy Bragg’s Friday night Leftfield show is a tradition of the festival. Tonight it was just him and telecaster and acoustic guitar, belting out his hits and reminding us of the late Tony Benn, who was a regular at the festival. It’s a political venue so the politics is ramped up through tracks such as Between the Wars and There is Power in a Union. But he’s also a preacher with heart and Handyman Blues about his father was among many tearjerkers. Bragg always puts on a good show, but there’s something special about his Friday night Leftfield slot.

Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg

My evening ended with two Somerset based bands, Flipron and Nick Parker and the False Alarms who share members and played a great joint set at Avalon Café. Both Parker and Flipron frontman Jesse Budd were playing a number of times at the festival but you’d never know they were probably wrecked from exhaustion as they belted through their most festival friendly tracks. There was even dancing amid the tea drinking.

Nick Parker

Nick Parker

Saturday

John Peel openers Black Tambourines were one of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition finalists this year and left me impressed during their short set at the Pilton finals in April. It was great to see a full set from this Falmouth act, which owes a lot to the 1960s garage punk and mod sounds of the Unrelated Segments and other obscurities from that era.

The Black Tambourines

The Black Tambourines

At BBC Introducing by coincidence another Falmouth act, Polly Money, is proving that the Cornish music scene is in fine voice. Her intricate acoustic guitar work and looping vocals show she is another accomplished, emerging talent. After a surprise gig at BBC introducing from Little Dragon I headed back over to William’s Green for the billed psychedelic rock segment of the weekend, which started with the Nirvana-esque grunge-sters The Wytches, Brisbane’s Blank Realm, Smoke Fairies and Dinosaur Jr’s favourites Bevis Frond.

The Wytches

The Wytches

All these William’s Green acts were great in their own separate ways from Smoke Fairies’ style of dressing in designer white outfits, Bevis Frond’s love of life, Blank Realm’s insane vocals and The Wytches massive hair.

The Smoke Fairies

The Smoke Fairies

The evening was spent in the company of two great songwriters. Watching Nick Lowe sing What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding with his perfect pitch and intonation is one of those ‘things to see in music before you die’ moments. He was especially suited to the beautiful Acoustic tent with its hanging red drapes and giant disco ball.

John Grant

John Grant

John Grant at the Park was as amiable and fun as he appears to be on disc, with his clever lyrics and liberal swearing. As joints were being passed around at the front Grant dazzled us with tracks such as Mars and GMF, perhaps his greatest song. On the way back home that night (I live near the site and was popping in each day) I managed to catch the Arcadia landing show, an outstanding spectacle of fire breathing giant space spider pyrotechnics.

 

Arcadia

Arcadia

 

Sunday

The Black Tambourines and Wood Burning Savages prove the festival has emerging talent that has seemingly arrived fully formed. But some of today’s BBC Introducing stage acts showed that some have a little way to go in terms of stage presence. Glastonbury Emerging Talent finalists FURS have the right look and sound but fell into the trap of not looking like they wanted to be there. Kagoule have their chops around a distortion pedal but while excellent musically they looked nervous and were smile-shy.

Kagoule

Kagoule

We are told by the BBC DJ who introduced singer songwriter Lapsley that she will be one of those acts that will be making a swift move from the BBC Introducing to a main stage swiftly. It does happen, with Ed Sheeran playing the stage in 2011 and bagging a Pyramid slot this year. Lapsley could do well with her  haunting electronica. She has some nice touches to her act as well, especially through voice manipulation gadgets. But she’ll have to do a lot of work on her stage presence to follow Sheeren’s lead. She looked  like she was on work experience at an office, desperately trying to pluck up the courage to ask a manager where the coffee machine is, rather than at a music festival.

Gallery Circus

Gallery Circus

Gallery Circus though showed these acts how it should be done. This Newcastle duo of twins Graeme and Daniel Ross play sibling blues rock in the White Stripes vein and are  sensational live; Graeme’s frantic drumming especially. After seeing the energy they put into playing live I want them to get wider attention and a main stage slot that so many on the BBC Introducing are touted for but today only Gallery Circus deserve.

After the storms of Friday and Saturday the mud was thick and getting about the site was tough work. I decided to stick to one area for the duration, even if that meant missing the Festival’s buzz act Dolly Parton. The Park was my venue and provided the best segment of the festival as well as the best live act I’ve seen since Nick Cave’s astonishing Pyramid Stage set in 2013.

M+A

M+A

Phosphorescent brought the songwriting talents of Matthew Houck and key tracks, such as Song For Zula and Ride On/Right On from his Neonfiller.com Top 20 album of 2012 Muchacho, to the Park. He had a little wobble early on, having a hissy fit with a mic, slamming down the stand in disgust. Perhaps realising that this made him look like an utter knob he backtracked, thanked the sound engineers for their hard work and the gig resumed.

Ahead of next act Yoko Ono with Yo La Tengo I popped up to the Rabbit Hole, the crazy bar near the Park’s ribbon tower to catch a second gig from Glastonbury Emerging Talent winners M+A. Their blend of European pop and electronic trickery was superb in this tiny venue and they proved worthy winners of this competition.

Yoko One and Yo La Tengo

Yoko Ono and Yo La Tengo

I was not expecting Yoko Ono to be good. I was mostly there for the novelty of seeing such an well known figure of modern culture and had always been of the opinion that her and Lennon’s preaching was more pretentious than heartfelt. There was pretension, but she is such an engaging personality I can see why so many listened to her and husband back in the day. Before she came to the stage people with flowers in the hair went around the crowd handing out labels to write down wishes and hand back in a bucket. Then Ono arrived, tiny, focused and full of smiles backed this time by Yo La Tengo as the Plastic Ono Band.

Packed full of tales from her own life, including the tragic loss of her daughter due to a marriage break up and artists visiting her and Lennon, the audience immediately warmed to her. Musically it was pretty fine too. Backed by Yo La Tengo’s indie rock, Ono throat warbled her way through tracks such as We’re All Water and Mind Train as the audience beamed back at her.

St Vincent

St Vincent

St Vincent provided one of the most astounding show of the weekend. Looking sensational in gold trimmed black dress and stiletto boots she moved around the stage like a android doll that is smirking as it discovers rebellion and music for the first time. Coordinated dances with the band, a move onto a giant white pedestal, a coordinated roll back down it and two of the most insane crowd surfing moments I’ve witnessed then followed.

St Vincent being helped into the crowd

St Vincent being helped into the crowd

The crowd surfing was particularly impressive, still playing guitar she struggled through the mud in her heels, had to be helped up by security staff, fell over a number of times, jumped on people, managed to borrow a flat cap and then popped back on stage still in android doll character as if nothing had happened. How she managed to still look cool after that I’ll never know. Your Lips Are Red and a tender version of Prince Johnny were among many highlights of an incredible masterclass in performance and music for some of the emerging acts here to take note of.

dragon

Words and Pictures by Joe Lepper. All pictures are copyrighted to News and Features Ltd, if you would like to use any please email joelepper@newsandfeatures.co.uk

To see more photos from the weekend head over to our Facebook page.

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Glastonbury Festival 2014 – Ten Must See Acts

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Glastonbury Festival 2014 – Ten Must See Acts

Posted on 04 June 2014 by Joe

Away from the Pyramid and The Other Stage, the Glastonbury Festival offers an array of venues of all sizes, packed full of emerging talent and more well known bands looking for a more intimate gig. From the Leftfield Tent, where Billy Bragg helps curate a political and talented musical line up, to the BBC Introducing Stage, where regional radio DJs showcases their favourite local acts, there is plenty to see away from the BBC cameras.

For the third year running we will be attending and have compiled this list of our recommended acts away on some of the festival’s smaller stages, with West Holts and Park Stage the largest we will focus on.

glastonbury

In our list we have an Emerging Talent competition winner, one of Somerset’s best bands as well as more familiar names that are performing at the festival for the first time or are back again after impressing before. So for those looking to avoid the stadium rock of Metallica and Kasabian here is our pick of the ten must see acts across the festival site.

M+A

For the second year running we were delighted to be among the judges for the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent competition. This year’s deserved winners put in an incredible set during the finals in April in nearby Pilton, Somerset, and we are keen to see much more of their exciting, fun and packed full of humour take on pop music when they open Sunday‘s proceedings at West Holts.

John Grant

IMGP9050

Everyone we recommend Grant to turns round and says “wow!” Yes, he’s that good and has that much of a wide appeal. Across his two albums Queen of Denmark and Pale Green Ghosts, Grant has emerged as an excellent song writer and performer and is part of an impressive line up at the Park Stage this year. He is due on around 9pm on Saturday night.

St Vincent

We stick with the Park Stage with our next recommendation, art rockster St Vincent. Her collaborations with David Byrne and Andrew Bird left us impressed and so too has her recent self titled album. Judging by her live performances recently The Park Stage crowd are in for a treat on Sunday evening.

Public Service Broadcasting

Public Service Broadcasting's J. Willgoose Esq

Public Service Broadcasting’s J. Willgoose Esq

Crazy dance music and pop backed by clips from wartime information films has proved a winning conceit for Public Service Broadcasting duo, J. Willgoose Esq and Wrigglesworth. We saw them at onef the smaller Glastonbury Festival stage William’s Green  last year and they put in an exciting show, backed by a  giant TV on stage and full of humour,  with all banter carried out through pre-programmed robot responses. Their reward for last year’s excellent gig is a move to the far larger West Holts Stage on Sunday afternoon.

Parquet Courts

Just as alternative guitar music looked to be in the doldrums up popped Parquet Courts last year with their Neonfiller.com Album of the Year, Light Up Gold. They have attitude in abundance with their exciting take on the music of Pavement, Wire and The Fall and are yet another excellent addition to The Park Stage’s Friday late afternoon line up.

The Tuts

The Tuts were one of the highlights at last year’s Indietracks and we are delighted that they’ve secured a Friday evening slot at the Leftfield Tent this year. Appearing on the Friday evening they ooze pop appeal and are a slick bunch live, thanks to a support slot on Kate Nash’s tour last year. They kindly let us use their song Tut Tut for this video diary we made for last year’s Indietracks festival.

 

Wolf Alice

New-Wolf-Alice-500x333

Another band to impress us at another festival, is Wolf Alice, a highlight of 2013’s The Great Escape. We predict they will be one of the most talked about of the John Peel stage’s acts, where further acclaim beckons. We also named them as one of out Top Ten Bands to Watch Out for in 2014 and guarantee you won’t be disappointed. They are due on stage around 4pm on the Saturday.

Dry The River

We’ve been banging on about this London folk rock band for years now, after seeing them at Glastonbury and Great Escape in 2011. Live they put on an incredible show both times and are tailor made for a festival crowd with their big sound and stage presence. Be sure to catch their set when they take to the John Peel Stage on Sunday afternoon.

Flipron

Formerly based in London now of Glastonbury, the town that is, they are one of the Festival area’s best  local acts and with a national following as well. They blend a range of genres from folk to rock to pop to ska, but above all they are fun and are a great live act full of invention. In recent year’s they’ve even teamed up with Specials man Neville Staples and are due to perform at the Bandstand around 7pm on the Friday and are penciled in for around 11pm at the Avalon Cafe on the same night.

Young Knives

Young_Knives_Grey_Lunch

How good are Young Knives live? Very much so, according to two of our reviewers who saw them on their own headline slot in Brighton this year as well as supporting The Flaming Lips in May. The fact that they nabbed the Lips support gig proves they are a force to be reckoned with on stage. Fun, quirky, inventive are just some of the adjectives we have used to describe this Leicestershire trio. Pop along and see them at the small but wonderful William’s Green stage early Friday evening.

To plan your festival Clash Finder have this useful timetable with stage times filling up as the get confirmed.

Compiled by Joe Lepper

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Glastonbury Festival ETC 2014 winners M+A

Posted on 08 April 2014 by Joe

London based Italian act M+A were the deserved winners of this year’s Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition. Here’s a clip of one of two tracks they performed at the competition’s finals at Pilton on April 5. This one is particularly reminiscent of Euro-popsters Yello. Great performance.

by Joe Lepper

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Finals – Pilton (Apr 5, 2014)

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Finals – Pilton (Apr 5, 2014)

Posted on 06 April 2014 by Joe

The Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent finals, taking place in the packed Pilton Working Men’s Club near to the festival site, proved itself to be a contest that is evolving with changing moods and emerging trends.

While last year’s finals had a strong folk rock slant, this year’s acts were far more electronica based. Gone were the cellos and Northumbrian percussion of last year’s deserved winner Bridie Jackson and the Arbour. Instead the stage was packed full of Korgs and Apple Macs.

M+A accept their prize from Michael Eavis

M+A accept their prize from Michael Eavis

All the eight finalists, who were whittled down from 6,000 entrants and then 120 long listers chosen by myself and 39 other music bloggers, were of a high standard. But there was one act that stood out. We in the audience knew it and the judges certainly did. This years winner’s were London based Italian act M+A, named after members Michele Ducci and Alessandro Degli Angioli.

Runner up Izzy Bizu

Runner up Izzy Bizu

So why were they so clearly the winners? First off, they sounded great. Fun danceable pop, with funny inventive vocal effects reminiscent of Europopsters Yello. The looked great too, bent  over percussion and key boards, furiously bashing away at cymbals, and blowing carnival whistles. By the end of their two allotted songs the audience quite simply wanted more, which sealed their victory. Their prize was a coveted main stage slot at the festival, plus £5,000 from the PRS artist development fund.

Runner up Black Tambourines

Runner up Black Tambourines

In joint second, and scooping £2,500 in PRS cash were first act up Izzy Bizu, whose voice is stunning and set the bar high in the finals from the outset. Her blend of soul, funk and pop backed by piano was instantly appealing. She looks a star in the making and is a deserved recipient of her prize.

Gibson Bull

Gibson Bull

Black Tambourines, a punk band from Cornwall, were my second favourite act after M+A. Their old fashioned, energetic brand of punk honed from years of playing to Cornish and other UK crowds, was perfect. Live they were a sensation, bounding around the stage and making me think ‘why can’t all bands be this good live?’ Another deserved winner of a cash prize tonight.

Hero Fisher

Hero Fisher

Gibson Bull was as near as we got to folk tonight. His blend of folk rock with trip hop gave a relaxed twist to the genre. He would not have been an unsurprising winner, as like all tonight’s acts he was an accomplished live performer. Sadly for him though he was a year too late to be in with a chance of impressing the  judges.

Furs

Furs

For the indie music crowd Furs, a duo from London, and Hero Fisher, also from London, were welcome additions to the final eight. Both are packed full of emotive indie rock that could fill the John Peel Stage at the festival with ease. Of the two Furs sounded like they needed a little more time to develop their sound, with bands like Still Corners already excelling at this kind of music. Hero Fisher, however, already has a unique selling point, with the 1960s twist to her guitar playing and vocals, really standing out. They are an act I want to see more of.

Pandr Eyes

Pandr Eyez

Final mention goes to Only Girl and Pandr Eyez, two more genre fusing bands mixing RnB with pop and soul. Both were excellent, with superb vocalists, but in comparison with the zeitgeist cool of M+A and the live passion of Black Tambourines, looked out of place on this short list and a little too mainstream and safe  for the judges and the assembled crowd of music critics and regular festival goers.

Only Girl

Only Girl

By Joe Lepper

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