Words: Georgina Daniels
At the beginning of this month, Outland announced that after 4 years as a band, they would be parting ways. It made Saturday night’s Fresh Finds event feel somewhat bittersweet. It felt like a cosmic alliance waiting to happen for Joe, Josh, Lewis & Marco after the headliners dropped out, giving them the last hurrah in playing a headlining performance.
Fresh Finds is a brand new whirlwind venture curated by new kids on the block Rock East Promotions. It’s hard to believe this is only the first of what is sure to (hopefully) become a staple live event in Hackney and surrounding London hotspots for music. Picking 6 bands out of the fishbowl melting pot of London’s unsigned rock bands, each band brought new stories, innovative sonic sounds and onstage chemistry both towards the crowd and between themselves.
The Kid & I kicked off the day with energetic upbeat janky indie rock, perfect to inject energy levels in the festival’s earliest punters. They showcased their newest single, released in January, ‘Heart Strings’. A melancholy and jarring performance imbued with soaring Queen inspired harmonies dotted across the chorus, layered between enduring bass, crashing drums and a jagged power guitar backing the melody quite comfortably. For fans of Biffy Clyro and Foo Fighters, jump on this new band right away!
Essex based alt-rock band Squarewave were a welcome change in pace with shoegaze influenced, yet fuzzy tracks. Performing ‘Sweet’, a laid back psychedelic ballad, it called on beautifully eerie and haunting vocal delivery, which was brought seamlessly together in a cacophony of drum fills, guitars heavily in overdrive and a steady but unobtrusive bass line carrying the weight of this dreamy song. These guys are ones to watch for laments into their disenfranchisement from reality, society at large and how they fit (or don’t fit) into it.
I didn’t want to play favourites for this, but I had a clear highlight to the day. Mystery Team were on certified bop form, presenting us jumpy hyper bass drilling songs like ‘Felony’ and ‘Boy Lost’. Clearly influenced by the Hip Hop end of rock and roll (think Brockhampton, Injury Reserve and Run the Jewels), as well as punk-infused prominence of the catchy bassline, this band are totally winning with their quick witted bars over energetically picked bass line and upbeat drums. The key vocal in this ‘Might be a felony but who’s the real enemy, friend or foe who really knows?’ was so convincingly delivered and politically involved. I am stoked to see what these guys do next.
The Lucettas, also from Essex, brought indie bangers that were spearheaded by a particularly interesting vocal performance. Tommy, the band's guitarist and vocalist, has a really grating (in a good way) voice that is brought to the forefront of the mix. Having released a curiously named debut album in March, ‘Stop Boxing On the Platform’, this band are taking stock of their lived experiences and turning them into stadium level sing along tidbits. A funny and lighthearted title, we are glad to say that the Lucettas did not start boxing on the platform (i.e the Signature Brew stage).
Two more bands to go. Second last but by no means a filler, The Late Aprils were full of wholesome, good energy from start to finish. Throwing in two covers is the kind of fan service that sometimes really stays with you long after a gig has finished. Their covers of ‘Dance Dance’ by Fall Out Boy and ‘I Bet That You Look Good On the Dancefloor’ by oh you bloody well should know who, Arctic Monkeys, were stellar choices. The vocalist leading this particular trio was a standout in technique and delivery across the whole day. He sounded so comfortable with the demands of both their original material and covers. The latest single, ‘Evil’ was both anthemic and broody in its delivery. Definitely a band to listen to when you’re needing Myles Kennedy, Porcupine Tree-esque sounds.
Outland, as surprise headliners at the last second, really had a mission to deliver. What struck me the most was the level of support they had brought with them to celebrate their final jaunt as a band. Confidently delivered vocal lines were taken in stride by Lewis, who was the beating heart of the festival’s will to exist. Showcasing the single of their last album, ‘Collision Course’, it was a set full of dancey, singalong songs that showcased the band’s eclectic musical influences. Largely pop-punk, they curated sounds that also leaned towards punk and metal, even some indie jankiness thrown in. They flew through their set with ease, doling out more bangers from an album that is sure to attract new listeners, but more importantly future collaborations or music projects. Outland may be finished, but the body of work that they have put time and effort into is sure to pay off as a portfolio that showcases the best of unsigned London-dwelling rock bands. Whatever they do next, we will be waiting patiently for it!