After Norwich’s Sunday Sessions festival disappeared into the ether after their 2020 event was forced into cancellation, the Neck of the Woods Festival has stepped up to take its place. Despite the seemingly constant looming threat of rain, as well as a few late cancellations, the festival goers got to see a thoroughly entertaining day of music from start to finish.
How do you start a festival? Slow sing-alongs? A recognizable face from yesteryear? Neck of the Woods opted for neither, instead bringing in local talents, proudly showing off the musical talent Norwich has to offer. Youth Killed It were tasked with being the first act of the day, the homegrown five-piece taking to the main stage balancing two things many hold dear: Dad dancing and indie beats. Closing their set with the immensely popular ‘Popstar’, a tune with striking similarities to all the best bits of Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Old Yellow Bricks.’ Admittedly, no one wants to just be told they sound like X,Y or Z, but even with that comparison Youth Killed It are more than able to stand out in their own way.
But what’s better than trusting one home-grown talent to start your festival? Well two of course. Norwich based singer/song-writer Lozeak somehow defied all the odds to put on one of the shows of the day. With just three songs on her Spotify and only five live shows under her belt, she smashed her first ever festival. Crowd size, big. Quality of music, even bigger still.
The quality of every festival that has ever been is strength in depth. A stacked main stage is one thing, but what really helps a festival stand out is when each stage has something great on offer. Neck of the Woods thankfully rose to the challenge, with acts such as Bandit, and Trunky Juno placed on the smaller KILI Presents stage. The former a group of Liverpudlians, arriving off the back of their excellent ‘Here’s to Being Alive’ EP which dropped back in mid-March of this year. The titular track strays from the norm of a simple indie banger, instead it’s an excellently worded poem from frontman Nat Waters. The EP’s closing track ‘Sefton in the Summertime’ translated exceptionally to a live audience, a notable high in a set that proudly boasted the four-pieces pride in their heritage. Perhaps the biggest acclaim I can place on Trunky Juno’s set is simply this. A live band on a smaller stage shouldn’t be judged on the crowd they start with, but the one they finish with. The Durham natives quickly turned a crowd of tens to one in the hundreds, one that stayed around for the long run despite bigger names playing on other stages. Undeniably exciting, but without a release in six months, fans will now be hoping a new release is just round the corner.
Photo: Lina Molloholli
Back on the main stage, The Snuts took charge playing all the greatest hits from their #1 debut album ‘W.L.’ Firmly a staple of the indie music scene nowadays, their reward for such a strong debut album was one of the longer sets of the day. Going through all of their hits, they undeniably left fans wanting more. Arguably Scotland’s finest export since Dennis Law’s right foot, the group have continued to go from strength to strength and now leave fans eagerly awaiting album number two. Followed up by the uber-popular dodie and guitar wielding indie band Sea Girls both ensured that the quality of the main stage never let up.
After supporting The Snuts earlier this year, The Royston Club took to the Adrian Flux Waterfront stage. Just over three years on from their first live show, the boys seemed completely comfortable on the stage, confidently bouncing from one song to the next. Speaking of the Adrian Flux Waterfront stage, Ireland’s The Academic managed to recover after sound issues kept them off the stage, forcing them to half their set time. Deciding a set-list on the spot, there is no doubting that those in the audience that waited around got to see one hell of a band.
As the night drew to a close, DMA’s took centre stage, producing forty-five minutes of the best indie music you’ll find just about anywhere in 2022. The Australian anthem producers never missed a beat, cooly running through their setlist with the crowd in the palm of their hands. Taking the time before launching into their final track, frontman Tommy O’Dell thanked the crowd for welcoming the group back to England, but after a set that good the pleasure was all ours. On either side of DMA’s, both KAWALA and Little Comets took to other stages. The former released their excellent debut album ‘Better With You’ back in March, and perhaps with the quality of that release could have benefited from a longer set then their allocated thirty minutes. With five albums under their belts, Little Comets controlled the stage like total pros. Well over a decade since their first show, you’re always guaranteed a good show when they pick up their guitars.
Photo: Lina Molloholli
‘We’re going to lean on our first album, we hope that’s alright’, were the words of The Kooks’ frontman Luke Prichard a few songs into their headline set. Well that’s exactly what they did from the word go. Album openers became show openers as the first five songs off ‘Inside In/ Inside Out’ kicked off their set. Back in 2006 Rolling Stone dubbed the album “utterly forgettable”, well the ten-thousand strong singing every word back fifteen plus years after its release seem to disagree. The one-two punch of ‘Ooh La’ and ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’, got the crowd swinging and singing, with the group looking very much in their element on the stage. ‘Bad Habit’ marked the first abandonment of the band’s debut album, with the recently released ‘Connection’ and singalong supremo ‘Shine On’ following to mark the halfway point of their set.
Mirroring their debut album once again, ‘I Want You’, ‘Jackie Big Tits’ and ‘If Only’ arrive as a trio set to send the audience back to the noughties. Unlike other mid 2000s trends like Man United being good and baggy jeans, each of these songs have stood the test of time, still holding up today.
The Kooks’ may have been there to celebrate their debut album, but initial show closers ‘Always Where I Need To Be’, ‘Do You Wanna’ and ‘Junk Of The Heart (Happy)’ showcase how the band have continued to perform at the very highest level of the indie music scene.
Photo: Lina Molloholli
As is the norm an encore was requested and granted, as the band headed back out on the stage for their three final tracks. ‘Matchbox’ still holds up after all these years, and ‘No Pressure’ the closing track off their most recent full album was a welcome addition. But truth be told, not one song can hold up to ‘Naïve,’ after all these years it remains The Kooks magnum opus. With over four-hundred million Spotify streams, it has transcended indie music to become a song that will be remembered. An excellent final note both from band and festival, as it marked the closing act from a band who perhaps unfairly are denied the chance to headline festivals more frequently.