Monday, 6 June 2011

I'm on a journey...

So as the last legs of my fuzzy hangover headache leave me and I look at Suma’s photos for the umpteenth time, I suppose I have to admit that Bushstock is over. I also have to admit that it exceeded all of my expectations. Here was my Bushstock journey.

2pm. Mo and I are both running late. She has the better excuse having just returned from the gym. My excuse is poor; I had to bomb up to an internet café on Goldhawk Road because I left our print-out ticket at work.

2.30pm. We have wristbands and a slight apprehension due to the calm and emptiness of St Stephen’s (“What if no-one else comes?!”). That said, we both agree the bouncer who greeted us at the Church entrance (standard) was far and away the most polite security staff we’ve encountered (which is some statement with over 20 years clubbing experience behind us accumulatively). We decide to forego Daughter’s performance for a tactical feed at the delightful King Solomans. The sun is shining on us so we sit outside and watch Uxbridge Road go by.

2.55pm. We have beer. And we are in a church. I was completely mistaken in thinking the performers would be in St Stephen's Church Hall. In fact they were all in the church itself, and what a venue it was.

3pm Michael Kiwinuka and guitar take the stage. For the next 27 minutes I am lost to a very special voice and talent. I admit the setting probably had something to do with it but his music is incredibly spiritual. He ends his set with a Bill Withers cover and I now know that when my Mum and Dad say to me “they don’t make ‘em like they used to”, I can now say “actually yes they do” and send them a link to Mr Kiwinuka’s music.

3.30pm Mo and I get another round in from the bar located outside the church. Bushstock sponsors Vedett Extra Blond lager gave every ticket holder a free beer token (thank you very much) however the beer appears to have been come on a roller coaster from Austria and the poor bar staff battle to serve the beer without a 3 inch head.

3.45pm We’re back in church (and it’s not even Sunday) for what has to be the surprise of the day; Jarle Bernhoft. It’s no secret I have a “thing” for Scandinavian things (men, women, fashion; mostly in that order) and Norwegian Bernhoft does little to discourage this. I would describe his music as funk-soul-pop (brother) and it makes you want to move and sing, which hasn’t happened to me in a church for too long. He manages to build and perform all layers of his song using his mouth, a loop pedal and a just few instruments. Flawlessly.

He ends his set with a cover of Tears for Fears “Shout it Out”. As the applause for him dies down Mo and I look at each other, both wondering how the remaining 6-7 hours of live music can top the first two acts.

4.30pm We arrive in Shepherd’s Bar half way through Tom Williams and the Boat’s performance and it sadly becomes quickly evident that this will not match the previous two performances. At all. After reading a few reviews of Bushstock I’m now inclined to think that the overwhelmingly chaotic and “hard” (or “angry” to quote Mo) noise coming from Mr Williams and his Boat was unfortunately down to the set up and poor quality of the sound in Shepherd’s Bar. It was simply too loud. However it allowed me a snoop around this infamous members only bar that I’d previously not been privileged to grace. Yeah, it ain't that great. We drained our glasses and headed to The Goldhawk.

4.45pm Mo and I meet up up with #bushw12 twitterati Stewbirch, Sachab and our expert photographer for the day Suma in The Goldhawk, which is filled with smiling faces despite a sauna like heat and humidity. Upon our approach to the pub Mo and I saw plumes of smoke going up in the air and I half expected the worst, yet it was just a BBQ which had been put on especially for the hungry Bushstock masses. After we are served drinks we shuffle round the corner (which is indeed where I anticipated the bands to play, though the full width of the area isn’t used, making going to the toilet less part of the performance) where Dark Moon are playing. They fall into a genre of music that is slightly out of my comfort zone; at least when it comes to describing it. It’s sort of Cold War Kids meets Queens of the Stone Age with a gothic Paloma Faith on the vocals. There is no denying that the lead singer can really flipping sing, yet I was still left a bit sober by it all, despite being on my fourth glass of something. After the flirtatious Jarle Bernhoft and the unassuming yet engaging Michael Kiwinuka Dark Moon barely acknowledged their audience which did little to warm my cockles. I did like her hat though.

5.20pm Our gang walks through the residential back streets of W12 to go back to St Stephens Church and we quietly sneak into a pew at the back a couple of songs into Marques Toliver’s show- stopping performance. He begins by strumming away on an auto-harp and I am suddenly transformed to my childhood. My parents both had one each and on special occasions my brothers and I were allowed to argue over playing them. I don’t think there are any recordings available (pretty exclusive) but I am confident we sounded nothing like Marques Toliver. He enchanted the audience with his auto-harp, voice and particularly his violin, which after a few tweaks and twiddles he played acoustically in the middle of the church aisle (after checking with us that that would be ok). It meant we were spoilt to his music less than 5 metres from where were sat. It was a special performance and Suma's photographs (and a few of mine!) do it absolute justice.

6.30pm After Marques Toliver’s enchanting performance we are all eager to see Laki Mera, a band I raved about on here. I was completely shocked to see Shepherd’s Bar near enough empty for their performance. They were far and away the best sounding band in Shepherd’s Bar that we saw so it is beyond me why this was the case. We drank and enjoyed their music before plotting where we’d go next. Oh and I also did some stalking* of my favourite Norwegian. (* I got Suma to take pictures of him for me.)

7.30pm Via a quick stop to Bagel Bite (which wasn’t our last visit of the day), we headed down under the green and into Ginglik to get a front side position for Cloud Control. Again, another band I’ve raved about on here.

8.15pm Cloud Control landed and despite sweat literally dripping from the roof tops and a very enthusiastic group of Aussie groupies in front of us, Cloud Control’s performance didn’t disappoint (though maybe I’d bigged them up a bit too much to some of my companions – soz gang!).

9pm until errr… 2am… There was another trip to Bagel Bite, at least two bottles of fizzy something, conversations about the highs and lows of Shepherd’s Bush and about two solid hours of non-stop arms out and asses-shaking music. It started with Passion Pit, included Stevie Wonder, Bill Hailey and Reef and I’m pretty sure ended with Snoop Dogg, I think. Perfect. I’ve still not confirmed precisely which DJs were responsible for the spirit of the dance (or stiffness in my legs the following morning) but thank you whoever you are.

And thank you to Bushstock. Yes the weather made a huge difference as did the easy-going music-loving crowd but the real pleasure for me was witnessing some breath-taking performances in Shepherd’s Bush so thank you for that.

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