Split 2014 Day 1 Festival Review

Split 2014 Day 1 Festival Review

by jessicajolly / Aug 11, 2014 / 0 comments
Saturday, 9 August 2014

In the center of Sunderland, a town so sleepy we couldn’t find a shop selling beer at 6pm on a Saturday, a three-stage festival raged inside a lovely city park. One could listen to heavy metal, soul, rap, and of course a bit of quintessentially English pop. The organizers of the Split Festival had to overcome several obstacles to get their event off the ground, but the effort was well worth it.

Here’s a round up of the Day 1 highlights:

Big Beat Bronson, Main Stage
A northern hip-hop trio with a carnivalesque appeal, Big Beat Bronson opened up the main stage with a dancey, high-energy set that appealed to both the small children and the day-drinking delinquents. Bright costumes, comic lyrics, and a slightly scary Chuckie doll on the front of the stage. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and neither should you. It’s an act to have fun to.

Gallery Circus, Stage 2 (the dark tent)
The twin boys from Sunderland have received a bit of national attention, having recently played Glastonbury and appearing on TV. Like the White Stripes a decade ago, you close your eyes and you can’t believe there’s only two musicians on stage. With just a guitar and drum kit, they create an enormous sound. They vacillate from thrashy and loud to contemplative and melodic quite seamlessly. An ode to hipsters nearly cued a groan, but the lyrics paid off beautifully in the end. I’m excited to hear more of what these boys will write.

Goy Boy McIlroy, Stage 3 (the dinky tent)
Dear lord. I loved this set. And supposedly, they “aren’t a real band.” Using another band’s drum kit, the lead singer mentioned he was doing this to pull a girl. Well, he went to great effort if so, spitting out a delicious set of songs with his smooth baritone voice and bizarre onstage antics. At one point he left the stage and sang behind the tent, at another he pulled dirt out of the ground and rubbed it all over his face after offering it to me. I wouldn’t call it experimental rock, as the songs were well grounded and melodic. I would just call it awesome.

The Lake Poets, Main Stage
This is Britain, so we must save a moment for some shoegaze. When the band first began, I looked up to the pretty ginger girl on guitar, only to find she wasn’t at her microphone. Oh, it’s the bloke that’s singing. He has the voice of an angel, and his introspective, mostly sad songs are the perfect backdrop to a rainy afternoon or a heartbreak. The girl finally did sing a bit, and I wished she had more, as her voice was just as silky, and they harmonized beautifully. A song about his grandmother was adorable and unique.

Bleech, Stage 2 (the dark tent)
Two rock chicks and a male drummer, this moody London metal trio was perfectly placed inside the dark tent, where tortured souls could hide from the few moments of sunshine Sunderland experience a couple times a year. Dressed in black and throwing themselves around the stage, the girls of course harken images of other female-fronted rock groups such as Warpaint or Heart or The Kills, but the essence isn’t based in gender: it’s loud, punky rock n roll, the kind we don't have enough of in London live music scene. I can wait to catch the ladies again.

Hyde and Beast, Stage 3 (the dinky tent)
These chaps have become local legends. Leading up the event, various Mackems demanded “you have to see Hyde and Beast.” The band deserves their acclaim. The front-man, Dave Hyde, delivers a Marc Bolan-y good time, with sexy melodies and a crystalline pop voice. The sound is addictive, and the cross-generational appeal may take them far, well beyond the overstuffed tent in Sunderland where people were fighting for a spot on the dance grass.

Dizzee Rascal, Main Stage
A huge crowd turned for the Day 1 headliners, a hip-hop artist from London with a big, splashy show. He’s a deft rapper and is well supported by a male vocalist with a smooth sound. The high energy set and big lighting effects created an exciting atmosphere. Some claim he’s England’s most famous rapper right now. While I can see his appeal, I feel that his sound too closely mimics American 90s rap, what with all the ’hey, ho’s" and demands that we ‘jump, jump.’ I find UK hiphop is most successful when the artist embraces and enhances their Englishness. Nonetheless, it was smart move on the organizers to bring in a nationally renowned, high energy act to finish off the night. We walked away from Day 1 feeling the strange mix of exhaustion and excitement that one gets from a properly planned festival. Excited to see what Day 2 brings…

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Rating out of 11: