Handmade Festival, Leicester, 28/04/2017 - 30/04/2017
Handmade Festival is a three day long festival in Leicester, with the bulk of it taking place on the weekend before May Bank Holiday. Spread across 4 rooms at the O2 Academy, past years have seen acts ranging from Deaf Havana and Lonely the Brave to Dry the River and Swim Deep.
This year saw another wide range of acts, which was also really inclusive in terms of including people of different genders, races and backgrounds which is something some festivals rarely do, so this was really awesome to see from an independent festival!
The weekend kicked off with Courtney Askey and Royal Arcade. Royal Arcade is not only a shopping mall local to the festival in Leicester, but it's also the name of an alternative indie band hailing from Leicester, who really helped set the tone for the day in terms of the sound coming from the Scholar venue.
A favourite from the day, playing right after Royal Arcade, was Kermes. The second act of the day featuring females, out of four acts so far, I was so pleasantly surprised by the festival already. I haven't been to many festivals but when I have, they've been pretty male dominated, especially within the rock scene, so when I see female band members it makes me so happy. Kermes brought a lot of energy to the stage which brought the mood up from the more laid back acts earlier in the day.
Puppy were on the main acts I was excited to see that day after hearing so many good things about them. Although they were late onto the main stage, they made up for it with some great music that lived up to the hype.
Also playing the main stage was Tiger Cub, a 3 piece grunge style band from Brighton. Just like many of the acts that day, they brought a huge amount of energy and performed really well on stage, and the crowd seemed to love them just as much as I did!
One band I definitely have to give a mention here is Ash Mammal. They were such a diverse band and the lead singer looked to have so much fun on stage, which makes the rest of the room have fun with them.
Straight after Ash Mammal was Shame who were also one of my favourites from the day. They brought major old school punk vibes to the stage and they all had so much energy, it reminded me of the exact reason I enjoy going to gigs, for the energy and fun you don't get just by listening from home. The lead singer put so much passion into what he did and even jumped off stage into the crowd at one point, whilst the bassist bounced about the stage with the same amount of energy. I highly recommend you go see this band just for the experience.
I could also say the same as above for Idles, my favourite band of the whole weekend, who played on the Sunday. They embodied modern day punk, and looked like they were there to have fun rather than make a really well put together, rehearsed performance. It's that rawness that made them one of the best acts of the weekend, with the bassist, guitarist and lead singer all getting into the crowd at some point. The bassist handed his instrument over to a member of the crowd and played it as a drum on her, then got it back and played it whilst stretched out laying on the floor, whilst a couple songs later, the guitarist and lead singer jumped into the pit and had a push about with their fans. It was a really awesome experience that I'll never forget. Oh yeah, and they even sung a rendition of Harry Style's part way through so there's something for everyone really...
More great acts from the weekend included Pulled Apart By Horses, God Damn, Honey Blood and Superfood. Muncie Girls were amazing as always, whilst lead singer Lance Hekt spoke about coming from a town where not a lot happens unless you make it happen, like having more girls up on stage, if you wanna see it happen, you've gotta make it happen. Fizzy Blood also deserve an honorable mention who are currently on tour with While She Sleeps and managed to take time out of their busy schedule to fit us in during the day, they come across as a hard working band who really deserve every fan they have.
Life were another highlight of the weekend, hailing from Hull, the wonderful city of culture, they brought some northern charm with them dancing about the stage like it was just them in the room, they were a lot of fun to watch.
British Sea Power were amongst some of the last acts of the day, with microphone stands covered in foliage, the stage was already an amazing sight before they even started. Then when they all came on, they gave the vibe of a really well rehearsed and experienced band that were there to deliver a really high quality performance, which they really did. I could imagine them playing a huge arena with ease with how professional they appeared on stage.
Overall, Handmade Festival brought a lot of new bands to my attention, some who I'd never heard of before, but I'm so glad I know about them now. There weren't any bands that stood out as being disappointing or bad, and there was a huge mix of genres to suit everyone, which brought a diverse crowd of people with it. I'd love to attend again next year, and look forward to seeing what acts next year brings.
Pulled Apart By Horses
British Sea Power
Willie J Healey
Words and Photography by Hayley Fearnley