Whilst Mytacism Music have had the honor to attend many festivals this year, none of them quite live up to Worcester Music Festival. Worcester isn’t really known for much apart from its sauce but, secretly, it’s a city of talent. Serious talent. Within seconds of entering the city center, this was a fact that became irrepressibly evident. You couldn’t walk down a single street without hearing the faint sound of music, without seeing the red squares of approval over the venues taking part or without seeing the faces of thousands of people flushed with both the energy of live music and the excitement of a new musical discovery. As a Worcester resident myself, I can honestly say I’ve never seen the city so alive.
Our weekend started off with a bang at St Swithun’s Institute Halls. If you’ve ever visited the converted church, you’ll probably know it as sitting more on the ‘old town hall’ side of things. So, when we stepped over the threshold, we lost our breath slightly as we saw how the Clik Clik Collective had injected a whole new level of vibrancy to the place. As Desert Boots took to the stage, the audience were more than happy to start working up a sweat as the band produced music that could really funk you up. It wasn’t long until the venue was full to capacity, the Halls’ floors creaking under the weight of the blissful, free-spirited audience. The evening continued with a similar zest with a funky party spirit that forced you to let loose from Cantaloop and impressive raw punk from The Miffs over at the Worcester Arts Workshop – well and truly kicking the festival off in style.
A little bit tired and hungover, the only way to start things off on Saturday was with an immaculate set from a Mytacism Music favourite – the Jack Fletcher Band. We might have dubbed them as the band to accompany a cracking night out but their early set at The Crown saw them prove their power no matter what the time, drawing in curious listeners with their effortlessly cool tunes. It wasn’t long after that that Ocean Breed brought their meaty, riff-filled melodies to the pub that besotted more than a few onlookers.
Of course, if you aren’t that into rock, your tastes would have easily have been satisfied elsewhere. The Pumpkin Sessions had set up camp by the river and offered more than just a quick set of music. They offered an in depth chat with each artist before treating people to their talents. We were lucky enough to catch Bekki Cameron and hear more about her music and her fabulous album ‘Dancing Under Water’. Or, for an alternative to the music, you could have caught The Antipoet at Cafe Bliss. Their sharp, creative and mostly hilarious poetry accompanied by the delicious plucks of double bass left the packed out Cafe with smitten smiles on their faces.
As night fell, we took ourselves off to The Marrs Bar to catch the SLAP night that kicked off with The Humdrum Express. The solo artist flew through a repertoire featuring seamless observational lyrics that were both comedic and extraordinary to listen to. Female-fronted Skewwhiff then donned the stage, occupying the line between Echobelly and Sleeper before we were blasted away with the heavy girl power the came arm in arm with the fiery Rita Lynch. And, just as we anticipated, HUMM rolled out fearless rock that ignited a roaring fire in The Marrs Bar – it was their siren call that was left ringing in our ears.
Our Sunday kicked off at The Chestnut Tree where Jasper in the Company of Others turned into Jasper in the Company of ‘Other’ as just 2/5 turned up to treat the relaxed audience to a fun covers/mash up session. Most of our day, however, was spent at St Swithun’s Institute Halls where Family Ceilidh were in residence with The Whole Caboodle and the Belly Fusion Dancers, providing an afternoon of lively dancing and folk music. I’ve never had to pleasure of seeing a set so active with the audience happily participating – people may have been feigning embarrassment but there was the unmistakable glint in their eyes that gave away their merry moods.
For those not too keen on dancing, you could have hopped over to the Friends Meeting House for an afternoon of complete absurdity. If you followed the aardvarks, you would have found yourself watching maddening black & white films to live soundtracks from either Dimitri & The Godhead, Deathly Pale Party, Ferric Lux or Rosebud. You can’t say you haven’t experience anything new after WMF, can you? And speaking of new, we were lucky enough to catch Tom Callinswood’s solo set. When performing with his usual band, Arcadia Roots, the music he produces takes on a more world inspired sound but by himself, he enters a more raw and dreamy state that only served to make his audience fall head-over-heels in love with his sound.
I think it’s fair to say that Worcester Music Festival well and truly blew us away this year. The amount raised for Acorns Children’s Hospice is still being totaled up but we’re assured it will be well worth the tireless efforts of the bands, volunteers and the dedicated organizing committee. And, with next year bringing with it the tenth WMF, we’re excited to see how the festival continues to grow and flourish.