Day-long, multiple-venue festivals are great ways to see lots of different bands while avoiding Portaloo queues, muddy feet and being at the mercy of the weather. Of course, there’s still the minor threat of someone sloshing part of their beer down your back, but that’s less of a concern…
This year saw the 10th anniversary of the Wakefield all-dayer, Long Division Festival. The landmark event should’ve been in 2020, but there’s no prizes for guessing why that didn’t happen. And with COVID still being rife even now (not least knocking one of the main acts, The Futureheads, out of proceedings), it’s fab that the fest went ahead as scheduled this September.
I was invited by Hanglands as press*, so had access to all areas; side of stage, photo pit, nods from staff and bands. There were so many talented acts on the 67-artist billing, and you’ll have had a flavour of who to expect from the preview post.
Lucky Iris at Vortex was Record Weekly’s first taste of Long Division Festival 2021. The Leeds-based duo of Maeve and Jasper are just starting their career. Their set opened with ‘Get Ready with Me’, which reminded me of Laura Mvula’s ‘Green Garden’, melodically. Of all their self-released tunes, their first official debut single, ‘Coffee Shop’, dropped recently. They also played their soon-to-be-available bop, ‘Speak Soon’, which should be out within the next month — you read it here first, if you weren’t in that Vortex crowd! Keep your ears out for their enchanting electronics.
When I walked in to Too Many T’s ruling the roost at The Establishment, there was this electrifying atmosphere. I had to flash the AAA pass and jostle for a bit of space. The room was bursting at the seams — it was like I’d crashed a party that had the most limited guestlist imaginable. Leon and Ross were so interactive, from spraying bespoke £69 notes from a handheld cash cannon to getting the crowd frantically rapping along. All banter. Their blend of hip-hop and rhymes has been going a while now, and the frenzy of bodies in the room, totally immersed, was testament to that. And during the latest single, ‘So Nice’, and big hit, ‘Diamonds Gold (Ice, white & black)’, there was a whole other level of energy.
I caught a very brief bit of Brix & The Extricated’s set at WX. The whole road was pumping and thudding, so I couldn’t resist running in and seeing a bit of the action in the former market hall setup. There was a Magic Rock Brewing stand pouring the pints and the crowd was rows deep.
I’ve been keeping tabs on Leeds-residing soulful female pair, Sunflower Thieves, for some time now. They took over the very sweaty room at Vortex, only to stun everyone within seconds with their pure, wholesome folk-pop. Their acoustic style was very melancholic, and they even played a dreamy piece co-written with Sam from The Howl & The Hum. ‘Two Halves’ was performed impeccably, though without their backing band — AKA guitarists and vocalists, Sam and Tom — who had otherwise joined them for the rest of the set.
If you’re not yet acquainted with Sunflower Thieves, in a nutshell, their strummed guitar melodies sound like something an early Benjamin Francis Leftwich would’ve surely been proud of.
Side of stage and in the photo pit for Lanterns on the Lake? Well, it doesn’t get much better. It’s brilliant to discover new talent in intimate venues, before they rise to fame, but of course witnessing the household-name bands up close is a treat for the senses.
Everyone was listening and intently relishing the flawless guitars as Lanterns on the Lake commanded our attention, plus their deft incorporations of a keyboard and violin demonstrated their knack to impeccably compose track after track. There was even a segment where a guitar was played with a violin bow — incredible.
Of course, it’s such a shame that PRIESTGATE pulled out due to a last-minute back injury, but it afforded me the chance to watch the entire Glasvegas set, right at the front. It felt like a throwback, especially since it was 2008 that they released ‘Geraldine’! Doesn’t seem mathematically possible, somehow.
There was such a buzz, and the Glaswegian outfit were really humbled — you could tell being back on stage was a big deal for them, too. And as they’re from that neck of the Scottish woods — obviously a common theme for me, promoting so many artists there — it struck a personal chord as well.
Glasvegas brought some more raucous, proper indie-rock to Long Division Festival. Throughout most of their show, atmospheric, slightly dimmed lights illuminated the stage and you could notice that their drummer habitually plays standing up. Green lights then glowed as the bombastic, explosive ‘Geraldine’ gripped the room. Where there was emotion, there was power and the amps did each track justice — that’s why their cover of The Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’ was so class. And everyone’s lungs were getting a workout during the resonant “Here we f*cking go” lines in ‘Go Square Go’.
While the evening had so far been tremendously loud, there was one more appearance that had the potential to bring some noise. Mechanics’ Theatre was a very cool venue choice for Low Hummer, a band who’ve just released their debut album, ‘Modern Tricks For Living’. They’re in something of a period of celebration now, and they’re also a name you should recognise here on the site — they’ve been fairly regularly promoted on Record Weekly now.
The pace and slick instrument manipulation from each of the six band members was ace — particularly during the ultra-catchy ‘Take Arms’ and ethereal ‘Human Behaviour’. Their 30-odd-minute showcase ended with the slower ‘Commercials’, followed by the banger, ‘The People, This Place’.
If you’re yet to have the pleasure of checking out Low Hummer doing their thing in the flesh, I’d rectify that pronto and grab a ticket for their next gig! They’re seriously about to soar into the limelight.
*Once again, a massive thanks to Hanglands for the press opportunity. A special mention to Lucy Goodfellow for co-ordinating the event details and making things so straightforward.