Photography: Chris Noble

LOUD AND LOCAL

Alexander's Chester 29/8/21

It’s a boiling hot bank holiday Sunday in Chester’s thriving live music bar Alexander’s, which is hosting the fifth annual Loud and Local festival. North West talent is spread over two stages – The Courtyard, featuring mostly solo acoustic sets, and The Garden, hosting bigger bands in the beer garden out back. Festival-goers are a mix-match of local music fanatics, couples out for a few pints, and families with excitable, glitter-adorned toddlers.

LUKE LOVEKIN kickstarts The Garden Stage with a jazzy acoustic set, showing off his vocal range with his cinematic and soft alt-pop melodies. The Norwegian SARA WOLFF follows, dressed like she’s escaped from an Oscar Wilde novel and sounding like a dreamier, more whimsical Cate le Bon. Meanwhile, in The Courtyard, SAM LYON’S stage presence shines through as she plays her own set of acoustic ballads. Her giddiness expands to the viewers, who sit at little tables that are positioned delicately in front of the performer.

Things begin to pick up as ANTI HONEY take to the stage, jolting the crowd into action, ready for the lively afternoon that follows. Sounding like Bloc Party from outer space and wearing outfits that make them look like they belong to ten different bands, they’re the breakthrough of the day. With their single, I Hate Music, they’re one of the first acts to inspire the crowd to get up and start dancing. YOUNG DECADES’ traditional indie bops are next, then followed by the brilliant COW. Cow’s Dinosaur Jr adjacent scuzzy alt-rock makes an energetic impact on the crowd – people continue to praise them long after they’ve left the stage.

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Eyesore & The Jinx are the standouts of the line-up – they sound nothing like anyone else. It’s clear how solid they work as a unit, with each member excelling in their respective roles; they sound exactly like they do on record, if not better. Their performance is aggressive and precise; each song an intense explosion of energy, creeping basslines and hilarious lyrics with a deadpan delivery. Though their brilliance risks being overlooked by some festival-goers – by now tipsy family members are dancing around the garden with their youngsters, oblivious to who is playing – there’s a decent sing-along to singles Leisure Time and On An Island, evidence that Eyesore have been building the traction they deserve within the local scene.

Their performance is aggressive and precise; each song an intense explosion of energy.

As the evening draws in, Anti Honey’s KITCH takes to the Courtyard for a surprise acoustic set. His stage presence is immaculate. The crowd buzzes around him, shouting song requests to which he happily obliges, playing the likes of The Libertines, The Pogues and A-Ha. When his slot is over, no one wants him to leave. Every time he takes off his guitar strap, a ‘one more song!’ chant erupts. Alas, the mic is turned off and he is, to the crowd’s disappointment, forced to allow the next artist on stage.

The last acts of the night, headliners SEATBELTS and SEAZOO, both flourish in their top spots. Reminiscent of Orange Juice, Seatbelts’ joyful demeanour stretches to the bopping crowd, who relish in the grooviness of their tunes. For the final Garden Stage act, fluorescent pink lights accompany Seazoo’s indie pop to provide an uplifting, melodious and jingly end to the night.

Overall, it’s a fun, chipper and jubilant day celebrating local music. After so long inside, the delight of live music again is felt amongst every artist and every patron. Each act that set foot on stage is brilliant and energetic – a good indication to what the future of the North West scene is to look like.

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