The Smears in the Rock City Basement - Photo by Adam Humphries
Marking the end of Nottingham’s most exciting month for music, Branch Out Festival was a great chance for local musicians to be heard and for the Nottingham population to get their ears around some of the outstanding up-and-coming talent in the city.
The chilled-out café bar at Broadway was home to Nottingham’s acoustic sector. Sixteen-year-old Frankie Rudolf began the line-up with his brand of wonderfully sweet folk pop, its reflective simplicity drifting hazily around the room. Frankie’s EP tracks Heart on Fire and Circles are cautiously emotional and accompanied by delicate guitar, ensuring the audience was suitably charmed and ready for the acts to follow.
Boy Child in the Broadway Cafe Bar - Photo by David Parry
Next up was Joe Danks who began with soft, sincere pop tunes before progressing to a jerkier, more expressive sound that held the previously chatting audience in virtual silence for the remainder of his set. Violin accompaniment from Joe’s mum added a further layer setting him apart from similar artists, with catchy track Hook, Line and Sinker the highlight of the set.
It was a busy day for Danny Armstrong aka Boy Child who also played later at the Malt Cross as part of Delta Sun. He brought wistful, melancholy vocals mixed with harmonica to Broadway.
Adam Peter Smith’s folk sound was a combination of emotion and optimism through twanging guitar and heartfelt lyrics. His distinctive method of playing guitar, finger-picking high up the neck, shows him to be an innovative and talented musician.
Sleaford Mods in Stealth - Photo by Dave Goodwin
Any fear of falling into an acoustic stupor was swiftly extinguished by a short trip to Stealth where Nottingham’s least reserved citizens Sleaford Mods were playing. Jason Williamson’s ballsy disillusionment ranted over an unrelenting laptop-played drum loop was simultaneously addictive and slightly intimidating; his observations both amusing and disenchanted but always frighteningly apt. The crowd loved it, despite an inescapable wariness in the room for belonging to the art scene condemned so spectacularly by Sleaford Mods.
Back at Broadway, everyone was chilling and drinking to Ryan Thomas’ achingly cool blues. Ranging from the slow and longing tone of Home to the string-bending rattle of She’s Gonna Leave, Ryan highlighted the diversity of his material, brought together by his resonating blues vocal that held even more of an edge than on record.
Over at Antenna there was a slightly more showbiz feel as acts were interviewed by The Beat’s Dean Jackson before they performed. Georgie Rose, who played at Hyde Park over the summer, appeared confident and extremely comfortable on stage, pausing all conversations in the room with her steady, soulful voice. She clearly possesses a talent for writing songs with a beautiful ease about them. This is especially apparent on Stranger, a highlight of her set along with the playful Mr Smoky. As she is beginning to build a national reputation, it seems that Georgie Rose has the potential to go far in the next couple of years.
Captain Dangerous in the Rock City Basement - Photo by David Parry
Whilst the cream of Nottingham’s hip hop scene showcased their wordsmithery upstairs in Stealth, downstairs were one of Nottingham’s most exciting new young bands, Kappa Gamma. Guitar rippled, drumming became tribal and the enthusiastic band members threw themselves at each other on stage in front of a dancing crowd. A fairly recent addition in the form of keyboardist/backing vocalist Saf resulted in an increasingly precise and distinctive sound as the band continue to develop. Kappa Gamma’s closing track, the single Just Another, was obviously recognised by the majority of the room and indicates just how far this band have progressed in the last few months.
Kagoule in Stealth - Photo by David Parry
Fellow Denizen Recordings band Kagoule took to the stage next, and like Kappa Gamma, epitomised the current buzz in the Nottingham music scene. If possible, they were more intense than ever, effortlessly combining atmospheric dreaminess with dark, grungy basslines and creamy guitar riffs. Monarchy and Made of Concrete from their Son EP went down a storm, while Mudhole demonstrates this band at the height of their talent – an addictive, twisting riff alongside the contrast of Cai’s and Lucy’s vocals. Kagoule seem to be getting better with every live performance and could follow in the footsteps of Nottingham artists in the spotlight at the moment.
Following Kagoule in the downstairs room at Stealth is Grey Hairs, who were on hand to close proceedings at ear-splitting volume. Combining sludgy grungy riffs, repetitive rhythms and the nervy energy of primal garage rock, with singer Jame Finlay howling like a maniac over the top. The band made up of members of Kogumaza, Fists, Fonda 500 and Cult of Dom Keller, made sure the festival ended with ringing in our ears.
Injured Birds in the Malt Cross - Photo by David Parry
After a tiring but thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and evening, it seems that Branch Out was an undeniable success. Not only does an innovative event like this provide a chance for musicians trying to break out into the music scene, it also celebrates and proves the importance of local music and Nottingham’s enthusiasm for supporting the talent we are so lucky to have.
Branch Out Festival took place at various venues throughout Nottingham on Sunday 28 October 2012.