2017 is the seventh year for The Waterfront Festival. As always, all of the profits go to charity, with The Roy Stone Foundation and NUH Cystic Fibrosis Centre being this year's beneficiaries. Also, this year's theme is b-movie monsters and mythical creatures from the depths so we stuck on some seaweed and headed on down.
Kicking things off in the glorious sunshine on the outside stage is Stacey McMullen. He plays a very eclectic mix of styles from the bluesy end of folk through to more of a flamenco. Like all folk artists from Grace Petrie, through Billy Bragg to Bob Dylan and beyond, he really comes alive with his more political songs such as Lines in the Sand, which I thought was the set highlight. Although a closing "family friendly" cover of Killing in the Name Of ran it pretty close.
Next act Rory Cannon is a lot more mellow. Although he uses his guitar in interesting ways, including using a violin bow and treating it as percussion. He's also a fan of the old loop pedal, as popularised by that there Ed Sheeran. As talented as he is, he isn't as engaging as Stacey although he deals with the heckler outside Via Fosse really well.
Inside, The Dandylions are fresh from making the final of Nusic's Future Sound of Nottingham competition. Finally, a band who answer the question, "what would Kiss have been like if they'd come from Nottingham and chosen the colours pink and yellow instead of black and white?" It's not in the least bit serious but it's incredibly good fun and they even give out Haribo during Pick and Mix. After playing a song written by the woman who designed frontman Fortune Boy's outfit, they play Women in Charge, a song about his boss when he used to work at Five Guys. "If you want to make it. You gotta take your can and shake it" goes the song Hairspray - it's been a while since I've seen a band so thoroughly entertaining as The Dandylions.
In contrast are the uber-serious Cold Water Souls, whose set begins with a pretentious voice over. Their two guitars with effects set-up is a little bit shoe-gazey but they've added an epic sweep, which sounds like they're aiming for a U2 support slot.
Whiskey Stain are much better. A two-piece with a Royal Blood sound but with the twist that they sometimes use a guitar instead of using a bass all the time. All big riffs and reverb vocals and they actually look like they're enjoying playing - note to Cold Water Souls, it's not a crime to smile and have fun while you're playing.
Jum are a band taking inspiration from the last 25 years of indie music - a singer who looks like he could have been in Gene, a guitar sound that's a cross between jingly jangly UK indie and Pavement cum Weezer college rock and some Radiohead-esque keyboards. The music sounds great but the vocals are just too far down in the mix, meaning that what should sound dreamy sounds a bit muddy.
Thee Eviltones are one of those bands that I've wanted to see for ages, having missed them at Hockley Hustle and Dot to Dot. It was worth the wait though, their mix of The Stooges and The Cramps with just a hint of trebly surf guitar was awesome. New singer Erikk struts like some mix of Iggy Pop and Bobby Gillespie while guitarist Tiago pulled every shape in book. Like all dirty, sleazy three-chord rock 'n' roll there's nothing new here but I still found it incredibly exciting.
Three-piece Lucille only have a few more gigs left before they call it a day, which is a shame as I really enjoy their brand of 50's rock 'n' roll. Despite nearing the end of the line, they still play a new song, You Been On My Mind, alongside covers of Slim Harpo (King Bee), Muddy Waters (Hoochie Coochie Man), Chuck Berry (Carol) and Elvis Presley (Hound Dog). They also managed something that I've never seen before when the double bassist broke a string. They still managed to get people dancing and by the time they finished with a cover of What'd I Say by Ray Charles, the entire dance floor was boogieing.
The Most Ugly Child are a country band but the way that the two singers sing together is a little more Beautiful South rather that Johnny and June or Gram and Emmylou. The lead singer has a great voice and I was also impressed by her ability to play the guitar despite the logistical issues caused by being heavily pregnant. They went down really well with the crowd although it would be interesting to see what they sound like with a full complement of band members (two were unable to make this gig)
And with that, it's time for the b-movie sea monsters to slide back into the canal. Waterfront put on a great show again this year, it was another sell out and they've raised some serious cash for the charities. Nice one!
Waterfront Festival took place at the Canalhouse on Saturday 8 July 2017.