Walking into Pontefract Racecourse amongst posh parents toting Cath Kidston buggied children, hot panted teenage girls clearly awaiting their first festival experience and older men in band tees who just love live music, it all bodes well for Crooked Ways. The sun is shining and whilst the crowds are modest at best, a palpable anticipation is in the air. Unfortunately, in the time it takes to locate the press entrance, the glorious weather has cooled slightly and grey crowds are looming overhead, the perfect analogy for the day.
This is not to say that Crooked Ways is a disaster. In fact, they have some pretty decent bands on their line up, who we shall go on to assess on their own merit. They appear to be selling lots of merch, and whilst they may have undersold tickets, the people that are there appear to be enjoying their festival-priced beer, cider and burgers. But if first impressions count, they have let themselves down somewhat on the essentials.
|Forever Cult by Kevin Lawson (editradio.org)|
|Fenech Soler by Kevin Lawson (editradio.org)|
|The Defiled by Kevin Lawson (editradio.org)|
|The D.O.T by Kevin Lawson (editradio.org)|
It's somewhat disappointingly inevitable that Streets fans, and indeed fans of The Music, will be holding this new venture up as comparison to the old day jobs of Mike Skinner and Rob Harvey, including me, so please forgive what I am about to say. But The D.O.T truly do sound like the Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living coupled with a guitar. And I love it. Not a million ways away from the last Streets album Computers and Blues either , The D.O.Ts music sits in that undefinable genre between pop, indie and clubland, which makes them such an attractive prospect in the current musical climate. Closer inspection would be needed to see how the lyrics stand up, but they certainly possess enough intrigue to make me want to inspect them further.
|Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun by Kevin Lawson (editradio.org)|
|Rolo Tomassi by Kevin Lawsom (editradio.org)|
Singalongs are not the most natural reaction to metalcore outfit Rolo Tomassi, but they put on the performance of the day nonetheless. Eva Spence is the most compelling of frontwomen, effortlessly shimmying about the stage and retaining a strong femininity despite her guttural howl. They hit their stride midway through the set, and consequently the lather half is a showstorm of limbs and riffs that show off the highlights of their latest album Astraea as well as old favourite ‘Party Wounds’.
This unfortunately is where it stops. With the festival looking sparse on the ground save for the drunken and middle aged, the best of the bands leaving immediately after their sets and the sun setting, I thought it best to quit whilst I was (relatively) ahead. Crooked Ways have a long way to go to secure true strong small festival status, and I would suggest that they might reach this by worrying less about tacked-on aesthetics (extensive merchandise and even branded crooked ways plastic carriers), and focus more on ease of customers, such as names on the stages, stage times for press and perhaps downgrading a little on the highly excessive staff. Not a complete waste of time by any means, but definitely more than earning of their wonky namesake.