110 Above Festival (also known as Lainfest due to the wonderful local owners and organisers, the Lain family) is a charming little festival perfect for first-time festival-goer with its smaller picturesque location and chilled atmosphere; it’s the perfect way to get your festival feet wet.
In between working as a volunteer for the festival, I had plenty of time to check out some top acts, most being relatively unknown and up-and-coming in the indie/alternative genre. If you want to be ahead of the game, here are my top picks from Lainfest.
On the Friday I came across an all-girl band called Delora. Girl bands are pretty hard to come by so I was immediately intrigued by their set. The fun alternative pop sound managed to wake up the early morning crowds, especially with their new single Sober which had an almost 80s synth vibe building nearing the end of the track. Special FX is another song that stood out, with interesting mixes of sound making it easily translatable to all ages and great for radio. The band is full of promise and definitely on the right track to finding their sound.
Also on Friday in the smaller more intimate tipi stage, Ethan Barnett (whose big brother is none other than George Ezra) took over the tent. It’s pretty safe to say if you like George Ezra you’ll like most likely enjoy Ethan too. Don’t, however, expect a deep, soulful tone of voice: think vocals more like Luke Pritchard from The Kooks. However, do expect some of the same acoustic guitar and similar lyricisms which seem to run in the family.
Saturday rolled around and aside from the few more well-known acts headlining, this was where I found my favourite new music discovery in the band Pleasure House. The first act of the day is always a tough slot to fill with smaller crowds (due to hangovers from the night before), but Pleasure House were truly a ray of sunshine brightening up a groggy morning. With hints of tropical pop and indie surf sounds, Pleasure House bring a sunny disposition to the more solemn indie aesthetic. Blow My Mind is a song definitely worth a place on any summer playlist.
Back over to the tipi stage, singer songwriter Luke Sital-Singh’s soulful yet haunting voice with lyrics to match captivated the small, relaxed crowd that were dotted around. He jokingly asked the crowd midway through his set if his set was too depressing for everyone, announcing that he had at least one happy song for everyone to look forward to. With that said, Greatest Lovers (his ‘happy song’) wasn’t exactly happy but showed off Luke’s vocal range beautifully with heart-warming lyrics that had everyone smiling – not to mention the red sky sunset that occurred during the song, which only added of the atmosphere. A polished and professional acoustic guitar player with a very distinct voice is a pretty deadly combo; Ben Howard watch your back.
Next up was one of the most buzzed about acts of the weekend: Amber Run took to the main stage. A more than a little drunk frontman Joe Keogh ambled out to a very warm reception from the excitable crowd, and with bursts of anthemic brilliance mixed with a tender mournful vocal, got the crowd jumping and chanting along with favourites including Spark and Noah featured on past EPs and the album 5 AM.
On the last day of the festival, I headed over to the main stage just in time to catch the band Lisbon. The Newcastle natives brought some fun with smooth dance-along-sing-along indie featuring big cinematic sounds with storytelling lyrics. Their newest song Khaleesi is bound to get Game Of Thrones fans excited, and even if you don’t know your Targaryens from your Lannisters, you’ll appreciate the shouty indie pop rock tune.
Young Kato also made an appearance on Sunday with roaring synth and airy 80s pop influence, creating a feel good indie air with a pop twist. The rich, gleeful set was infectious, having the crowd smiling and dancing along immediately. Drink Dance Play, arguably their most famous song, always goes down a storm with loud scream-along lyrics, which worked the fans into an outright frenzy; one of the best feel-good indie jams out there.
Finally, a highlight from the whole weekend had to be Birmingham band Jaws. The glitzy, life-affirming, dreamy tropical indie sound was spot on for these warm summer days. The crowd gathered around for a dance and a mosh pit or two. Things got particularly rough in the crowd during Be Slowly and Gold, with thrashing guitars and even more thrashing from the audience, but it was the perfect way to end the festival.