First acts revealed! Thursday headliners and more to be announced!
Raised on a steady diet of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and the brothers Gallagher, English singer/songwriter Jake Bugg blends the melodious, working-class swagger of the La’s and the primal, bluesy simplicity of the White Stripes with the wry, weathered romanticism of Jens Lekman. Born in Nottingham, Bugg picked up the guitar at the age of 12, and within a year he was composing his own songs. Working his way through the ranks of support slots through to headline status, Jake Bugg has also released 3 albums and won a Brit award, all before the age of 23!
Following the release of their marvellous fifth album Boy King, we are delighted to welcome Wild Beasts to the Neverland this summer.
“On the last day of making Boy King I had a minor breakdown in knowing what part of myself I was revealing. It’s a bit ugly, a bit grubby, arrogant,” says Hayden Thorpe, reflecting on the recording of Wild Beasts’ fifth album, their most naked and direct to date and a marked change from the optimistic aesthetics of 2014’s Present Tense. If that album found Thorpe, Tom Fleming, Ben Little and Chris Talbot in reflective mood, absorbing a fascination with online culture and electronic music, Boy King has them, as Fleming puts it, “back to being pissed off”. Wild Beasts’ ever-present knack for sensual melody via Thorpe and Fleming’s duetting vocals, Little’s sinuous guitar groove and Talbot’s potent rhythm section carries in Boy King an aggressive, snarling and priapic beast that delves into the darker side of masculinity and Thorpe’s own psyche. As Hayden himself says, “After five records there had to be an element of ‘what the fuck?'”. Wild Beasts decided to find their way into the follow-up to Present Tense with a complete change in how they approached their craft. This moment of realisation that they needed to change how they wrote songs was, says Thorpe, hugely liberating: “The only thing you can do from that point onwards is turn your vehicle into traffic and play chicken with yourself, and do all the things you said you’d never do.”
Brighton 5-piece, Fickle Friends first caught people’s attention in 2014 when their debut single ‘SWIM’ amassed over 750,000 Soundcloud plays After becoming HypeMachine’s 25th most blogged artist of 2014, the band have also received acclaim from Zane Lowe, Billboard & BBC Introducing.
Fickle Friends’ upbeat summertime synth-pop has made them a firm festival favourite and we’re excited for them to make the trip to the Neverland this August!
Crazy P (Live)
Seven albums, a career spanning 20 years and yet Crazy P remain stronger and more relevant than ever. Funny how the tides of time turn, and how the sounds of a typically British type of house and disco are now more du jour then ever before. Way before the rise in prominence of disco, house and soulful pop Crazy P have spearheaded the revival (and perpetuation) of these sounds since 1997.
Bedford born Singer Songwriter Tom Grennan first found fame as a guest vocalist on Chase and Status’, ‘When It All Goes Wrong’. The feature brought Grennan into the public spotlight appearing on Later.. With Jools Holland and in the Radio 1 Live Lounge.
Grennan’s debut E.P demonstrates his inclination towards blues and soul and showcases his raspy emotive vocals. This unique style has seen Tom place on the highly acclaimed BBC Sound of 2017 list and now he prepares to embark on a Spring UK tour.
Keston Cobblers Club
There’s something simply unmistakable about Keston Cobblers Club. When the band play, it’s a captivating and engaging experience. Frequently blurring the artist/audience divide by performing from the floor or whipping the crowd into a dancing frenzy; visiting far-flung venues at their fans’ request; assembling a 60-strong amateur ‘Cobblers orchestra’ with total strangers; chartering an old Routemaster bus to launch their EP in the way it should be experienced (on the move); and now, organising this summer’s Camp Wildfire festival – with 50s-style forest adventures and artistry by day, music and hedonism by night – as a way of fully immersing the audience in the spirit of their brand new ‘Wildfire’ album. All of this is to say: you don’t just listen to Keston Cobblers Club. You’re involved.
Shame, five 19-year-old’s building their reputation as one of the best new live bands in London, are already cemented following tours with The Garden and Fat White Family and shows with The Fall, King Gizzard before heading off to Pitchfork Paris – not bad considering they hadn’t even released a single.
‘The Lick/ Gold Hole’, then, is their much anticipated official debut, a clattering one-two knockout of a double A-Side bursting at the seams with punk energy, but with the patter of the Streets, the spittle of Mark E. Smith.
Produced by Local Hero (Dan Foat and Nathan Boddy), ‘Gold Hole’ will not join up with the already be familiar ‘The Lick’, as Shame prepare their assualt on your exasperated ears.
The Northern Irish artist, singer and electronic composer Hannah Peel has made serious waves within the past 12 months, releasing her debut album Awake But Always Dreaming to widespread critical acclaim. Peel’s experimental pop has lauded by the likes of BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne, who described her latest offering as one of her albums of the year.
Indian Queens is made up of sisters, Jennifer and Catherine who with life long friend Mat, have been making music since early childhood. Born and Bred in Hackney Wick, the band take influence from the city around them and recall sonic similarities to the likes of Warpaint and Massive Attack.
The band describe the project as “a way to escape. We didn’t know how to record an album but we begged, stole and borrowed, got evening jobs so we could record all day. We worked every hour given to us because we knew we had something special at our fingertips. Growing up under the shadows of concrete giants, the songs are a reflection of our city’s energy.”
Fish are four teenagers from North London who’s sound meets somewhere in between Grunge and Pop. Having already opened for the likes of Wolf Alice the group are making serious waves within the capital and we’re delighted to welcome them to the Neverland!
Fiercely independent and with a steadfast vision for the minutiae of every aspect of their presentation, Kagoule are band born out of the school-yard, the trio of Cai Burns, Lucy Hatter and Lawrence English coming together a half decade ago. “We represent the sound of boredom,” says Hatter, of the band’s inception. “The sound of three 15 year olds wanting to do something,” says Hatter.
Infused by DIY punk rock spirit, the bands debut album Urth includes tracks such as singles ‘Glue’ and ‘Made Of Concrete’ and takes inspiration from a wealth of sources including the best US underground obscurities of the 80s and 90s, the dark folk music of Pentangle and playing style of Bert Jansch, contemporary fantasy and sci-fiction literature, ancient wood-cut artwork and so much more. Sound-wise they recall the energy and ideas of Bikini Kill, the sugar-dusted grunge of Smashing Pumpkins and the angular rhythms and confrontational post-hardcore blueprint of Fugazi, Slint and fellow Nottingham band Bob Tilton, with a pedal rack (metaphorically) half-inched from Dinosaur Jr.
Weirdo + Co
Making their debut in 2016, Weirdo + Co is comprised of Josh Christopher, Pierre Leck and Rene Corbett and provide a heavy dose of upbeat indie pop, with infectious melodies.
For Weirdo + Co it seems like its all really in the name, with Christopher stating, “For me, 2017 is about letting anyone who feels weird or who’s been labelled as a Weirdo know, that now it’s time to embrace it. It’s time for a new cult and a new fashion… a gang of WEIRDOs. I’m here to help, a la thank you….”
Strong Asian Mothers
London’s Strong Asian Mother’s blend of styles and emphatic live show has been making waves on the capital’s underground gig scene for a while. Best friends since their early years, Amer, Kalim and Josh have played in bands together throughout their childhoods but it was under Strong Asian Mothers that they really found their strength. Tying together influences from Hip Hop and Trap with Pop in a live band aesthetic really sets this band out all on their own path.
CHILDCARE finished 2016 playing their biggest shows to date – in front of thousands as part of Bastille’s nationwide arena tour. This came hot on the heels of the band releasing killer single ‘Film Club’ to comprehensive acclaim. ‘Film Club’ was the first taster of a new EP that also features the stellar ‘Kiss?’ and represents an emphatic statement sure to cement the adoration of all those newly turned on to the London quartet courtesy of that tour.
It all started when Ed Cares, one of west London’s most in-demand male nannies, was overheard humming a song he had written, by Katie, aged six, who persuaded him to form a band. Josh, eight, boldly proclaimed: “You’re probably my second favourite artist after Katy Perry.” And so, after sourcing some neighbourhood musicians capable of living up to Josh’s heady billing — specifically Emma Topolski (bass), Rich Legate (guitar) and Glyn Daniels (drums) — Ed soon had an able band to perform with under the only logical moniker in the circumstances: CHILDCARE. Having honed their vivid and visceral live show on stages including Reading and Leeds festivals and now some of the land’s major concert venues, CHILDCARE have released two singles to date, ‘Omega Grey’ and ‘Film Club’, earning extensive national radio play and enthusiastic coverage from key online tastemakers.
IDER are Megan Markwick and Lily Somerville, two friends based in North London whose blend of soaring pop and delicate electronics took 2016 by storm. Emerging first with their smoky R&B tinted debut ‘Sorry’, IDER quickly enticed fans such as stellar songwriter and producer Shura and Radio 1’s Phil Taggart and Huw Stephens. The duo followed up ‘Sorry’ with a vulnerable, perfectly poised second cut called ‘Pulse’, drawing comparisons to London Grammar and FKA twigs.
The summer months came and went with IDER performing a handful of acclaimed support slots with Tegan and Sara amongst others whilst writing and recording new material. IDER capped a thrilling first year as a fully functioning band with the Eastern influenced ‘King Ruby’ and the emotionally charged ‘Million’. Support rained in from Wonderland, DIY and The Line of Best Fit – and the pair bagged a “Track of the Week” from Huw Stephens in the process.
Catholic Action are a product of Glasgow’s famously fertile music scene but have won fans across the UK thanks to their peerless pop masterpieces. After a run of rapturously received gigs in their hometown the group released their long-awaited debut release for Luv Luv Luv Records (Spector, Only Real, Splashh, The Garden) earlier this year.
They’re yin and yang, good cop and bad cop, Andre and Big Boi. Distinct and opposing characters that shouldn’t compliment each other, but undeniably do. Ewan Merrett, the pessimistic hip-hop junkie and documenter of everyday miseries, and his brother Callum, the happy-go- lucky hook lover with dreams of a Flaming Lips-level stage spectacular. Together they’re the magical dichotomy at the heart of Bad Sounds. By which, of course, they mean good.
With a sound meeting somewhere between A Tribe Called Quest and Beck, 2016 saw Bad Sounds pick up support from the likes of Annie Mac, who crowned them her Hottest Record twice that year. Rounding off the year with their first sold out headline shows in London and their spiritual hometown of Bristol showed them just how far they’d come. 2017 is set to be bigger still, with a five-date UK tour in March, the release of next single and of course a trip to The Neverland!
The Bays Rays
The Bay Rays have been playing together in various outfits since their early teenage years, when they met at school in Kent. Now after touring with Estrons and Slaves in the sort of cramped, drenched venues that were once frequented by luminaries like The Strokes and Kings of Leon, and headlining the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury, they’re releasing their debut EP called Satisfaction.
The Bay Rays live show is one that is built for losing yourself. Where other bands seem to miss something when they perform, never clicking in the right places, The Bay Rays have the advantage of long-term friendship. As a result, their live show gels into a unique form of kinetic energy.
SuperGlu, the band from Manningtree in Essex have been rapidly shaping up to be one of the most exciting forces in British guitar music of recent years. Since their formation at the end of 2014 the four piece have been praised for their laser-precise punk pop workouts by the likes of DiY magazine and Clash, been enthusiastically spun and bigged-up by radio tastemakers like Huw Stephens and John Kennedy. The music, often fast and furious, is informed by the couldn’t-give-a-shit attitude of punk, but at the same time never shies away from seriously generous dollops of pop catchiness, although never with the interesting knots and gnarly bits smoothed down or ironed out.
Graceland are four sisters from the East of England. They are confident wielders who make thoughtful and angry pop music that is heavy with riffs but punchy and danceable.
Live, they are an impressive force, with a gang-like mentality which leaves no one on the fence. Of course, they love the pop hooks of Fleetwood Mac and Paul Simon that they brazenly reference, but the intricacies are fun to unravel too; Savages, The Birthday Party, PJ Harvey, The Breeders. Graceland have gathered their strength from these artists and the strong independent women around them to form an unapologetic, unique and addictive musical bond.
Hailing from our home of Tunbridge Wells, Lady Bird look set to excite audiences with an eloquent twist on punk. Fronting the three piece is Don Rennols. His lipstick clad geezy front might explain the band’s name. The self-dubbed king-of-the-riff-raff admits he’s always been a show off, ‘ever since ever!’ There’s a comic behind the wit.
When asked about interests and inspirations Alex (guitarist) says, ‘Between us we’ve played a lot of styles and our tastes cover too much to box, but together I think we put out a sound that nods to punk and maybe uk hip hop primarily. I guess they’re linked on some level by attitude.’
They sit holding hands, seemingly committed to sharing a grin.
Operation Kino are a quartet of chaos, built in Brighton. Musical influences include Rage Against The Machine, Biffy Clyro, Bastions, Dillinger Escape Plan and many more. The band definitely don’t take ourselves too seriously and are known for being a whirlwind of energy, a barrel of laughs and ferociously ‘OK’.
Hunter’s Loaf are the band formed by the founder of ‘Unlabel’ Tunbridge Well’s alternative record label and Unhome guitarist Phil Avey. Unhome’s album ‘A short history of houses’ became a touchstone of the Uk’s post rock fraternity, Hunter’s Loaf added a shot of dark blues into the mix and created award winning sound tracks for Channel 4.
Working on their third album, with former Curve guitarist Alex Mitchell, Hunters Loaf are set to take a more traditionally ‘gothic’ tone, “ We’re not going to be kohling ring’s round our eyes, but there’ll be something reminiscent of the atmosphere of Faith era Cure and early New Order .”
Tunbridge Wells’ most theoretically rigorous art rock band and local masters of misery, Tor, have been playing together since 2012 and have performed in pubs and clubs around the South East and London, to the delight or chagrin of the people who happened to be there at the time. Their defiantly down tempo offerings bely their dedication to subtlety; minimalist textures, complex arrangements and echoes of doom and noise rock mingle together to make them one Kent’s more challenging and unusual acts. For fans of Slint, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Harvey Milk and Codeine
Previous LeeFest artists
Lianne La Havas
Lianne La Havas, is a London-born Britishfolk and soul singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Her career began after being introduced to various musicians and singer Paloma Faith, for whom she sang backing vocals.