This mini-festival was up and down. Quite literally, as it was based entirely in Rock City, both in its Main Hall and downstairs in its Basement, and because some bands were a hit, others not so.
Date: October 17, 2015
Venue: Rock City, Main Hall and Basement
Nottingham’s indie all-dayer, usually reserved for the much smaller, organic indie bands at The Maze, has been bolstered and amplified by Rock City, who have upped the ante with their own brand: the Wake Up! Indie All-Dayer.
The line-up is proper old-school; a tour de force of guitar music born in the 80s and 90s with bands holding real cult status and indie clout (welcome back Sultans of Ping FC, hello The Wedding Present and Echo and the Bunnymen).
The aforementioned Weddoes and Bunnymen are the headline acts of course, in a day spent entirely in the confines of Nottingham’s premier venue, up and down its stairs.
But there’s some local talent to consume, too.
Kick starting the day in the basement are The Amber Herd with their rich brand of foreboding rock that throws in elements of traditional folk, while fellow locals Lorna’s flute and violin-abetted folk-pop is a pleasant diversion to the brash indie rock that dominates the day.
Sultans of Ping FC, meanwhile, remind people of a time when whimsical indie-punk was all the rage back in the late 80s/early 90s. Where’s Me Jumper, their triumphant ‘famous song’ is, of course, their highlight.
Now you may not be familiar with the the band Brix and the Extricated, but fans of The Fall and, ahem, Gok Wan’s Fashion Fix, will give a knowing nod when they read this. Brix Smith Start is the ex-wife of Mark E Smith, former The Fall member and friend to Gok Wan. She’s here to play songs by her former band.
She swans onto the stage, shades on despite the darkness, and launches into a shout-down-the-mic performance. It’s like The Fall fronted by a less talented and bloated Debbie Harry. She may have gotten away with the screaming and contrived posturing if it wasn’t for the fact she’s actually terrible.
Elsewhere, 80s/90s indie is prominent in the basement with The Woodentops’ frantic indie-folk and Thousand Yard Stare’s boisterous and well-received oeuvre.
“We are the semi-legendary Wedding Present”, jokes David Gedge as his band get things underway in the main hall. He also announces “Hello Leicester!”, again in a jocular fashion. Derby would’ve gotten him more jeers, but amongst this joviality is a set brimming with their indie-rock/new-wave brilliance.
The jangle-pop of Dalliance and Flying Saucer remind us just how adroit they are with their instruments, and although Gedge is the only remaining founder member, he’s recruited his cohorts well.
Kennedy is pure post-punk perfection and gets the biggest response of the hour-long set while closer My Favourite Dress is ear-splitting but superb.
The event’s headliner is seminal indie stalwarts Echo & The Bunnymen, Ian McCulloch’s vehicle for his dark and mysterious vibes and emotive topics.
With his shades and trench coat, he posits himself as a crepuscular figure letting the post-punk and neo-psychedelia music swell around him.
From the classic Killing Moon and the adjoining, amazing The Cutter, to the echoic 2014 release Constantinople via their cover of The Doors’ People are Strange, it’s a marathon of hits.
It’s been epic, it’s been long, it could do with a few refinements here and there but in total, Rock City’s all-dayer has been a success.