On a balmy Saturday afternoon we headed to London’s Bushstock Festival, situated in leafy Shepherd’s Bush. Presented in association with the brilliant Communion Records, this was a day to celebrate the best in emerging and established artists across the genres of indie, folk and rock. New names including Island, Rhys Lewis and Superglu offering hugely different sounds all hosted within the same small venues. The Ipswich quartet’s supercharged a set with their charming DIY math/rock sound, a blistering 30 minute smorgasbord of sound demonstrating what makes them such an exciting prospect.
Elsewhere FOURS put on an equally impassioned mid-afternoon performance at the Defectors Weld, packing it out thanks to early hype surrounding first singles ‘Painful To Watch’ and ‘Fade To Love’. Their lead singer’s vocal sits in some strange ground between Siouxsie Sioux and Kate Nash and the band perform with genuine passion.
In the converted Courtyard, Mosa Wild put on one of the day’s most exciting performances in terms of potential. This is a slick, suave British outfit making music in a similar vein to US mega-cult bands like The National and The War on Drugs. Watching an act like Mosa Wild tackle something completely new and make it work so succinctly is incredibly promising. Methyl Ethel put on a similarly forward thinking show later on in the afternoon, their music doesn’t seem to aim for any genre and is instead a joyous melange of vocal lines, bouyant pop hooks and jangled guitars.
The mood slowed as we headed into the evening, kicking off with the dreamy tones of Mikaela Davis and her harp. She delivers sincerity and gorgeous lyrics, the only critique would be they are currently all in one tone and a variation in set would help to punctuate her performance, but this will come with time spent on stage. Palace Winter took to a sparse Bush Hall and although their transcendent emotive alt-rock sounds were delivered as dramatically as on record, the scale of the venue did not complement the set when compared to the far more immersive and intimate venues hosting across Bushstock.
Finally we arrive at the climatic point of the evening, a headline set from Watford three-piece The Staves. The likeable sisters switch between harmony and hilarity with commendable ease. One moment you’re tittering at their crass sense of humour and the next you’re ugly crying through a gorgeous rendition of ‘Make It Holy’. My first time seeing the talented trio in the most ideal of settings, they work through the majority of ‘If I Was’, animating these poetic alt-folk tracks with angelic harmonies and exemplery musicianship. ‘Tired As Fuck’ alludes to the band’s next steps and I’m incredibly excited to see where they take their sound.
I must admit as a first time patron to Bushstock, I was apprehensive to the atmosphere of a multi-venue festival situated in West London when historically, similar events exist in North and East. I was an immediate convert on the day, the convenience of location and a lineup focused on quality rather than quantity meant I was able to see almost every act I intended without the usual pains of clashes and lengthy trips between stages. The variation of acts and inclusion of new and emerging artists across the genres of alternative, folk and indie meant the crowds were susceptible to performers and there was real emphasis on discovery throughout the day. 10/10 would recommend, congrats Communion.