Thursday, 27 July 2017

Gig Review: Level Up Festival 2017 Day One 21/7/17

Something there can never be enough of is punk and ska festivals in the UK. More and more seem to be popping up all over the country and they feature some of the best talent around. Earlier this year promoters Be Sharp, Fishlock and El Topo announced Level Up Festival. Three days of ska punk at the New Cross Inn in South East London in July. With an incredible line up of top UK acts, some European flavour and a big hitter from the USA, this was going to be a weekend that would long live in the memory. This was one of those events you just had to attend. So I did!

The first day of the festival would take place on Friday night and looked to be a great way to ease you in to what would no doubt be an exhausting weekend. Except the evening's headliners were UK ska punk legends The Filaments. If this was easing in I'm not sure many people would survive the entire weekend. Emma and I would be giving it a jolly good go though!

Sadly on the day of the festival Atterkop had to pull out. This was a great shame but we were still treated to some great support from Luvdump, The Foamers and the band tasked with opening the entire weekend - The Dub Righters. The London based three piece play a mix of reggae, roots, dub and punk. The crowd that had already gathered at the New Cross Inn were quite enthusiatic to see them and a good portion started to skank immediately, and as The Dub Righters set went on, more and more people started to move along with the music. This was an excellent way to kick off the weekend.

Up next we were changing speeds somewhat with Luvdump who came all the way from the North West of England, bringing an angry mix of hardcore punk laced with some upstroke guitars. If The Dub Righters got the party started, Luvdump blew the doors off of it. It has been quite a while since I'd seen a mosh pit so excitable in a venue the size of New Cross and bodies were flying all over the place. I don't think I've seen so many people fall over in such a short space of time. Luvdump's set was definitely a crowd pleasing one playing plenty of old favourites as well as a couple of brand new tracks.

Things would not calm down for The Foamers. The South London band were a staple of the ska punk scene in the early 2000s, then they went away for a long while… but now they're back! I didn't get to see them back in the day but I got the impression that they haven't lost anything. The four piece played some fantastic crack rocksteady punk that was adored by everyone at the festival. It might have just been my viewpoint, but I was particularly impressed by The Foamers’ bass player. He was really skilled and added a great, deep rhythm to The Foamers sound. During their set, The Foamers played a song that they said was the first one they had written in fifteen years. It was great. Hopefully this means that they will be more of a full time band again. I hope to see them many more times in the future.

Last up were the mighty Filaments. Whenever I get to see the Essex skacore legends it's always a special moment. They were ferocious as ever as they tore through so many old classics and some new(ish) tracks as well. Highlights always include Trevor, Tales From The Barside, Tears Of Essex, BPC and Bastard Coppers. The pit was huge for the band and sing-a-longs a plenty. Everyone loves The Filaments. Trombone player Pook is one of my favourite people to watch on stage - or in the crowd where he often ends up. He is so animated and really helps amp up the crowd, not that this one really needed it. I do love The Filaments, they are legends in this scene. Sadly we had to duck out of their set before the end to catch the train home so we didn't get the full Filaments experience but what we got was pretty awesome!

This was only the first night of Level Up Festival. If this was how good the whole weekend was going to be then we were in for a very special weekend!

This gig review was written by Colin Clark.