Finsbury Park was the place to be on the first day of July as Community Festival got underway. A heat wave had the capital sizzling, so it was only fitting that the festival had some of the hottest talent in indie and rock playing across two stages.
Our first pick was Sundara Karma, where interesting fashion choices were the immediate talking point once the band hit the stage. They’ve been a little M.I.A. recently as they’ve been recording the follow-up to their 2017 debut Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect, so it was a treat for new and old fans alike to catch a rare glimpse of what they’ve been working on. Sundara Karma’s short set began with the classic ‘Loveblood’ and also included other older fan favourites such as ‘Flame’ and ‘Olympia’, but it was the addition of an untitled new song that really pepped up the crowd. Ending on the smooth groove that is ‘Explore’, it was safe to say that when Sundara Karma make their official return they will be welcomed with open arms.
With now two albums under their belts, Circa Waves are well versed in how to put on a brilliant rock show. The stark contrast between their two records is amusing — debut Young Chasers is bright and summery, while its follow-up Different Creatures is dark and broody in the best kind of way. Unusually, most of the setlist was picked from their debut but this could’ve been for a variety of reasons such as the fact it was a hot summer’s day or that the first record is more well-known than its successor. Mid-set lead singer Kieran Shudall led the crowd in an impromptu version of ‘Three Lions (It’s Coming Home)’ in reference to England’s current success in the FIFA World Cup, and it was more than enough to get festival goers pumped up for the rest of the set. One of the band’s biggest hits ‘T-Shirt Weather’ was the closer, with Shudall noting that it was apt given the 30-degree sunshine.
Only two stages meant that there wasn’t much in the way of disappointment when it came to clashes, to the point where there were even decently sized breaks in order for fans to fill up their water bottles, hit the bar or grab a bite to eat from one of the eclectic food trucks that were dotted around the sidelines of the park.
Rock titans You Me At Six took to the main stage in the early evening, seemingly out of place at a festival that was made up of mostly indie bands but they still managed to make it work. Lead singer Josh Franceschi has one hell of an ego but over the years he’s made it into his very own gimmick that people love to hate. Fans of the band would know that Franceschi is an avid football fan, so it didn’t come as much of a surprise when he also encouraged the crowd to sing the line “football’s coming home”… perhaps a distraction from the fact that he couldn’t remember some of the words to the band’s older material. New tracks ‘Fast Forward’ and ‘3AM’ were the highlight of You Me At Six’s set, however, giving a taste of their upcoming sixth studio album — aptly titled VI. The clientele Community Festival attracts might not have been exactly fitting for a band like You Me At Six but those who did show up to watch were given a spectacular performance like no other.
Over on the second stage, named the N4 Stage after the park’s postcode, things were beginning to get interesting at the captivating Pale Waves performed. One of the most talked about bands at the moment, these guys have thrived under the tutelage of labelmates The 1975 and are now gearing up to release their debut album in September of this year. The band have an almost gothic aesthetic about them but their material couldn’t be further from this scene — their game is twinkly indie pop that spellbinds their audiences and certainly did so at Community Festival. Their pièce de résistance came in the form of new song ‘Noises’, dedicated to anyone who has insecurities and reminds them that they’re not alone. Pale Waves are sure to continue to grow and dominate the scene.
Back at the main stage, our top pick for the day sauntered their way on. The Vaccines have been around long enough now that their sets are slick and professional while still having that element of fun that wins over crowds time and time again. Currently touring in support of their fourth album Combat Sports, tracks from the album such as ‘Your Love Is My Favourite Band’ and ‘Nightclub’ were main features on the setlist but they balanced these songs impressively with the older material that was thrown into the mix. Staples ‘Dream Lover’, ‘If You Wanna’ and ‘Norgaard’ had the huge crowd dancing and singing along without missing a beat. One of the best bands for that much desired “festival sound”, The Vaccines are unbeatable in that respect and so played one of the best sets that Community had to offer.
Two Door Cinema Club headlined the day in an exclusive UK festival performance which was enough to draw a sizeable crowd to the main stage. The Northern Irish trio is world renowned for some of their material — ‘What You Know’ and ‘Something Good Can Work’ being their most famous hits, which of course had pride of place in their 19-song set. Four tracks featured from the band’s most recent release, 2016’s Gameshow, but a majority of the material was drawn from what is considered Two Door Cinema Club’s best record to date, 2010 debut Tourist History. Their use of confetti and streamer cannons, as well as fireworks towards the end of the night, really made the performance pop and transformed it into a true blue headlining set. Two Door Cinema Club’s swan song ‘Sun’ gave festival goers once last opportunity to engage before the festival came to its bittersweet end.
Despite some operational issues throughout the day, Community Festival succeeded in bringing together all kinds of music fans to enjoy some of the best bands and artists under the summer sun.