This year’s Community Festival was bigger and better than ever before, taking over Finsbury Park on one of the hottest days of the year.
The line-up on offer followed previous years in providing the best and brightest independent artists playing across two stages, but ultimately enticed more music fans than its predecessors to descend upon the well-known North London park. The weather always seems to be remarkable when Community comes around, and this year was no exception; the number of sunburned shoulders you could see was no joke. Slathering ourselves in SPF 50, we began our day…
SWMRS kicked off proceedings on the Main Stage with a set that didn’t quite fit in with the vibe that you’d come to expect from Community Festival. The Californian punk-rockers were fantastic from the get-go though, playing fluidly to the people who had got down to the park early. Drummer Joey Armstrong is the son of Green Day vocalist Billie Joe Armstrong, and with a legacy like that, it’s difficult not to absolutely ooze with raw talent. They may not be the indie darlings that a lot of the festival-goers were looking to see, but they brought their A-game and started the day off with a bang.
Following shortly afterward and continuing the aquatic theme, Sea Girls made a splash before the ever-growing crowd. After a slow and steady rise to success, the four-piece are absolutely killing it right now and the attention they are receiving is deserved tenfold. Their most dedicated fans weren’t hard to spot in the audience, as the screamed back every lyric that lead singer Henry Camamile crooned. The fan-favorite ‘All I Want To Hear You Say’ seemed to cause the biggest stir, though an equal contender for highlight of the set was Camamile’s striking all-red suit.
Indie-pop princess Kate Nash sparkled throughout her own set, and not just because of the heavily sequined, rainbow maxi-dress she was wearing. She had a lot to say throughout her short set and it was brilliant, seeing her be unapologetic herself. “No one fucks with a Londoner and gets away with it,” she declared, inciting loud cheers from her instantly adoring audience. At one point she dedicated her older hit ‘Dickhead’ to her former manager, and more often than not she was leaping into the crowd to interact with her fans up close. It came as no surprise that her rendition of ‘Foundations’ had the audience going crazy, singing along to every word, and by the smile on Nash’s face, it was evident that she is glad to be back writing music and playing shows after the short break she took to focus on other things.
Gerry Cinnamon is all the rage at the moment, so the crowd at the Main Stage seemed to double in size in anticipation for his performance. The Scottish singer-songwriter is quite the performer, and as he hit the stage, beckoning for louder cheers, it was interesting to see just how capable he is of commanding the masses. Ultimately though, it was just your standard, run-of-the-mill indie set, and it wasn’t until Don Broco hit the Main Stage to provide something a little bit different that the day seemed to take a refreshing turn. The Bedfordshire rock band packed their set out with their most well-known material (i.e. ‘Automatic’, ‘You Wanna Know’, ‘Come Out To LA’, etc.) and also treated the considerable number of actual fans in the audience to new song ‘Half Man Half God’. There were some interesting wardrobe choices from them, with lead singer Rob Damiani in blindingly white jeans and bassist Si Delaney wearing a t-shirt that had been made into a cut-off tank on only one side… but regardless Broco gave it their all and smashed it out of the park. Literally.
We caught a bit of The Amazons next over on the N4 Stage, who opened with ‘Mother’ from their brand new album Future Dust. Some might have been concerned at one point that Reading four-piece were hitting the dreaded “sophomore slump” in the build-up to their second studio album, but they have successfully proved that they are bigger and better than ever before. They’ve evolved, that much is for sure, and while their newer material might not be particularly reminiscent of their smash hit debut, it’s remarkable in its own right. Playing it live, the sentiment remains the same, and so The Amazons had no issue with delivering a solid set as the evening began to creep in.
There isn’t much that we can say for or against Blossoms. Now on their second album, Cool Like You, they’ve been churning out tracks that sound essentially the same for quite some time now. Live, there’s a little more spring to their step — lead singer Tom Ogden is a natural showman and while the songs he’s crooning might sometimes fall short of the mark, the way he has his audience transfixed is commendable. During their set, you could find quite a few tired festival-goers sat down at the back, using the time as an opportunity for food and rest, but Blossoms’ most diehard fans were front and center giving as much energy back to the band as they could. Blossoms, essentially, are like Marmite… love ’em or hate ’em, but they’re going to be huge either way.
Headliners The Kooks have been making music longer than some of the people in attendance at Community Festival have been alive. Famous for hits such as ‘Ooh La’ and ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’, the Brighton trio offered up these very tracks and then some, mixed in with some newer material from 2018’s Let’s Go Sunshine. It was a stunning set, but you could see where the audience’s attention wavered during songs they didn’t necessarily know, and whether that was down to the heat and time of day you couldn’t be sure. Closing the set with the mighty anthem that is ‘Naive’, the crowd seemed to be reinvigorated and had no problem singing and dancing along to the track that is a staple in Propaganda club nights up and down the country. It ensured that The Kooks finished up on a high note, for their own sakes but also for the sake of the festival itself, and the blast of confetti that fell upon the audience was a delightful touch.
Community Festival has proved year after year now that is well worth its modest ticket price, and we can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves for next year.