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Something to Smile About 2019 – Review

Something To Smile About Festival 2019 – Tanya Russell

It is our first year at Something To Smile About Festival, so we don’t really know what to expect and therefore we are immediately delighted when we enter the festival field to a genial atmosphere with a vibrant, feel-good vibe.

The music kicks off with some stomping tunes from WARREN IRLEAND that quickly gathers a rainbow clad crowd down at the front, as well as plenty of wagging tails at this dog friendly gathering.

BENEATH THE SUN is a bouncy ballad with a foot tapping backbeat that has people smiling. He certainly starts the party with a pounding energy that is perfect for this lovely location as the crowd have come to have a great time. WARREN IRLEAND’s set starts the festival with songs that set the tone for the rest of the festival, creating a marvellous mood and a sparkling soundtrack to our weekend ahead.

BE THE REVOLUTION are up next and play funky riffs over belting drums with chilled out vocals. LOVE IS has the crowd swaying to the compelling melody and the chilled out vibe of BE THE REVOLUTION keeps the crowd moving to the mesmerising beat.

CULTURE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND is a jangling indie number to tap your feet along to as the music floods the field. DISILLUSIONED has a melodic meandering sound that is very pretty and is followed by the jaunty SAVE ME TONIGHT which is a rolling ballad with twinkling keys and the type of tune made for festivals.

Ending with a cascading indie number, BE THE REVOLUTION created shimmering sounds to help start our festival Friday with some melodic magic.

After chilling out in the relaxing Creative Intentions tea tent with a cuppa, we make our way back over to the stage because the wonderful MORRIS AND WATSON play gorgeous folk songs with a flying fiddle that turns the forest clearing into a place where political protest is turned into melodic poetry.

POOR STAY POOR is a danceable ditty which is a fabulous fusing of vocals, guitar and fiddle. Fast paced fiddle melodies are interspersed with songs like HAPPY LITTLE EARTH which make us want to watch MORRIS AND WATSON again as their exuberance and musicianship make them a compelling act. After a swirling ARKANSAS REEL and the FLAME TREE jig, the duo perform a song about their hometown of Barnsley, which is a necessity if you are a folk act, and the tumbling tune of NORTHERN MINING TOWN particularly resonates with me as my family are from there too.

The beauty of the music continues with THE WEDDING AT THE MILL, followed by ZELDA, and MORRIS plays the tunes with precision and flair, playing the gorgeous melody that she learnt for her music degree examination, which floods the field with its mesmerising melody.

Dystopian doom actually sounds delightful as the duo perform an anti-fracking song that paints a poignant picture of destruction whilst CUCKOO’s NEST is a soaring melody.

THE CONVICT’S CHILD is a solemn song with lovely harmonies and TRAVELLING LIFE has us all tapping our feet along with the upbeat tune. As the superb set from MORRIS AND WATSON ends, we discuss how brilliant the line-up has been so far and how much we are enjoying the festival.

ROGUE SIESTA are swiftly up next, with the double stage set-up ensuring smooth transitions between the sets. They start with the swaying, catchy BEAR TRAP, a fantastic song that has been on our Spotify playlist all week. This live performance has the saxophone sailing through the sunny sky as TOM CARR runs into the audience before racing back onto the stage to finish off the song. This is a band that definitely know how to have fun. 

TIRED TOWN is a swaying, summery song with a catchy prevalent riff and is followed by the funky KID’S TODAY that showcases CARR’S emotive vocal. The set continues with MOVE ALONG, a smooth symphony with soaring vocals and is followed by a new song that has a hypnotic beat and accentuates ROGUE SIESTA’S ability to create catchy, upbeat songs to get a crowd up and dancing.

The high energy performance continues with A SAFE PAIR OF HANDS and the skank inducing HAVE IT ALL which creates a super spurt of enthusiastic dancing both on and off the stage and pathetic fallacy kicks in as the field is flooded with the warmth due to the reappearance of the sun.

A chilled cover of LOVE OF MUSIC keeps the set rolling with rhythmic revelry and the set ends with the frenzied melody which is the perfect finale to a storming set.

The beauty of Something To Smile About Festival is the eclectic line up and the fact that all of the bands are endlessly entertaining and energetic. This is consolidated further by the arrival onstage of the ferociously high octane CAMBODIA. They launch straight into BANG TO RIGHTS, a raucous slice of punky protest with exuberant energy. The crowd quickly gather down at the front as the set storms onwards with OLD FRIEND BASTARD BEER, which has fans singing along, followed by STICKY VICKY, a thunderous tornado of a tune. The drummer epitomises the punk attitude by pounding straight into OUR JOHN, despite recovering from a recent illness, as the band continue at lightning pace with this thunderous performance.

UNITE has riffling riffs over strident vocals that demand to be danced to in a performance so frenzied that teeth are literally lost onstage. The awesome repeated riff of MY GIRLFRIEND WAS A GRAVE ROBBER has us bouncing along to the beat and is followed by an angry appeal for more arts education in schools, a sentiment we heartily support, followed by the fast paced CCTV.

The dancing the becomes a necessity as CAMBODIA create a ska disco in the field with crashing covers of TIME BOMB, BIG MONKEY MAN and THE MODEL. We are all smiling deliriously, trying to catch our breaths as CAMBODIA invite DIRTY DAVEY SAVAGE to the stage and end with NEVER MIND THEIR BOLLOCKS, an ode to punk and the pistols that ends their punchy, potent set.   

I’ve never seen DOOZER MCDOOZE perform before but I’d been listening to his infectiously catchy tracks prior to the festival and so was looking forward to the set. He certainly doesn’t disappoint with his brilliant lyrics and memorable melodies. The terrific TO EVERYONE I UPSET AND REALLY DIDN’T MEAN TO is an infectious festival folk number that has people dancing and we are singing along and smiling and the stomping rhythm of WORLD JUST SPINS ON melds music to dance to with meaningful lyrics.

MCDOOZE then launches into the brilliant NOT GOING BACK TO THAT, with us all singing along to the compelling tune and celebrating the idea of walking away from mundane mediocrity. A co-ordinated crowd are up for anything and therefore we engage in dance moves to match the song IN ONE HAND AND OUT OF THE OTHER, another song with a great hook, and MCDOOZE has us all clapping and cheering because we have chosen this festival and already it has been excellent.

An autobiographical song about the darkness of despair, WISH THERE WAS A BUTTON, has soaring vocals and a stomping beat and is followed by a great festival belter, SET THE WORLD ON FIRE, that sounds great and is performed with such passion that strings snap. I DON’T WANNA GO HOME is a sentiment we can all agree with as we dance around to MCDOOZE’S great performance under the silvering sky.

Ending with the fabulously fun of flipping off bullies to the marvellous anti-bullying message of the FUCK YOU SONG, we embrace standing up for the vulnerable with this positive rejection of cruelty. We will certainly be trying to catch MCDOOZE again this year. 

Next up is one of my favourite acts on the festival circuit, the gregarious, witty GAZ BROOKFIELD. He starts the set with a heartfelt song about lyric writing before launching into the clap-along THE DIABETES’ BLUES, which has us all singing along to this lively lament about the loss of the apple nectar, which resonates with BROOKFIELD’S customary clever lyrics.

A danceable ditty about directionless keeps us on our feet before we are singing along to the harmonious hymn to hedonism that is UNDER THE TABLE, with many members of the crowd raising their steins to the sky and swaying to the harmonica. The rolling rhythm of SO VERY ROCK AND ROLL is a lyrical amble through an average day in the life of BROOKFIELD, with an amusing sardonic slant on the life of a musician.

The poetic THE TALE OF GUNNER HAINES is a folk stomper with a bouncy beat that explores the mystery of the tragedy of Gunner Haines and is followed by LOST FOLK, a cerebral contemplation of how it feels to be caught in the middle ground.

Now, the next song is particularly pertinent to a music journalist like me who spends most of their waking hours at gigs because it deals with the ever increasing phenomenon of people that I have christened ‘gig wankers’. I’m sure you all know the type. They talk loudly through all of the slow songs, shout out requests that the artist clearly didn’t record, and are generally just absolute pains in the arse. This song, therefore, has become something of an anthem at Lyric Lounge Review as it insightfully encapsulates our hatred of ‘gig wankers’ in a sardonic slight at these simpletons in BROOKFIELD’S melodic muse. I’VE PAID MY MONEY can’t stop ‘gig wankers’ but it is satisfying to sing it at them during the show, although this crowd are so lovely that we join together in hatred of other occasions when we have experienced their annoyance. 

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Editor of LLR since 2005

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