Showcasing unsigned bands from Hull and beyond, as well a local artists and performers, Humber Street Sesh is a festival by the people of this city for the people of this city. 32’000 are expected to turn out, rain or shine, in support of the immense talent and creativity we have to offer.
We spoke to HSS Director Mark Page in anticipation of Saturday 6th August and his aims for the festivals yet to come.
HSS is in its 5th year. Is it everything you envisaged when you first decided to put on the festival?
Ha, no not all. It was originally just a one-day festival to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the weekly Sesh night at The Polar Bear. We were hoping 1000 people might turn up to watch a few unsigned original bands from the region. When over 10’000 turned up, it took us all by surprise. We realised we were on to something, and decided to do it again for a second year, mainly to support the City of Culture bid. We were then truly astounded when 40,920 people came. It was after this year, that we knew we had to cap the festival on health & safety grounds, open it up across the marina, and try to professionalise what we were doing.
In its 3rd year, we aimed for sustainability through a mixed economy of ticket sales, private sponsorship, public funding and bar concessions. Moving in to the fifth year, working around the ongoing development on the Marina, we’ve increased the performance spaces, tied up some great partners in BBC Introducing (Humberside), and the amazing Strummerville Foundation and opened up more engagement with the industry.
Is the Festival in 2016 everything we envisaged at the beginning? NO: it’s grown beyond our wildest dreams, and though we’re still learning every year, we harbour ambitions for it to grow bigger to help put Hull and its amazing creativity on the map.
It’s been a fantastic year for some of our local artists. LIFE and Vulgarians have performed on BBC Introducing stages, with other notable bands being mentioned in NME and other national music press. Could you even pick a top 5 from the huge line-up of the day?
Yeah, at random. Ha. With 214 acts performing over the day across 14 stages, there’s a lot of choice and variation of styles.
Here’s five off the top of my head that I will be trying to catch on the day for sure.
Thee Deadtime Philharmonic
Which are the new bands we need to see?
Of course, HSS isn’t just about the music – it’s an all-round local art installation.
Art plays such a great role at HSS, and compliments the music perfectly. The city is awash with talented creatives and at HSS we try our best to give them a platform. This year we can promise Street Art in abundance with Street Performances, Light installations, Photo Exhibitions, Chalk Walking, Facepainting and Graffiti, as well as the return of such Art luminaries as Anna Bean and the legendary Pinky.
The festival itself keeps getting bigger and bigger. Does HSS have the potential to be the largest unsigned music festival on offer in the UK?
I think we can claim that HSS is pretty unique in the fact that over 200 emerging acts perform over 12 hours to a huge footfall, but I’ll leave others to supply the ‘tagline’. As the festival is very ‘hullcentric’ we’ve started to lean more towards engaging with the Music Industry nationally and this year we will be inviting more exciting bands from across the country in preparation for our ambition to turn HSS in to a city wide event come 2018 on par with Tramlines, Live In Leeds, and Great Escape. The future’s looking bright if we can sustain the fabulous support we’ve received so far in the city. The focus may be on 2017 as the City of Culture year, but what follows that is what we need to address.
For now, we just keep keeping on.