Humber Street Sesh 2016 | The Musical Highlights | by Nix Chidlow / Images Paul Newbon & Jon Fish
Humber Street Sesh is an exhibition of what the Hull music and art scenes have to offer. A day where you can immerse yourself into the sights and sounds this city offers.
This year, I struggled to deal with the clashfinder: I didn’t know where to start and battled for weeks with where to end. On the day, I decided we would start with a mingle around and firmly declared that we would be positioned at the Main Stage to see Counting Coins headline. That was all the planning I could cope with, without getting into a stroppy tantrum only a toddler can pull off.
So, at 11:30am on a blistering summer day, we roamed the site of the festival, transformed from last year and continuing to transform in the lead up to next year. We took in the bands already playing, catching Pavey Ark for the first time on the Dead Bod Stage. The band are built around singer-songwriter Neil Thomas, with guitars, violins and percussion supporting his melodic voice. Their sound was easy to catch onto – hypnotic Folk, perfectly located next to the eerie River Humber. I only caught a mid-set snippet, but I am ready to hear more.
I was glad to then stumble across the Happy Endings on the BBC Introducing Stage. I’d calmed myself into realising that if I missed this set. Their collective sound is mesmerising, with Emma and Rachel Fee taking turns to lead. And their chemistry on stage is beautiful: the visual evidence of a truly knitted group of people, supporting each other through every step of the music-making process.
My friend and I then felt the strong pull to an inside venue, enjoying the sunshine but relishing in the idea of sitting somewhere darker and hopefully cooler. So we parked inside Green Bricks for a couple of sets, catching the end of Danny Shenton who performed a lovely cover of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ with a bit less funk and little more soul.
The best performance we saw during this relaxed time, however, was that of Yasmin Coe and her ensemble, featuring Grant Dobbs on drums for this set. With the full band, they create such a powerful sound that it filled both rooms in the Bricks and pulled quite a crowd who stood alongside the construction barriers outside. Standing and seating areas were packed with followers and new fans, young and old. Her presence on stage has grown since I first saw her perform over a year ago, developing into a confident performer who converses with her audience and is clearly supported by her band. I can see no way other than up for this young lady – she’s doing wonderful work and I look forward to seeing her perform at many more Street Sesh’s in the future.
One of the band’s I knew I wouldn’t miss – that I rarely miss – was Streaming Lights. Their funky tunes and comedic personalities drew me over to The Deep Stage, where I stood amongst fellow friends, supporters and performers. They have the ideal rapport with the audience, joking and chatting from the stage with individuals and the general mass. For me, these boys never fail to entertain, bringing true personality to their music and stage presence. The laughter and joy spilled along the marina as they performed classic tracks such as ‘Modern Disco’ and new song ‘Symptoms’.
I enjoy the band Fire (The Unstoppable Force) for the same reasons, and it was from their set that we parked at the Main Stage to see the evening out. Whatever size the stage, wherever the venue, Fire are amazing performers. They bring the theatrical and have polished the art of chaos. For one of their iconic tracks, they introduced Dave Cardo, formerly of band MOTHER – freed, they told us, from the insane asylum. Between singing the chorus of “What’s your band called?”, he flung himself around the stage, dousing Micky Fegz and lavishing his affections on the other band members. The juxtaposition between Dave Cardo’s antics and the actions of The Unstoppable Force made the set even more intense and electrifying, bringing every terrifying joy to a higher level.
Black Delta Movement followed, with focus now returning to the sound rather than the performance. It’s been too long since I’ve seen a full set from the BDM lads, and it was good to immerse once again in their sound. The mood sweeps from psychedelic to a more classic rock, changing with each track. My favourite has always been ‘Butterfly’, which they concluded with: a six-minute tune which was extended further with a fantastic instrumental where two additional musicians were invited onstage to add further dimension to the percussion. It was a ramped up set which demonstrated just why BDM have been taking on huge stages and venues.
I had to see headliners Counting Coins. It was always going to be a choice between them and LIFE, but again it’s been too long since I’ve enjoyed a full Counting Coins set. Their set was a continuous flow and rise of sound, punctuated by Harry Burnby’s fast-moving lyrics. The set saw the audience moving like a hornet’s nest, building with energy during every song – we waltzed to ‘Peasants’ Revenge’ and hurled ourselves into the air each time Harry told us jump. They are the perfect band to end a full-day festival: you forget that your feet are an aching mess and jump and dance throughout. “Honoured and humbled” to play the headline slot, they dedicated their final song ‘Freak Show’ to festival organiser Mark Page, shooting the noise out into the night sky to end the day on a high.
What’s important about the Humber Street Sesh experience is that you find something new and enjoy those bands you’ve supported in order to get them onto these stages. The weekly Sesh gives performers a platform, but HSS gives them the stage on which to shine. I’ll be catching Pavey Ark the next time the play a Tuesday night at the Polar Bear, and I hope to see all of my favourites spread across the stages of future festivals.