Will Gore previews Bushstock festival, picks out the highlights of the Shepherd’s Bush festival and speaks to organiser Maz Tappuni about this year’s ones to watch
For many the joy of summer festivals is to be found in warm cider, wet mud and music spread out over three days. For those who think that sounds like hell, then be thankful that Communion is at your service. For the fourth year running the west London record label and gig promoter is bringing its very own one-day festival right back into the heart of Shepherd’s Bush.
Bushstock is set for June 14 and there will be gigs throughout the day at four neighbouring venues – The Bush Hall, St Stephen’s Church, The Defector’s Weld and new bar, The Sindercombe Social. As you might have noticed all of these places come with roof attached, a major advantage Bushstock has over many of its rival festivals, says Communion’s Maz Tappuni.
“We’re in the UK so you can almost guarantee rain at anytime but because we’re indoors anyone who comes to Bushstock will be able to stay dry,” he says, with a laugh. “Also you can go have a decent sleep at the end of the night instead of being in a tent and having someone trampling on you, or not even being to find it all.”
Since it started in 2011 Bushstock has proved to be a breeding ground for indie stars of the future, with festival alumni including Daughter, George Ezra and Michael Kiwanuka. And Maz says it’s worth catching this year’s Bushstock crop, the likes of Eaves, The Felice Brothers and Hozier, before they move on to larger shows and festivals. “A lot of the bands that have played here before like Daughter and Michael Kiwanuka now play shows for two to three thousand people so you can’t see them at intimate venues like St Stephen’s Church anymore,” he adds.
Bushstock’s indoor, all over in one-day ethos has steadily built up a loyal following. Communion expects this year’s festival to sell-out and fans come from far and wide to be part of it. The first ticket for this year was sold to someone in Poland, Maz reveals.
Coming from not quite so far away but still making a considerable trek will be Lynne Warrington, a 28-year-old music fan from Stoke, who will make it a hat-trick of Bushtock visits when she attends this year’s festival with her friends. What is it about Bushtock that keeps them coming back for more each year? “The gigs are nice and intimate. Even the Bush Hall, which is probably the biggest venue, feels relatively small,” she replies. “And there are always so many great bands. Once it starts, the gigs are just constant and the quality is really high.”
Lynne and her mates have over the years established their very own Bushtock routine. “We always get down there relatively early and have lunch in the same place,” she explains. “One of my friends is a teacher so she she approaches it like a school trip and draws up a timetable for what bands we are going to see.”
Although she admits sticking to this timetable can be tricky, Lynne does offer some sage advice for Bushstock first-timers: Listen to as many as the bands in advance as possible and pace yourself when it comes to the drinking. “Pacing is definitely important, especially with the Pimms they serve at St Stephen’s. You don’t want be drinking too much of that and rushing around,” she says.
And in order to avoid too much rushing around, Maz suggests attendees get to any of the gigs they’re especially keen to see nice and early. “We put the bill together to get people to move from venue to venue and if there’s someone you really want to see then I would definitely suggest getting in an hour before they’re due to play,” he says. “There are a few bands and artists, like Hozier, with a lot of hype around them, so people might struggle to get in if they turn up 15 minutes before they’re due on.”
It’s a piece of advice that’s definitely worth heeding. If you do end up stuck on the pavement outside, not only will you miss out on the gig but it’s also the one time at Bushtock you risk getting caught in the rain.
Communion’s Maz Tappuni’s picks out a few of the highlights of this year’s festival…
Hozier, St Stephen’s Church
He’s an Irish artist like a new-aged Van Morrison. He’s an unassuming character with incredible songs and one of the most incredible voices. He’s had a lot of attention with a song called Take Me To Church, and I’ve got the feeling his set will be a pretty epic moment for Bushstock.
The Mispers, The Defector’s Weld
They are a multi-cultural five piece, from Colombia, Argentina, London and Holland. They have a really compelling, energetic live show that is a lot of fun. They’re headlining The Defector’s Weld and people will be able to have a real knees-up when they play. The crowd always go crazy when they hit the stage.
Jack Garratt, St Stephen’s Church
He’s in his early 20s and uses a lot of samples and triggers. He plays with drum pads, a kick drum and a guitar – it’s all quite electronic, funky and groovy at the same time. He also has a great beard. There’s a real online buzz about him and people will really find out about him at the festival.
Chlöe Howl, Bush Hall
She’s a quirky pop singer and quite mainstream. Possibly the most mainstream artist we might have booked for the festival but you can’t deny she’s got some really good songs. Later in the evening, if you want to have a bit of a dance you should go and check her out.
Bushstock is on June 14. To book tickets and for full line-up information, visit bushstock.co.uk