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Impressions & Interviews From Rockaway Beach 2019 - Part One

Hi, I'm Steven a.k.a. @CaptainStavros. Brevity and quality writing are not my strong suits. I'm not a writer or photographer but I do know English and my camera has a phone so you'll get some words and pictures, I make no claims on the quality of either.

Day 1 - We catch our train and tuck in for our 2 hour journey to the Butlin's Bognor Regis. Halfway through a bunch of older...dudes? with Liam Gallagher haircuts, a mix of New Balance walking shoes and vintage army coats pile into the seats next to us. In tow they have a carrier on wheels filled with home brew, I shoot Kenny a glance, he shrugs.

Unscathed we disembark and make our way to check in, along the way taking in tunes from a local busker slamming out 'Another One Bites the Dust' and hitting the admirable amount of thrift stores I did not expect to find in a small seaside town. Settled, we make our way over to the Reds stage to catch:

Madonnatron (@madonnatron)

Over all solid performance and a lot of energy for a first day and one of the first acts of the afternoon. I think my most memorable moments from the set were Charlie agreeing with the audience it's 'heartbreaking' that they had only 1 song left. That song was 'Sang Neuf' and I think everyone was equally heartbroken after Charlie held those last notes for what seemed like an eternity. I was hoping to run into them to snag a few soundbites for the article I was mentally composing at this point and found Stefania, Joanie, and Charlie hanging outside on the concourse necking a bottle of Rosé later in the evening. I mustered up my courage trying to politely interrupt saying I'd enjoyed their set earlier that afternoon. I was greated with 'Aw's, 'Thank you SO much'es and punches to my arm to the point where I couldn't make eye contact at which I thought it best to make a hasty exit.

Before the above episode I'd made my way early to the Centre Stage to catch:

Goat Girl (@goatgirlofficial)

I'm not sure if I mentioned but the crowd in attendance was a bit older than I was used to at gigs/festivals, most likely due in part to the headliners. Maximo Park were headlining in a few hours and people were getting in later as it was Day One and they'd had to sneak out of work......or the nursing home. I think a mix of the audience's excitement to see the headliner, it being Friday and the apparent cocktail of booze and powdered substances pushed the crowd to a fever pitch during the track 'Cracker Drool', starting a mad rush to the front of the stage, arms-a-flailing and bodies colliding. As for the band Goat Girl have been floating on the ether in London but for one reason or another I've never seen them live so I'm glad to finally have I caught them even with the rowdy pensioners all about.

I spent the majority of Day Two eating an obscene amount of food at the buffet, I'm looking at you Ice Cream Machine, Cheese Platters and Veggie Sausages. We walked the gluttony off scoping out further thrift stores and stocking up on beer while hitting a few charming pubs. When we were back in fighting form we set out to catch:

Menace Beach (@menace_beach)

A 5 piece collective from Leeds that were new to me. Synthesizers, guitars and keys oh-my! I had a great time watching them, they had tons of sound with a lot of energy and still kept that shit elegant as fuck. Picture Washington with a gallant stroll. Nearing the end of the setlist there was one particular song that really made the set, I was hoping to get my mitts on the set-list to find the track title but when I did get the list, thanks to guitarist Nick Chantler, it simply said 'Nick's Song' great. Nick if by some chance you read this, holler at me and give me a link to that banging track or at the very least a name for it!

Next up:

Algiers (@algierstheband)

I'd seen Algiers where I'd met the Musos' Guide in Chief a few years back at Primavera 2016. They were playing early in the afternoon just before the sun was going down on the same stage as The Savages. It was a big space and their sound was small, yet enjoyable. I think people were still at the beach or nursing hangovers because the crowd was thin, but I enjoyed being able to get up close. This time around it was a totally different situation, the stage was small and the sound was huge.

Frankie, front man for Algiers, came out and introduced himself and the band with that southern gentlemanly charm that's down homegrown in Atlanta GA. He said, 'this is a new song, it hasn't got a name, but let me show you what we're about' and show he did. Frankie's vocals came off as full and in total control of his person. The band had gelled over the years. Bassist Ryan Mahan's interpretive dance styling kept the crowd entertained and the atmosphere light. I hung around after the set and hollered at Frankie while he put his gear away. In a rush but polite we had a short chat:

Cpt: Have you really come all the way here for Rockaway and are you planning any future London gigs?

Frankie: Unfortunately no more scheduled London gigs currently. We're starting the first leg of our 7 week European tour tomorrow with Brussels.

Cpt: I saw you a few years ago and sound has really developed and filled out.

Frankie: Yeah, we've been practicing a LOT since then'.

We chatted a bit about back home, North America, and he said I sounded like I was from New York, which for me was high praise. I shattered his illusions of course saying I was from a small Canadian town. I wished him well on his tour and we exchanged closing pleasantries. With that I'd gotten my first mini-interview on the books.

Barry Adamson (@adamsonbarry)

He came out on stage with 40 years of music behind him and took the crowd like I imagine the crooners did at the Dunes circa 1960s Las Vegas. The man had patter, wearing a champagne blazer with dark sunglasses on stage, he worked the audience and seamlessly transitioned between tracks and genres. After disappearing backstage after his act he returned picking up a bass and playing 'The Light Pours Out Of Me', which landed pretty great as a finale.

Between acts I hit the bar and ran into Nick of Menace Beach who I'd just met earlier that day after their set. I strode up to order a pint and thought I'd chance at chat. I said hi and asked if I could get a bit of back story after seeing them this afternoon, he said sure:

Cpt: Full disclosure, until today I hadn't heard of you guys but I dug what I heard and saw. You guys seem comfortable with each other, seasoned and the sound was great. You guys came out with a fuck ton of energy, especially when M.B. played your song. So tell me what you'd like people to know? Are you touring, what's next?

Nick: Thanks man, well here it is. We're from Leeds and we've just released and toured our third album. We hustled and pushed it around until the end of November. We took some downtime because we're not just Menace Beach, we've got other jobs to to make end meets. We manage tours, design graphics, make prints and design clothes.

Cpt: It sounds pretty intense man, touring's gotta be hard with additional commitments on the side. Will I get to see you in London sometime soon?

Nick: Yeah, I don't wanna sound cynical, booking gigs around London's not the easiest thing in the world, but we're available and want to get out as much as we can.

Cpt: Looking forward to it!

I thanked him for his time and offered to pick up the round but another fan had already beat me to the ticket. We parted and I headed back to the stage to catch the next act.

The Orielles (@theorielles)

The band first caught my ear when I was doing my research for Rockaway. We had music, venues and cinema in common and I was really hoping I'd run into them to have a quick chat before the weekend was done.

I'd left my conversation with Nick and found my spot back up at the barriers. Shortly thereafter The Orielles strolled out onto stage, picked up their instruments and had a false start which Henry, the guitarist, laughed off and told the crowd that it was all part of the act. This carefree and easy performance shown throughout their set. Henry and Alex, on keys, dancing the night away. Sid on drums and Esmé's vocals while on the bass were all smiles and teeth watching their friends cutting a jig. It was a good vibe on stage with quality sound. I have to say that I'm also always a fan of support instruments taking center stage. Like Bloc Party's drums or Flea's bass leading the charge this a-symmetrical structure to music really does it for me. Their set ended off with 'Sugar Tastes Like Salt' their 8+ minute debut single with multiple hooks and a psychedelic twist gave the crowd a run for their money. They left the stage but came back to watch their gear getting broken down and ready for Gary Numan. I took the opportunity to flag down Esmé and Henry for the setlist, I'm a collector, and Esmé came over to hand it to me. I had to vault over some barriers and pray I wouldn't be dive tackled by an overzealous security guard, but it was worth it. All polite chatter and smiles I thanked her for making the effort and with that I was back over the barrier in time for ...

Gary Numan (@garynuman)

This, I was not ready for. What was, for me, a new wave pioneer had transformed and reinvented himself and the stage, into a post apocalyptic, industrial, seizure-inducing Mad Max dystopia. In a cacophony of light and sound G-man blasted out and skull fucked the shit out of me, literally, I could not sleep this night at all after an hour+ of blasting lights directly into my retinas and thunderous sounds into my ear canal. Unlike a lot of artists G didn't shy away from his classic chart topping classics but they were nearly unrecognizable with the newly added industrial edge. I did not not know what to expect next. His band were half band half backup dancer Cirque Du Soleil types skulking about the stage. The crowd was an entirely different story all together. These, 'people'? did not come here for anyone else, they came here for G-man. Traveling from all around the UK and beyond, they paid for a full weekend for one night. I think a better term instead of fan would be cult, minions maybe? Chill, this ain't no diss, I'd just never seen, or been involved in, something like this before. It was something else. I made my way out of the not soon to be forgotten scene and hooked up with Kenny. We were about to make our way home but I suggested swinging through the concourse instead.

The Orielles 2.0

Outside smoking with all the other naughty peeps were none other than Sid and Esmé . I told Kenny I was going to try to get a mini-interview and it would probably get weird so I recommend looking away. I made my way over and tried to the best of my abilities (very limited) to interrupt a conversation they were both in.

Cpt: (Imagine an attempt at the least craziest/creepiest voice) Pardon me, excuse me, I'm sorry but would you mind if I interrupted just for a quick second?

Sid/Esmé/Their Friends: Vague look of indifference and confusion.

Cpt: I just wanted to say thanks so much for taking the time to hand me your setlist.

Esmé: Oh yea, hey, no problem!

Cpt: Hey, since I've got you here I was wondering if I could ask you a few non-standard questions for a music blog if you don't mind? I promise they'll be weird and not, 'who's your influence?' or 'What's it like to be a woman in rock?'

Esmé/Sid: (Look at each other and smile) Sure!

Cpt: Wow, really? Great! Okay, questions number #1 What was your favourite food at breakfast today? Did you try the veggie sausage?

Esmé/Sid: We really liked the veggie sausages, they had-to-have been the winner!

Cpt: Yeah dudes, it tasted like a croquette or something, I had to keep eating them

Esmé: Us too, Henry couldn't stop eating them he; ate like 8 of them or something!

Cpt: Okay, see, that was easy. Question #2 I know you all met at a house party and that was the beginning of The Orielles, but my question to you is which room? My guess is the kitchen.

Esmé: It totally was the kitchen!

Sid: It was not the kitchen.

Esmé: Oh yeah, you're right, I wish it had been the kitchen though!

Cpt: Me too, kitchen parties are always the best (I kid you not readers, I was overflowing with mediocrity).

Esmé/Sid: We met upstairs in one of the bedrooms.

Cpt: (Eyebrows raise)

Esmé/Sid: That's where they piano was, in one of the bedrooms. Henry and Alex were fooling around (playing music) on it and Sid and I sat on either side of them and started playing and that was that.

Cpt: I can almost see it now.

At this point I was getting serious tunnel vision and I was about to throw up from nerves if I'm honest. I thought about how much fun it would've been to have been a fly on the wall watching it all go down.

Cpt: Oooooooooooooookay, questions #######3. Henry said that this was your first show back after 4 weeks off, what'd you do over those for weeks and what's on for the next 4 weeks?

Esmé/Sid: Well it was the holidays and stuff, plus we wrote and worked on new tunes. We've got another gig coming up and then we're going to keep writing and making new tunes after that.

Cpt: Wow, not even a year since Silver Dollar Moment and already getting the next album underway, I'm super impressed.

At this point I thought it's best to say thanks and make a hasty escape but the girls flipped that shit on me and started asking ME questions. I was seriously spinning out and sputtering out half baked sentence fragments. I think I vaguely remember punching the air and telling Sid she resembled Dragona from Submarine before I blacked out and woke up in my hotel room the next morning thinking of all the other questions I wish I'd though of at the time to ask, always leave them wanting more though, right? I didn't get to harass Henry and Alex because they were hanging out with their friends and I was already weird/rude enough.


Rockaway Beach 2019, Butlins, Bognor Regis - Part One

  • Published in Live

Photographs by Steven Velentzas

Hogmanay’s but a dim memory so it’s time for the first festival of the year. With temperatures high enough that a jacket’s largely superfluous this time Bognor Regis once again proves that it makes sense to head South in January for Rockaway Beach.

Having broken the journey up this time with a London overnight (during which it has to be noted that the excellent Feet were seen live at The Shacklewell Arms. An ideal act for a daytime slot at RB2020) we arrived in good time for dinner rather than rushing in to drop luggage and then try to catch some of whatever performance started at 7pm, as has been the case in the past. Slow time arrival is definitely the way forward.

First up then were Madonnatron, a perfectly decent early afternoon act who suffered from looking a bit bored and not really being that engaging musically. Benin City were unfortunately even less to my taste so dinner was sought out with the hope that the much anticipated Goat Girl would open the evening’s proceedings in good form and the event would finally take off.

Sadly they appeared to be off form and going through the motions, rather than the lively shot in the arm which was required & which you’d have easily been forgiven for expecting if you’ve ever heard them on the radio. Cutting our losses at this point (having never been Maximo Park fans) we called it a night.

Having a pal along this time around meant there was encouragement to give the earlier acts of the day a look on Saturday, so it was that the heavy sounds of John J. Presley were taken in. An impressively weighty trio, suffering only from the Rhodes & whatever device was atop it not coming through much in the mix they, and later act Desert Mountain Tribe provided good, full-on sets of a vaguely gothic rock which certainly whetted the appetites of those who saw them.

Band merchandise was a bit thin on the ground this year but The Spook School, as well as turning in their usual fast, energetic & witty performance, certainly got top marks for their t-shirt designs and keen pricing. Good to spot them later on being punters too. They were followed up by Leeds’ Menace Beach, the first of a number of acts utilising A LOT of equipment. Questionable trouser choices aside theirs was another no nonsense and engaging performance, ably replicating their recorded work & then some.

Rounding off the Reds shows for today were Atlantean quartet Algiers who complimented their array of store-bought equipment with what looked to be a guitar body with a couple of snare cables fastened to it, for use both as something to be stamped on as well as beaten. Pretty effective it was too. This was probably the most energetic & emotionally charged set of the afternoon and, whilst I’ve been advised they’re less accessible on album, they are definitely an act you should try to catch in a small venue if you get the chance.


Barry Adamson opened up the Centre Stage tonight and his ease & knack with the crowd was a pleasure to witness. His private detective/film noir schtick isn’t for everyone though and, lovely bloke though he obviously is, I took a walk after a few songs as none of it was really reaching me. Next up the scheduling was a bit awry, placing as it did Halifax’s Orielles in between Adamson & the headliner. They performed admirably (certainly more in keeping with expectations than Goat Girl) and clearly had fun doing so but their sound’s rather too light to build on what went before & amply set the mood for what was to come. What their inclusion did do though was further highlight how well the festival gets the gender balance right, with a great number of acts including one or more women, something other events should definitely be taking note of.

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