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V Festival 2005 - Volvic Stage

24 August 2005

Replacing the New Bands at the V Festival, The Volvic Stage showcases not only new talent this weekend, such as Kubb and Kooks, it also pays homage to some undiscovered legends - Josh Rouse and Ozomatli immediately spring to mind.

As a result, the Volvic Stage possesses the most diverse musical styles to perform on one stage at a festival.

First act on the bill, Akala, a solo rap artist rhymes over a heavy rock guitar and turntable mix backdrop. The overall sound resembles that of a  more rockier NERD, yet much unlike NERD, Akala doesn't have the Los Angeles sunshine to sing about. Instead his background gives him the ability of rhyming about London life, which is not quite the same. Despite attempts to get the audience to sing along, Akala is fighting a losing battle of trying to capture the audience's interest.

Probably the most archetypal good looking band to grace the Volvic Stage over the weekend, Kubb are aiming to fill Keane's boots for a bit, while they go off to wet beds and make another album. Yet, much unlike the aforementioned band, Kubb's songs have a kick to them and it soon becomes clear to the audience that this band don't hide behind their good looks. 'Somebody Else', which on record sounds rather bland, turns into a live epic ensnaring the campsite punters into the Volvic Stage as they enter the main arena. Visibly nervous when first on stage, by the end Kubb are beaming at the audience they have attracted and on today's awesome performance this band have a lot to be smiling about.

Not having such a great success is Josh Rouse. The main guitar amp is throwing a festival paddy, and come the time for his appearance on stage, his backing band are ready, Rouse is ready but his amp is not (why couldn't this have happened for Joss Stone earlier on the V Stage?!) After five minuets of tinkering around the amp finally plays ball. The audience gives an almighty cheer and a rather relieved looking Rouse begins to entertain; firstly thanking the audience for “watching the little guy play” (his set clashes with Franz Ferdinand's) he then rewards them for the following thirty-five minutes with a good slice of Americana rock pie. Yet, just as Rouse eases into his audience, the stage manager is telling him to come off. Frustrated, he looks apologetically to the crowd, who are offering cheers at his performance and boos to the stage crew who are packing his gear away as he stands there.

Straight out of Los Angeles, Ozomatli musically fuse their various cultural heritages with heavy jazz-funk. Rather comically, this ten piece band equipped with their larger than life personalities, and their vast array of instruments, somehow manage to pile onto the tiny Volvic Stage – some feat indeed! Despite the lack of room the band still find the room to jump and dance (special mention here has to made to trombonist Shef's awesome gyrating hip wiggle!)  The audience are taken on a musical world tour out of LA, to the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, Middle East to name but a few. The climax of the set sees singer/percussionist Justin, climbing the rafters either side of the stage whilst continuing to rhyme at an amazing speed. Security are looking particularly anxious during this feat but this is nothing compared to what follows. As the stage manger, again, calls for the band to come off, the band adhere – trouping off the stage via the front exit and into the middle of the crowd, where they play a couple of numbers before starting a conga line out of the tent where they continue to play for another five minuets outside. Superb!

The audience swells in anticipation for the muched hyped arrival of Kooks, yet when the band enter the stage they look rather like a bunch of six-formers out for a jolly up at the V festival. Unfortunately, it has to be said that Kooks' performance resembles that of an average student band. Lead singer, Luke Pritchard, is inaudible between songs, and as he swigs on a can of beer you cannot help but think that he may have had too many for his age. Their music at times calls upon the decent British Emo sound, a la Hundred Reasons, and at very high points during the performance hints at aspects of At The Drive In, with progressive swirling guitar solos, vocal screaming and then breaking down into solitary tribal drums. Yet they so want to be At The Drive In, they forget who they are musically, which rather lets down the band's performance. As 'Eddies Gun' is played comprehensively, you get the impression that lurking behind this teenage angst is a cracking band, but its gets lost when they try to be something they are so clearly not.

Morning Runner, much like Kooks, are also receiving a lot of media kerfuffle at the moment and its fitting that they come on straight after them. Unlike Kooks, however, Morning Runner don't try to be something they are not. For those who have heard single 'Gone Up In Flames', which, with its harmonies and plink-plonky piano bounce, harks back to Supergrass material circa 'In It For The Money' era, the band's sound does not veer too far away from this format. However, Morning Runner have a problem and its probably going to blight them, especially live and this is their sheer inability to finish a song. More often than not, they literally cut dead when they have sung all the words and played  the chorus melody once over. This is frustrating to watch for a band with such talent to make reasonable tunes.

As the stage is set up for Roisin Murphy and her backing band of brass instruments, synths, percussion section and bass, you get the feeling that the roadies are going to display another amazing feat of finding space. However, unlike Ozomatli there is only one big personality to fit on stage tonight, and as one of Murphy's backing band approaches the mic with an alarm clock ringing you wonder whether, since Moloko's demise, if Murphy's time is now (sorry the pun had to be made!) The set is based on album 'Ruby Blue', and musically there is a big shift away from the sound of Moloko in favour of experimental-electronica. For any fans thinking that she may slip in the odd Moloko track there is no room for it here; both musically and also time-wise (Murphy decides to have a costume change half way through). Still the crowd are loving the enigmatic performance that Murphy gives, as she is too, smiling away at the audience and dancing.

Ray Lamontagne is the best thing musically to come out of Canada since, well, since ever really. His performance on the Volvic Stage tonight clashes with Oasis' headline spot and as a result it is almost like having a personal performance by Lamontagne for you and a few mates; probably the best way to appreciate decent folk music. Lamontagne is accompanied by a double bassist, a drummer using only his brushes, and the audience who provide the unrehearsed backing vocals for tracks like 'Hold You In My Arms'.  'Trouble' is met with warm reception by the audience as the climax of the song twinges on an almost avant-garde jazz piece before launching back into the chorus again. Yet as seems to be the case this weekend, Lamontagne was pulled off the stage. His rage at this evidential. Departing, he throws his guitar back into its holder and walks off. Still, the crowd loved this intimate performance by Lamontagne this evening, it's just a shame there wasn't more of it.

The Volvic Stage, to its credit, played host to a range of bands over the weekend to remarkable success judging by the size of the audience for some acts. Unfortunately, it was let down by the fact that it tried to fit too many bands on the bill. In total twenty-six artists played over the course of two days compared to an average of nineteen bands on the other stages bill. Whilst it is great to give unknown bands some coverage there needs to be a limit, and when more well known artists' sets are stupidly short to the annoyance of everyone, then a rethink for next year's billing needs to be considered by the organisers to ensure that the spectacular musical diverseness of this stage can remain.



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Thanks to: Jules Farman

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