Despite my best efforts of two years in my previous life, west London has never really had that buzzing music scene of its eastern counterpart. Bushstock, run by Communion records is one of the counterbalances to this, bringing music, art, people and beards to a little area left of the London middle, Shepherd’s Bush. Taking place on Saturday 1st June across a diverse set of venues – local cool pub Defector’s Weld, the fully functioning St Stephen’s Church, former underground toilets Ginglik, and beautiful if unassuming from the outside Bush Hall – this year’s festival provided a strapping line up of strong and stellar bands. As is always the case with these events, one can’t be in multiple places at once, so to get full coverage of everyone playing you may have to piece together numerous reviews, but from my perspective, in no particular order, here goes…
George Ezra sounds like he has lived through struggles and strains to get a voice that gravelly and a presence so compelling. The 19 year old captivated the St Stephen’s Church crowd tempted in from the sunshine, his blase and bristling manner a perfect wrap over the poignant and earthy tunes. Story Books and their Foals esque aesthetic were one of my highlights, brimming with energy and hopscotching guitars, but the Bush Hall audience were waiting for buzz band at the moment, Bear’s Den. Rocking their way (in the only way that strings strumming bands can) through Agape, Pompeii, and songs not ending in the ‘ay’ sound they were many people’s bands of the day, but as I personally am a bigger fan of guitars and synths, indie rock rather than folky strumming, they were never going to get my biggest smile.
The Lake Poets performed a set of vivid chords and rustling tunes, their dreamily domestic songs sincere and heartfelt, whilst Geordie singer songwriter Sam Fender won everyone over with his charming accent and pleasant plucking (mind out of the gutter please). Kaleidoscopic and intense songs from Thumpers are exactly what we have come to expect, and what they delivered, the jubilant duo igniting a rousing response. Similarly rousing with cracked vocals and tweeking and twerking guitar work was London quartet As Elephants Are, winners of best name award toboot.
All Eyes by Post War Years was one of my favourite songs of 2012, and they didn’t disappoint with either this track or any other. Thrillingly primordial, their brand of disco trips and travels, piercing drumming blossoming in a potent cocktail of fluorescent jams until its hypnotic beats drop. Final band of the night was Dutch Uncles whose shimmering guitars and convivial eclecticisms took the underground toilets of Ginglik to places they had never been before, anarchic and aesthetic.
Even if only once a year, west London is the place to be.