Summing up the City – Our Closing Thoughts on Norwich Sound & Vision 2012

20 Oct

This time last week, the Norwich Sound & Vision Festival was preparing for its final day of conference panels and night of gigs across the city. In its third year, and its first to incorporate the John Peel name into its music element, the festival was bigger and more successful than ever before.

Our personal experience was almost entirely positive as we enjoyed interesting panel discussions (particularly on the role of the critic and opportunities for artists to get their music on the radio) and amazing gigs (as we outlined in our day by day reviews). Yes there was the odd bump in the road but it was a three day festival and conference across multiple venues with around 100 artists performing and countless panellists speaking, that there were so few bumps was a testament to the team involved.

But what makes a festival such as NSV so important to the city and its residents? It was heartening to see so many different people in attendance, particularly during the day for the conference. College kids, musicians, video makers, PR reps, managers and music fans alike came to learn and hear the opinions of some significant players within the industry. It gave them the kind of exposure to, and opportunity to interact with, people who would otherwise be out of their and our reach. Opportunities that are, unfortunately, few and far between in our fine city.

As positive as that was though, for us as music lovers and advocates of new music, it was the gigs that were the major draw. We’d not attended the festival previously but had heard good things about last year so bought our full delegate pass as a super early bird with no indication at all of who would be playing. When the initial line-up announcement was made, we were ecstatic for amongst the list of performers nestled two bands we’d been getting very excited about all year and never thought would come to Norwich, Vuvuvultures and Public Service Broadcasting. And that for us, was the point. A good number of bands do come to Norwich but given its relatively remote location, out here in the east, often the closest bands come is Cambridge, sometimes even just to London. Too often we would get excited by a forthcoming tour announcement only to be disappointed when Norwich wasn’t listed against the dates.

Norwich Sound & Vision has changed that and the new partnership with the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts has brought more and more bands to the city. Something that has excited Festival Director Adrian Cooke, as he explained to the Eastern Daily Press recently. ”I think people were really amazed at the quality of the bands they hadn’t heard of previously and that’s what we wanted.
“We had people from Norwich, records companies, people that travelled and it all worked. I think people who may have heard of Norwich Sound & Vision and didn’t know what it was are finally getting it – and how big and important it could become”.

Punters such as ourselves are the obvious beneficiaries of events such as NSV, with such a wide range of music available in fairly close proximity to one another. As Tall Ships quipped to us, ” It’s like a musical buffet”, and indeed it is. The freedom for people with festival passes to go to almost any show at any time is a massive draw and one that Public Service Broadcasting’s J. Willgoose Esq, picked up on, ” I think if somebody’s got a wristband for the whole thing, I think it’s nice to just waltz in and you know, listen to ten seconds and naff off when they realise it’s not for them!” Of course, with the ability to pootle down the road to try something else without having to spend any more money.

Not that there were many instances of people naffing off from gigs early. Adrian Cooke noted to the EDP that the response to the performers had been overwhelmingly positive. “ We’ve had lots of emails, tweets, Facebook messages and all from people saying they had a good time. I think people were really amazed at the quality of the bands they hadn’t heard of previously and that’s what we wanted”.

It is not only the punters who have a positive experience, it is of benefit to the artists as well. Every band we spoke to over the three days agreed that festivals such as NSV are important to them. Harmony of Vuvuvultures told us, ”It’s good because you get to be shown to everyone in one go. Whereas if you’re in London you’re constantly trying to get people to come down to gigs and it can be quite hard and you end up doing 5 gigs for the amount of people you might get to one gig here”. Laurie from Hey Sholay agreed, ”[Some] people aren’t aware of a lot of bands at our level because you don’t necessarily get the coverage that other bands get and people always need to be aware that there is a kind of a DIY sub-culture going on, and that there’s people who are kind of at an intermediate level, of a self-funded, enjoying music kind of thing. So it’s perfect for us, it gives us a platform”.

Of course, the bands can often be punters too and many did take time to watch other shows before or after their own and that is probably the most significant reason why festivals such as NSV are important and successful. It affords music lovers of all kinds, be they artists themselves, PR, A&R, Managers, Bloggers, Critics, or just casual listeners, the opportunity to come together and share their mutual passion. Everyone we spoke to over the three days was extremely friendly and enjoying themselves. All the volunteers and organisers were extremely helpful and accommodating to all enquiries and requests and the city could not have had a better three days of music.

They have set the bar extremely high but work has already started on next year’s festival and we can’t wait. Roll on 2013.

One Response to “Summing up the City – Our Closing Thoughts on Norwich Sound & Vision 2012”

  1. name not supplied November 2, 2012 at 01:17 #

    You got to see some brilliant things, well jel.

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