Don’t you wonder sometimes? Norwich Sound and Vision Festival review

15 Oct

NSV13

It’s been a couple of days now and frankly we are still buzzing. This year’s Norwich Sound and Vision festival ended on a rather ridiculous high for the Alphabet Bands crew as we put on a ”stellar line up” (as described to us by 6Music’s Tom Robinson) that featured fantastic performances from Curxes, Strangers and Waylayers. We’ll talk about that some more later, but there was more to our festival experience than just our own showcase, so, to borrow a review style from our good friends at Breaking More Waves, here are four things we learnt at this year’s festival.

Conferencing isn’t just for the industry.
The conference side is a big part of Sound and Vision, bigger actually this year than ever before with new sectors covered across a number of venues. For the first time ever some of the panels were also live-streamed online thanks to taking part in a former Anglia TV studio to help reach an even wider audience. But that doesn’t mean they were just for people in the industry, far from it. The music panels alone contained lots of useful information for up and coming bands, like what not to put in your music videos (swimming pools and boat-lounging are particular no-no’s apparently), how to and how not to approach interviews, how to get radio play and many others. There was also a rather inspirational talk by Jamal Edwards, who is so subtly charismatic that it’s almost no wonder he is so successful, and panels for budding comedy writers, Dr. Who enthusiasts, game and interactive software developers, workshops for young musicians etc etc. The list goes on and all were enjoyed and appreciated by those in attendance, very few of whom were industry representatives.

There are unexpected gems to be found everywhere.
They didn’t even have to be playing as was the case with one of our favourite new discoveries of the festival, Treasureseason. One half of this Norwich based chilled-out-dreampop duo had volunteered to help out this year and was assigned to assist at our showcase and 24hours later, we had bought and downloaded their latest EP. We’ll be featuring more from them in the coming weeks, have no doubt about that.


You could also find some exceptional music being performed in a quiet corner somewhere, and we’re pleased to say we did at the very first show we saw. Even though we had heard Abi Wade’s music, nothing quite prepared us for the show that was to come as she sat, resplendent in her silver/grey jumpsuit/onesie and captivated the entire audience. Plucking, strumming and bowing her cello wasn’t enough as she simultaneously played two more percussive elements with her feet, sang and tapped out multi-tonal beats on the cello shell (the shello?), all at the same time. A bit like a one-man-band but without the shambolic connotations and just brilliant instead. She wasn’t even fazed when a connection failed mid-song, she just did a quick straw poll of the audience (all while still playing) and carried on with a democratically chosen acoustic version. Her songs were bloody good too, beautiful and soothing but also full of drama and emotion when they needed to be. After seeing a set of such varied and impressive musical-multi-tasking we had to ask her one vital question and we can confirm that yes, Abi can pat her head and rub her tummy at the same time.


People still want to rock out.
Once again this year, perhaps more so than in the recent past, there have been claims that the oft heralded return of guitar music is in full swing and cannot be denied. However, there can be no question that in reality it has been pop, synths and electronics that have once again dominated in 2013 and that the guitars haven’t quite broken back through. Despite this, people quite clearly still want to rock out to some rawkus guitars, big riffs and thunderous drums, as was evidenced by Drenge and Pins being the sweatiest (from the crowd) shows we saw. Special mention must go to the Pins ladies who were sipping red wine in between driving the audience crazy with their energy laden tunes. Class and quality, a heady combination.

Festivals are better when you have your own show.
NSV Poster 4We mentioned it before but understandably, the Alphabet Bands showcase was the highlight of our entire festival featuring, as it did, three bands we really, really wanted to see play live. Taking place at Olives, which was all low ceiling and lower lighting, the trio of Curxes, Strangers and Waylayers nearly blew the windows out with performances of energy and excitement that had the crowd on their feet and more than one audience member’s jaw on the floor in amazement.

Curxes especially were astounding, showcasing some new material (one loud, one soft, both fantastic) amongst older favourites (“Haunted Gold” has been stuck in our head ever since) as Roberta came out onto the floor to dance and sing, Macaulay rocked out on guitar and Strangers’ Raife (on double-duty) brought the electro-beats with panache.

Strangers brought the boogie as their infectious-you-like-darkness–infused electro-pop caused many a reveller to push to the front for a dance while the crowd-singing along to “Safe/Pain” was a goosbumps moment. Like Roberta, David came out to the floor to sing, literally bringing the songs to the crowd who lapped it up and called out for more as all too quickly the boys with the Timberlake-meets-The-Cure sound finished their set. Time flies when you’re having fun.

It went quickly for the Waylayers crew as well as they filled the room with their vast, atmospheric synths sounds. Hearing tunes that are so clearly suited for giant fields with huge crowds all singing them back in such a tight space made the night feel even more special. It’s little wonder they are beginning to make an impact in the States and is surely only a matter of time before chart recognition comes from these shores as well. As they drew their set, and the evening, to a close with the magnificent “Magnets” (which we enjoyed a sing-a-long to ourselves) the crowd left satisfied and excited, which is exactly how we felt but with added pride chuffed-ness.


We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped make the night happen. Adrian, Jenny and Rosie from NS&V, Ian and Access to Music, Matt, Chris and Luke for the kit and the sound, Andie from Sessions Productions for promotion and all round assistance, Geoff at Olives for the best rum and coke we had all weekend and Treasureseason’s Dave for working the door. Oh, and Mr. Tom Robinson of course, for putting a rather wonderful cherry on top of a very special cake.

See you next year.

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3 Responses to “Don’t you wonder sometimes? Norwich Sound and Vision Festival review”

  1. Melvyn King @ Kings Bed & Breakfast October 15, 2013 at 11:20 #

    I heard from a friend that it was a brilliant night, sorry I missed it.

    • Adam H October 15, 2013 at 16:23 #

      We’re glad your friend enjoyed it, they’re right too, it was a brilliant night.

      We’ll be doing more though so you’ll be able to come and join us for another brilliant night soon 🙂

      • Melvyn November 6, 2013 at 12:05 #

        Thank you for the reply Adam. 🙂

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