Sunday 21st July 2019 saw the first ever Fresh On The Net Live one-day festival in North London. Hosted by Jacksons Lane Arts Centre and The Boogaloo on opposite sides of the same street next to Highgate Underground Station, the event saw 16 bands and artists play on three stages. And it was FREE ENTRY all day and evening. It was also the first festival anywhere in the world, as far as we know, in which all the acts were new and emerging artists nearly all of whom have been voted for by our Listening Post audience and/or have had support from BBC Introducing. So this really was a little piece of music history in the making. Thank you to Paul F Cook & Kerry JK for providing some fantastic pics and thank you to our volunteers (the aforementioned Paul and moderator Kerry plus Sue Oreszczyn and Nina Manku for their hard work and feedback from all the different stages).
The festival was a massive success. All three stages drew impressive crowds of enthusiastic fans. Fresh On The Net’s founder and spiritual leader Tom Robinson managed to attend despite having to drive back from Latitude first thing where he had been hosting the BBC Introducing Stage. Before heading off to present his Now Playing show on BBC Radio 6 Music Tom made time to talk to artists, volunteers and fans, posing for photos with some and showing his support for the acts he was able to watch.
The festival kicked off on the Theatre Stage at Jacksons Lane with a stunning performance from 16 year old Nottingham-based singer-songwriter Tilly Greentree whose incredible voice, skillful guitar playing and engaging personality won the hearts of an appreciative audience.
Next up were [Turkish-Irish & Anglo-Welsh] Londoners Environmental Sound Foundation who compere Alex compared to Kate Tempest in a jam with Bonobo and LCD Sound System. Pip Hall, from Preston, brought a singer-songwriter vibe laced with some cool Americana while Brighton-based Luvia impressed with her unique voice and otherworldly songs.
Things got a bit louder with the exuberant and uplifting Alt Pop of Kent-based Pyx and the energetic, tuneful cinematic sounds of East Midlanders Alberteen. London-based Italian band M w S, performing as a duo, brought sweet soulful and sophisticated pop sensibilities and, from the North of Scotland via London, part-time bagpiper Catherine Rudie’s ethereal voice and clever mix of organic and electric sounds rounded off the night at the theatre stage with some experimental Indie Folk.
The Boogaloo Stage kicked off at 6PM with the striking bluesy Indie Folk and soulful Rock of South London singer-songwriter Yvonne Hercules. Then it was time for sophisticated Alt Pop laced with Jazz, Soul and a host of other influences courtesy of Leicestershire-based Project Blackbird.
Cholly, from Swindon by way of High Wycombe (augmented by partner Conor of fellow Fresh Fave A Motion for Control and Haris Hasan, prodigious artist from Pakistan) was next with her striking and ethereal electronic alt pop before Londoners Little Grim brought their unique and highly-charged mix of alternative rock, soulful vibes and sweet harmonies to end the scheduled Boogaloo stage roster in some style.
With Parisian Indie duo Blu:m sadly having to pull out due to illness there was also an inpromptu performance by the amazing North London teenager Katie from BBC 6 Music Mixtape-featured Polarized Eyes thanks to the generosity of Little Grim who lent her a guitar for the unscheduled slot! Needless to say the audience loved her.
From 6.45PM we had a third stage Upstairs @ Jacksons Lane which kicked off with London-based Fergus whose stunning upper register voice and thoughtful songs enchanted the audience. His performance was followed by a second and slightly different set by the aforementioned Environmental Sound Foundation (due to other changes in the original programme).
Then came French singer-songwriter Sya Sanon who already had the audience in a collective gasp at the range and quality of her voice before melting their hearts by singing a couple of her soulful jazz-tinged songs in French. The last act of the entire festival was London-based Joe Holtaway. Joined for the majority of his set by talented Cellist Naomi Haig, he charmed the audience with his story-telling while teaching them the choruses of his songs line by line to maximise participation in his sensitive, intelligent Folk-influenced music. A lovely end to a lovely day and one which, incidentally, saw a number of fellow artists, including a few Fresh Faves, come along to support the event which was great to see.
With my Festival organiser’s hat on I woud like to give this short statement: ‘The whole day has been an absolute blast. I have to pay particular tribute to the awesome team at Jacksons Lane, especially Adrian Berry, Will Haydon and Kat Ellis who have been fantastic not just on the day of the festival but in the weeks and months of planning, promo and practical problem-solving. I must also pay tribute to the bands and artists who took part for their patience and pragmatism in helping us get over potential problems and make sure everything ran to perfect time.
Thanks are equally due to Hugh Aynsley, sound engineer from the Ivy House who came over and managed the sound at the Boogaloo and to our compere Alex who was the perfect host moving between the two main stages. And all the staff at Jacksons Lane and The Boogaloo have been so helpful, attentive and good-natured. But of course a festival needs fans to come and support the new music we were putting on and they turned up in large numbers, stayed around all day and supported all three stages for every band and artist who performed. Today we have made a little piece of music festival history. Now we can look forward to doing it all again and even better in the new year.’
The team at Jacksons Lane have also posted some video footage of some of the artists’ performances on their Twitter account and many of the artists have posted pics and videos on their social media accounts so check them out if you have time. And, we very much hope to see you at the next one, probably in Spring 2020.
Last but not least, for anyone who can be in the Edinburgh area on Sunday 15th September, the first ever Fresh on the Net Live in Scotland is taking place and the headline act is none other than multiple Fresh Faves and current Festival-storming Glasgow trio Cloth. The festival is taking place at Leith Depot. More details will be published on Fresh on the Net very soon so WATCH THIS SPACE!!