Gig Review: Summer Sundae Weekender, Day Three, 13th August 2006

Redcarsgofaster at Summer Sundae 2006The torrential downpour of Saturday night/Sunday morning relented in time for us to pack up the tent, put everything in the car and make our way back to the festival site. It was still quite early and the rain was on and off so upstairs in De Montfort Hall we found a small corner where a screen had been set up and Ice Age was playing, presumably for the benefit of the many young children attending the festival, though the only people watching were adults, the kids probably hungover after a wild night of freedom having been abandoned by their parents in favour of The Proclaimers and The Blockheads the previous evening.

Local bands were opening the hall and the Main Stage on the Sunday, the first of these were Firebrand, an all-girl rock trio who stood out from the current glut of dull all-girl rock bands by virtue of the fact that they had some decent tunes and they eschewed power chords in favour of lithe, melodic guitar lines courtesy of their stringbean of a lead singer. On the Main Stage Redcarsgofaster were very energetic and boasted some terrific guitar work and a demented bass player but didn’t really bring anything new to the discordant indie-rock table.

The Long Blondes were a bit indie-by-numbers and didn’t make much of an impression while M. Craft in the hall was/were so dull that both JustHipper and I fell asleep in our seats. We went our separate ways after that, JustHipper foolishly choosing Morning Runner over Camera Obscura in the Jim Beam Risiing tent. Camera Obscura had had problems at Copenhagen airport and most of their equipment was still in Denmark which means they had to borrow all of their equipment from other bands or from the Sheehans Music stall next door to the tent. I got there early so had a great spot at the front and watched the increasingly frustrating efforts of Kenny McKeeve to get his (probably borrowed) effects board to work. He eventually gave up the ghost and plugged straight into his amp. They got started about 10 minutes late as a result of the chaos and Traceyanne was her usual self-deprecating self, apologising in advance for what was going to be a dreadful gig. She was wrong of course and the band put in a superb, if truncated, set the highlight of which was single of 2006 “Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken” where the signature organ intro was turned to mud by the default organ sound on Carey’s borrowed synth, much to the amusement of band and audience alike.

MC Lord Magrao of Guillemots at Summer Sundae 2006I headed back to the Main Stage and managed to catch most of José González‘s set, arriving just in time for the wonderful “Heartbeats”. I thought it might be a quiet set but I’ve never heard an acoustic guitar turned up so loud: it filled the field. I’m not too familiar with José’s own material but it sounded pretty good to me though not as good as his covers, three of which ended the set, the last of these, Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”, bringing me out in goosebumps.

I met back up with JustHipper down the front for Guillemots who didn’t seem to work as well in the festival setting. The two times we’ve seen them before they played quite long and mesmeric sets which gave them time to explore and improvise. Here they had barely an hour, punctuated by some technical gremlins early on that gave rise to one of Fyfe’s improvisations about said gremlins. They sounded great when they got going and “Trains To Brazil” and “Made Up Love Song #43” got great responses from the crowd while the customary closer “Sao Paulo” sounded suitably epic in the outdoors.

After Guillemots we rushed back inside where The Boy Least Likely To has just started. There was a party atmoshere in the hall as the band played the most upbeat and joyous set of the weekend thus far. They’re still hawking their Best Party Ever long player and we only got one new song but they were on fine form with the usual cake throwing antics of the keyboard player, Jof’s self-deprecating humour causing much mirth between songs and a fine cover of George Michael’s “Faith” going down a storm.

Belle And Sebastian at Summer Sundae 2006We missed Stephen Fretwell on the Main Stage and The Buzzcocks in the hall, the latter apparently packed to the rafters with the one in/one out system back in operation. Instead we filled up on food and coffee in anticipation of the trip back to Manchester after headliners Belle And Sebastian. The last couple of times we’ve seen Belle And Sebastian they’ve been a bit disappointing thanks to the low volume of the PA and the high volume of chatterers. No worries this time as the sound was perfect and the crowd was captivated by a stunning performance from the Scottish indie-popsters. Stuart Murdoch’s transformation from unwilling frontman to consummate showman is complete as he strutted about the stage, clearly enjoying being the centre of attention, pulling a girl out of the crowd to dance with during “Jonathan David” and getting mascara applied by another audience member at the start of an excellent “Lord Anthony”. The stage was positively swimming with musicians, including a string section, as the band played as upbeat and summery a set as you could have wished for and included “Expectations” and “Electronic Renaissance” from Tigermilk as well as glorious versions of “If She Wants Me”, “Dirty Dream Number Two” and “White Collar Boy” which closed the main set. The best was saved for the encores with “Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie” (a personal fave of mine) giving way to a joyous “Boy With The Arab Strap” and a sumptuous “Sleep The Clock Around” rounding off a great festival weekend.

And that was it for Summer Sundae 2006, certainly the most civilised and well-organised festival we’ve been to and with a cracking line-up to boot. It’s odds on that we’ll be back next year.

You can see all our photos from Summer Sundae 2006 on our Flickr page.

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