[FESTIVAL REVIEW] Community Festival, Finsbury Park London, 1st of July 2017

Festival season is well and truly under way whether that means 3 or 4 days under canvas or one of the many one-day festivals which are becoming increasingly popular.  Community Festival (a one-dayer) held in Finsbury Park London reached new heights this year. Not only the amazing line-up booked but more so because of the recent wave of tragedies across the UK. Walking to Finsbury Park, past a high-rise block with workers removing the cladding from outside. Travelling via a transport system with an increased police/security presence. Following the festival instructions to travel light as security would be extra tight. Being searched and scanned to get entry onto the site. And the result?  Thousands of people making a statement by being in that crowd to watch an incredible line-up.

Music can’t fix all the wrongs in the world but the strength of solidarity at Community Festival which many of the bands acknowledged was humbling.

Two stages with staggered set times meant it was actually possible to see at least part sets of every band. Here are some of the highlights:
RedFaces opened up the main stage. Sheffield band RedFaces are playing a huge number of festivals this summer having already ticked off The Great Escape and Isle of Wight Festivals. Great start to Community Festival with banging tunes and great stage presence too. RedFaces is one to watch out for.

Fickle Friends and Darlia were next on the main stage both bands touring extensively this year. The noise of the crowd must have blown them away! Great reception for both of these bands.

And then came The Hunna.  Future major festival stage headliners without a doubt. They said it was the biggest stage they’d played. The highlight was the anthemic sing-a-long to ‘She’s Casual’. Thousands of people singing every word.  An extraordinary scene to witness. Holding up a sign that said “The Hunna, Not Just A Band, A Family” they stole the hearts of Community Festival.

The Hunna Main Stage Community Festival 17

On the second stage Wild Front played one of the best sets of the entire festival. Fresh from Isle of Wight and Glastonbury Festivals, 2017 is their year.  In fact IOW used the song ‘Rico’ as the soundtrack to one of its videos after the band played the vast Big Top stage! Wild Front’s Community Festival performance marks them out as one of the most exciting new bands on the music scene today.
Wild Front Community Festival 17

Nothing But Thieves . Awesome!! Simple as that. A totally different vibe to the preceding band (The Hunna) but utterly compelling. Lead singer Conor’s voice is sublime. Total vocal purity.  ‘Painkiller’, ‘Trip Switch’ and ‘Wake Up Call’ were audience favourites and the newest song ‘Amsterdam’ was the best track of the festival. Brilliant set!

Next on the main stage were Slaves and it was HUGE!! Obviously the main band for many of the crowd and everything you’d expect. Crowd surfing and squashed people at the front. Slaves had complete control of Community Festival and hearing so many people of all ages belting out ‘Debbie, Where’s Your Car’ will live with me for a long time.  And who was the geezer joining them on stage?? It was only the legend that is Suggs!! The only problem was towards the end of Slaves’ set. They announced they’d been told they had one song left but still had three on their setlist. In a genius way they rolled each song into the next and kept playing until first Laurie’s guitar was cut and then both microphones. Unable to even wrap the set up by thanking to the crowd they left the stage to boos. NOT for the band but for the organisers.

That was the only blip of the day. In the early evening sun The Wombats took to the main stage and it was just the best place to be on a Saturday afternoon.

The finale belonged to the headliners Catfish and the Bottlemen.  Over the last 2 years Catfish has transitioned from tiny venues to arenas and their extensive touring in the USA has honed their stage presence. They played a mixture of songs from both ‘The Balcony’ and ‘The Ride’ albums opening up with ‘Kathleen’ which set the crowd singing.  They never stopped singing throughout the set! Van McCann is a natural front-man but with a humility that makes him like any one of your mates. Absolute banger of a performance which drew Community Festival and a fantastic day to an end.

 One of the best organised festivals ever. Here’s to many more of the same!