Last Sunday, I attended the first Branch Out Festival to be held in Nottingham. In my opinion it was the quantity and quality of all things local that made the festival a success.
There was a wide variety of musical genres represented, from hip-hop to soul, funk and hard rock. Each band that I had a chance to see put a distinctive spin on a musical genre. As a result they were good to hear live because they were unique. Interestingly, not one band that I saw did a cover of another band, which made for a really refreshing change. Local bands have the tendency to perform covers that the audience might know, in order to get them to participate. Yet Sunday night relied on showmanship and original material to encourage audience participation, a rarity when you think of ‘local bands’, but it seems not here in Nottingham.
One band declared a drinking song and encouraged everyone to drink, by raising their beer cans. After this many more people participated…… even if it meant just bobbing their head to the beat of the song. Some bands had less in the way of showmanship then others, meaning that participation dipped, withered and died in places. In fact, my one criticism would be that at times the atmosphere was lacking in some of the venues.
However, with seven stages to choose from, from Rock City (basement) to Antenna and Maltcross, you were never down for long. Each venue catered for a specific music genre, although this meant having to nip between venues all over town to see a variety of acts. No venue, appeared to be packed to the rafters, which is a real shame, considering it was a FREE Music event. Rock City seemed at times to have the largest audience. Whether that was due to the size of the room, crowd or band playing I struggled at times to tell. The area directly in front of the bands was sparsely populated, as not many people felt encouraged to dance along to the music. However this did depend on the time of day.
Despite the festival being held on a wet, rainy Sunday it was a rousing success. This was much to my astonishment as I would not consider it a formula for success.
I sincerely hope that this festival is held next year so that many people can see talented local musicians.
Article by Adam Smith / 30th October 2012
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