Review by Clare Knight
06/07/13 Summer Stampede, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Mumford & Sons, Vampire Weekend, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Ben Howard, Haim, Bear’s Den
It was swelteringly hot and the sun was beaming down on thousands and thousands of bodies in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Saturday 6th July. Even though there were no clouds in the sky and no shade to hide from the sun, one thing was for sure – nobody was dying of thirst because the drinks were flowing! I am in no way complaining because it was a glorious day and evening for a music festival and at times it felt like we had been transported to Coachella festival in California and not sitting on astroturf on concrete in an open air section of the Olympic Park in London! There were a few big screens dotted around and the sound was pretty good for all the bands, we were further back in the middle and although we couldn’t see the stage it was still a great atmosphere.
Due to the sheer number of people and how long it took to get the the actual main area we missed the first act, Bear’s Den. If you were there – what did you think?
I have been waiting to see Haim live for a while now and I am pleased to say that it was definitely worth the wait. They delivered their own style of rock to the festival with wailing guitar solos and epic drum offs. Their cover of Oh Well that seems to be a staple in their setlist now went down very well along with their popular singles like Forever and Don’t Save Me. It annoyed me greatly that lead singer Danielle was wearing a leather jacket and didn’t look like she was breaking a sweat (I guess Californians are better suited for the hot weather!) Without sounding too much like a feminist, it was great to see three woman rocking out on stage playing their instruments with passion and skill and performing with some of the best bass faces I have seen in a very long time!
Aside from Mumford & Sons and Vampire Weekend, Ben Howard was the one act that most people knew the words to all of his songs. I did notice that he had a guitar change with every song, which is fine but it did break up the performance a little too much for my liking. However, I was indeed one of those singing along to his songs but most of the time I felt like I was just listening to the radio as the on stage performance was lacking a little. It might have been because I was way, WAY back from the stage, or possibly because people around me were singing louder than he was?! He played the crowd pleasers like Wolves, Only Love and Keep Your Head Up so everyone ended up happy with his set!
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
I was looking forward to seeing this band and I would say they were the most interesting to watch out of all the bands that day. With hundreds of musicians (slight exaggeration) on stage, it is not surprising that they would be. Lead singer, Alex Ebert is a master of interaction with audiences and a hippy high on life and possibly other things and was fun to watch. They played foot stomping songs that were easy to sing along to even if it was the first time hearing it. They were also the only band to jump down from the stage and into the crowd, pulling people out to dance with them. He also asked some crowd members to tell a story… my favourite was “One time, I got really drunk… and… and I kissed a dog.” Of course, the most cheered for song was Home, which was immediately recognised as Alex started whistling the melody.
Vampire Weekend were the band that really brought the summer festival vibe with their upbeat indie pop and summer fuelled guitar lines. By this point the crowd were well and truly intoxicated with alcohol and had swapped lounging on the astro-turf for dancing and jumping around. Tracks like Cousins, Diane Young, Holiday were the most popular from their set. Once again they were another band that were not overly interesting to watch but by this point I didn’t really mind as everyone was just enjoying the music in the sun!
Mumford & Sons
Then it was time for Mumford & Sons to take the stage as the final act of the day. With the sun setting on the stage and the drinks flowing it was the perfect way to end the festival. The atmosphere was electric (for want of a better word) and it was great to be in a mass of people jumping and stamping their feet like in an old fashioned hoe down… which we all secretly love, don’t deny it. The one thing that I did find annoying was the way they filmed the Mumford & Sons set for the big screens. At the end of each song it went black for a little while before coming back on again, which made it feel like I was watching TV instead. This didn’t happen for any of the other bands and I preferred how the others were filmed. It was the kind of set I have come to expect from this hugely popular band; raw, energetic and heart felt. They played songs from their latest album, Babel and also the old favourites from their debut album and to end the night they brought the other bands out on stage for a rendition of The Chain by Fleetwood Mac.
It was truly a Summer Stampede of great music and was well worth the £60 for a ticket. Even if you were not a fan of all of the bands, there was definitely something for everyone and I’m sure people came away with new favourite bands and probably a fair bit of sunburn.