Date: Friday 15th May 2020
Venue: Online – Five4Fivefest.com
Artists: Lacey, Rob Lynch, Lizzy Farrall, Stay Free, Hot Milk, Yonaka, Deaf Havana, Don Broco
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The concept of an entirely online festival seems like a crazy pipe dream but in these scary times when leaving the house is more of a rarity it has become a reality. Thanks to Gavin and Tom Pullen they’ve managed to put together two fantastic days of music and with the live music front being fairly extinct at the moment it was a real no-brainier to log on and give it a watch. the added bonus of not having to take out a loan for a round of beers or stand in the pouring rain were also very good persuaders. Check out the bands below that played day one of the festival alongside my “photos” that I screenshotted throughout.
Opening up the festival stream with a couple of tracks were alt rockers Lacey who started things off with a cover of The 1975’s hit track – ‘Give Yourself A Try’ which certainly would have had a big singalong from anyone tuned it. After a nice warm up the band then launched into their own track ‘Run Away’. Having heard the song on Spotify whilst listening to the band it was interesting to hear how it translated into a solid sounding acoustic song with some really good vocals coming over the top of the two guitars! Opening up the festival is never an easy task let alone an E-Festival but Lacey certainly put on a good show to start the night one off.
Next to take to the stream kicking off with the emotional ‘Old Friends’ was acoustic artist Rob Lynch. His deeper voice lends itself nicely to the acoustic setting and he slower pacing of the track really drew attention to this. With a nice tinge of humour added to the set to finish with thanking the online crowd for their thunderous applause! Dedication from Rob to continue playing through a tough finger injury after fighting a door but he absolutely killed it sounding incredible. After tonight’s show he’s certainly fast becoming one of my favourite artists at the moment! Ending with a play through of the similarly names ‘Runaway’, it really brought across the feeling in his lyrics and had the crowd swaying along as the track came to an end. It really brought the festival feelings to tonight’s show and it’ll be definitely part of the stream I’ll be coming back to.
Taking things up a notch next was Lizzy Farrall with a full band performance to go up against the previous acoustic sets! It definitely worked out well and made for a memorable set. Opening with ‘Addict’ showing off her powerful vocals, the rest of the band made for a really incredible sound and a song that’s bound to be stuck in my head for a long time when this is all finished. The emo pop tinges of ‘Games’ really gave off a different sound to the previous sets but in a complimentary way. The incredibly bouncy guitar tones filled the air and it became impossible not to dance along. Finishing strong with arguably her most known song ‘Barbados’ was the icing on the cake. The song was full of pure summertime vibes and worked perfectly to end the set on a high. This was definitely the set to beat for the later artists and Lizzy really raised the bar, hopefully it won’t be too long before I can catch a live version of her show again.
Next up were Stay Free who were a completely new band to me for tonight. Only having a couple of songs on Spotify meant I was excited to hear what they come out with! New single ‘Do You Know?’ opening up tonight’s set certainly left a good impression. With a very pop rock sound akin to bands like Mallory Knox and Lower Than Atlantis it’s definitely a good sign and going for the full band approach really helped in bringing a ton of energy along with the performance. If I hadn’t been sat in my room listening to this I’d have be bouncing all over the venue. Continuing on, Stay Free embraced the poppier side with a cover of The Weeknd’s hit ‘Blinding Lights’. This was a brave move from the band given how popular the track is but they pulled off a decent version and the funk of the track really shone through with the added crunch from the guitars. Finishing strong with the unreleased ‘Just Want You’, Stay Free brought the synth vibes in from ‘Blinding Lights’ and added them in to really add to the mix and combined with the guitars sounded fantastic. The highlight came with the fade out before the final chorus which worked brilliantly and really ended their set in fantastic style. Having only just found Stay Free, they are definitely one I’m going to be checking out again in the future and hopefully in the flesh next time.
To take us into the second half of the day were veterans of last year’s festival circuit Hot Milk so it was great to see them back in this stream showing why there skyrocketing in popularity. Opening with a reimagined and slower version of ‘June Gloom’ really highlighted the great vocals of both Han and Jim from the start! Extra feeling was added to the tune with the dedication to Han’s little sister who’s currently working on an ICU unit during the crisis. The combination of guitars and a soft synth created a really chilled vibe and changed the song’s feeling completely. Going from one extreme to another and taking things up a notch by bringing the full band in, the band then performed a cover of Dua Lipa’s ‘Physical’. This completely changed things up with the energy coming in thick and fast and worked perfectly to show off both extremes of the band. The extra edge that Hot Milk brought to the track really certified it as a pop rock banger. The only issue I could find with their set was that they only managed to get two songs played but they certainly made the most of them. Anyone not familiar with them, I would advise you go listen to them after all this cause they have so much energy and their released tracks will have you dancing all over your room.
Taking thing back to an intimate acoustic show next were Yonaka. Opening up with ‘Punchbag’ brought a completely different energy to their set but still an incredible sound nonetheless. Theresa’s vocals over the intricate guitars sounded very impressive and really stood out amongst the other strong vocalists from tonight. Bringing very similar feelings and sounds to the likes of Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes they really did well to show why they’re so popular at the moment. Next up continuing with the slower vibes was ‘Wake Up’ and along with that continue the fantastic sounds. It was impossible to not sway along along! The acoustic feel really worked to bring out the emotion in the track and shows just how incredible Yonaka are. After taking a break to mention their stripped back ep coming out on the 22nd they finished off their set with ‘Rockstar’. Changing things up nicely with the Keyboard replacing the guitar really added an extra impact to the song and really complemented the vocals. Definitely another band that I’ll be adding to the playlist once this is finished.
As the penultimate artists for tonight James Veck-Gilodi from Deaf Havana had the unenviable task of warming everyone up for tonight’s headliners. Opening with the pulsing tune of ‘Hell’, James’s vocals were certainly on top form tonight and really brought forward by the acoustic performance. Going for the intimate feel it was nice to hear him joking and recounting previous tales even if it’s just the last time he played to a window and a wall – Birmingham in 2008 if anyone was curios. It really worked and added to the feel of the show. The Weeknd cover’s theme continued with cover of ‘Privilege’ which sounded great and had me yet again swaying across my room. As he reached his halfway point the age old saying of “We’ve got a couple more songs left” really hit home and made it feel like we were at an actual gig! Up next was ‘Fever’ which really built on the feeling of tonight, so much so that it felt like it encompassed the whole stream in one single song. Finishing with a bang of ‘Happiness’ really worked well and the added impact of the guitar solo really hit the vibe on the head to show just why they were tonight’s main supports. A super intense set that really brought out emotions tonight and really showed just why Deaf Havana are one of the mainstays in rock after all this time. And with that all said it was time for tonight’s headliner’s Don Broco.
After an impressive run of bands Don Broco took to the stream to finish off day one with a band. Starting off with a slowed down acoustic version of ‘Come Out To LA’ was an interesting start and made the song sound completely different to the original released version. The slower sound really adding to the soul of the track and showed off Rob Damiani continuing his theme of being one of the most charismatic frontmen in rock at the moment. The additional vocals from drummer Matt Donnelly also kicked it up a notch and sounded incredible. After finishing up Don Broco then moved on to ‘Further’ from ‘Automatic’ which had previously been included in their live sets as a semi acoustic track. It was clear from the start that this definitely lent itself more to the acoustic feel than the previous song and had me swaying across my room throughout. After the slower start the band then plugged in and switched things up with a heavy version of ‘Technology’ and brought some much needed energy to the set. I can’t deny that I listened to the advice from Rob and moshed around the room throughout the song. Everything sounded perfect and the heavier riffs really carried well with Rob’s soaring vocals causing a ton of involuntary head banging as the song came to an end. With just one song left to finish their set it fell to the fantastic ‘T-Shirt Song’ to end things for the day. Not done with all the surprises yet, Don Broco then introduced Rou Reynolds (Enter Shikari) who would be helping them with the trumpet on the track, a thing that hadn’t been done since the original recording and it worked impeccably. The lyrics “I wouldn’t be who I’d be without you” seem very poignant at the moment with all of the people out on the front line keeping everyone safe. Fantastic shows from everyone brought and absolutely blinding end to their show and really matched just how energetic they are live! A worthy headliner and despite not being able to play Slam Dunk Festival this year due to the cancellation this will surely set them up in good stead to hit plenty more when they eventually return.
As day one ended off and the afterparties started blasting out to continue with the festival feel it was impossible not to feel emotional. Every single band and artist the played today put on an incredible set and given it was all to support the NHS charities it was very selfless for them to step up. Gavin and Tom Pullen both pulled off an incredible job to bring this together and hopefully this will be a catalyst for more similar events to take place. There really is nothing like music to bring people together and this was no different with a “545 crew” being formed a matter of minutes after the show had ended to chat more about what had just gone on. a fantastic show and that was only day one, the excitement was definitely there for what day two would bring with yet another stellar line up of artists headlined by the phenomenal Enter Shikari. Same time tomorrow yeah?