Astral Coast Festival 2014: Floral Pavilion, New Brighton



Who needs Glastonbury when you’ve got Astral Coast?  GetintothisEmma Walsh goes across the water for some musical frolics at the Floral Pavilion.

There aren’t many things that will drag us all the way out to New Brighton of a weekend, but for an afternoon of live music at the Floral Pavilion with the cream of Merseyside’s musical crop a girl might just get on a train. Back for it’s third year Astral Coast, lovechild of The Open Door Centre and Bido Lito, drew the spotlight on New Brighton once again for a day of good old fashioned bands and beers, with cake.

Our first taster was from Mercury 13 who had the distinct look of gigging veterans reliving Brit Pop glory to good measure with plenty of wavy bass sounds and bold battering drums. In the next room, and at the other end of the spectrum, Viola Beach were emitting that West Coast indie pop rock sound we’re hearing from all directions these days and it wasn’t half bad. The deceptively simple Chumley Brown is a bit of an ear worm, the chorus making itself at home in our heads for the long haul, but it was their karaoke cover of You and Me Song by The Wannadies that sealed their deal with the crowd – that and the drummer’s game of hide and seek with his drumsticks. There’s something a little too charity shop chic about Viola Beach with their turtle necks and old women’s blouses but they might just have the skills to back up the overstyling.

Looking like a young Rick AstleyDominic Dunn took to the Bido Lido Stage complete with band, a trio of choral girls and a backdrop movie that made the whole set feel a bit like a low production musical. While his name has been peppered about quite a bit recently, with his Old West tones and clean cut style Dunn is a rare breed on the local gigging scene but if you ask this gig-goer, perhaps for good reason. We don’t doubt that there may well be a big demand for this kind of softly softly, Cliff Richard rock ‘n’ roll among naive school girls and women of a certain age but it’s not something we’ll be fangirling over anytime soon. We need a bit more of kick in the teeth from our pop rockers.

And God bless Death Masks for a providing that assault on the senses. We like these guys a lot. Spectral is shoegazing at its most splendid, immersing the crowd in wave after wave of swaying strains of guitar effects and flat melodies that both lull the mind and stir the curiosity. Death Masks push the tempo up towards the end of the set, sneaking in a bit of guitar homage to Don Henley and The Boys of Summer just to seal their fate as our new favourites.

Next to our old favourites – Oxygen Thieves who win all the awards for creating big, thrashing, ribcage shattering sounds with all the delicacy of a whisper. There’s a grime and grit to Oxygen Thieves that calls the Stone Roses to mind, a leisureliness to all the twists and turns of their guitars and to be honest, something downright sexy about their sound – their EP Launch at Sound should be top of your gigging To Do list for August.

Should you discount Dominic Dunn’s three lady backing singers (which we’re very tempted to do), Dazes made the first brave efforts for gender equality on the Astral Coast stage with not one but two female bandmates – they are the blue moon of bands. Nice and grungey though a bit muted to begin with, Dazes got into the swing of things with Heroin but damped our spirits with a rather pretentious monologue over an otherwise belter tune.

Wet PelicansFilter Distortion and The Wild Eyes kept the tempo up with sterling sets respectively. Filter Distortion in particular brought a touch of moody 80s electro to the show with Pressure and Midnight Drive.

Ghostchant offered welcome respite with a chilled mix for the early evening. His captivating  electronic vibe provides the perfect stage to showcase Lapsley’s sublime vocals on their upcoming single Sincerity. We hope to see more of this dynamic duo on future projects.

Getting back into the rocked up swing of things, VEYU celebrated a birthday of sorts at Astral Coast, the stage on which they took their first gigging steps just last year – and what a year its been for them. Fully formed and full of beans VEYU brought our personal Astral Coast adventure to a very happy end, a shame to have to sneak off just as things were really getting started but there was much preparation and pre-drinking to be done for the glorious return of Liquidation – I’m sure VEYU would understand.


Pictures by Getintothis‘ Simon Lewis and John Johnson