14 January 2019 (gig)
16 January 2019
Rockaway beach is really building a name for itself as a must do festival these days. The 'Boutique Indoor Music Festival' is a Way of Music event and takes place at Butlins Bognor Regis. This means we don't have to wait until Summer, It doesn't matter that it's cold outside, we're not in a tent, we're in a hotel, and we're not stood in the rain, we're propping up the bar!
A couple of years ago we went along to see established acts such as Suede, Killing Joke and The Wedding Present and came away with a love of new discoveries like Joanna Gruesome, Multibird and Cat's Eyes.
This year saw another great line up with Gary Numan, Maximo Park and Echo and the Bunnymen and a host of exciting new and emerging talent.
The programme is mainly on over two stages, Reds, the smaller venue, then over to Centre Stage for the last 2 or 3 acts of the day. There's also a couple of other bars playing music, there's live interviews with bands and a big cinema screen. Evil Dead, Quadrophenia, Ghostbusters and E.T all featured over the weekend. Deck Chairs and plentiful wireless headphones making that a popular option for a change of scene for an hour or two.
Friday kicked off in the Reds venue with a scream and a shout by Glasgow Noise Punk outfit Rapid Tan. Not the kind of act you can ignore, they certainly woke everyone up to be ready for a day packed full of exciting and eclectic emerging and established acts.
Garage rock from Chupa Cabra followed and warmed the stage up before a commanding performance by Madonnatron. The 4 girls from south London stole the show on the Reds stage with tracks from their mesmerising post punk debut album which really is a must listen. A fresh and captivating performance had the crowd lapping up songs like Be My Bitch and the almost terrifying Sangue Neuf. Expect to hear a lot more about these ladies in the future.
Madonnatron finished off action in Reds, it was then over to the Centre Stage to catch Goat Girl. They completely owned the main stage with tracks from their eponymous debut. The band has been playing for a few years now but the band are barely out of their teens. They sound and play like a band way beyond their years though. Guitarist and Lead singer Lottie's voice is rich, deep, dark and powerful. The subject matter is gritty and stark and the songs all individual with diverse sounds, tempos and styles. Give or take a song or two they played pretty much the whole of their stunning album. Singles, Cracker Drool and You're The Man show their capability to write hits, and Slowly Reclines demonstrates stunning range in lead singer Lottie's vocals. Goat Girl's performance was accomplished, the girls seemed humbled by crowd response. This band are going places fast.
Headliners Maximo Park finished the day off, and bearing in mind the previous two acts, quite fittingly start off with Girls Who Play Guitars. Paul Smith, as always is the archetypal front man. They whipped the crowd right up with classics like Books From Boxes and Graffiti and topped off a great first day at Rockaway Beach 2019. It was a special night for the band and the audience as it was long time keyboard player Lukas Wooller's last ever gig with the band before he moves to Australia. Paul explained they had allowed Lukas to choose a few songs they don't normally play so we got treated to a few of his more keyboard heavy favourites including the frenetically awesome Limassol.
Day two of Rockaway Beach kicked off for us in true rock n roll style with the loud cool drone of Desert Mountain Tribe. Leather Jackets and Dry Ice in plentiful supply.
Spook School's indie rock was next up on Reds stage. The adrenaline fuelled electro punk rock of Leeds' Menace Beach was the highlight of the afternoon in Reds venue though with most of the band giving at least 400%. Check this lot out live, it's impossible to take your eyes off them for a second!
Ears still ringing from Menace Beach we headed out to the main marquee area to catch John Robb's live interview with Gary Numan. They chatted for the best part of an hour in what was a fascinatingly open and frank discussion in which Gary touched on the highs and lows of his career and living with Asperger's. He came across as a very genuine, down to earth and likeable chap, and made us look forward to his impending live set even more.
The beautifully crafted catchy (and difficult to categorise) pop/rock/disco of Halifax's Orielles lifted the crowd and really got people dancing at the main stage. Sunflower Seeds is hook filled and gorgeous and Bobbi's Second World is irresistably delivered, Esme's laid back dreamy vocals are gorgeous. Check out their debut album Silver Dollar Moment there's nothing out there quite like it right now.
The prevalence of full length leather jackets in the house can mean only one thing, Gary Numan is imminent!
Gary and his band came on stage looking like they'd just walked out of some kind of dystopian future, dressed in rags. Gary himself looked like someone had half unwrapped an Egyptian mummy! Dry Ice, dim lights, and a massive bank of keyboards set the scene. Gary's signature New Wave synth has developed over the years into a much harder industrial and darker sound. The use of the massive LED backdrop and the bands stage costumes and performance gave a feeling of a post apocalyptic landscape a la Mad Max.
Classics such as Cars and Are Friends Electric? sat comfortably alongside newer material, the highlight of this being the stunning My Name Is Ruin. As somebody who has never seen him live before I din't know what to expect. What we got was more than I could have hoped for. The performance was faultless and the energy was at full pelt with Gary, his bass player and guitarist gracefully yet menacingly shifting themselves around the stage.
We had a good mix of classic tracks like Films, Metal and Down In The Park split almost equally with songs from his most recent 2 albums - Splinter:Songs from a Broken Mind and Savage:Songs from a Broken World. The darker, Industrial style newer material really is stunning and proves that the 60 year old has not only still got it, he's still pushing the boundaries. Go and see him!
There's almost too many good new band on in Reds on Day 3, we don't get time for a break! We start off with one of the biggest crowd pullers of the weekend in this venue at midday. These guys should clearly have been on later. Squid's performance was frenetic, unpredictable and brilliant. One of those rare breeds of bands that have a drummer on lead vocals, and what a scream the guy has on him! Post punk, art rock and hardcore are just a few genres thrown in the mix here. Hunt them down and watch them.
Jemma Freeman and the Cosmic Something suffer from a few tinny sound problems which marrs the set a little but they keep us engrossed nonetheless.
Yassassin is another all female band that carry on the fine form of the weekend with their punchy alt rock. The Filthy Tongues demonsatrated their fine pedigree ( 3 of the members used to be in the legendary Goodbye Mr Mackenzie ) with a commanding performance here before Lorelle Meets the Obsolete finished our day off in Reds with some incredible psychedelic mesmerising drone. Another one to look out for!
Art Brut have always been a bit of an enigma, inparticular due to the quirky, hard to dislike front man Eddie Argos's shouty vocals over some unforgettably catchy riffs. Quality dwindled a little after a hit (sort of hits) filled debut album and their follow ups never quite sustained the quality, but they're back, first album for 7 years and they mean business.
Starting with probably their best known song, Eddie ran onto the stage, punching the air as the riff to Formed a Band kicked in. These guys were always great live and always had a great mosh pit. Maybe we're all a bit older (but that didn't stop us for Maximo Park) or maybe there's simply not enough people here that were into them, but there's not a push or a shove in sight here tonight.
That doesn't take away from the performance though. Eddie could have been a stand up comedian. He interrupts his own songs, tell's his band to quieten down so he can have a bit of a monlogue break midway through My Little Brother, basically explaining that the lyrics to the song are now completely irellevant. His little brother hasn't just discovered rock n roll, or is he out of control, but he in fact is a responsible adult who owns a house. We didn't need that bubble bursting Eddie but it was delivered with such humour, the little stand up show was worth it!
Some of the new songs sound great, wry humour and deftly delivered shouty lyrics are par for the course. Highlights from the new bunch are Hospital! and Kultfigur.
Emily Kane was the highlight of the set, I tried to mosh by myself but it doesn't really work! Hopefully world domination is still within Eddies reach, it would make his poor worried mum very happy, "Are you ready Art Brut?"
Echo and The Bunnymen finished the festival off with a career spanning set full of classics with a few new ones thrown in, and pretty good they were too! But it's the hits that got us singing along. Seven Seas, Nothing Lasts Forever, Bring on the Dancing Horses the Cutter and of course the stunningly perfect, The Killing Moon brought the house down here tonight. Ian Mcculloch's biting scouse wit punctuated the show to add a lighthearted dimension to the gig. To mark the occasion tonight it seems someone persuaded whoever is in charge of the neon lights inside the Centre Stage venue to switch them off for the duration of the set, and what a difference it made to the feel and atmosphere of the place. Off as default next year please!
As a whole this is a lovely little festival, professionally run. The Butlins staff are all good as gold. We got to eat and sleep in comfort and have yet again left with a pile of new favourite bands. More again next year please !