There are not many music festivals where you can sip on a roadie IPA, surrounded by the tall beer kegs it’s brewed in, whilst up and coming rappers queue up to take the mic a foot in front of you. Sunday at Gotobeat’s inaugural year at the signature brewery, with its DIY and intimate feel, was even more refreshing than a juicy craft ale.

The set up was simple and effective. 7 live acts, 7 DJs, and a handful of surprises spread across two areas in the unique Walthamstow venue. The live acts took part in the brewery itself, complete with an eardrum rattling D&B Audiotechnik sound system, and the DJ’s kept the festival pumping in the yard in between performances. There was also art on sale, great beers on tap and even a rather empty 360 photo booth. The hip and diverse crowd were clearly too preoccupied with the lineup for the latter.

Hip hop artist and entrepreneur Lemzi delivered a soulful and impassioned set in the afternoon. Not just an ordinary rapper, the East London raised musician dedicated his life to rhymes after a redundancy during covid, and since has worn many hats including podcaster, mentor, wellbeing advocate and all round inspirational guy.

He changed up pace expertly throughout his performance, as he switched from sexy slow jams like ‘Mad Journey’ performed alongside Monifé, to darker tracks about mental struggles including ‘slump’, both from his creative project ‘OUTLIERS’.

His mindfulness app SPOKE blends music and proven mindfulness techniques. A performance of ‘Zen part II’ combined these two worlds perfectly, as gentle breathing instructions were sung over slow jazzy instrumentals. The whole audience had their eyes closed, I assume, I didn't want to open mine to check.

To pump the energy right back up after this peaceful interlude, Lemzi brought up some MC’s he spotted in the crowd to freestyle after a touching and upbeat homage to East London grime scene. One of the artists, Zoka the Author, had fizzing energy and didn’t miss a beat as he came up with flawless verses on the spot.

These impromptu performances were a highlight for me. Ridiculously talented artists seemingly popped up left right and center, a true testament to the creative community Gotobeat has already managed to form in its first year. Another performance from Zoka during golden hour amongst the beer tables was impeccable, as the entire venue chanted along to his rampant grime track ‘Net like Kobe’.

Sophie Faith, with her envy inducing, jazz inflected voice, was another stand out. Her excitable energy was infectious. Despite her modesty and gratefulness for the gig, she is clearly a hugely talented force to be reckoned with. Her heartbreak ballad ‘heart is on my sleeve’ left the once chatty crowd speechless, as her smoldering vocals punched even harder over the stripped back piano.

For the first installment, I can’t fault the energy at Walthamstow on Sunday. Bringing together an eclectic mix of exciting up and coming talent and a truly lovely music crowd, Gotofestival has already established their ability to organize a great piss up in a brewery.