This year’s edition of Supernormal is the third time I’ve ventured up to Braziers for the party and I feel the format of the festival gets just a touch more crystallized each year.
Nostalgia features heavily in the live music industry these days. Heritage acts dominate the circuit, performing with scant regard for the real estate they hog from younger artists.
Ah! Supersonic! The UK’s noisiest inner-city festival is back after a year off. 2017’s edition sees perhaps its strongest and most diverse line-up since it first hit the venues of Birmingham over a decade ago. And for the exploratory music fan, there’s plenty on the bill to get excited about.
In the mix above I’ve thrown together some choice cuts from the bill I’m most psyched to see. Opening proceedings we have Ex-Easter Island Head – a clanging, chiming prepared-guitar collective who are bringing an extra-special multi-person ensemble with no less than 16 table-top guitars to this year’s festival. When it comes to a sound which brings to mind a sort of crossover between Steve Reich minimalism and the spiritual zither-blues of Washington Phillips, more is most certainly more.
In a similar non-Western approach to strings, Xylouris White sees the pairing of lute and drums in a way that certainly rocks, but rocks differently. Frantic climbing scales against open string drones are the order of the day. Saxophonist Colin Stetson rocks and rocks differently too. A master of circular breathing and somehow managing to create beats via the keys of the instrument, his propulsive swelling tracks are something to behold.
It wouldn’t be Supersonic without a couple of noisy heroes on the bill too. San Francisco’s Oxbow and Tokyo’s Melt-Banana are both making an appearance. The former return to the festival on the back of a strong new record, while the latter are continuing their adventures as the refined and no-less-scintillating guitar and vocal (and backing tracks) duo line-up.
Heading up the more electronic side of the bill, The Lone Taxidermist is bringing her conceptual trifle-orientated show to Birmingham for the first time. Fans of caustic pop beats, colourful outfits and custard (in the old Custard Factory!) are unlikely to be disappointed. From big beats to the humble Casio keyboard, The Space Lady is another electro addition to the bill – bringing her arsenal of reverb laden interdimensional pop hits to the post-apocalyptic netherworld of Digbeth.
Finishing up my mix but by no means the last thing to see at Supersonic is Richard Dawson – the UK’s leading light in folk-tinged experimentation. He’s always at the festival when I’m in attendance (even curating one of the stages last time – what a day that was!) and this year he’s set to be backed up by a band which features Angharad Davies and members of heavy weirdos Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. Not to be missed.
Supersonic takes place in Birmingham, England between the 16th and 18th June. For more information and tickets visit: https://supersonicfestival.com
Safe As Milk – a new music festival of underground music – takes place in Prestatyn, Wales next month. Its line-up has inspired some fevered excitement among musos of every stripe – with alternative rock fans, folk aficionados and techno heads all noting some key players on the bill.
Supernormal is an experimental music and arts festival held at Braziers Park in Oxfordshire. It's a deceptively simple backdrop which belies an unfathomably enriching experience.