Live Review | Knee Deep Festival 2016, Saturday

By Keira Trethowan | Feature Image: Craig Taylor-Broad Photography 

My day opened on the Top Stage with a charismatic acoustic set from gruff-voiced San Felu, who was enticing and intelligible with his sharp and poignant songwriting skills. Knee Deep may have been low on acoustic acts of a worthy level, but this artist was one who immediately caught my intrigue and donned the day in a layer of emotive inclinations.

Killing my positivity however were Hers, a two-piece also lurking upon the Top Stage. With an innate detestation for drum machines – even ones with Pierce Brosnon’s picture glued onto – I attempted to swallow the frustrated lump forming in my throat during their set. Yet I’m still confused about what I witnessed. 


Strange vibes aside however, and opening the Fantastic Stage for the second day were Sports Team, a group who would undoubtedly be on the rubbish heap of the music industry if it weren’t for their enigmatic and impressing frontman. Yes, their music was guided by sounds from Oasis, and yes, their writing skills were downright lazy in the same Oasis-esque manner. But their aforementioned vocalist led them to a set exhuming vitality and crowd interaction. 


My festival highlight came early in the day, from an act who happened to outshine everyone else who graced the event. Yonaka were a melancholy dark-rock/pop band, who inflamed the stage with an unrestrained storm of heavy – and almost tribal – energy. Every band member was infatuated with their own performance and for the first time over the weekend my jaw was dropped rapidly to the ground at the eminence of their performance. 

Eminence was in short supply with a performance from The Holiday Ghosts however. When they meandered upon the stage I was struck with a sense of déjà vu and wondered if I’d slipped into a reboot of Groundhog Day. The band consisted of members from Friday’s act: The Black Tambourines; and what a surprise that was. Channelling 60s vibes however, they were talented in crafting a peripherally commendable set to the growing audience enjoying the rare convention of sunshine. Once again, it was pleasant to see another Cornish band upon the stage. 

Moving on, and fans of anything retro and electro-pop were well catered to when Bad Sounds hit the main stage. Simulating a fresher reincarnation of Scissors Sisters, their high-energy synth and harmonic creation was as confusing as it was captivating. The music critic portion of my brain may have been screaming “no, don’t you dare like this”, but the rest of me couldn’t help but be endeared by their amusing vibes and individual resonance. For certain, the band were my guilty pleasure from the festival.


Yet there was one act that I didn’t feel merited a festival slot. Mothers were a crescendo of dull and static experimentation. Their music, although potentially sounding pleasant through headphones on a rainy, dismal day, is not built for a festival stage and neither did it belong there. As I gazed upon the motionless band I felt nothing but a lack of inspiration.


Shortly awakening my concentration however were Flamingods, an act bore of a feverous convention of world-wide instruments and psychedelic majesty. Although plagued with technical difficulties throughout their set, this didn’t distract from the raucously distinct spirit that the band twisted and formed. The audience, likewise, were equally as captivated and danced zealously right until the end of their set to sounds summoning ethnic magnitudes. 


Following this psychedelic onslaught was Loyle Carner, and although pleasant enough in attitude his performance seemed somewhat predictable in sound and conduct. In a heartfelt act of clutching his deceased-father’s shirt however, the rapper demonstrated loyal and humble family ties which were poignant to witness. 


All in all, Knee Deep was the very definition of a mixed-bag of debris and treasure. But would I attend the event again? Hell yes. The festival world needs less commercialism and more candid, creative passion.