Words: Laura Turnbull | All Photography: Piran Aston
Rolling hills, Disney-grade sundowns and a little festival site packed full of some of the best DIY and experimental sounds around. Knee Deep 2019 did not disappoint. Add a riot of Noods Radio regulars, a few stellar Slow Dance selections, and one of the slickest looking DJ booths in the solar system into the mix and you have an end-of-summer escape like no other.
It’s sad but true, summer is disappearing in the rearview, but relax: we’re here with some Knee Deep reminiscin’ to make the road out of festival season feel less bumpy. Here’s some of our highlights from this year.
Our tent was still looking like a sad trampoline when Tony Njoku‘s sounds echoed up the field towards base camp. Opening up the Deep Stage on Friday afternoon, the London-based producer set the festival wheels in motion with his piercing, unearthly answer to alt-pop. What emanated from the Deep sounded less like the synth Njoku was pouring over and more like the surrounding grassy valleys turning sci-fi and sending out swells of electrified signals to the rapt gathering. Hypnotic.
We are Dana Margolin’s new mega-fans. Making us feel better about our mixed-up emotional state, eternal indecision and bad moods, the writer and vocalist behind post-punk four-piece Porridge Radio lends her lush, droning blahs to lyrics that detonate our innermost-musings into the grungey light of day. “Oh I don’t know what I want but I know what I want” was hollered over the festival site with fury. Dear-diary at its sulky, confessional best. Sounding something like a Goat Girl and Cherry Glazerr mash, this music is the holy grail of guitar sludge.
A taste of Porridge Radio:
It’s impossible not to be won over by Ollie Judge’s onstage chat. Like the rest of this outfit, the drummer and vocalist of Squid is quirky, razor-sharp, and utterly endearing. Anyone who caught the band’s impromptu Robert Wyatt cover at End Of The Road this summer will know what we’re on about.
The tunes are a tangle of cranky energy and squally riffs, the kind of fitful bursts of sound that your festival-fried brain craves. Squid are completely contagious. Props for cracking out a cowbell solo that a demonic Duracell Bunny would find it hard to keep up with.
Some Squid to keep you happy:
If ‘Bo Diddley meets Club Classics‘ sounds like the strobing, heel-stomping combo of your dreams, PVA are here to play fairy godmother. Get some disco in your bones. The trio delivered deep, rib-rattling funk and big synths to the Knee Stage, shaking the walls of the shack with splintered, heavy grooves.
Steamy portloos, falling into the wrong tent at 5am and the plague. Yep, we’d happily put up with any festival trauma to witness a Fontaines D.C. set (not that we had to, the Knee Deep site was blimmin’ idyllic). Considering these Dublin legends are set to storm a sold out show at Brixton Academy next February, seeing them perform in a small field in North Cornwall was fairly fucking special.
The band blitzed through their set without letting the intensity drop for a second. With a sound as fierce as frontman Grian Chatten’s frown and a feeling in the crowd that things could turn feral at the first “Sha…”, Fontaines D.C‘s festival set was every bit as brilliant as we expected. The blaring bout of distortion and feedback that engulfed the Deep Stage for the band’s finale burnt through the air like a second sundown. Hella fiery.
One of our favourite Slow Dance faces, Glows does sad electronica better than a heartsick synthesiser. Tucked at the top of the festival site, the Knee Stage provided the perfect backdrop for the London producer’s glassy-eyed, glitching tunes. Making the edges of a warm, lazy afternoon even softer, Glows brought magic to the KD field.
Treat your ears:
Shutting down the Deep Stage on Saturday night with a healthy dose of decibel-destroying dance noise, Scalping shook the surrounding country lanes and unsuspecting fields of sheep with fistfuls of pulsing electronics and an AV show that’d bug-out even the bravest eyeball. Beamed in from Bristol on a spaceship (probably…) this bunch deliver a mesmerising live show. A Knee Deep finale to fuel your soul through winter.
Fall into Scalping:
Knee Deep, you dreamboat. Same time next year?
All snaps courtesy of Piran Aston Photography. Check him out!