There hasn’t been a good track record this year for small festivals. After the abject failure of Liverpool’s Hope & Glory Festival, the news of another new city festival surely must have set off a few alarm bells. I am delighted to report however that Lincoln’s inaugural 2Q Festival broke the downward trend, and provided a jam-packed day of entertainment for music fans from across the county and beyond. The event really brought out the best of this picturesque city and set the foundations for yet greater festivals further down the line.
Starting proceedings in Red Five were brash brummie three piece The Cosmics. Striking a smooth balance between dissonant alternative angst and slick addictive hooks, they really were the full package. Like all great power trios, each member gave it their all to make sure the band was on top form. Having heard great things about Marsicans, but never having got around to listening to them, I was keen to check out their set at The Engine Shed’s main stage. With some superb guitar tones and several members all sharing vocal duties, these lads added a touch of colour to a dull October day with their vibrant set. They really lived up to their reputation, and I can see them becoming a real one to watch.
Back at Red Five, Himalayas occupied a curious middle ground between heavy metal and indie. With lumbering doom-laden riffs akin to Black Sabbath, and plenty of trademark indie hooks, they provided an attention grabbing, albeit a little rigid, performance. Hull’s LIFE however were all about getting the crowd going in Home’s Loft stage. Musically they have perfected their own form of controlled chaos, but it was their manic frontman that really had the audience entranced. With his wild forays into the crowd, his banter between songs calling out the Tories and Trump, and his somewhat questionable dancing, he was like a punk version of Jarvis Cocker from some alternate reality.
The ever lovable Clean Cut Kid provided one of the highlights of the day back at The Engine Shed. With a hit packed set featuring ‘Pick Me Up’, ‘We Used To Be In Love’ and ‘Vitamin C’, they were the life and soul of the party and secured a place in my books as one of the best live bands on the circuit. Folks were packed in like sardines at Home to see Jaws, while the Angel Coffee House was a very different story, with a tiny intimate crowd listening in quiet reverence to Tom Gourlay’s gritty and soulful acoustic set. October Drift performed a frantic set at Liquor, practically waging all out war on their own instruments. On the more reserved numbers however, the frontman’s fragile intensity was reminiscent of the late Ian Curtis.
Bang Bang Romeo provided the biggest “wow” moment of the night. The frontwoman’s vocals were simply phenomenal, in a whole other league to everyone else at the festival. I never knew I needed a band that sounded like a cross between Tina Turner and Sonic Youth until that precise moment. The Circle was then my venue of choice for most of the evening. Island crafted some dreamy soundscapes, punctuated with heavier moments as though they were clawing away at their own wall of sound. Billie Marten’s delicate folk set made for a nice change of pace, with her delicate and wistful style offering the perfect opportunity to chill out. I felt like Eliza and the Bear were a little hard done by as they performed in a dark corner of the secluded Swan, but to their credit those top lads still gave it their all as though they were playing to thousands. Headliners Circa Waves brought the day to a close at the packed out Engine Shed. Having not listened to them since their debut, they are a lot more gutsy these days then I remember. The crowd erupted into joyous anarchy, complete with mosh pits and massive sing-along choruses.
As I walked back along the riverside watching a well timed fireworks display, I had time to reflect on the day. My only real criticism of 2Q was that there were too many stages, and it should perhaps be drawn out to 2 days for future years. There were numerous clashes that put a slight downer on the day, and you couldn’t escape the sense that no matter where you went there was still a lot you’d still miss out on. As a whole however, 2Q’s first outing was a rousing success! It was inarguably my personal favourite city festival thus far; it brought plenty of colour and excitement to a tragically overlooked part of the country, and added a dose of joy to my calendar as I look forward to what next years event has in store. They say second albums are the tricky ones, but what about second festivals? No worries there… based on what I saw I think 2Q is only going to get better and better as time goes on.