Following 2012's Summer Sundae Weekender, Leicester became somewhat of an absentee from the festival circuit. Organisers decided to cancel this year’s festival because of poor ticket sales in the previous few years. There was nothing wrong with Summer Sundae as such; it just lacked an audience, being on the outskirts of Leicester's city centre, but not far from bus and rail links. For me Summer Sundae is a fantastic festival of eclectic music, it doesn't suit the audience that attends. One of 2012's hottest bands Japandroids were amazed by the lack of attendance, meanwhile the previous year’s critically acclaimed artist The Antlers found it hard to even praise the few that actually turned up. I sit here wondering whether Handmade Festival can make the grade or follow in Summer Sundae's footsteps.
City festivals are becoming extremely popular worldwide. The biggest festival is now SXSW in Austin, Texas, a gigantic city festival that every upcoming band and writer wants to attend. Sheffield's successful Tramlines has found the need to charge this year thanks to growing demand, meanwhile Brighton's SXSW equivalent, The Great Escape, continues to thrive by the seaside. I'm joined by fellow avid music fans in wanting to reside in Reykjavik, Iceland for five days in October for Iceland Airwaves, but that dream seems to be forever pulling away. So Handmade Festival is a worthy option between May 24 and May 26. It evolved out of White Noise Festival, a small festival in Leicester promoting the local music scene. It will be Leicester's first major city festival, something that can grow as the years pass.
The line-up is belittled by Fat Cat Records pair The Twilight Sad and We Were Promised Jetpacks, both fantastic bands. The Twilight Sad played last year's Summer Sundae; they're also veterans of Leicester's promising music scene, playing Firebug in late 2011. They will be joined by Dutch Uncles who released their third and best album this year. The outsider acts will be among a sturdy amount of local talent, from the drawing boards of folk to the established post-rock act of Leicester. Maybeshewill and Her Name Is Calla team up once again to tackle their audience with a whole lot of noise, though this time Her Name Is Calla will be playing accoustically.
Rolo Tomassi will be performing to those that want to go see and hear them. No matter where you are in Leicester, you will hear them. Friday's festivities will include a slice of psychedelia from London via Manchester's Sulk. You would be gutted to miss local Leicester act Codex Leicester on Friday, so write that down somewhere. Likewise, Feedback Voice, an up and coming post-punk / math rock four piece from Hinckley.
Saturday will feature the most eclectic line-up, from folk to metal across Leicester's music venues. Charlotte Carpenter is a name you won't be forgetting, following in the footsteps of Warwickshire’s Lucy Rose. The singer-songwriter has the voice and lyrics to take her music to a wider audience, Handmade Festival will be a leap forward for the talented artist. Birmingham's Johnny Foreigner will be playing their indie rock (in Kerrang) on Saturday. Headlined by Manchester's Nine Black Alps, Saturday should fulfil all your sources of music on a sunny day in Leicester (we can only hope.) One to watch is Her Name Is Calla's member Weikie, a folk man with a piano. Midas Fall will also be representing Manchester's post-rock scene. Leicester's venues will play host to many acts over the weekend, but none will capture the imagination of the audience than Leicester's Bishop Street Methodist Church, ambient/folk artist Peter Wyeth, who loops recordings to create his textured sound will be playing an intimate set there.
Colobos will be playing on Sunday; they're a noisy new band ready to take on math rock with noise for fans of Don Caballero. Dark Dark Horse will also be playing Handmade Festival. I've seen this angelic outfit before, they play a fantastic blend of electronic and folk in the style of Diamond Mine (King Creosote & Jon Hopkins). Up and coming indie pop four piece Silent Devices will unearth the beauty behind ambience in rock music. As will cult Leeds band Sky Larkin, a band name I can only associate with XTC's 1986 new wave classic Skylarking. one of the bands I’m excited to see Tall Ships, released their debut album last year and have already made friends in 65daysofstatic. The Brighton residing trio play experimental pop with a dash of dance-punk.
All eyes will be on The Twilight Sad come Sunday, and the Scottish alternative rock band won't fail to deliver in their second home. Handmade Festival won't be about the noise or the press coverage; it's for the artists and for the fans of local music. Having artists from outside of Leicester is a great help in promoting this festival, but knowing Handmade Festival will be showcasing the best of what Leicester has to offer is both exciting and welcoming, as a Leicester resident myself. Kenworthy's jazz filled set should spark excitement. If that doesn’t do it then Sam Duckworth of Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly (the worst band name of all time) should! And if music isn't always your forte, then BBC Radio 4 comedian who presents The Infinite Monkey Cage Robin Ince will keep you entertained (on Monday).
A weekend ticket costs £25 and day tickets are £10. Not a bad price to pay for all these local and national artists. The big question is whether or not Handmade Festival can appeal to Leicester's growing fan base. With Summer Sundae missing from the festival circuit this year, Handmade Festival acts as a cheap alternative for a close knit bunch.