Festival – Utopia Brighton

Utopia All-Dayer, The Green Door Store, Brighton, 8th June 2019

After a successful first year in 2018, the Utopia all-dayer was back with a vengeance at the weekend. Brighton’s much loved Green Door Store was transformed with psychedelic light projections by Innerstrings and played host to a great selection of live music throughout the day.

Prior commitments meant that I had to skip the opening acts but I’m reliably informed that Buddha Blood and Rainn Byrns got things off to a flying start and, having seen Mystic Peach before, I can vouch for the quality of their live performance. Happily, I arrived in time to catch Public Body – made up of familiar faces from other Brighton bands, their combined forces result in some infectious post punk tunes and drew a good crowd still early in the day.

Next up, John Myrtle proved a popular choice with a definite 60s lilt to his stories within songs. From How Can You Tell If You Love Her to Cyril the Slug, everyone was pretty much captivated from start to finish.

It’s rare to have an event like this without at least one act dropping from the bill and sadly Kagoule were unable to play as planned on the day. Disappointing as they’re always on point live and also, when you only have two females on the line-up, it’s a damn shame to lose one of them.

Nonetheless, no complaints about their replacement as local duo Skinny Milk were drafted in at the eleventh hour and played a blistering set as expected, an excellent substitution.

Beachtape’s fuzzy indie tracks have seen them become an established feature on the Brighton scene and continued support for them is apparent with tracks old and new in Slow and Fix It Up equally well received.

Much anticipation for new project Nancy turned out to be well deserved. Another familiar face on the local circuit was preceeded by the rest of the band set up on stage and a single mic stand placed strategically in the crowd. With live appearances starting to pop up, the mystery frontman has been revealed as Tigercub’s Jamie Hall but, make no mistake, this is a far cry from heavy grunge and ripped jeans territory. More akin to The Cramps mix of raucous punk and laid back lounge swaying, Nancy raised the pace and atmosphere in the venue to a different level; one to watch for sure.

Always compelling live, Hotel Lux bring a turbulent hybrid of post-punk and pub rock, lyrics writhing in humour of the bleakest variety. They were a big favourite on the day and it’s not hard to see why. Dystopian disdain at its best, Hotel Lux never disappoint.

And so to the headliners, Heavy Lungs. The band launched straight into Half Full and Jealous; the crowd launched straight into a mosh pit. Reminiscent of early Killing Joke, the Bristol four piece lived up to their reputation for providing a raw assault to the senses and a certain ordered chaos throughout the room. It’s a positive note to end the day on, the last charge of the party brigade before curfew.

I can’t fail to mention the impeccable timing throughout the day. Despite having 10 bands to accommodate and relatively short gaps between sets, everything ran to schedule, almost to the second (having the set times projected onto the wall between acts is also a stroke of genius). Add to this a nicely assorted mix of artists on the line-up and a really friendly crowd and Utopia can tick off their second successful outing on their way to becoming a regular event on the  Brighton music calendar.

Words and photos by Siobhan

10th June 2019