Brawlers Hand Made Festival 2015

4th May 2015

Hand Made Festival

1st – 3rd May 2015

Music in Leicester magazine writers Trevor Locke and Keith Jobey were at Hand Made Festival and this is their report,  with contributions from Adrian Manning.

See our report on the Handmade festival in 2016.

See more photos from the Hand Made Festival

Photos: © Keith Jobey.

Handmade Festival is something special. A home-grown Leicester affair with its roots in the White Noise Festivals of old,  held in the Firebug. Traditionally held in a number of pop up venues (Hansom Hall, Guildhall, Photographic Gallery, Bishop St Methodist Church) and music venues (Firebug, Cookie), this year, it’s third, sees a change in direction with the whole (music) event being staged at the 02 Academy.

With a venue that is a little out of the way, a bar that is unattractive even to the less discerning drinker, little choice of places to eat locally I had my reservations about what it was going to be like this year. But with a line-up that far outstrips the price of weekend ticket (£25 for my early bird weekend wristband) it looked set to be a belter. And after all, it’s all about the music. Or in the case of Handmade Festival, it’s all about the music and the art and the film. (KJ)

Friday 1st May

The programme was arranged in blocks. When a band finished in room one, the next band started in another room. Sets were arranged in half hour blocks. The Cinema was screening films throughout the evening. Music was performed in The Queens Hall (O2.2), The Scholar Bar (o2.3), The Cave (one of the rooms not normally used for gigs) and The Alumni Room (another room not normally associated with concerts.) Outside, there were a couple of kiosks serving hot food and in the Scholar, there was also a bar serving reasonably priced real ales and ciders.

Arriving at the Scholar Bar in time to catch some of Dark Dark Horse, who I’ve seen a few times over the years and always quite enjoy, I got myself a pint of the Handmade Festiv-Ale and settled in for the evening.

The Queens Hall next and Autobahn, the Leeds band that have featured at the Cookie and are becoming a favourite of mine.

Autobahn Hand Made Festival 2015
Hand Made Festival 2015

Returning to the Scholar Bar I’m immediately thrust a microphone in my hand and asked to hold it, somebody had released a Baby Godzilla into the room! These Nottingham guys were all over the place, on tables, on the bar, even outside. This was one performance that shouldn’t have been missed.

Baby Godzilla Hand Made Festival 2015
Baby Godzilla
Hand Made Festival 2015

After all that excitement it was time for a rest and also time to see my old pal Tom Morris play in the Alumni Room. I’ve missed the last couple of shows he’s done in Leicester so it was thrilling to hear him captivate a room again. Adrian describes a set of heart reaching, soaring tunes, punishing his guitar at times while his vocals transcended his melancholy mood. ‘Your Life In Pictures‘ dedicated to an unarmed Sergei, his Russian promoter was a highlight. (KJ)

T E Morris Hand Made Festival 2015
T E Morris
Hand Made Festival 2015

When I arrived Nottingham band Baby Godzilla was on the stage in The Scholar Bar. I had seen this band before when they played at The Shed in 2012. They were amazing, awesome, playing really creative hardcore with an edge. These guys were mental. The guitarists ran round the room playing their instruments. Top-notch musical theatre.
One reviewer wrote:

Baby Godzilla what can you say about this wild, very talented four piece band from Nottingham? If the singer and one of the guitarist stay on the stage for five minutes you’re lucky. I wonder how they would be if they were made to stay on the stage? How they manage to play, sing and tumble about amazes me, but they do it with ease. When they come right up to people’s faces, it must be quite scary – they are like monkeys all over the place. Their music is loud, and good, but because they are up to their antics you can’t appreciate it fully, which is a pity. I feel it was a night that didn’t go to order, and this band was no exception. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2012]

Following Baby Godzilla on Facebook

Sadly I was not able to get there in time to see Dark, Dark Horse. A shame because this is a band I have seen before. I had to dig back into the archives of Arts in Leicester magazine to find something we had written about them:

James Stafford of Dark Dark Horse is also the lead vocalist of the excellent Kids in Cars, playing with the acclaimed Jamie Ward. Kevin writes: a three piece from Leicestershire slowing the pace down and adding more emphasis on the vocals. With drums, guitar and keyboards they produced a much more electronic sound, the vocals occasionally faltered, but were generally very good, especially considering they were the main part of the set. The keyboards were used to good effect, sounding like a piano at times and adding plenty of mood and atmosphere to the proceedings. Dark Dark Horse songs are very well written, I really enjoyed their set. [Arts in Leicester magazine, December 2010]

I saw Dark Dark Horse play at The Firebug with I Am In Love (then a Leicester band) and wrote:

Dark, Dark Horse. Jamie Ward on drums, James (Kids in Cars) on lead vocals and bass. Characteristic sounds with instantly recognisable signature riffs. Back drop projection of a girl. Sumptuous sounds that drew appreciation from the audience. Full of mood, colour and lilting melodic vocals. The well-blended sound of four good musicians. James’s sultry vocals. They played in a wash of red light. Soft, listenable and full of atmosphere. Smooth and stylish. A band that commands respect, if not adulation. [A History of Music in Leicester, forthcoming]

James Stafford of Dark Dark Horse in 2012
James Stafford of Dark Dark Horse in 2012

Later we saw this band at Summer Sundae and we said:

One Leicester band that deserved a place on the main stage was Dark, Dark Horse. Coming from the thoroughbred stables of Kyte, Buenos Aires, Maybeshewill and Her Name is Calla, these local musicians have an auspicious back-catalogue of songs, albums and performances that sets them on the top of our local music tree. Despite the rain that brought the umbrellas out on the arena’s lawns, they drenched the audience in gently rocking melodies delivered with determined control. Featuring the guitar work of Jamie Ward and the vocals of James Stafford (Kids in Cars), they brightened the gloom with beguiling electro tunes laden with delicious orchestration. Full of tranquil colours, their refined landscapes of sound were exceptionally pleasing. With an album released by Japan’s Rallye label, they followed in the footsteps of Kyte by winning the Beat’s coveted competition to play the main stage (a gold medal previously won by The Heroes, The Chairmen and others.) Marvellous. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2012]

Members of Dark Dark Horse are: Jamie Ward, James Stafford, Joe Norledge and Robin Southby.

Follow Dark Dark Horse on Facebook

Bad//Dreems played in the Scholar Bar. This band will be in tour in Australia in June, I see from their website and tonight’s performance was the start of an extensive UK tour (they called it a “UK Tour” but in fact their dates show only English places.) In fact they are from Adelaide. They went on to play in Leeds at a show headlined by The Cribs and Lawson. (TL)
Bad // Dreems, Aussie rockers who strangely reminded me of fellow Aussie rockers JET. (KJ)

For me the highlight of the evening was Grace Petrie; she performed in a very small room (The Alumni) which got very crowded with people. I rate Grace Petrie as being one of Leicester’s finest solo artists. A friend and collaborator of Billy Bragg, her songs are often political and she refers to herself as a “protest singer” but, unlike a lot of other protesters in music, Petrie is also one of the most entertaining and personable acts you will see on the local circuit. Her opening song was about Jeremy Clarkson and UKIP’s idiotic comments about the cause of the floods in Somerset. So, as you expect, we were treated to something biting, ironic and satirical but also very funny. Petrie can be very amusing when subjecting her topics to a fine dose of vitriol. Petrie knows how to sing a story; her song about her sister’s baby Ivy (who arrived while Grace was at the Glastonbury festival) showed her ability to tell a tale in music. Petrie’s song about Top Shop, written when she was 16, illustrates her finesse at using striking imagery in her lyrics when singing about personal experiences. This was a superb performance by one of our most celebrated local singer/songwriters.

Grace Petrie Hand Made Festival 2015
Grace Petrie
Hand Made Festival 2015

See Grace Petrie’s website

Back in The Scholar Bar Childhood played. This band from London describes it genre as “pop”. The band is signed to House Anxiety/Marathon Artists. In August, the band is headlining a festival in Mallorca! The band’s style of music was melodic and a lot more laid back than Baby Godzilla; the songs were not short on atmosphere and colour.

Follow Childhood on Facebook

Honeyblood were next on my list, The Scottish duo get better every time I see them. Sounding great tonight in the Queens Hall playing their scuzzy love/hate songs.

Honeyblood Hand Made Festival 2015
Hand Made Festival 2015

Thought Forms, in the Cave,  had brilliant written all over it. And the Bristol trio didn’t disappoint. It took me back to a warm October evening in a sweltering Cookie Jar when I first saw them.

Adrian tells us that Sam Duckworth closed the night in the Alumni Room with his usual blend of humorous, political banter and catchy but intelligent songs. He was preaching to a converted crowd but still won us over again. (KJ)

My visit to HMF on Friday ended when I spent 10 minutes listening the night’s headlines: Eagulls. I had to leave to get the last bus back into town. Eagulls is a post-punk band from Leeds, formed in 2010. They were Steve Lamacq’s favourite new band in 2013. A somewhat controvertial band by all accounts: Pitchfork devoted some column inches to a withering letter they had posted which had a few ripe phrases about contemporary music and NME described them as ‘a group of pissed-ff 20-somethings’ [NME March 2014]. (TL)

Eagulls Hand Made Festival 2015
Hand Made Festival 2015

Eagulls closed the night in the Queens Hall. The Leeds quintet choosing to introduce a number of new songs mid set rather than concentrate on the album tracks. A move which left a few people uncertain about them. They’re one of those love or hate bands, some people get them, others don’t. I get them and will never forget the night they played the Cookie! (KJ)

Saturday 2nd May

Freeze The Atlantic got Saturday underway in the Scholar bar with their easy going indie rock. (KJ)
Follow Freeze The Atlantic on Facebook

Freeze The Atlantic Hand Made Festival 2015
Freeze The Atlantic
Hand Made Festival 2015

Mountaintop Junkshop in the Alumni Room could have gone by unnoticed. Fortunately a bit of research led me to discover they include Amy Cooper and Jon Bennett of We Three and the Death Rattle and Ex Comets. So this debut gig became a must see for me. A mellowed out version of WTATDR, allowing Amy and Jon’s great harmonies to come to the fore and with some nice slide guitar from Ross Voce filling out their sound.

Woahnows were second on in the Scholar, returning to play their second Handmade Festival. Good, solid, entertaining guitar rock from them.

This was Ex Comets fourth gig and my fourth time of seeing them. Can’t see myself ever tiring of watching them though. Some of the catchiest tunes you’ll ever hear. Go listen to the new EP launched May the 4th. Yeah, May the Fourth, when else would this space-obsessed band release it? (KJ)

Ex Comets Hand Made Festival 2015
Ex Comets
Hand Made Festival 2015

From Burton on Trent, Max Raptor was a band we recognised from the Y Not Festival last year. The band’s set of punk inspired songs was delivered at a furious pace, belting highly powered songs into the Queens Hall. Infectious, fast-paced music that exploded into the Queens Hall, they delivered an exhilarating performance with copious amounts of stage presence. They even did a song about Nigel Farage. Their set finished with ‘The King is Dead’ which you can hear on YouTube . Some of you might have seen them at Download in 2010.

See Max Raptor’s website  or follow them on Facebook

Tellison played in The Scholar Bar. I had a feeling I had seen this band before. In fact I saw them in 2010 at The Y theatre when they were on the programme with Maybeshewill and Beunos Aires. I wrote

With a row of good front singers, Tellison put on a belting set of songs. Their set of sternly good, ear pleasing melodic songs went down well with the crowd. The London band delivered their vibrant set with energy and the music was full of solid music ideas, including the bit with the vigorously cow bells; in fact quite a few band members played percussion instruments. One big balladic song started slowly, building to a resounding finale. It was inspiring. [History of Music in Leicester, forthcoming]

In the Queens Hall I saw Samoans. A band with songs that were hard, heavy, powerful and full of taught phrases and sharply executed sounds. Their songs were driven by copious volumes of adrenalin and powered with a high-octane fuel but delivered with technical accuracy. Stunning vocals from their lead singer and music that sparkled with embellishments and flourishes from the guitars. For me, this was one of the highlights of the festival. Last year they played at The Firebug.

Follow Samoans on Facebook

So to a great moment, Clubs playing the Queens Hall. At last a stage, lights and sound that does this Leicester band justice. With a place on the main stage in De Montfort Hall at Simon Says lined up, they’ll soon be getting used to playing such spaces.

Clubs Hand Made Festival 2015
Hand Made Festival 2015

Meanwhile, Weikie was playing in the Alumni Room. Adrian was there. Blending witty comments and his own brilliant take on what some consider folk. A new song ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’ was aired and sounded great alongside some of his older favourites.

Next a band making their first appearance in Leicester, Toy. These were great I thought. A constant pleasure to listen to. And nice of them to dedicate a song to one of Leicester’s finest musos Antony Strutt.

Toy Hand Made Festival 2015
Hand Made Festival 2015

Back in the Alumni Room Peter Wyeth was performing. Adrian tells us he is always a pleasure to catch and the quiet atmosphere suited him perfectly. Concocting his musical potion of loops, guitar, vocals and effects he spun a magic web as one would expect and an appreciative crowd knew it.

Nai Harvest are a duo in the popular drummer and guitarist style. Headlining the Cave I only caught the last couple of songs by them but liked their style.

Bo Ningen are a stunning Japanese 4-piece. Theirs was a very visual show and they delivered their heavy rock in a cloud of smoke and lights. A favourite set of many of the people I spoke to.

Bo Ningen Hand Made Festival 2015
Bo Ningen
Hand Made Festival 2015


Sunday 3rd May

Rich List are my first band of the day down in the Cave. Formerly known as Haus of consisting of lots of the Minnaars from whom they have inherited most of their sound, although it has a softer electronica side to it now.

Rich List Hand Made Festival 2015
Rich List
Hand Made Festival 2015

Allusondrugs open up the Queens Hall stage which is just as well since they need the space. Running around like kids in a play area they’re full of energy as they deliver their hard, fast, grungy tunes. It’s great to see a band enjoying what they’re doing.

Allusondrugs Hand Made Festival 2015
Hand Made Festival 2015

Charlie Barnes is on in the Scholar when I get there. Some fine songs.

Charlie Barns Hand Made Festival 2015
Charlie Barns
Hand Made Festival 2015

Sharing slot times with Charlie Barnes are Juniors so I head to the Cave to see some of their set. I’ve seen this Leicester band a few times over the years, back to when they were Junior Fencing Club. Now matured and with releases on the Robot Needs Home label, including new single Barcelona, they’re a fine band.

Juniors Hand Made Festival 2015
Hand Made Festival 2015

Back up in the Queens Hall the Alcopop signed Leeds band Brawlers are kicking off. And kick off they do. These were a highlight for me at last years Handmade when they played at the Firebug. This year turned into another festival highlight as the singer joined the crowd and ended up on the floor. Great songs too.

Brawlers Hand Made Festival 2015
Hand Made Festival 2015

Vant are on in the Scholar bar looking cool and sounding good, winning a few new fans along the way.

Bloody Knees next in the Queens Hall. More grungy and punk than most of the bands here and fresh off a tour as support to Wolf Alice. Their song Stitches is based on an event that happened a couple of years ago in Leicester after playing the Scholar bar with Wolf Alice and Murmur (now Midcity).

Bloody Knees HandMade Festival 2015
Bloody Knees
HandMade Festival 2015

I’m sure you all remember Little Night Terrors. Well if you were wondering what happened to the talented Stone brothers then I can tell you that they’ve been to London and re-emerged from the big city with a recording contract, a new band called Lusts and a bag full of catchy indie tunes. Debut single Temptation is already out and almost sold out, but they’re currently in the studio recording more.

Lusts Hand Made Festival 2015
Hand Made Festival 2015

God Damn I once described as a ‘sonic blast of Black Country badassness’ when I reviewed their show at the Cookie back in January 2014. Since then they’ve really taken off but it was nice to see them back in Leicester. And also nice to hear them name check the Cookie and Tinny. ‘Tinny, he puts the Tin in the Cookie’ they announce.

Down in the Alumni Room Adrian caught Katie Malco. Appearing for her third Handmade set in as many years, Katie Malco was wonderful. To be honest she could sing the phone book and it would be fantastic. This time armed with electric guitar as opposed to acoustic and piano as previously her vocals glide over the room like a beautiful bird. Ending with ‘September‘ she played a set that mesmerised.

In the Cave Adrian reports that it was great to see Buenos Aires back in live action after a break. The band and crowd really enjoyed their set of favourite tracks and the place was full reflecting the excitement felt at this appearance. Ending their set with an incredible ‘Record Breaker‘ one can only hope they get back on stage sometime in the future.

Bruising were one of my festival finds. Another Leeds band playing scuzzy pop songs. Pretty much typifying the music I like so I’ll be looking out for them in the future.

Future Of The Left are a well established band with a fair few songs in their back catalogue. And they picked out some belters to play in the Queens Hall.

Back in the Scholar bar it was the turn of Menace Beach all the way from… wait for it… Leeds. Did they all come on the same coach I wonder. Recent headliners at the Cookie and now headlining the Scholar bar they topped off a great day of entertainment on that stage.

Adrian tells us that Speaking In Italics were eagerly awaited in The Cave and didn’t disappoint. Blending a mix of previously released tracks with new ones they kicked up a storm and brought The Cave sets to a great finale.

Adrian finished his evening in the Alumni Room. Theo was an interesting flip side to Peter Wyeth on Friday. Again loops based, he hammered out riffs on his electric and once these were layered and constructed he moved to a full drum kit which he quite frankly beat into submission! A loud ending to a number of quieter sets bring the Alumni Room sessions to a close.

Slaves were chosen to close the festival and they pulled in what had to be the biggest crowd of the weekend with the Queens Hall busy right up to the back. It was a great way to close what has been a fantastic weekend of music.
My review last year concluded that I’d seen 21 acts in five venues for £30. This year I managed to catch 29 acts in 1 venue (4 stages) for £25. On paper an improvement, but part of me yearns for last years format where you are in the town centre. However, I did like the social aspect of this year, everybody in the same venue meant you were forever bumping into friends. And the increased number of bands viewed came about because of the proximity of the stages. So still a great event and a success.

See Keith Jobey’s 2014 review of Hand Made Festival

On Sunday Trevor Locke went to see Tetrad’s company’s show Us and Them at Embrace Arts. You can read his report on Arts in Leicester magazine

The HMF programme was eclectic; offering a varied cross-section of musical styles; not surprising given the diversity of music tastes that are the predilections of today’s music fans. Music tastes are infinite but bounded. The arts of festivals is to offer a sufficient mixture of music to attract a spread of fans; in this respect Hand Made organisers had done a good job. Festivals are important to Leicester, for many reasons, so the contributions made by Hand Made and by White Noise are valuable to the city.

The festival programme

DOORS 17:00
17:45 – 18:15 – HOOTON TENNIS CLUB
18:45 – 19:15 – AUTOBAHN
19:45 – 20:15 – FRANCISCO THE MAN
20:45 – 21:30 – HONEYBLOOD
22:00 – 23:00 – EAGULLS
18:15 – 18:45 – DARK DARK HORSE
19:15 – 19:45 – BABY GODZILLA
20:15 – 20:45 – BAD//DREEMS
21:30 – 22:15 – CHILDHOOD
19:15 – 19:45 – GET INUIT
20:15 – 20:45 – DELTA SLEEP
21:30 – 22:15 – THOUGHT FORMS
19:45 – 20:15 – TE MORRIS
20:45 – 21:30 – GRACE PETRIE
22:15 – 23:00 – SAM DUCKWORTH
23:30 – 04:00 – PLUG Silent Disco Afterparty
With DJs from PLUG, Power Ups! and Firebug’s Rock Night
17:00 – Close – Cinema Programme

DOORS 16:00
16:30 – 17:00 – FAUX PALMS
17:30 – 18:00 – SAMOANS
18:30 – 19:00 – MAX RAPTOR
19:30 – 20:00 – CLUBS
20:30 – 21:30 – TOY
22:00 – 23:00 – BO NINGEN
17:00 – 17:30 – FREEZE THE ATLANTIC
18:00 – 18:30 – WOAHNOWS
19:00 – 19:30 – TELLISON
20:00 – 20:45 – TALONS
21:30 – 22:15 – TALLSHIPS
17:00 – 17:30 – GRAWL!X
18:00 – 18:30 – LUKE LEIGHFIELD
19:00 – 19:30 – EX COMETS
20:00 – 20:30 – LTNT
21:30 – 22:15 – NAI HARVEST
18:30 – 19:00 – TBA
19:30 – 20:00 – WEIKIE
20:45 – 21:30 – PETER WYETH
22:15 – 23:00 – YR FRIENDS
16:00 – Close – Cinema Programme

DOORS 16:00
16:30 – 17:00 – ALLUSONDRUGS
17:30 – 18:00 – BRAWLERS
18:30 – 19:00 – BLOODY KNEES
19:30 – 20:00 – GOD DAMN
20:30 – 21:30 – FUTURE OF THE LEFT
22:00 – 23:00 – SLAVES
16:00 – 16:30 – BEST FRIENDS
17:00 – 17:30 – CHARLIE BARNES
18:00 – 18:30 – VANT
19:00 – 19:30 – LUSTS
20:00 – 20:30 – BRUISING
21:15 – 22:15 – MENACE BEACH
16:00 – 16:30 – RICH LIST
17:00 – 17:30 – JUNIORS
18:00 – 18:30 – WAKING AIDA
20:00 – 20:30 BUENOS AIRES
21:30 – 22:15 – SPEAKING IN ITALICS
17:30 – 18:00 – TIM O T
18:30 – 19:00 – HOWARD JAMES KENNY
19:30 – 20:00 – KATIE MALCO
20:30 – 21:15 – BROKEN OAK DUET
22:15 – 23:00 – THEO
19:00 – 22:00 – Tetrad Performing Arts
16:00 – Close – Cinema Programme
23:30 – 04:00 – PLUG Silent Disco Afterparty
with DJs from PLUG, Maybeshewill and Rich List

Hand Made festival was supported by a range of bodies including The Firebug, The Cookie, Andy Wright, Tetrad, DMU, Phoenix and several others mentioned in the programme.

Tickets were £25.

See also:

Hand Made Festival website.

and be sure to check out the news about The White Noise festival

Our list of local music festivals for 2015

About The Editor 535 Articles
The Editor of Music in Leicester magazine is Kevin Gaughan assisted by Trevor Locke