Hand Made 2017

Handmade Festival

April 28th to April 30th 2017

This is the first edition of our report on Hand Made music festival 2017. A bit more to come, so please return to this page in a couple of days time.

by Keith Jobey

It might only five years old but it’s already rubbing shoulders with the best. The headliners are getting bigger, they’ve a knack of getting the buzz bands booked and little improvements are made each year, acting on comments from previous years. This is a festival that keeps getting better, this is a festival that listens and endeavours to please, this is a festival to fall in love with.

Waking Aida at the Hand Made festival 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

There was a new twist to this year’s event, with a return to the city centre on Friday evening (it was originally held in venues in the city, moving to the off centre Academy in 2015). The city centre and the Academy each have their pros and cons, so it was nice to have a bit of both this year. Although, it could have been made clearer earlier that the Friday event was happening and covered by the wristband to allow travellers to plan for it.

Twin Atlantic at the Hand Made festival 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Friday night therefore began at the LCB Depot where wristband exchange was based. And what a bonus that was, linking up with the monthly street food festival Canteen, providing a choice of vendors. There were a handful of acoustic acts in the side room but I was heading for a full on affair over in the cathedral quarter.

Shame at the Hand Made festival 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Everyone should see a gig in the Guildhall or Bishop Street Church, they’re beautiful venues. Bishop Street commanding an appreciative silence while the Guildhall allows for a more raucous mediaeval event. Complementing those two, the Cookie and Firebug offered you a more standard gig environment. Just a shame things went on so late, long after last busses had departed.

Life at the Hand Made festival 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

The music on Saturday and Sunday was centred on the Academy, spread across the Main Hall, the Queens Hall, the Scholar Bar and the Cave. This was the first time the Main Hall had been used for the event leading to the speculation that it would lack atmosphere, especially for the bands expecting to pull in smaller crowds. I didn’t see many sets in the main hall, but those I did see certainly weren’t lacking in any respect, and if anything should be noted, it’s that the festival has now grown enough to justify the use of the main hall.

Dark Dark Horse at the Hand Made festival 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

One feature missing from this year’s event was the use the students union area which provided an expansive lounge and a place for the standalone real ale and cider bar last year. We still had the outside space by the Scholar, which was well used and certainly became the place to go and stand if you wanted to catch up with others, and bands for that matter. And that social side of the event is one of the Festivals highlights. The gig going community of Leicester were there in force, obviously now well aware of the value and quality available at their local event. I’m sure I’m not the only person who missed a couple of bands I’d thought of seeing because I ended up chatting with friends. That social side comes from it all been under one roof at the Academy. Multi venues in town where the crowd is scattered don’t always provide that. Here, with the one big social area you constantly meet and discuss and plan and it adds to the enjoyment.

Arcades at the Hand Made festival 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

What about the line-up then? It’s put together by a few different people, each who have their own tastes which provides a spread of genres. You get the big name headliners, the next big things, a selection of bands from the superb local music scene and a few curveballs. Most talked about band of festival probably had to be Idles, everyone was buzzing to see them, and everyone was buzzing about seeing them. Other bands festival goers seemed to be excited about seeing were British Sea Power, Twin Atlantic, Frightened Rabbit, Jaws, Cabbage, Honeyblood, Pulled Apart By Horses… I could name them all as I’m certain there wasn’t a band on the bill someone wasn’t excited about seeing.

Watch Kevin Gaughan’s video of Idles performing at the event.

Cabbage at the Hand Made festival 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

I shy away from the more mainstream acts, questing to discover the new, such as the delights of the pop sounds of Pea Ness, the anger and 90’s sound of Shame, the political punk pop of LIFE and of course Idles. My viewing policy also meant I chose bands I hadn’t seen, or out of town bands over bands I see regularly on the local scene. So I missed the likes of Ash Mammal, Arcades, Kermes, The Lids, Dark Dark Horse, Royal Arcade and Alligatr, all of whom were worthy of their slot at the event. I did catch Courtney Askey, some of Anoa (as I’ve never seen them before), Siobhan Mazzei making full use of the Guildhall’s wonderful acoustics, the ‘mysterious’ Magique (haha… who are they?) and the fantastic Jouska.

Ash Mammal at the Hand Made festival 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

So once again, I can only say a huge thank you to all involved who put so much effort into making Handmade Festival a festival for which Leicester can be proud of. And let’s not forget that there was more to it than just the music, there was comedy, art, film, performance and photography.

Anoa at the Hand Made festival 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

There may not be any bands announced yet but early bird tickets are on sale for Handmade Festival 2018. They’re retailing at such a low price I felt guilty when I bought mine! See you all next year.

The Lids at the Hand Made festival 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.


As at 27th February, the lineup was listed on the Hand Made website as:

Twin Atlantic
Frightened Rabbit
British Sea Power
Pulled Apart By Horses
Muncie Girls
Ash Mammal
God Damn
Fizzy Blood
Demob Happy
Van Zeller
Willie J Healey
Charlotte Carpenter
Get Inuit
Meat Wave
Youth Man
Happy Accidents
YR Poetry
Waking Aida
Dark Dark Horse
The Lids

See also:

MIL’s report on the Hand Made Festival, 2016

Interviews with some of the bands and artists that appeared at the event are on the website for Great Central.

Watch YouTube videos of acts from the festival on YouTube (Great Central.)


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