Humber Street Sesh, Hull Marina, Hull, UK, August 12, 2023 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, April 24th, 2024  

Chiedu Oraka

Chiedu Oraka, Trueman and the Indoor League, Midnight Rodeo, Fire (The Unstoppable Force)

Humber Street Sesh, Hull Marina, Hull, UK, August 12, 2023,

Aug 24, 2023 Photography by Robert Bentley Web Exclusive
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The problem with music festivals is that there are just so many of them, and by and large, they can be pretty shit – especially the corporate cash grabs that are bloating the U.K. circuit which round up punters into a soulless space to squeeze as much money as possible out of punters with little care for the music. Grassroots festivals are a welcome alternative, curated with a genuine passion to promote local acts, fresh talent, or a specific genre – and none are more authentic than Hull’s flagship music event Humber Street Sesh.

Returning for its tenth year under the curation of festival director Mark Page, Humber Street Sesh is a celebration of Hull music. The northeastern former fishing port has given rise to a unique community with a diverse music scene with an abundance of acts sadly too often overlooked in favour of the other major cities or by those with their head stuck too firmly right up the London bubble. The city’s flagship festival unites such disparate styles as hip hop, blues rock, post-punk, techno, folk songwriters, and rising alt-popstars for a one-day event that easily gives any metropolis a run for their money. And 2023 boasted such killer headliners as grime superstar Chiedu Oraka, the self-described Black Yorkshireman bringing plenty of council estate energy to the Main Stage, indie pop quartet The Hubbards offering more anthems than an Olympic ceremony at the Alternative Main Stage, cocky lad rock upstarts FEVER taking over BBC Music Introducing Humberside and blazing psych infected blues rock from Black Delta Movement on The Dead Bod Stage.

Trueman and the Indoor League
Trueman and the Indoor League

The day was dominated by snarling guitars and acerbic vocals at the Alternative Main Stage which kept producing the goods, including The Black Ravines whose tight yet raw edge so closely resembles Joy Division, they could easily be a cracking covers band. Thank fuck singer Callum Clark has clearly been listening to a bit of Billy Idol as his rebel yells break up the Curtis comparisons, giving their performance some real bite. Similarly, Auto-Suggestion (another lean into Joy Division!) impress with a savage yet imploring set, with echoes of Preoccupations and Gilla Band, filled with pain, pathos and pneumatically pounding drums. Plus, pint-sized punk quartet Ketamine Kow whose combined age probably isn’t enough to buy a cheap-ass bottle of cider to drink themselves silly on a park bench, clearly relished the opportunity to shout, scream and squeal as many swear words into one hour as possible. What they lack in experience (and arguably talent), they more than make up for with that teenage need to tear everything up and make a gloriously godawful cacophony.

Other amazing artists could be found all over the site, and local lass Yasmin Coe has returned from Manchester to steal the hearts of her hometown at BBC Introducing Humberside. The indie pop singer-songwriter has got the sultry sound nailed down and clearly enjoys being back with the abundant star power to become a vital breakthrough artist. Do yourself a favour and go check out her latest offering “No Hope”, her infectious confessional single revealing the tremendous promise of this prodigious talent. Decked out in their garish red uniforms, garage rock sextet FIRE (The Unstoppable Force) are always a massive draw, and the Hull heroes threatened to explode the Dead Bod Stage whilst rattling through a constant barrage of breakneck speed riffs. Kitch and campy; they’re a non-stop rock n’ roll thrill ride. And it was a pleasure to catch blues rock newcomers Backroom Blues whose growling guitars and mind-blowing freakouts at Cuban Pete’s Stage have more satisfying crunch than a crisp sandwich.

FIRE (The Unstoppable Force)
FIRE (The Unstoppable Force)

But Humber Street Sesh doesn’t just offer the best in provincial performers, it also presents plenty of incredible cutting-edge artists from right across the U.K. too. Nottingham-based Spaghetti Western six-piece Midnight Rodeo go big on groove, as heard on their epic escapade single “The Big Melt”. Their psychedelic vibes manage to bring out a bit of sun on a mainly wet and wild day, plus a fair few curious revellers to Dead Bod, and it’s clear why they already have already attracted a cult following. Trying out new tracks off a forthcoming debut album, these widescreen sepia-drenched songs are perfect for a record to be played as you tune in, turn on and drop out.

The Alternative Main Stage stayed true to type, with all out-of-town acts it featured being somewhere on the spectrum of aggressive alternative rock. The brilliantly named Leeds band Fuzz Lightyear are just begging for the Steve Albini treatment who stab rather than strum their six strings. There’s absolutely nothing elegant to be found here, so gleefully drown in relentless waves of sludgy grunge. Opus Kink have proven to be an essential addition to any good festival this summer, plus packing out venues wherever they play. Clearly aware that they know their time is now, the Brighton band’s idiosyncratic sound fuses jazz, gipsy punk and creepy goth undertones as heard on “St. Paul of the Tarantulas” and “1:18”. Veering well away from trite ska cliches, the forlorn wailing horns raise the passionate performance to dizzying heights, and it will be no surprise if we see them on the Mercury Prize listings sometime soon. Make sure you catch them when they hit the road once again during December! And new generation slackers Bedroom High Club from Barnsley could easily be mistaken for a classic 90’s K Records signing. I’ve been playing “What You Did” pretty much nonstop since I was sent a promo earlier this year, and hearing it live was definitely one of the highlights of the festival. Just do us a favour; tone down the efforts to command and control the crowd. It’s a festival moshpit, not a Butlins family entertainment evening and people are already going nuts without being told what to do.

The biggest shout-out of the day has to go to Trueman and the Indoor League. This indie pop outfit, led by Sam Trueman, proves a little showmanship goes a long way – lucky that both he and his gang have bags of charisma to spare. With echoes of Ezra Furman and james, there’s a special mix of wry observational lyrics and catchy hooks. “Let’s get absolutely Edger Allan Poed” the sharp-suited singer exclaims whilst singing their exhilarating single “Flares” and later “I look like James Dean after the crash” are just some of the many culturally aware witticisms packed into this punchy half-hour set.

Like all the best bandleaders, Trueman is brazenly outspoken, calling out all the shortsighted culling of presenters at the BBC; “Is anyone here from BBC Introducing management? Because it seems like you sacked the best of them” and their anthem “So What If You Can Sing?” is the perfect clap back to nepo baby blue tick indie. If they are not globally famous by this time next year, then there’s no hope for the world.

Trueman and the Indoor League
Trueman and the Indoor League

Once again, Humber Street Sesh has proven to be the perfect day out for the discerning listener looking to discover top talent from East Yorkshire and further afield. It’s a testament to Page and his team that the festival continues to thrive and provides a vital platform to so many significant performing artists, despite the constant adversity independent promoters face. Congratulations on smashing it for an entire decade, and here’s to many more awesome years to come!


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