Humber Street Sesh, Hull Marina, UK, 13 August, 2022 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, June 17th, 2024  

Fire (The Unstoppable Force)

Low Hummer, Bunkerpop, bdrmm, Black Delta Movement, Fonda 500, Black Salmon, Eades, Yasmin Coe, End Of Level Baddie

Humber Street Sesh, Hull Marina, UK, 13 August, 2022,

Aug 28, 2022 Web Exclusive Photography by Melvyn Marriott : Fire (The Unstoppable Force) Bookmark and Share

It would be easy to pull out all the gritty, working-class northern city tropes; but today under the blazing hot summer sun by the harbour, it would be easy to pretend this was Monaco, Barcelona, or any other glamorous Mediterranean harbour other than my hometown of Hull. It’s a city that’s had more of its fair share of bashing over the years, with bastard right-wing rags regularly punching down, declaring it one of the worst places to live in the U.K. But those of those who were born and raised here know that its grassroots music scene is second to none; thanks in no small part to the city’s flagship festival Humber Street Sesh.

Still, the evidence from years of neglect is clearly apparent. The city has been both callously underfunded by central government with signs of wear and tear right across this once vibrant harbour town, and arrogantly ignored by a London centric music industry that until recently had almost entirely cut out the northeast from its touring circuit. With no-one coming to Hull, it’s created the perfect pissed off environment for a vital DIY underground to flourish and recent years have seen the rise of political post punks LIFE, post rock noiseniks bdrmm and new wave superstars Low Hummer explode into the mainstream, heading up the East Riding revolution coming your way. The latter of the two, each headlining one of ten stages today.

Glittering beneath a perfectly cloudless sky, the estuary is an epic backdrop to the ninth edition of HSS, made even more exciting after having had to wait so long (I’m not going to mention the c word though). What’s wonderfully apparent is not just the sheer wealth of talent, but the wide spectrum of styles and genres on offer. Unlike our west coast companions like Liverpool and Manchester whose considerable musical legacies can often be an albatross with many fledgling bands if not outright copying those who ascended to stardom before them; will at least be contrasted to them by hacks like me throughout their career. Fortunately, or not; Hull has never produced enough hitmakers in sufficient numbers to have a distinct Humberside sound. So, we are a city unfettered from expectations and free to experiment wildly.

Young indie rock songwriter Yasmin Coe looks every inch the star as an early arrival on the Main Stage. Recently moved to Manchester; she’s making an impact both east and west with her sultry cool style that recalls Mazzy Star. Bold and bluesy; it’s always a great sign when the set gets better and better, closing with awesome songs “No Hope” and her latest offering she confides has no name yet, so she just gives it the perfect working title “New Banger”. Then a little wander to the Alternative Stage sees a sharp turn towards electro from End Of Level Baddie who forgo guitars completely in favour of an arsenal of drum machines, synths and sequencers. Peering over a sea of wires and donning dark transformer masks, it sounds like the most energetic, over excited pumped gym session you’ve ever heard and it’s a wonder how no-one has melted yet. But why wait for the cool of the night when you can bring the hardcore rave right now? Next up, we’re treated to The Black Delta Movement and growling garage rock with a mind-bending psyche twist doesn’t come any better than this moody quartet. Explosive and evocative, the building momentum sadly is cut short from a series of sound problems. But this just offers frontman Matt Burr a time to shine as he shrugs off any pressure and smiles to the crowd saying, “You’re a very handsome festival Humber Street”, and flattery always goes down well, giving them the breathing space to bring back a furore of riffs and pulsing bass. If you haven’t already, check out debut album Preservation because their second LP is on its way, and you’re gonna love it.

Yasmin Coe (Photo by Paul Newbon)
Yasmin Coe (Photo by Paul Newbon)

Capturing the heart and soul of the city are pint sized punk rockers Black Salmon whose raw enthusiasm as a true band of brothers radiates out of the Youth Stage. There’s no posturing or pretention from 8-year-old twins Linus (bass) and Walter (drums) or their older brother Edward (10-year-old guitarist), mainly because they can barely hold lift their instruments, but they beat out some mean covers like Judas Priest’s “Breaking The Law” and their version of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” is my favourite ever. Full stop. Eades were on loan from Leeds and were amongst the first to really solicit any meaningful response from the growing crowd, but it was local favourites Fire (The Unstoppable Force) who really got the Dead Bod stage going. Uniformly decked out in leopard print, their glam rock riot was answered by roars of approval from the audience, especially when joined by bear chested Grant Dobbs aka THE original indie sleaze drummer of The Paddingtons, who immediately jumps into the throng with a snare.

Highlights of the day were, of course, Fonda 500 – the best band that you probably don’t know despite being true veterans of both the local scene and festivals around the world. Their mad mix of beat boxing, indie rock and lo-fi electronica has previously been heard on cult Channel 4 comedy Teachers and today they’re recognised as true Hull heroes. Wearing his trademark beanie with sown on bear ears, singer Simon Stone reaches for the sky as he sits behind his Casio keyboard and how can you not love his off the cuff mash-up of “Hollaback Girl?” This shit is indeed B A N A N A S.

Fonda 500 (Photo by David Drasdo)
Fonda 500 (Photo by David Drasdo)

The tragedy with any festivals is that there will always be clashes, and sadly sets from Lumer and False Advertising were all missed. And again, it’s a testament to the colossal talent of Hull that there was a real choice of headliners on offer. Apparently the aforementioned bdrmm and provocative post punks Priestgate smashed it once again. There was just a brief bit of time to enjoy the oddball eccentricity carnival krautrock of Bunkerpop before dashing to the Main Stage the catch Low Hummer as the final act.

Despite touring the country as the support band for none other than Manic Street Preachers plus some serious BBC airplay including a 6music live session; Dan Mawer confides in me he’s nervous about this set than any other before walking on – finally occupying the headline status that they’ve been proving to be at festivals all year. But those nerves quickly evaporate and he’s soon prowling the stage with dual singer Aimee Duncan, screaming out first song “Take Arms” with the entire band looking like indie icons. Dan reaches out and asks, “How good is it to have Humber Street Sesh back?”, but a festival is only as good as its roster and having Low Hummer top this mighty bill was the right choice as they launch into their sensational shoegaze single “Never Enough” then later their attitude laden anthem “The Real Thing”. It’s a slightly more ramshackle performance than previous appearances around the country, but that maybe shows their ease and excitement at being at home. Get that second album out now!!

Low Hummer (Photo by Joshua Fletcher)
Low Hummer (Photo by Joshua Fletcher)

It is always a joy to return home for Humber Street Sesh, and the curators should be proud of the amazing day that truly showcases the colossal talent the city is bursting with. It’s just a shame that local businesses don’t seem to agree. Before the creation of the festival and the venue Früit (RIP) now Social, Humber Street was a dilapidated area fallen foul to the death of fishing trade. It was precisely because of the valiant efforts of organiser Mark Page and his sesh team that the derelict warehouses have been revitalised into a string of boutiques and eateries. Now, in a bitterly ironic twist of fate, those posh bars and shops will no longer allow the festival to be held on Humber Street, and Humber Street Sesh has been forced to cap its capacity by 50%. It is a testament to the tenacity of Page and his people that the big day felt like it packed a bigger punch than ever before, and those that have benefitted from the community should hang their heads in shame now they refuse to put back in for just one day after receiving so much.


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