Wide Eyed, Leicester, UK, September 18th | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, October 21st, 2021  

The Orielles

Wide Eyed, Leicester, UK, September 18th,

Sep 25, 2021 Web Exclusive Photography by Ian Weston Bookmark and Share


With temperatures soaring and the sun beaming down, the people responsible for Wide Eyed couldn’t have chosen a better day to launch their inaugural event. Situated across three stages in the Leicester O2 Academy building, Wide Eyed can also boast one of the strongest line-ups of any UK all-day event this year. Even after various cancellations brought about by Covid and rescheduling issues, the organisers have managed to pull together a mouth-watering bill that carries no passengers from beginning to end. Eclectic in it’s make up while also getting the gender balance spot on as well, it’s little surprise the event sold out long before opening its doors on Saturday afternoon.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t any teething problems. As has been the norm since events started reopening, last minute cancellations from Lazarus Kane and Talk Show create a couple of holes at the beginning of the afternoon while a fire on the M1 causing an eight-hour tailback puts paid to Yard Act’s drummer (more on them later!) arriving on time.

Nevertheless, the show must go on and it does without any more hitches. Indeed, what the organisers have done is create an environment where even though full to capacity, entry into any of the three forms is never an issue and once inside, there’s a comfortable space even when full. Furthermore, there are no sound bleed issues even though the proximity of the rooms is as close as one is likely to get without being inside one another. Also, everything runs pretty much to schedule so it is actually quite possible to see every single act if one wishes to do so. All in all, for just over £20, Wide Eyed is impeccable value and that’s before we even get onto the live performances.

Julia Bardo
Julia Bardo

Musically disparate and diverse, there really is something here for everyone. Whether it be experimental electronica (Beak>), winsome indie pop (Julia Bardo), elegant country folk (Katy J Pearson) or avant-garde post-punk (Do Nothing). Indeed, there is a heavy presence of bands in thrall to the stop/start angular esoteric of the original post-punk movement but that’s probably more to do with these austere times than anything else.

Wide Eyed delivers highlights aplenty so choosing a top five proves incredibly difficult. Nevertheless, after some considerable deliberation and reflection from the day, here are Under the Radar’s five standout performances.

GIRLS IN SYNTHESIS

Quite simply one of the most exciting live acts on the planet today. Channelling the spirit of bands like Crass and even Whitehouse through their pulsating brand of intense, noise driven angst. Politically and socially astute which also makes them the most relevant act on the bill, their mid-afternoon slot on the Academy 2 stage leaves all and sundry aghast while unashamedly wanting more. It goes without saying they’re arguably the hardest act of the day to follow, and while several do with varying levels of distinction, the bar is set impeccably high. Standard bearers for this and future generations.

YARD ACT

Probably the most talked about and eagerly anticipated set of the day, and not without good reason. Leeds supergroup-of-sorts Yard Act triumph in the face of adversity. Drummer George Townend might be stuck in traffic on the M1 but that doesn’t detract from the remaining three’s performance. Forced to improvise as a result with the scheduled setlist no longer viable, they’re a minor revelation. Helped in no small part by frontman James Smith, a man destined for stardom even if this old music thing falls flat on its face. Katy J Pearson joins them for the dazzling “Miracle”, while an audience member jumps behind the drumkit for set closer “Trapper’s Pelts”. See them in a small room while you still can.

Yard Act
Yard Act

THE ORIELLES

Some bands are always one step ahead of the curve. Take The Orielles for example, who’ve never stood still since forming in Halifax over a decade ago. So, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that they used their headline slot on the Academy 2 stage to road test new material for the trio’s forthcoming as-yet untitled fourth long player. More importantly, if the three new songs aired this evening are anything to go by, it’s going to be a stormer. Songs with working titles like “Brian Emo” and “The Room” rub shoulders with the more familiar likes of “Sunflower Seeds” and Sugar Tastes Like Salt” resulting in their set becoming a celebration of sorts. Which is pretty much what we’ve come to expect from The Orielles.

THE PEOPLE ASSEMBLY

What makes a festival like Wide Eyed such a vital event on the music calendar is being able to stumble across acts one was previously unaware of. Leicester ensemble The People Assembly fall into that category. With so much happening on stage it’s difficult to keep track of who’s doing what. While musically there are elements of Killing Joke, Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Fat White Family. Or in layman’s terms, an excitable melting pot that leaves little to the imagination other than provide an exercise in raucous, high energy, industrial rock.

THE LOUNGE SOCIETY

The Calder Valley is seemingly the place to be right now, with The Lounge Society being the latest outfit to emerge from a never-ending production line that’s also given us Working Men’s Club, The Goa Express and aforementioned Orielles in recent times. Opening with “Cain’s Heresy”, which straddles a fine line between Television at their most urgent and Spacemen 3 at their hypnotic best. They’re inspiringly dynamic throughout their short but sweet set, switching from the sugar rush of “Burn The Heather” to the dissonant polemics of “Generation Game”. What The Lounge Society take from the past creates an inherently bright future.

In summary, a hugely successful first event that can only bode well for years to come. Here’s to 2022!




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