2Q Festival 2018 Review

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In its second year, 2Q Festival was a new one for me, and a great opportunity to explore the music venues of Lincoln and see what the city has to offer. Nine venues with hundreds of bands over the course of the Saturday, including headliners Public Service Broadcasting, Little Comets, Honeyblood, Beans on Toast, Ducking Punches and The Slow Readers Club.

I organised my day to see artists in as many venues as possible with the Lincoln Drill Hall first up. A seated theatre more geared towards plays and comedians. Opening the day to a smattering of twenty or so was the affable Sean Blakey, a local singer songwriter armed only with his acoustic guitar and a great deal of charm. Admittedly rusty, he sang with a smile on his face and in style. A large web-magazine had recommended him as one of the ten artists to watch over the weekend, and I could see why. However it was strange to see him perform on this huge stage and cavernous room to so few people.

Next stop was The Loft, a tiny bar above the Home nightclub hosting a band called Don't Forget Rupert. They were performing around a corner of the L shaped room, with no stage and only the front row of ten people getting to see them. It is just an awful venue to host bands and I hope if the festival happens next year they use it for something else, or just close it. The band performed well, but they deserved a better stage. Looking at some of the bands booked there throughout the day such as Dead Naked Hippies, Gaffa Tape Sandy, Black Foxxes and Honeyblood my heart sank. There's no way they should be playing up here. They should be on a much better stage and whoever booked them for this room got it majorly wrong.

The pub Red Five was the next venue, a mere two minute walk away, for a band called Lacuna Bloome who I had checked out on Spotify on the train up and thought sounded fantastic. Red Five is a much better venue than The Loft, but still not great as it is effectively a pub not set up for hosting bands either. However the sound guy was set up in the DJ booth, and the band on the dancefloor with a section of seating reserved as a 'green room' area for the band, and friends of the band. Despite the woeful lighting in there (basically just the usual pub lighting) I kind of liked it. It was down to earth and gritty and way more people could actually see the band, and the sound was decent. Lacuna Bloome were great and I recommend them.

Onto the aforementioned Home next, the nightclub below The Loft. It is obviously set up for nights of DJs spinning cheesy pop music throughout the rest of the year, but I thought with the proper stage seemingly installed for the festival protruding into the dance floor it worked brilliantly as a space to watch bands, with a great view of them throughout the venue. The band were the excellent Vigilantes who the decent sized crowd of a hundred or so enjoyed.

It was now approaching 14.00 and time to check out the main venue of the day; The Engine Shed. Based at the University of Lincoln it is a very impressive and cavernous hall built specifically to host large events, with a standing capacity of 1600. Club Kuru were the band who performed very well. However only to around a hundred people, which looked miniscule in such a vast space. And this leads me onto the main point I want to make about this festival, and that's the top heavy programming. All the biggest name acts were mostly booked to play the headline slots around 9pm, at the various venues, meaning you had to pick one, and miss the rest. This left the rest of the day for the Engine Shed to host bands, who although a very decent, don't have the pulling power to pack it out. Which bearing in mind it is the largest venue in Lincolnshire, is a problem.

Earlier in the year I went to Live @ Leeds, another multi-venue music festival. Although on a bigger scale, and way more established, their programming was much better. For example Idles, one of the biggest names in UK music were booked for midday  to open one of the larger venues, therefore ensuring people arrived early to the festival, guaranteeing the majority would stick around and filter into the other venues. I can't help but feel a trick like this was missed at 2Q.

After stopping for lunch I stayed at the same venue for the next band Husky Loops. They were fantastic and definitely my discovery of the day. They played with power and confidence, with their tough guitar sound booming over the impressive sound system, possibly a Funktion 1. You need to check these guys out and I'm sure they are going to do very well over the next year or two. Reminiscent of seeing Royal Blood a few years ago before they broke through to the big time. Then onto my fifth venue of the day, The Swan, a five minute walk away down the waterside.

The Swan is a newly built pub on the university complex which was set up as a restaurant downstairs with the bands upstairs. It was a very bizarre sight to see people trying to have a civilised lunch whilst shouting over the deafeningly loud punk-rock pounding away above their heads.

The performance space was on the balcony above the stairwell , separating the band from the fifty strong crowd. Again the lighting was just the standard pub lighting plus the light coming in through the windows, and gave it a very amateur feel. The band are very decent and I'd like to catch them again somewhere, but once again today I thought the performers deserved better. It was my one and only visit to The Swan considering how far it was from the rest of the venues and it's poor design.

Venue six was Liquor, a dedicated music venue just off the main shopping precinct. It is a long rectangular space which holds around two hundred with the permanent stage at the far end. This was much more like it, and the place was rammed, as it had been all day apparently, and would remain so. Unfortunately the band on stage Maddonatron were woefully bad and I got out of there as soon as possible. An out of tune, badly played dirge. I'd say they may be the worst band I have ever heard.

Instead I headed back to Red Five and waited for The Surrenders. They were brilliant and tore the place up with their raucous, bluesy-punk sound. Their crazy lead vocalist Connor Brooks is one to look out for. Watching them was like watching an old video of the original punk boom of the mid seventies, with the crowd bouncing and the band playing animatedly within touching distance.

The rest of the afternoon saw a set from the fantastic Anteros at Home, then Genghar back at the Engine Shed (three hundred or so there). With the venues mostly so close to each other it is easy to nip between them all. Then it was back to The Loft for the delayed Black Foxxes. They are such an excellent band that is was embarrassing to see them have to play this awful venue. Still, they played well and I can recommend them highly. I did however learn that Honeyblood had cancelled (I cannot confirm this, as I did not return to the venue for their set time). Such a shame for one of the main headliners. But whatever the reason, and I'm guessing they caught wind of the venue size, there were plenty of options at the other venues.

I went straight downstairs to Home to see the excellent Orielles, and back to Liqour to catch the end of The Blinders' set. Probably the second most hyped UK band of the year behind Idles. I'm glad to see lead vocalist Thomas Haywood had put a stop to his habit of spitting into the crowd and at photographers (yeah, I remember you doing that to me at Leeds Festival mate).

Then all that was left was for me to decide which headliner to commit to. I've seen Public Service Broadcasting three times before so  they were ruled out, as were Little Comets who I had seen four times. Honeyblood had cancelled therefore Ducking Punches at the venue I was already in won. Not only for the fact I was knackered, but they are a great band, and from my home city of Norwich. They absolutely carved the place up and finished off a highly enjoyable day in Lincoln for the second 2Q Festival.

Yes, there is plenty the organisers can do to improve the festival next year, such as diversify the types of bands for example, improve the programming, book a way better headliner for The Engine Shed and bookend them with another big name to open the venue, plus never use The Loft again as a venue. But it is still a really good and enjoyable day, and depending on the lineup I'll return for sure next year.

Published on 08 November 2018 by Paul M. Jones

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