I’m sure it’s a trend I’ve mentioned in the past but more than ever the ‘summer festival season’ in Guernsey is, like it’s larger counterparts in the U.K. and Europe, getting longer and more packed each year.
Barely a weekend went by without some event happening and calling itself a festival somewhere in the Bailiwick so, of course, I haven’t been able to get to all of them.
That said I got to a few, and a few other things besides, so here’s my traditional annual run down of a summer of music in Guernsey.
The outdoor music season really got going with Liberation Day as the island celebrated 73 years since the end of the Occupation in the Second World War.
There was live music all over the island but I focussed on two events specifically with the ‘official’ events in town and then, later in the day, Clameur De Haro and The Recks at The Mariners on The Bridge.
Back undercover The Recks continued what was going to very busy summer by launching their long-awaited debut album with a show at The Fermain Tavern.
This then led to a couple of brief ‘mini-tours’ to the UK taking in London, Bristol, Bournemouth and Weymouth as well as a performance on the BBC Music Introducing stage at the Latitude festival and several more shows back in Guernsey.
At the beginning of June Sound Guernsey spread their wings putting on an all ages show in St Peter Port’s market square with band’s spanning the generations and providing an energetic atmosphere to Town matched only by Channel Islands Pride in September.
This was followed by Arts Sunday, where the Guernsey Arts Commission takes over the harbour seafront for a day celebrating all aspects of the arts in Guernsey.
With more festivals than ever this summer I focussed on three of the more established and larger of them starting with the 14th annual Chaos weekend at the end of June.
As always the event featured a mix of bands from Guernsey, Jersey and the U.K. including visiting favourites Spunge, a standout performance by The Honest Crooks (who really would end up owning summer 2018), a return from Mechanical Lobster and lots more.
The weekend after Chaos the Sark Summer Festival made its debut in place of the Sark Folk Festival which was having a Glastonbury inspired ‘fallow year’ but it looks like both will run next year due to success of the new on and ongoing success of the folk oriented event.
An event of note took place at the end of July at The Fermain Tavern as a pair of bands from Japan, Morllyheads and PUNiK, put in one of the most blistering punk shows I can recall seeing in Guernsey before the Vale Earth Fair provided the live music at the Rocquaine Regatta, two shows that continued The Honest Crooks march to summer skankalong domination.
Now in its 42nd year it’s fair to say this year’s Earth Fair was a challenging one as the up to then spectacular summer of 2018 finally broke on Sunday.
Expanding last year to two days and doing so again this year did mean that the more low-key first day still had great weather as Sound Guernsey presented a great day headlined by The Recks and a pair of unique ‘mash up’ sets that saw Cosmic Fish go head to head with Jawbone and Lord Vapour trade psychedelic trips with Dolmens.
With rain falling most of the day the main day of the Earth Fair may have had a smaller crowd than usual but those in attendance were certainly the dedicated ones giving it a great atmosphere despite the weather.
The music more than reflected this too with Imperial Leisure and Little Thief being the highlights of the visiting acts and Track Not Found, Burning At Both Ends and (of course) The Honest Crooks representing Guernsey well.
As we moved into September the ever gigging Robert J. Hunter took things to a new level as he and his band not only released a new live album, Say What?, but also opened the BBC Music Introducing stage at the first Long Road festival, like The Recks earlier in the summer, following support from BBC Music Introducing In Guernsey.
Rob wasn’t alone in releasing new music over the summer though as Of Empires release new single Suzie (as well as announcing their as I write imminent split), Citizen-X launched his Giant Steps EP and new blues trio Savage Sons unleashed their debut EP, Howlin’.
In a slight departure from the Guernsey music I’d also like to recommend two more great albums released over the summer, Kid Bitchin’ by The Limit Club and Joy As An Act Of Resistance by IDLES… but I digress…
This was then all rounded off by the third Sark Roots Festival which, to quote Raddy from The Honest Crooks, really did feel like an end of season party for everyone who’d been involved in festivals, whether playing, attending or organising all summer.
Again ‘Roots’ featured a wide range of music from the lightest of folk to hard rock and hip hop with acts from all over the Channel Islands and beyond.
Highlights came from The Honest Crooks (yes them again), Lord Vapour, Daria Kulesh and more.
Already live music as we head into Autumn is looking good and busy, but there’s no denying that summer 2018 has been one of the most impressive yet and really it’s a toss-up between The Recks and The Honest Crooks as to who provided the soundtrack for it.