Despite the turbulent weather, plenty of locals turned up to Prospect Hospice’s Avebury Rocks Festival on Saturday (June 15) to experience a day of performances from musicians of all ages and many styles.
The Avebury crowd enjoyed music from the likes of established artists like the headliners Showhawk Duo, and talented young newcomers Rhett O’Connor and Eddie George – among many others. After a deluge of rain, The Ministry of Samba warmed up the unperturbed crowd with some rhythms that transported us all to the sunny streets of Rio.
This was followed by a performance from The Dirty Smooth, an established local group whose highlights included an upbeat cover of The Black Crowes Hard to Handle and an inventive medley of songs including Shape of You and the classic bassline from Seven Nation Army which got the crowd up on their feet.
Their originals did not have quite the same effect, but the instrumental was very good, with a special mention going to Leo on bass guitar.
Next up on the acoustic stage was Strange Folk, a folk band who were in no way inhibited by the absence of their fourth member. The lead vocalist had a powerful voice with a Kate Bush-esque lilt and their original song Witch Hunt was particularly strong.
Marlborough.news’ choice indie band, Kaleido Bay, were then back on the main stage and sounded no less energetic after a two-month hiatus from gigs. Stand outs were Break Me for The Better and Ascension, with the latter forming a high-energy finale characterised by a typically strong instrumental.
Billy in the Lowground, a folk-rock band, were next and proved to be very popular with the crowd, including many dance-friendly and uplifting tunes in their set.
One of the strongest acts was Rhett O’Connor, who played a set composed of original acoustic songs. The stripped-back quality of the performance served to highlight the down to earth, emotive quality of his lyrics, which had a poetic maturity beyond his years.
Stand-outs included Lady Called Love (which is currently streaming on Spotify along with Heartbeats), and Sour Optimism.
Although Splat the Rat, another folk-rock band, would not normally be my cup of tea, they performed a very enjoyable set on the main stage. Bitcoin Miner, which, according to the frontman, was written in order to disparage hipsters who “wear skinny jeans and vintage T-shirts”, proved to be an audience favourite.
Dakota Simpson and her band performed original songs under the dream pop genre with inventive takes on covers such as Careless Whisper and Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You, but the leisurely pace of the songs were arguably out of place in the setting, leading to a lacklustre reception for an otherwise talented vocalist and instrumentalists.
A final special mention goes to Eddie George, who at 17 has released his first EP – Sky’s The Limit.
He delivered an impressive acoustic indie set, eliciting some fangirling from the audience with his upbeat performance of catchy originals. A standout track available on Spotify is How Much of Your Heart is Left.
I was impressed by the atmosphere and quality of the performances at Avebury Rocks, which will no doubt continue next year in order to raise money for an important cause.