We celebrate the Hidden Herd mini festival for emerging musical talent

The Hidden Herd mini festival, Brighton 13.07.19 (pic Michael Hundertmark)

Hidden Herd is a Brighton/London-based new music website and promotions company headed up by the charismatic James Oliver West. They are dedicated to putting a spotlight on the next wave of artists. In terms of promotion, Hidden Herd had a jam-packed 2018, putting on ticketed shows in Brighton and London, promoting gigs featuring British Sea Power, Strong Asian Mothers, Swimming Tapes, Artificial Pleasure, Valeras, Saltwater Sun, FEET, Wyldest, Pizzagirl and many more.

With a strong reputation as curators of exciting new music and a snowballing following on the south coast, Hidden Herd are building upon their success and so far this year they have showcased a four-night new music series called ‘SPTLGHT’, which featured acts as diverse as Ed The Dog, Hey Charlie, Swimming Girls and The Vegan Leather.

Today at Patterns in Brighton, Hidden Herd expanded their roster, by putting on no less than 14 new up-and-coming bands in the same venue. It’s just like a mini version of The Great Escape new music festival, but without running around the many venues across the city in order to catch your fave new act. This Hidden Herd event took advantage of the Patterns layout, by the masterstroke of alternating the bands on stage from the upstairs and downstairs, with only five minute gaps in between sets. It worked a dream!

Down and up the stairs the eager music goers flocked to absorb the delights that each varied act had to offer. The sun was out and so in between sets there was just about time to grab a few rays before the next onslaught. The atmosphere was very relaxed and the punters all appeared to be having a fun time. There was absolutely no sign of hostility and tension whatsoever, that you can occasionally encounter at these events. In fact it was a joy to be there, despite having got to bed around 3:30am in the morning after having posted our Rod Stewart concert review from the previous day in Hove – read it HERE.

Today’s first Hidden Herd band were due to take to the stage at 1:40pm and the last band were to come off stage at 10:00pm, so it was going to be a full on day, especially as I had to jet off before the end in order to catch punk stalwarts Penetration at The Con Club in Lewes as well today. I managed 10 of the 14 acts before having to leave. The remaining 4 acts were to be covered by Michael Hundertmark, who was also on photography duty.

So let’s meet the bands in performance order:

Youth Sector (1:30pm – 2:10pm)

Birthday Card (2:15pm – 2:45pm)

Circe (2:50pm – 3:20pm)

Childcare (3:25pm – 3:55pm)

Hot Dreams (4:00pm – 4:30pm)

Sick Joy (4:35pm – 5:05pm)

MarthaGunn (5:10pm – 5:40pm)

Annabel Allum (5:45pm – 6:15pm)

Wooze (6:20pm – 6:50pm)

Anteros (6:55pm – 7:25pm)

Saltwater Sun (7:30pm – 8:00pm)

Bloxx (8:05pm – 8:35pm)

Chappaqua Wrestling (8:40pm – 9:10pm)

Kawala (9:15pm – 10:00pm)

Top left to bottom right: Youth Sector, Birthday Card, Circe & Childcare live at Patterns, Brighton 13.07.19 (pics Michael Hundertmark)

And off we go……
Youth Sector
Brighton based post punk quintet consisting of Nick Tompkins, Josh Doyle, Brad Moore, Karl Tomlin and Harvey Dent. Clearly these guys are influenced by Devo, Talking Heads, Gang Of Four, The Killers and Kaiser Chiefs. These synchronised tune-smiths certainly hit the ground running! Bang! And we’re off indeed. No warming up for this festival, although the soundman should have made Harvey’s synth louder to be honest. I feel as this act seriously has the potential to make it big and certainly set the bar very high, despite them only being together for 18 months. This afternoon was my second encounter with the band, having seen them live at The Prince Albert back in March. Today they informed me that they will be playing at The Western, located just down from Churchill Square in Brighton on 7th August where they will be supporting Demonstrations, with Hallan and Temple also playing, and I for one will be in attendance as they were fab!. Watch them HERE. (NL)

Birthday Card
Another decent five-piece band up now in the form of Josh Saw (vocals, guitar), Conor Richards (lead guitar) Leslie Adriaans (drums) Tom Ritchie (bass guitar) and George Harrison (keys), who hail from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, but with some members living in Brighton. Arguably not the best band name in the world, but hopefully you won’t forget it. These chaps specialise in dreamy tunes with a funk vibe and make good use of the autotune/vocoder, which gives the feel of a male version of Tracy Thorn from Everything But The Girl. Easily likened to a modern take on the work of Tears For Fears and China Crisis, with interestingly their best track of the afternoon being titled ‘Talk Talk’, so we are in the right ballpark here. Easy on the ear and would enjoy another set from them given the chance. Watch them HERE. (NL)

Circe are no strangers to the Brighton & Hove News music team as we reviewed their live sets several times during 2018. Frontwoman Alexa Povey decided to relocate from Brighton to London a few months back and has turned her outfit from a quartet into a quintet with the addition of Ben on Novation synth and guitar, who today was performing for the very first time with the band, although you wouldn’t have guessed it. Their hypnotic seductive synthpop sound as a result has a more powerful feel and substance as a result of Ben’s addition, which is a big positive. Once again the standout tunes being ‘Under My Skin’ and the simply delightful ‘Blood And Wine’, which has given me goosebumps on the past few occasions when seeing them live. It’s that good and was certainly track of the day for me. Listen HERE (NL)

This South London based outfit’s personnel is made up of Ed, Emma, Rich and David and they revel in a melodic softcore psych sound akin to a calm Happy Mondays. Their set this afternoon was not really my bag and not sure about their name either. They released their debut 13 track album entitled ‘Wabi-Sabi’ on 31st May this year, which interestingly enough is available in limited edition clear vinyl with a 12” scratch ‘n’ sniff sleeve that apparently smells of lavender and thankfully not of sweat from the composite body image on the cover. Watch them HERE. (NL)

Top left to bottom right: Hot Dreams, Sick Joy, MarthaGunn & Annabel Allum live at Patterns, Brighton 13.07.19 (pics Michael Hundertmark)

Hot Dreams 
Based in London, alternative rock outfit Hot Dreams are four guys, namely Cam Fyall, Kai Fennell, Aaron Clarke and Alex Bloomfield. They were particularly impressive with their powerful and epic numbers, with the highlight being ‘Raincoat’. If you think along the lines of the sounds of U2, Embrace and add a splash of New Order guitar-work and voila you have Hot Dreams. This act has serious potential for breaking through and making it big. An enjoyable 30 minute set and I hope that they head back down the A23 very soon. Watch them HERE. (NL)

Sick Joy 
One name that keeps on cropping up on the local gigs listing is that of Hove based Sick Joy, who I understand originally hail from Newcastle. We last saw them making an appearance at The Great Escape launch party on Brighton Beach on 8th May. The trio tonight is made up of Mykl (lead vocals/guitar), Danny (bass/backing vocals) and Simone (drums). Now this scuzzy lot simple ooze Nirvana from every pore of their bodies. Maybe throw in a smattering of The Pixies too and you have the Sick Joy sound. These power merchants certainly make a lot of noise for just a trio and the crowd certainly approved of this as does Radio1’s Daniel P Carter who gave their new single ‘Shoot Your Lover’ a spin on his show last week. Listen to them HERE. (NL)

Another quintet arrived on stage in Patterns in the form of Frankie, Abi, Ally, Max and Humphrey, who collectively are MarthGunn. The London and Brighton based quintet were last plying their wares in the city during The Great Escape new music festival and have announced an autumn tour around the UK, but no Sussex date is included. I strongly suspected that their singer Abi was in a band prior to their performance when she glided past me in the crowd. You know some people just know how to carry themselves! However I found their music a tad too normal for me and kept on thinking of Fleetwood Mac. Watch them HERE. (NL)

Annabel Allum 
Flying the flag today for AA Aircrafts is Guildford’s Annabel Allum with two chums, a lady drummer and a male bass player. The trio were decked out in flying suits as in to indicate that they were all in it together as one unit. However his bass wasn’t working for the first two tracks due to amp difficulties, which was a tad embarrassing for them, so the other two went on without him, as time is of the essence today, with only a five minute turnaround between band times. Despite Annabel’s statute, the voice certainly packs a punch and was at times able to hold notes longer than most humans. I was watching and listening to the gritty voice performance and a modern version of Patti Smith kept popping into my mind and indeed the longer the performance went on for the better it got. Listen HERE. (NL)

Top left to bottom right: Wooze, Anteros, Saltwater Sun & Bloxx live at Patterns, Brighton 13.07.19 (pics Michael Hundertmark)

Well what can I say about the next performance? Where do I start? Get the USP (unique selling point) – check, get the look – check, get the sound – check, get the merch – check. Well off we go then. Wooze are a quirky bright yellow enigma. There’s possibly no-one out there like this. It appears that in the studio they are an androgynous duo made up of one Korean (Jamie She) on guitar and vocals and one European (Theo Spark) on drums and vocals and they obviously add all the other instruments in themselves. I hear they use the same studio as Pixx, who is doing very nicely thank you. They become a quartet with the addition of two yellow macs and two white face-marks for live work. There’s a range of sounds going on with Wooze from glam rock to synthpop and beyond. Whilst enjoying their set, I made observations that noted similarities to David Bowie’s ‘Fashion’, ‘Killing Joke’s ‘Tension’, very early Tubeway Army (Gary Numan), XTC and Hot Chip. The visual highlight of the day was when Jamie stepped off the stage and put his guitar on the ground immediately in front of me and then did a handstand and briefly played it with his teeth! A must see act! Watch them HERE. (NL)

The quartet of Laura Hayden (vocals), Joshua Rumble (bass guitar), Jackson Couzens (guitar) and Harry Balazs (drums) make up London based Anteros, who have been on the scene for a handful of years now. Early success came from their ‘Drunk’ EP, with numerous sold out shows across the country. They have recently released their debut 11 tune album ‘When We Land’ and first came to my attention when they remixed Girli’s ‘Hot Mess’ single a couple of years ago. They offer up commercial disco pop akin to early 1980’s Blondie, which has on occasions a funky vibe to it, which is certainly enough to get your toes tapping along. They went down rather well with tonight’s crowd. Watch them HERE. (NL & MH)

Saltwater Sun
We were fortunate to catch Jennifer Stearnes (vocals), Dan Kingham (guitar), Joel Neale (guitar), Rob Carter (bass) and drummer Benny Chandler, when they performed on their debut tour at the now sadly defunkt Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar last September. We had sadly missed them at The Great Escape four months earlier and so were pleased to catch them last time around as well as this time. The quintet formed in Reading and are purveyors of sun-drenched, blistering pop, entwined with elements of shoegaze and explosive guitars. I would place the band alongside Wolf Alice and a 21st century version of Blondie, especially as Jen shares a slight resemblance to Debbie Harry at the height of her fame. However Jen stated that she was inspired by Nu Metal and Thom Yorke. Sadly this evening the band were the victim of some technical issues which marred the performance somewhat. But they are heading in the right direction due to their Radio1 airplay last week for ‘Blood’ and they will be playing at numerous upcoming festivals including Boardmasters (Newquay) and Truck (Abingdon). Watch them HERE. (MH)

The Brighton & Hove News music team were lucky in catching Uxbridge’s BLOXX perform live back in October 2017, when they supported INHEAVEN at The Haunt, which was around the time of their debut ‘You/Your Boyfriend’ single release. The alt rock/indie pop quartet are Ophelia (guitar/vocals), Taz (lead guitar/backing vocals), Paul (bass) and Mozwin (drums). They happily fuse grungy undertones with classic indie-influenced melodies to create their unique, yet comfortably familiar sound which is most evident within their live shows. After their stage performance at Community Festival, the BLOXX show today included the headbanging songs ‘Headspace’ and ‘Curtains’ to get the crowd jumping around ecstatically. It’s no wonder that they are down to perform at the Reading and Leeds festivals next month, prior to heading out on a headlining tour from October Listen to them HERE. (MH)

Top row: Chappaqua Wrestling & Kawala live at Patterns, Brighton 13.07.19 (top pics Michael Hundertmark) Bottom row: Patterns venue & event organiser James Oliver West grabs his shot of Wooze (pics Nick Linazasoro)

Chappaqua Wrestling 
The unusually named Chappaqua Wrestling is the brainchild of none other than Jake Mac and Charlie Woods from Brighton via Manchester. For their live performances they are also accompanied by Jude Lilley and Josh Cassidy-Stone. They played their first headline show at the wonderful Rialto Theatre in Brighton at the beginning of the year. Their melodic polished twangy guitar sound is accompanied by a slight electronic feel to it, but acoustic songs were also on offer tonight. Their latest single is entitled ‘Planet Trees’. The gang are imminently off to perform at Latitude in Suffolk, which should see their pleasant body swaying guitar and vocal style sound expand to an even wider audience. Watch them HERE. (MH)

And so finally the headline act of the day, the Camden based Kawala, who were awarded a fifteen minute longer set than all of the others, ie coming in at 45 minutes instead of just the half hour. The band are a live five-piece consisting of Jim Higson (lead vocals), Daniel McCarthy (guitar/vocals), Dan Lee (guitar), Reeve Coulson (bass) and Ben Batten (drums). Their ‘Counting The Miles’ EP came out in March and were supporting George Ezra just prior to their performance this evening. Tonight the lads gave us punters a strong acoustic set married with rhythmic bass and electric hooks, which went down rather well. These guys are certainly going to be rushed off their feet next month (August), as they will be performing at no less than five festivals, including Reading and Leeds, plus Wilderness festival too. Watch them HERE. (MH)

And there you have it! Roll on next years event!

Mini-festival flyer

Running order

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