Brighton’s Green Door Store ‘234 Fest’ – Day One Report
‘VARIOUS ARTISTS’ – ‘2 3 4 FEST’, GREEN DOOR STORE, BRIGHTON 24.9.22
The Green Door Store music venue in Brighton was ‘THE’ place to be this weekend, with no less than 20 bands performing across the two days during their annual free entry ‘2 3 4 Fest’, which is aimed at highlighting the plethora of exciting new up-and-coming local talent.
The distinctive and popular street level venue located at Unit 2, 3, & 4 Trafalgar Arches, Lower Goods Yard, Brighton Train Station, Brighton, BN1 4FQ have been supporting local grassroots music and night clubbing for eleven years.
The unusual building has a fascinating past. The current owners gave the venue its name on the account of it having previously been known by the railway workers back in the day as “the Green Door Storeroom”. Prior to that it had been a horse hospital and the roof was built over the area in 1888. This is why the concert room is slightly cobbled and uneven and slightly slopes down in the middle with a soakaway. Have a look the next time you are there – interesting stuff!
It’s fair to say that the ‘234 Fest’ is just like a mini Great Escape new music festival, as the selected bands perform half hour showcase sets to eager punters who are searching for the next big thing or who are simply out for a decent afternoon and evening entertainment.
The Brighton & Hove News Music Team were again this year out in force during the two day event, just as we were back in 2021 – Read our reviews of that event HERE and HERE.
This year’s ‘234 Fest’ line-up was as follows:
Saturday 24th September (2pm to 11pm)
Sunday 25th September (2pm to 11pm)
The Famous People
You can read the Sunday 25th September reviews HERE.
The reviews are Saturday 24th September listed below:
We very soon realised that this year’s ‘234 Fest’ was going to be a corker as there was an early buzz around the place and before very long the venue had reached maximum capacity, with others beginning to queue outside. The one out, one in policy was in operation!
Austen Showers (2:00pm)
Kicking off the festival are Austen Showers, a genre-fluid four-piece from Brighton. Vocalist Charlie cuts a striking figure in a black velour jumpsuit and dramatic eye makeup and is keen to get the party started, flinging the mic stand off stage and hurling herself into the still gathering crowd. The band look great, swathed in the psychedelic projections provided by Innerstrings. Second number ‘Money’ has a disco feel, with bassist Robin getting busy with lots of octaves and tasty riff flurries. Guitarist Luca looks tall and elegant in 80s-casual slacks and designer sportswear, grooving on a high-slung SG. Behind the kit, drummer Steph lays down an apparently effortless brisk shuffle beat
There’s a lovely intro of phased bass for the more poppy ‘Sunshine’, and Luca has augmented his sporty look with a tennis headband. During the middle section, Charlie unleashes a stunningly long and unwavering sustained vocal note of breathtaking power. For recent single ‘Feel It’ she is working the crowd relentlessly, orchestrating call-and-response “Hey!” chants, and getting us all to crouch down for a trippy, effects-laden breakdown. The final number has a working title of ‘Disco’ and is an epic piece, meandering through a varied musical landscape towards a dramatic climax, with Charlie curled into a foetal ball on the rough stone floor, screaming down the microphone. It’s been a brief but hugely impressive set, and an excellent start to the festival.
Charlie – vocals
Robin – bass
Luca – guitar
Steph – drums
Austen Showers link tree: https://instabio.cc
Sad Dads (3:00pm)
Next to take the stage were Brighton based duo Sad Dads. Describing themselves as, their words not mine, “Curators of Shitepop”, Sad Dads have a large comic factor in their style and don’t appear to take things too seriously.
For their live performance on Saturday, the duo was joined on stage with a full band comprising of five other musicians, some from Hutch. One element running through their set was the seemingly improvised comedy banner between the two main members Owen Bullock and Dan Cox. This could be about bizarre or seemingly mundane subjects such as whose turn it was to answer the door during mealtime or Boris bikes. Comedy voices also featured strongly in their cover versions, for example in ‘You’re Gorgeous’ by Babybird, to add a distinctive difference.
Although not to my tastes, Sad Dads did give a good light-hearted alternative and variety to the festival and went down well with many of the people arriving early for the first day of the festival.
Sad Dads core members:
Owen Bullock – guitar, vocals
Dan Cox – guitar, vocals
Next up are Brighton four-piece Hypsoline (“hip-so-leen”, in case you were wondering). They play a steady-paced and delightfully vibey indie rock with feminist lyrics. Centre stage, Beth provides a breathy lead vocal and occasional guitar. She is flanked by Trilby, looking super cool with a violin bass, and Natalie, jangling surfy licks on a Telecaster. Drummer Hannah is locked in tight with the bass, and beautifully fluid around the kit. As with previous sets, the Innerstrings visuals look stunning. The lighting and sound techs will be putting in quite a shift, and they are doing a fine job.
‘Nights Like These’ has a particularly insistent, poppy vibe with strikingly effective vocals. On ‘Disposable Doll’, another standout number, a languidly lilting bass and drum rhythm overlaid with sparkling arpeggios contrasts sharply with the more strident choruses. Recent single ‘Space Babe’ features impressive harmonies and a lovely bass groove, whilst set closer ‘With You Gone’ builds nicely from a slow lilt to an impressive crescendo, with the beautiful backing vocals from Trilby and Natalie really soaring. Hypsoline are well worth looking out for, and I really enjoyed their set.
Beth – vocals and guitar
Trilby – vocals and bass
Natalie – guitar and vocals
Hannah – drums
Local band Welly came on stage in their matching PE kits. Comprising two vocalists, three guitarists, and a keyboard player, Welly has a lively dance sound with hints of Working Men’s Club and with a little of the 80s jangly guitar sound from the likes of Orange Juice thrown in. Their lyrics based around observations of everyday life have drawn comparisons with Yard Act.
There is a real sense of fun about Welly, in the same way as one of their influences, Madness. The front person and lead singer, Welly himself, has the charisma and confidence you’d expect from a more established artist. He involved the audience with plenty of chat between songs, but was genuinely both engaging and amusing.
During their 7 song set (‘Me And Your Mates’, ‘Home For The Weekend’, ‘Take 5’, ‘Crown And Out’, ‘Shopping’, ‘Flowers’ and ‘501’), Welly’s bassist Jacob made several trips into the crowd, which was to be a recurring theme by several bands on Saturday. One time tripping and falling when getting back on stage, he carried on playing. probably hoping nobody had noticed. He might’ve gotten away with it, had it not been for concerned band members asking how he was.
By the time their set ended, there was a sizable dance mosh pit and yes, the bassist was in the middle of it. With their good dance tunes and great sense of fun, Welly were one of my highlights. Already being played on 6 Music by Steve Lamacq, Welly are a band to look out for.
Welly – vocals and percussion
Lois – synth and maracas
Joe – guitar
Matt – guitars
Jacob – bass
Fin – egg shaker
Brighton four-piece congratulations (with a small “c”) are playing their set in the corner of the bar area, starting as soon as Welly conclude in the main live room. It seems to be a cunning ploy to sneak in one additional band, and what a band to sneak in! There’s a vigorous punky energy from the get-go, combined with some skilful musicianship and imaginative use of a vast array of effects pedals. Their playing space is at the confluence of the live room exit and the bar queue, and the limited space quickly becomes very crowded and very lively. Vocalist Leah leads the charge, in an eye-catching orange playsuit, whilst the band are clad in a loose uniform of white T-shirts and those satin running shorts that were inexplicably popular in the 1980s. Jamie, on a Telecaster guitar, hurls himself about with wild abandon, wrangling stunning, effects-laden riffs whilst his feet deftly navigate his vast pedalboard. Bassist Greg shakes a shock of blonde hair and drummer James sends skittering busts of impossibly fast and tight fills tumbling around the kit.
‘Jump’, introduced as the next single, has poppy backing vocals and a striking guitar motif. On previous release ‘Lucy Lucy’, Jamie alternates a processed backing vocal with a dry falsetto, to good effect. Some freaky riffing leads to an effects drenched outro. ‘Easter Island Head’ is absolutely outstanding, with high-velocity flurries of super-tight staccato stabs. Guitarist Jamie leaps onto the bar, throwing cool shapes and surveying the packed crowd. ‘Zeitgeist’ concludes the set with an angular rhythm and a busily bouncing bass line. A growling pre-chorus leads into some massive backing vocals and a naggingly catchy “Ah ha” chantalong, and Jamie is back on the bar, grooving ecstatically above the dancing throng. This was a brief set, but a whole lot of fun.
Leah – vocals
Jamie – guitar and vocals
James – drums
Greg – bass
Back to the main stage after congratulations’ set in the bar area, and ELLiS·D. With the shortest gap between bands, the crowd filtered in during the first few numbers of the set.
ELLiS·D appeared in his trademark black and white striped flared outfit, accompanied by his band. ELLiS·D, who started as a drummer in Strange Cages, is now a very charismatic front person, with a distinct vocal style, full of passion and emotion, a real showman. The band’s sound crosses psychedelic jangle, glam rock and taut post-punk all delivered with a frenzied energy. Even a minor mishap with the drum kit, when a cymbal fell off, wasn’t going to stop the momentum of their set. (A sharp-eyed member of the audience popped on stage and replaced it for the band).
With the addition of their new material, ELLiS·D have added more variety to their live set. Saturday saw new single ‘Sleeping Son’ from their latest EP adding a slower moody note, fitting seamlessly with their usual frenzied glam and post-punk numbers. Further developments are in the pipeline for ELLiS·D, as they are adding a keyboard player to their line-up. The last song of their set ‘Drifting’ ended with a brilliant post punk instrumental, bringing a very good set to a great climax.
Catch ELLiS·D playing The Pipeline on 3rd November.
ELLiS⋆D – lead vocals/guitar
Max Feighan – lead guitar
Sammy Jones – bass
Jed Johnson – drums
Next up were a very exciting new band from Hastings, HotWax. Three teenagers who combine post punk with grunge grrrl power anthems and punk attitude.
HotWax’s set started with Alfie’s heavy drum beat and then really came to life with Lola and Tallulah on bass and guitar. It’d be too easy, and frankly wrong, to pigeonhole HotWax into the grunge punk category. But there are subtleties that set them apart from many bands in that genre. Lola produced some very funky basslines amongst her 100 mile-an-hour delivery. Their single ‘What’s That Sound’ has a disco sound to it. Lead singer Tallulah showed her vocal range with both shouting and screaming on some songs as well as moodier style on others. A constant throughout the set was the band’s wholehearted passion and energy.
HotWax grew into their set to deliver one of my highlights of the weekend festival. A sentiment many would agree with, based on the audience’s reaction and on the mosh pit, which had formed by the time of the final number in the set ‘Barbie (Not Yours)’. A young band who looks to have a very bright future ahead of them.
HotWax will be back in Brighton on Friday 14th October at The Green Door supporting Monakis.
Tallulah – guitar and vocals
Lola – bass
Alfie – drums
The venue is pretty rammed and it’s fairly crowded on stage too for Porchlight, five tall slim young men playing a lively and angular sort of post punk. Vocalist Sam is a mesmeric presence in a stylish jacket. He has a compact control surface and a rack of small percussion on a stand. Some of the lead vocals are shared with bassist Oli. There are two guitarists, both called Tom. Telecaster Tom, house left, provides plenty of choppy rhythm, whilst Rickenbacker Tom plays delightful flurries of clipped lead that remind me of Andy Partridge from XTC. Criddle is on drums, deftly handling the many rhythmic twists and turns. The projections have gone very trippy indeed, with the band engulfed by swirls of beautiful colour.
‘Spin Doctor’ has a tone reminiscent of early 80s agitprop like The Gang Of Four. Single ‘Drywall’ launches with a particularly vibey intro of electronics , whilst the choppy ‘Silver Spoon’ culminates in a manic freak-out. ‘Shrrrp’ is more steady paced, with an atmospheric playout, in contrast to the brisk guitar runs and rhythm changes of ‘Noel’. Strobe lights accentuate the frenzied climax of ‘Wives Tales And Hymns Of The Earth’ and there’s a commendably rapid vocal delivery on ‘Country Manor’ to close the set. I’m rather impressed with Porchlight and would be interested to hear more from them.
Sam – vocals
Oli – bass
Tom – guitar
Tom – guitar
Criddle – drums
Grandmas House (9:00pm)
The evening’s entertainment moves on with Bristol-based post-punk three-piece Grandmas House. Yasmin, house left on guitar, takes most of the lead vocals, occasionally alternating with Poppy on drums. Bassist Zoë agitatedly prowls the stage. Yasmin gets a nice surfy twang from her Stratocaster, combining with an interesting drum rhythm on moody opener ‘No Place Like Home.’ The consensus down the front is that the vocals have a quality reminiscent of Lemmy. The songs are short, sharp and well-crafted. ‘Feed Me’ is based around a simple but insistent three-chord riff, whilst ‘Golden’ has an edgy urgency.
By the fifth number, ‘Devil’s Advocate’, a lively and vigorous mosh is underway amongst the packed crowd, which continues through ‘Tu Me Manques’ before morphing into a slightly alarming looking circle pit during ‘Desire’. ‘Always Happy’ moves along nicely at a steady lollop, and I’m rather taken with the lyric of ‘Body’: “You do not recognise the bodies in the water. You do not know their face. I do not know the body I was born with. I do not recognise my face.” My reviewing colleague makes the observation that only a West Country band could get away with a song called ‘Pasty’, and the excellent set draws to a close with ‘Who Am I?’, which bounces beautifully on a pumping two-note bass riff. I was impressed by Grandmas House, and judging by the general mayhem in the crowd, the rest of the audience were too.
Yasmin – vocals, guitar
Poppy – vocals, drums
Zoë – bass
English Teacher (9:50pm)
Saturday’s headliners were the brilliant yet understated Leeds indie band, English Teacher. They returned to Brighton with a heavier sound than the dreamy shoegaze style back in May at The Great Escape.
Their catchy melodies and clever lyrics remained. English Teacher take the everyday, even mundane subject matter, and weave storytelling lyrics into their songs. ‘Mental Maths’ starts with choosing to go shopping in the evenings, while ‘Yorkshire Tapas’, deals with the etiquette and expectations of going on a date down the pub and sharing crisps. Lead singer, Lily Fontaine, uses different vocal styles between songs and even within songs, often incorporating spoken word.
As well as trying a slightly different sound, English Teacher took the opportunity at the ‘234 Fest’ to perform some new material. ‘Song About Love’ hadn’t been played live before and ‘Broken Biscuits’ was also new. The final song of the trio of new numbers ‘Albatross’ was introduced as “It’s very depressing” was a slower number and more dreamy sound.
The final song of the set was one the band said was their favourite ‘Good Grief’. With the crowd calling for “one more song”, the band admitted they’d played all their material. So, we were treated to a very lively finale to an excellent first day of the ‘234 Fest’ with English Teacher playing ‘R&B’ again but at double speed. During which singer Lily joined the audience, carrying on with the trend set earlier in the day.
Lily Fontaine – vocals, rhythm guitar, synth
Douglas Frost – drums
Nicholas Eden – bass
Lewis Whiting – lead guitar, synth
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