‘2 3 4 Fest’ is an established annual showcase of emerging local talent, arranged and hosted by the Green Door Store, a grassroots music venue located at numbers 2, 3 and 4 Trafalgar Arches, underneath Brighton railway station. It’s a free entry event held over two days, with twenty acts, each performing a 30 minute set.
This is our report on Day Two, Sunday 24th September. If you missed Day One, Saturday 23rd September’s reviews, then you can find them HERE.
Sunday 24th September:
Moon Idle (2pm)
Moon idle are an alternative band who formed here in Brighton, and one who I haven’t come across before. Their smooth Sunday sounds kicked us off on day two of the ’2 3 4 Fest’ and were, let’s face it, an inspired selection, for a blurry-eyed hungover and tired bunch of punters. This quartet combines elements of many genres including trip-hop, Latin-jazz and dream pop and the instruments of choice were a Fender guitar, drums, Fender bass, and Nord Electro 6 keys, Squier and tambourine used by their vocalist Quilla Robinson. Initially the room was empty, but as soon as the band struck up the opening notes of ‘Groundhog’, within seconds the faithful gathered in order to see what the quartet had to offer. The dreamy vocals mirrored the sun shining immediately outside the venue under the shadow of Brighton mainline railway station.
I noted a decent drum pattern on track two, ‘The Avenue’, which was accompanied by the dreamy sounding keys, this certainly secured my interest. They are a young but talented outfit who mainly used to attend the WaterBear college here in town. Their numbers were delivered with quiet abandonment. For tune three, ‘All the Same’, the intro was almost mystical courtesy of the guitarists foot pedals, prior to his trio of chums joining in. The remaining three numbers were ‘Delay Me’, ‘Girl In Blue’ and ‘Seed’. There was no bigging up or self promotion between the tunes, they just favoured the music speaking for itself. Each vocal is delivered with a soulful purpose at a slower rate to that of the drums and yet this somehow works in their favour. Vocalist Quilla switched to Squier guitar instead of keys halfway through the set. I also noted that the rim of the drums was often struck as part of the beat which was pleasing. I can see there’s definite potential here!
Quilla Robinson – vocals, keys, guitar
Jasper Fergus – guitar
Martin Eddington – bass
Felix Burton – drums
Van Zon (3pm)
Brighton based Van Zon were the second act in a row that I was previously unaware of, but I’m extremely pleased that they were on the ‘2 3 4 Fest’ billing and that I had made the effort to get down to the Green Door Store early doors in order to check out the opening bands. Van Zon this afternoon are a quartet featuring Charlie West (guitar and vocals), Mina Alexander (violin and vocals), Lottie Skala (bass and vocals) and Daniel Scott-Warren (clarinet and synths). Their selection of instruments this afternoon was different to others on the bill. There were the usual guitar, bass and Keystep keys with a laptop, but add to these a violin and clarinet and you suddenly get an altogether different ballgame. However, partway through their set they inform us that their drummer (Ewan Vellinga) wasn’t able to make it. I was knocked off guard by this admission as to that point, I believed that what I had been listening to for the past quarter of an hour was the finished product and I honestly really didn’t want them to deviate from what I had been hearing!
The Van Zon band members are a versatile lot, with three of the four having taken lead vocals for different tunes, and they only played four tracks, these being ‘Interpretation Of She Moves Through The Fair’, ‘Oh Messiah’, ‘Roundwood’ and ‘Canon’. For today’s sound, “a stripped back set” according to them, there was an air of mystical otherworldliness about what my ears had been receiving. If you told me that it had emanated from a long forgotten Celtic cave and that Björk had discovered it, I might have believed you. This music falls way outside my usual remit and yet Van Zon who are following their own path, were here to broaden my horizon. This is experimental stuff that would work well in an installation at the Barbican or Tate Modern or even at a grand stately home and they really should explore making music for films and TV. The three different vocalists each had their own style, for instance the seated guitarist (Charlie West) during one tune sang away from the mic and this gave the delivery a distant intriguing appeal. Van Zon are following their own path and this afternoon the punters joyfully climbed aboard for the ride. This was perfect hangover music to shut your eyes to and be whisked away. It’s very emotional music that certainly would even make some souls almost well up with tears – oh OK it was me then! I made further notes, but to be honest, need I say any more? I think not!
Charlie West – guitar and vocals
Mina Alexander – violin and vocals
Lottie Skala – bass and vocals
Daniel Scott-Warren – clarinet and synths
Ewan Vellinga – drums (missing today)
Canned Pineapple (4pm)
Canned Pineapple are up next this afternoon. They are a local 5-piece scuzz-pop and slacker rock group who have no less than three guitars on the go as well as drums and bass. Their lively and very entertaining set certainly lifted up the decibel levels and from the get-go, and it’s very clear that Irish frontman Sean is the spokesperson of the outfit. From tune one, Sean shakes his frame when singing which is a tad unusual, but provides the desired effect on my ears. Their setlist was a little ambitious as it listed eleven tracks that they were due to play for us within their 30 minute set. I’m not so sure they made it, but I know that the punters were very well engaged with Canned Pineapple.
Tune one was a rockin’ opener, whereas selection two was a post punk style ditty, something similar to Teenage Fanclub and The Wonder Stuff. Track three was of interest as it was called ‘Bowie’ and I was hoping that I wasn’t going to be singled out as I was wearing my Bowie t-shirt today. I got away with it, and Sean said that ‘Bowie’ was going to be a country rock tune. Track four benefited from the earworm chorus of “She says she loves me but I’m not sure”. The longer they played, the more I got into them. If The Heartbreakers hadn’t done drugs and were more melodic, they would be called Canned Pineapple, which I incidentally reckon isn’t a name that fits the band’s sound by the way. Adding to the hotpot of their sound, I also noted that during the latter stage of their set there was a Rolling Stones vocal delivery going on and the band were sounding that way too. It had been a foot tapping and hip swinging set. Yep another decent act and one I would see again, like most folks here also thought as they loved them judging by the final applause!
Sean Drury – vocals/Fender Mustang guitar
Oakley Gardiner – Fender guitar
Gabriel Rice – guitar
Jude Allenby – Fender bass
Charlie Pringle – drums
Hot footing it from the football at The Amex Stadium (Brighton 3 Bournemouth 1 by the way), the first band I caught on Sunday was Man/Woman/Chainsaw, who brought their brash, unadulterated noise-pop down from London. The six-piece experimental collective opened their set with ‘Maegan’ a noisy furious blast. The following song, ‘What Lucy Found There’ was an impressive layered wall of sound with a jazz feel. Billy’s almost softly spoken vocals on their debut single ‘Any Given Sunday’ contrasted wonderfully with Vera’s screaming delivery and frenzied music. Vera’s vocals on ‘Rodeo’ were far more conventional, but equally good. The dual vocals between guitarist Billy and bassist Vera worked well together and fitted perfectly with the music.
Man/Woman/Chainsaw showed very skilful musicianship balancing the sounds of all the instruments within their brash feverish sound. You could make out Clio’s violin and some intricate keyboards from Emmie, both of which added depth to the band’s sound. There were technical issues with the violin being heard midway through the set. While broken guitar strings and snare drums are easily rectified from other bands’ kit, it’s not the case with violins at gigs. Thankfully it was resolved before ‘Grow A Tongue In Time’ which started with Vera singing accompanied by just Clio’s violin. This track not only gave more variety to the performance, but showed off another side to Vera’s voice. Their last song ‘Easy’ started with a laid-back jazz feel, becoming louder, more intense and frantic. So much so a mosh pit appeared in front of the stage. Man/Woman/Chainsaw, along with Jar of Blind Flies, were one of my highlights of the bands I discovered at ‘2 3 4 Fest’. Their varied set of complex noise with instruments almost competing against each other worked extremely well. A band worth looking out for at the coming ‘Mutations’ festival.
Billy – vocals and guitar
Vera – vocals and bass
Emmie – keyboards and vocals
Ben – guitar
Clio – violin
Lola – drums
Electric Cowboy Club (E.C.C) (5:35pm)
A mere two and a half hours after the seriously chilled out Van Zon set, we have literally hit the far opposite of the music spectrum with the arrival of the must see (and once seen, never forgotten) Electric Cowboy Club, who are, let’s face it, taking the bar area by storm! Each year the Green Door Store cunningly selects an act (or two) who are going to be seriously having it large and as the beginning of Gerry Anderson’s ‘Stingray’ used to boast “Anything can happen in the next half hour!”, and inevitably it always does for these GDS Bar sets!
Within five seconds of ECC starting their set, frontman Brandon, made a mad dash to the stairs where myself and friends were standing and he inadvertently almost choked one of them with the mic lead as he clambered up the metal stairs. I handed him the mic back and his screaming barrage began, whilst his three chums (James, Jacob and Wyn) stayed rooted to their spots in the corner of the bar just outside the main concert room. Let’s face it, bassist Jacob doesn’t have to do anything as he naturally oozes cool, and his mate James on guitar was today sporting the Nash The Slash mummy look. Brandon was everywhere in the bar, he was even on it a few times, (with a member of staff having to hold back a hanging light so that Brandon doesn’t accidentally damage it). He did a quick lap too by going into the empty main room to only seconds later materialise behind the punters, having done a mega quick circuit. Brandon was also often crawling and writhing around the bar floor as well as bouncing off other vigorous moshers. I’m stunned how well our photographers did in order to grab the decent shots without their equipment being dislodged from their hands. If psychobilly punk like The Meteors is your bag, or you just want to witness the most energetic band on the local Brighton scene at the moment, then ECC are a 100% must for you!
E.C.C (Electric Cowboy Club):
Brandon Parker – vocals
James Lissimore – guitar
Jacob Lenadd O’Shea – bass
Wyn Harcourt – drums
Alien Chicks (6pm)
Next back on the main stage were Alien Chicks, a post-punk power trio from Brixton, London. They started their set as people were still making their way back from the bar area. Joe’s screaming vocals, Martha’s fast drumming and Stefan’s basslines soon drew a crowd. At times Joe mixed demented laughing in with the lyrics.
Alien Chicks offered more than some in the all-encompassing post-punk genre. Among the expected loud fast rock sounds there were elements of jazz, rap and Latin. Some very good basslines not normally associated with post-punk added another dimension to their sound. The vocal style changed within the set, the shouting style at the start from Joe and Stefan became softer, well relatively so. What didn’t change was the energy level and tempo. Martha on drums was never going to let that happen, not that the others ever looked like slowing the pace. As the set progressed, it was no surprise some in the crowd started moshing to the band’s energetic sound. Even with the different elements in the sound, reciting ‘The Teddy Bears’ Picnic’ in a song at the end of the set was a surprise, but it somehow worked. Alien Chicks gave a very good performance at ‘2 3 4 Fest’, which was enjoyed by the crowd watching them.
Joe – vocals and guitar
Martha – drums
Stefan – vocals and bass
Trip Westerns (7pm)
The Stetsons gave a clue that there was a change of style with Trip Westerns, a local five-piece rock ’n’ roll band. But anybody going on just the band’s appearance and thinking Country & Western, would have been mistaken. There were notes of spaghetti western soundtracks and Harrison played harmonica on ‘Hot Water’, but their core rock and R&B sound was intertwined with surf and psychedelia. The musical style may have changed from the previous couple of bands, but the tempo hadn’t. Trip Westerns gave a very fast paced performance.
The band were very tight musically. Harrison’s strong voice fitted perfectly with the splendid and fresh guitar sound. Sprinkled within the set were some impressive drum solos from Ellis D, which added to the performance. Trip Westerns treated the ‘2 3 4 Fest’ audience to some new tracks from their self-titled debut EP which was only released the previous week. The energetic and thoroughly entertaining set went down very well with the audience with many dancing along and huge cheers after songs and at the end of the set. Trip Westerns added to the assortment of musical styles at ‘2 3 4 Fest’, which made it such an enjoyable weekend for so many discovering new music.
Harrison – lead vocals and guitar
Graham – bass
Reece – guitar
Luciano – guitar and bongos
Ellis D – drums
There was a change of pace for the next band up, Brighton based quintet AtticOmatic (stylised as Attic’O’Matic). It was time for some stunning dreamy danceable soundscapes. AtticOmatic opened their set simply with Lorcan delivering the lyric like a poetry reading while later in the song Kam sang in a more ethereal voice. The differing vocal style of the two main singers complemented each other perfectly on this opening song and throughout the performance. Kam had a beautiful angelic, ethereal voice, whereas Lorcan had a sharper, upfront delivery. As early as the second song of the set, there was the first of several instrument changes, with Lotrcan and Ollie swapping guitar and synth. These changeovers between the multi-instrumentalists were smooth and didn’t interrupt the flow of the performance. I lost count of the number of different instruments Ollie played in the set.
That second song, ‘Men With Money’, started with a very futuristic sounding synth which seamlessly blended into a psychedelic sound with an understated dance beat. It wasn’t the only track with a dance beat. Many in the audience were moving along to the music. AtticOmatic’s sound throughout their performance was varied, contrasting yet balanced between controlled and chaotic. The quality of the soundscapes from AtticOmatic were breathtaking with very subtle smooth variations in the volume and tempo within the songs. They even had the punks, who probably came for the earlier bands, engaged in their music. Last song was ‘Dun Dun’, the band’s debut single released a few months ago. It started with heavier drums and bassline from Kai and Marie. Lorcan’s singing on this song switched between a spoken narrative and more conventional singing, while backed by Kam dreamlike chanting. It’s free jazz feel built in volume and tempo to provide a great finale to a wonderful set.
Kam – vocals, keyboards and recorder
Lorcan – vocals, guitar and synth
Kai – drums
Ollie – synth, percussion and guitar
Marie – bass
Flip Top Head (9pm)
There were a few clues to the next band on stage for regular Brighton gig-goers. Firstly, Marie and Ollie from AtticOMatic left their instruments on stage from the previous set. Secondly, was hearing Alfie’s trombone in the sound check. That next band was Flip Top Head, a Brighton-based seven-piece collective. They opened with Bowie singing accompanied by Alfie’s trombone on ‘I Can’t Wait Till I’m Old’. This song’s mellow start built into a crescendo before ending with Bowie’s unaccompanied vocal. The clever changes of style, pace and volume within songs were to be a key part of the band’s performance. The free jazz feel to the next song, ‘Seventh Bell Number’ worked as an organised jumble of sound. Their third song, on the set list as ‘//’ saw another wonderful shared vocal between Bertie and Bowie. With its dreamy musical introduction, Bertie’s more spoken delivery contrasted beautifully with Bowie’s eerie chanting.
Alfie joked “Two of these look familiar” referring to the two members of AtticOMatic. For Flip Top Head, Marie’s basslines underpinning the band’s sound were played on an electric bass guitar and a cello. Flip Top Head’s songs got louder with a harder edge by the middle of their set. Bowie’s and Bertie’s vocals adapted to match the music, with Bowie changing to a howling screeching style in sections. Even when screaming, her voice is stunning. The even faster and frenzied ‘Alfred Street’, their latest single, closed their set which had almost everyone at the Green Door Store dancing. Having seen Flip Top Head a few times, this was the best performance I’ve seen from them. The contrast between mellow and quiet with frantic and loud within the same song, with the vocals beautifully ethereal or soaring to match the music was wonderful. Their unique assortment of shoegaze, jazz and post-punk was very well received by the ‘2 3 4 Fest’ crowd given their cheers were among the loudest of the weekend.
Flip Top Head:
Bowie Bartlett – vocals and guitar
Bertie Beer – vocals and guitar
Alfie Beer – acoustic guitar and trombone
Marie Friess – bass and cello
Harry Giles – drums
Harrison Spooner – guitar
Ollie White – guitar and synth
South London trio Honeyglaze with their dreamy shoegaze sound were the headliners for the final day of the ‘2 3 4 Fest’ weekend. I’ll admit to being a fan of this band since first catching them supporting Sunflower Bean at Camden Electric Ballroom and Unbarred Brewery at the Alternative Escape in 2022. Honeyglaze opened the final set of the weekend with a new unreleased song, ‘Don’t’, which straightaway showed a progression in their sound. Anouska’s voice was much punchier, bordering on shouting at times, while Yuri’s drumming was noticeably heavier compared to previous times I’ve seen the band. This development was a great start to what was to be a truly wonderful performance.
Before the next few songs from their self-titled debut album, Anouska told how she came to the Green Door Store for the indie disco nights. ‘Half Past’ was a wonderful soundscape which ebbed and flowed through the song. While ‘Dead Murkey Water’ had an interesting stop-start staccato format to the music and lyrics. ‘Female Lead’ was a more up-tempo tune. All three were about self-esteem, the pain of growing up and its expectations. ‘Burglar’ had a wonderful moody start which developed into a catchy pop tune, with Tim echoing Anouska’s lyrics. Tim played a very good bassline on the next new song ‘I Feel It All’. Another unreleased track, ‘Movies’, had a different style with its storytelling to a simple but beautiful arrangement before its chilling stunning close. Honeyglaze closed one of the best performances of ‘2 3 4 Fest’ with livelier versions of ‘Shadows’ and ‘Childish Things’ from their album. The final song, ‘Childish Things’ started quietly, building mid-song with Anouska emotionally shouting the lyrics, before effortlessly slowing it right down. A beautiful end to a brilliant 40-minute set and superb weekend of music. At the end bassist Tim simply said, “We’re Honeyglaze. That never happened.” I, and many there at the end of the ‘2 3 4 Fest’, were so pleased it did.
Anouska Sokolow – vocals and guitar
Tim Curtis – bass and vocals
Yuri Shibuichi – drums