CloseUp Festival review: The highlights

It’s that time of the year again, festival season is upon us. Closeup Festival at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen, provided a line-up bursting with the best in emerging talent to ease us into the months of live music to come. It was an excellent opportunity for revellers to enjoy sets from the biggest names of tomorrow, and likely gave many bragging rights for when the artists inevitably blow up being an “I saw them in a super tiny room” moment.

Submariner eased the keen early arrivals in, with lashings of wavy guitars emitting a light alternative pop sound. Vocals were punchy, belted with a rousing energy. Synthy vocaliser effects reverberated through the room adding an element of uniqueness.

How’s Harry quickly brought the dial way up with some heaver alternative rock, comparable to You Me At Six and Lower Than Atlantis. They shot through a set of festival ready headbangable anthems creating a hurricane of sound, leading to some of the crowd twirling and dancing in glee.

Arcade Hearts flaunted retro tinged twanging guitars, crashing drums and bouncy synths creating cheery and sweet melodies. The layering of instrumentals resulted in euphoric results as they performed with admirable cohesion. Certainly an act to check out for fans of The 1975.

The irresistibly airy indie-pop continued with The New Coast. Material performed felt distinctively cinematic, fuelled with an intense emotiveness and charmingly penned verses that the audience quickly picked up and sang back to them. Slick, irresistible bass-lines made it impossible to stand still. Every song was an ultimate earworm that was easy to bop along to with impactful tunes.

Fours had the second stage packed to the brim. Many even craned their necks stood on seats at the back of the room to catch a glimpse of the band. Ribbons of synths trickled through the room complimenting the bombastic instrumentals. Their tunes were explosive pop gold, delivered phenomenally with goose-bump inducing vocals from Edith. She had an invigorating confidence as she shimmied around the stage. They were a real crowd-pleaser, with many even already singing along to every word. There is clearly potential for massive things here, and rightly so.

As the evening drew later, Jerry Williams allowed audiences to take a breather with a stripped back set. Her angelic vocal tone paired perfectly with the light acoustic guitar, feeling sonically quite classic. With no need for alteration or interference of instrumentation, she wowed the room with her distinctive talent.

The 80s vibes returned with Joan. Sprinklings of airy synths created a gripping mystifying atmosphere. They produced an impressively epic sound despite only two of them being on stage. Screaming guitars echoed through the room, carrying excitement and brilliance. The band have knack of taking a song that may at first appear simplistic, and injecting it with an enigmatic energy. The aforementioned bands The 1975 and LANY are points of comparison.  This is perfectly encapsulated in “Somebody Like You”. The track is just the kind of thing that is so satisfying to belt along to with a brilliantly executed chorus, and is ideal for the live setting. They are guaranteed to coerce the teenage fan-girl out of anybody.

Easing towards the end of the evening, Childcare brought a chaotic performance injecting a thriving energy into the room. Stylistically the band was distinctive, with bubbling bass-lines and crashing drums. They showed terrific chemistry stirring the room into a frenzy. Not a still standing body was in sight.

Headliner Kyko was the perfect euphoric note to end on. Sonically, he managed to capture palpable excitement and connotations of escapism that the audience got fully lost in. With irresistible percussion elements, tropical fuelled melodies and a soaring belted vocals, Scott (Kyko) and his band emblazoned the room. It was touching seeing human connections between strangers ignited though the medium of live music, as many embraced and boogied along together.

The crowd roared for an encore, to which Scott awkwardly wandered back on humorously remarking “We don’t have any more songs to play, so we’ll play this one again” before launching into enigmatic single “Dive In”. Fans partook in one last dance and sang along, before wandering away after an inspiring day of performances.

Closeup Festival successfully showcased some of the most promising up and coming talent that we are sure to see a lot more of in years to come.

Words: Kieran Raza

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