It’s a wonder why festival’s find 50-50 gender line ups so hard when Florence and BST managed to curate arguably the best line-up in the UK this summer, where 70% of the acts were women. As Florence herself commented, “welcome to the matriarchy, it’s not that bad.” That may even have been an understatement, as a non-stop day of exciting and innovative artists unfolded before a grand and floral finale. Here’s the class report, complete with grades and everything.
Cherry Glazerr: D
Most likely to… get expelled*.
They were up first on the big massive tree covered main stage. The sheer size of the place is daunting enough, for anyone, but for the first band of the day – a relatively unknown trio from the U S of A – it proved too much. They struggled, they really did.
*might be a bit harsh. Yeah, definitely a little harsh.
Goat Girl: A
Most likely to… not give one single shit. Ever.
Goat Girl strut and sway along to their country post-punk whilst making quiet political protests, or loud ones, as their singer ended ‘Scum’ with a quick, “fuck Boris” shout – as if we didn’t love her enough already. Their new stuff sounds tight, including the 80s pop banger they closed with. The future looks bright.
Nadine Shah: B
Most likely to… become Prime Minister.
Her voice punches your face, slaps sense into you and makes you want to cry. She’s a powerful powerful person is Nadine, or as our friends over the pond will call her, Nay-deen. I rate she could run the country, easily. In fact, fuck it, put her in charge now for the love of God. Give her the power and maybe we’ll get somewhere.
Let’s Eat Grandma: A–
Most likely to… do the macarena in the middle of the classroom, whilst playing umpteen instruments.
There’s no ‘most likely’ about it, they did do that. It was fun, infectious, silly and brilliant. Weirdo-pop at its finest as the two-some played a set of second-album material, swapping synth pads and playing a variety of primary school instruments – including the recorder – to great effect.
Connie Constance: B+
Most likely to… never stop smilin’
This was a badass set on the smallest stage as Connie Constance rocked out in a very-oversized motorcycle t-shirt. Playing songs from her debut, she was proper beaming, buzzing to be at Hyde Park, and the crowd reciprocated her joy, dancing along from start to finish.
Lykke Li: B+
Most likely to… surprise and impress.
Lykke Li has always escaped me, I’ve never really been bothered, that was until she was featured several times on the stunning new Mark Ronson album – even then, I wasn’t too arsed, just intrigued. Nobody else was on so there was nothing better to do than watch her. But watch her we did and thank fuck. She was class. Proper pop music, a bit of dancing, a top-notch voice and bucket loads of fun. What more could you ask for?
Aldous Harding: B-
Most likely to… kill you in your sleep.
I don’t think she blinked once during the 20 minutes we managed to see of her. She’s got a psychopathic onstage persona, you’re scared for your own life but cannot help smile and laugh at the absurdity of it all.
The National: A+
Most likely to… lose their frontman during a slow ballad.
You think seeing the same band twice in three days would get boring, but when it’s The National, you’d be wrong. Completely wrong. Couldn’t be more wrong. They’ve been in a purple patch for a while now, but when a while hits the 5 or 6-year mark, it stops being a purple patch and you start to question how many other bands could change their setlist every other show and still play 2 hours of hits. You start to wonder how many other bands could make you beam like an ugly Cheshire cat for a full 2 hours. You start to wonder how many other bands could have an orchestra, four beautiful backing singers – forming another lead vocal – and a frontman who is completely bonkers. Are there many better live acts in the world right now? 5 or 6 years ain’t a purple patch, is it? Purple patches end. This ain’t ending any time soon, is it?
*Berninger is also a funny man. He says funny things on stage. Things like, “This one’s about my kids… I actually only have one kid. She has a split personality though.”
Florence & The Machine: A
Most likely to… become Queen of a magical kingdom.
Angelic, ethereal, magical, exquisite and all the other words that mean ‘shit hot’ but in a slightly more glittery fashion. Her voice is…y’know. Her dancing is…y’know. Her performance is…y’know. Is there literally any point talking about how good Florence and her well-oiled Machine is? They’re class, top class, then they played ‘Kiss With A Fist’ and it got even better… Loved it I did, bloody loved it.