Wolverhampton’s Wolfrun seems like an unlikely venue for a festival, but on Sunday 11 acts donned the stage for one-day festival spectacular – Chazzstock. A mix of indie sensations old and new showed up to celebrate the life of Charles Haddon, former Ou Est Le Swimming Pool frontman, who sadly took his own life at a Swedish festival in 2010. The festival – rumoured to be the first of many – was designed to remember, celebrate and fulfil Haddon’s dream of putting on his own festival.
And boy did organisers deliver. The logistics of the venue meant that some things could’ve been done with more precision (like ticketing), but instead of taking away from the festival it actually added to it, making it a less uptight, robotic affair. There were quick band turnovers (over half the acts had played by 6.30) and everything technical was down to a tee, but at points band members and organisers were casually standing at the bar or out in the crowd and generally mingling with people. And nobody hounded them One Direction style. Exactly the kind of vibe that should be present at a festival – not the corporate, super-sponsored mumbo jumbo that makes artists appear like untouchable gods and festival goers like a robot audience. But I digress.
The day wasn’t about proving they knew how to organise a festival, it was about the cause and the music. And it started with a bang. Early doors at 3.30 saw Jen Armstrong perform to an entering crowd. New bands playing earlier on in the day who’re definitely worth checking out include typical indie boys I Dream In Colour, electro outfit Safari and somewhere-between-the-two The Ghosts.
The former sung a song with the lyrics ‘It would take more than London to fill this place.’ Had the venue been bigger, I’m sure that would’ve been the case. The latter’s singer Alex Starling has such a unique voice no-one could ever forget it.
Next up on the bill were cheeky scamps from Sunderland, Frankie and the Heartstrings, performing catchy, up-beat numbers such as Tender. They were the first act to really get the crowd dancing. And from there on it never really stopped. Spector took over and put in an impressive, more rock n roll set, ending with the crowd going wild for Chevy Thunder.
From then on it was the turn of the big guns. Manchester’s finest Tim Burgess sauntered out casually in a hoody and jacket combo with a harmonica in his hand and an Andy Warhol-esque ‘do on his head. He performed some Charlatans tracks and some solo stuff, giving the crown a much needed mellow half hour.
But after Burgess it was back to business. Tribes were up next and played their anthemic sounding 90s hits, and played Nightdriving, a song which singer Johnny Lloyd wrote for Charlie. They also dedicated biggest-hit-to-date Sappho to Charlie’s dad. Anyone who’s ever heard that song can make of it what they will.
The last two bands of the evening couldn’t have offered more of an indie-awesomeness contrast. Although they share members of the Cowan family, are both equally good at the noise they make, and have a loyal following, The Horrors and The Vaccines are two very different top-of-the-bill acts. First up were The Horrors, with a ridiculously cool lighting display as they stormed their way through post-punk-revival-meets-shoegaze hits such as Still Life and Mirrors Image. Faris also proclaimed he would ‘see you again next year Chazzstock,’ which proved both promising and popular with the crowd.
And then it was the turn of The Vaccines, i.e. the best way to close a festival ever. Opening with Come of Age, the crowd were ready to go crazy. So were Justin et al. They followed on with notoriously boisterous and catchy Wreckin’ Bar and never looked back. Taking time to banter with fans, play 90% of their debut album and treat the crown to new stuff (Teenage Icon is a favourite), they didn’t falter once. Guitarist Freddie even climbed up some amps at one point. And for a band that haven’t been on the scene too long, to have the crowd sing most of your songs back to you whilst climbing on each other’s shoulders and wreaking havoc, you can tell they’re on to something massive. Plus they closed with Norgard. Go listen to it. Imagine it live. Epic, right?
Here’s to Chazzstock 2013.