1. The New York Brass Band
Despite being ‘not so new’ anymore, the New York Brass Band are still York’s newest brass band and quite probably its best (the best of a non-traditional style certainly). Playing a mixture of originals their own twists on ever-popular numbers such as Cee Lo Green’s ‘Forget You’, A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me’ and Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, the NYBB really got the crowd going at the Main Stage at an early point of the day. While their style could easily be made into a gimmick, they maintained musical creativity at all times, with some excellent solos from the saxophone and trombones in particular, with one trombonist even singing a verse in the latter song, and the sousaphone was the one instrument (along with the drums) that ploughed on throughout, always sounding truly funky and in control. Doing their own thing, always full of energy and enthusiasm, the New York Brass Band managed to be one of the coolest bands of the day even amongst the day’s calibre of trendy music. It’s just a shame they ran out of time to play us their innovative ‘brass band dubstep’.
2. The Marzec Group
With their augmented band featuring trumpets/flugels and a trombone, The Marzec Group created a laid back feel on the Main Stage with their dub and reggae with a twist. Luke Marzec is a very cool character to lead the group, switching effortlessly between keys, vocals and alto sax, although both of the last two needed to be louder as the bass unfortunately overpowered everything (although this can almost be forgiven due to Twm Dylan’s eye-catching stut around the stage!) The set started strong with ‘The Cornershop’ (or the reggae song to the band members) and built throughout with the brass used more and more, so once again it was just annoying that their set was cut short; as Luke commented, “we had a great time, we just wish we could have played for longer.”
3. Serious Sam Barrett
Serious Sam Barrett was the perfect addition to a Sunday afternoon and to the Bison Coffee stage, with his country-inspired act featuring his twelve-string guitar and friend Martyn Roper on double bass. This combination sounded effortless and the speedy plucking and fierce bass slapping was both impressive and infectious. The vocals may not have been technically flawless, but they suited the style of music perfectly and were filled with passion. Despite some awful jokes between songs- using “ho-down” to create puns, for example- the fast pace and perfectly created country songs made it impossible not to enjoy this duo in such relaxed setting.
4. Boss Caine
With subject matter ranging from being the last of the great pretenders (a song that made me almost cry) to wearing a dead man’s suit (more upbeat but still absolutely riveting), Boss Caine made the Bison Coffee Stage. ‘Kind of Loving’ was probably the catchiest song, erring on the right side of love clichés- ‘we’ve got the kind of loving I can’t live without’- but in an endearing way. Aka Daniel Lucas, Boss Caine’s growling deep voice and confident acoustic playing was joined on one song by both harmonica and double bass (Vincent Anthony and North Bradley Blackwell respectively), with the latter on another as well, and both proved to be perfect additions to mix up the set a bit. For me, this was a perfect and beautiful acoustic set and I’d love to hear more of both their solo and band stuff in the future.
How could headliners Rudimental not be mentioned in a list like this? This was by far the most popular set of the day, and the crowd went absolutely crazy (to be fair, most of them seemed quite drunk at this point, but I was being a good driver and drinking Fanta). With all four band members playing instruments as well as two female vocalists a trumpeter and John Newman as featured on hit singles ‘Feel the Love’ and ‘Not Giving In’. He was definitely a highlight of the set, with a tremendous soul voice and the songs that most people knew, but the two girls also had massive voices whilst taking it in turns to swap between lead and backing vocals. A special mention must go to their trumpeter, who is rumoured to be one of the best young players in the country and he made this very believable with his ridiculously high notes and stamina. This cross of drum ‘n’ bass, reggae and whatever else thrown in was a perfect festival closer.
6. Lulu James
Walking on in a huge cape and stripping it off at the end of her first song to reveal a rather more revealing outfit, it was clear from the start that Lulu James would be both daring and individual. Vocally she can’t really be criticised, displaying a real strength and huge range throughout the set, and the band were always tight behind her, with the interesting addition of some Mac mixing along with the live musicians. Single ‘Closer’ was easily the highlight but was in a more electropop style than the rest of the songs, which were reggae and soul inspired; this diversity was an asset to maintain interest and keep the crowd going throughout.