Photographs by Steven Velentzas
Hogmanay’s but a dim memory so it’s time for the first festival of the year. With temperatures high enough that a jacket’s largely superfluous this time Bognor Regis once again proves that it makes sense to head South in January for Rockaway Beach.
Having broken the journey up this time with a London overnight (during which it has to be noted that the excellent Feet were seen live at The Shacklewell Arms. An ideal act for a daytime slot at RB2020) we arrived in good time for dinner rather than rushing in to drop luggage and then try to catch some of whatever performance started at 7pm, as has been the case in the past. Slow time arrival is definitely the way forward.
First up then were Madonnatron, a perfectly decent early afternoon act who suffered from looking a bit bored and not really being that engaging musically. Benin City were unfortunately even less to my taste so dinner was sought out with the hope that the much anticipated Goat Girl would open the evening’s proceedings in good form and the event would finally take off.
Sadly they appeared to be off form and going through the motions, rather than the lively shot in the arm which was required & which you’d have easily been forgiven for expecting if you’ve ever heard them on the radio. Cutting our losses at this point (having never been Maximo Park fans) we called it a night.
Having a pal along this time around meant there was encouragement to give the earlier acts of the day a look on Saturday, so it was that the heavy sounds of John J. Presley were taken in. An impressively weighty trio, suffering only from the Rhodes & whatever device was atop it not coming through much in the mix they, and later act Desert Mountain Tribe provided good, full-on sets of a vaguely gothic rock which certainly whetted the appetites of those who saw them.
Band merchandise was a bit thin on the ground this year but The Spook School, as well as turning in their usual fast, energetic & witty performance, certainly got top marks for their t-shirt designs and keen pricing. Good to spot them later on being punters too. They were followed up by Leeds’ Menace Beach, the first of a number of acts utilising A LOT of equipment. Questionable trouser choices aside theirs was another no nonsense and engaging performance, ably replicating their recorded work & then some.
Rounding off the Reds shows for today were Atlantean quartet Algiers who complimented their array of store-bought equipment with what looked to be a guitar body with a couple of snare cables fastened to it, for use both as something to be stamped on as well as beaten. Pretty effective it was too. This was probably the most energetic & emotionally charged set of the afternoon and, whilst I’ve been advised they’re less accessible on album, they are definitely an act you should try to catch in a small venue if you get the chance.
Barry Adamson opened up the Centre Stage tonight and his ease & knack with the crowd was a pleasure to witness. His private detective/film noir schtick isn’t for everyone though and, lovely bloke though he obviously is, I took a walk after a few songs as none of it was really reaching me. Next up the scheduling was a bit awry, placing as it did Halifax’s Orielles in between Adamson & the headliner. They performed admirably (certainly more in keeping with expectations than Goat Girl) and clearly had fun doing so but their sound’s rather too light to build on what went before & amply set the mood for what was to come. What their inclusion did do though was further highlight how well the festival gets the gender balance right, with a great number of acts including one or more women, something other events should definitely be taking note of.