Image:- Steven Velentzas (@captainstavros)
Sunday's sunshine enticed us out for a stroll along the front to admire the waves pounding in and to visit a couple of the local pubs as yet untried (with relative success) before Butlin's once again managed to entertain us, this time with go-karting.
Musically the day started off less promising with both Hull's Life and Bristol's Heavy Lungs seeming to fall from the same mold - talented musicians unfortunately fronted by entitled singers. Life's bassist in particular looks set for bigger and better things. Neither band should be faulted for their energy but Life's singer's histrionics (a kind of Jarvis-on-speed without humility) were off-putting to say the least. The excitement of the day may have got to him but me-me-me gets tiresome quickly.
International Teachers Of Pop, another act discovered via Marc Riley, were musically a different kettle of fish. Having been getting into the swing of things since Friday they were clearly as one with the audience. Unfortunately their novelty act schtick wasn't that appealing after more than a couple of songs, nice people though they seemed.
Deciding to take it easy after dinner we opted to miss Brix & The Extricated, although we did pass Brix waiting to be extricated by taxi when we left the hotel to see The Wedding Present, back for their second time at Rockaway Beach. I'd not known they were on the bill and it came as some relief to see their reliable name in the festival booklet. Amazingly they're another act the good Captain was new to. David Gedge and his current band may not have one him over with their competent playing (marred only occasionally by Gedge's guitar sound being too low) and reasonable banter (with enough nous to realise all the Butlin's jokes had been made by this point) but they were as fun to experience as ever as far as I was concerned & generally kept the pace up with only a few slower numbers interspersed.
Closing out this year's festival were 2019's Irish indie wunderkinds Fontaines DC (or "DC Fountains" if you're the Captain). Placing them in the final slot had apparently rattled a few cages, at least on Twitter, but in the end it avoided the scenario from the night before where a bright young act very nearly handed an older one their cards.
I've warmed to the group's album, having initially baulked at the spelling of it's title and the crowd tonight obviously contained a lot of fans of it, being as large as any seen in past years for far more established acts. As far as I know the quintet haven't toured a great deal since its release (happy to be corrected on that point) so this show likely provided more than just me with their first experience of the band live.
An assured and competent show was duly delivered, free of any technical issues and with excellent volume. There just wasn't much real interaction with the crowd (although generally this was a very low chat event across the three days) and something of the album's energy was missing. The performance never got to the plodding stage but neither did the material feel as inspiring as on record. Still, it meant for an early night.
A mixed bag this year then. The efforts of the team behind the event were clearer than ever with the added signing sessions & vinyl sales tables and making the John Robb interviews more visible was a wise move, whilst the camp's new pool complex is a compelling feature for those with the energy to get up and down the flumes. Musically, however, it felt like the weakest line-up of its existence (but then most festival's apart from it had crap bills last year so these things happen). No announcement yet of any acts for 2021 but there was a lot of Teenage Fanclub being piped into the restaurant and along the pathways of the site so who knows ...
Thanks are also due to the lad in the maroon Napapijri running about on the morning of the last day & digging around in the kids' sandpit - cheers for giving us a laugh as we speculated on what you'd mislaid.