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Festival Review: The Sometimes Festival 2021

Sundays in Eastbourne are by no means traditionally a raucous affair, but The Sometimes Festival is certainly a day to remember in the seaside town. The day festival aims to raise awareness of mental health, remove the stigma, and raise money for the wonderful work that Samaritans do. The phenomenal live music is simply an added bonus in the grand scheme of things. On a day that is anything but plain sailing, the rock scene comes together and shows the importance of live music in bringing people together.

Opening the day is Ant Martin, an acoustic guitarist who endearingly overcomes nerves with a wicked sense of humour and an abundance of talent. The songs playing are so raw in emotion, fuelled by a life full of love, loss and a lack of luck. A tearful Martin debuts a song for his recently deceased brother and what feels like a collective arm wraps around his shoulders as he plays. Such an outpouring of emotion and first-hand experience of mental health act as a reminder of the importance of the day. Next up is Brightr, who similarly comes to the stage with nothing but an acoustic guitar and wows the crowd with some odes for the downtrodden, as well as a humbleness that makes every note hit harder and lyric more relatable.

At this point, a whirlwind appears on stage at Sometimes Festival that takes everyone in the building by surprise. Estelle Mey delivers a vocal performance that is flawless, powerful and simply beautiful, only matched by her talent with a guitar. A fan nearby says “I wouldn’t want to be following this set, that’s for sure…” 

The crowd erupts and I Within prepare for the unenviable task of following a set void of criticism and that people can’t stop talking about. Luckily, the rock outfit have a frontman in Logan Wolfe who relishes the challenge and delivers the day’s first dose of outright adrenaline with an energetic performance that marks a different direction from the days opening acoustic tracks. The crowd are receptive and the room is beginning to fill with more people looking for anything other than a day of rest.

My Everest are next up and similarly armed with a charismatic frontman and no shortage of energy. Playing a set of pop-infused rock that peaks with a faultless cover of Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’, the band declare they would personally like to invite every person in the room to their upcoming headline show at Camden Assembly and a lot of nodding heads and cheers are given in response. H_ngm_n are a duo from Brighton that were given a few short days notice to appear at the festival, and they take to the stage with a charming and joyous presence of being a little unprepared but perfectly at ease with putting on a show. They are well-received by a grateful crowd who enjoy the comedic chats in between tracks nearly as much as the music itself. Former As It Is bassist Benjamin Langford-Biss is next up and playing his first live show with his solo project, Bleak Soul. It’s a performance that oozes class, presence, and drama. We cannot get enough of it.

It’s undoubtedly hot in the Grove Theatre but nobody anticipates the festival being halted by a fire alarm as the crowd evacuates the building and makes the most of the unplanned free time to get some fresh air and sample some items from the menu of Dirty Burger Bros opposite. 30 minutes later we are given the all clear and the wonderful Maypine quickly wake the crowd from their food-induced comas with a set belting choruses and riffs for days. The best reception of the day deservedly goes to Hear Lies, fronted by the nicest man in rock music, Orion Powell. The man affectionately referred to as Ori is the driving force behind the festival and responsible for making it all happen, thanked by every band that takes to the stage, and never too busy to stop and talk to every person he sees. The trio explode onto the stage and deliver a relentless set of outright bangers that gets everybody in the room moving. Ori outlines his intentions to join the crowd in drinking beer for the rest of the day and declares his love for the first person to buy him one, and as you can imagine there are no shortage of offers. 

Unfortunately, the day takes a sour turn at this point, with the arrival of Y!KES. After taking to the stage, a lack of interest and a poor attitude are evident from the outset. The room begins to empty in response, and soon after declaring themselves as “the best fucking band on this bill”, the lead singer is in the crowd and confronting a fan. With the intervention of security and amidst coffee being somehow thrown, the scuffle is eventually diffused while those in attendance are asked to temporarily leave. In contrast to a conversation overheard earlier that day, someone says “There has never been an easier set to follow”, to which their friend quips “Yeah just get through the whole set without trying to beat the sht out of someone in the crowd…”

An appreciative crowd are in good spirit as they are allowed back into the venue and are immediately laughing as the guitarist of RXPTRS playfully asks “Do you think we could get some coffee up here?” before thanking “all the bands who played (and completed) their sets before them.” Any lingering tension that may have been there quickly evaporates and the heavy rock outfit delivers a high-octane performance that feels like a middle finger to what happened before, and the crowd are loving every second of it. 

Last up are the phenomenal All Ears Avow who take to the stage and open with ‘Asleep At The Wheel’, outlining their intention to play outstanding pop-rock and have a damn good time doing so. Copious amounts of alcohol is passed onto the stage as there’s a birthday within the band, and after a quick rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ and a few shots, we’re back on track with a performance that is a blast to be a part of. The crowd feel unified in their desire to have a good time and epitomise the positivity and resilience the day stands for, especially considering the hurdles that have been overcome. Live music is well and truly back, and we’re so grateful to have been invited along to The Sometimes Festival to be a part of such a special day.

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