Summer Sundae Weekender maintains a friendly, chilled out atmosphere

Summer Sundae Weekender 2012 review

By Tom Eaton | Published: Wed 22nd Aug 2012

around the festival site (2)

Friday 17th to Sunday 19th August 2012
De Montfort Hall, Granville Road, Leicester, Leicestershire, LE1 7RU, England MAP
£105, youth (14-17) £70, child (5-13) £35, u5s free + camping
Last updated: Thu 19th Jul 2012

Summer Sundae is in its 12th year and although having grown in size since their early days it still manages to maintain a friendly, chilled out atmosphere and support local and up and coming acts. In fact, one of the best aspects of this three day festival is the joy of discovering acts that you may not have heard before, or may have heard of but not seen live, and the all round quality of musicianship was quite astounding.

around the festival site (1)
The event itself was well run; set up time between bands was kept to a minimum and all started almost exactly on time, the site was well managed and maintained, toilets regularly emptied and stocked with loo roll and food was varied and reasonably priced. The food highlight was the Orange Tree BBQ Kitchen, from the Orange Tree chain of local bars that also ran a number of bars at the festival. They offered all hand made, fresh food that was of a fantastic quality. If you ever get the chance I heartily recommend their Pork burger with sage and caramelised apple, I very nearly ordered a second one. There were a number of well run bars on site; the ones run by The Orange tree; the Watering Hole, a beer tent that doubled as one of the music venues, which offered a wide selection of real ales and ciders on tap, and; the bar in De Montfort Hall that was run by the hall's staff. All friendly and supplying good service and all reasonably priced at around £3.30 per pint.

The array of music genres on offer was fantastic with something for absolutely everyone. The only music that wasn't extensively covered was 'Pop', and from my point of view, if anything added to the experience. The number of innovative approaches to making music on show was phenomenal and a real joy to see. This was reflected in the wide range of ages of the festival goers. The other aspect that affected the mix of festival goers, and created quite a varying crowd demographic across the 3 days, is the city centre location of the festival. This meant that although many people did stay for the whole weekend, camping on the more than adequate site, the festival was extremely accessible to people who just wanted to attend one of the days to see certain acts. Because of that, almost all of the acts were well supported and the venues all maintained a lively atmosphere. There were plenty of children's activities and quieter areas making it a really family friendly event.

around the festival site (2)
There were four music venues at Summer Sundae 2012; the main stage, or 'Lion's Den'; the indoor stage inside De Montfort Hall, also known as 'Crocodile lagoon'; the large tent, otherwise known as 'Into the Wild', and; the smaller tent, 'The Watering Hole'. All offered a range of music all day and all but the main stage offered performances up to between half-past twelve to one in the morning with a nightly comedy line up in the ITW (Into the Wild) tent.

Dan Mangan
Friday, as with all three days over the weekend, was packed with good music from the outset and our odyssey started in the ITW tent with Bowerbirds, an Indie/folk outfit from the States who supplied a positive vibe with their Synth and guitar driven harmonies. They were followed by Canadian Dan Mangan supplying a different interpretation of the Indie/folk genre. With humorous yet soulful delivery and a driving backbeat from his very talented drummer he got the crowd going, singing along to 'Robots'.

Clock Opera were next up on the main stage and as well as their lead singer, Guy Connelly, sporting the beard of the festival, put on a fantastic show. Especially considering that they were without one of their band members for all but the very end of their performance as he was on his way up the motorway. I'm not sure what I expected from Norwegian electro-rockers Datarock, playing the indoor stage, but I certainly got more than I bargained for. The bright red-tracksuited band put on an incredibly driven, vibrant and energetic performance and if you get a chance to see them live I recommend you take it. Next on the main stage was a man who has played Summer Sundae before, being the opening act on the main stage of the first festival in 2001. Uncle Frank has a lot of local support and the long term member of The Fun Loving Criminals didn't disappoint bringing soul, funk comedy and dancing together for a real crowd pleasing yet incredibly tight show.

Uncle Frank
Slowing things down in the ITW was Willy Mason with his deeply rich voice. Reminiscent of a more soulful Jonny Cash, the feeling he managed to convey with his vocals almost literally made me take a step backwards and for me was one of the artists of the festival.

Over on the indoor stage Ghostpoet was also delivering his incredible brand of music with real feeling. Having owned his album for a while now I found a completely new dimension in his live performance and enjoyed it even more than the studio version. At the other end of the BPM stakes on the main stage were Asian Dub Foundation, delivering some seriously heavy bhangra infused drum and bass beats, which really got the crowd pumped up and moving.

Katy B
Last act of the night on the main stage was headliner Katy B, who used her beautiful and powerful voice to deliver crowd pleasing renditions of her hits.

The music carried on indoors with Olugbenga (Metronomy DJ Set) putting together a fantastic DJ set in the hall, where absolutely everyone was dancing, before handing over to seamlessly to Jack Beats, the last act of the night.

Meanwhile in the ITW tent the comedy session peaked with a show from Slightly Fat Features that had me laughing uncontrollably.

review by: Tom Eaton

photos by: Phil Bull / Rob Koster

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