Hockley Hustle you’ve done it again, haven’t you? After making an ambitious list of the 22 acts I wanted to see, I nearly managed it hopping across Hockley and staying for half sets to catch all of my Nottingham favourites.
It’s one of the only events in the year where I don’t mind or even notice that I’m on my feet for over 12 hours. It’s one of my top three inner-city Nottingham festivals that presents nearly every musician in Nottingham in pretty much every nook and cranny of Hockley.
At 12pm I started my journey at Suede on Heathcoat Street to see the BEAUTIFUL Tori Sheard. As a member of First Light, Tori’s voice is as colourful as her clothing. She’s got a thing for patterns and I wanna raid this gals wardrobe. Oh and she has a voice that gives you that fuzzy feeling, you know the one. She has a glow when she sings, lighting up the stage whilst seeing that her adoring fans, friends and family are eager for more.
I decided to stay at Suede to see a lady of so many talents. When Alex Milne isn’t busy making jewellery, she’s breaking hearts through the microphone. A distinct voice that you can’t get enough of. Even through fighting against some dodgy tech issues, Alex Milne impressed from wall to wall. New music? Yes please.
Down at Blend, First Light recordings introduced me to the Young Hustlers for the first time – the youngest but some of the most powerful talent to Nottingham. Alfie Sharp had me dazed and it wasn’t just because I was obsessed with his purple North Face fleece (I’m not over it yet). At only 16, Alfie’s voice took over the cafe and landed perfectly into my heart. BIG LOVE for Alfie.
My second coffee of the day is downed walking across one side of Hockley to the other. It was burning the inside of my mouth, but I didn’t want to miss the beginning of Dan Chapman’s set so it was totally worth it. Dan has an addictive sound and I could listen to ‘Sweet Marbled Monster’ on repeat. Plus, it sounds like it would be ideal in a film soundtrack. Oh Dan, you little superstar!
Jonny Olley, Laurie Illingworth AND Felix M-B all in one set… together? I know, it’s a lot to take in. Three incredibly distinct voices merged for one afternoon only. Jonny Olley & gang stole the show at 31K, the bar most commonly known for its meatballs. Their mini jam session had Felix drumming away while Laurie wowed us on keys and Jonny belted his heart out. Now I’m hoping for more from these three one day please?!
Then I made my first trip of the day to Rough Trade to see The Memoirs. These guys were new to me. The five-piece definitely had Rough Trade rocking. As my first full band of Hockley Hustle I was impressed. The blend between songs, the passion of 5 lads on stage and that ‘yeah, we know we’re cool af’ vibe. I felt that. Plus, I got to have a quick catch up with Lucy Beth at this point so all was super good.
At this point the festival was heating up. I stuffed my face with that GORGEOUS chicken from one of the street market stalls whilst listening to the first line of the parade. Once I reached Broadway, I squeezed to the front to be #blessed by Rob Green. As a Nottingham favourite, the crowd were bouncing of Rob’s vibe clapping and singing along. With Rob Green, it’s personal and he really does make you feel like you’re the only one in the crowd. One of my favourite things about Rob is that he’s more than a musician, it’s the message he sings alongside his songs that impact his audience.
After indulging in Rob Green I ran across Hockley to Herbert Kilpin in the pouring rain with my coat over my head protecting my camera at all costs to see my true loves Sunflower Thieves. In the upstairs of a packed, warm bar Sunflower Thieves stunned their audience to silence with those harmonies that will give me goosebumps forever. Although I missed ‘Two Halves’ (read the review here) to run across to see another set, I got to hear Lily and Amy with a full band and what a damn joy it was.
The rain stopped (PRAAAAISE DA LORD) and I rushed over to Nottingham Contemporary and the BBC Introducing stage to find Remy performing beneath an unusual blue light #issavibe. Remy’s cover of Britney’s ‘Toxic’ is something I never get tired of and those key changes in ‘Bits of Me In You’ *heart eyes emoji* he’s the Paolo Nutini comeback we’ve all been waiting for. You can check out his BBC Introducing performance here.
I caught a slight glimpse of Georgie at the back of The Hockley Arts club. After a KILLA’ tour with Jake Bugg back in March, it was clear Georgie’s name has been floating about a bit more than usual. There were queues outside just to get a look in on the ‘Too Much TV’ singer and with the heat of Hockley Arts, the jam-packed setting and me being so vertically challenged it was time to go and rush to someone who was at the top of my list.
It’s been a while since I last heard Joseph Knight live and with ‘White Wine’ killing it on Spotify and ‘Grow’ toying with my heart-strings, this was a performance I didn’t want to miss. Packed tightly inside the steamy coffee shop Wired, Joe dazzled the crowd with the funkiest of guitars and that dreamy voice that you just don’t want to forget. Ever.
If I had the choice to sing (obviously with my vocal talent…) at any venue for Hockley Hustle it would have to be upstairs at The Hockley Arts Club. Two flights up to ‘Electric Garden’ to see a duo who are more beautiful than flowers, Bonbinôme. With their concept album on the way, I arrived with a mission to catch one song in particular – ‘2.2’ and let me tell you, it’s better than I ever imagined. Harmonies, atmosphere and so much love in the air. I can’t wait for this album.
Metronome held the sound I wish I could capture and listen to all day long. Ultimate Flyby Orchestra (UFO) had me weeping alongside Nina Smith, feeling strength with Natalie Duncan and having a boogie next to Rob Green. UFO had a queue painted across Beck Street and I’m not surprised as to why. With a 60 piece orchestra, these LEGENDS are definitely on my list to see again…
Just when I thought my day couldn’t get more exciting I fell HARD for Daisy Godfrey’s performance at Nottingham Contemporary. Alongside her own guitarist and backup singers, I felt soul, I felt power and I felt love. DAYUM does Daisy know how to impress a crowd with people even singing and dancing at the front of the stage. Daisy was a dream to take photos of, she even rocked it with a glass of water in hand. You go gal!
After bumping into nearly everyone I knew in Nottingham, I got distracted by talking but still managed to catch Megatrain. If these two are the edgiest duo in Notts – they’re like a freakin’ hectogon (that’s a lot of edges). Felix and Tiger’s haunting live performance of Angel (Cindy) was hair-raising but nothing excited me more than Felix’s Hawaiian shirt.
It was getting dark and significantly colder so I headed over across to The Bodega where the atmosphere was changing, the beers were flowing and Laurie Illingworth was performing. Bundled up on the steps, I got a few snaps and then watched Laurie launch his voice against the bustling crowd. He conquered it, sold it to us all and left us wanting more.
We ended the night a few beers down in Jam Café to endure Jonny Olley once more but this time with a KICK ASS band. It was close, so close you could feel the heartbeat of the person next to you. This was the place to be, the electric atmosphere combined with the husk of Mister Olley himself. The crowd were ready, bobbing along and heads were floating just to get a look in on Jonny’s incredible guitar playing.
Hockley Hustle has helped me remember why I love Nottingham so much and every performance above added to that excitement. At what could be my last ever Hustle I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way (just maybe over two days next time… I’m shattered).
Peace and love,