For the second year running, By The Sea festival took over Margate theme park Dreamland and local venue Olby’s this weekend. Across three days, the event brought big names like Super Furry Animals, Wolf Alice and Wild Beasts to the seaside, but also shone a light on some emerging artists too. From eerie pop to decadent glam punk, these bands made their case for being your new favourites.
Let’s Eat Grandma
Norwich duo Let’s Eat Grandma are unlike anyone else around at the moment. Jenny Hollingsworth and Rosa Walton make experimental, eerie pop that’s charmingly off-kilter and proudly weird. Playing tracks from their debut album ‘I, Gemini‘, the pair utilise recorder solos, raps about stepping in bubblegum, playing dead on the stage floor and hair-swinging dance moves to bring extra edge to their strange sounds. They finish the whole thing heads cocked to one side, staring unflinchingly at the audience as a synth note drones on and eventually fades out. It’s simple, but totally thrilling and effective.
Being in one of Britain’s most exciting new bands might be enough for most musicians, but not for Soph Nathan. The Big Moon guitarist fronts another group that falls into that category in shoegaze-y trio Our Girl. On record, tracks like ‘Sleeper’ and ‘Level’ have a velvety finish, but on Sunday night they sound beefed up and bolder, Soph’s smooth vocals breaking into guttural, throaty rasps every so often. Whereas other bands on the bill grab your attention visually, Our Girl let their music do all the work for them, with enthralling results.
Girl Ray are probably the most unpolished band on the line-up and understandably so having only started gigging a few months ago. They’ve clearly got bags of potential though – songs like ‘Just Like That’ and ‘I’ll Make This Fun’ mix ‘Loaded’-era Velvet Underground with the raw magic of Moldy Peaches, while as a band they’ve got an undeniable endearing quality that should only get stronger as they grow in confidence and ability.
Happy Meal Ltd
London’s Happy Meal Ltd are like stepping into a time capsule back to the Blitz club – the former London venue frequented by everyone from Siouxsie Sioux to Boy George. The six-piece are attention-grabbing before they even start playing, a mass of brightly coloured hair, lipstick and striking outfits. Then they start playing and you’re hooked; immediately enveloped in a mesh of noise comprised of punk, new wave, rock’n’roll, electro and industrial sounds. Frontman Henry Spychalski gyrates around the stage, eyeballing the crowd, expressing his words through wild eyes and maniacal grins that make songs like the disturbed, warped fairground clatter of ‘Where’s Joanna?’ (sample lyric: “I keep her tongue in my bedside drawer so I can use it when I like“) even more ominous and unhinged. Decadent, dramatic and completely, wonderfully bizarre.