Chester has its very own music festival and the aptly named Chester Live Festival, the brainchild of Dan Read, is happening this weekend at various venues throughout the city. Tonight’s gig, featuring two of Chester’s most exciting and prominent acts, Peaness and Campfire Social, is being held at one of the city’s musical strongholds, Telford’s Warehouse.
On stage first are three-piece Peaness. Drummer Rach picks her way to her kit on crutches (courtesy of a knee op) but isn’t going to let a minor irritation like that stop her. Along with bandmates Balla and Jess, the trio play melodic, indie/garage/surf-pop that is laden with killer hooks and choruses. Not to mention the spot on, Beach Boys-esque harmonies. ‘Summer Song’ does exactly what it says on the tin, radiating happiness and putting a glowing smile on your face as the guitar jangles jauntily along. The music defies you to keep still and it’s impossible to stop your feet a-tapping and your head nodding. ‘Ugly Veg’ addresses the serious problem of food wastage and their latest single ‘Oh George’ is a veiled attack on Chancellor George Osbourne and his Tory colleagues. The beauty of this track is that it’s the sweetest sounding political song ever. You could be a die-hard, dyed-in-the-wool Conservative, hear this track and be plotting revolution by the track’s end. ‘I Wish I Could Be Free’ has a big, bold guitar riff and a pleasingly insistent bass line. Closing track ‘No-One’ comes round far too quickly but its a fantastic way to finish. Its lyrics would be perfectly at home on a Pulp record and live the track just sparkles with energy. In fact the whole set has an easy-going charm and is all about fun. Peaness are clearly having fun playing and peacisely because of this, the crowd is also having a fine old time, bumping and getting along like, well, peas in a pod. All hail Peaness! (and their love for little green vegetables).
Second band of the evening are Campfire Social, whose fusion of folk and alt-pop is perfectly suited to this intimate setting. ‘You Can Lend Mine, I’ve Got Two’ has a swaying, gently rolling feel to it, the layered harmonies that are a feature of this band’s songs, to the fore. For sheer musical pleasure, its hard to beat the Simon & Garfunkel like ‘The Ocean The Sunshine & Me’, a song that cannot fail to leave you with a warm glow inside. This isn’t a band who just play nice and safe though. They’re not afraid to play with the structure of their songs, with changes of tempo, key or rhythm to keep you on your toes. ‘Wendy’ resonates with emotion and this live rendition makes you feel that the song wants to wrap its arms around you and give you a big hug. The band are completely at ease with each other and there’s plenty of nods and smiles of encouragement between them throughout the duration of the set. Penultimate song ‘Loving The Wreckage’ elicits whoops and shouts from the audience before the band finish with ‘Any Endings Left’, which they warn could end in disaster. Any such fears are soon dispelled and the band wrap up what has been a highly enjoyable, big-hearted gig that cannot help leaving you smiling.