Hi:Fi North 2006: A Retrospective (Big-assed web only thang)

Despite the averse winds brewing, the debut Hi:Fi North is a triumph...

Article by Dave Winter | 15 Jun 2006
The trumpets are sounding, the people are moving about, the sun is high, yes, at last summer is arriving to the UK. What better time to usher in everyone's favorite time of the year with an upbeat festival at the end of May? Thus, the Hi:-Fi festival landed in Newcastle on May 27th, and certainly did not disappoint.

Music at the festival was presented in an interesting arrangement, an interwoven combination of electronic dance and melodic, funky, atmospheric rock. Of the 4 concert venues, three of them were all-day (and night) long exhibitions of all types of DJs, assuring that hips were shaking all throughout the festival (see Beats for more details). The last concert venue (and the only one not contained within a gigantic extravagant tent marquee) was an open-air venue catering for the more rock yearning festival-goers.

The lineup of rockers included several new and old favorites, and in due form they each made an honorable contribution to the Hi:Fi experience. First of all, Geordie combo Maximo Park (3/5) hit the stage, setting the mood for the coming evening, with punky-uplifitng-sock-a-bop rock. Leading fans to sing along, and newcomers to just dance to the pogo rock, the local band of the night obviously felt comfortable playing a festival in their hometown. Despite the repetitive element to their set it was good fun to watch and they channelled their energy well.

Next up, radio favorites the Editors (4/5) assumed the stage, to a welcome cheer from the swelling masses. Not meaning to disappoint, the Birmingham quartet started their set by launching straight into soaring guitar sonics, radiating stratospheres of churning rhythm. Still out to disprove the naysayers, the Editors rocked persistently to showcase their sound to new ears.

Following the Editors ensemble, the venerable baggy-father Ian Brown (4/5) hit the stage. As many local fans said he was a "walking legend", I, a Texan on the move, was intrigued to check out this celebrated Stone Roses alum. Brown by no means disappointed and set a precedent for the rest of the night, marching out with a confident swagger that allowed him to swiftly make his mark effectively on a quickly multiplying crowd. A set played well; a rhythmic, rock-a-funk with a positive energy maintained throughout, with an outstanding encore of the Marley classic Redemption Song thrown in for measure. If it was any indication, it proved that by mixing together so many varied influences Brown can still maintain the strong following he has gathered along the way.

Later on, after finding my way amongst the mass of bodies, the Radio Soulwax tent housed a live rendition of the collective's Nite Versions (5/5). The outfit hit the stage all dressed in white, and positively fed from the energy swarming the arena. It was never questionable whether they were just playing off a pre-recorded track like other DJ sets, as the guys soon perspired their whites transparent for the sake of bringing their own unique blend of electro-rock to Hi:Fi. The positive resolve of the baying crowd only invigorated their performance, and the Soulwax crew performed a set to connect with, from the beats of the drumskins and the thumping bass guitar to the funky electro keyboard.

As the night came to a close, the bumping beats, screams from the kids on amusement park rides, and the electro sonics continued to fill the air. Although the growing night grew cold and windy (a wind which initially threatened to marr the event), I'm sure that the festival-goers felt the warmth inside. While not going as far to show my enthusiasm as the one fan who scaled to the very top of a 40 meter circus tent, The Skinny left the gig on the rickety bus in good spirits. Here's to HIFI 2007!