Elle King, The Hearts and more join T in the Park 2015 lineup

The Fancy Dress Friday theme has also been revealed, and in homage to the festival’s picturesque new setting Strathallan Castle, fans will be encouraged to dress up to the theme of theUltimate Fairy Tale – think King or Queen, Knight or Jester, Dragon or Fairy. 
Singer-songwriter The Beach released debut single Thieves earlier this year, capturing the attention of BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac (and her predecessor Zane Lowe), receiving airplay on the station. His gorgeous melodies meld epic crescendos and raw emotion. Widely hailed as one to watch, he is one of the most exciting singer-songwriter talents to emerge in recent years.
Elle King is an American recording artist whose musical style encompasses country, soul, folk, rock, and blues. Born in Ohio and raised in Brooklyn, Elle retains her roots in a style that blends those worlds of both grit and mid-western charm. She’s toured with Of Monsters and Men, Ed Sheeran, and James Bay, and ties her old soul and rock 'n' roll influences into a sound that’s all her own.
Belfast four-piece And So I Watch You From Afar also make their T in the Park debut this summer. The band released their fourth album Heirs earlier this month – a work of intense focus and adventurous abandon that reaches to the heart of artistic expression, packed with anthemic melodies and infectious hooks.
After 20 stellar years with Feeder – including 8 gold and platinum albums and over 3 million album sales – frontman Grant Nicholas appears as a solo artist. His debut solo record Yorktown Heightsevoked the carefree spirit of Laurel Canyon in the ‘70’s while also sounding bang up to date – ambitious, largely acoustic, and full of head-spinning melodies. Its follow-up – the six-track mini-album Black Clouds, was released last month.
Welsh buzz band The Hearts have supported the likes of Paul Weller and Arcade Fire. They released a 2 track EP Run Free at the start of the year, with lead track Lips receiving major airplay on Radio 1 and XFM, and are one to watch at this year’s T in the Park.
Organisers have also revealed that the Slam Tent will be open on the Thursday night, with Animal Farm, Clouds and Ben Sims taking to the decks to get the party well and truly started.
With some of the biggest names in music heading for Scotland this summer, T in the Park’s debut outing at Strathallan Castle is shaping up to be an unmissable weekend over 10th – 12th July.
FRIDAY 10th JULY: Kasabian, David Guetta, Sam Smith, Rudimental, Fatboy Slim, Hozier, Mark Ronson (DJ set), The War on Drugs, Annie Mac, Hot Chip, The Wombats, Afrojack, Gorgon City, Duke Dumont, Sigma, Jessie Ware, Fuse ODG, The Cribs, Hannah Wants, The Twilight Sad, Prides, Lucy Rose, Slaves, Lower than Atlantis, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, Lonely the Brave, Indiana, Grant Nicholas, The Beach, Coasts, Blossoms, The Beaches, The Riptide Movement Fort Hope, The Hearts
SLAM TENT: Adam Beyer b2b Joseph Capriati, Âme, Ben Klock, Eats Everything, SLAM, Telford
SATURDAY 11th JULY: The Libertines, Avicii, The Script, Twin Atlantic, alt-J, George Ezra, Jessie J, Courteeners, The Vaccines, Labrinth, The Proclaimers, St. Vincent, Enter Shikari, Seasick Steve, Jungle, Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, Marina & the Diamonds, Idlewild, Jess Glynne, Charli XCX, Palma Violets, Circa Waves, Jack Savoretti, The Strypes, Rae Morris, The LaFontaines, Stevie McCrorie, Sunset Sons, George the Poet, Walking on Cars, The Coronas, Gavin James, Elle King, Vaults
SLAM TENT: Annie Mac, Art Department, Gary Beck, Jackmaster B2B Joy Orbison, Lil Louis, Maceo Plex, Rødhåd, Visionquest
SUNDAY 12th JULY: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, The Prodigy, Stereophonics, Jamie T, Paloma Faith, Above & Beyond, Alabama Shakes, Kodaline, Catfish & the Bottlemen, James Bay, Clean Bandit, Oliver Heldens, The View, Modest Mouse, Years & Years, Peace, Everything Everything, Admiral Fallow, Ella Eyre, Marmozets, Wolf Alice, Benjamin Booker, Saint Raymond, And So I Watch You From Afar, Young Guns, Black Rivers
SLAM TENT: Alan Fitzpatrick, Claude VonStroke, Dense & Pika, Dixon, Dubfire, Loco Dice, Maya Jane Coles, Surgeon and Lady Starlight

Handmade Festival 2014 Review

For its second year, the burgeoning Handmade Festival, situated in a number of venues across the inner-city landscape of Leicester, brought in a diverse range of acts once again.

Headliners for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday amounted to Irish experimentalists And So I Watch You From Afar, Japanese pop-rock girl-band Shonen Knife and the rousing acoustics of Dry the River, a pretty eclectic mixture, I'm sure you'll agree! Throw in some top comedic acts interspersed throughout local talent and smaller acts, aswell as photography and art installations at some interesting venues, a great combination of entertainment all for just £30.

For me, it began on Friday evening with Matt Henshaw  at the Cookie. Henshaw had pre-empted his slot with a selection of photos featuring him alongside Leicester landmarks like the Clock Tower and the King Power Stadiumon on his Facebook page. It was a nice way to kick-off the festival as his soulful style was soothing, after a long week for the majority of the audience! Henshaw is appearing back at the Cookie in a month's time to launch his new EP, so the city obviously means a lot to him, something he pointed out inbetween songs.

I jumped over to the Firebug pub to check out MJ Hibbett & the Validators set upstairs. They attracted a sparse, yet involved crowd upstairs, as they rattled through a relatively short 30-minute set. The leader of the group, Hibbett has a great history with the music industry, creating his own music label 'Artists Against Success' and peppered with a few viral hits, including he claims, the first ever viral video. I liked the tight drumming and the use of a violin, shaking things up a bit, and the lyricism of Hibbett was subtle yet effect, in a similar vein to Melvyn Bragg.

From Firebug, it was then over to the exquisite Hansome Hall, my third venue of the night for the backend of Three Trapped Tigers' set. I emerged into the ex-theatre venue to see a room full of bouncing fans, as TTT had the crowd in the palm of their hand. From the brief end of the set, it was clear to see they were on fine form, a fact confirmed as I discussed with a fellow fan who'd seen the entirity of the set.

But it was undoubtedly obvious what the majoirty of said fans were there for, the experimental stylings of Irish band And So I Watch You From Afar. Having listened to some of their work beforehand, I was anticipating their arrival greatly, and I wasn't left disappointed. The three-pronged guitars were backed up brilliantly by their drummer and some choice cuts from last year's 'All Hail Bright Future's' LP went down a storm, 'Big Things Do Remarkable' and 'Eunoia' amongst them. Their second record has progressed them higher up the musical spectrum, so it was great to see them in such an intimate environment, where they filled the room brilliantly with their sound. What was great about the band was that they controlled the room with very little vocalisation, but when that did kick in, you felt the effect fully. It was a great ending to the first evening of fun, as the band told their ecstatic audience just how much they loved playing in Leicester, a city that has been great to them.

Saturday began with a set from locals Juniors. They played at Firebug, which again showed its impressive use of space for a live music venue. It was brash, loud start to the day as the alternative-rock the band plays throws in some ragged, raw riffs to create a pacy, head-pounding sound. 'Sharman's Rug' was the pick of the bunch, as Leicester's eclectic music production line looks to have created a new batch of stars.

Brawlers followed Juniors, and kept up the relentless pace. It was almost as if the two bands were in direct competition for who could be as fast as possible. Nonetheless, the quality didn't dip either, as they impressed immensely. I got a Dinosaur Pile-Up vibe from the foursome, whilst there were also shades of the Strokes too. Handmade did well to deliver two such exciting bands so early in the day. 

After settling down, I was ready for the calming acoustics of Katie Malco at the Bishop St Methodist Centre. It was a much different affair from the back-to-back rockers of earlier in the day, but it's clear to see Malco is just as talented, as her haunting vocals put her in the bracket of fellow songstress Emmy the Great. The use of a piano on 'September' elevated her gig even moreso, making me delighted I'd picked to see this rising starlet. Go YouTube her now and prepare to be excited!

The exciting thing about this festival is the sheer variety, for this you just have to go for Shonen Knife. A band who toured with Nirvana and taken influences from the likes of the Ramones and the Beach Boys are never going to be boring! They followed on from ASIWYFA the previous evening to take on the headline status at Hansome Hall, and they lived up to the high standards set on Friday night, with their range of tunes that delighted a passionate crowd. After seeing a lot of up-and-comers it was refreshing to see band who'd toured the world over and still had such love for the art, most bands should look at Shonen Knife as a great template to follow.

For me, Sunday was a quieter affair, beginning in the surroundings of the comedy basecamp, St Martin's Coffee Shop. I took my place in the terrfically decorated venue ready for a slice of comedy from 'Never Mind the Buzzcocks' panellist and Pete Docherty lookalike Joey Page. Possibly the first observation from Page was of his passing resembelance to the Libertines frontman, as his eccentric show took in some Noel Fielding-esque stories of fantasy encounters with Eric Cantona in the five-item queue in Tesco Express…a ramble that began after thanking a guy called Stan for attending his show. Granted it might not be to everyone's comedic taste, but Page, admitting that the show was a smorgasboard of new and old material, had everyone roaring with laughter, especially with his discussion of just what has gone wrong with ITV's very own 'Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'. A great diversion from the excellent music I had seen up to that point.

Speaking in Italics followed up a show the other side of Leicester (the O2 Academy) the previous evening to entertain the citizens of Firebug with a half-hour set of progressive rock, that strayed into a more hardcore area at times. I enjoyed the vocals quite a lot, as they clashed with the instrumentation, but in a good way! No, SiI were placed well, offering a nice slice of entertainment ahead of their quieter counterparts.

Next up for me were Cut Ribbons, another interesting mixture of sounds. A lighter offering of indie-pop with male and female vocals, the sound was fresh and crisp as I got poppy-vibes, alongside something like early Kings of Leon. The vocals are hard to place though, given their originality. I enjoyed single 'Damascus' a lot, and they are supporting Thumpers on a UK tour, so watch out for more from this original group.

Possibly the most famous act at the minute on the entire bill came last, Dry the River, were an act a lot of people had been waiting for and a little bit later than advertised, the moment they took to the Firebug stage was a great one. The bar was slowly filling up throughout the evening and was almost to capacity when the foursome came on. Every song was greeted with rapturous applause, as songs from 2012's 'Shallow Bed' LP were sung from the rafters with some new material cheekily thrown in for good measure. They played for just under an hour, but it was a great experience, seeing such a hot band in such tight circumstances, made for memorable moments, such as 'Shield Your Eyes' and 'Weights & Measures' a rousing tune. The band themselves appeared to be loving every moment too, thanking the crowd for their patience and support throughout.

So there you have it, Handmade Festival is an exciting event that is growing with each annual edition. It was my first proper metropolitan city festival, and an experience I thoroughly enjoyed, allowing me to take in a wealth of different arenas, picking out some hidden musical gems in the process.

Handmade Festival hits Leicester for the second year with Dry the River the standout act

Leicester's very own inner city festival is back for its second year, with a recent announcement for the Handmade Festival, seeing Dry The River amongst others, revealed to be playing.

Dry The River take to the stage to play on Sunday May 4, with And So I Watch You From Afar the must-see act on Friday May 2 and long-running Japanese trio Shonen Knife topping the bill on Saturday May 3.

The aim is to bring an eclectic mix of music and the arts to fill the bars, venues and cathedrals (yes you read right), full of the best musicians, comedians and pieces of art going, alongside raw local talent, with applications being accepted from around the region.

2013's edition of the festival saw Rolo Tomassi, Dutch Uncles and Nine Black Alps amongst others feature on the bill, and with more acts promised for this year, the festival is looking to surpass its debut year.

Tickets for the full weekend are currently priced at £30 or £15 for a day ticket, with the wristband gaining access to a number of venues across the East Midlands city.

It's the beginning of a good year for Leicester, with the massive homecoming gig at Victoria Park for Kasabian in June, a new music festival pencilled in for Welford Road in late July and the annual Strawberry Fields, held in rural Leicestershire to come in August.