Karma Weekender 2021
The Chameleon Arts Cafe
23rd-24th October 2021
Finally going ahead after two rounds of rescheduling, the Karma Weekender 2021 turns out to be a weekend full of bands who should be on any music enthusiasts radar. Amy Britton looks over some of the acts playing.
A glance along the line-up for the Karma Weekender, the festival created by Karma PR company and taking place in the truly grassroots and much-loved Nottingham venue The Chameleon, shows it to be something exempt from the criticisms thrown at many festivals. The line-up is fresh, non-generic, and bold. Erasing the names of all the bands with male-only line-ups as some social media accounts did with bigger festivals would still leave much of the listing intact. And it feels completely DIY and authentic, with not a corporate logo in sight.
The bar is set high on the Saturday with local shoegaze outfit Sundaze opening proceedings. Creating a wall of sound so huge and absorbing that it feels it should take far more than three people to create it, having seen them play live many times this is the best I have ever seen them, their sound more fleshed-out and confident than ever – the fact The Chameleon feels like being in someones living room enhances the shoegaze experience further.
Later in the day, an expansive and impressive set from bdrmm seems to snake through the walls and have the floorboards reverberating. A more minimal but no less bewitching performance can then be found with London’s Great Silkie, who play a gorgeous, stripped back acoustic set which oozes intimacy and fine-tuned elegance. For many of the acts of the bill, this is their first time playing Nottingham and their is certainly a sense that we are catching acts of the cusp of playing bigger headline slots very soon.
We get two such acts that feel this way back-to-back in Manchester’s Loose Articles and Hull’s Low Hummer. The former, describing themselves as “feminine, threatening, working and fucking class”, combine pounding riot grrl aggro with twists of pop sensibility and a good sprinkle of relatable earthiness. As frontwoman, Natasha Wardle closes in on the crowd, thudding against her own heart with her mic, and it quickly becomes apparent that their primitive nature is sure to grab further attention soon – their slot supporting the Foo Fighters next summer should ensure winning over legions of new fans.
Low Hummer are equally ready made in how self-assured they already seem. With a fine collection of songs under their belt with debut album Modern Tricks For Living, their live set oozes chemistry and charisma. Fresh from supporting the Manics, their New Wave vibes are delivered in a fashion that feels utterly modern. Not that authentic vintage styles aren’t welcome at this weekender, something particularly evident with the psychedelic acts on the bill.
Saturday night closers Helicon are an all-out trip of kaleidoscopic sound, while Sunday’s Frankie Teardrop Dead are (in spite of the Suicide inspired name) soaked in shimmering, psychedelic reverb. Both acts bring a heavy dose of patchouli-scented dreamscape to proceedings.
This kind of shut-off from the outside world is perhaps just what we need on what is a grey and dreary Sunday. Luckily, there is plenty of sunshine to be bought indoors – local act Sancho Panza sound impressively tight, their jangle-tinged indie evoking the sun-kissed West Coast rather than the rainy East Midlands. Just as joyful are Fruit Tones, whose catchy glam-rock evokes the New York Dolls at their most upfront and fun.
On its third time lucky, the Karma Weekender 2021 has proved itself to be absolutely worth the wait. With a sense of warmth and fun running throughout the whole thing, it has certainly been a triumphant weekend.
All words by Amy Britton. Find more on her archive here.