REVIEW: Together the People Festival, 3-4/9/2016

On the 3rd and 4th of September, The Verse headed down to Together the People Festival 2016, held in Preston Park, Brighton. Read on for Deputy Editor Lennon Craig’s Together the People Festival review…

While the overcast skies might indicate that for many of us summer is now over, that hasn’t stopped one of the UK’s newest festivals from gearing up and keeping festival season going for a weekend longer. Together the People returned to Preston Park on September 3rd and 4th, proudly and eclectically marrying local and global in its second year.

As is to be expected for an event that’s still in its infancy, the site itself is small and largely bereft of the stalls and entertainment that occupy revellers in the down time away from stages and tents. Aside from the fun fair rides and family entertainment, there’s little to do but sample some of the locally sourced craft beer on offer.

Natty’s lo-fi ska shakes some life into the small crowd that have ventured down into the early afternoon, though it’s not until ex-Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes, suitably trilbied and sideburned, greets the crowd in the warm embrace of his ephemeral acoustic balladry that the crowd starts to swell. Unfortunately though, so does the wind.

Hiatus Kaiyote really kick things into gear with their unique brand of futuristic techno inspired funk-rock, wowing those in attendance with their tight-sounding infectious energy. Then the heavens open. Well, it wouldn’t be a festival without a bit of rain, would it?

It plays right into the hands of Brighton locals Fickle Friends, whose set on the Concorde 2 tent is full beyond capacity with the waterproofless gathering for shelter. Their Balearic 80’s indie pop joyously brings some semblance of summer back to proceedings, and results in a glorious (if soggy) homecoming party.

Photo by Mike Burnell
Photo by Mike Burnell

But the main event, as it was always intended to be, belongs to Brian Wilson. An hour and a half of classics drenched in California sunshine that not even the English summer rain could dampen. Flanked by friends old and new, a set-list of anthems adored by generations is greeted with a rapturous reception as the festival closes for the day.

As is so often the case, it feels as if the feel good Saturday feeling may have carried on until late in the night, resulting in a slightly sleepy Sunday. It’s not until Peter Hook & The Light break out the equally impressive back catalogues of Joy Division and New Order respectively that the hangovers start to shift. From pioneers to the contemporary, as motorik garage rockers The Horrors whip the crowd into frenzy throughout the penultimate set of the festival.

Photo by Mike Burnell

It’s left for Britpop legends Suede to close the festival. With over 20 years of chart toppers to choose from, it’s something they do with aplomb. The legendary hypersexualised androgyny of their earlier work remains as recognisable as it did in the mid-nineties, whilst the band are now able to step back in moments of quiet contemplation, as when Brett Anderson tenderly dedicates a slower number to his mother’s memory. It’s a keen reminder of the emotive qualities the band is able to exercise over their audience, and makes the show a much richer experience for it.

Though there may be teething problems, the joyous adoration with which the major name headliners were received mean the festival’s second edition can be regarded a major success. Stalls are nice, but it’s the music that sells the tickets after all. Festival season is now all but over, but this looks like just the beginning for Together the People festival. They might even get the weather one year.

Together the People Festival 2016 was held at Preston Park over the 3-4 September. For more details on this year’s festival, go here.

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