Category Archives: Festivals

Shadow Orchestra plays Off The Tracks

Another weekend, another gig bloody miles away. After last week’s epic trip to Galtres festival, the 120-mile drive to Castle Donington near Derby for a Shadow Orchestra gig at the small-but-perfectly-formed Off The Tracks festival seemed like a mere hop up the motorway.

The festival seemed quieter than when we’ve been in previous years, and the second stage (which we were headlining) had been moved to a much smaller barn than last time, with the world’s teeniest stage.

But we had a great little crowd, despite being programmed at the same time as Dhol Foundation, the mainstage headliners.  They sounded brilliant from the little I heard, and I was gutted to be missing them

I’m bloody knackered though – I think I may have festival fatigue. Still, only gigs on 8th, 9th, 10th, 16th and 23rd September to go, then I can relax a bit…

Here are some pics:

Here’s Manchester reggae band Extra Love giving it some, err, extra love:


Shadow Orchestra billing Off The Tracks

We *really* need to get some new blurb...

King Capische

Sheffield's King Capisce - Thanks to guitarist Tim for booking us for the stage!

King Capisce

Shadow Orchestra

Soundchecking on the smallest stage EVER

Shadow Orchestra

Oooh arty pic!

Sunday Driver play Galtres festival – mud, mud, glorious mud

In summary: 500 miles of driving in one day; rip-off motorway service stations; knee deep in mud;  nowhere to sit down; “Levellers only” backstage area harumph; the worst cup of coffee I’ve had for a long time (I’ve excreted urine with more caffeine in it…); Chandy and Joel stricken by food poisoning; I hate the universe; sooooo glad I didn’t bring the harp; oh God the mud… the mud…; getting changed in the car; “It can’t get any worse, I suppose, let’s go for it”; playing an amazing gig to a fantastic crowd; doing the can-can in my wellies on stage to a Bollywood song; car stuck in the mud (thanks to the carpark stewards for pushing me out backwards!); an amazing sunset; drive drive drive drive; tired tired tired tired;  £4.50 for a panino*??!!!; home at last; sleep.

*the world seems reluctant to adopt my alternative singularisation, paninus

I think it may have been some kind of terrible dream. Luckily, I have photographic evidence:

Mud at Galtres festival 2011

This was the mud backstage

Sujit at Galtres festival 2011

Stand-in tabla player Sujit was not impressed


Backstage area Galtres festival 2011

The impressive 3-room marquee backstage...


...which we weren't allowed to use 😦

Backstage trailer

The boys got changed in the storage trailer

Glamorous backstage area at Galtres festival 2011

Mine and Chandy's glamorous changing room - a.k.a my car



What the best-dressed steampunk musicians are wearing this year - half a costume, wellies, and a pissed-off face

Disgusting coffee

The coffee was revolting

Beautiful sunset

The pay-off - an amazing sunset as I drove 250 miles back home

Sunday Driver play Farmer Phil’s Festival

Once we’d just about recovered from our jaunt to Norwich, Sunday Driver were off again to Shropshire for Farmer Phil’s Festival in the middle of bloody nowhere.  I turned left at Shrewsbury and kept going till the road ran out…


I wasn’t in the best of states for the gig, as I’d unexpectedly been up till 3am the night before attending to a rather dramatic accident (long story, don’t ask, it’s mostly all fine now).

It was a lovely little festie with a revolving main stage – the idea being that one band could set up on the back of the stage while another act was playing, then the stage spun round to reveal the next band. This was slightly foxed by the fact that we needed to use the house drum kit, which was on the other side of the stage, but it was a nice idea anyway.

I ended up having to put the harp right at the back of the stage, as half of it was rather bumpy grass – not the most suitable of surfaces for balancing my instrument on – and ended up spending most of the set haring back and forth across the stage like an idiot due to a poorly-planned set list.


Despite my exhaustion and general emotional fragility, I had a fun time. The sun shone, the crowd went wild, and we had a mostly good gig, despite missing Amit (still nursing a broken hand).



A special mention is due to stage manager Ray (seen here listening to Mel whinging about something, no doubt…) who was really lovely and kept a very tight (revolving) ship.


I made it back to east London in just under 4 hours and collapsed into bed, trying to salvage as much sleep as possible in preparation for our grand adventure the next day… More of that in the next post.

GigFAIL and GigWIN: Shadow Orchestra at Bimble Bandada and Soundcrash

Oh the irony – on Friday I was happily larking about on Twitter, retweeting the Guardian’s excellent Worst Gigs Ever piece, and linking to my post of Best, Worst and Weirdest gigs. Little did I know that in the space of 2 days, I would experience both ends of the “awful to awesome” gig spectrum.

It started as I got in the car with Nick from the Shadow Orchestra, and headed down to a field just outside Lewes for the Bimble Bandada festival. The traffic was a bit sticky leaving London through the Blackwall Tunnel, as it usually is.

Then it got really slow just before we reached the junction we needed off the M25, but we made it with plenty of time to chill out at the festival before our set at 7.30pm.


Dave turned up uncharacteristically late but still in good time, so we grabbed some tasty food while we waited for Chris and Mary. And waited, and waited, and waited. Our stage time crept closer, then passed, and the sun went down.


Unfortunately Chris and Mary never made it. They’d got stuck in the worst traffic jam on the M25 for years, and ended up motionless for four or five hours. Despite our desperate negotiations for a later timeslot, they were still over an hour away by 9pm and it simply wasn’t going to work.

Dave, Nick and I headed home utterly dejected. It’s one thing to play a bad gig but at least know you gave it your best shot – it’s another entirely to not be able to play at all due to circumstances completely out of your control. I’ve been gigging for more than 15 years and I don’t think that’s ever happened to me.

So we were understandably a bit nervous about Saturday’s gig for Soundcrash up on the Dalston Roof Park. But luckily (despite a couple of dicey moments, especially when it started tipping with rain 10 minutes before our set and screwed the electrics) our experience was completely brilliant.

We played a total blinder to a fantastic up-for-it crowd, and ended the night on a total high. I was so overexcited I nearly crashed the car on the way home. Ooops…

Here are some pics:

Shadow Orchestra soundcrash soundcheck

Soundchecking an' that

Soundcrash soundman

Sound engineer MJ does his best with the world's smallest PA

Soundcrash roof party 2 running order

The cunningly waterproofed running order


Dave and Nick Shadow Orchestra

Dave and Nick hang out in the sunshine

View from Dalston roof park

Worth it for the incredible view alone


There were strawberries growing in tubs on the roof - I ate one, it was delicious (sorry)

Collectif Sindy dress Kat Shadow Orchestra

Rocking my new dress - and terrible damp hair

Double rainbows all the way

Double rainbows all the way

Dalston roof park

The end of a great night

Sunday Driver play Cambridge Folk Festival

It was good to be back on our home turf for the annual Cambridge Folk Festival for a gig last night on the “Emerging Artists” stage, which makes me think of a beautiful butterlfly crawling out of its pupa.  The drapes didn’t help.

It was a bit of a whistlestop visit for me – got the train straight there then straight back to London again, so I have no photos at all and almost can’t believe it actually happened.

Luckily, here are a couple of pics from Eva Amsen to prove we were there – hi Eva! Thanks to everyone who came to see us, you were a great crowd 🙂

Sunday Driver Cambridge Folk Festival 2011

Sunday Driver Cambridge Folk Festival 2011

If you look closely you can actually see how much I was sweating

Inselsommer 2011: Cowpats, corsets and culture in the Rhein Valley

A week or so ago, Sunday Driver packed our bags and headed off to Ludwigshafen on the Rhein for the last ever Inselsommer  festival.

We went there two years ago, and were thrilled to be invited back for what was billed as the “best of the best” from the past 10 years – huge thanks to Eleonore Hefner for inviting us and sorting everything out. I’ve already posted links to some pictures from the gig – it was brilliant!


While the rest of the band went by Ryanair to Frankfurt Hahn – the German equivalent of “London” Stansted, Amit and I took the posh route to Deutschland and flew from City airport to Frankfurt and hopped on a train to Mannheim. Very civilised.


There may have been a few beers involved…



Ludwigshafen is a charming little town…


…which featured a lady making cowpats as an art statement (as far as I could tell, from my poor translation of the leaflets she was giving out):


Cowpats aside, I highly recommend the home-made lemonade in the Koenig’s Cafe:


All dressed up and ready to play a gig:



Looking good, girlfriend:


Guten abend, Ludwigshafen!


We played a blinder. There may have been more beers afterwards…


After our gig, we were treated to a fantastic set by a band called (I believe) Ziegauner. from southern Germany. They played great funk/ska type stuff, and we were right down the front dancing our socks off:


As well as the music side of it, Inselsommer is a festival that celebrates all aspects of culture. There were some lovely artworks on site which gave the whole proceedings a really magical feeling – here are just a few of them:



I love this picture:






Guten abend Ludwigshafen! Sunday Driver play Inselsommer 2011

Last weekend I was lucky enough to head off to Germany with Sunday Driver to play at the last ever Inselsommer festival in Ludwigshafen – a small town south of Mannheim.

We went there two years ago and had a brilliant time, and this time was even better. I’ll put up a few more pics and backstage blether when I get a moment, but here are a couple of pics from Raissa Imenitova, a lovely Russian lady who I chatted to after the gig.  More of her pics here on Facebook.

Sunday Driver Inselsommer 2011

Joel and Chandy Sunday Driver Inselsommer

Joel looks on nervously as Chandy prepares for liftoff

Kat Sunday Driver Inselsommer 2011

Giving it some welly

Sunday Driver play Music at the Crossroads

Another weekend, another festival – this time a gig with Sunday Driver at the Music at the Crossroads festival on 2nd July, held just outside the unexpectedly topical destination of Chipping Norton. David Cameron and Rebekah Brooks did not turn up. I suspect they may have had more pressing engagements…

The thing I love most about small festivals is the parking – I can usually get my car pretty close to the back of the stage. This one was no exception, but the views from backstage left a lot to be desired:



Luckily the view from the front of the stage was much better, being full of the happy residents of Hook Norton and its environs, necking the local beer in the sunshine:


The rest of the billing was made up of local bands, mostly playing blues and rock. Can’t remember who this lot were, unfortunately:


The crowd were fantastic and loved our set. Though there was a group of people at the front all wearing bizarre masks of the same person. I have no idea who this woman is (any ideas? I can only assume she’s off of the telly…) but it was probably the weirdest thing I’ve seen at a gig for a long time:


Huge thanks to the HookyFest team who made it a great experience for us, from looking after us really well (free dinner and drinks! Yay!) and doing a great job of dealing with our complicated sound setup in record time.

Wettest gig ever – Sunday Driver play the Waterside Festival

The perils of being a gigging musician are manifold, from negiotiating festival toilets to driving hundreds of miles on a spare tyre, fuelled only by espresso and fruit pastilles.

On Friday,  Sunday Driver faced what could have been one of our worst gigs of the summer at the Waterside Festival in Milton Keynes. It turned out to be hilariously brilliant.

As usual, I was first to arrive. So I sat in my car for half an hour looking out at this:

Waterside festival 2011

It was absolutely pissing it down.  The only people to be seen were hiding under gazebos or scurrying away under umbrellas. This did not bode well for a great gig.

Local musicians the Cock and Bull band took to the stage first. They played a gutsy set of folky songs, and managed to get a few people bobbing up and down under the trees:

Waterside festival 2011 - Cock and Bull band

The rest of Sunday Driver turned up. There was nothing to do but shelter under the backs of our cars and hope it might clear up. It didn’t:

Waterside festival 2011 - Sunday Driver

We got set up on the (thankfully covered) stage:

Waterside festival 2011 - Sunday Driver

The crowd gathers in damp anticipation (I think some of them were hiding in the beer tent):

Waterside festival 2011

Waterside festival 2011 -no Sparklers

You'd never have kept one lit anyway

The most important thing on stage was a yellow bucket, catching the torrent of rainwater pouring off the tarpaulin before it soaked the electrics and killed us all:

Waterside Festival 2011 - bucket

In the end, we played a great set and the crowd were enthusiastically appreciative, although at one point I wasn’t sure if they were waving or drowning. Chandy and I kept breaking off in hysterical laughter at the antics of the teenagers at the front of the stage – at one point someone even tried to crowd-surf, which was an impressive feat in a moshpit of ten people.

Huge thanks to everyone who braved the rain to come and see us, and to the organisers for booking us. Shame about the weather, but I think everyone had a good time anyway.

Shadow Orchestra play Sunrise Celebration festival

I can’t believe how fast the year has gone – it doesn’t seem a minute since I was last playing at the Sunrise Celebration festival. And, yet again, I had a brilliant time even though I was only on site for about 14 hours this time.

This year I only had one gig, playing with the Shadow Orchestra on the Bimble Inn stage on Friday night:


When we arrived, the site was basking in glorious sunshine, and there was a great vibe in the air:



Shadow Orchestra at Sunrise festival

Catching up with sound engineer Sonk before our gig

Following on from the good vibes in the early evening, the night-time crowd was fantastic and totally up for it. I think we played one of our best gigs for ages, and I had a bit of an emotional moment on stage when Dave kicked in with the bass drum at the end of Sweet as a Nut.

Then, because we were in Somerset, we went in search of pig and cider. And then things got a little weird…

Sunrise Police Box