This year Preston is proudly following in the footsteps of Paris, London, New York and Madrid by hosting its own Pop Fest: a celebration of inspiring, affecting and resolutely D.I.Y. pop music.
Preston Pop Fest takes over The Continental (and late nights at sister venue The Ferret) for an amazing weekend in August featuring the best of the UK indiepop scene, connecting the dots between the bands and personalities that created their own culture in the 1980s and those that have picked up the baton in the 2020s. In addition to a full 3 day, 2 stage line-up of impeccable live music, there will be a lunchtime film program, sinister stories in the snug at midnight from some of Britain’s best writers, and, if you dare, the chance to get up on stage and be Mark E Smith!
Much-loved Glaswegians and genuine chart-toppers, The Bluebells, make a super-rare appearance south of the border closing out the Sunday evening of Pop Fest. Close Lobsters and The Wolfhounds, two bands who starred on NME’s genre-defining C86 compilation, but who have both produced some exceptional new work in the last 12 months, headline on Friday and Saturday night respectively, whilst Wolfhounds’ singer David Lance Callahan also presents his solo material elsewhere during the weekend.
The important indie-pop labels of the 80s and 90s, Creation and Sarah, are represented by The Jazz Butcher, The Jasmine Minks, The Orchids and Robert Sekula (of 14 Iced Bears). The songwriter behind arguably the most influential album of the early 80s, Young Marble Giants’ peerless ‘Colossal Youth’, Stuart Moxham is also on the bill, as are genuine indie-pop legends Amelia Fletcher (Talulah Gosh/Heavenly) and Hue Williams (Pooh Sticks) who appear in a new band with unimpeachable attitude, Swansea Sound. Crewe’s The Train Set will be reprising their classic single, ‘She’s Gone.’
Preston Pop Fest also has a cracking selection of new acts, most of whom have never played in the North West before. Jetstream Pony have been picking up a massive buzz since issuing their self-titled debut album last year and their dreamy, propulsive pop tunes with elements of shoegaze are completely addictive. Sheffield’s Potpurri supply space age bachelorette pad music delivered with a glacial cool that belies their warm hearts. US Highball are the latest addition to the great tradition of Glasgow janglepop bands like BMX Bandits and Teenage Fanclub and Anglo-French outfit Love Tan recall the untutored sexy innocence of another Glasgow group, The Vaselines. Marcel Wave include members of Sauna Youth and Cold Pumas, channel early Fall and Stranglers musically, and feature the trenchant vocals and poetry of writer Maike Hale-Jones : quite simply a stunning combination. London outfit Barry provided with the indiepop anthem of last year with ‘Liz Naylor’ and cannot fail to put a smile on your face. Laura Fell is a superior singer-songwriter, who has already established herself as a major talent with her debut album ‘Safe from Me.’ Michael and the Angelos are a mystery solving, draft dodging beat combo, obsessed with freak beat and Pebbles compilations.
We also dig a bit deeper than your average Pop Fest to excavate the links between indie-pop and the parallel universe of quirky, uncompromising left-field pop acts that spread across the UK underground in the 80s and 90s, illuminating Preston venues like The Caribbean Club, Raiders and The Adelphi and who galvanised a generation of kids into hitch hiking to gigs, sleeping on platforms and starting their own bands and fanzines. We know which band the Age of Chance’s guitarist plays in today and we’re going to book them! (it’s The Bad Daddies by the way). One of John Peel’s favourite bands, self-styled pop-sike landscape gardeners Yeah Yeah Noh are allowed out to have fun on the lawn for the first time in several years. Dave Jackson, a 7-time Peel session vet with The Room and Benny Profane, presents the current vehicle for his ambitious widescreen songwriting, The Room in the Wood. Mike and Mark from Bogshed, simultaneously one of the most derided and revered of the C86 acts, will annoy you all over again in their krautrock monolith Something or Somebody. Jane and Annie from 90s Glasgow riot grrls Lungleg return in superlative new acts Spread Eagle and Normal Service. Alan Brown from jazz/punk firebrands bIG fLAME continues to spread the cubist pop manifesto in The Great Leap Forward. Jer, Ali and Richie from 90s noiseniks Dawson present a rare show from their current angular pop project, Sumshapes. Preston’s main contributors to this scene, Cornershop and The Dandelion Adventure, are represented by ex-members in new acts, Ginnel and uhr.
At midnight on each evening of Pop Fest, the programme in the Continental winds down with a sinister tale told by one of the UK’s premier writers. Nicholas Blincoe started his career in the arts with a rap 12” on Factory Records in 1987 (which may crop elsewhere during the weekend!) and Manchester music and nightlife informed his early run of superior crime thrillers like Acid Casuals and Manchester Slingback. He was a founding member of the ‘New Puritans’ literary movement which advocated a clean, minimalist, strongly narrative prose style. Cathi Unsworth was a rock journalist for Sounds and Melody Maker before publishing her first novel, The Not Knowing, in 2005. Since then Cathi has carved out a reputation as one of Britain’s foremost noir writers, producing 5 further novels and numerous short stories. A new edition of her 3rd novel, Bad Penny Blues, is being released by Strange Attractor Press this year. Graham Duff’s writing is influenced by the worlds of horror and science fiction, musical sub-cultures and the realms of fine art and art house cinema. Graham’s most well-known piece of work is possibly ‘Ideal’, the surreal sit com featuring Johnny Vegas as a small time dope dealer. In 2021 Graham publishes ‘The Otherwise’ his much anticipated horror film treatment, co-written with the late Mark E Smith.
d speaking of Mr Smith, on Friday night Preston Pop Fest offers you something extra special: the chance to be the Hip Priest from Prestwich yourself, live on stage fronting a terrific group. The Fallen Women are the live Fall karaoke band who are primed and ready with a huge selection from the Salford legends’ repertoire. They play the songs and you, yes YOU, sing them. The Fallen Women rarely play outside London and this is an unmissable opportunity to catch them Hit the North. Films on Saturday and Sunday lunchtime at the Continental and late night live acts and indie pop DJ sets on Friday and Saturday night at the Ferret round off a tremendous weekend’s entertainment for an extremely reasonable £40.
Preston Pop Fest line up: (click on the links for more info on each act)
The Bluebells, Close Lobsters, The Wolfhounds, The Jazz Butcher, The Jasmine Minks, The Orchids, Stuart Moxham, Jetstream Pony, Swansea Sound, The Fallen Women, Potpurri, US Highball, Barry, Yeah Yeah Noh, Robert Sekula (14 Iced Bears), The Train Set, The Room in the Wood, Vukovar, The Great Leap Forward, Laura Fell, Marcel Wave, Love Tan, Sumshapes, Ginnel, Something or Somebody (Bogshed), Fighting, Spread Eagle, Normal Service, Thee Windom Earles, Stephen Hartley, David Lance Callahan, Cowgirl, The Strange, The Bad Daddies, Surfing Pointers, Dork Turnspit, uhr, Baboon, Missing Kids, plus stories from Nicholas Blincoe, Cathi UnsworthandGraham Duff!
Please note: The event information above has been added by the organiser. Whilst we try to ensure all details are up-to-date we do not make any warranty or representation as to the accuracy or completeness of the information shown.