The 9th Annual Lancaster Music Festival started just after our last subtext issue gently settled in readers’ inboxes. This year two of the sponsors were iLancaster (ISS) and Lancaster University Management School and the programme featured University of Lancaster Music Society (ULMS) Big Band, ULMS Brass band, ULMS Choir and the Haffner Orchestra – Lancaster’s very own symphony orchestra. They played in St. Nic’s arcade on Saturday afternoon, the crowds making it impossible to push a buggy through the shopping mall!
Running from late on Wednesday (12 October) to late on Monday (16 October) and featuring over 500 acts at nearly 50 different locations this was an ambitious project and for this correspondent the organisers dutifully delivered. Sprinkled with some international and national acts the programme featured predominately Lancaster bands/groups/artists. We have mentioned this previously but it is worth reiterating that it is something of a sociological phenomenon that a place as relatively small as Lancaster has over the years produced, and continues to produce, such an eclectic and talented bunch of musicians.
The festival brought together the various tribes of Lancaster and its hinterlands in the city centre. These are distinct groupings of folk who are rarely seen in the city together; they descended upon this temporary ‘tin pan alley’ because of their love of and/or curiosity about music in all its glorious forms. The actual range and variety of styles and genres of music was amazing – to use the old saying, there was something for everyone. Your correspondent was particularly entranced by the Lancaster band EZCP playing ‘video game music’, something I had not come across before, and from Graz, Austria the very entertaining trio Uptown Monotones who are best described as brilliantly odd. A strange, very entertaining mixture of folk, beatbox, pop and electronic weirdness – great fun.
As well as Lancaster residents it was obvious that people had travelled from far and near to enjoy the festival. We bumped into ex-residents who had come up from London, families from Yorkshire and folk from Manchester, hardly a place devoid of musical entertainment. Visitors could be spotted with their festival maps trying to work out where the various venues were. Some folk obviously, after consulting their programmes, moved on to enjoy a different act elsewhere whilst some festival goers found a venue and stayed put whatever acts were performing. This year there was a shuttle bus service helping people move around the city.
During the day it was a very family friendly affair with babes-in arms, toddlers, kids, teenagers, mums and dads and older folk mingling and enjoying what was a wonderful extended weekend of live music. Throughout the Festival the city centre had an entirely different vibe – it really did feel quite jolly. The weather was generally kind, despite Get Carter (who were, as usual, brilliant) teasing the audience about the threat of rain.
The organisers should be warmly congratulated on putting together such a fantastic event and Lancaster University should be proud to be so closely associated with such a widely appreciated extravaganza.