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Saturday 27 May the bright sun beat down on Brockwell park, teaming with young 20-something year old trendies. This was Wide Awake. With Caroline Polachek on her first ever headliner position at the mainstage, and appearances from Shygirl plus Coucou Chloe this festival was a sonic feast for the dance-pop inclined. Yet the line-up was equally eclectic with post-punkers Viagra boys, alternative indie classics Black Country New Road and electronic giant Daniel Avery gracing the stages. It was a melting pot of musical treats.

Opened by an angelic Naima Bock, the festival got off to a good (albeit slightly delayed) start. Her folk-inflected Brazilian-inspired music gave an ambience of lightness in the bright atmosphere of the festival, floating on the cloud of her clear voice. Next up on our agenda was experimentalist Nuha Ruby Rah whose self-assured, don’t give a fuck screams pumped up the Village Underground tent. Slapping hits of guitar and driving drumbeats equally suited to some kind of late night afterparty proved revitalising in the afternoon sun as people swelled to Nuha Ruby Rah’s wails. Far more uplifting than her tracks isolated on Spotify the crowd really amplified the chaotic energy of her music. An unmissable set that overshadowed tamer performers like Los Bitchos later in the day.

Back on the mainstage Alex G, the indie starlet, invited Caroline Polachek and her bass guitarist Maya to share the song Mission with him. His set was yet another warm and enjoyable performance that saw fans shouting out his lyrics. For Jockstap, supporters spilled out over the festival grounds with not enough space in the tent for everyone who wanted to catch a glimpse of the Greatest Hits performers. Boogying and jostling in sardine formation ensued. The highlights of the festival Shygirl and Caroline Polachek created a space for queer joy in the crowd. Shygirl confidently addressed her home-region of London, the South, with brief tales of her coochie appreciation, encouraging calls of agreement from those watching. Meanwhile Caroline Polachek mostly interspersed her hypnotic performance with words of gratitude repeatedly thanking the crowd. All in all, well worth the day out.

Bella Spratley
Luke Dyson

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