Float Along Festival Impresses In Debut Year
During a festival season blighted by cancellations and low ticket sales, Float Along proved you can get it right, it just takes a little thought.
With ‘traditional’ festival ticket sales in a bit of a slump right now, it would be understandable for promoters to go very risk-off with new shows, but some, including Manchester’s Strange Days, seem to be bucking the trend with slightly off-kilter, some might say niche, events. Float Along festival was one such outlier. In appealing to the more adventurous music fan, Strange Days may just have cracked the formula for selling tickets at a time when doing so is just getting more and more difficult.
Coming across Modern Woman early doors on the second stage at Sheffield’s under-threat Leadmill, it was obvious why they are rapidly building a serious following. Ploughing a similar furrow to Sinead O’Brien, it’s hard not to imaging Modern Woman playing on much bigger stages in the not too distant future.
Record shop gigs rarely disappoint, but the trek up one off Sheffield’s many hill to their Record Junkee show meant Youth Sector had a little extra work to do to make this one worthwhile. By the end of their set I’d have climbed the rest of the hills in the city just to see them do it again. It is impossible not to dance to Youth Sector, and their We Are Scientists x Strokes schtick makes them the perfect band for when the legs are getting tired and the weariness is kicking in
Scattered amongst all of this, we were treated to impressive sets from star-in-waiting Strawberry Guy, who delighted a sizeable crowd with his mellow dream-pop and affable humour, Prima Queen who’s indie punk stylings went down a storm, Fur, who’s main stage opening set showed just why they should be playing on stages like this far more often, and the impossible to not love Warmduscher, who tore up a very sweaty Network stage early in the evening.
As the day went on, and the festival got busier and busier, it became apparent just how strong the booking was for Float Along. In any sane world, WH Lung would not be playing the small second stage of a festival, but by the time I got back to the Leadmill, the room was rammed and security at the door were blocking further entry. This is a band who will be selling out much bigger venues than this in the not too distant future, and it will be well deserved. WH Lung have the potential to be the biggest band in the UK.
Given it’s a long time since Everything Everything played a venue this small, it was little surprise to find out that a group of fans crammed onto the front row had travelled from Basingstoke for this show. Their 9 hour round trip was rewarded by a band at the top of their game, who tore through a storming eighteen song set which opened with the disco-funk of Teletype, and barely paused for breath until the final, heartfelt laments of No Reptiles had been screamed into the Sheffield night by a room full of contented fans.
Float Along Festival is definitely one to watch for the future. A thoughtfully programmed, superbly executed city festival that never once felt like a compromise. 2023’s edition can’t come soon enough.
Words and photos: Thomas Jackson