Although festival season is pretty much over there is one that is just gearing up for its tenth outing and it is taking place this weekend in Birmingham. Curators Capsule’s influence on Birmingham’s music scene over the past 10 years has been vast, and their highly regarded Supersonic Festival is perhaps most representative of the fruits of their labours, transforming the city’s Custard Factory into a hub of exciting, cutting edge music and art.
From its humble beginnings as a single day event back in 2003, Supersonic has blossomed into one of the world’s premier showcases for the experimental and avant-garde. The festival has consistently boasted some of the most eclectic line ups in British festival history; from free jazz to folk, dubstep to doom metal, progressive rock to power electronics and much more, there really is something for everyone at Supersonic.
For the tenth anniversary of the festival, Capsule have once again assembled an incredible line up befitting of such a special event. Kim Gordon (pictured), of Sonic Youth fame, will be taking to the stage alongside Vampire Belt guitarist Bill Nace to perform songs from her experimental new project Body/Head – a spectacle that no self-respecting Sonic Youth fan is going to want to miss!
Elsewhere, London based producer and ex-Techno Animal founder Kevin Martin will be bringing hefty dub basslines and grimey dancehall vibes by the bucket load as The Bug, accompanied by the world’s fastest rapper (and founder of Raggamuffin hip hop) Daddy Freddy and Flow Dan (co-founder of UK Grime collective Roll Deep). This will be the fourth time Kevin has performed at the festival, following on from a triumphant King Midas Sound set last year. Coincidentally, Kevin’s former Techno Animal cohort (and Godflesh/Jesu mastermind) Justin Broadrick will also be performing this year, unveiling his brand new JK Flesh project in Supersonic’s enormous Warehouse venue – surely the perfect setting for Broadrick’s dark industrial soundscapes!
Eugene S. Robinson and Niko Wenner of San Francisco’s premier avant-rock outfit Oxbow will be teaming up with a selection of local string, woodwind and brass musicians to give their songs a whole new lease of life as the Oxbow Orchestra, which promises to be an extremely special performance indeed! The ever-unpredictable London duo Hype Williams will be gracing us with their hypnagogic lo-fi electronica, whilst a trio of prominent Finnish artists will provide some more esoteric sounds, with Islaja’s uniquely psychedelic approach to folk, Lau Nau’s curiously exotic harmonies and Tomoutonttu’s exuberant cacophony of streams, mutilated voices and found sounds broadening the festival’s sonic palette even further. And this is only the tip of the iceberg – in addition to catching some of your favourite artists, one of the joys of Supersonic is its explorative nature and open, friendly atmosphere; music fans from all walks of life are sure to come away with all manner of new discoveries!
But it’s not just music that’s on offer; Supersonic also has a deluge of workshops, exhibitions and other extracurricular activities, ranging from the fantastical to the educational. One of this year’s highlights will undoubtedly be Justice Yeldham’s Vinyl Rally, a large scale art installation that invites you to take control of a remote car with a stylus attached to its underbelly, via a full size arcade style racing console (complete with immersive 50” flat screens). As you pilot the tiny vehicle across a track constructed entirely out of old vinyl records, the needle picks up on pieces of each record, unleashing utter aural pandemonium in the process.
Weekend tickets are a steal at a mere £80, which are available from local record store Polar Bear Records as well as the usual outlets like Seetickets.com. If music be the food of love, then Supersonic promises to be a banquet of epic proportions – don’t miss out!
Supersonic, The Custard Factory, Birmingham 19-21 October
Words by Kez Whelan