TVD Live Shots: Star Shaped Festival at the
O2 Kentish Town, 8/5

Oh, how I loved the ’90s, and especially the music that came out of it. While the US had is a fair share of breakthrough acts gracing the airwaves, the UK pretty much kicked everyone’s ass when it came to quality. The Brit-pop movement of the ’90s brought us some of the most revered records of all time and gave birth to legends such as Oasis, Blur, and The Verve. But some of the very best of that decade got lost in the mix and overtaken by the next wave of whatever.

Say hello to the Star Shaped Club which reminds us all why we loved this era and proves that these under celebrated artists still have quite a lot to say. The Star Shaped Club puts on monthly Brit Pop parties around the UK with the slogan “Come party like it’s 1995.” They shine a light on the best of ’90s Brit-pop both popular and obscure, brilliantly tapping into nostalgia and keeping the lights on in the house that NME and Melody Maker both built.

Headlining the half day indoor festival was The Bluetones, a band that I missed completely in the ’90s as they didn’t enjoy much success stateside but were massive here in the UK. These guys scored thirteen Top 40 singles and three Top 10 albums in the UK charts, and were the only band on the bill that has remained pretty much active since their heyday. Furthermore, frontman Mark Morris just released a new solo record via Pledge that seems to be doing quite well after achieving 250% of its goal. Having never heard these guys before I was impressed enough to pick up a T-shirt on the way out and added them to my Spotify playlist. How they never broke through in the States is a mystery to me.

The newsmaker of the festival was the return of Sleeper after a 19-year hiatus. Led by charismatic frontwoman Louse Wener, Sleeper released three albums before they split in 1998. They looked and sounded fantastic as they tore through a set of Sleeper classics and fan favorites that had the ENTIRE audience bouncing uncontrollably in true ’90s fashion.

While much of the hype of the night revolved around the last two bands, Liverpool’s quirky Brit-pop pioneers Space stole the show. Their 1996 album Spiders is arguably one of the best debuts of that decade. Frontman Tommy Scott completely owned the stage having rightfully switched from playing bass guitar in the ’90s to sporting a vintage EKO guitar and swigging on a full bottle of red wine. The entire band was brilliant and the set choices superb.

The late afternoon saw London trio Dodgy continuing to warm up the crowd (I missed the first two acts of the festival). As the host of a set of feel good power pop songs from their substantial catalog (here’s another ’90s act that has kept it going with a string of singles and albums) Dodgy kept it simple but upbeat and entertaining. The band’s latest record What Were Fighting For, released to solid reviews in 2016, is definitely worth a listen.

SPACE

DODGY

THE BLUETONES

The Star Shaped Festival tour continues as it hits Manchester at the O2 on August 19.

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