This year’s sold out Bushstock saw the guys over at Communion stake claim to six venues across Shepherd’s Bush. Having settled into its fifth year as one of London’s promising day festivals, festival goers were in for a day of trailing the latest talent the label and its friends have to offer. In the shadow of the high street and mid day Saturday lunches, the day began at St Stephen’s Church where ticket exchanges carried on well into the evening – which is also a bonus for stragglers who can’t quite make the mid day opening. With 30+ acts and three very special guest performances on the bill, as with any festival, trying to squeeze in as many acts as possible is no easy challenge to take on at Bushstock.
As the festival’s largest seated venue, St Stephen’s Church played host to nine performances which included a mind blowing, foot stomping performance by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats and an equally remarkable headline set by Villagers. The diversity in artists presented at Bushstock is perhaps one of greatest strength. Within a three minute walk of all six venues you could easily go from taking in a very intimate special guests set at the Albertine Wine Bar, to being in the midst of jam-packed crowd for a vivacious set put on by the likes of Glaswegian duo Honeyblood.
In a year of firsts for the festival, this year saw Bushstock expand from four stages to six. This included its first intimate venue with a capacity of about 30 guests. With acts only being announced twenty minutes before they took the stage; if you were lucky enough to make it to the front of the queue at the start of each set, or sneaky enough to remain seated in the front row for the duration of the venue being open – which I have no shame in admitting to – you were amongst the lucky few treated to a spectacular line up of Alex Vargas, Nick Mulvey and The Staves. In keeping with the firsts, this year’s festival included Bushstock’s first outdoor stage – The Courtyard. Located within the University of Arts Limegrove Campus, the space provided one of the larger capacity venues for the day; as a calming alternative, being able to perch on a bench with beer in hand proved ideal for taking in Michael Kiwanuka’s closing set.
Whether you’re a local or a distant visitor, events such as Bushstock always provide a new way for exploring the capital. Although you will not be promised your standard London experience (if there was ever such a thing), this commonly vibrant part of the city is very much part of the Bushstock experience. If you happen not to fancy the amazing hot dogs or beer offered on site, Uxbridge Road – which provides the network between all the venues – has more than its fair share of chain and independent restaurants to choose from if you fancied anything from kebabs to messy tacos.
The thought of meandering your way around Shepherd’s Bush on a busy Saturday afternoon, whilst trying to decide which artist’s set you’re willing to sacrifice can be overwhelming, but if you’re at Bushstock, you’re there for the music and won’t be left disappointed. If you arrive without knowing any artists on the bill, you’ll leave having discovered new favourites and maybe even some new friends. This year would be hard to beat as it was probably the most successful year the festival’s had. Bushstock leaves any music lover on a high and judging by its ability to attract the likes of Justin Vernon at various sets, it leaves artists with a wealth of inspiration and admiration to draw from.
Words By Simi Abidakun
Photos By Daniel A Harris @whatdaharris