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Wide Awake Festival, a HIDEOUS recap!

Updated: Jul 15

Words & photography by Angelika May



As Wide Awake marks its fourth year as a top UK festival for London's grassroots scene, evolution has been key to its success. Over the years, Wide Awake has steadily infused a wider variety of genres while maintaining its grassroots essence which has broadened the festival's appeal, attracting a larger and more diverse crowd. This approach ensures that the festival not only highlights the best of the local scene but also caters to festival-goers by featuring renowned artists. Over the years of its success, the production value has significantly elevated. Each stage has been meticulously curated and enhanced with fantastic graphic elements to aid a taste of visual allure. 


Eartheater


The UK festival scene is currently under fire, with many bands openly boycotting festivals associated with Barclaycard. This boycott stems from Barclays Bank's ownership of over £2 billion in shares, a provision of £6.1 billion in loans and underwriting to nine companies involved in supplying weapons, components, and military technology used in attacks on Palestinians by Israel. Wide Awake is an uncontroversial festival that, if it isn't already, should definitely be on your radar. Its sponsors include local venues, maintaining a focus on elevating its own scene. Among them are Bad Vibrations, LNZRT, and some of the original Field Day founders, as well as the individuals behind MOTH Club and The Shacklewell Arms. 


Though I may be mighty, I am small. Here's my roundup of Wide Awake based on what I managed to see with the legs that God gave me.


The New Eves



So Young x Shacklewell Arms Stage (for discovering new artists). 


The New Eves - It's no secret that I'm completely enamoured with these celestial creatures. Their set laid out great energy for the day, pure angel-fueled dynamic folk-rock energy.


Corsica Studios Stage (for a BOOGIE) 


The Itch - The cowbell was a PAID ACTOR! Their unbelievably fun set had me dancing non-stop. They're a fantastic festival band that delivers everything you need for a funky electronic discotheque: cracking basslines, slippery riffs, and an impeccable drummer. They kept the energy high throughout the entire set - also a great band to dance away the ‘cozzie-liv’ blues - with poignant cultural observation in their lyrics.


Bad Vibrations Stage (for VIBES) 


Babe Rainbow - Gorgeous psych soft-rock straight from Aussie’s finest, you can practically taste salted air with their easy breezy summer set. If the film ‘Blazed and Confused’ was a band - pure hazy joy! 


Bodega - Eccentric punk art, who stated they were dedicating their set to everyone who has been protesting against the current ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Fantastic stage presence and one of the coolest lead guitarists to exist... possibly?


Squid - How does he drum and sing simultaneously? It's a mystery that remains unsolved! Is it wizardry, just like the magic of patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time? Wild, unpredictable and deliciously raucous. 


Slow Dive - Shoegaze, is shoegaze…they're renowned for good reason: tight, polished, years of experience and a clearly well-formed relationship with each other that made their set feel like visiting an old friend. However, I wouldn't attend another outdoor performance of theirs; the sunshine seemed to take away from the essence; it lacked the dark, moody atmosphere I attribute to their sound. Back to the crevices of my bedroom with headphones!



Slowdive



Disco Pogo Stage (for MOSHING or BEATS)


The sound on this stage was my only minor criticism. Positioned between Moth Club and still within earshot of Main Stage, sound tended to carry and was only clear up close.


Lambrini Girls - First and foremost, kudos to the highly efficient response team for ensuring safety and crowd control. A thrashing set, sweaty, turbulent, and, as always, deeply political. Lambrini Girls used their platform to discuss abuse in the scene, encouraging people to call out their friends. "If you hear something dodgy about them, sit down and have a conversation with them," they emphasised. It's incredibly important to nip this in the bud as early as possible, as only 6-8% of sexual assault cases end up in conviction. Believe victims!



Lambrini Girls



Moth Club Stage (for dark ELECTRONICA) 


EARTHEATER - Served !! 


Alice Glass - A performance by a woman who has reclaimed herself, fiercely dark, vivid, and powerful. Alice Glass is an absolute powerhouse.


Main Stage (does what it says on the TIN) 


Crumb - The incorporation of visual elements added an extra layer of depth to the band's performance. Their adept utilisation of synthesisers added great depth and texture over Lila Ramani’s ethereal vocals. 


Dry Cleaning - Queens of Sprechgesang, but this style of apathetic lyricism didn’t quite resonate with me in the context of a festival, another one for the headphones and the crevices!


Young Fathers - The POWER! Young Fathers are a force not to be reckoned with. I felt the bass coursing through my veins, reverberating through my bones and nearly sending my eyeballs flying. The masters of progressive Hip-Hop and potentially the most stylish band of the whole day?


Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul - This woman ATE, she ATE up the whole set, the girl was sated! Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul are an indispensable duo, like cheese and crackers, bread and butter, or fish and chips. Dance, dance, dance until your feet fall off, and the most hypnotising laugh in the music industry (if you know, you know). 


King Gizzard - Just fucking headbanging rock'n'roll - need I say more?


Ended the night with…


Byrnes Night - I have to admit, I ended the night not with the Lizard Wizards, but with Byrne's Night over at the Bad Vibration stage. Comprising of drag queens, iconic British cult cinematic visuals, and Talking Heads covers performed by ten to twelve musicians, I couldn’t say no. Chef’s kiss. 



Alice Glass


Accessibility needs; as a journalist without significant accessibility needs, my perspective may be limited. However, I observed that the festival took steps to enhance accessibility.


There were large ramps / viewing platforms specifically for those with access needs, including raised platforms. The hills didn’t have a very steep incline, and the stages were relatively close together.


Additionally, sign language interpreters were present on the main stage.



Wide Awake, I love ya! 


 


Tickets for Wide Awake 2025 are available here

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