Finding an abundance of talent
Aidan Moffat Live At Let's Get Lost festival, Derby

Cleverly concealed behind red brick, on the banks of the River Derwent, is Derby’s Silk Mill. This venue is rich in heritage. It was once the first mill of its kind in Britain, but today sees it in a rather different incarnation. This urban space containing old industrial machinery and Rolls Royce aeroplane propellers has been transformed. Hidden away from passing trade, it houses the aptly named Let’s Get Lost festival by Holy Smokes.

First to grace our ears on arrival are Crushing Blows: an indie noise-pop duo with catchy guitar hooks and danceable melodies to boot. Think Broken Social Scene meets British Sea Power, without the giant bear dancing onstage. The passion with which this performance is played out, could not fail to rouse even the slowest of punters from their post-lunch stupor.

Next we stroll to the second stage, where Mender and o_S_k_m provide a live soundtrack to Fritz Lang’s 1927 sci-fi classic ‘Metropolis’, which is projected on a large screen against the industrial backdrop. Using keyboard, guitar and sequencers, they score the film to perfection. The machine room scenes are set to pulsing electronic rhythms that sync with the jerky movements of the workers. In contrast, the utopian garden scene is laced with delicate guitar lines. The result is incredibly special.

Post-hardcore band Crash Of Rhinos are a tour de force of noise, assaulting the senses with fast-paced thrashing of multiple guitars and ever-changing drumbeats. Unpredictable and emotive, they decorate the changeable structure with repetitive riffs and complex bass lines, whilst all five musicians burst forth, providing vocals. Evidently hailing from Derby, they are very popular, pulling the biggest crowd of the day so far. Expect big things.

RM Hubbert is gentle and soothing in comparison. He sits centre stage, hugging his acoustic guitar to his body as if cradling a sleeping baby. Hubbert strums and picks so effortlessly. It is as though the guitar is somehow attached to his body – a musical appendage that has been with him for life.

Blanck Mass meets mixed response from his Derby audience. Formerly one half of drone band Fuck Buttons, Benjamin John Power’s solo project incorporates synths and samples to bring swirling electronic soundscapes that are laced with familiar riffs. There is a clear divide between those captivated by the intensity of Blanck Mass’s sound, and those who are unsure of music that takes on a more avant-garde form. The introduction of subtle beats has everyone moving in unison and eventually the audience’s collective approval is met.

Tonight’s headliner comes in the form of former Arab Strap vocalist, Aidan Moffat. Armed with only an autoharp, Moffat strums deftly whilst singing gentle tales that are often humorous and heart-breaking in equal measure. During a song about Grease (the movie), the audience are encouraged to sing a bass line whilst Moffat weaves his poetry over the top, to amusing effect. This is followed by a song in two parts about a brain haemorrhage. The serious subject matter is still tinged with humour, which makes the performance both endearing and emotional. His final song, which ends with the line “Money’s OK, but love is the best”, is greeted with rapturous applause.

Holy Smokes are doing big things for the arts scene of a small city. The diverse line-up meshes together a rich tapestry of influences, and each performance is met with such astounding enthusiasm – the consistency of which is rare at an event like this. The Let’s Get Lost festival is a place where talent is found: in abundance.

Words by Becci Ride
Photo by Emma Hallam

Click here for a photo gallery of the festival.

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