Wide Awake 2024: a sun-drenched paradise for the misfits, the moshers and the genre-defiers

Wide Awake Festival 2024

With ample representation from grassroots venues, magazines, record stores and radio outlets alike: Wide Awake’s colourful lineup poster reads as a United Nations summit for the head honchos of Britain’s rich alternative scene.

Now celebrating several years since first announcing itself to revellers back in 2021 (2020 was scheduled to be the inaugural event; but the less said about that, the better), the Brockwell Park showcase has comfortably found its feet and fires the starting pistol on festival season with relish.

Taking to the snappily-named Desert Daze X Bad Vibes X Manchester Psych Fest stage early in the afternoon, Babe Rainbow roll out the tie dye carpet and welcome arrivals to a day bookended by Aussie psychedelia. Donning a cropped fluorescent overshirt and wielding a quartet of maracas, frontman Angus Dowling sets a joyous tone; coaxing the sunshine out for a tenure which will last all day.

Brooklyn outfit Crumb offer a variation on the theme of woozy guitarwork, and pull the first sizeable crowd of the day on the main stage, before Model/Actriz take to an overflowing MOTH Club tent.

Model/Actriz by Garry Jones

After stealing the show via the Disco Pogo bandstand at last year’s event, 2024 sees M/A deservedly promoted to a much larger space: one that is still incapable of containing their cloud of industrial noise rock. Parting the crowded marquee like the red sea, enigmatic vocalist Cole Haden personally covers every inch of the moshpit over a ten-minute rendition of ‘Mosquito’, a fitting representative from the band’s stellar 2023 debut album, Dogsbody.

Many of those emerging from the sweaty MOTH Club tent put their energy reserves to the test, joining the mass-commute towards the mammoth crowd forming in anticipation of Fat Dog’s debut Wide Awake performance. Both of FD’s early singles, ‘King of the Slugs’ and ‘All The Same’, are aired early in proceedings, leaving ample space in the set to concentrate on stirring the audience into a hellish frenzy of klezmer, cinematic monologuing and an unexpected cover of Benny Benassi’s ‘Satisfaction’.

The highlight in a day of highlights comes courtesy of Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul, who deliver tracks from their 2023 album Topical Dancer to an ever-growing audience on the main stage. Irresistible disco percussion and cyberpunk synthesizer riffs coalesce with the duo’s onstage chemistry to produce a rare moment of unadulterated perfection in the unpredictable world of festival performance as the South London sun edges towards the horizon to bathe Brockwell Park in an orange hue.

Charlotte Adigéry by Luke Dyson

Young Fathers, Slowdive and Lynks all contribute to an embarrassment of early-evening riches while the sky’s orange gradient makes way for a darker canopy ahead of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s headline performance.

Over a period of 90 minutes – during which the band enjoy an accumulative break of around 20 seconds – King Gizz blast through the outer echelons of psychedelic rock, paying homage to around half of the albums from their gargantuan discography in a performance worthy of closing any event.

Curating a 25,000 capacity festival fuelled solely by artists on the outside of the stadium-filling mainstream makes for an eyebrow raising business model on paper. Wide Awake – however – hasn’t merely survived, but thrived whilst reaching the status of valuable cultural hub: a sun-drenched paradise for the misfits, the moshers and the genre-defiers which is fit to go toe to toe with any of the big boys among Britain’s festival calendar.

Luke Dyson
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