“Here we go for another year,” The Bank Accounts’ Benjamin Kane comments, listing important annual events while buying a round of drinks. “There’s this, then Christmas.” Sure, All Years Leaving isn’t the biggest event on the calendar, but continuing in its yearly trend of drawing together some of the most exciting acts around, the two-day event has become somewhat synonymous with a sense of celebration. And celebration is exactly what’s on offer. Armed with a Poundland-bought bubble machine, The Bank Accounts embody the spirit of revelry the festival has become known for. Stepping out into the street while they play (because why shouldn’t everyone be a part of the show?), before passing a bottle of prosecco then a bottle of rum around the crowd (a bribe, they explain – “we just want to be liked”), the band balance humour and hearty sing-a-longs with an intoxicating ease – a common theme throughout the weekend.
Joking about their “favourite London phrase” (‘smog’, in case anyone was wondering) between cuts from new album ‘Grow Into It’, Doe effortlessly shine under the stage lights. Laughing about how they always introduce their band with a list of requests to the sound technician, Dama Scout’s ever-evolving dynamics hold the room in awe. Bringing their sun-spangled hipnopop to life with a set of sensational dance moves, Baywaves turn the energy up to eleven.
Performing a set mostly comprised of songs from this year’s ‘Black Rainbow Sound’, Menace Beach are at their shimmering best. Album highlight ‘8000 Molecules’ echoes with an ethereal charm, like a lullaby from inside a toy spaceship, while longtime fan favourite ‘Tastes Like Medicine’ has the room dancing. Speedy Ortiz step onto the stage ready to make every moment count. Anthems like “Raising The Skate” resound with more power than ever alongside newer cuts like “Villain”, which take on a new lease of life on stage. Headlining the festival off the back of their debut album, The Orielles are a force to be reckoned with. Theirs is an energy of excitement, a whirlwind of enjoyment, and a dash of cowbell to boot, all realised through addictive hooks, shimmy-along rhythms, and contagious chorus vocals that has the whole room beaming well into the night.
On day two, it’s in an already packed room that The Hungry Ghosts kick the event into motion, their country-tinged rock and roll proving as driving as it is delicious. Mush stumble over an early technical difficulty (“I wouldn’t stop for just anything, but I’m being electrocuted by this microphone – people have died from that!”) but are fast to find their feet, their distinctive post-punk stylings quick to endear them to the gathered crowd.
Playing new album ‘Blackout Cowboy’ in full in the venue stables, Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam are a whirlwind of energy – a welcomed contrast to the goings on in the main room, where Snail Mail enchant and engage, Lindsey Jordan’s vocals a shimmering point of strength amid soaring guitars. Warmduscher combine heavy refrains with a dexterity for storytelling, before Goat Girl’s contagious take on post-punk amps up the excitement as high as it can go.
Even before their debut album was released, Dream Wife were fast recognised as one of the most exciting live acts around. With a record full of now-crowd-favourites under their belt, that magnetism has only magnified. From the moment the opening riffs of ‘Hey Heartbreaker’ start up, the outfit have the venue in the palm of their hands. Alice Go and Bella Podpadec fuel the energy of the room, throwing themselves into what they’re playing with all they have, while Rakel Mjöll shines on centre stage, playing into the energy of the crowd to hammer the lyrics home. Every song’s a sing-along, the lingering chants of ‘F.U.U.’ and ‘Somebody’ resounding with a sense of affirmation that cuts straight to the core. And really, that’s what All Year’s Leaving is all about: offering good music and a good time, uninhibited by the world outside the venue doors, what more could you want from a music festival?
Words: Jessica Goodman