Last of the Lizardmen take the Keynestock 2019 title

Photography by Victor Blaho

It’s very nearly the end of another summer term, and as always Keynes College has marked this year’s Keynestock was extra special as it marked the 45th anniversary of the festival, as well as the 50th anniversary of Keynes College.

The lineup included a wide mix of music, with indie acts such as Naïs and Jack Marsh, rap from Catalyst and Chroma Collective, alt rock FRO and funky ZOE and finally hard rock from the likes of Guys at the Back and Last of the Lizardmen. To the crowd’s delight, many of the bands played classics of their respective genres - but the real triumph of the evening was the wide range of original song writing showcased. Last of the Lizardmen won the crowd over and were crowned the victors for good reason, with their rebellious sound and close interaction with the crowd. But all the acts brought something fresh to the table; no matter your taste in music, there were fine performances to dance along to.

Photography by Victor Blaho

The Last of the Lizardmen were the winners and when the announcement was made the audience were thrilled. Once crowned the winners, their encore song was a cover of The Arctic Monkey’s ‘When the Sun Goes Down’. As soon as they played the beginning chords, the audience were ecstatic and many people who had turned to leave, thinking that the festival was over, came back for more.

The Guys at the Back came second place and they were also a big hit with the audience, performing a set of originals and covers.

In joint third place were ZOE, a band that met through a Christian society and try to put Christianity into their music, and Catalyst, a rapper that writes his own raps about his life and his interests.

The winner announcements at Keynestock were a big part of the night and the chants of ‘lizardmen’ from the audience made it clear who they wanted to win. All of the acts did amazingly, and it must have been a tough choice deciding who the winners were.

Specially decked out for the event, the K-Bar garden was resplendently adorned in fairy lights, balloons and blacklights, a striking summer scene complemented by the thronging crowds of music-loving students. Moods were high all evening (with booziness steadily increasing), and blessed with brilliant weather the crowds only grew as the warm evening went on.

All in all, Keynestock 2019 was a night to remember, a celebration not only of the musical talent operating right out of Canterbury, but of the enduring spirit of said talent, and those who have worked tirelessly to organise the event, for 45 years running.

A review of Nais Pierquinn: “Shy and endearing”

By Katinka Pim

Photography by Cassandra Barnard

With an aesthetic which reflected her musical style, Nais sat down and brought a heartfelt, acoustic and soulful energy to the room, showcasing a series of covers and an original of her own, ‘Not your Destiny’.

The individual appeared as shy and endearing as she walked onto the stage, the perfect opening act for the festival as she matched the sun in warmth. Her voice was reminiscent of a blend of KT Tunstall and Kylie Minogue. Her original song, which she played at the end of her set, had a poignant inspiration and was inspired by the loss of one of her friends from back home. Interviewing her, she said that she was terrified of forgetting him and by writing about the experience, he could live on in her song. Her song felt genuine and brought an awareness to all who were listening.

Overall, Nais’ style was reflective of early 2000s music, and wouldn’t be out of place on the Love Actually soundtrack. Nais herself was passionate and humble, I believe the crowd reflected her joy in performing with their positive reception.

Faded Shades: “Sulky faces and far away gazes”

By Maryah Chughtai

Photography by Cassandra Barnard

Taking to the stage in the early hours of Keynestock, Faded Shades proved themselves to be a band that could perform at any time of day. With a The Smith’s-esk vibe cross between Viola Beach, the band performed an all original, brooding set. Professional and poised, the lead singer took to the microphone and poured at his heart to the audience members listening.

Although they didn’t smile a lot, the sulky faces and far away gazes contributed to the persona of their overall act.

The band have been playing together for a while now, and it definitely shows! Without batting an eyelid, the band would easily slide into their next song in sync as though they were communicating telepathically.

The band’s music can be found on Spotify and, admittedly, I have been listening to it continuously. Ain’t For Me is officially a banger.

Catalyst: “Uh, remember Club Penguin?”

By Ellie Fielding

Photography by Cassandra Barnard

Catalyst maybe, “didn’t know what he was doing” in his crowd winning song “Late Night Clubbing” but he certainly did on the stage at Keynestock 2019. Sam Wren, 20, was third to perform on the Keynestock stage last Saturday and third runner up. His set was fun, engaging and entertaining, as he was the first act to really bring the crowd alive at the end of his set.

His music is a mix of techno, hip-hop and comedy which doesn’t fail to make you laugh and dance. The mix of genres created a sound not dissimilar to the British band The Midnight Beast when they first took YouTube by storm. Impressively, Sam Wren (Catalyst) writes and produces all his own music, all of which is based on his real-life experiences and contains hilarious and relatable student references.

His performance started off a little slow as he came on early in the evening, but that didn’t stop him from commanding the crowd and making the stage his own. His occasional lyric mishaps were completely blindsided by his fun and lively presence and only added to the humour of his songs.

The crowd favourite’s were his penultimate song of the night P.O.P which humorously described his experience at a party and the awkwardness of small talk like “uh remember club penguin”. The beat to this song was both heavy and fun and drew “Wren boys and girls” into the tent like a moth to a flame. The favourite song of the night was unmistakably his final song Late Night Clubbing. KTV had previously published a music video of the song on Facebook, which meant a surprising number of people were singing along word for word.

Catalyst had a great stage presence and a fun vibe as he “blew the bloody doors off, like Michael Caine”.

Chroma Collective: “We bout to go on a trip”

By Ellie Fielding

Photography by Victor Blaho

“We bout to go on a trip” – the leading line in their song Channel, Chroma Collective certainly did take us on a trip.

Bobby Chikoun, 20 and Ash Noremac, 21 both killed it last Saturday on the stage of Keynestock 2019. Together they form Chroma Collective, an R&B/ Hip-Hop and Rap duo. They performed five original songs that had an intense pace and empowering lyrics. The crowd seemed stunned at the students’ professionalism and effortless flow.

After the four previous artists, Chroma has a tough act to follow, but the pair seemed unphased and confident. They controlled the stage and the environment and had a professional and fresh vibe to them. Bobby and Ash have amazing chemistry on stage and it’s easy to tell that they love performing together and enjoy every moment. Their performance was natural and fun, and they had great audience interaction.

Chroma had said to InQuire that the pair had met at university and been best friends ever since. Together with both their experiences combined they’ve “been through a lot” and that’s what inspires their music, making their lyrics bold, empowering and real. Each song had a catchy bass and intense drop that made the crowd move. Especially their song Channel that began with impressive and fast bars by Chikoun that lit the stage on fire and continued with an addictive chorus: “We bout to go on a trip, I was told I should never talk to strangers, just go ahead and search the whip”.

They might’ve not have placed in the competition, but they gained a load of fans including us. Personally, I think they had a winning performance and with the right kind of crowd to propel them I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on the Wireless stage in the future.

Jack Marsh: “Sometimes I cry, but please don’t tell my boys”

By Rory Bathgate

Photography by Cassandra Barnard

One of the few solo acts of the night, Jack Marsh brought a confident indie tone to the evening with his set. Similar in style to artists such as Lewis Capaldi, he brought a welcome change of genre and pace in the Keynestock line-up.

Several of the songs in the set were cover-versions of well-known tunes. His treatment of Beyoncé’s ‘Halo’ was likeable, with strong vocals carrying his treatment of the classic pop hit. Particularly notable was his version of the Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Do I Wanna Know’ - stripped back from the original and quicker in tempo. Jack’s version was carried by his voice alone, a showcase of his impressive range and control. The strongest song of the set was an original by the act himself, ‘Losing My Friends’. Backed by soft guitar and led by soulful vocals, it also carries a powerful message. Inspired by Jack’s own anxieties, the track challenges society’s expectation for men to hide their emotions. Lines like ‘sometimes I cry, but please don’t tell my boys’ elicit themes of toxic masculinity, though he maintains the song also reaches out to anyone who is afraid to be themselves.

With confident stage presence and a heartfelt performance, Jack Marsh has a bright musical future. In conversation with InQuire, he stated that ‘if you go on stage and you give your best go at it, people will respect you for it.’ Certainly, his was a performance worth great respect, and he’s one to watch out for in coming years.

FRO: “Not taking themselves too seriously”

By Olivia Warr

Photography by Anna Hughes

FRO, comprised of Oliver Lawrence, David Burgess, Henry Langdon, Tom Brewster and Matthew Wilson, were the sixth band to perform at Keynestock 2019 and played seven original songs. It is fair to say that FRO are a band that display their passion and enjoyment for music without taking themselves too seriously.

The teaser they produced before Keynestock displayed this as they were having a laugh together whilst still showcasing their original music. In the performance itself the band appealed to the crowd, and although their songs were unknown to the audience, this didn’t put them off from dancing and (attempting) to sing along.

There were three main things that made FRO standout. Firstly, their stage presence. Their front man, Oliver, made a conscious effort to get the audience involved with their performance by interacting with the crowd. The band looked like they were really enjoying performing on stage, dancing around with the music. Oliver introduced the band members as each began to play their instrument on introduction, leading to the beginning of the first song ‘Funky Jam’. Secondly, their original songs were well put together and sounded great; providing a terrific set to the line-up of Keynestock. The music was well crafted and polished; demonstrating the talent that the members have. Thirdly their outfits really highlighted the band’s ability to have fun with what they were doing. The funky shirts that were worn made them stand out as a band.

Overall FRO put on a great performance at Keynestock. If they continue making original music and displaying their enjoyment for performing, they are a band that will go far.

ZOE: “held her own in a band dominated by men”

By Maryah Chughtai

Photography by Victor Blaho

There was something enchanting about the lead singer of ZOE. She stood centred stage, surrounded by the remainder of the band and captured the entirety of the audience’s attention.

The band, which is often a seven-piece act, were down to six but that didn’t stop them from enticing the audience. The act is named after ZOE, the lead singer. As one of the only two women performers of the contest, she held her own in a band dominated by men. The group chemistry sparked, the individuals smiling happily and relaxingly at one another, as though they had been playing on this stage together for years.

The highlight of the bands performances was “Zoe’s Song”, an original from the band in which the the lead would get those from the audience singing along to her catchy, uplifting lyrics. Some awesome Bob Marley covers got everyone sitting up and dancing, and got those already dancing, dancing even more.

The only critique I would give is a somewhat double-edged sword. ZOE is so good that the rest of the band would have to fight to steal the spotlight from here. It was another case of Bob Marley and the Wailers, or Frankie Wali and the Four Seasons. Zoe and ‘the others’. It was a lot like the winners of Keynestock last year: DEON and the Flames. But really, it was just DEON.

Regardless, the angelic tones and soft accompaniment meant that ZOE really pulled on our heart strings.

Guys at the Back: A “bloody good time”

By Bill Bowkett

Photography by Anna Hughes

Anticipation was high that Guys at the Back would do something special at the 50th annual Keynestock. Collectively, the group has guarded a more than notable reputation after the release of their music video for their hit song ‘Blue Haired B**tch’ on KTV. There’s also the strange question of their established band name. It apparently came during auditions for the festival as, when they were asked to step forward, the band (being as cool as they are) would sit at the back of the room. Inspired by the likes of Pearl Jam, the proclaimed grunge foursome did not disappoint.

With their luscious long hair, retro clothing, and toxic drunkenness, the group reminded me of an act from the old university music scene. Five decades ago Canterbury was the centre of the Progressive Rock movement, with the likes of Supertramp blessing our campus with their illustrious prog-rock. Nowadays, music-goers are only able to get their kicks from cameo rap and DJ performances at the Venue. Gigs to get excited about are hard to come by in the county. Hearing Guys at the Back, however, was a breath of fresh air; striped back, no nonsense, explicative, crushingly loud and, most importantly, passionate for music.

They stormed on stage as the penultimate act with pints of alcohol, raring to delight K-Bar. With an amp turned all the way to 11, the guys fired their instruments all guns blazing with the desire to smash the competition out of the park. Combining raw garage-punk with scuzzy drones, their originals such as ‘Memory’ was hugely reminiscent of rock heroes that befallen them. The crowd had their hands reaching for the sky and clapping to the catchy string-riff. The memorability of its tunes were only overtaken by the rattling of the college itself, let alone the tent. If there was a contest for the cacophonous sound of each performer, I have no doubt that the boys would be in a shout of honouring the crown.

On top of their own work, the band mixed their set-list with a range of covers. There were White Snakes and The Cure on show; Nirvana too with a personal favourite of mine ‘Dive’ which had everyone (myself included) whipping out their lighters in solemn – a fitting tribute to the late Kurt Cobain.

Despite this, there were some drawbacks to their time on stage. For one, the transitions and timings when songs were ending, and finishing were off-time (probably due to the fact they could not hear each other from the blare). The singing was slightly flat, but that did not matter too much because the leads voice complimented his bombastic personality. Finally, going back to the noise, and I do not mean to say this like I am an old man or anything, but the set up was so deafening that it was hard at times to establish was the words to the lyrics were.

Regardless, GATB were often subliminal in their skill, so much so that the fans demanded an encore. During the closing crescendo of ‘Just Like Heaven’ by The Cure, it was evident that the band had cemented themselves as rock stars. After their gig, I caught up with the four, all smoking cigarettes and tripped with exhaustion. When asked what it was like, they all responded: “It was f***ing awesome.” I must admit, they were not lying. Whilst they missed out on the big prize, coming runners-up, they gave everyone a night to remember; no doubt we will see more of them in the near future. To conclude Guys at the Back, you only have to look back at them throwing tampons at the audience. Why you may ask? In classic rock fashion, because they were having a “bloody good time”.

Last of the Lizardmen: “Just enjoy yourselves”

By Rory Bathgate

Photography by Victor Blaho

Following on from the action-packed antics of Guys at the Back, and facing the largest crowd of the night, rock group Last of the Lizardmen were an instant hit. Sporting shirts and ties reminiscent of a high school battle of the bands, they launched headfirst into an energetic rendition of ‘Joker and the Thief’ by Wolfmother, a hard-rock anthem that set the tone for the rest of their winning set.

Barrelling from song to song, the group found time for covers as well as original songs, all joined together with cheeky crowd interaction. Vocalist Lawrence Harp and guitarist Matthew Lark appeared in previous Keynestocks as The Mondays, to marginal success. But it's with the realisation of their Lizardmen image that the band's strengths have really come to the fore. What’s clear is that they love the image they’ve created for themselves, and it’s this infectious enthusiasm for what they do that makes them such a uniquely enjoyable act to watch.

Of course, no Last of the Lizardmen set would be complete without the band’s mascot, The Lizard. Heralded by their single ‘Lizardman’ and adorned in his trademark lizard mask, he amped up the crowd with reptilian zest, getting everyone jumping in hilarious fashion. ‘Just enjoy yourselves’ was the advice offered by the band after their act, and in the case of this set they’ve certainly appeared to practice what they preach. Even two of the Guys at the Back joined in the fun at one point, running onto the stage to headband along to the Lizardmen rendition of ‘5 Colours in Her Hair’ by McFly.

In the end, Last of the Lizardmen took Keynestock by storm, rocking to a well-deserved win. Proper crowd-pleasers, their act ended the festival on an explosive high, the perfect end to a cracking night of live music and a testament to the everlasting popularity of good hard rock.

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