Festival Review: Siren Calling – Studio 9294, London (17th August 2019)

Last Saturday I headed to Studio 9294 in Hackney Wick, East London for Siren Calling: a day-long music festival showcasing a huge range of largely female musicians and bands organised by We Can Do It Records: a company set up to support exciting new talent from equal genders and various backgrounds. The venue was great – a large warehouse space with a stage on one side, and a cute sunny terrace outside, overlooking the canal. In total I photographed thirteen artists (as well as a couple of DJs) so I will write just a few words about each of them, in order not to make this review a humongous essay!

Rews (c) Katie Frost

The first band to hit the main stage were Leeds-based art-rock band Dead Naked Hippies, fronted by bright-red-haired Lucy, together with Joe & Jacob. These guys were a great choice to open the festival as they really got everyone going and were really fun to watch as they were full of energy. First to perform on the acoustic terrace was alt-pop singer Shauna Tohill from Rews. I saw Rews a year ago when they played Shout About It Live – a gig photography and live music festival in Liverpool where I exhibited some of my photography. Now just a one-piece, Shauna won over the crowd with her Irish charm, great melodies and catchy lyrics.

Next up on the main stage were Brighton alt-rock three-piece Something Leather featuring Phillie on keys, together with Mike and Greg. Another great band who were full of energy and fun to watch. Back on the acoustic terrace it was time for singer-songwriter Hero Fisher, who played some beautifully haunting melodies on guitar, accompanied by Adam Chetwood and watched eagerly by some children that either belonged to her or him or possibly both!

Back on the main stage it was time for Birmingham garage punk band The Cosmics – with Erin on vocals and bass, with Connor and Danny Boyle (not that Danny Boyle) on drums and guitar. Over on the acoustic terrace next was Pet Sematary (pronounced Pet Cemetery) aka Gab from Oxford, who had some great tunes and drew a big crowd.

Wyldest (c) Katie Frost

Wyldest were next to hit the main stage – comprised of singer-songwriter Zoe together with multi-instrumentalist Mariin. Their dream-pop / shoegaze sound was really soothing, and they are certainly a band that I would check out again. The final act to play the acoustic terrace was Polly Money, who reminded me both visually and musically of Tash Sultana, though without all of the pedals and gizmos. Polly provided us with some great tunes and a lovely laid-back vibe.

Next on the main stage were five-piece Valeras from Reading. I met Katie and Rose earlier that day in the ladies toilet (as you do) so was looking forward to watching their set, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Together with Max, George and Cat, they played a really great set featuring beefy hooks, heart-felt lyrics and groovy beats. Following on from Valeras were Manchester trio Calva Louise, who I saw open for Hunter & The Bear back in October last year. Calva Louise are a brilliant band and are bursting with energy. They were also arguably the heaviest band on the line-up, and vocalist Alizon was intoxicatingly charming.

The Cosmics (c) Katie Frost

THYLA were next on the main stage, bringing their dream-pop vibes from Brighton. Millie, Mitch, Dan & Danny all looked like they were having a great time and their performance went down well with the crowd. Following them was She Makes War, who saw perform at Live Women Fest back in 2017. I enjoyed Laura’s glittery eye make-up as well as her gloom-pop / grunge / indie rock music.

Canadian rock & roll singer Tess Parks and her band were the final act I saw of the festival, as it had been a long day and my back and wrists were starting to get achy from shooting so many bands / artists! I enjoyed Tess’ sultry vocals and her band were great, but she decided that she wanted red light after the first song of her set, so myself and most of the other photographers called it a day at that point, as everyone knows that red light is the absolute worst for music photography! It had been a wonderful day discovering new music and meeting new people. Huge thanks to Kelly for organising such a brilliant festival, and to Tobia and Elis for working tirelessly on making the sound excellent both on the main stage and the acoustic stage. Also shout-out to the girl who was wearing a battle jacket with PowerWolf and Alestorm patches – I really wanted to say hi and fist-bump you as a mark of respect, but I was having a shy day.

Photos by Katie Frost Photography

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