Wide Awake '24

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Brooklyn psych pop band Crumb, Ghent dance-pop duo Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul, and homegrown heavyweights Slowdive stood out at this year’s Brockwell Park one-dayer.

It’s hard to believe that the late May bank holiday weekend is just three days long when you look at the number of day festivals packed in—shout out to anyone who managed a Brockwell Live double, triple, or quadruple bill.

Wide Awake fell on the Saturday, boasting over 70 acts across eight stages in South London’s Brockwell Park, sandwiched between sister festivals: Project 6 the day before, a collaboration with Outlook focusing on the best of UK hip-hop and electronic music, and Cross The Tracks the day after, celebrating jazz, soul, and funk.

Wide Awake caters to the alternative scene, programming artists pushing the boundaries of post-punk, alternative pop, psychedelic, and electronic music—drawing from grassroots and established local talent and some of the most exciting artists and collectives in the space from Europe and the States.

Now in its fourth year, Wide Awake has already set itself apart in the day festival landscape as one that serves its specific goal exceptionally well, with programming that continues to surprise even the most clued-up, bringing unmissable acts and fostering music discovery every year.

Early highlights were genre-benders The New Eves, one of Brighton’s greatest recent exports, who took to the Shacklewell Arms stage. Their sound is a bit folk, a bit punk, a bit garage, and very buzzy.

Brooklyn four-piece Crumb performed on the KEXP Stage shortly after, their shoegaze-infused psychedelic pop getting chins scratching and heads bobbing in what was probably the most interesting of the day’s sets.

They were followed by another New York outfit, indie rockers Bodega, on the Desert Daze x Bad Vibrations x MCR Psyche Fest stage.

As we edged into the evening, party starters Charlotte Adigery and Bolis Pupul took to the KEXP Stage, to the excitement of those familiar with their music, and the surprise of those who weren’t. Their signature pointed and dry wit regularly stopped dancers in their tracks throughout inventive bass-heavy dance anthems that make you really listen.

We stuck around at the KEXP Stage for Young Fathers, who opened with the raucous ‘Queen is Dead,’ and didn’t drop their momentum, proving that they’re one of the best live acts on the circuit. Then it was on to shoegaze heroes Slowdive for a gorgeous sunset moment that could have lasted longer.

Wide Awake’s no-filler approach to programming meant that between live sets, there was an opportunity to watch some of London’s best new DJs throughout the day on almost every stage. Forward-thinking guest programmers including KEXP, Other Side Promotions, Snap Crackle & Pop, and, of course, Pirate, added to an impressive electronic offering, with performances from Ysanne and Zar.

Highlight DJ sets on the main lineup came from Helena Hauff, David Holmes, and OK Williams.

Throughout the day, various artists in their goodbyes mentioned they’d be at ‘Byrne’s Night,’ a Talking Heads tribute event later in the night. No one really knew what to expect from this. What we got was a mishmash of Wide Awake 2024 artists doing Talking Heads karaoke, inspiring a mammoth audience singalong. Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul’s ‘Once in a Lifetime’ was cut off moments from the end as Byrne’s Night and the festival ran out of time, coming to a jubilant close. Endings are hard, but this was a good one.

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