Nestled away in the Leicestershire country side, 110 Above Festival returned this month for a triumphant tenth year, full to the brim with some of the country’s most exciting upcoming artists.
Despite the challenge of living up to the successes of 2018, this year saw 110 Above provide a heavenly, stress free weekend which many festivals could learn from. Free of clashes, mud and mess, yet filled with cheap pints, loving atmosphere and quality music, only the fussiest of festival goers could find a fault with what is undoubtedly one of the best festivals in the UK’s calendar.
With 2019’s line up offering headline sets from Swim Deep, Mystery Jets and Pale Waves, as well as performances from JAWS, Easy Life and Flyte to name but a few, 2019 spoilt us for choice. Catch up on our highlights below.
Stockport’s infamously groovy No Hot Ashes kicked off proceedings at the Commune Stage on Friday with a taste of their upcoming debut album Hardship Starship. Filled to the brim with the deep, grooving basslines and furiously infectious choruses of the likes of Extra Terrestrial and W.Y.N.A., Isaac Taylor and co’s opening set was enough alone to justify the ever building buzz around No Hot Ashes, truly proving their potential to fill big festival slots in the not so distant future.
Over at The Gopsall Inn rising Liverpool favourite Pizzagirl provided charming, fun loving Scouse humour alongside a generous dose of melancholic bedroom pop. From the addictive Coffee Shop right through to new track Body Biology, Liam’s upbeat personality and humorous take on heartbreak ballads made a perfect match for 110 Above’s carefree atmosphere.
Well amidst their long awaited return, Birmingham favourites Swim Deep brought memories of 2013 to the Commune Stage for their Friday night headline slot. Fronted by Austin Williams’ chaotic energy, the B-town legends played a crowd pleasing mix of material both new and old, including the classic She Changes The Weather, and Honey, the soaring eight minute long Fueiho Boogie and their incredible recently released comeback track To Feel Good; reminding fans exactly why their return was worth the wait.
Old Town Hall was the place to be on Saturday evening with Easy Life’s laidback blend of RnB and indie pop packing out the sweltering barn for thirty minutes of boisterous, youthful energy. If bringing one of the biggest crowds of the weekend wasn’t testament enough to Easy Life’s quickening rise, fan favourites Nightmares and Temporary Love left a firmly lasting reminder that these guys really are one to keep an eye on.
The barn filled up again later on Saturday evening as JAWS solidified their reputation for exhilarating, yet heartwarming live shows. Connor Schofield’s almost aloof stage presence gives JAWS an effortless air; but as they smashed out hit after hit, from earlier tracks Be Slowly and Just A Boy to the recently released sounds of The Ceiling it was clear to see why JAWS remain such a prominent band three albums in.
Ending on the high of Gold, JAWS left smiles firmly plastered across the faces of all in attendance, and only questioning why they weren’t given the Commune Stage’s headline slot.
Taking that headline slot were Mystery Jets, with what can only be described as the most disappointing set of the weekend. Distinctly lacking in both energy and stage presence, the energetic atmosphere built by JAWS quickly died off as most were left confused at Mystery Jets’ almost dreary setlist.
Confusion aside, the Commune Stage was eventually blessed with what it was waiting for as Two Doors Down and Young Love erupted Mystery Jets’ crowd - but the strange placing of such big hits in the middle of the setlist saw a good half of the crowd disperse mid set and completely killing any hope of a big headline atmosphere.
Plucky, feel good enthusiasm was the theme of Sunday as Ethan Barrett, better known as Ten Tonnes filled the Commune Stage with his catchy hooks and contagious choruses. Beach balls bouncing across the crowd, Ethan’s charismatic stage presence had heads bobbing from start to finish. Right through from Silver Heat and Better Than Me to G.I.V.E. and fan favourite closer Lucy; Ethan’s early evening slot was nothing short of joyous.
Love them or hate them, you’ve gotta give it to them, Pale Waves are a band with true headliner potential; as they proved during the Commune Stage’s final set of 2019.
Heather Baron-Gracie’s powerful stage presence is enough alone to fill a stage, but backed by the driving guitar and explosive choruses which could only belong to a band capable of creating proper quality pop there’s something genuinely exciting about Pale Waves.
Despite technical difficulties the four piece smashed through hit after hit, whether it be singles Television Romance and There’s A Honey or album ballads Drive and Red with an energy and style capable of pleasing even their harshest critics.
Unarguably the highlight of 110 Above 2019 was Flyte’s intimate, late night performance at The Gopsall Inn. Performing alongside The Staves’ Jessica Staveley-Taylor following Sam Berridge’s departure from the band, the quartet’s endearing presence and spine tingling harmonies could not have been a more perfect end to a perfect weekend.
Drifting through what was a heart-breakingly brief set with Victoria Falls, Cathy Come Home and Marry Me, Archie, Flyte created a heart warming atmosphere like no other; leaving a feeling that we’d just experienced something genuinely special. Ending on the addictive chorus of older track Light Me Up, the four left the stage to chants of “more, more, more!”, before huddling in the centre of the crowd for an intimate acapella rendition of Faithless; ending 110 Above 2019 on a truly incredible note.
Photography by Jake Haseldine