Feature: Review - Holy Smokes! Let's Get Lost Festival

With a line up that boasted acts as exciting and as diverse as Aidan Moffat, Blanck Mass and Crash of Rhinos, the Let’s Get Lost festival was never going to be anything less than spectacular.

On a gloriously sunny Saturday, we journey in to the cavernous surroundings of Derby’s Silk Mill museum where today, local music and arts collective, Holy Smokes!, are presenting a day showcasing a plethora of talent, not only in the form of music, but of artists, comedians and film.

Upon arrival we are presented with an early treat – and arguably our favourite performance of the day – London-based quartet; Eye & No Eyes, whose stripped-down, Sufjan Stevens-esque folk is a joy to behold. Frontman, Tristram Bawtree is blessed with a truly incredible voice and is backed by a cellist, bassist and perscussionist who demonstrate adept musicianship, creating beautifully structured shoegaze, indie-folk that sets the tone for the day ahead.

A quick beverage stop en route to stage two and we have the pleasure of witnessing a comedic lecture from writer and comedian, Joel Stickley. Stickley’s live performance of his popular blog, ‘How to Write Badly Well’ is hilarious, charming and insightful from start to finish and by its end, the crowd are not only entertained, but well versed in the methodology of writing paperback, airport trash.

Next up, back at the main stage, are Crushing Blows. Today finds the power-pop duo in a particularly buoyant mood. Vocalist/guitarist Chris Jones is in fine form, bouncing giddily around the stage and in no time at all, the pair’s infectious beats and looped riffs have coaxed spontaneous toe-tapping from their audience.

A short wander back to stage two and one of the day’s most memorable moments, as local electronica artists, Mender and o_S_k_m join forces to live soundtrack sci-fi masterpiece, Metropolis, to a visibly enraptured audience. The pair busies themselves with guitars and various digital and electronic gadgetry to provide a fitting and perfectly executed aural backdrop to Fritz Lang’s - previously - silent classic.

Later, Derby’s very own post-hardcore favourites, Crash of Rhinos take to the stage, to deliver a crushing performance of their album, ‘Distal’, to a heaving, and receptive crowd. The ensuing set is an onslaught of visceral, but beautiful noise; a sea of frantic guitars, thunderous bass and heartily bellowed gang vocals, all of which leaves their audience desperate for more.

A quick break for food and an N64 session in the venue’s ‘Retro Lounge’ means that, regrettably, we miss RM Hubbert’s set, which we hear includes a cameo appearance from this evening’s headliner. However, appetites (both for food and video games) satiated, we make it back to the main stage in time for Blanck Mass. The venue is now in darkness, save for the stage, which sees the former F**k Buttons collaborator drenched in purple light and filling the building with beautiful, swelling, brooding soundscapes that build throughout his set to a cacophonous, goosebump-inducing finish.

Finally, still on the main stage, the days headline act is up. Former Arab Strap frontman, Aidan Moffat is in a cheerful mood, laughing and joking with the crowd between songs. However, his lyrics still drip with misery and a familiar black humour, as Moffat flits between folksy love songs and moody poems, then back again. The crowd that has amassed are entranced and the gruff-voiced scot has them in the palm of his hand throughout. Finishing with a poetic children's story that riffs on the conflict between love and materialism, Moffat is deservedly rewarded with enthusiastic applause as he leaves the stage.

For Derby residents, the importance of today’s event is significant. Holy Smokes! have markedly raised the bar for cultural events in the city. It’s clear that the collective are desperate to take an innovative approach to events here and if today is anything to go by, we’re in for some real treats in the future. If you didn’t make it to the Silk Mill for Let’s Get Lost, start kicking yourself now. You’ve missed something utterly special.

To find out more about Holy Smokes! and their upcoming events, either visit their blog, follow them on Twitter, or 'Like' them on Facebook.

Photography: Holly Booth Photography