Music Reviews

Festival Review: LeeFest 2016 [Part 1 – Everything Everything]

After taking the second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning, I, alongside many other festivalgoers, found myself at LeeFest’s Neverland during the last weekend of July. Started up in 2006 through an act of teenage rebellion, the small non-profit festival has hosted many now-famous acts including Years and Years, Bastille and London Grammar. Thousands of people came this year, attracted by the Peter Pan theme and array of live music acts, one of which being experimental rock band Everything Everything.

Characterised by his inimitable falsetto and politically aware lyrics, frontman Jonathan Higgs wasted no time onstage, bursting straight into ‘Blast Doors’ from their third album Get to Heaven. Tootles Circus Tent suddenly came alive with bright lights and the ravenous energy of a band that knew their songs inside out, and knew that they were good. Once started, the rapturous applause didn’t end as the syncopated rhythms of ‘Kemosabe’ got the crowd – many of whom had come to LeeFest on Thursday specifically to see Everything Everything – even more pumped.

“Higgs bounced around on the small stage with fiery energy”

As they began playing their album’s titular track, the modestly sized blue and red striped tent was packed. The eager crowd was almost as eclectic as the band’s musical style, which can be noted for its dynamic rock sound combined with elements of jazz and electronica.


Everything Everything’s performance of ‘Regret’, the second single released from Get To Heaven, lit something in the crowd as they clapped in sync with Michael Spearman’s bold drumming and the words “Regret! Regret!” resonated around the venue. Higgs bounced around on the small stage with fiery energy, extending his arms towards the audience as though every lyric was running off his body and onto the glitter-faced fans.

“Robertshaw and Pritchard’s constant ominous guitar chords created the perfect atmosphere for Higgs’ voice to cut through”

This pop hit contrasted with their penultimate song of the set, ‘No Reptiles’. Like most of the songs on Get To Heaven, the lyrics hold layered meanings about the world and the political happenings of 2014/15. A few brooding green lights combined with Robertshaw and Pritchard’s constant ominous guitar chords created the perfect atmosphere for Higgs’ voice to cut through and label politicians as “just soft boiled eggs in shirts and ties”. With the darkness of the tent and arguably dark lyrics, Everything Everything had captivated the audience.

Similar in its globally aware lyrical undertones but different in its catchier pop sound and radio hit, the band ended their set on ‘Distant Past’ with the whole crowd dancing and singing loudly along, shouting the words back to their writers.

Despite being a somewhat impersonal performance, with no words being exchanged between the band and the audience except a final “thank you” from Higgs, and lead guitarist Alex Robertshaw not looking at the audience once for the first half of their set, Everything Everything’s hour long set cannot be faulted musically. They delivered track after track of complex melodies with pure ease and were a delight to see live.

Nikou Asgari

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