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Winter indoor festival season launches in style at the Round Chapel in Hackney with Beans on Toast and OMGITC.

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Winter indoor festival season launches in style at the Round Chapel in Hackney with Beans on Toast and OMGITC.

Photos by http://www.sarabowreyphotos.com

The organisers of Fire in the Mountain Festival have decided to keep the campfires burning this weird winter with a series of live shows in the COVID-secure setting of Hackney’s Round Chapel – and the opening night was a stonker!

Hosted by Chris Tofu (MBE… we still can’t wrap our heads around that one!!) as a Continental Drifts fundraiser, the bill was small but perfectly formed…in a venue that oozes atmosphere.

Opened by Chris on the decks, we were treated in short-order to the talented songwriting of Katy Carr, the genius observational festi-folk of Beans on Toast, and the upliftingly sacriligious antics of Oh My God! It’s The Church (nunplugged).

To keep the dreaded virus in check the venue was split left and right and up and down – so guests were allocated one side or the other and could chose to be down at stage-level, or up in the balcony seats.

And – of course – numbers were strictly limited.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll no doubt say it again about these socially distanced shows… the whole experience is only viable for the right acts in front of the right audiences.

To hit the nail of the head you need musicians whose material is intriguing and compelling, matched with crowds who are there to absorb the words and the songs more than to mosh down the front.

And this night so nearly got it right.

Because Katy, Beans, and OMG!ITC all have material that ought to make you sit up, shut up, and take heed.

Katy’s songs of 1930s Poland, Beans’ folk anthems of drugs, sex, and politics, and the Church’s diabolical rock’n’roll all deserve wrapt attention.

The crowd though, was a mixed bag.

Although well-behaved in terms of staying seated and keeping their distance there were just a few too many chatty types – and in the acoustically lively church setting this led to a challenging clash between the performers and the noisy natterings of people who had perhaps been starved for too long of social interaction with their gig buddies and were using this as an opportunity to catch up on old times.

This aside, the night was a real success – and has hopefully put a few much-needed pounds into the Continental Drfts bank account to keep them afloat until festivals can once again open their doors.

In case you don’t know who or what Continental Drifts are, Beans on Toast neatly described them as ‘those people who help create the crazy and odd bits of festivals’. And that about sums it up. If you want to make sure your festival stands out from the crowd then just ask the Continental Drifts team to curate a corner of the field. You’ll be delighted you did, and so will your guests!

And Beans on Toast knows a few things about festivals himself – having become a ‘must have’ booking for any event worthy of the ticket price.

He’s also likely to be one of the more regular names to appear on gig listings over the next few months.

As he pointed out, the new rules mean venues are looking for acts who can play with minimal costs and to crowds who promoters have to try and get as much bar-spend as possible from to pay the bills.

My phone’s been ringing off the hook,’ he grinned.

I played a sheep farm where they’d mowed six-person circles in the grass. Everyone was totally sloshed by the time I came on and just rolled around laughing and talking to each other. It made me laugh later when some of them said how much they missed live music!”

To round the evening off it was the turn on Oh My God! It’s The Church to blaspheme their way through a life-enhancing set which was the perfect counterpoint to the ecclestiastical setting.

Opening with a ‘sermon from the mount’ that set the current COVID crisis into a religious context, the fantastic five then launched into their infamously inflamatory show – which was billed as (n)unplugged, but rocked the house none the less.

Here’s to more of these nights:

16th October : Folk Legends Night: Eliza Carthy and Martin Carthy. BUY TICKETS HERE!

23rd October : Henge

30th October : Dizraeli – Full Live Spectacular

6th November : Carroll Thompson, Queen of Lovers Rock

13th November : Johnny Flynn and Cosmo Sheldrake

20th November : Stick in the Wheel – Full Band Show

Thursday 26th November : Martin Simpson

11th December : Jon Boden

18th December : Whiskey Moonface

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