Leaning on a repainted, wooden cable spool, I stood at the back of The Factory, Barnstaple. Once a pottery firm (back in 1847, or a date equally dream-like), the space is now being used for arts education and music events.
Blue, red and green lights darted around the room, occasionally broken by silhouette-identifying strobes. People filed in through the double-doors, spreading towards the dance-floor or the bar, depending on personal priority (mine being the aforementioned wooden cable spool. Party hard).
“What’s up Factory Barnstaple?” came Robbie Hurrell’s voice, bursting through the energetic Skata Tones sound. Smooth alto sax, courtesy of Charlotte Shemilt, weaved through Connor Moyse’s ska drumming and Rob Brooks’ bouncing guitar. Tunde Fernandez provided heavy funk bass rhythms, his occasional solos spot-lighting his sharp approach.
Always bringing infectious energy to their audience, Skata Tones played their original material, the crowd singing along with Robbie to favourites like Alcohol and Statistics, as well as their newer songs, like Holiday To The Moon.
Next on stage was LionStar, who needed no introduction. Fresh off the road after having played with the legendary Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry (again!), the band began their unmistakable world-reggae-rock fusing. Thick bass vibrated through the room as LionStar played songs from their latest album, Feels Like The Right Time.
Upbeat funk tangled with chilled reggae tunes as LionStar added a freshness to this rhythmic genre, studding it with rock riffs and MC Ashley’s catchy dub mixes. Their song, Rock Up A Vibe, showed the natural, laid-back flow of reggae, complemented by light rock guitar and choruses to chant to. Dance, on the other hand, had their whole audience doing just that.
Scanning my eyes across the stage, I wondered if this six-piece band would play Positive Vibrations, beginning with their signature didgeridoo. Not one to disappoint, LionStar began the song, its wavering, pumping texture encouraging the crowd to join them in this spirit-freeing tune.
After LionStar was BackBeat Soundsystem, an eight-piece bringing their funky reggae sounds to The Factory. Paired with dub and root undertones, their synths, keys, trumpets and saxophone all went together to create an orchestral-style punch of good, tight beats.