The Academy of Music and Sound were back at Derby’s small but mighty Bearded Theory festival this year. Returning a stage packed with student talent, as well as a line-up of guest bands and artists specially selected among over 200 applicants* in a competition to play a slot on the AMS One Big Showcase Stage. The AMS stage – unmissable in bold red and blue stripes – offering an exciting line-up each day of the event, and gathered festival crowds offering everything from punk rock, to indie, acoustic and even some Ska to get your knees up to.
AMS Gateshead artists kicked things off on the Friday afternoon, with a wide array of styles covered including an acoustic set, and a DJ set. This was followed by an eclectic array of bands including award-winning country singer Katy Hurt, the sassy and wonderful Dana Immanuel and her Stolen Band, badass all-female punk rock group HAWXX, donning perhaps the most styling and statement-making attire of the entire event. South coast three-piece indie band Hot Plastic took to the red and blue tent shortly after. The Kubricks closed off proceedings on the Friday with a suitably skanky set which got the packed crowd buzzing in the intimate tent.
Saturday afternoon began, lit up by Exeter AMS student performers, including bands Violet Eye, Wish Hounds, First Person, plus Exeter based Shadow Project and AMS Southampton band Wooden Spoons. Guests Beth Porter and Pavey Ark, settled the revellers in for a mellow, dreamy afternoon, before Cuba Libre hit the stage, offering some funky rhymes and beats to truly get the crowd going. Candidates followed suit, and headliners Tres Kings closed the night with a polished performance stiking a bold balance somewhere between Arctic Monkeys and Jamie T.
“The guys from the Academy were really well organised before the event and made it really easy for us. We got to unload right by the back of the stage and the equipment on stage was brilliant. The sound engineers were exceptionally good and patient and got us a great sound! A great experience, we would love to return next year.”
– Paul Bytheway, The Retrosettes
Sunday featured AMS Exeter band Athelas, as well as the ever-wonderful Kimwei and Connor Thomas. While the final installment of guests saw The Retrosettes, Dutch Mustard and headliners Bad Transmission see off the event in style.
Last year the One Big Showcase presented Exeter based outfit Pattern Pusher, made up of some our very own AMS lecturers. This year the the band were upgraded to the main stage of the festival itself – securing the opening slot of the event and opening things up on the sunny Friday afternoon. Big things are on the way for these guys, stay tuned.
“What a great success The One Big Showcase stage has been. Proper grassroots support with a policy of promoting top performing bands to the main and Woodland stages the following year”
– Steve Ryan, AMS Principle
Not only did the AMS students put on some memorable performances – perhaps even setting themselves up to follow the Pattern Pusher path and become main-stagers next year – but, behind the scenes student work in artist liaison, lighting and sound, as well as stewarding and merch sales provided some valuable industry experience, not to mention help with essential logistics, without which, One Big Showcase might not have been possible.
Of the success of the One Big Showcase, and its help to get independent bands and artists onto bigger, main stage venues along side the festival itself, AMS Principle Steve Ryan said: “What a great success The One Big Showcase stage has been. Proper grassroots support with a policy of promoting top performing bands to the main and Woodland stages the following year. No other festival offers this direct route as far as I know. Excellent policy.”
View our photo gallery from the event here.