Lake Of Stars - Barfly
Live Review

Lake Of Stars – Barfly, Liverpool

Last night was at the Barfly for Voo, Metro Manila Aide, Signified and Ben (ex- Idiot Rate) Singleton, but we’ll come back to that in a minute.
A fund slash awareness raiser event for those poor kids in Africa, The Lake of Stars festival in its third year now is attracting more attention with its all-star line up and is proving to be much more than a charity, although that’s exactly what it is.
The three-day festival on the shores of Lake Malawi will see the likes of Rob Da Bank on the same bill as Malawian Afrojazz group Wambali Mkandawire.

Malawi is one of Africa’s more densely populated countries which despite its relevantly small size is home to over twelve million people and has an extremely low life-expectancy of just forty years. Without a tourist industry to speak of the country relies mainly on agriculture as the basis of its struggling economy, which is supplemented by tonnes of food aid each year.
One thing that thrives in Malawi is music. The Malawian Broadcasting Corporation or MBC has two state owned radio stations Radio 1 and Radio 2 broadcasting South African music.

Setting up the Lake of Stars festival was originally a way of taking DJ’s to Africa for a party at the beautifully tropic location. With the golden sands and glittering fresh water of Lake Malawi as a backdrop for a rave there is no finer setting for a party.
For co-organizer Rachel there are different motives to get involved: “There is local radio and local music but we want to give the local artists the means to record their own music to give to the radio station,” hence the reason for setting up Studio Malawi.
“Basic equipment like CD burners and digital recording devices such as those donated by local Liverpool store Dolphin music are essential in making these dreams become reality.”

The Wombats will be there again this year as part of their now customary continent hop, also Giles Peterson and Annie Mac, Radio One DJ’s will make the journey to the hot sands of southeastern Africa, leading to next year’s event which, if all goes to plan, will be televised for BBC broadcast.

How did it all come about? Well, the legend goes that a carton of milk or Chibuku beer to be precise, landed in the hands of live music promoter, Will Jameson, who thought, ‘Great name for a club night!’
Their next question was of course, ‘Where does this very strong, yet ultra cheap beer come from?’ The answer is Malawi, southeastern Africa.
As the club night grew to be the most popular in Liverpool, taking over and filling the void left by Cream, the African country was not forgotten for its part in the rise of a new superclub whose music and ethos were the keys to its success, along with its great name!

Last year, The Wombats opened the eyes of Liverpool-based bands by travelling and being the first band to play the festival. Tonight a variety of bands perform on a mixed bill of styles.
Ben Singleton formerly of The Idiot Rate runs through a solo acoustic set with the spotlight firmly on his voice. The voice that became synonymous with The Idiot Rate’s emo sound. Unfortunately, Ben’s set is most memorable for the sad announcement that the band have officially split up. RIP The Idiot Rate.
Signified represent metal: Their line up is akin to the group Biffy Clyro although their sound packs a bigger punch than the Glaswegian chart toppers.
Metro Manila Aide are the terrifying circus metal act, blessed with dazzling audience participation, their manic frontman Paul McBride engages the crowd with his penchant for wrestling the band’s devoted followers. Its f**king boss…when the equipment works, and the two new tracks they perform indicate a step further into the echelons of secular prog, a newly defined genre if I’m not mistaken.
Voo come on last and are lovely. Their Vooist pop punk set includes a new song, which, if you haven’t heard it, is possibly the best in the set, (sorry, the name escaped me.) Bassist Paul Jones demonstrates just why scouse humour is regarded as highly as it is by keeping a smile on everyone’s face throughout. He also manages to avoid any BNP references, nearly. Graham appears more concerned with ‘Neighbours’ the TV show than anything else.

Tonight shows that there are still people who believe music can change the world and for these local bands there are opportunities to travel across the world to ply their trade, although prices for flights are far from cheap because these are not popular tourist destinations.
With the Lake of Stars festival growing each year it won’t be long before Easyjet are doing Liverpool to Malawi for a £39 return.

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