City Sound Project is the type of festival that shows true entrepreneurial spirit. Independently organised, in a town normally devoid of live music, it brings 2,500 Bank Holiday wanderers into Canterbury High Street.

At 1pm, two hours until everything is properly underway, the town is absolutely heaving with people. Buskers and street entertainers are out in force, while lanyard-adorned organisers are everywhere and steering people towards the City Sound Project venues.

It’s down to local heroes Coco & The Butterfields to kick off proceedings. The band can be spotted busking in the town on a regular basis and the crowd appreciate their promotion to an actual stage today. A quick dash to The Cuban for 4 o’clock sees a queue stretching down the street? Why? Because Duke Dumont, armed with Number-One-smash‘Need U (100%)’, is in town. Despite the early start the atmosphere is club-worthy.

Six venues are open today but it is The Lounge, its usual guise being the Christ Church University Student Union, that is the place to be. The crowd steadily fills as Youthblood (formerly Trophys) bring their shoegazey sound to the venue. The band come off stage and join the crowd for Manchester electro-pop tykes Swiss Lips. The band have all the bravado and swagger of headliners, despite taking to the stage at 7pm, and their songs also fit the billing. Latest single ‘U Got The Power’ (has the spelling of “you” been changed in the dictionary?) is a smash hit and the crowd flock out the venue afterwards as if the whole event was over.

It isn’t, of course, and a lot of the audience are trekking across town to The Penny Theatre to catch Skinnyman. By this point so much drink has been consumed that making a decision is proving difficult. So when faced at 9pm between a choice of Wolf Alice or B-Traits it’s the steady flow of people back towards The Lounge that encourages us to choose the former. This proves a good decision as the band make good on all their hype, despite a little impatience from the crowd, single ‘Fluffy’ blowing away any doubters.

The Lounge then hits capacity as the City Sound Project headliner;Benjamin Francis Leftwich (pictured above), takes to the stage. Performing almost all of his debut ‘Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm’, the choice of an acoustic troubadour would seem strange following the electric guitars and synths but his songs more than win through.

After the show, when we happen upon him having a post-gig pint, Leftwich praises the “fucking awesomely rowdy, in a good way” Canterbury crowd, as well as the festival’s organisers.

As for a new album? He says it’s on its way, but that it won’t be rushed. “I’m taking my time, making it the best record that it can be.”

By the hour of the after-party, we find ourselves wedged in the absolutely-at-capacity Penny Theatre. On stage are Is Tropical, who should really add Canterbury as a prefix to the name, it has been that hot today. Technical issues mean the band start 50 minutes later than scheduled but the crowd are far too drunk to care and, when they finally hit the stage, their melodies reach the heights of the sun earlier in the day. The basslines of ‘Tan Man’ threaten to shake the pub to its foundations; if the crowd had any clothes left on they’d be very quickly removed.

It makes for a sweaty end to a long, hot day. We look forward to the organisers’ next Project…

Author: DAN OLDFIELD

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