Carnaby Sound Festival Review


When Carnaby Sound’s plans for a rooftop gig above Liberty’s were scrapped last minute due to “unforeseeable circumstances”, some doubted the festival’s credibility – but only for a brief moment. Thanks to the speedy relocation of the main stage and the blazing summer heat, the free festival was buzzing throughout.


Opening up the main stage, which was now located on Broadwick Street, were the exuberant Luminites. Fresh from Britain’s Got Talent, the local quartet revisited their busking roots to perform the covers, such as ‘Hurts So Good’, that won them a place in the finals as well as their new single ‘Head In The Sky’. The young band seemed genuinely humbled by the response to their short but sweet set.  Savouring every moment, band member JJ even stopped to take a SnapChat selfie onstage. If they stay true to themselves, they will have many more photo opportunities.

As lunchtime dawned, the crowds packed into Carnaby’s vast array of eateries. However, the advertised “street food” was surprisingly hard to find. In fact, I never found it. However, foodies were served well by the several beer and cider festivals and I was delighted with a drool-worthy jerk chicken ciabatta from the Carnaby Burger Co.

One of the pubs which hosted a bustling booze festival was The White Horse. Thanks to the glorious sunshine, ale connoisseurs spilled out onto Newburgh Street and stood in ear-reach of the second stage. The sound of emerging talent and the hot weather was the perfect complement to cider-supping. London’s LUXE drew in plenty of punters during their impressive indie-rock street gig around the corner. They were strikingly similar to Editors – both vocally and instrumentally – although a quick peep from the beer garden confirmed that they weren’t Tom Smith and co incognito.


After a break, I returned to Broadwick Street where James McCartney was closing his set (and, no, his father didn’t make a surprise appearance). As McCartney finished, the crowd drifted away but a new audience quickly arrived in anticipation of Kids In Glass Houses. The Welsh rockers, like all acts appearing, were restricted to a short set time but they still put on a rip-roaring show. Despite the heat draining the attendees, all arms were willingly raised to clap whenever frontman Aled Phillips requested. Their five song set was, unsurprisingly, exclusively made up of crowd pleasers. ‘Youngblood (Let It Out)’, ‘Matters At All’, ‘Give Me What I Want’, ‘Saturday’ and new single ‘Drive’ were the perfect picks. For a fan, this was a high energy greatest hits set. For the casual observer, this was a fantastic introduction which would surely leave them wanting more.

Free music, free cider (tasters) and sunshine; what more could anyone ask for? Free food, or longer set times? Perhaps, but with no entrance fee, nobody had any reason to complain. After all, the best things in life are free.

Words by Amy Jo McLellan. (Instagram)

Were YOU at Carnaby Sound; if so, what did you think of it?