Community Festival prides itself on being the biggest guitar party around and the 2022 event is the perfect reminder of exactly how much sway the indie scene has. Transferring the giddy chaos of indie discos on sticky bar floors to a scorched London’s Finsbury Park is no easy feat – but Community brought together old favourites alongside a wave of snarling new talent.
Alfie Templeman hits the nail on the head when he calls it a “celebration” midway through his early afternoon set. The ambitious shine of ‘Broken’ and ‘3D Feelings’ sound huge on the main stage while the likes of ‘Everbody’s Gonna Love Somebody’ and ‘Happiness In Liquid Form’ are given a psych-rock makeover. With playful instrumental jams (including a snippet of The Wombats, one of the biggest names on today’s bill) alongside the still-ridiculous cover of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, it’s hard to tell who’s having more fun during Templeman’s set: him, or the crowd.
A whole bottle of suncream later, The Wombats pick up where Templeman left off, opening their early evening set with strong batch of their seemingly-timeless floorfillers. The rowdy ‘Moving To New York’ and ‘Kill The Director’ inspire jubilant carnage but that almost-feral energy is maintained through newer material, too, like the brooding synth-pop of ‘This Car Drives All By Itself’ and warped love song ‘If You Ever Leave, I’m Coming With You’.
Likewise, on the second stage similar vets Circa Waves pull a massive crowd for their sunset slot. One excited fan climbs 15 feet up a tree to get a better view while the band distract the crowd from onstage technical problems by leading a deafening singalong to The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’. Trying to make up for lost time, vocalist Kieran Shudall lets fans decide between ‘Stuck In My Teeth’ and ‘Be Your Dog’ in an effort to reduce the setlist, with the former a clear winner. Less than ten seconds into the song, Shudall realises he’s got the wrong guitar but plays on anyway. “It’s fucking chaos London, but we fucking love it.” The closing one-two of ‘Jaqueline’ and ‘T-Shirt Weather’ amply prove that.
Back on the main stage, Two Door Cinema Club are up for the challenge of closing out the day, and know what’s required. Nine of the ten tracks from their 2010 debut album ‘Tourist History’ are played during their pulsating 90-minute set, with ‘Undercover Martyn’ peppered with confetti and the funk-pop of ‘Something Good Can Work Out’ finding a new level of energy.
Like The Wombats before them, material from across their back catalogue is met with rampant excitement. ‘Talk’, ‘Bad Decisions’ and the relentlessly optimistic ‘Wonderful Life’ all add new dimensions to their palette, proving life in their latest material for diehards and casuals alike.
And while it was those staples of the scene that had every losing their voices, it was the excitable next generation of talent that really stole the show.
Leading the charge, Pale Waves make a flying visit to Community, interrupting a US tour for the occasion. Determined to make the journey worth it, their 40-minute set is nothing short of festival perfection. The opening one-two of ‘Change’ and ‘Television Romance’ are made for the biggest of stages while “ultimate love song” ‘Easy’ shows the wide-eyed passion at the heart of this band.
Two new songs leave the biggest impression though: the garage-punk urgency of ‘Lies’ and ‘Jealousy’, both from their upcoming third album, giving Pale Waves a chance to shake off their polished synth-pop past and embrace a reckless future. “I want it all to be mine,” vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie admits before ‘Jealousy’ closes out their set. “I don’t like to share and I’m not apologising for it,” she warns.
And Pale Waves aren’t the only ones looking to make a statement today at Community Festival. From the cheery catharsis of self-proclaimed “dirtbag boyband” Bears In Trees, through the scuzzy hardcore pop of Kid Brunswick to Police Car Collective’s emo theatrics.
Right at the top of that pile is Crawlers. Today is their first time ever performing on a festival main stage, and this time last year, vocalist Holly Minto had never even been to a festival, let alone played one. With a handful of exciting alt-rock singles to their name – and a stadium support slot with My Chemical Romance under their belts – they’ve quickly become an essential watch this summer.
After complimenting the “cool sunglasses and mad bucket hats” of the crowd, Minto promises she’s going to be “besties” with every member of the crowd by the end of their set. Tracks like Pixies-inspired ‘Fuck Me (I Didn’t Know How To Say)’ and the angst-ridden bite of ‘Statues’ prove the band belong on this huge stage but Minto still manages to create a feeling of intimacy. “Who here suffers from anxiety?” she asks before the groove-led ‘Hush’. “I’m so proud of you all. Festivals are nerve-racking but you are doing fucking amazing today.”
Later in the set, she dedicates the rumbling ‘I Can’t Drive’ to “all the bitches with provisional driving licences and broken hearts’ while a handful of new songs (the twitching, urgent punk of ‘Feminist’, the gut-wrenching ‘I Don’t Want It’) suggests the best is yet to come.
Toeing the line between landfill and sleaze, this year’s Community Festival is the perfect soundtrack to a glorious indie disco as well as a showcase of future icons of the genre. After a three-year hiatus, guitar music’s summer blowout returns bigger than ever.