MANY of the acts playing at this weekend’s Wild Life Festival are well versed when it comes to performing at festival venues.
But, imagine playing on a stage, in front of potential crowd of 35,000 people, while still in school.
That was exactly the challenge these young musicians in Shoreham tackled earlier today – and they relished every second of it.
The group, known as Deaf Cattle, performed a lively 15-minute set and encore on the Shoreham Allstars’ stage.
Made up of Joshua Gumbell, Sean Long,, Sonny Whittington, all aged 13 to 11, and James Murrell, 16, the young rock stars were pulling in their own crowds at Sussex’s biggest music festival, all while the likes of Years & Years performed on the main stage a few hundred metres away.
Bass guitarist Sean, who was one of the festival’s youngest performers, certainly wasn’t intimidated by the vast number of festival goers.
“It has been really fun,” admitted the year-six Swiss Gardens Primary School pupil. “The crowds were just amazing.”
The four-piece was just one of a range of talented young musicians from the town who are a part of the Shoreham Allstars.
The Allstars are a collective of youngsters, aged between seven and 18, who all perform during local gigs.
They were specially invited by Wild Life organisers, SJM Concerts, to showcase their talent during the festival.
Sean admitted his quartet specialised in ‘heavy metal’ and that they had been forced to ‘tone back’ their rock tunes for the festival crowds.
However, that didn’t stop them from spicing up some modern pop songs, like Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk, adding a ‘metal’ twist to the melody.
An enthusiastic Sonny enjoyed playing to the crowd and encourage them to form a ‘circle pit’ or ‘wall of death’ – an aggressive style of dancing more often seen at rock events like the Download Festival.
“Everyone was absolutely amazing and supportive. I loved them.
“But it would have been better if they had done a circle pit,” joked Sonny.
Sonny’s challenge may well have been to get a circle pit going, but year-11 Shoreham Academy student James faced a totally different task.
He is right in the middle of his GCSEs, with just two exams left to complete, and plays for a number of different bands.
“I had been revising before I came here today,” he admitted, “and I’m going to be doing some more when I get home.”
However, in spite of all the exam pressure, James said he loved every second of his festival debut.
“I was actually really surprised by the crowds,” he explained. “There’s not too much rock being played.
“But as soon as we started playing people swarmed over. It was amazing to see how people appreciated our music.”
And one of those enjoying the band’s tunes was James’ proud mother, Peggy-Jane.
She said: “It’s just such a privilege to be invited to a festival of this status especially as it’s the first festival of its kind to be held in Shoreham.
“We really hope there will be more.”
She added she was ‘incredibly proud’ of all the Shoreham Allstars who performed throughout the weekend.
The Allstars formed in 2008.
The group has provided music for the historic opening of the Adur Ferry Bridge in Shoreham and has its own mobile stage.
The current crop of members stands at an impressive 54 young musicians with an average age of 12.
David O’Connell is the managing director of Original Allstars Music and runs the group.
For more details about the Allstars, see their website.
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