EskFest headline slot will be a major milestone in Marsicans' story

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THE festival season is renowned for throwing up some surprises - both for fans and the bands.

They're the best place to discover your new favourite artists, and for those on stage, they can be some of the best shows they'll ever play.

Known only to the few hundred people that attended last year's inaugural event and those that have been closely observing as this year's line-up takes shape, EskFest is one such up-and-coming small festival.

For its second year, the organisers have pulled off a coup by landing one of the country's hottest indie prospects to top the bill.

And Marsicans are equally delighted to be asked: "This will be the first festival we've ever headlined, so we're pretty excited about that," says vocalist and guitarist James Newbigging.

"I don't really know that much about it, other than I think we drove close to it on our way back from a show in Scotland.

"That's what I like about festivals though - you don't really know what to expect, and you get to see lots of different parts of the country that you wouldn't normally see just playing shows in the cities."

The Leeds band have had a big 12 months since appearing at Glastonbury last summer. Having been playlisted by BBC Radio 1, they also received praise from Coldplay no less for their February single, Friends, and have been touring non-stop since the turn of the year with the likes of Natives and Minnesota indie act Hippo Campus.

The four-piece - completed by bassist Rob Brander, who also shares lead vocals with James, guitarist Oliver Jameson and drummer Matthew McHale - have been around for three years now, but 2017 will almost certainly be remembered as their breakthrough year, so it's perfect timing for EskFest to bring them back to Cumbria.

James continues: "We pretty much started touring in January and haven't stopped - it's just been full-on.

"Kendal Calling (last year) was such a cool event, and hopefully there was a few people there who might want to come back and see us at EskFest.

"The festival season is the best time of year to be in a band, but I still love going to festivals as a fan too. Me and Rob are going back to Glastonbury this year as well, so we can't wait.

"All the festivals usually turn out to be brilliant though, especially the smaller ones. We don't always know a lot about them - but they are always a nice surprise."

Still very much a "new" band, Marsicans only have a couple of EPs and a handful of singles to their name so far. They are some way off reaching their debut album, but with more new material on the way, they are building quite the catalogue of indie anthems.

Drawing inspiration from acts such as Beach Boys and Bombay Bicycle Club, they've found themselves among a clutch of bands with the likes of Foals and Circa Waves heading up the new wave of Brit-rock.

"The plan is to put out a couple of singles over the next few months and then put out an EP maybe at the end of the year," says James.

"People seemed to really like the last single, and since then we've had people hounding us on Twitter, asking when we're going to release something else.

"We're currently planning the set for EskFest, and maybe we can throw in one or two surprises.

"We're having discussions what to include, and whether we should play some of our more laid-back songs.

"I think for a festival you just need to go with your more uptempo songs that people can jump around and sing along to."

It is unthinkable that this band won't go on to bigger things, and being their first ever headline slot, EskFest could be remembered as an important milestone in the Marsicans story.

EskFest takes place in the Eskdale Valley on Friday July 7 and Saturday 8, with Marsicans closing the show. For more information and to book tickets, visit www.eskfest.com

Monday, June 26, 2017 at 8:57AM
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