by Ananya Bhattacharya
The Lost River Stage on Saturday 4th July featured a fantastic line-up of musicians, dancers and poets. Among these were singer-songwriters Retro Firefly, Gail, Jake Raywood and Salman Toheed, poets Nell Basley and Katie Stockton, indie band Sukko (playing together virtually from their respective homes) and established Norwich junkadelic group Gladboy. Different genres were interspersed throughout, allowing audiences to dip in and out depending on their tastes. The afternoon ended with an hour-long set from Norwich-based DJ Amy Nomvula, allowing audiences to unwind and have a dance around the kitchen. Nomvula offered some tips for trying out one’s own DJ skills from a smartphone at home, without the need for high tech equipment.
One of the most memorable sets of the afternoon was by singer Eliza Delf, with her slightly operatic, soaring vocals reminiscent of the indie ballads of Florence and the Machine, cited by Eliza as an inspiration. Eliza ended with a folk song alluding to impending climate change which fit perfectly with the haunting tones of her voice, leaving the audience to reflect on the bleak reality of the times we are living in.
Flora Pechey’s acoustic set was another decided highlight of the stage. Through clear vocals, soft guitar rhythms and wistful, reflective lyrics, Flora’s set, particularly the nostalgic melodies of her song ‘Map of New York’, brought out the feelings of longing for escape which resonate with many young people during this unusual time of lockdown, when Flora stated that several of her songs have been penned.
Other highlights included Jake Raywood’s slightly hypnotic indie numbers, stripped down to only a minimal backing of reflective guitar chords, and Gracie’s surprisingly catchy electronic anthem crafted entirely from experimenting with household objects and computer-generated beats – a testament to many musicians’ determination to continue creating new music despite being unable to record in a studio.
Nell Basley’s set of poems, set to dance performances by members of the group True Motion, was another highlight, with the dance moves beautifully in sync with Nell’s words. Each dance was set against a different backdrop – the powerfully introspective dance accompanying the first poem, ‘Washing Day’, took place in the intimate space of a bedroom, in line with the poem’s deeply personal tone and discussion of ‘scabs’. Conversely, ‘Waltzing in the White’ was set against a dance in a garden, again tapping into a universal, lockdown-induced yearning for escape.
The virtual stage was an inspiring way to enjoy the immense talent of young performers across Norfolk in this period when many of us, confined to the home, have naturally been honing our creative skills. These young artists have had exams cancelled and futures thrown into question, and are coming to terms with these changes – for many, a sudden abundance of time, against a backdrop of uncertainty – through raw, deeply personal creative pieces, penned from the comfort of their bedrooms. The Lost River Stage was an honest showcase of what young, creative minds can produce under the unprecedented conditions of lockdown.