Looking back at CF30: Oct. 30 at the Betsey Trotwood, London, featuring the Catenary Wires and Marlody

The Catenary Wires at CF30. Photo: Andrew Bulhak

Our final chickfactor 30 party in London was an afternoon Hangover Lounge affair at the Betsey Trotwood and had kind of a chill vibe that was welcome after two nights at the packed Lexington! Marlody is a new signing on Rob and Amelia’s Skep Wax label and her moody, intimate songs were quiet and poignant at a time when finally coming together after so long was so needed. Her music was a reminder that we all need to share our stories. The Catenary Wires are of course pop legends: Amelia Fletcher, Rob Pursey, Ian Button and Andy Lewis. They played stellar songs from their latest, Birling Gap, which you should snap up if you haven’t got it, and even thrilled the audience with a Heavenly song, “Cool Guitar Boy,” in advance of their couple of Bush Hall shows next spring, which was so so fun.

Photo: Morgan Stanley

London is a place I was lucky to call home for half a decade and I miss it like crazy. chickfactor’s cofounder Pam Berry has lived there since the late ’90s and I love being able to go back and see people at these events in these places that miraculously are still open. I wish we could do it every year! Thanks again to the musicians, bands, venues, Paul Kelly for backline wrangling, the sound people, Hangover Lounge, Tae Won Yu, the folks who put me and others up, the documenters, readers, fans, friends, strangers, and pop lovers who make up this incredible community.

Marlody, an artist on Rob and Amelia’s Skep Wax label, played the show. Photo: Jen Matson
The Catenary Wires. Photo: Jen Matson
The Catenary Wires. Photo: Morgan Stanley
People with great taste in music. Photo: Gail O’Hara
Pop stars meeting and smiling. Photo: Gail O’Hara
Beer mats from CF20. Photo: Morgan Stanley
Lunchbox at the Betsey. Photo: Gail O’Hara
Legends in our midst. Photo: Morgan Stanley
All the Umbrellas in London (sorry, I’ll stop saying that now). Photo: Morgan Stanley
Hangover Lounge gents Tim and John. Photo: Gail O’Hara
Raz attempting to wrangle the unruly CF revelers. Photo: Gail O’Hara
Poster by Tae Won Yu
Art by Tae Won Yu

Looking back at CF30: night 5, Oct. 29, the Lexington in London starring Birdie, The Umbrellas and Seablite

Seablite played their London debut! Photo: Jen Matson

Tonight from the stage, Morgan from the Umbrellas said that her face was hurting from smiling so much and we could all relate! The London CF30 shows were like a big loveliest full of fantastic pop music! The show kicked off tonight with the Bay Area pop group Seablite, making their London debut in the most stylish and melodious way!

Jen from Seablite / Photo: Jen Matson

Birdie played next and our hearts melted because they are so damn charming and just effortlessly generate classic-sounding pop music that could have come from the 1960s. Their set list is below, but we know how lucky we are to have heard a few Dolly Mixture songs on Friday during Rachel’s set and some on Saturday with Birdie! Unbelievable joy.

Birdie / Photo: Jen Matson

The final act tonight was the Bay Area Slumberland band The Umbrellas, who are so young and yet so good at making classic but fresh indie pop in the best possible way. Such energy! Such positivity! If there were any justice in the world, we would take these shows on the road and fill the world with joy and melody! I’m sure these US bands will be back soon, but for now London + California = love.

Birdie set list

Just a note: In case you wondered why the shows started so early and they had no real breaks between bands, it’s because the Lexington has another dance party event that starts roughly an hour after our thing ended. We left a time cushion between our show and theirs because our experience at CF25 was a bit difficult to deal with, the Pastels could hardly load out or relax and have a post-show beer before the late-night dance party people rushed the room.

the Queen (Debsey) / Photo: Jen Matson

(Personally, I was perched on a bench in the back because I had recently rolled my ankle and couldn’t manage the pain being on my feet all night or I would have been dancing like a dervish right up front as per usual! I was on so much paracetamol that I felt I couldn’t drink much cider, and I was a bit limited in my movements as host! But it was pretty crazy to see three of my former coworkers from SPIN magazine in the house! Daisy and Sarah, shoutouts to you for being so fun. )

Birdie / Photo: Andrew Bulhak

Thanks again to all the bands who played and all the fans who came from afar and the Lexington. Special thanks to Gaylord Fields and Rachel Love (to whom I apologize for my grumpiness) for helping me wrangle the right lager and snacks from the local Tesco. The overall vibe this weekend was very much a lovefest, a total all-hands-on-deck, walking around the neighborhood and running into each other funfest with some of the greatest people. MC Gaylord did an amazing job of waxing loudly and lovingly about the bands to get everyone’s attention back to the stage. Many thanks to Paul Kelly and the Betsey Trotwood for wrangling the backline for the whole weekend. Thanks to the Hangover Lounge gents—Tim, John, Ben and Steve—for handling merch and being the generally wonderful humans that they are. 

Some great humans / Photo: Daisy Wake
The Umbrellas / Photo: Andrew Bulhak
Keith and Nick Umbrellas / Photo: Gail O’Hara
The Umbrellas sparked so much joy it lasted for the rest of the year / Photo: Gail O’Hara
Some Umbrellas after their London debut! Photo: Daisy Wake
Umbrellas set list!
Fancy wristbands courtesy Eric Fischer
Poster by Tae Won Yu
Art by Tae Won Yu
Art by Tae Won Yu
Art by Tae Won Yu