Three bands, each with a citrus moniker? It’s almost too good to be true, but Charlie Ryan’s ZestFest proves more than just a gimmick. For just £2 entry, Lime, Oranje and Citrus give the audience a value for money big night out that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else in a local county town.
After seeing Oranje and Citrus share the Boileroom stage for BBC Introducing earlier this year, openers Lime were the only unknown quantity for the evening. They staked their claim with bold debut single ‘Anne’ and followed with a varied set that saw lead singer Chloe Howard darting between guitars, keyboards and tambourines, spanning genres from Heavy Rock to Baroque Pop and if I’m not mistaken, a nod to ‘You’ve Got to Pick-a-Pocket or Two’ from ‘Oliver!’. The shiny outfits and entertainment value were reminiscent of fellow Guildford locals Neon Islands and the quartets natural chemistry on stage matched that of indie breakouts The Big Moon, both of which indicate good things to come from Lime in the future.
Next up was Oranje, and whilst the gritty rock sound of their recent EP ‘Bittersweet’ has drawn many comparisons to Wolf Alice, Oranje still has a lot more to their identity. In fact, the biggest similarity to the Mercury Prize winners comes from their ability to craft a cohesive set comprised of a huge variety of sounds. Songs like ‘Solid Gold’ carry choruses with unmistakable pop sensibility but the vocal ability and charisma of frontwoman Dez Jones combined with the bands masterful control over dynamics meant that Oranje was just as comfortable with soft and dreamy set pacer ‘Glow’ and the adrenaline-fuelled snarling beasts of ‘Trash’ and ‘Dogs in Hot Cars’, the latter of the two closing the set in an explosion of wailing guitars and punchy drums. I can’t wait to see what these guys do next.
Returning to the Boileroom after the release of excellent single ‘Thursday’, Citrus (formally Grafted) carried on the high standard of the night with a set packed full of sugar rush indie rock. I’ve had debut single ‘Takeout’ on loop either in my flat or in my head for the whole of summer but that didn’t stop my excitement when the sunny opening riff flooded the Boileroom after a cover of ‘Insomnia’ by Faithless kicked off affairs. The fun of the band’s music was ever present but never tiresome, with buzzing instrumentals and casually delivered vocals grounded in reality by thoughtful lyrics depicting tales of youth, a wonderful combination that is rarely seen at the moment. Another cover, this time of ‘Haze’ by Amber Run gave the set a good change of pace, and chatter between songs was minimal but efficient to allow the faster tracks to flow together nicely. Citrus remains one of my favourite discoveries of this year and are an ever-present reminder to head down and support your local venues, especially when they’re showcasing bands like this.
Pic (Left to Right) Duncan Drake, Dez Jones and Elle Rowbotham of Oranje