Eclectic music mix on opening night of Norwich Sound and Vision

Comanechi at Norwich Sound and Vision. Photo: Sam Russell.

Comanechi at Norwich Sound and Vision. Photo: Sam Russell. - Credit: Archant

In the Norfolk drizzle I collect my wristband.

Abi Wade at Norwich Sound and Vision. Photo: Sam Russell.

Abi Wade at Norwich Sound and Vision. Photo: Sam Russell. - Credit: Archant

This is my passport for an evening of venue-hopping at Norwich's answer to the vast South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.

Cheveu at Norwich Sound and Vision. Photo: Sam Russell.

Cheveu at Norwich Sound and Vision. Photo: Sam Russell. - Credit: Archant

In its fourth year and already making waves, I leave the Arts Centre to see what Norwich Sound and Vision has to offer.

My first port of call is the cosy basement stage of the Bicycle Shop in St Benedicts Street.

Cambridge-based folk artist Dan Wilde tells gentle tales of failed relationships and applying for jobs he does not want 'to pay the bills' over finger-picked acoustic guitar.


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It is an intimate set to a room lit with candles, and with an urge to seek out more unknown acts I head to the Birdcage.

Multi-instrumentalist Abi Wade builds her songs around dark cello melodies.

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Playing percussion with her feet – and using all four limbs - she strikes the cello with a drumstick to create rich brooding textures.

Her distinctive voice, which could draw comparisons with Kate Bush, is the counterpoint.

I am mesmerised for half an hour before crossing Norwich Market to get a taste of the French Export Showcase at Open.

Four-piece BRNS – pronounced 'brains' – are in party mode as I arrive, with a refrain of 'I'm in love with New Mexico' backed with energetic drumming, bells and indie-pop guitar melodies.

Technical problems had delayed the running order by half an hour, but there are plenty of people in the room for the next band - Bordeaux trio Cheveu.

Drawled lyrics are thrown into the mix with abrasive fuzz guitar and keys for song Deer In The Headlights.

In between experimental lo-fi numbers there is a shouted conversation in French between the sound technician and the band's vocalist.

It is a surreal moment a minute's walk from Norwich Castle, and a mark of the great diversity the festival brings.

Keen to get a flavour of what else is on offer I venture out into the rain and make for Cinema City.

Eerie duo Nordic Giants, wearing feathered masks, play in front of the cinema screen to a seated crowd.

One on drums and one on keys and synths, their epic post-rock swells build in tandem with film of lights, buildings and biological images.

Their dreamy quality evokes Sigur Ros, and is in stark contrast to what I am about to see at the nearby Hog In Armour.

Dressed in underwear and a feather boa, raucous punk frontwoman Keex leads noise-rock trio Comanechi.

And noisy cannot begin to capture their ferocious energy, sharpened in her previous band PRE.

She throws herself around the upstairs pub stage for an incredible performance.

With catchy lyrics - that it would be ill-advised to print in a family newspaper – ringing in my ears, I return to Open to catch We Were Evergreen.

They came recommended from a band earlier on the bill, and the Parisian trio's clean brand of pop rounded off the night perfectly.

I leave to get a taxi as Prince of Wales Road is lurching into life, and the driver says he has never heard of Norwich Sound and Vision.

The festival may still be a relatively well kept secret, but it is one I am glad I have found.

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