Bethan Shuff || February 6th
Some shared a love for other people, others shared their love of cats, some shared their love of crisps and others their love of dance; but at Trading Love, the one-day festival held in Hanley’s Tontine Building, everyone shared their love of arts and culture.
The Trading Love festival was originally set up by Rich Brown, Ryan Ball, Siobhan Mcleer and the team to launch Blackwater Trading Company’s EP, Trading Love; however, circumstances changed and instead, the festival became a major celebration of Stoke’s wealth of talent.
Ryan Ball said that, for him, ‘Trading Love was a chance to showcase as much of the unreal cultural talent from the area as possible. We think that this crossover needs to happen more often. We need to combine the different aspects of our culture, such as art, music and theatre, to help the creative side of our city to flourish.’
On the second floor of the building was a huge art exhibition revolving around a theme of Love. A maze of dimly lit rooms were filled with spot-lit art. In one room sat an old typewriter with a pile of scrap paper with a note asking for people to tell their stories of heartbreak. Another room was full of protest signs, on which inspirational quotes were written, such as ‘No self-hate ‘cos I’m well great’. There were blank signs for people to make their own empowering messages, and you would often see one floating around the festival upstairs in the stage area.
Upstairs was covered in decorative love hearts, and there was something happening everywhere you turned. There was a variety of acts throughout the day, from poets, to dancers, to bands. Poet Emily Andrews shared her love of cats, whilst Nick Degg tells us of his addiction to crisps and the Trent Vale Poet declared his love for Stoke.
At 4pm Street Click Dance Crew took to the centre of the room to perform an hour of exciting and upbeat street dance routines to some classic tracks by the likes of Michael Jackson and Usher as the crowd that had gathered around them cheered and sung along.
The rest of the evening was filled with more musicians; the stage was covered in hearts and lit with romantic red lighting. Grant Foster did some solo acoustics that combined some very moving rapping with beautiful harmonies before bringing on a second guitarist Eve Sweetmore, and his sister Georgia Klee to sing some of her original tracks, too.
Rachel Ferguson performed a short set of delicate tracks, some of which we heard live on The Honey Box earlier this month. Rachel has the power to completely captivate an audience in such a way that you could hear a pin drop; in such a way that you daren’t breathe for fear of breaking the atmosphere. An erupt of applause saw Rachel leave the stage before The Sugarmill King, Nic Andrews headed onstage to perform three acoustic tracks. I’ve always known Nic for his great eye for talent, scouting out bands to put on gigs, but I’ve never known him as a musician, so it was very cool to see him sit there in his big puffer jacket with an acoustic guitar and have a good time on stage himself.
Mark Crawford, AKA, Macious, celebrated his birthday at Trading Love, doing just what he loves. Macious conducted a half hour DJ set of classic bangers that got everyone up onto the dance floor and jumping around in order to crank the energy up a notch in time for the bands to perform. You could see the joy in Mark’s face as music-lovers danced to his beats and were flung through the ages, taken on a nostalgic journey.
The first of two bands to take the stage was the diverse Captain Stingray’s Groove Machine, consisting of bass, keys, drum kit, saxophone, African drums and vocals. The six-piece performed a colourful set full of ethnic beats and funky styles. The band members and their instruments were tightly packed on the stage, but they all grooved and danced with the crowd who had now packed out the dance floor. Their energy bounced of every soul in the room and infected them with love and rhythm.
Arcadia was the second band on the Trading Love stage, and were a little heavier than the rest of the acts that had preceded them. What was great about Trading Love was that the people who had come to support, had come to support each and every act, regardless, due to their love and appreciation of arts and culture. Tropic was a firm favourite with the audience, alongside the extended, heavier ’95 which closed the set. Praises were sung as the lads left the stage and were greeted with bewildered faces and congratulations by their newly recruited fans.
Rich Brown, frontman of Blackwater Trading Company said that Trading Love had become a ‘hub for people to trade love with regards to different art pieces, different genres of music and everything else in between. I think given the success of this first event, there will surely be more to come.’
Head over to Facebook and give the Trading Love page a like to be the first to get notified on Trading Love’s future endeavours.