The Last Dance of the Festival Season: Mutations promises one last weekend to glut on great music.

City festivals are always great for acting loosely as a tour guide directing one to the city’s best venues.

Words: Lloyd Bolton | Photo: Holly Whitaker

I have needed to return to Brighton for a while. It’s great, I know, everyone tells me. I went when I was 15 to see King Gizzard at the Haunt when I was too young to get into their London date, it was epic. I went for a day trip when I was 16, played beach volleyball, it was delightful. In the intervening 6 years I have consistently agreed to any recommendations to return to experience the city’s full range of delights, now of age and infinitely wiser. Finally, an excuse has presented itself, in the form of an absolutely stacked Mutations line up.

City festivals are always good for acting loosely as a tour guide directing one to the city’s best venues. As well as revisiting what was The Haunt, now Chalk, I can check out Patterns, The Hope and Ruin, Komedia, all familiar names from endless tour posters. There is an awkwardness to shuttling between venues in an actual city compared to walking between stages around a field, but part of the joy of the city festival is the requisite immersion into the fabric of the city for a few days as it rubs off on you. That and the availability of meal deals as an alternative to expensive and relentlessly fried field festival food stands.

Considering the music itself, even the Thursday warm-up bill is reason enough to get the first train from Finsbury Park clear to the coast. Pussy Riot headline, one of the few punk bands that actively rebels against something more than boredom. I expect a brilliant show from these present-day legends, and the History student within me is taking a particular interest. Add to that W.H. Lung (the best band to be named after a Chinese supermarket) and The Dinner Party – bookies’ favourite to become your 6 Music Dad’s next obsession – and you’ve got yourself a cracking night.

Further into the weekend are an enthralling set of headliners. Friday promises to pump with bass and groove as Squid and Warmduscher share headlining duties. Meanwhile, on Saturday the festival plays host to hugely influential and uncategorizable American weirdos Animal Collective alongside the epochal Black Country, New Road (whose Bush Hall London shows have immediately sold out, making this an especially good opportunity to catch them). Concluding proceedings at a foot-stomping ‘closing party’, I will finally get to find out the deal with Bob Vylan, who follows Benefits, Grove and Scalping. My dancing shoes will be thoroughly worn out and sticky after that one.

Below the headline acts are a thoroughly excellent selection of up-and-coming bands of various shapes and sizes. The Hideous Mink-adjacent double-up of Fake Turins and Opus Kink will be riotous in itself, and I cannot wait to see the latter play a homecoming show. Also on offer are Fat Dog, 2022’s prevailing favourites of the Windmill, as well as the enthralling Nukuluk and the joyous gimp suit genius Lynks.

Mutations will be an unforgettable party, rapturously ringing the death knell of the festival season. This last dance on the South Coast will be a sugar rush of great music in great venues, and I am keen to upgrade my knowledge of the city as mediated by the pursuit of as many great sets it is humanly possible to attend.

Find your tickets here.