Shellac at Beaches Brew Festival

Beaches Brew – Ravenna’s annual four-day musical extravaganza at Hani-Bi beachside club/bar is a cool free festival which helps launch Italy’s summer outdoor concert season in style.

The friendly, relaxed mood is enhanced by a lack of any visible policing. The only sign of any security is a bag check at the entrance to make sure you have no glass bottles (or bombs).

A few stewards wouldn’t have gone amiss though, especially when a freak storm threatened to ruin the party atmosphere on day 3. High winds brought to an end a promising set by Weyes Blood (Natalie Mering) before she and her band could properly get into their stride. The beach stage looked at the point of collapse, or lift off , until technicians hastily lowered the canvas cover. The windswept and sand blasted audience had to beat a retreat to the relatively sheltered bar and roof stage area as strong gusts created a mini-tornado effect.

The immediate beneficiaries of this unexpected climate change were Preoccupations, an arty-noise band from Canada who created a sonic storm of their own within the minimal stage space.

This same performance area was originally deemed too small for Steve Albini’s punk meets grunge trio Shellac (or Shellac of North America if you feel like being pedantic).

However, the weather conditions meant that some rapid improvisations were needed. As a consequence they played in this confined space before a sizeable crowd packed like enthusiastic sardines around three sides.

The close proximity of the audience upped the level of intensity and excitement although it also meant that only those tall enough or close enough got a decent view. Still, Shellac’s music fitted the mood well – their sound is raw and forceful, like a series of sonic punches directed, with steadily increasing force, at the gut. Albini may not be the world’s greatest singer but he makes up for this with a ‘don’t fuck with me’ stage demeanor.

At the end of the show (at around 1 am) many revellers looked the worse for wear but the low-key organisers could justifiably claim that a good time was had by all. Proof that you can sometimes take on the natural elements and win .