And the theme for today? London Fields’ multi-venue music festival…
This urban music festival is held in several venues around London Fields, with bands playing from mid-afternoon to 11-ish, some chill-out spaces, including a roof terrace at Netil 360, a market with a record fair, cartoon/comic book exhibition, a bit of shopping, food and craft beers (from the not-at-all-local Brooklyn Brewery), a tattoo art exhibition and lots of hanging about in funky cafes. The crowd sported more tattoos and beards than you could shake a stick at. All very Hackney.
I was out with Dave (you remember Dave, the Loop enthusiast). He has neither beard nor tattoos but he does like seeing bands and he had a couple bands in mind which he particularly wanted to see. I was a bit less fussed, although I quite wanted to get a look at Young Fathers, so between us we managed to see a fair few bands, but still have plenty of time to just kick back.
First up, Cheatahs at The Laundry. This is a band that I’ve seen a couple of times and I can hear a number of early-90s influences in their music; MBV, swervedriver, Chapterhouse, Dinosaur jnr, Ride. They do they wear them well, so that’s ok.
This was short, 30 minute set and they just bashed out all their best songs. All thriller, no filler. This was a good start to the afternoon.
And, while relaxing between bands, the view from the Netil 360 roof terrace.
The best thing about this view? You can’t see the hideous walkie-talkie building from here. It’s hidden behind the Gherkin.
I should also say that the sky looked mad and angry like that all day but it was actually really warm and sunny.
But anyway bands, bands, bands,
The next band, from Syracuse, New York, Perfect Pussy. Dave had already seen them twice this week.
They’re basically a thrash band and the singer Meredith Graves, attracts a lot of attention (what with being the one bouncing around at the front and all). She’s certainly very lively, but I couldn’t hear the vocals at all, so I can’t comment on those.
But for me, the drummer, Garrett Koloski, was the star.
He was great value. An excellent drummer and full of personality. At the end of the gig, his kit got trashed by a stagediver. A stagediver who was also in the band!
Nb. if you want to check out this band on t’internet, youtube wherever, DO NOT Google “perfect pussy” unless what you really want is a whole world of porn. Try “perfect pussy band”. I can’t guarantee it’ll be porn-free, but at least there’s a better chance.
As neither Dave nor I had a preference for who to see at tea time, we took a punt on Dirty Beaches. On the way into the venue, The Oval Space, my attention was momentarily captured by views of Hackney. Gas holders and razor wire. Oh the drama.
But on to the Dirty Beaches gig.
The venue was remarkably devoid of atmosphere; a big open space, sunlight streaming in the windows. Ho hum. Dirty Beaches consisted of two blokes; one who sometimes played guitar, sometimes keyboards and the other who sang, yelped, played saxophone, played what sounded like a saw and danced like Dave Gahan out of Depeche Mode. They’re clearly big fans of Suicide. They played two notes for a while. Then a bit of toot toot on the sax. Squiggly noise. Just beats. This doesn’t sound very good does it?
IT WAS FLIPPING AMAZING :D . This band is a brain-eating ear-worm. I was positively raving by the end of the set. It’s particularly impressive that they were able to rock such a personality-free venue at tea-time. I would love to see them in a more conducive atmosphere; they’d be even more amazing somewhere like Heaven.
Well Dave had wanted to see Fat White Family, but they cancelled at the last minute and were replaced by Joanna Gruesome. There was quite a buzz for this band; beloved of indie-pop-kids, they’d played at Indie Tracks last weekend, and Big Sean, who we’d run into in the Visions Market, was looking forward to seeing them.
They were ok. Noisy indie pop. Lots of fuzz. Very Sarah-with-a-rage-on. They were good at it, but my ears were not grabbed. Big Sean loved them and seemed a bit disappointed that I wasn’t blown away by them…swiftly followed by horrified, by my description of the awesome time I’d had at Dirty Beaches. He’s not really into dance so the thought of ‘raving’ is anathema to him.
Who next? Oh yeah, Young Fathers. Scottish hip hop. When we got back to the Oval Space, there was quite a crowd. This was clearly a band that a lot of people had been looking forward to. They were great, combining rap, spoken word, singing, beats and choons.
Dave had been to see the old skool cheese-fest that is Public Enemy earlier in the week and he said that he had enjoyed them, but they’d pulled out every hip-hop cliche you can think of; they’d even done the whole, “all the people on the left…, all the people on the right…” blah. Seriously, when is this going to die. One of the things I especially liked about Young Fathers, in addition to the great songs and delivery, was the fact that the people on both the left and the right were left to do exactly what they liked. Mostly dancing like loons, cheering and spontaneously throwing their hands in the air.
Next up came the most inexplicable piece of programming ever. After the great big sounds of Young Fathers came the teeny tiny little Veronica Falls.
They’re a little jangly indie-pop band. Not bad but what on earth were they doing following Young Fathers?! This felt like a little bit of a let-down, so we went off foraging for bands. We couldn’t get in to see Sonia, as it was one-in-one-out by the time we got there and in the end we decided to quit while we were ahead and take an early bath.
So, good festival? Yes, but first the lows:
Slightly heavy handed security at a couple of the venues. Chill out guys, it’s just a plastic bottle of water. No-one will die. The, frankly inexplicable, programming that saw Veronica Falls following Young Fathers. DOES NOT COMPUTE. The cancellations by bands, including Fat White Family, were a bit of a disappointment (although this did free us up to see Young Fathers so swings and roundabouts). Brooklyn Brewery beer. I don’t usually drink beer, but Dave tried one of the main sponsor’s beers and declared it rotten.
The highs: the overall organisation was very good, (heavy-handed security notwithstanding). There was a good varied line up which meant that we were able to see a really diverse mix of bands during the day. And the bands themselves. None of the bands we saw were duds. Even the ones that I didn’t particularly go for weren’t actually bad, just not what I was after. I’ve also seen lots of good reports of bands that I didn’t see so, music-wise, this festival really seems to deliver a good bang to buck ratio.
The tops: For me, Dirty Beaches with Young Fathers running a close second. Top stuff.
I’m aware that I’m really showing my age by using a tenuous pun on title of the 1970s kids TV programme as a blog post title but it’s done, so lets all just move on.