24 July 2010 (gig)
01 August 2010
In its third year now the hip 1234 Festival at Shoreditch Park has become a firm feature on the summer festival calendar. While notable for focusing on new talent, this year also saw rather special appearances from Bobby Gillespie and his super group The Silver Machine and Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order fame.
First on the agenda is to be sonically assaulted by Turbogeist on the Now Music Stage. With the tent offering a rather brutal sound throughout, coupled with a band intent on maximising this disturbing potential, some of the first sounds of the festival are somewhat harsh.
Over on the main stage Action Beat welcome early attenders with an unspeakable number of guitarists, jumping and twisting about their persons, before Trailer Trash Tracys showcase their Bat for Lashes meets Cat Power electro beat off. With the sun a welcome and popular figure throughout the day and beer tents feverishly busy some leave TTT to seek a little more fun.
The Artrocker stage, delightfully small and intimate to the point of real surprise, succeeds in this mission with a performance from Random Impulse, an MC turned guitarist fronting a 3-piece. Recalling the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Bloc Party either side of his rhymes, the 20 minute gig is likeable and essentially, fun.
The festival's size is a plus and while ticket prices are creeping up, though still reasonable, it is hoped this kind of attendance remains the aim. Movement between stages is easy and beer queues respectable (more to do with plenty of staff, rather than a sudden disinterest in beer of course). Coupled with a range of information on good causes, the rough edges of a still new festival and the eclectic fashions that are on show, the organisers are saluted.
Back to the music and Vic Godard and the Subway Sect, another of the more advanced acts of the day prove a challenge. Playing their laid back 70s punk, the band started on the suggestion of the Sex Pistol's manager are something of a bore. Much more exciting are Manchester 2-piece Mazes. Facing a battle with the NM Stage sound, the band play dreamy grunge pop that incites thoughts of everyone from Guided by Voices to Wavves to Dinosaur Jnr. So very youthful and keen to impress they prove one of the discoveries of the day.
Remaining within tent and away from a now gorgeous heat, Von Haze offer dreamy distortion, coupled with a breeze of beauty that provokes thoughts of much loved Beach House flirting outrageously with My Bloody Valentine. While over at the dance stage Zombie Zombie have the crowd in a sweaty fever of merriment to driving bass and dangerous beats.
In the mid afternoon sun things start to get serious with the introduction of some of the more hyped acts. Dum Dum Girls receive a very welcome reception but their set is a bit of a let down. The 4-piece nonchalantly play 60s girl group pop with a nod to The Velvet Underground throughout but despite the talk it's a little dull, arguably a case of style over substance.
This is quickly forgotten in favour of something rather special. Peter Hook, bassist of Joy Division and New Order is here to play the formers debut album, Unknown Pleasures. Opening with No Love Lost, a fantastic surprise, the unmistakable drums, outrageous bass and driving pace, create feelings that most new bands can only dream of establishing in fans in the future. Unknown Pleasures is as much loved as it is influential, but is brought to life for many who are unlikely to have heard any of it live before. Disorder is aggressively cool, with Hook revelling in shouting “Feeling, feeling, feeling”. At times coming close to the tone of the late Ian Curtis it is quite haunting. New Dawn Fades with the addition of former Happy Monday's singer Rowetta is beautiful, her voice embracing the sadness of the song in a quite stirring manor. She's Lost Control is immediately powerful and Interzone vibrant. In finishing quite perfectly with Love Will Tear Us Apart, Hook caps a terrific and moving performance.
Following this high does not appear to trouble Wavves who, seemingly in a better pace than a year ago, is hitting the long road again. With a new album of more accessible surfy racket pop out now, and accompanied by Jay Reatard's (RIP) former band, he rattles through a number of tracks and successfully dismisses the technicians attempts to have them finish on time. Beach Demon is particularly good and Wavves are riding high at the moment. While over at the Artrocker stage Rolo Tomassi and their screech rock ways have punters climbing and throwing themselves from the rigging. Quite a sight.
Vivian Girls show the Dum Dum Girls how it should be done with a glorious set of scuzzy dream pop. With a hint of a heavier influence as well, the performance suggests a step up to bigger audiences will come soon. Think Sonic Youth channelling The Beach Boys, their no-fi is a delight and they rock too. Oh yes! The Silver Machine keep the crowd buzzed at the main stage with a performance of their favourite tracks, at times proving quite exhilarating with Bobby Gillespie clearly enjoying the opportunity to indulge in all that is rocknroll.
While the decision not to have Peter Hook headline the event is perhaps questionable, Fucked Up revels in the evening light, the drunken noise of the crowd and the apparent technical problems These New Puritans sadly experience at the Now Music Stage. The Toronto hardcore punk ensemble have crazy dancers leaping and restrained indie folk retreating, but it's no doubt entertaining and Damian Abraham's commitment and enthusiasm for his trade and words is notable.
An excellent festival in all. With a varied line-up, some exciting new bands to dive into and rocknroll heavyweights to raise a pint to, coupled with the spirit of a lively, drink friendly but pleasant youth, the day is a fine one. Promise everywhere.