Monday, 26 July 2010

1234 festival review for Gigwise

Even though Shoreditch’s very own 1234 festival is notorious for people caring more about their chic shoes than their tunes, this year’s line-up of Dum Dum Girls, Rolo Tomassi and These New Puritans was too temptingly good to avoid. Arriving at Shoreditch Park to find the guestlist queue longer than the pay-ticket queue, nightmares of a scenester filled fashion show-off seemed to become true already.

Trailer Trash Tracys entered the main stage around 2 p.m. and this afternoon show was so mind-numbingly boring, it made watching the crowd way more entertaining. With their uhh-ing and ahh-ing they might catch the attention of some O.A.P.s living in the council estate overseeing the park, but in terms of filling the main stage with presence, they failed miserably.

Next on the main stage were goth poppers S.C.U.M. and despite all of them basically being teenage school-kids, they look like they could have stepped out of a Herzog movie. Pre-war chic twinned with post-rock melancholia equals a not very believable nor enjoyable rendition of Nick Cave like pompous pop. S.C.U.M. surely stands for Shouldn’t (have) Come (to watch this) Unaccomplished Music.

On after S.C.U.M. were the more talented and more accessible Dum Dum Girls, who, despite being plagued with a terribly bad sound-system on the main stage, managed to pull off a good show. Their girl group multi-tonal singing was riddled with unwanted screechy feedback, which sadly ruined main parts of the set. Favourites such as ‘Jail La La’ came to life through the unusual mix of ethereal dreamy girl rock and effortlessly cool anti-pop. As a self-confessed “choir nerd”, singer Dee Dee knows how entice the crowd with harmonies so breezy they could actually make you forget the unbearable heat in front of the main stage. Describing their own sound as “Blissed Out Buzzsaw”, this L.A. four-piece know their strengths. With an enigmatic lead-singer, who is in equal parts Karen O and Karen Carpenter and a band that plays so tightly, it feels like they have being going at it for years, Dum Dum Girls show us how melodious fuzz is done properly.

After hot girl drone rock, old man Peter Hook set off to perform Joy Division’s seminal 1979 debut album ‘Unknown Pleasures’ live. In the words of one famous 1234 attendee: “Ian Curtis is already dead. Why kill him any more?” And yes, it was that bad.

Wavves saved the day with their lo-fi yet high-powered charming geek pop. Wavves a.k.a. 22 year old Nathan Williams has found his little musical niche somewhere between blissed-out sunburnt West Coast slacker surf rock and alluringly nerd-tastic loopy skate noise-pop. So many genres, so few names. However, all you need to know is that Wavves are great.

Totally in tune with the DIY ethics of Wavves, we headed over to watch house-party-take-over veterans Rolo Tomassi who played in the tiny Artrocker tent. Despite the fact that the tent was bursting at every corner, Rolo Tomassi absolutely commanded the crowd with their untouchable blend of teen hyper-happy-hardcore.

Most enjoyable part of the festival certainly was A1 Bassline and Shunda K of Yo Majesty! fame rocking the Dollop dance tent. Finally in here people forgot to stare at their shoes and started rocking out. And I like nothing more than a proper day-time rave.

The big highlight of the festival was supposed to be These New Puritans headlining the Rough Trade stage, which never materialised due to a broken sound-system. The organisation was shoddy and punters and band alike were justifiably pissed off at such a massive mishap.

All in all, fuzz was the word of the day. Nearly all bands sounded the same. Dum Dum Girls were great. Their sound sadly wasn’t and it was a real shame that These New Puritans didn’t even get the chance to perform, because most people were there only for them. Next year I’d rather go to Latitude.

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