The 1-2-3-4 Festival @ Shoreditch Park

Fondue au noise and paranoid psychedelia


Comparing this and last year's festival at first glance, you'd immediately recognize 2012 as the year new wav-y punks / post punks got loose. More green Mohawks, less ironic mustaches, 1234 2012 was decisively more rebellious.
 A tantalizing line-up of veteran and fresh-out-of-the-pop-oven bands were to blame: from Buzzcocks to Zoetrope and from Minny Pops to Los Cripis, there was always someone hollering, smacking or kicking something somewhere in the festival.
Personally, I said this year I wouldn't run crazy, struggling to catch up with the newest of the new bands. I'd make my choices and live with them. And lived I did.
Dirty Beaches
As I walked in I was confronted with rock siblings Jeff the Brotherhood, in a loud warming welcome at the main stage; then I went looking for Los Cripis.
Sexy and quirky, the Argentinian trio filled the Rat Pit tent with songs like Fondue de Jesus that twirled and twisted our moods. Unfortunately they didn't last long (we soon have to start a debate on whether us, the audience, prefer a small number of festival bands, who will however have time to deploy their sound, instead of the current eternal chase of the next-next-neeext band that we never run quick enough to enjoy).
Bo Ningen
Then Gabriel Bruce came along to justify my excitement for this less populated of festivals; one with pretty good taste at such, where you never fail to discover a handful of new bands (or old ones that are new to you alone). Gabriel's dark baritone is rich in charm and Cohen/Cave style, further enhanced by a couple of glamorous girl vocalists. Look what you can come across strolling on the grass...
As for Dirty Beaches, who later took over, he just validated my already high expectations. Alex Zhang Hungtai, aka Dirty Beaches, has made a hell of an album (Bandlands) steeped in moody vintage electronica, and spiced up with despairing screams and cooky samples: Lord Knows Best, A Hundred Highways, the a-la-Suicide Speedway King, all little gems which he performed masterfully with his boys.
I went back to the Rat Pit stage to see what Zoetrope were about, and even though I just caught a minute of their last brutal song, they convinced me they're wicked.
Deap Vally
On the other hand, The Duke Spirit, who we all keep hearing so much about, hardly stuck out. Their garage rock mix was intriguing at times, but frontwoman Liela Moss (who obviously leads the race) failed to strike a chord - despite even her vivid rock vocab.
As for Bo Ningen... Oh, Bo!
In a packed up Rough Trade Shops/Loud & Quiet stage the Japanese quartet, fans of long flowy skirts and ground-breaking psychedelic noise, found fertile ground to create havoc. Schizophrenic hymns like Korositai Kimochi drove the crowd nuts and enlivened, at last, the tent's mosh pit. Top act! But we already knew that...
As a heady Flaneur again I bumped into Deap Vally at the main stage: Rock glamazon meets Janis Joplin with a hint of Jack White, the girl duo were explosive, but not necessarily in a profound musical way...
Buzzcocks now are one of my favourite British punk bands, but of all three times I've seen them, this was the less fun. They were in form, so maybe I'll blame it on the setlist - or the fact that it was the first time I've seen them among a diverse music crowd (and a very mellow circle pit). I hardly heard any of my favs (Harmony in My Head let's say), their festival soundtrack sounding more poppy-go-happy than ever.
...So I gave them up for Minny Pops. The Dutch post punk bunch was on my to-do list for their unusual dark art wavy sounds - and, lucky me, thanks to the Buzzcocks letdown I caught them on time. Frontman extraordinaire Wally van Middendorp looked like a middle-aged cello player gone astray, walking among us sharing odd jokes (repeatedly the one about having 25 min to play 300 songs). With three decades of history and a new single coming up on Tim Burgess' OGenesis label, Minny Pops are the original post punk deal.
  Twenty five minutes later, I was off to catch another seminal persona from the past - Mark Stewart of The Pop Group. Less funky music-wise than the last time I saw him, sinister as ever, Stewart and the trio VD humbly, soberly, cool-headedly just nailed it.
Finally, Denmark's Iceage wrapped up the party at the main stage - and they wrapped it up well (bows and all..). Their playing on a loop on the American independent radio has failed to convince me they're special, but on stage they didn't disappoint. The 1-2-3-4 is one big party - often truly refreshing, and occasionally a little hyped. With a touch of both, Iceage headlined alright.

Review and photography by Danai Molocha
Deap Vally
Gabriel Bruce

Los Cripis

Mark Stewart
Minny Pops
The Duke Spirit
Bo Ningen

No comments:

Post a Comment