Without wanting to spoil the conclusion of this review, I had a great time at 1-2-3-4. Perhaps my enjoyment of it has coloured my memories of the event a little rosier than it really was, but I don’t believe that. All enjoyment is subjective, and my morose compatriot of the festivities is testament to this fact. Aside from a late start, and some as-per-usual sound issues, I can’t think of much that went wrong. The weather was fine, and Shoreditch Park seemed to escape the rain that happened outside London.
The main things that struck me about this festival were probably the size and the people. Some may not look at it as a boon, but this festival is good because it’s small. I could probably jog from one side to the other in a minute, no probs. Yet inside there were four stages, plenty of bars, copious toilets, one large silver Kopparberg Kube (hello again friend!), a VIP area and some dodgems. The people were also (clearly) local. They were not the chumps that come into Shoreditch on Friday/Saturday night and start fights outside the kebab shop; they were the people who lived around Hoxton/Kingsland/Dalston and actually cared about the great (relatively unknown) bands and artists playing at this festival.
First act we properly saw were Arrows of Love who got off to a good start, but fell flat by the second song. Part of that was probably the fault of the awful sound work on the Art Rocker stage. Not enough bass, sounded weak and thin. So we left that pretty quick to go get something to drink and look around. At this stage in the day, there was a lot of space around and you could move from one stage to another in a few minutes. That was refreshing.
We ended up in the dance tent, which probably had the best sound alongside the main stage, and saw Attaque, someone we hadn’t heard previously. He wasn’t bad. Did a pretty good electro set, if a little bit mainstream for the too-cool-for-Ministry of Sound crowd that he was playing to. Could be good playing a heavier set in a dirty warehouse on Scrutton Street or something, but at this time of the day in this atmosphere his otherwise very good work went unappreciated.
I don’t know if you can see Rainbow Arabia in the background there on the Noisey stage, but they were fairly good. Her vocals do get a little raw after a while and if they hadn’t written some very good songs then I’m not sure I’d be a fan. As it stands, they were one of the bands at 1-2-3-4 who I expect big things from. Next year they will have an album and be playing further up the bill, although I’m not sure they will be headlining anything soon.
The real star of this show was the tiny Asian man standing at the front. Why was he there? How old is he? So cool, with that nonchalant stance and his hat probably obscuring his vision. So effortless. A massive contradiction in a sea of pretence. I figured that the most likely reason for his being there was this:
In Yokohama in 1967, Hiroshi (I have no knowledge of his name or nationality) worked in a little camera shop selling film to the neighbourhood scene kids, when this rock musician walks in to get some photos printed. The two people strike up conversation and one Damo Suzuki invites Hiroshi to a gig at the Town Hall. Hiroshi takes his girlfriend along and they all go back stage to drink Whisky and eat rice crackers. A couple of weeks into their friendship Hiroshi finds his girlfriend in bed with Damo and vows revenge. Damo runs off to Europe to have a career in Can and only now has Hiroshi raised the money to get a flight over and exact that revenge. Underneath that hat is hidden a tiny poisoned dagger small enough to pierce Damo’s heart. It’s possible that Hiroshi missed, because Damo didn’t die whilst we were watching, and so, poor Hiroshi’s grudge remains, probably to be carried into the afterlife.
So this is Damo freaking out. He was good too. I was worried he was going to get a bad neck though because he kept pulling his head real sharp to the right when he sang, and it was probably doing some damage. I don’t really know Can, or Damo Suzuki’s music, but Krautrock is cool, right?
This was Sex Beet on the Rough Trade stage. They have some great songs, and were pretty good on the day. No complaints. Definitely one to watch. However, I can’t remember too many details about them mind, so I was either having too much fun, or they weren’t that special.
Lydia Lunch was good for an aging punk who looked like my ex-girlfriend’s mum (that said, my ex-girlfriend’s mum was quite cool). Autokrats were fairly consumate too; something like a cross between Soulwax and Duran Duran, they were both industrial and hard electro but 80s and ridiculous at the same time.
Black Lips, on the Noisey stage, were obviously who everyone was there to see, and they didn’t disappoint, although I did remark later that they might have been a bit disappointing. An Irish girl I met later thought they were awful live, and that they were awful live as a rule. However, I really enjoyed it. Getting smashed around at the front like I was 15 again at my first Taproot gig was a lot of fun. I was launched into a crowd surf more times than I care to remember and have a lot of bruises to show for it. I had a lot of fun, I was pretty drunk by that point, and my friends just kept throwing me back up there.
At one point the band threw a plethora of toilet rolls into the crowd and we had a TP party for a while, but that was about as crazy as it got. Given that Black Lips are known for on stage fights, vomiting, stage invasions and more I was surprised we didn’t even get a snog between band members. On all other fronts, I can’t complain about their performance.
All-in-all, it was a great day. Small is the new big. You get to see the bands you want, there are no dickheads about pissing in their cups and throwing it at your head, and 80% of the people there could walk home in 20 minutes. This meant that the after parties were a great option. Twenty minutes walk and a can of K-cider later and we were watching Babeshadow at Hoxton Square Bar and Grill continuing to have a good time.
Special thanks go out to the guy who found my phone in Shoreditch Park and called my friend who subsequently met him, gave it to our other friend and returned it to me later in Hoxton Square Bar and Grill much to my elated surprise.
5 Crumbles – Because it was fookin’ great!