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1234 Festival – Shoreditch Park, London 01/09/12

1234 Festival – Shoreditch Park, London 01/09/12

06 September 2012, 14:57 | Written by Luke Morgan Britton

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Photographs by Jason Williamson

Shoreditch’s 1234 Festival was once described in a national paper as a festival so hip that the bands are out of fashion before they get off stage and while that’s a heck of a pull quote to use for any future press releases, it’s not wholly accurate. We’d surely not be doing our jobs right if we hadn’t heard of most of the buzz bands, hype producers and intrigue-shrouded art-rock acts that fill up this year’s festival’s bill. You’d have thought we’d all collectively switched off our news feeds or had never walked past a vaguely dingy East London haunt.

But while the likes of Savages, Holograms and Iceage are well known to those with their ears closest to the underground, 1234 Festival is indeed, for the most part, a thing of discovery. The all-dayer operates as a step-up for mostly London bands, taking them from their nearby backroom venues and acting as a precursor to near-future non-logo slots at larger events. Not quite the tastemaker showcase of Brighton’s Great Escape, but far more pleasant than the annual inevitable chaos that Field Day brings.

Drop Out Venus are entrusted with opening the festival for the day, offering a hazy, hypnotic cocktail to those just wandering in, feeling a bit bleary-eyed from one too many the evening prior. ‘Love In Vain’ does the job almost as well as flicking on ‘Sunday Morning’ after a heavy night, but sadly there are more people situated on the grassy knoll outside or still getting their bearings around the admittedly rather confusing laid out site (only one stage appears to be signposted, thanks big Artrocker banner) than those scattered in front of the main stage to witness the Deptford threepiece.

Visions of Trees kick off the early afternoon offerings from the dance stage, with the likes of patten and Lapalux following shortly after: the darkened smoke-filled tent swiftly becoming a minor timewarp, transporting all inside from 3pm to a constant 1am in the morning vibe.

For those who felt it was a tad too early for gun-finger gestures, Gross Magic seemed to be the agreed alternative given our congested oops-sorry-that-was-your-foot struggle to make it into the tent. When in, however, the lucid pop tunes of Gross Magic – fronted by 80s teen movie throwback Sam McGarrigle, quite possibly the most disheveled looking kid to still get ID-ed – make up for the slog of entry. Backed by an on-form, and rather manic looking, Simon from TEETH on drums, the band roll through the gems from their Teen Jamz EP, along with a few newies including a rather strange closing track that sounds like McGarrigle is channelling ‘Cool Thing’-era Kim Gordon angered by Pussy Riot’s recent incarceration, as he repeatedly urges the fairer gendered of the audience to “not be pushed around”, in an oratory dead-pan tone that’s somewhere between Baz Luhrmann and Gil Scott-Heron.

As late-afternoon blurs into early-evening, the pace picks up a bit thanks to Swedish post-punks Holograms at the Artrocker tent and their Leeds prog-punk counterparts Eagulls, who feature at the imaginatively-named ‘Second stage’. The two groups’ successive time slots means we get to be treated to a whole hour of angsty screeches and raw guitars accompanied by the “is-that-spilt-beer-or-is-it-sweat” portion of the crowd, finishing up just in time for all to ponder what they’re going to have for a well-earned food break.

After being won over by the punning skills of the Mac-n-cheese stall, opting for the ‘Kanye Western’ rather than the traditional ‘Annie Mac’, it’s over to liquor-store chic twopiece Deap Vally for a sunset slot at the main stage. The Cali duo, who look like they’ve walked straight from the set of ‘Natural Born Killers’ set the bar as “Ones To Beat” with their explosive rendition of recent single ‘Gonna Make My Own Money’, a track so perfect for the next Robert Rodriguez flick that with all the royalties rolling in from the soundtrack credits they’d soon not need to resort to such counterfeiting.

While Deap Vally may just steal the favourite new band status for any casual festival-goer just happening upon new acts, Savages must get a honorary mention in the same breath. The oft-lauded best live band in London at the moment deliver a blistering performance that means going to see the group any chance you get still makes up for only a handful of tracks existing online.

After a flurry of show-stoppers, it’s perhaps only fair that things are brought down a notch of two. Perhaps it’s the heightened sense of expectation now or just the beer going to our heads a touch, but the R&B being spun by the DJs at the Old Blue Last tent seems a much more appealing prospect than the inoffensive indie of Citizens! or the nostalgia dependence of Buzzcocks.

While Iceage closing the evening is hardly the festival headline act to excitedly text home about, they do a good job of energising the stragglers who’ve not called it a night already with their intricately noisy squall – even if the band’s distant gazes make it appear that they themselves may just be the ones having the least fun. But with offshoot after-parties situated on nearly every nearby side street, it’s not quite the end of matters for those who can just about muster a second wind.

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