Wednesday, 5 August 2009

underage festival

introducing Luke.

The only gigs I go to these days are either half-filled with aged hipsters placidly sipping Corona (e.g. Growing) or packed-out with aged hipsters amiably dancing in whatever way they can (e.g. Animal Collective). Field Day would be much the same. Underage – next day, same field – looked to be a rather different affair despite sharing some of the bands.

To my disappointment Video Nasties got cancelled. It was something to do with timing; not just because they’re totally underrated.

Good Shoes played to what happened to be the biggest crowd in the Artrocker tent all day. Their straight-forward-but-well-honed happy indie guitar fare drove everybody apeshit to the point where you’d assume that they were headlining. After announcing that they were going to play “some new stuff”, their set began to resemble a Foals cover band without the annoying vocal delivery. It wasn’t a bad thing at all and I guess it explains what they’ve been doing for the past two years.

Next, Marina and the Diamonds sounded like a cross between Regina Spektor’s last two albums and somebody who’s a casual fan of Bat for Lashes. It was a shame that her beautiful voice was accompanied by such simplistic lyrics and an unimaginative session band. An energetic cover of Late of the Pier’s “Space and the Woods” was the highlight. Watch out for her on 679 soon.

In the “Youth Music” tent two drum ‘n’ bass DJs inappropriately warmed up the crowd for what turned out, unexpectedly, to be the best act of the day. First Aid Kit were two Swedish females (16 and 18 years old) who could easily have been 23. Their glorious vocal and guitar/zither harmonies were so expansive it was practically narcotic. Their lyrics were smart and unpretentious and, as if they couldn’t try harder to convince you that they were fully-fledged hippies, they even followed a Fleet Foxes cover with a re-vamp of a 60s protest song. Their set seemed to largely fall deaf on what few ears there were to hear it.

First Aid Kit - Cross Oceans


The XX played moody, slow-core goth tunes with satisfying confidence. Their huge drum-machine beats provided lots of bass-y stimulation. My friend remarked that it’d be “good come-down music”. I’ll have to take her word for it, but she’s probably right.

The XX - Basic Space


Santigold looked like a lot of impressive dance-y fun when she invited a load of crowd members onstage, but I only caught it so that I could see the start of Mystery Jets’ set. They sounded exactly like they did on record and I didn’t regret skipping quickly off to see all of The Horrors. Like at Field Day, their new songs were thrust onto you with gusto rather than covered all over you. This was completely welcome until they somehow managed to inspire a circle pit during “Sea Within a Sea”. I’m inclined to think that it wasn’t quite their fault.

Lastly, Patrick Wolf dominated the stage with his huge outfits and miniature string ensemble. After a cool first few songs he suddenly presented himself as this overzealous rock-star with a Flying V, preaching about how we were the children of the future and the importance of safe sex. It was absurd and apparently never tongue-in-cheek. He just about managed not to let it spoil things entirely by using his enthusiasm to try to continue the set after the 8pm curfew. The security were having none of it.

by luke harris

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