9 July, 2011
I signed up to cover 1234 Shoreditch Festival almost as soon as I arrived in London about a month ago. The fact that I had heard of only a tiny clutch of the artists playing didn’t matter to me at all. I was in London now. There was stuff happening. I had to be a part of that stuff. I’m pleased to report that my unbridled enthusiasm for big-city life paid off in my favour: 1234 is a perfectly sexy little number – a lot of fun, and a lot of good vibes. Situated deep in the heart of a residential estate in (you guessed it) Shoreditch, 1234 crams four stages (and a few fairground rides) into the rather modest space of the local park. It’s nicely compact, without being overcrowded, and a charming place to spend a (mercifully) pleasant Saturday afternoon.
As I said, I attended 1234 in blissful ignorance of about 95% of the bands on the line up. For a brief period, the gamble seemed to have been an unwise one: the main stage’s opening acts was plagued by muffled sound and hideous mixing issues, allowing a few out of tune singers and their drab bands sound even worse. However, it soon became apparent that there was plenty of wheat among the chaff – and an early trip to the New Bands Stage unearthed the deliciously hypnotic drone of Arrows of Love. I supped my beer and enjoyed their thick, hazy walls of guitar. 1234 was delivering the goods.
Other of the day’s highlights came in the form of Echo Lake, a female fronted band employing tight rhythms and floating keys to create a gorgeously enveloping texture of colour, with the vocals whimsically drifting in and out of the shifting mix. On the main stage, Electricity In Our Homes put in a good effort of jangly, jagged blasts of male-female guitar tracks; back in the Rough Trade and Beat Magazine tent The History of Apple Pie justified their accelerating hype by supplementing their fluffy pop numbers with thickly textured shoegaze revival; and, in the dance tent, Autokratz provided everything you could want from a tent of that name.
Thankfully, as the day went on, the sound issues of the early afternoon had all but disappeared (save for a few sound bleed issues from the close proximity of the tents), and as the evening built to its climax, I found myself in a bit of a quandary. Headlining three tents simultaneously were the three acts I was most eager to see: Black Lips, King Blues and Zombie Nation. Electing to leave the electronic music until the afterparties, I decided to drop in on the King Blues for a little while to appease the sixteen year old punkrocker in me, before catching the second half of the Black Lips. A tidy little compromise: after enjoying a few rousing numbers from Itch and the gang (including a circle pit!) I moved myself over to the front of the main stage to enjoy the raucousness of the Black Lips live performance. The scene wasn’t the unbridled savagery I was half-expecting (nobody got pissed on – the most we got were toilet rolls thrown over us) but tracks like ‘Bad Kids’ still got the response of crowd surfers and flailing limbs which you would expect. A fun climax to an enjoyable day, the thing was done and dusted by 10pm – a mercy in itself after a full day on the beer, and a trip back to West London ahead of me. And not a drop of rain.