Wednesday, September 16, 2009

OFFSET Festival Recap

I am a few weeks into my Summer/Fall holiday, but with all this great footage of the OFFSET festival, I had to take a break from cycling in France to un-sheath the laptop. I don't expect I will be blogging much more until I return to New York. So with this post, I will bid adieu until October and the CMJ Music Marathon:

Good Shoes

The Offset Festival was an unparalleled experience, both because I haven't properly ever seen a UK festival before, and more importantly because all of the bands I was exposed to were completely new to me. Frankly, I wasn't aware that the US and the UK were still so far apart. The trends in indie music couldn't be more different than those I left behind in Brooklyn. It seems that no one really knows about the experimental Animal Collective / Grizzly Bear / Dept. of Eagles thing, but impressively the cult of personality in performers seems to be as important as ever. The cultural differences of a UK fest were interesting: I saw some genuine teenage hooligans hurling Irish confetti at the security staff (in an effort to get some spans of this, I was actually struck on the sleeve by some errand drops of Tang). There was also real ale for sale - not just shitty corporate sponsor beer. I still have a bad taste in my mouth from that Bud Light Lime I was convinced to try at the Animal Collective show in Prospect Park.

The Chapman Family

Because of an early Sunday flight to Scotland, I was only able to attend on the Saturday (sorry Magic & Fur), but I was guided from tent to tent, pushed in by fans of each band about to go on, with promises (mostly fulfilled) that I would be in for an amazing experience. The festival organizers were kind enough to comp my ticket, so I strolled in quickly after a short train ride out from London and got stuck in. First band: a Greek group called The Berlin Brides:

After each band, the tent sort of clears out for a sweeping and the set change, so as soon as BB finished, I was herded to the main open stage area, where I was quickly convinced to hang around for The Chapman Family, an unsigned, but well-followed rock band from Stockton-on-Tees, in North England. It was one of the highest energy sets I have ever seen, although in an email afterward, singer Kingsley said that the gig was fun, but that the band is usually "much much louder." I am certain the volume of the vocals could have been louder, had Kingsley not strangled himself quite so hard with the microphone cable. Intense.

Following the Chapmans, I moved towards the bar and the surrounding tents. From that point for the next hour or so, I was literally just carried by sounds and waves of people from one tent to the next. I saw at least a half dozen bands in such quick succession that I failed to get any real info on any of them. If anyone knows the name of the band in the following video, please let me know. Clearly, I had indulged in the Bitter Ales that I covet so much from across the sea. Bitter is really the only thing we can't get in New York, that and a place that manages to assemble proper English bacon, sausages, and Heinz baked beans into a single breakfast package (Tea & Sympathy in the West Village is the only exception, but the portions are so small).

After that little spurt, I found myself back in the main stage area, where several different conversations within earshot were full of praise for Good Shoes, who were about to come on. Feeling a bit dizzy, happy at the prospect of not having to really move at all, I just hit the zoom on the camera and hung back. By this time the crowd was good-n-rowdy, and the skies were beginning to threaten. I recorded two songs before ducking into a tent.

Fortunately for me, the nearest tent was the one in which Cold Pumas were playing. I remembered them from the previewing I did a few weeks back, and I actually could sort of hum along to the songs. The songs are rather catchy, and I believe this song has about 4 lyrics.

So that was it for me. From there I flew to Scotland for another week, headed back to London, caught a ferry over to Brittany, where I am currently. Tomorrow it's off to Italy and then back to the UK. I'll officially be back in New York the week before CMJ, where I still haven't decided if we are going to do a showcase. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

OFFSET Festival Preview

East London's Offset Festival 2008

While I am in sunny England (on holiday), before I put this laptop away completely, I am going to cut out to East London's Hainault Forest Country Park for this year's Offset Festival. Having grown familiar with most of the local New York names, I couldn't resist throwing myself into a completely new event, where almost none of the band names are recognizable. It feels very similar to my first SXSW, scouring the list of performers and knowing absolutely nothing about any of them. For OFFSET, I have previewed the entire line-up, listening to ALL of the bands on MySpace, which took me almost two weeks. It was a blast to do so, and as a result, I will catch some fantastic English and European acts, fresh in their infancy.

2008 Offset Festival

Here's some info about the festival from the official release: East London’s artrock and post punk Offset Festival announce more creative, exciting, and influential artists added to this year’s lineup. Joining the likes of The Horrors, The Slits, and The Futureheads on 5-6th September will be:

Damo Suzuki, Dananananaykroyd, Die! Die! Die!, S.C.U.M, The Chapman Family. Plus: Kasms, Tim Burgess (DJ set), John and Jehn, R O M A N C E, Disconcerts, Cheval Sombre, Math Head, Gyratory System, Wild Palms, Teeth of the Sea and Private Trousers.

Joining the dots between exciting new artists and their iconic influences, the boutique festival hosts over 200 artists on 7 stages. An old-fashioned fun fair, vintage clothing market hosted by the renowned Affordable Vintage Fashion Fair, and performance art, will also feature during the weekend.

Here are my picks (in no particular order):

Magic and Fur will play 2009 Offset Festival
Magic and Fur

Magic & Fur - Transparency has always been a virtue of this blog, so I must say that Magic & Fur are how I heard about this festival. I wrote a review of their single "Christine" and wanted to try and catch a show while I was abroad. This festival was the best possible way, I think.
"Do Not Toll The Bell" by Magic & Fur download mp3 (with permission)

The Rayographs will play 2009 Offset Festival
The Rayographs

The Rayographs - These three girls are the band I think I am most excited to see. They have a great sound, as evidenced by its ability to draw my GF out of the bathroom with her familiar craned posture. "Who's that?" Whenever she says that, you know it's a winner.
"Hidden Doors" by The Rayographs download mp3 (with permission)

Nullifier - I know absolutely nothing about this band. They didn't answer an email I sent them, and they don't have a website or a record. When the band responded to an open invitation to sign, posted on the One Inch Badge Records' website, the recording process began. Here is more from that website:

Nullifier are an incredibly demanding and infectious hyper-pop supergroup from Brighton consisting of Todd Jordan aka T-Jo from My Device and James Morrison aka J-Mo from The Tumbledown Estate. Padding out the rest of this insane 8-piece collective are Tom Denney (Lonely Ghosts / Help She Can't Swim), Tom Windsor (Pope Joan), Luke Hefson (Not Katies), Alex Uren (My Device), Russ Eke (My Device), and Milo Boyd (Cameltoe Comb Over).

Spectrals will play the 2009 Offset Festival

Spectrals - I know nothing at all about Spectrals, other than the music on MySpace has that badass sixties dirt sound that we all love. It's something a lot of people are doing, sure, but this version of it made me perk up an inch higher than the rest.

And then there are the famous bands that I want to see:

Bearsuit, Metronomy and Damo Suzuki. As all of these bands have adequate press, I don't think I need to go on-and-on about any of them. I hate to penalize bands for being successful, but that's the way it goes. I will say that Damo Suzuki is the most likely to end up the subject of a documentary someday, Metronomy were one of the festival favorites last year, and Bearsuit's single "Foxy Boxer" drew more LALA followers than any other song I have ever previewed on the blog. It should be a good weekend with a cool 55 degrees. Last minute flight deals from New York are not bad. You have 48 hours, though. You had better get a move on.

Buy Magic and Fur's Records!!
Join the Too Pure Singles Club!!
Buy Spectrals' Records!!
Buy The Rayographs' Records!!
Buy Nullifier's Records!!
Buy Tickets to the OFFSET FESTIVAL