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.

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