Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Concrete and Glass (Festival 2008)

Concrete and Glass is billed as London's armed response to uber-festival SXSW in Texas. Spread out over two days (quite bizarrely a Thursday and a Friday) and many venues between Brick Lane and Shoreditch, it plays host to cream of the crop bands du jour and bands to be. While it is a bit too spread out to manage on a blustery cold September evening, the Friday proved to be one of the best nights out in ages. Despite the ridiculousness of moving TV on the Radio from a carpark to a roadblock, there was still plenty to see. But we'll get to TVOTR later, as they were my must-see band of the festival, and everyone else's it later transpired.

We started off in the MacBeth watching the teenage stylings and moddish lo-fi grungings of young pups Let's Wrestle whose fun punky Pavement-esque songs were funny and anthemic, and made me also want to be in Husker Du. They were easy to listen to and full of personality. Despite some clanging sound issues they managed to rock us up and pump us full of energy for the night ahead. It was then time to quickly check out the bizarre and beautiful Lykke Li doing her best impression of Bjork turning up to a fancy dress party as Madonna and flirting with Goldfrapp. While her album, 'Youth Novels' is dogged by being too similarly tempoed, this was a rush of beauty and energy with a brilliant cover of Vampire Weekend's 'Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa' seguing nicely into her own 'Dance Dance Dance'. We headed back to Shoreditch, to the Old Blue Last to see hotly-tipped Micachu but first on was acoustic minstrel Kid Harpoon who I had heard a lot about and was expecting big things from. Sadly, his slightly high-pitched voice and sudden veers into 6th form poetry ('red is the colour you bleed' type stuff) made for it being a bit teenage James Blunt. He met a heroes welcome and had all the moves and some tidy guitar playing, excellently bashing his unplugged guitar, but lyrically and vocally he wasn't beautiful, it's true. Next up, Micachu who blew us away to high buggery and back repeatedly for a concentrated thirty minutes. With her backing back, a gorgeous girl on electronics and percussion and a blonde drummer with the skills, she treated us to electronic experimental garage punk subverted classical music. With her assymetric curly mop-top and sideways snarl she destroyed the vocals sounded like a cockney Julian Casablancas, thrashing out her pint-sized acoustic guitar effected to sound like pure garage punk bliss. There was no hoover this time but with her backing band on full electronics, twisting and manipulating sounds into bliss-filled oblivion, she brought the off-kilter funk and energy to proceedings. She is truly brilliant.

We headed over to attempt to get into Cargo, where they had moved TV on the Radio, my favourite band at the moment. However, moving the biggest draw from an expansive carpark to a 500 capacity venue like Cargo was a silly business. There was already 500 people outside in the queue, meaning that inside was already at full capacity with an entire new compliment of punters waiting to get in. It was impossible. We gave up and headed elsewhere to explore this fine festival's excellent curation. We soon discovered that TV on the Radio were the last band on, a fine close to a fine festival. It's a shame we were left outside while they reigned inside, full of life itself.

Evidence of Micachu's brilliance:

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