Upon hearing of any Shoreditch based festival, one's mind immediately leaps to a park covered in sartorially studded sixteen year olds listening to whippersnapper bands dressed head to toe in sequins who are working out, in a very time consuming fashion, where one might actually find the final frontier of synthesisers. It was surprising therefore to turn up at Shoreditch Park to find families, a broad spectrum of bands and in general, an absolute lack of outrage. Bumper cars, candy floss and picnics were just as prevalent as leather, quadruple denim and shoes the size of a hamper.
Porcelain Raft added to the mellow element by providing a very gentle afternoon set. Although perhaps the creative minds of only two people meant that there were limits to how unique each song sounded, each one on its owned contained an impressive complexity given the limited number of people on stage. This was in complete contrast to the next band, another duo, Jeff the Brotherhood. These two seemingly had very uncomplicated songs but were impressive in just how much enthusiasm, raucousness and generally noise, two people could bring to a performance with each song successfully seeming to triumph the last. The Tennessee-based band brought classic southern blues rock to East London and although it was rough around the edges and the space on the stage didn't seem to quite justify the rock 'n' roll nature, they drew a huge crowd with their convincing act that saw songs blasted out with a formidable confidence.
The Duke Spirit's albums 'Cuts Across the Land' and 'Neptune' garnered them a lot of hype that their third album never reached, and ever since then the band seem to have floundered around in that middle ground of fame where most people seem to know their name but not quite know their songs. However any sense that they might be giving up was soon crushed by their energetic and passionate performance. The lead singer, Leila, threw herself around the stage with the energy that seemingly hasn't dampened since those early days, harmonica and all, with a gutsy live performance perfected over years of touring.
Sometimes at a festival such as this there comes a point in the day where you realise that you have not yet been punched in the face. For that purpose there were a few offerings for the punters. For grunge punk fans the best choice might be Zoetrope, who sounded like Little Fish or Babes in Toyland. However, the popular choice for those who have a slight instinct for getting a 6 foot man treading on their toes and who have a secret desire to receive an elbow to the chin, was the psychedelic punk band Bo Ningen. So popular that the crowd were packed around the tent, and I had to latch myself onto the aforementioned 6 foot man who could suitably part the crowd so that I could reach the front. Once there, the bizarre distorted performance perfectly pulsed with a hyped moshpit where everything from the band’s charisma to the crowd’s sweat, all seemed to happen on a grand scale. A despairing mass of limbs that were being unapologetically puppetered by the band in a master display of how to hold even the rowdiest crowd to your attention.
Throughout the course of the day as we traversed through the bumper cars, candy floss stalls and invariably the bar, the day seemed to become increasingly more traditionally East London and the families and the quaintness that was found that morning seemed to disappear with the sunshine. As the sound of the headline act the Buzzcocks was filtering over the festival, I was obliged to carry a friend back who had been given some mysterious drink by a stranger which seemed to have caused him to lose the use of his limbs. In dragging this sizeable Scottish man out of the exit I tripped over a gentleman who was wearing a dress, a cat's face and a thick woolen cape. “Would you like a map” he offered, proffering an empty can of Red Stripe with an incredibly earnest impression on his face. Ah, Shoreditch. That is more like it.
Words: Fiona Evans