Various venues, East London
July 13th 2013
Last weekend in soaring temperatures festival new kid on the block East End Live took over various venues & hostelries in, you guessed it, the East End of London. Despite being not without its teething problems (including one particularly expensive pint) our man on the ground concluded it was a huge success.
It’s like the “Camden Crawl” and it’s like “Liverpool Sound City” and it’s like (Brighton’s) “The Great Escape” and it’s like every other festival in a city but for just one day.
East End live is located in the expensive area of East London.
Shoreditch – the bit of London that many dismiss as being too trendy, too expensive and too busy.
It probably is all three but some of us remember this part of London when it wasn’t all three and some of us remember when it was half way between the two.
Sixty bands craving our attention squeezed into twelve venues including one that we visit which doesn’t appear to have people on the door who understand the score and another that runs so late that we elbow it away from our minds to make life just that little bit easier on our legs.
It’s the hottest day ever and we’ve queued for our wristbands, had a swift pint and wandered down the road to have a look at the first of a dozen artists we’re hoping to see a bit of during the next few hours. Venue number one has a small queue that doesn’t seem to be moving, when it does we’re told nothing’s going on yet. No one knows when things will start to happen so we give up. We decide it’s so long and farewell to a couple of bands we thought might be worth seeing.
We catch “SHOPPING” on schedule at the “Zigfrid Von Underbelly”, who are fab and make us forget the problems down the road. We all say the words “Au Pairs” in unison (1980’s popular post-punk band), have a little chat about “Delta Five” and agree that after a shaky start to the day we’re off now on a flyer. This three piece make it all sound so simple. They weren’t born when we were dancing to the Au Pairs back in the early ’80s but they’ve got the groove and the twanging guitars off to a tee. Can someone make these famous please so all the forty plus people around currently craving for that (cool bit of the) ’80s revival can actually start agreeing on something ?
Now feeling that this day has finally begun we visit a venue where in about an hours time those “Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs” blokes will be treading the boards. However, some of us have seen these rather a lot this year and have other reasons to be standing outside CARGO. We’re now queuing up at one of the larger venues in the area to have a look at “JOSEPH COWARD“. The official reason for the non moving two queues (why two? it wasn’t explained) was that the venue was very full.
We missed most of Joseph’s set but what we saw sounded very decent. He’s a bit like the “You are the Quarry” Morrissey period. Dressed smart for a hot day and throwing three minute pop gems at us, this chap is a rather promising prospect and has songs that will mature more and more as time goes on & will become very fine pieces of work one day. His future will be very interesting.
It was disappointing to see people still queuing to get in after Joseph’s set.
It turned out they were queuing for “Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs”, which is fair enough, but Joseph Coward was robbed of a busier room to play in front of. A half empty venue that could have doubled in capacity had the three or four people on the door understood that people were here to watch some bands and not stand in a line outside like frustrated school children looking at them in perceived envy at their position of responsibility on a hot Saturday evening. No one seemed to have explained to the door staff that people with white wristbands saying EAST LONDON LIVE are being worn by paying customers who really just want to run around watching as many bands as they can whilst maybe having a swift pint here and a swift pint there. Watching these people attempting to look important and checking their ear pieces whilst being questioned by customers (and avoiding eye contact) trying to gain entry is rude and unnecessary. I’m a customer. I’m here to spend money and tap my feet. I learnt how to walk through doors as a child and there aren’t many other people inside yet. I wanted to see a band that have worked bloody hard to get this together and were probably very excited about playing. One or two artists were robbed of an audience. That was shame.
Joseph Coward – pic by Keith Goldhanger
The show goes on but we’re now down to ten venues.
No problems at the “Hoxton Bar and Kitchen” where we are ushered into the venue by friendly, complimentary staff.
“FILTHY BOY” are in full swing with their “Nick Cave / Arctic Monkeys” (not fair, but I’ll leave it in) casual approach to their story telling songs. There’s some great stories coming out of singer Paraic’s gob. Bit’s and pieces get picked up, consumed by the listener and smiled at. It’s still early evening and there’s the first outbreak of dancing breaking out in front of the band. Some of us here know what to expect from Filthy Boy whose debut album “Smile that won’t go down” came out earlier this year – great stuff, every tune a gem and an instant hit for those in attendance not familiar yet with this band’s work. If you haven’t heard songs by this lot yet then give it a go – this is a fab band with some fab sounding songs.
Some of us are now in our stride, forgetting about the earlier hitches and taking advantage of the late running of some of the venues. We wander into “Shoreditch Bells” to be greeted by what appears to be a death metal band in a hot, packed room. Nope – not today thanks, so it’s to the benefit of “MANFLU” that we witness a room full of people going ape, dancing amongst broken glass and witnessing an outbreak of disorder not dissimilar to those hot sweaty nights years ago watching “Silverfish” down the Camden Falcon. The band look a bit scary and are a bit hit and miss, so we make a note to take a quick sneak at their online activities the next day.
Their videos are rather odd too.
Someone had the idea one day when making one of their videos to include people walking around the band (singer in her underwear!) whilst peeling potatoes. I’m all for a bit of nonsense but this band can be a little too strange at times. They end their set by picking a note, hitting that note and spending ten minutes lurching too and fro making the most marvellous impression of a “Young Gods” CD stuck on a loop – which of course is to everyone’s liking. This bit is very impressive but you don’t have to be weird to be wired as the great man once said. When they hit the mark they sound ace, but sometimes…they seem to miss by yards.
Manflu pic by Keith Goldhanger
“TEETH OF THE SEA” play two tunes in about twenty minutes back at the “Shoreditch Bells” (home of the previously mentioned death metal band) which is not enough.
We want more.
We want more and more of these electronic soundscapes that remind us a bit of Canada’s “God Speed You! Black Emperor” or Canada’s “Holy fuck” except this lot have more loud bits, bleeps, drones, long, drawn-out bits of feedback, a trumpet and some heavily disguised singing (only by attending another gig on another day will we establish if this is a deliberate thing – hope so. Its a fine noise this lot make).
We don’t get more but we will be looking again one day to share a small dark room with this lot even if it may not be the same venue next time because my complaint this time will be to do with the cost of a pint of beer being five English pounds.
How much of a big deal do you think I made after having just paid the exact amount of money for a pint using the smallest currency in note form available in the UK?
Well, for the record, there is a photo of it somewhere but I’ll describe it.
It looks like any pint of lager but it cost me a fiver and tasted very similar to the ones I can sometimes get for three quid. It did make me go MMMmmmm very loud in front of the bar staff every time I took a sip though, which is something a pint of lager doesn’t normally do. Was I the only one having an issue with this? Well, looking at the lack of anyone else having a drink in their hand and the lack of movement around the bar area it appears I was caught out not requesting the cost of a pint of beer before purchasing it.
So yes, I probably was and it has to be noted that it was probably only forty or fifty pence more expensive than anywhere else in the area.
Considering the amount of people in the area now and the crowds outside each venue smoking, drinking and not even being part of the East End Live event, each venue around Hoxton Square still seems fairly easy to enter as we stagger around the place.
We find ourselves grinning and tapping our toes to SAUNA YOUTH.
They’re not too dissimilar to “Thee Oh sees” who played a blinder in Liverpool a few months ago. This four piece are ripping the place apart with their loud fast psychedelic (ish) punk rock and roll offerings. Punk rock songs without overdoing the shouty stuff. High tempo happy songs, not angry songs, smothered with distorted guitar and the odd slab of feedback, dual vocals that are singing things you wish you knew the words to yourself and begin to wonder if the day will arrive when we’re standing watching this lot again one day with every one singing along in unison.
With hard hitting drums, a canny little gadget the singer is driving that actually does some serious shit once you turn your attention to what she’s pressing, and most important of all some bloody good tunes played well enough to help you make that decision that its a good time to bail out, get the last tube and conclude at the witching hour that the day has been a rip roaring success.
It’s been a good day, a blinder of an event that will need a bit of tweaking if it’s to be repeated. If I can get my “Bestival legs” mended by the time this all happens again then I look forward to seeing all this through until the (extended) end. The late running of some of the venues worked to the locals’ advantage and it’s unfortunate that anyone who came here with plans to catch any particular band may have missed them because of this.
The way to approach these events as a punter is to always have a plan B for such eventualities. There were some wonderful artists playing here this weekend and credit for that sits on the lap of Samir Eskanda (Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs) who threw a lot of this together. A lot of bands were not seen for one reason or another (60 bands but maybe the fittest may have managed to see ten or twelve at a push).
It’s not as though they’re all going to be disbanding next week anyway is it? Our personal list of bands we want to see one day has increased. The list of bands we want to see again has increased and our hunt for the soon to be SIX pound pint begins now.
This event was good value for money (early bird tickets costing a tenner) and the venues are in close proximity to each other. We couldn’t do anything about the hot weather or the cost of a pint (I have a doctor looking at my legs next week) but events like this are worth applauding and attending. This wasn’t just a thrown together day of gigs, it was a well thought out collection of artists that can often be seen lurking around these very same venues on school nights doing what they do to a very high standard. It’s ironic to be sharing the same trains home with people who were over a hundred pounds lighter having just stood in a park watching the Rolling Stones across town on the same day.
Some of us hang out around here because what’s on offer by people forty years younger than the ‘Stones is better, louder, faster and more exciting.
You try telling that to the old people of today – pah! They don’t know they’re born do they?
Hear music by the various bands mentioned above on these links:
- Shopping’s Soundcloud page.
- Joseph Conrad’s Soundcloud page.
- Manflu’s Soundcloud page.
- Teeth Of The Sea’s Soundcloud page.
- Sauna Youth’s Soundcloud page.
Facebook pages for some of band’s mentioned are here:
- Joseph Conrad’s Facebook page.
- Manflu’s Facebook page.
- Teeth Of The Sea’s Facebook page.
- Sauna Youth’s Facebook page.
All words & pics by Keith Goldhanger. More of Keith’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.