The ‘Xposure All dayer’ festival is an annual highlight in Keith Goldhanger’s diary and 2017 was no different.
Annual highlight number one:
Radio X (formerly XFM)’s master of new music John Kennedy (above) introduces ten bands (wearing a different T- shirt for each on stage introduction) of the highest quality that have jaws dropping at various times during the day and all for different reasons. Eight hours that felt like two and before we knew it we could feel fresh winter air of South London again as we escaped the classic UK dance floor fillers that the man himself was still spinning to a not at all weary crowd of punters who didn’t care as much as some of us did about finding their beds.
He’s probably still there now.
Hoo Has open up proceeding to a decent size crowd as they plough through their repertoire whilst we tried to work out if they’ve just woken up after a long night out or just ready to turn in after a long day (Considering they’re still around by the time we leave we can conclude it may be the former). Main man Jamie approaches the microphone in a not too dissimilar way that a certain Ian Dury did when he entertained us a few years ago. He projects his prose somewhere in between a poet and a Sleaford Mod, flying through the set and giving us a choice between ‘Tippex Jeans’ or ‘This is the new me’ to end with. Some of us would have enjoyed both but we’ve nine more bands and a tight schedule to keep to.
Some of us have been spinning tunes by today’s acts in way of preparation for today however Dead Pretties seem to fall a little short on tunes available for us to listen to in advance. They’re an odd, almost threatening looking trio who look as though they’ve been disturbed from their painting and decorating jobs just to pop in and play us a few scuzzy tunes in their half discarded paint splattered dungarees. ‘Social Experiment’ sounds like a distorted combination of Libertines idea’s which works a treat. It’s the only tune we know at the moment and we look forward to hearing the rest of their songs again one day. This is a very good start to the day and it’s still daylight outside.
We thought that Scarlet Rascal could be either a disaster of epic proportions or a revelation as we left the house earlier.
It’s the latter.
They sound like Mark E smith in 1983 gate crashing an early (1980’s Essex band) Modern English gig and they wander from this to sounding like a tired old (Influential Michigan born singer) Iggy Pop fronting (equally serious Northampton band from the ’80’s) Bauhaus to give the listener a little variety . It’s all ridiculously serious. No smiling, no blinking and fortunately no “Everybody put ya muvverfucker hands in the air !”Familiar sounding 80’s guitars that sometimes sound like synths, a drummer that plays like a machine (Those backing ‘oooh ooh’s’ on ‘Strange’ are pretty neat) and entertaining as hell. Lock up your daughters, there could be a (Sub gender of Post Punk) Goth revival on the horizon if we’re not careful (some of us have been saying this for decades now) however I’m sure this quartet will be running well away from that by the time (UK Pharmacy Chain) Boots start stocking black hair dye in bulk again. Great stuff.
The great start to the day gets even better as FRANCOBOLLO walk in, plug in and a room full of people seem immediately smitten.
Some of us have been smitten with this band for years. Francobollo played at this event in 2013. They should play it every year and they should be seen and heard by far more people once the debut album materialises some time during 2017. Here’s a band we’d love to see sometime on a stage where we can’t see the whites of their eyes and as the performance comes to what feels like an early end we sit back with our arms folded once again happy in the thought that this kind of band exists as we search for our diaries and hope to find a blank page that coincides with their next show. Every gig Francobollo play gets better and better. Imagine Sonic Youth with their guitars all tuned or Pavement with catchier happier joyous songs. ‘Kinky Lola’ is Captain Beefheart without the weirdness, ‘ Wonderful’ is as eye watering as anything Nirvana could have performed on that unplugged performance. Ask people in twenty years’ time about this band and those here will still remember how great this band are and rightly so. Anyone not aware of this band at the current time need to sort their lives out.
The beers are kicking in and because one or two of us ‘have been getting our shit together’ as they say, the crafty amongst us soak in the tunes that have recently become familiar sound tracks to our days but wonder if the songs or Girl Ray will be remembered as much as Francobollo’s. Only time will tell. The standard is very high nowadays but the tunes of Girl Ray this winter have been preparing some of us for summer already and the tunes we recognise give us hope that the tunes we don’t know yet will sound just as strong after a few weeks. Imagine the XX without the mumbling or the break beats. The harmonies this trio produce make it a relaxing and enlightening experience. More tunes need to be digested as the months go on. The couple of familiar compositions sounded fabulous and the short four bars of synchronised dancing is something that needs extending. We loved that bit.
Wovoka Gentle have a set-up that not only reminds us of Canada’s Holy Fuck to look at but make us say the same words when listening to this trio who are standing in a triangle all looking at each other as they sing cheerful happy folk songs over strange noises. They could easily have been sitting around a camp fire with acoustic guitars singing to one another but have fortunately decided to add a mountain of electronics that fans of Animal Collective should have a listen to. It’s glorious even though it’s a racket. The tunes are there, tucked away and no too difficult to locate and this is one band to be seen again as it’s imagined they probably sound very different every time they play. It’s a huge set up that takes up very little physical space but I’d imagine a nightmare at an all-day event for the sound man. Worth putting the hours in for and they’ve got a song called ‘When Cameron Was in Egypt’s Land Let My Cameron Go’ which means you’re interested now aren’t you?
Looking forward to a next time with these.
Laurel is a young lady with a collection of short sharp tunes, a guitar and a personality that says ‘This is what I want to do and this is what I do’. The recorded tunes have a bit more instrumentation and one gets the feeling there’s a lot more available we didn’t see during this short appearance. Another ace performance and an act to see again sometime.
And then mayhem.
Before they plugged in you knew they’d be trouble. A bunch of old looking blokes (who probably aren’t old at
all) going mental and sounding somewhere in between Billy Childish, Slaves, Sham 69 and Plastic Bertrand.
In the eyes of the music gods Idles are going to nick all of Sleaford Mods fans (well not literally ‘nick’ we don’t want any fights or anything) and also become a band that mums dads and their kids are going to enjoy equally for different reasons. ‘Well Done’ is the first UK anthem of 2017 and households across the UK will soon be wanting this played at every wedding or ‘any excuse for a piss up’ gathering for the rest of their lives. It’s an Oi! version of Blur’s ‘Parklife’ and before the year is out anyone called Tarquin in this world will have people shouting ‘Well Done’ whenever the occasion arrives.
During the week proceeding this event we would dream (and sometimes wake up in a cold sweat) of standing in a packed room watching this band do this in front of a boisterous crowd and it became a reality before we could even stroke our chins and declare Idles the future of rock and roll (They’re not – no such thing exists) . That’s what it’s like watching this band. You don’t to need to know the songs yet, just go and see them first, then get pissed every time you go around your mates and play their tunes until you get thrown out the door for making too much noise.
Saying out loud that Throws were the best so far was an error. Disregarding the previous bands and putting them second best would be an insult. Throws were great. A stand up drummer ticked the right box before we’ve even started with this trio. Dreamy sounds with the odd ‘Mowtown drumming’ kicking in and dual vocalists that not only face each other but blend together in the sweetest way possible. Like having two Alexis Taylors (Hot Chip) on stage standing sideways and facing each other, reminding us of the day we once saw Clock Opera at this event a few years ago. Throws have a few great tunes out there and it wasn’t difficult to imagine this with a huge production, a few bright lights and a huge crowd going weak at the knees during every song. Throws gave us a big performance on a small stage and they already have an album out that’s worth investigating.
Finally Spring King, who are another band one could easily imagine a huge festival (it’ll be Reading) hosting. They’ve got the anthems and just like the Vaccines (and Idles) and will sweep up every one caught in earshot. All four members sing, main vocals are performed by the drummer and one day they’re going to get drunk and change all the words to their song ‘It’s summer’ to ‘It’s Christmas’, they’ll appear on the December the 25th edition of Top Of The Pops and people who like them now will really hate them for doing this. At the present time we’ll embrace these chaps in the same way we reacted to The Hives when they first appeared and bring our mates along who like a good air punching night out. Spring King went on for ages and had arm waving sing along anthem after arm waving beer spilling anthem. Good fun and raucous. Big main stage in front of thousands next time we expect.
If it sounds daft blabbering on about bands playing in big fields in front of thousands (and it is a little tongue in cheek), we can’t ignore the past success that this event has produced in the past. Frank Turner, Jamie T, Mystery Jets, Maximo Park, Miles Kane and numerous others have all provided the entertainment over the past decade at this event. Some bands do disappear from view for reasons we sometimes never establish and a day or three after a day such as this really can be something that’s difficult to take in and make these bold assumptions about without the awareness that these may be foolish assumptions if it all falls apart.
It won’t. We’ve been here before and the big arenas will be there for one or two of these bands. Trying to guess which one or two this could be only the future will reveal.
That playlist we threw together in preparation for this event can be listened to here. All ten bands come highly recommended.
All words and pictures by Keith Goldhanger. More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Keith on Facebook and Twitter (@HIDEOUSWHEELINV).You may subscribe to the Goldhanger Shorts Facebook page too if you so wish.