Bloody hell it was rammed. I mean, don't get me wrong, it certainly had its moments, and the Victorian lowlife meets fin de siecle glamour (huge gilt mirrors, leather sofas and chandeliers in otherwise unadorned railway arches) ambience had real glitter appeal. But bloody hell, it was rammed. Not by festival standards, not really -- but this was a club, not a festival, and most of the people there were posh London clubbers, unaccustomed to toilet queues and the bottleneck shuffle. And boyohboy did it it have a few bad bottlenecks. Pause and pose steps work well in a club context, but not where people need to move from place to place.
We arrived to find a third of the acts had cancelled. Mostly to be filled in by house DJs from various London clubs. OK, well -- we still had Ladytron, Hot Chip, Fourtet, and the New Young Pony Club on the lineup. Oh -- wait -- no New Young Pony Club. Arses. OH WELL, at least this weird little mazy place inbetween abandoned old warehouses and railway arches is fantastically eccentric, full of intimate little stages and weird staircases tangling up the different levels into something decidedly fictional -- London horror series chic, somewhere between Hammer and Hellraiser.
Encoded in that sentence above are a few key concepts. Firetrap top floor (even after all the firedoors were popped, at around 10pm). Overcrowded stages (with no counting or steward control). Slippery and obstructed stairs. I'm impressed they got a license -- and dubious that the license covered what actually happened.
We got in too late (8.30pm) for the Eighteenth Day of May (arses) and just in time to see Shychild packing up (bugger). But some kids called Tramp DJ were playing some 80s remixes in the pretentiously named "Canvas 3" and we goggled along to that until it was time for King Creosote, about whom neither of us could remember much. Was the reason that the better bits sounded like the Beta Band that he had been in the Beta Band? Was the reason they looked like The Aliens that he'd brought along The Aliens to be his backing band? Or, given the complete lack of accordians, was this actually a secret Aliens gig and not King Creosote at all? Was ending on The Happy Song by The Aliens indicative, or just about what a good set-ender it is? We remained cheerfully confused about everything -- except the Happy Song, which abso-fucking-lutely rocks.
After this came the first of the Great Toilet Odysseys. It's never a good sign when seeking out a place to piss takes a non-trivial amount of time, and the toilets were a Bad Scene. I won't go into details, but there were fights. Oh, and I'm a lesbian and Tim is a drug dealer. Obviously. Why else would we be there?
Well, maybe for the fucking music, eh? Mostly, though, people weren't. This really came clear in the middle of Fourtet (on a really inspired DJ set) when I'd finally found a little group of musicos to gang with and some cow and her overfed boyfriend came and plonked their braying tallness bang in front of us and started a LOUD conversation. Promptly to be followed by roaring football fans. Too weird. Fourtet, playing the crowd, opened and closed on some godawful dub stuff. Predictably, the clubbers who'd been yammering all through the fast abstract beats, went wild.
Who else? At a guess, the Young Blood Brass Band had been drafted in from a Notting Hill performance to replace one of the bailers -- a politico rap/brass ensemble combo clearly geared to pogoing and marching. Great stuff live, but might not go to recorded too well. Gang Gang Dance were shouting and guitars -- fine, but nothing very special. Caveat here that the sound (surprise!) wasn't too good. None of the DJs apart from Fourtet made much of an impact but that was probably because getting into "Canvas 2" (where they were mostly showing) was such an unpleasant experience that you arrived FULL OF HATE and not at all ready to dance, (or even listen).
We made it in for Ladytron. They were great. But the crowding was horrendous; not helped by every five minutes some skinny bimbo train elbowing either forward or back, presumably in search of ponies and cocaine, or some lumbering mass of lardy merchant banker elephanting over your feet, presumably in search of the skinny bimbos. Or possibly unless they toss off to the dulcet, soothing tones of their broker every ten fucking minutes, their cocks explode with money. I don't know. Different worlds. Afterwards we went outside and counted our wounds (bottle in the face -- cigarette on the arm) and considered Hot Chip, and just how many people were likely to be cramming themselves into that tiny room.
And had a coffee. And went home.
The way home was all cute gay couples and surprisingly convenient buses; we got back just as dawn was bluing the skies and boosting the acoustic potential of birds. It hadn't been such a bad a night, really -- good ingredients, but a lousy chef. The sort that says he cares about the food, but is really just trying to cram in the tables and hassle you on your way.
That said, though, the free CD was great. And while we were deciding to leave, security escorted a scruffy scruff from the site, weaving and wobbling, and they gave him one. He took it, and said thanks. Which is fair enough. Thanks, TDK. Now learn to run a fucking festival.
tdk cross central annotated (reverse) Just some of the problems.