Henry learns that exceptionally good punk comes from Oxford and L.A. Peach is totally besotted.
This was my first visit to Lower Clapton’s Blondies.
It’s dark, the space is tight and it’s drenched in neon. The stage is situated right next to the entrance, so beware, once the curtain’s drawn and the band have started, you’re stuck – unless you want to join the performance and navigate whoever’s playing.
It’s the only hole in Hackney where the stuff on tap is almost exclusive Vice’s beer– bit of a shame because it’s not very good. There’s also a terrace hidden at the back, so there’s at least one reason to go for an actual drink – just remember, the terrace closes at 21:00 (it’s actually quite cool).
Last night, Blondies were hosting Oxford indie / punk trio Lacuna Common and London-based five-piece L.A. Peach (I think they’re a five-piece, but maybe it’s just a singer with a guitar and some friends).
The crowd was made up of animated mannequins from Beyond Retro. I was wearing a white button-up shirt, carrying a laptop and felt like a total prick.
First up, Lacuna Commonseriously impressed. They’re really fucking good.
The band play that ‘blood-in-your-teeth’ kind of punk (defiantly British), the type that somehow makes stories about the banality of life seem interesting (like an imagined pint of vodka). Punchy and almost immediately captivating, their songs were simple, catchy, held the right amount of suspense, while consistently delivering a certain despondency.
The frontman spat out tales of having no money, people not caring enough about him, skinny jeans and twats from Oxford, while the bassist occasionally chimed in with his own wheys and woes. Instrumentally, it’s basic and the lyrics aren’t anything new, but it really worked. Like, really worked.
(I REALLY LIKED LACUNA COMMON)
Their dad was at the back selling t-shirts and white vinyl pressings of their latest single, Not the Same. Going on the performance, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone actually bought one.
L.A. Beach didn’t have Lacuna Common’s energy, but I think that’s the point.
The band’s vibe is dreamy and they deliver subdued, low-tempo numbers that build into strangely gritty and unnerving sonnets. All quite melodic.
Between songs they were kind enough to add liner notes through a lot of one-sided dialogue with the crowd (how post-modern).
Transcribed below, I hope they’ll help you understand a little bit more about the band:
“L.A. Peach is the best thing you’ve seen all night,” – they’re not too cocky.
“What do you call a chicken with a piece of lettuce in its eye? Sees-a-salad” (Caesar salad, get it?) – they’re masters of comedy.
“When I was in year three, I had to run the relay race at sports day. Stick [baton] in hand, I tripped and fell into this girl’s crotch.” – they’ve all had a really traumatic upbringing.
“Have you seen my girlfriend? Doesn’t she look like Trent Reznor?” – they’ve got a lot of respect for women.
All of this context helped me fully appreciate their songs. Particularly why they tricked you into a false sense of security by sounding sweet and ethereal (the type of thing you put on when your mother’s round) then suddenly got really psychotic.
It was kind of like this: bright guitar and a slow groove overlaid with tales of loving someone so much you want to flay their skin and wear it when meeting their parents.
One thing that was clear throughout was that L.A. Peach’s singer / guitarist (maybe L.A. Peach himself) was completely besotted with his new lover (the keyboardist). (Check out this feature inClashif you don’t believe me).
Is it False Advertising if they were definitely playing alternative rock?
Today, I saw False Advertising, a half female / male fronted alternative rock trio at the Old Blue Last. They were there to launch their latest single, You Won’t Feel Love. It’s pretty cool. Listen to it.
As the night’s only band, False Advertising didn’t need to do much to hold the crowd’s attention. Despite this (maybe they didn’t realise), they still delivered a solid performance that didn’t seem to lose momentum despite two drummer / guitarist switches. (I have no base comparison, but their parents seemed delighted, so I’m going to stand by that statement)
The songs were the standard alternative rock stop / start affair, mixed with some jarring hardcore rhythms and the usual discordant guitar. The lead single inspired memories of Veruca Salt’s second effort, Eight Arms to Hold You. That’s meant to be a positive. Also, it was definitely better live. They’re actually pretty decent live.
To mark the single’s launch, the band bribed the audience with a mason jar filled with swirly-pops. I didn’t take one because my reviews are totally impartial, but apparently the track’s lyrics were singed into the stopper. Sweets are obviously the natural extension of the concept art that’s accompanied a few of their singles (You Won’t Feel Love, You Said and Give It Your Worst) – yeah, actual examples of false advertising.
The rest of the performance sounded a bit more like Shudder to Think mixed with a bit of Jawbox– but less hardcore and alternative now it’s 2019.
Good gig for a Monday.
NB: If False Advertising find themselves stuck for inspiration for the next single, I’d recommend Head & Shoulders (visibly reduced flakes at a distance of 2-feet – yep, the claim was investigated in 2006 but it’s still on the bottle).
And as I made sure that the memory was spread evenly across the carpet of my mind, I remembered that everyone had sung in a field of roses, roses without thorns and it was absolute bliss.
Why you should always think a little harder than you actually do
As the memory hit its climax, I remembered Patti Smith calling out to the audience:
“Rise up, oh rise up my young flowers, if we all sing together we’ll break the machine and be free to love each other forever. It’s the sixties all over again. Yeah, we changed the world and it’s great now because of us.“
Wait, the world isn’t great now, is it?
I then learned that everyone else had won tickets on Dice too.
Then my girlfriend said she didn’t want to come on Sunday.
Then I realised that I wasn’t going to be able to rub anyone’s face in the fact that I’d finally won something.
And then I started to remember that no, last year’s All Points East hadn’t been that good, had it?
I looked on the internet to confirm my suspicions. Reading this review on Resident Adviser just confirmed that people who write for RA take too much ecstasy (it really damages your brain).
Yep, it was confirmed. Last year had definitely been awful.
But I tried to not get myself down. I mean, it was going to be sunny. Maybe I could still drink too much and have a fun time?
Turns out I was wrong. Just like I had been wrong last year.
Having definitely experienced this before and now having absolutely no desire to experience it again, I decided to write down exactly why All Points East was an awful experience (AGAIN) and why I never want to go back, EVER AGAIN.
Henry’s list of things that you should definitely read before accepting tickets to go to All Points East
1. The people often suck
Why do a lot of the people at day festivals suck?
Because they’re the types who think the best place to see Foo Fighters is from the seated bit at the back of Greenwich O2.
It’s not. The best way to see Foo Fighters is sticking your head down a u-bend screaming Monkey Wrench.
I don’t need to labour this further. No, someone provided me with the perfect example while I was queuing on Saturday.
Ahead, there were swathes of white people and despite the overpowering scent of sun block, the back of everyone’s necks and ears were piglet pink.
And get ready, because behind there stood the most disingenuous couple I have ever had the pleasure of eavesdropping on, EVER.
The mysterious couple’s All Points East queue conversation
The girl, “Oh, you know that babe that I’m totally obsessed with on Instagram? Yeah? Well she’s in Majorca and it looks so LUSH. She just looks so LUSH. She’s SO beefed right now. It’s really inspiring me. You know what? I’m gonna go beefer.”
The guy, “Ah, babe this is why I love you so much. It would be my absolute pleasure to go beefer with you.”
The girl then responded, “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH [BEEF] BABE.”
Lucky for them, everyone’s cattle prods were confiscated at the entrance.
2. The bands don’t have a very good incentive to play well
If someone wrote you a check for £50,000 and then said all you had to do was jump around the stage at the petting zoo, would you put on your best performance?
This year, it’s already been reported that the Strokes sounded like underwater karaoke. Look, it’s in the Independent.
For some reason though, the Independent didn’t get in touch with me for a quote.
It’s a shame because I actually spent most of the Strokes’ performance standing to the right of the main stage – exactly where it sounded bad. I’m afraid that I need to testify that while the Strokes were hard to hear (and there was one hell of a lot of booing), it did not sound like underwater karaoke.
But I can tell you that it’s a shame it wasn’t underwater karaoke. If it had been, all the people who were singing, “nah-na-nahh-na-nah-nahhhh-nahhhhh,” to that guitar bit that everyone knows in 12:41 would have probably swallowed a little too much water.
All Points East’s website describes the companies that sell all of these great things as partners not sponsors.
You know that’s the corporate way of saying ‘I’m with the band’.
And I hate to labour the point, but the adverts are so hard to ignore.
Here were my favourites:
The Logic Vape tent (how is it ok to advertise vapes but it’s not ok to advertise cigarettes? All those vape adverts just remind everyone that they used to smoke real cigarettes. I mean, if I was working in Marlboro’s advertising department right now I’d just invent a vape that looks like a pack of Marlboro Reds and plaster that everywhere)
The Huawei spying platform (yes, Huawei had a platform directly opposite the main stage, where else would it be?), and
Can you imagine a tent full of people who only have two things in common: an Amex card and a desire to only hang out with other people who have Amex cards?
I bet the Amex tent’s great.
Who doesn’t love spending time at concerts comparing their Experian credit rating (by the way, it’s 300 (that means good 😉 ). How about you send me some money in the post?).
4. No one seems to be angry that it’s blatant commercialism
Let me tell you a story:
Once upon a time, at All Points East there was a Tinder Van.
Everyone walked past the Tinder Van and said, “Oh, sweet, it’s really useful that there’s a Tinder Van at All Points East. You know, somewhere you’re able to change partners when you fall out of love for forty minutes and both no longer want to see the same band. It’s just great that you’ll still have someone else’s back pocket to keep your hand warm in.”
Then, when Interpol started playing Henry’s girlfriend went up to the Tinder Van and said, “Oh please Tinder Van, can I exchange this Henry for someone who doesn’t want to see Interpol?”
And then the Tinder Van lady said “Oh no Henry’s girlfriend, I’m afraid not, this van is just for beer, but if you pull your top down a bit I’ll set you up with a new profile.”
And in the end poor little Henry got abandoned at the carousel that looked like it was dancing to the end of the world.
Have you worked out what’s strange about that story yet? You guessed it, no one’s angry that I was abandoned.
Want to hear something else people weren’t angry about?
There was this All Points East app that was meant to tell you when and where your favourite acts were playing. But it’s like they made sure it was completely web-based on purpose.
Of course it wasn’t going to work.
When have you ever had mobile data at a festival?!
The organisers clearly knew it wasn’t going to work. That’s why they hired a bunch of people to stand around with physical guides on really cool lanyards that cost £5 each.
My point here is that no one seemed to care that they were being ripped off. Or angry about anything. It was just kind of like everyone there wanted vanilla icecream and everyone got vanilla icecream.
5. The hypocrisy
I really wanted to see Parquet Courts on Saturday and I did. It was great. I think Parquet Courts are ace.
But, despite a solid performance of Tenderness, no one seemed to take the lyrics to heart.
And like that magnificent band from New York City, this weekend, I too was left without a fix of a little tenderness.
Excerpt from Parquet Courts’ Tenderness
Nothing reminds the mind of power
Like the cheap odor of plastic
Leaking fumes we crave, consume, the rush it feels fantastic
But like power turns to mold, like a junkie going cold
I need the fix of a little tenderness
But I’d be lying if I said there weren’t any good bits.
Milkjug sing about elves. They’re a psychedelic dreampop quartet who sing about elves. They announced their love of elves to the audience – as if the long hair wasn’t a give away. Didn’t manage to recreate the tranquillity of the forest, as bumpy dynamic changes uprooted the mood.
Smarming rhymes with Mister Charming Alarming Professor Alfred The Hitchclock. Who? A three-piece, bluesy and ‘conventionally strange’ rock band. And what does smarming have to do it? Dramatically extraordinary tempo changes, blistering nitroglycerine fueled vocal duels and a surprising turn-of-the-century mid-western vibe. Soft / Hard / Repeat (think Pixies). Quite talented, maybe it’s time to drop the weird act.
What can you say about Longheads? The band were, um, competent. A set of bass driven songs covered in fuzz. For once, it was sweet to see shared vocal responsibilities that didn’t descend into a competition. But throughout the performance, it felt like something was missing. That’s sometimes the point, and could have been what Longheads were going for, having incorporated some elements of shoegaze into their sound. But unlike DIIV or Ride (or even Drop Nineteens) I wasn’t drowned in waves of drone and then lifted into the outer atmosphere. No, listening to Longheads was like paddling in the sea. Nice when you’re doing it, but boring as hell (unless you’re five) and the leading cause of sandy socks.
Longheads were the best band but also the biggest bore. Hopefully Milkjug and Mister Charming Alarming Professor Alfred The Hitchclock stick at it.