Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Concrete and Glass festival, Shoreditch 2-3/10/2008

Concrete and Glass festival
2-3 October
Various venues, Shoreditch
co-written with E. Ali


In the corner by the stage there is either: a) a medieval weapon, like a catapult but with measly firepower; b) a loom; or c) an instrument. Turns out Owl Project is a kind of musicians’ woodworking club, and the rickety frame is a homemade lathe. Logs are chopped and wood is sawn, and slowly, slowly, the pieces slot together. Humming, sawing, scraping sounds grow organically as rhythms are picked up, looped and extended through a laptop. A dial-up connection bursts in and beats shuffle together and fall apart as tradition meets technology. It’s way cool, and it’s a perfect introduction to the Concrete and Glass festival, a new multi-venue event in East London featuring art across dozens of venues and a choice selection of music from the experimental (Owl Project definitely falling into this category) to the, er, experimental and more famous (TV On The Radio, Errors).

A fusion of Clash skanking, funeral marching and gypsy dancing isn’t so special these days, but how many bands do it in the same song? Quite a few probably, but Bodies Of Water have such an elegant way with splicing that when the ideas hit you all at once its neither contrived nor slapdash. Their DIY baroque is utterly beguiling, especially during a guitar-violin duel which gives the front row a solid drenching of perfect feedback. Your new favourite band.

Rounding off Thursday, Glaswegian foursome Errors are definitely on to a winning formula with their oddball blend of acid house and post-rock causing a mass migration to the upstairs of The Old Blue Last. There’s barely space to breathe, let alone dance, but the driving percussion and shower of bleeps proves hard to resist for most of the audience.


Sky Larkin’s new arrangement as a trio seems to have worked out, ‘cos their track ‘Antibodies’ is on 6Music every seven minutes, by my estimates. Sadly their new material is short on ideas and suffers from stodgy drumming that drowns out Katie’s voice and subtle guitarwork. Next at 93 Feet East though, Port O’Brien showcase their thoughtful folk-rock featuring banjo, pots and pans and sea shanty chants. Live, the songs have a stripped down, raw edge, with singer Van Pierszalowski’s impassioned and fragile vocals recalling Daniel Johnston.

It’s a simple idea but Bass Clef got there first – dubstep meets trombone, they make beautiful music babies together. The live experience in the basement of Zigfrid’s features heavy, heavy dread sounds and reverb brass from outer space, so it’s a must-see, really.

A massive crowd packs The Old Blue in anticipation of the stupidly talented 21 year old Micachu, who has already had one of her compositions performed by the London Philharmonic. Her early success is obviously deserved as she shows off her sneeringly clever songs in which genres merge together in a colourful, cerebral, beautiful mess.

Finally, after queueing for an hour, we make it into Plastic People where James Holden rounds off the night with a DJ set of the warmest, glitchiest minimal techno you could ask for on a Friday night in Shoreditch. Well played, C&G.

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