Underage Festival 2011

Friday 5th August 2011 saw Underage Festival take place at Victoria Park, and thanks to Younghearts (who you should check out on facebook HERE) we were able to be there and experience an again exceptional line up, something Underage manages to pull out every year despite it’s relatively small billing.

The day opened up with Rizzle Kicks on the main stage, who we’ve perhaps a touch of bias for having followed them since their brilliant debut tape in 2009 and with them being a local Brighton act, who we’ve covered before HERE. Unfortunately we only caught a brief glimpse of their set on account of having to dash off to catch Younghearts, what we did see though was a brilliant high energy performance with Jordan and Harley literally bouncing around the stage. Clearly these two are loving life and the success they’ve recently encountered. The Younghearts set was a rather more intimate affair, being in direct competion with Rizzle Kicks and a general lack of awareness being the contributing factors to that. Those attending however were well rewarded with a solid set covering both new and old material, the pick of the bunch being “Isolation” with extra verve added to it’s usual pugnacious desolation by an additional guitarist and the passionate thrashing that accompanied it.

Rizzle Kicks  –  Down With The Trumpets

A wander around the park provided snatches of sound from the various tents, some rather more amicable than others, Gigg’s dub based grime not really matching the midday mood. We were however rather more drawn in by the haunting vocals exuding from the Roundhouse Rising tent.  Ghosts You Echo played with beautiful introspection, utilising an ensemble of sounds ranging from keyboard to violin. We think you’d be foolish not to find out more HERE.  The Topman stage had an exceptional line up throughout the day, our first experience being the quirky trop of Alex Winston, check out King Charles’ take on her sound with this remix that came through the other day:

Alex Winston  –  Velvet Elvis (King Charles Remix)

Crystal Fighters were a rather confusing yet no less enjoyable affair. Having earlier bumped into them in the adult area, and being at that time ignorant as to their sound, we had placed the lead singer complete with top knot, floral shirt and rounded glasses fairly confidently in the hazy trop-pop category. The set opened with the expected tropical/folk sound before descending into dance breakdowns and vocals of such speed they were as good as rapped, all underpinned by superb melodic bass lines. Their sound seems to be truly unique, albeit a touch repetitive, live though, they were a great experience.

Crystal Fighters  –  Plage

Johnny Flynn could hardly have been more of a contrast, an intimate set driven by his quiet, understated brilliance. He almost looked abandoned, alone in the middle of the Topman stage.  Then he plucked the first few notes of “Lost And Found” and suddenly nothing else really mattered, the set was appreciated by an impressive crowd, with his music trumped only by his unassuming humour. At this point it seemed that it would be wise to take permanent residence at the Topman stage. Next up was Wolf Gang, playing off the back of their recent album release, “Suego Faults”. They opened with what turned out to be their best track on the day, “Dancing With The Devil”, the live performance providing the texture and passion that is perhaps missing in the album version. They showcased the variegates of their sound, from the twinkly, Disney-esque “Midnight Dancers” to the fervent beat of “Lions In Cages”. “The King And All Of His Men” proved a little disappointing, with the band struggling to recreate the soaring and crashing walls of sound that make the album version so special.

Wolf Gang – Lions In Cages

Dog Is Dead were the pick of the day. Things started slow, more specifically with warmly received choral vocals as the band then went on to introduce some of their newer pieces. The crowd swelled just in time for, what turned out to be, the huge “Young”. There is something about their stripped back vocal harmonies followed by huge sax fuelled impassioned crescendos that is simply irresistible, just ask anyone in the crowd. Things then got even better as “Glockenspiel Song” was unleashed, all that really need be said at this point is that there were hundreds of people jumping up and down to the sound of a saxophone, now that is an achievement.

Dog Is Dead  –  Glockenspiel Song

A stroll around the park once again yielded snatches of both the good and not so, the good on this occasion coming in the form of the superbly nostalgic Frankie And The Heartstrings. The Midnight Beast and their Rebecca Black parody on the other hand didn’t really gel, although that’s not to say that their last.fm stage wasn’t packed out, somehow. On the theme of nostalgia, there was one point when it sounded like Oasis were playing, we headed toward the sound to, of course, find Viva Brother closing things on the Topman stage.

The day concluded with Bombay Bicycle Club, drumming up some hype ahead of their album release. Aside from the usual volume level complaints that tend to plague the festival it was of course a solid performance. There was an eclectic mix of new and old with the juxtaposition of “Ivy And Gold” with “Shuffle” providing insurmountable evidence as to their all round musical talent. “Shuffle” saw the introduction of a horn ensemble, which contributed to the big enveloping sound that had the crowd so entranced. They closed with a samba band added to the now diverse on stage collection, at which point a carnival atmosphere swooped in, it was a brilliant note to finish on, and I think I may just do the same.

Bombay Bicycle Club  –  Shuffle