The 1234 Festival launch at the Richmix
The low-key 1234 Festival has been held in Shoreditch Park every summer since 2007, broadcasting and celebrating the cutting-edge sounds of the City and beyond; last night marked the official launch of the 2012 bash. The organisers came under fire last year over the relative lack of big names (baffling really, considering tickets only cost £15) – but then, as the evening’s hand-picked line-up and sold-out crowd emphatically demonstrated, if you book great live bands then people will want to listen, regardless of star-power.
First up were the strident British Invasion stylings of Bank Of Joy, whose chiming Rickenbacker chords and harmonies were all present and correct, but seemed quaintly at odds with the festival’s motto, “Future Rock and Roll”. At the other end of the spectrum was next act Off Love, a one-man audiovisual spectacle setting dreamy auto-tuned vocals, white noise and colossal bass to a backdrop of slowed-down boyband footage. Calling to mind the exquisite, Lynchian soundscapes of Burial and the Knife, the short set divided the crowd and summed up Shoreditch’s pretensions and aspirations quite nicely, for better or for worse; did we mention that he wore a vest, bobble hat and a tea towel over his face for the entire show?
Headlining the event in between DJ sets were London four-piece Savages, fast becoming an all-female force to be reckoned with, and sweeping all before them in a bristling, gothic-tinged maelstrom of My Bloody Valentine-esque guitars and pounding drums. Singer Jenny Beth is stick-thin and disarmingly pretty but comes across as a magnetic frontwoman, commanding the crowd’s attention and summoning up intense vocal shrieks and sighs worthy of Patti Smith or Siouxsie Sioux. Meanwhile the relentless, buzzsaw instrumentals call to mind the early fury of the Cure or Echo & the Bunnymen – infectious, mesmerising and – on provocative stand-out “Hit Me” in particular – eminently danceable. If 1234 can maintain similar quality control for the entire festival in September, then it will definitely be one to remember.