Land of Kings 2012 // The 405 Review
Dalston. Its reputation precedes it. To some (well, Italian Vogue) Dalston is the coolest place in Britain. To others it epitomises the vacuous hipster culture that permeates some of London. Whatever your view (maybe somewhere in the middle?) there can be no doubting the calibre of acts on display at Land of Kings, a festival held across various fashionable Dalston venues.
The poor weather means the streets aren't as heaving as at last year's event, but this was two days of the highest quality. A diverse line up saw electronic and dance music together with a smattering of good old-fashioned indie. So we get the likes of Factory Floor, Slow Club, NCZA/Lines and The Invisible. There are also a host of DJs and screenings of films.
My festival starts with Bos Angeles at the Shacklewell Arms. The crowd is sparse and the band seem a touch timid but it can't stop the strength of the songs shining through. They are a band who know their way around a catchy hook – and 'Beach Slalom' remains the best song New Order never wrote. You get the feeling with a bit of time and experience this is a band who could be really important.
We leave as soon as they finish and it's off to the Magnolia Banqueting Suite. It feels odd watching bands while standing on a tiled floor normally reserved for buffets. But our entrance is soundtracked by The Invisible's dense, claustrophobic space-age funk. Tight and lithe this is a fantastic showcase for second album Rispah. Dave Okumu, clad in a leather biker jacket and Michael Jackson Bad t-shirt, chucks out shards of dark riffs and new single 'Protection' sounds as it good as it does on record, which is no mean feat.
Initial poor sound and a chattering crowd can't detract from how good a live band Slow Club are. They start off with Rebecca asking if anyone's had a Crunchie. The band try their best to give the offhand crowd that Friday feeling. Playing a set made up mostly of Paradise tracks including 'Horses Jumping' and 'If We’re Still Alive', this is everything Slow Club are about: fun, energetic and heartfelt. What's not to love? In amidst this is new song 'Not Mine 2 Luv', a torch-song that already sounds like one of the best things they've done. Yet, you can see the band getting more irritated as the audience at the back keep chatting. That can’t stop those at the front having a great time, and as the show draws to a close with traditional set closer 'Giving Up On Love', the whole room are rapt.
We finish off the night at the Vortex for NCZA/Lines – despite a giant (6”9 is a giant, right?) obscuring my view for the entire show, this is a great set. With drums and bass added to the falsetto and synths, this is a leaner and bigger sound than on record. Michael Lovett's voice sounds great, adding pizzazz to Compass Points and Okinawa Channel, which bang like the pop hits they always have been. By the end the whole crowd is swaying in unison.
Batteries recharged, the Saturday starts with Meat Wagon. Well, it's supposed to but it's not open so it actually starts with a Nando's (but we don't want to get into that). With a half chicken lining our bellies it's off to watch Hatcham Social at the newly refurbished Birthdays. Newly refurbished doesn't quite describe it though – the paint still smells fresh paint and there's no sinks in the toilet. Yet it matters not the band as the soundsystem blasts like a rocket and the band perform a set of fantastic catchy post-punk tunes, with old cut Crocodile, in particular, coming on like a missing Orange Juice song.
It's then back to the banqueting suite for Ben Westbeech (maybe he could have renamed himself Eastbeech for the night. Arf). I didn't know much about him before the show but his set - which takes in house, soul, jazz and hip hop - is charming enough. He plays his big one 'So Good Today' yet at times he sounds like Daniel Beddingfield and it's a performance doesn't do enough to grab your attention.
It takes Factory Floor to grab you, throw you around for 50 minutes and melt your ears. It has such an effect that one man steals my friend's pint, prays on the floor for two minutes and then ends up punching someone in the face (though, in retrospect, that may just have been drugs). The crowd's heads bounce as one and bodies vibrate to sheets of motorik, metallic sound. It's brutal and it's amazing. You can't help but dance.
Then it's back to Birthdays for Stay+ which builds from Burial-light to a spectacular end. With new EP Arem to promote this is a celebratory gig and my slowly recovering ears are finally completely destroyed. So, it's off in to the night to find some new ears and to recover, my head whirling. It's been an intense two days. One thing's for sure, Land Of Kings proves that Dalston maybe is as hip as it thinks it is.
The 405 team was out in force for The Great Escape this year, so rather than bringing you a band-by-band account of our time in Brighton, our editors/writers have chosen their five favourite bands from the event. Who came out on top? Read on to find out... [read more]
One day left in Austin *sad face* but I’m determined to fit in as much as I can today, kicking off in an hour at the British embassy with Ghosting Season. I'm rocking their t-shirt today and was proud to watch them tear up the Madison last night at their first official showcase. [read more]