On day two of the Offset Festival, Wild Palms get things off to a good start with their dark and brooding surf music. It sounds just dandy this Sunday lunchtime.
I am also taken with the gentle beauty of The Rifle Volunteer, who are kindly and beardy and feature the plaintive falsetto of Adam Symonds.
Skating past Electricity In Our Homes and Bitches, who were both excellent, we come to Monotonix, who take audience participation to even greater lengths than yesterday’s bands.
These three very hairy, very nearly naked men do not play onstage at all, but set up in the crowd in front of the Main Stage. All that can be seen are sprays of water and beer, the occasional piece of drum kit or guitar accompanied by the anguished cries of punters who have had their drinks snatched from them and stuffed down the Y-fronts of a wild eyed hairy arsed mountain man. It’s mayhem.
At one point I find one of the singers from Athens Polytechnic sailing past me at head height.
Ducking into a nearby tent, I am much entertained by Sauna Youth, who are screaming their heads off, abducting photographers and chasing each other around the tent pole until they collapse exhausted. Another band that I shall see again.
I am under instruction to report back on Proxy Music, but would have done so in any event. This is a band of like minded musicians who are devoted to early Roxy and are happy to share the fun with others.
They are terrific. Their ‘Bryan Ferry’ is a marvel, debonair and louche in tight leopard skin pants and leather jacket. He has the voice and he has the moves. The rest of the band are more generically glammed up and bash their way through standards like ‘Editions of You’ and ‘Do the Strand’.
It’s rough and vital and probably a lot like the real Roxy sounded like when they were just starting out. I doubt that the real Brian Eno was screaming “Fucking keyboards!” quite as often.
I also enjoy Oral Oral, who are dressed like Visage, sound like the Flying Lizards and end with a deafening deconstruction of The Normal’s ‘Warm Leatherette’ which sees the band members gradually sneak out of the tent one by one and hide, leaving their machines to fight each other.
Chrome Hoof also bring the glam, as only an eleven piece outfit dressed in spangly robes and fronted by a Notting Hill Carnival queen can do. They still sound like a hardcore screamo band colliding with a jazz orchestra, but today the penny drops for me and I love them to bits.
I then happen across an excellent show from Parisian noise pop merchants Team Ghost, who delight a small gathering with their ability to marry decent tunes with bursts of guitar abuse.
Having watched them fail to beat technical difficulties at 1234 Shoreditch I am glad to finally catch up with These New Puritans, who are ploughing a wilful furrow with their current heavy percussion meets bassoon line-up. Rather like their recent album it is easier to admire their ambition than to warm to the music itself.
I regret missing all but the last three songs from The Rayographs, but a man has got to eat sometime. This band have evolved into something rather special, as closing track ‘Yellow Hair’ proves. I’ll see them again.
Walking around the site, I see Flats tearing up the stage in front of a packed crowd and then move round to catch one of the ‘buzz’ bands at the festival.
Esben and The Witch are a fascinating combination of strong female vocals and wild interludes of manic guitar and frenzied percussion. At one stage the whole band circle a drum and leather the hell out of it. Their guitarist has enough FX pedals for a small army, triggering a phenomenon known as ‘pedal envy’ in one of my colleagues. Even at an event such as this, Esben and the Witch stand out as ones to watch in the future.
The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster are having a riot on the Main Stage, with their ferocious speed rock and obligatory stage diving cheering up a big crowd. They are oldies, but goodies.
It is now mid evening and it is clear that there is going to be a problem finishing the event on time. The Main Stage is running at least half an hour late and Caribou experience a protracted loss of power as they are setting up.
When the Canadians eventually start, there are horrible problems with the vocals which sound like a local taxi firm has infiltrated the mix. However, once things are sorted, Caribou are easy and likeable company, their light, dancey electronics spreading a soothing vibe. For me, it’s a lovely way to finish.
Time constraints mean that I have to miss headliners Atari Teenage Riot, but I am well satisfied with this weekend. This is my third Offset and it is the best one yet. Big thanks to the organisers and all the bands.