With Black Lips, The Raveonettes, Lydia Lunch

With a stated opening time of 11am, things got off to a rocky start for London’s trendiest of home-grown festivals. Hundreds of hipsters stood, swayed and moaned like the undead behind wire fencing as organisers failed to admit the crowd for a full hour, causing all to miss the first wave of bands on all four main stages. Once they finally gained entrance, fans were first treated to ambient noise merchants 5 Second Exposure on the Rough Trade Stage. Their hypnotic, space-tripping sounds dragging away the previous night’s hangovers and providing promise for the rest of the day.

Rubicks emerged as an early highlight. Their impassioned performance and combination of live and electronic drumming delivering a heavy dose of groove and attitude, while Hold Kiss Kill simultaneously lit up the mainstage with grunge revivalist tones.

Grunge being a key theme of 1-2-3-4, bands and attendees alike embracing the early Nineties sound. The day filled with bleached blonde female bassists, distortion pedals, flannel and a healthy dose of heroin chic dress code. Old Pearl Jam tee’s pulled from big brother’s cupboard and vintage stores add to the image.

In such a guitar-dominated line-up, the Dance Tent became a welcome change for many. Pete Carvell and, later, Arnaud Rebotini delivering scorching sets, the former unfortunately performing to only a handful of lucky folks due to the hour.

Midday and Rayographs caused a stir, filling their area with great harmonies and solid guitar work, winning some new fans with numbers such as ‘Yellow Hair’ and ‘Space Of The Halls’. Advert took to the stage with thunderous noise and energy, and when the vocals eventually dropped, most wished they hadn’t.

London’s own Arrows of Love plugged in and preceded to pummel all with their brash, explosive sound, making any posers previously sharing the stage look tame in comparison. In similar a fashion, Nite Wreckage, led by electro pioneer Dave Ball, transformed the dance tent into a punk infused industrial cabaret, complete with young nymphets dancing seductively on stage. As the day wore on, the quality of acts increased as the seasoned professionals replaced the new grunge-slingers.

Despite being hospitalised that very morning, Johnny Danger fitted his namesake by turning up with the rest of Two Wounded Birds to perform, a short, but visceral performance. Their Sixties choruses and surf guitar making a refreshing impact.

A Tour de force, Lydia Lunch lived up to the legend with a ballsy main stage performance full of spite, crowd digs and New York swagger. When not belting out punk poetry, Pete Doherty and leeching no good men were the source of Miss Lunch’s anger as she claims she couldn’t stand a rock star that can’t handle their drugs. Subtly was not on the menu and for that the audience were thankful.

The Raveonettes performed confidently, becoming visibly stronger with each number till they had the masses eating out of their garage rock-loving hands. Material from third album ‘Lust, Lust, Lust’ going down like candy. The Danish duo deservedly reaped the benefits of a decade spent inspiring others.

Black Lips were charged with closing a day of mixed musical output with their headline set, and so they did in spectacular fashion. While latest release ‘Arabia Mountain’ sees the flower punk foursome entering more experimental waters, it was clear from their hour-long set that they’ve lost none of their urgency. Sharing beers and good old fashion southern banter with the audience, the band approached their slot no different to how they would a bar room shindig, thrashing guitars and dodging projectiles with a smile of their face. A few songs in and the stage was suddenly stormed from behind by other bands and hangers on all brandishing armfuls of toilet rolls, resulting in a papery chaos as the audience and band exchanged blows for the reminder of the set. While echo-drenched new material garnered mass cheers, predictably it was underground hit ‘Bad Kids’ that resulted in the festivals biggest sing-along, cementing Black Lips as an act worthy of their cult status.

Words by Sam Walker-Smart
Photos by William Bunce

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