1234, Shoreditch Park, 9 July 2011

Everyone knows you’re not truly cool unless you never leave East London, ever. Not even for a music festival. So thankfully for the cool, Shoreditch Park played host to the 1234 Festival last Saturday attracting hundreds of hipsters, a couple of freaks and plenty of those annoying people who wear ‘funny’ t-shirts and presumably work in offices.

The weather had the good decency to stay nice and a pleasant little surprise came along in the new band’s tent in the form of The Little Bleeders. While it took a moment to get over the what-is-this-a-Franz-Ferdinand-comedy-tribute and cool-dad-doing-karaoke vibes, they were actually one of the most enjoyable acts of the day, filling the tiny tent with energy, aided in no small part by the drummer’s tireless effort to impersonate Keith Moon.

If 1234 taught us anything, other than that festival food and toilets can be amazing, it was that girls can play guitar. Firstly through all-girl four-piece Novella, and then through the much more impressive Throwing Up. Their excellent band name won instant approval, but their combination of little girls making big noise made them a favourite of the day.

However what separates them from the endless cesspit of punk bands today is their ability to write genuine pop melodies. Although they could probably use a bit of work on their lyrics, any set that ends with a girl screaming, seemingly in horror, into a mic is always a good thing.

Following Throwing Up’s set, drummer Ben tweeted that 1234 was the ‘indie scum of the earth’ – which might suggest he didn’t enjoy it, and to be fair to him, for a lot of the day the crowd was shit.

The Chapman Family, who gave a pretty killer performance via their triple guitar assault, were met like the majority of the day’s acts with little more than a small group standing politely and no one getting particularly excited. It wasn’t until penultimate band The Raveonettes that the crowd were mostly standing and actually moving, slightly.

Following the night Black Lips tweeted their approval of The Raveonettes, but this was clearly a Black Lips crowd.

The headliners from Atlanta have quite a reputation on the live front, having had a tour of India cut short by heavy male petting and a live album recorded in Mexico with the aid of a very confused mariachi band. Their gigs usually resemble riots where bouncers are ridiculed, on stage nudity is a standard occurrence and equipment gets trashed. Quite understandably the crowd were now braced for action.

Appearing onstage early to distribute beer to the audience, guitarist Ian Saint Pé Brown added “There’s a lot of you so take two sips and pass it on.”  From the onset the crowd instantly switched from stoic to rowdy spurred on by Black Lips’ shouty self-titled ‘flower-punk’ ruckus. But as the sun dipped over this sparsely-turfed patch of land in east London that Hackney Council cheekily calls a park, there was a slight feeling of disappointment in the air.

Each member seemed to be dressed like a stereotype of white male youth: bassist Jared Swilley the jock student newly into Vampire Weekend and high society, guitarist Cole Alexander a hipster engine driver, drummer Joe Bradley the grungy skater kid, and guitarist Ian Saint Pé in the standard jeans and a western shirt.

They played a selection of tracks from their sixth album, Arabia Mountain, which came out last month and was granted the added hype of being produced by Mark Ronson. And a couple of their old favourites such as their rip of O Katrina were pulled in for good measure.

But while the crowd was finally making the effort to get stuck in and dance, the band were comparatively lazy. Other than a mid-set onslaught of bog roll from their ‘stage-friends’ and a few beer torpedoes Black Lips’ set began and finished rather gently. Hardly the rock and roll ruckus we had been expecting.

By Jonathan Dunbar and Ben Graham


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