Tuesday, August 12, 2008

at home by the sea, pt. 2

Memory redux; part two of my At Home By The Sea write-up. Part one here.

- Still on a bit of a high from Thomas Tantrum, I'm in two minds what to do next. I get that common festival affliction, headless-chicken-syndrome, and decide it's my job to spend the next ten minutes rushing from stage to stage, despite most of them being empty. I'm trying to work out what to see next, and eventually settle on Slow Club, but not before I catch a bit of Stockholm's Shout Out Louds, who Siobhan and I quickly nickname 'Danlake', noting that they contain every component of Dan's fantasy football dream-band, namely:

(a) beards
(b) a small, cute, soulful girl playing an accordian
(c) a nice line in melancholic Americana, with heady overtones of Midlake
and (d) flags suspended at the back of the stage.

- I don't think much of them so retreat to the front bar to wait for Slow Club to get on stage. I position myself down the front, excited, and begin nattering to Ant as the room fills up and the band take the stage.

- Oh no, I'm at the wrong stage. It isn't Slow Club, it's The Shortwave Set, who have switched stages. I decide to give them the benefit of the doubt and will say this for them with no reluctance at all; they play nicely arranged, impeccably performed pop, with an impressive wall of swirling, queasy noise livening up their steady (workmanlike) tunes. I can see they do what they do well, but it is utterly lacking in emotional pull or surprise. They're only one good chord-change a song away from being a decent band, but at the moment their Elbow-cum-Air sound is merely a compliment by way of imitation, and nothing to savour.

- So I miss Slow Club. I do, as it happens, abandon The Shortwave Set after three songs, and dash round the back, but I bump into Sam, Chequers and Laura and decide I'd rather talk to them then go see another band, so we position ourselves at the outside stage and wait for Peggy Sue, who I've been ranting about for ages, I know.

- They arrive on stage. Katy Klaw is dressed as a clown. Rosa Rex is wearing a tiger costume. They play about twelve absolutely perfect songs with new drummer Olly, each one either delicate, or moving, or funny, or inspirational - and often all of those things together. Tonight my favourite songs are 'Once We Were Strangers' and 'Pupils Blink' - but really you can barely squeeze a cigarette paper between the songs; they're all wonderful. They do not explain their costumes, and I am glad for it.

- Ant shouts "Jonathan, stop fawning", spotting me transfixed at the front, and I try to look nonchalant instead.

- The Brakes close the evening, and I can barely see them for the two sodden skinheads stood in front, who aren't obscuring my view, but the way they hug each other and bellow along into each others faces quite captivates me. The Brakes do their usual high-energy, varied, set, and I wonder why more people don't appreciate them.

- And whumph, all my energy leaves the room here, so I throw myself into a cab and come home. At Home By The Sea is a funny little idea, a four-stage festival in a single venue on a beach in Southern Britain. But it's a good one, and I hope they'll do it again.

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