Wednesday, October 15, 2008

[images from Kinetica's website]

The recent Concrete & Glass event in Shoreditch certainly felt to me like the last bastion of something creative in the area before it becomes simply too expensive and upmarket to nurture any kind of alternative arts scene. With the Hackney–Chelsea link building work gaining steam, the ossification of the area into an extension of the City and its homogenous wine bars is inevitable, despite the credit crunch. The link between the arts scene and the music scene is something that’s been well overdue, and one of the most interesting things was finding that I often preferred trawling the galleries in the area than checking out some of the bands. The Byzantine labyrinth of tunnels in the basement of Shoreditch Church set the tone for Thursday evening, while Kinetica’s gallery of hybrid technological monstrosities produced some incredible results (such as those in the pictures above). I still can’t get out of my head too the different coloured lamps that populated the room at the top floor of Cordy House, with each one revealing all kinds of weird secrets when you viewed them through a binocular.
One impression to be gained from the festival was that it hadn’t completely demolished the barriers between the arts and music crowd, as evidenced by the characters trawling through the galleries of Redchurch Street; for some reason the impression I got was that they remained entirely separate from the music goings-on.
Anyway, some highlights music-wise on Thursday: Matthew Sawyer & the Ghosts’ lo-fi, low-key set on Tuesday night at the Strongrooms; Errors playing to a packed set at the Old Blue Last; and the ridiculous 80s synth-metal band (Grosvenor, perhaps?) at Favella Chic. Sadly, Friday summed up the problem with these events: all the venues were just too packed, with no luck queuing up for The Macbeth, Catch (where the ubiquitous Selfish C**t were playing), and elsewhere, while the queue for TV On The Radio at Cargo – the festival’s big draw - went beyond the realms of the ridiculous. The only place that had any space was Pictish Trail upstairs at the Vibe Bar. Still, it led to the music venue find of the festival for me: The Brady Centre, on Hanbury Street off Brick Lane, where The Real Tuesday Weld delivered a charismatic set in plush theatre surroundings, backed up by a great film show. Just goes to show that sometimes the most interesting places are off the beaten track in that area.
Judging by the success of Barden’s Boudoir (particularly the Club Motherfuc*er), I’m guessing that Dalston, where I went school and consequently have mixed feelings about, is set to be the Shoreditch of the future. If so, CafĂ© Oto is its Spitz, before the Spitz itself sadly got shut down, replete with candlelight and a relaxed, slightly arty and intelligent atmosphere; a place that feels very much independent and untouched by the Carling-sponsored mainstream. Playing there on Saturday on Recluse’s first birthday was a blast. Thank God these places still exist before the area gets swallowed up in a tidal wave of yuppie bars.