Offset Festival, Hainault Forest Country Park
Thursday 09 September 2010
Fashionable pockets of east London must have been deserted on Saturday and Sunday, for their trend-setters seemed to have fetched up in sunny Chigwell. Short on wellies but long on 1980s haircuts, this is festival for those who like their entertainment readily accessible on the TFL transport network.
Unwieldy marquees and an unstable fence may lend a down- at-heel air to proceedings and the proximity of stages does lead to sound bleeding, but there is much that is praiseworthy about Offset Festival. Cosy, bucolic and readily accessible for London-dwellers, it has the atmosphere of a large village fête. More importantly, though, it also has an enviably varied line-up.
Its six stages are a cross section of up-and-coming talent and more established names: from hardcore to electronica, even the most jaded festival-goer is likely to find something to get their pulse racing.
Liquid Liquid's set on the Saturday gives the lie to old notion that you have to be cool to produce sublime music, looking as they did like the committee of a working man's club. The long pathos-filled grooves of "Cavern" seemed to push the crowd into a trance-like frenzy that only vanished with the arrival of a somewhat maudlin Mystery Jets. Playing a truly lacklustre set, the indie five-piece didn't really seem to want to be there, keeping their gaze firmly on the ground and with it the tenor of their whole performance.
Visceral and fresh, Eighties Matchbox proved that despite a seemingly ever-changing band line-up they still have what it takes to put on a thrilling show and duly rip up the main stage on Sunday evening, providing the perfect warm up for the day's headliners, Atari Teenage Riot. Throbbing with bravado, the Berlin-based digital hardcore band draw the weekend to a conclusion in an awe-inspiring blaze of thrashing guitars and hard rhythms, which even the prospect of the long bus-ride back to London fails to taint.
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