Mysteryland - photo by Paul Underhill
Mysteryland feels like a peacock on ecstasy chasing you down the rabbit hole. The Glastonbury of European dance festivals, this bold, colourful and gigantic event packs more into one electrifying day than other, lesser dance events would dare explore in their lifetime.
Imagine if Lewis Carroll and Terry Gilliam took Bestival, planted it amongst the waterways of Holland, wrapped it in glorious technicolour and fondled the dream with pinches of multiple dance genres. Imagine the fairytale spawn of Paul Oakenfold and Patrick Wolf at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, quivering to rabid techno. Imagine thousands of Cheshire Cats, sky-high on trance, dubstep, gabba and filthy electro, dancing in fields with themes of Mad Max and fairytales.
It’s hard not to speak of Mysteryland (still virtually unknown in the UK) without dealing in such superlatives. This is a 60,000 capacity, 20 stage sacrifice to the God of dance after all. An über-fest of gigantic proportion with so much joy and energy, so much organisation and conviction, that it makes most UK dance festivals look like a few stalls on the village green. In fact, it’s so big, so colourful and so damn fun that it eventually becomes a strain on not just the eyes and legs but your mind as well, as you marvel at how so much has been squeezed into the tiny space of just 12 hours.
Au Revoir Simone, Indietracks 2009
Indietracks feels like Isambard Kingdom Brunel putting on All Tomorrow’s Parties, where the only downside is choosing between the gorgeous music and the unlimited steam train rides.
Virtual Festivals, July 2009
Now in its third year, Indietracks has sprung up from very modest beginnings to be one of the UK’s most endearing and eccentric festivals. Taking place at Midland Valley Railway Centre in Riply, Derbyshire, the event is a labour of love for founder Stuart Mackay, who combined two of his passions: restoring steam trains and indie pop, to create one wholly unique event. Indietracks isn’t just a great excuse to discover some great new music, it’s an opportunity to support the earnest restoration of our heritage: the festival acts as a money raiser for the museum, with everyone involved in the weekend volunteering their time for free.
The line-up represents the very best of the indiepop underground, many of whom would be lucky to even to grace the smallest of stages at ATP. Bands come from as far afield as Japan, Italy, Sweden, USA and Argentina; DJs from Berlin, Barcelona and Hong Kong. With Spain’s seminal indiepop label Elefant curating the main stage, there’s also a great selection of Spanish acts including Cola Jet Set, La Casa Azul and Cooper. For a festival that could fit comfortably inside Glastonbury’s Shangri La field, it certainly knows how to punch above its weight.
Familiar labels, fanzines and club nights – such as Fortuna Pop, Twee as Fuck and Lipstick on Your Collar – feature throughout the weekend, either DJing, running workshops or generally getting accosted by indiepop enthusiasts screaming, “oh my God, you’re from Talulah Gosh!”
If you can excuse the corny title (possibly chosen after one too many rum and cokes) there’s much to love in the second album from New York’s Dream Bitches. The jangling, gnarly guitars and infectious, intertwining, harmonies will no doubt receive many Sleater-Kinney references, but Dream Bitches’ lush, retro-pop has more in common with the wordy, sussed lyricism of New York neighbours Jeffrey Lewis and Kimya Dawson.
Filed under I Found, Reviews
Cate Le Bon
The shop window of the newly-opened All Saints store on the Hayes is full of beautiful, antique sewing machines. They sit there in nice rows, neatly aligned and dormant, subservient to the window aesthetic. Once individual icons, their sole function now is just dressing for the multi-million pound St David’s 2 complex. Their heritage equally pawned and ignored as customers head for the cash-till.
Okay, they’re probably not antique anyway, they’re probably snap-fixed in Spitalfields and have less milage than Katie Price’s typewriter. But looking at those sewing machines on the weekend felt like standing outside the Point just a year ago, pondering the future of Cardiff and the embarrassing cultural death that seemed to be conspiring against it.
The Coal Exchange already closed and the Point served with a noise abatement order that would ultimately contribute to it’s closure, it felt like a solemn question mark hung over the head of everyone who loves dipping their daps into the city’s music venues. With the craggy spires of St David’s 2 emerging above the horizon it seemed the city couldn’t give a shit about our heritage. Shut down, decay and move on – like Cardiff always has done (look at pictures of the old decaying docks in the seventies for instance, and compare it with Bristol or Manchester; history you can still see and touch).
Cardiff doesn’t love us, you see. They won’t close a tiny, cobbly lane for Swn Festival and having shown little support for the Point are prepared to lose yet another venue in the Globe. But like the beautiful suckers we are, we love Cardiff. We fight to keep the Vulcan open; we put our hard-earned into Kruger and 3 Syllables gigs; we sit and watch the colours change in Bute Park. We buy chips on Caroline St, but we put the wrappers in the bin. We suffer the closure of a venue, or the loss of a promoter, but we move on; or we stand up and do it ourselves.
That Argentinean born and current Barcelona resident Sebastian Litmanovich is joined on Picnic by Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub, Jad Fair of Half Japanese and Duglas Stewart of BMX Bandits, is really all you need to know about Cineplexx. But if you’re still inquisitive, Picnic sees Litmanovich guiding the C86-inspired lo-fi through rippling landscapes that take in the Vaselines, Magnetic Fields, Gruf Rhys and Camera Obscura along the way.
Filed under I Found, Reviews
Juno didn’t just make us all wake up and see the talents of an awesome Ellen Page. It made us remember how crushingly good the pairing of Kimya Dawson and Adam Green was. True, Juno’s success might have resulted in a surreal and uncomfortable Moldy Peaches performance on the View, but if a few more people stumble across similar idiosyncratic pop hopefully Adam and Kimya’s grins will get even cuter.
Filed under I Found, Reviews