Thank God for the Nords. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Iceland’s Airwaves festival (five days of music amongst the boiling geysers and cascading waterfalls of Reykjavík) they decided to stage one night of music, with over 20 acts including The Cocknbullkid, Cazals, The Teenagers, Metronomy and These New Puritans, across seven (mostly) hip East London venues.
The hot topic on everyone’s tongue-tips was the ‘Special Secret Performance’ on the set-list. While optimists had their money on a guerilla gig from the Arctic Monkeys (Alex Turner’s scrawny frame had been spotted earlier on Brick Lane) some were, in the tones of newsreaders announcing the end of the world, anticipating Razorlight. In the end the super surprise turned out to be an appearance from Digitalism, who whipped the crowd at the Kitsuné Party in 93 Feet East into a whirling frenzy of dodgy dance moves with their party friendly electro-rock.
Wild Beasts by Burak Cingi
Abandoning an anodyne set from Wild Beasts I managed to catch James Yuill’s synthetic take on the singer-songwriter tradition before rushing back to Brick Lane to catch The Whip, who delivered their own brand of electro-rock with rugged precision. Despite a mixed critical reception their live rendition of 'Divebomb' salvaged them from the sub-Daft Punk, shit-electro bin their releases are often cast into.
Florence & the Machine by Burak Cingi
Florence and her long suffering Machine (the latter who could be seen sullenly waiting for “Her Royal fucking Highness” to grace the stage with her sequin-clad presence) put on an incredible headlining performance back at the Bar Music Hall. Although with South London’s most buzzed about diva having scrapped about five machines already, including lovable tramp Dev Hynes, her current band might just want to keep their nicknames for her to themselves.
Setting aside all qualms about authenticity (I’d call Florence And The Machine an actress rather than an artist) she did provide the ‘moment’ of the night. During ‘Girl With One Eye’ she singled out a member of the audience, towering over her like a preying mantis about to strike, all the time singing about relieving people of their body parts in a voice that ranged from ear-splitting blues holler to a sinister, seductive purr. An incredible entertainer.
Despite being in über-trendy Shoreditch, there were herds of punters who seemed to think they were on an episode of Jeremy Kyle. All fake Ralph Lauren polo tops and crusty drug dealers shouting “Pills!” in your face every other second like over-zealous carers in a retirement home. This was especially true at the Hewitt Street venue, where Crookers spewed fourth their dirty Italian electro onto to a crowd so perfectly divided into hipsters, at the back dabbing MD and ignoring each other, and Adidas aftershaved day-trippers, at the front grabbing girls and punching each other, it was as if two different species had been trapped together in the burnt out, dusty car park and left to see which would triumph.
Robots in Disguise by Burak Cingi
By 6am, as the music finally died and fingers of sunlight began to inch their way through the Hessian sacks taped roughly over the broken windows, it seemed like everyone who was still standing at the bitter-sweet end had triumphed in their own way.