Offset Festival Day Two - Hainault Forest, London
It's back to the leafy green setting of Hainault Country Park for the second day of the third ever Offset Festival, arriving on site just in time to catch London boys The Rifle Volunteer run through a set of mournful, post-rock pop on the Offset Presents stage. Having played host to one of my highlights the day before, this stage is proving to be a goldmine for exciting new acts. At the other end of the spectrum however is Electricity In Our Homes on the main stage, peddling some dull, turgid twangy indie-pop that failes to excite anyone really.
Despite being faced with a crowd all sat on the floor at the Loud & Quiet stage, Banjo or Freakout really impress with their shoegazing, folky sounds. The members forays into more lush electronic soundscapes in Walls seems to have had an impact in their style and todays set was evident of that. Again another polar opposite occurs over on the main stage as Israeli garage-rockers Monotonix tear the crowd new holes. Playing actually in the audience rather on the perfectly good stage behind them, these hairy party people bring a real thrill to their live shows and everyone leaves with a big grin on their face.
Electronic kraut-rock pioneers Cluster pack out the side stage with their trance inducing beats and fuzz. While ostensibly this is pretty much two old guys playing with their computers, there was something quite hypnotic and pleasing about their set and the crowd seem to agree. Pulled Apart By Horses are equally crowd pleasing, as they run through tracks from their debut album in the typical punk-rock fury. These guys have been working pretty hard recently and their set today sees them looking as confident as ever on stage.
The 22-legged beast that is Chrome Hoof take to the stage in their trademark glitterball gowns to give the crowd a healthy dose of their unique disco/doom/prog hybrid. Playing tracks from their stunning new album Crush Depth, including the brilliantly schizophrenic 'Crystalline' and the downtuned pummel of 'Third Sun Descendant', they get the crowd dancing and headbanging in equal measure. These New Puritans come on at a perfect time of day for their gloomy endtime music, with the sun setting and all manner of sounds emanating from the stage. Supplemented by horn players, the new album tracks come across fully realised and wonderfully deep.
The first trip to the Hardcore stage today yields The Ghost of a Thousand boys and their supremely pissed off hardcore attack which sees plenty of circle pit action and lead singer Tom Lacey having a good old wander into the crowd to survey the carnage for himself. Later on this stage, the rather under-rated Devil Sold His Soul play new tracks from their new album Blessed & Cursed. These guys are both gut wrenchingly heavy and brilliantly epic, with post-rock guitars, keyboards and enormous riffs which swim around the tent.
I don't ever remember The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster being this good back in 2005. Yet here they are returning in 2010 with a brand new album and a top notch live performance to boot. With Guy McKnight (who looks like he's got his pyjamas on), they have a pretty unique frontman and he stalks the stage like a pro. By this point set-times are running pretty late, and there's even more of a wait as Caribou seem to have trouble sound-checking. but when they do finally take to their instruments they don't disappoint. Playing a set made nearly entirely of tracks from latest album Swim, they use their catchy electronica and rhythmic prowess to hold the crowd firmly in their grasp. Both 'Sun' and 'Odessa' have become firm crowd favourites during their long summer of festivals, and expectedly the crowd goes apeshit when these are played.
With times running so late, I'm forced to miss headliners Atari Teenage Riot. Despite this Offset has proved to a brilliantly organised festival with a diverse range of bands on offer. If next year can be pulled off with no set-time hiccups, then it will no doubt be an absolute blast.