With Aphex Twin, Goldfrapp, Leftfield
L.E.D. Festival Day Two

After a tentative first day of this new festival, LED had a way to go to gain a some credibility if it wants to become an established London festival.

LED are either trying to aim for an electic crowd who loves ‘Windowlicker’ as much as ‘Jump in the pool’ or maybe they’re peppering a bare line-up with a couple of token indie bands to paper over the cracks. That probably explains why Friendly Fires have been dumped on the main stage before an equally misplaced Goldfrapp.

Friendly Fires’ brand of funky post punk pop works well in a sweaty and dark tent, not in a sparsely populated main stage area. ‘Paris’, ‘Jump in the pool’, ‘Photo booth’ are prime time ‘other stage’ indie pop anthems that can’t fail to miss the spot but at on a main stage sound system that is so quiet, a hundred conversations drown out these tunes, draining their set of any excitement. The same goes for Goldfrapp, Allison Goldfrapp is an immense performer and although their latest album ‘Head First’ does indicate that they may finally be running out of the ideas that made an album such as 2005’s ‘Supernature’ on of the best albums of that decade, they do still have plenty to offer.
Dressed in an outfit that could only have been made by the tape from a hundred discarded VHS videotapes, Goldfrapp fail to ignite the crowd for two reasons; their sleaze drenched electro pop is not suitable for Bank Holiday sunshine and Aphex Twin is playing a rare set at the other stage and that’s where everyone is.

Aphex, backed with brain sizzling graphics continues Annie Mac‘ (the DJ on prior to him) dub-step heavy tip showing that he’s been keeping an eye on what’s been happening on the electronic music scene and he can do it way more fucked up than a Stagga EP track.
Just before it, as most dub step, becomes more tedious than cool, he then plunges into his endless back catalogue of classics either found on Warp vinyl or on cassettes under his bed, every genre is Aphex’d, he’ll go down an old school acid route, deep Detroit techno, dumb late 80s rave, all amazing and all typical of such a contrary man. The aggressive visuals add to to the music, at times beautiful, other times, ugly as sin akin to following a a loving hug followed by a punch in the face.

Being joined by South African rap duo Die Antwoord is a big mistake, Aphex’ music is so layered that anything else added to it makes the whole thing sound like a mess so to have two rappers dressed in bunny outfits who can’t rap screaming down microphones in a way that exceeds Ant and Dec in the annoying stakes threatens to ruin the show, thankfully their stage time is kept to a minimum. It doesn’t matter whether the tracks are old or not, they’re just Aphex Twin, slipping in his greatest track; ‘On’ was the absolute highlight of the festival.

Leftfield can also reduce adults to misty eyed revivalism with good reason, their albums 1995’s Leftism and 1999’s Rhythm & Stealth are albums which are held close to many people’s hearts for several very nineties reasons; soundtracking the Trainspotting film, several tracks used on the classic Playstation game Wipeout, they made John Lydon relevant for the VERY last time with ‘Open up’, ‘Phat Planet’ soundtracked that classic Guiness advert; both albums excelled in merging of house, hip hop, dub, trance, chill out and drum and bass and signal a time where dance acts such as Underworld, Chemical Brothers, Prodigy and Fat Boy Slim held their own alongside rock bands.

Leftfield have not reformed, Neil Barnes, one half of the duo has decided to resurrect the name. Leftfield were a duo, so saying Leftfield have reformed is like saying Wham! have if Andrew Ridgely had reformed with Pepsi & Shirley…feel free to add a more contemporary duo there, readers. Live, they’ve retained the powerhouse sound of yore, think My Bloody Valetine if they replaced feedback with bass and, even though the soundsystem in Victoria Park is as effective as a pair of ipod speakers, they still manage to create an humungous sound which literally shakes the ground we're dancing on.

'Release the pressure’, ‘Phat Planet’ and ‘Afro Left’ all whip the crowd up into a joyful frenzy while slower tracks like ‘Original’ spark off a mass groove-athon. LED totally misfired on day one with David Guetta headlining but tonight with Aphex Twin and Leftfield they just managed to redeem themselves. Who cares if we’re dancing to songs over a decade old? Tonight we partied like it’s 1995 and it was great, when are 60ft Dolls getting back together, then?

Words by Chris Todd

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