With These New Puritans, Wavves, Dum Dum Girls
These New Puritans

You’re young and you can do anything you want. So have some fun, why not.
But why go out when it’s better staying in, introspectively moaning about all that’s wrong in your world? You want to hang out, get fucked up, chase the one you think you love (unrequited of course), be a normal young person.

But you can’t. So you decide to start a band and let everyone else know about it. At least that’s what the vast majority of today’s 1-2-3-4 Festival line-up did.

From the moody distortion of Wavves to the girly fuzz of Vivian Girls, they’re all at it, even a majestic Peter Hook’s up there celebrating Ian Curtis’ disdain for circumstance.

In spite of the frustration simmering behind these bands, rarely has the scene been so healthy. In 2010 there are more wannabee gutter punks than you can shake a splintered drumstick at, along with droves of similarly bedraggled fans hanging on their every grizzly syllable.

Shoreditch Park is chock full of all of the above, along with a special edition of east London’s directory enquiries. Everyone’s at it, from Alice Dellal and the fashion crowd, to various members of the Big Pink, The xx and Male Bonding, the VIP area is even busier than the main arena.

Those here in the lunchtime heat caught the squall of Invasion and the increasingly prominent Trailer Trash Tracys, who are gradually emerging from the undergrowth.
Later on, we’re wondering why A Grave With No Name are so morbidly titled as their vibrant set surfs the ubiquitous beach wave triumphantly. Akiko (the Big Pink’s drummer), is here fronting her own band Comanechi, whose Metallica referencing thrash punk is a resounding kick square in Shoreditch’s nether regions. The pretty golden bow in her hair belies her aggressive percussion, as the car-crash drums come close to razing the flats surrounding us to the ground.

The outdated Horrors-lite shtick of SCUM disappoints on the main stage before one of the afternoon’s biggest attractions, Dum Dum Girls overcome a muddy sound with a crowd-pleasing set. ‘Jail La La’ is still their best song, and their leggy, pouting stage presence intimidates and entices in equal measure.

That Joy Division are so relevant today is testament to the power of their menacing Manc dirge. Peter Hook lives every second as if it were the band’s first practice, and a nostalgic blast through ‘Unknown Pleasures’ culminates in a version of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ that has him so fired up he morphs into a blur of greying hair and bass guitar, flailing across the stage. Hook is carried away, screaming “Let’s fookin’ ‘ave it Shoreditch!” after romantically dedicating the song to newly engaged friends.

It’s a touching moment, proving that the extra years have removed none of the lovelorn romance Joy Division inspired in so many who would follow them. Picking up on this thread are Wavves, the bedroom baby of Nathan Williams.

Joined onstage by a beardy rhythm section, they come over all Napoleon Dynamite with one-liners (never better a pun on their name that has the crowd waving as one at the stage). Maybe you had to be there. All puns aside, the gumball babble of ‘So Bored’ sums up so much of what this afternoon is about, and sits comfortably alongside the sculpted sound of the new tracks.

As the sun dips behind the clouds Vivian Girls' set if packed with short, spiky and very, very sweet tunes which provoke delirious pogoing. Bassist Katy hoists herself into the crowd during 'Out For The Sun,' and returns to the stage giggling. She knows they're coming to the end of the day's best performance, as does Clash when we're soaked in beer and kicked in the head for the fourth time.

As 1-2-3-4 draws to a close, it is Veronica Falls' Glasgow-tinged jangle and Bo Ningen's belligerent noise that triumph over Fucked Up's main stage slot and These New Puritans' technical glitch-fest. The bloggers' darlings have released one of the year's most challenging albums, and this set was eagerly anticipated in this corner of east London.

Disappointing as their virtual no-show was, they were perhaps the most individual band on the bill, in no way adhering to the disgruntled indie pop on offer elsewhere. Their tales of fantasy and history are worthy of your attention, but today just wasn't theirs.

The sun instead shone on the romantics, the ne'er do wells and the unlucky in love.

Heartache and boredom fizzed with sun-kissed energy and morphed into a glut of near-perfect nuggets of fuzzy pop. 1-2-3-4 just about dodged its way past the liggers, the hangers-on and the uninterested VIPs with a consistently high quality line-up that proved that it's the music that matters. A message trendy Shoreditch Park would do well to remember.

Words by Ben Homewood

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