wed 29/05/2024

theartsfest 2015 - Saturday | reviews, news & interviews

theartsfest 2015 - Saturday

theartsfest 2015 - Saturday

Using the best gigs of 2015, our new music writers compile their ideal festival line-up

Blue is the colour, raving is the gamePhoto by Sergey Sergeyev

The festival market is one that has, like much of Britain, become oversaturated of late. Here at theartsdesk however, we feel that there’s room for one more as long as it’s of the highest possible quality. Here, then, is our line-up, a dream festival pulled together from our writers’ highlights of the past year.

It’s two days over two stages and, best of all absolutely no danger of getting some hideous water-borne disease while sleeping in a substandard tent. 



The Prodigy: 10.00 - 11.30

The Prodigy may have been going for a quarter of a century but their fire is far from out. As if to drive that point home they released their fiercest album The Day Is My Enemy back in March, a relentless exercise in industrial pounding. The accompanying tour proved, beyond doubt, that they are worthy headliners for theartsfest 2015 and indeed that they offer one of the finest nights out any contemporary band is capable of delivering. The Essex trio made this perfectly clear when they hit the Brighton Centre in May. This writer has been to dozens of gigs there but has never seen the entire place rise to its feet and start dancing like loons as soon as the first ominous synth chord hits. And then not stop dancing until the final bleep subsides. The Prodigy bring THE RAVE and, whether you're an old school disco granddad or a snotty-nosed teen electro-punk, they tear the lid off the fucker every single time. Thomas H Green

Ride: 8.30 - 9.30

For a band often labelled as shoegaze pioneers, Ride have often walked with a far more conventional rock swagger. This was abundently clear at the Brixton Academy this year, where their floppy fringed classic album Nowhere was preceded by a run through the rest of a career that teed up a generation of Britpop bands who, sadly, hooked their shot into a bunker.

It wasn't the brawny, brash confidence that secured them a slot at theartsfest 2015 however, oh no. It was the sculpted guitars, airborne melodies and enveloping surround sound of those early years, which sounds as unique and satisfying today as ever they did. While there's no official video from the Brixton Academy, their Field Day manoeuvres give you a taste of what to expect. Barney Harsent


Future Islands: 7.00 - 8.00

It’s the charisma and sheer physical presence of Future Island’s singer, Samuel T Herring, that makes them such a compelling live act. When we caught the Baltimore three-piece at Camden’s Roundhouse, Herring plied a non-stop heart-on-sleeve routine that comprised chest thumping, dad dancing and facial gurning. Often he addressed the audience like a spurned lover begging for forgiveness. On paper, that may sound faintly irritating. In the flesh it was bloody marvellous. Russ Coffey

Die Antwoord: 5.45 - 6.30  

Sometimes the best gigs are those that leave you slightly bewildered. Die Antwoord are sure to do that. We saw the Afrikaans “white trash” duo of Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er back in February and were met with a mix of club beats with hip-hop vocals. More to the point, the evening started with DJ Hi-Tek threatening to violate our rear ends, saw the two protagonists running about like they were on PCP, and ended with the whole room chanting “fuck your rules”. Russ Coffey

The Bug: 4.30 - 5.15

The debut live outing of Kevin Martin and Dylan Carlson’s The Bug vs Earth project was something special. A sluggish groove developed inside a tsunami of dry ice, with the pounding beat dropping in and out of the mix of a drawn-out atmospheric cathedral of sound. However, Carlson left the stage after 20 minutes to be replaced by Flow Dan of Grime merchants Roll Deep, yelling “These are the evilest hours” and getting the party seriously rocking. Beats were dropped like cluster bombs as industrial dub sounds and souped-up versions of “Kill Them”, “Skeng”, and an incendiary “Dirty” got the crowd skanking away until the end of final tune, the mighty “Badman City”. Guy Oddy

Clean Bandit: 3.15 - 4.00

It remains to be seen whether Clean Bandit will go down in chart/radio history only as the band that gave us 2014’s monster hit “Rather Be” but, in the meantime, they’ve established themselves as an effervescent live act. Now fronted on stage by long-standing drum & bass vocalist Elisabeth Troy – although band-leader Grace Chatto gives her a run for her money in the exuberance stakes – their bouncy amalgam of classically-trained strings, modern club cuts and pure 21st Century chart-pop, is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, as they proved at the Common People Festival in Southampton in May. Thomas H Green


Said Guissi: 10.00 - 11.30 

In the 1920s, René Brunel wrote of the "furious tempest of drums and oboes" when he caught an Aissawa group. They follow a 15th century saint called Bin Aissa and Said Guissi's group use both big horns called n'fars and small al-raita horns which sound like feedback and some of the tightest drummers in the world. Said Guissi is a master musician from the city of Fes, where I last saw him at the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. I described him as the "Miles Davis of Aissawa"; he has taken a traditional form and re-arranged it. In Fes they are followed by the "holy fools" who may be mentally ill and go into a healing trance – better than Prozac. This is what Guissi told me: "With my music you can become white, you can become black." Peter Culshaw

Jambinai: 8.30 - 9.30 

Every festival needs a band that can take the audience somewhere new, and with South Korean fusion band Jambinai, still an unknown quantity for UK festival-goers, novelty is guaranteed. First impressions are undramatic – three unassuming musicians, sitting cross-legged in a row – but their ambitious project to integrate the techniques and idioms of traditional Korean folk with a blend of noise-rock, drone-rock and electronic music is intoxicating, live, and their traditional Korean instruments, geomungo (seven-stringed zither), piri (oboe), and haegum (viol) teeter along an utterly distinct and original tightrope of sound even when the destination – noise-rock – is more recognisable. Theirs is a glimpse of far-away musical scenery to escape to and refresh the palette. Matthew Wright 

Flavia Coehlo: 7.00 - 8.00

Flavia Coelho told me her parents in the favelas of Rio put an aluminium bucket over her head as a child as the only way to calm her down. It was also a useful echo chamber to practise her singing. Her parents were hairdressers for drag queens. When I saw her at Rich Mix she still came over an overactive child on stage and is one of the most dynamic live acts you are likely to see with the odd glorious downbeat dub section. Although born in Rio, she was brought up in Sao Luis, in the north of Brazil, which is that country’s centre of reggae music and it’s reggae and ragga which form the spine of her show, with scatter-gun rap and a dash of rock, bossa, and electro-pop. Pefect for theartsfest. Peter Culshaw

Ennio Morricone: 5.45 - 6.30

Ennio Morricone, the 87-year-old Italian overlord of all film music, is back in the limelight due to his score for Quentin Tarantino’s latest The Hateful Eight. At the start of the year he wowed a packed O2 with a glorious run-through of his greatest hits. Backed by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and a vast choir, he did justice to the themes he created for Sergio Leone’s iconic films, as well as hosts of other soundtracks (The Mission, Cinema Paradiso, etc, etc). What better way to spend the hazy early evening of theartsfest’s first day than lazing on the grass bathing in the impeccably executed work of this cinematic genius. Thomas H Green

Dimos Dimitriadas: 4.30 - 5.15

At a lot of jazz festivals it’s often the globally influenced bands that bring something new to the table from Cuban to North African jazzers. A revelation to me at the Odessa Jazz Festival was Dimos Dimitriadis’s band from Greece, who use elements of Orthodox church music. One of those rare bands who work on all the chakras and are a tonic for mind, spirit and body – yes, you can even dance to at least some numbers. The others you can impress your mates with some interpretative mime. They reminded me of the great Wayne Shorter’s band in one of their more spiritual moods. Peter Culshaw

Disappears play Low: 3.15 - 4.00 

When Bowie swapped out the guitars for keyboards on 1977 masterpiece Low, he almost certainly wouldn't have envisaged that, nearly 40 years later, rock band Disappears would have gone to such great lengths to put them back in – and to rather wonderful effect, too. Their song-by-song run through at London's 100 club wowed, breathing new life into the more traditional first "side" and utterly transforming the second into something connected and clear, but very different indeed. It was a set many would love to see again and definitely worthy of an opening slot at theartsfest. Barney Harsent

  • theartsfesk 2015 - Sunday will be published on 30 December
Best of all, absolutely no danger of getting some hideous water-borne disease while sleeping in a substandard tent

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