Review: Offset Festival

By chloeg Last edited 177 months ago

Last Updated 08 September 2009

Review: Offset Festival
Bombay Bicycle Club
Bombay Bicycle Club

The setting is a large clearing in the beautiful Hainault Forest in Essex. An hour ago we were at Liverpool Street Station; now we're standing in the queue for a Riverford Farm burger, cider in hand, marooned in the middle of a haze of teenage hormones.

The sun goes behind a smattering of clouds and suddenly it's cold. A chilling Essex breeze sends shivers across the skinny-jeaned crowd; the girls with ripped tights can't be having too much fun either. But what does it matter to the insouciant youth, the achingly hip, the try-hard try-harders? Bedecked in over-sized glasses, tousled (just so) hair, smears of red lipstick, hairsprayed, the rolled-up jeans and deck shoe combo, the leggings (oh the leggings) ... the list goes on.

This is why people hate scenesters. Despise hipsters. They make magpie grabs for cultural totems, rummaging through the trash bin of the past and flicking through the clothes rails of history, not so much reappropriating but rather slinging shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. So it goes. Dr Martens. Tick. 50s floral dress. Tick. Shoreditch has been sick in a field and Offset Festival is the result. The tumbleweeds must be blowing down Brick Lane this weekend for certain.

Still, despite this vampiric crowd of know-nothing know-nothings we're here for the tunes, and thanks heavens for the tunes. Because while snooting with derision at every Jules et Jim sucking back on the laughing gas, if the music is no good it's going to be a very long weekend. And it's lucky that the people who organise Offset Festival are more plugged in than the majority of their punters.


Good Shoes ­have failed to make quite the splash they'd hoped two years ago, but the jangly guitarred boys from Morden are back. They churn out a solid if unimpressive sets - if they are to break through they have some way to go, as their stop-starty sound hasn't progressed much.

Bombay Bicycle Club

Things are looking up thanks to Pulled Apart by Horses.­ The loud, discordant but ultimately winning Leeds quartet shred the stage up with a tight and impressive set of angular and aggressive rock. So too do Future of the Left.­ Always a pleasure live, FotL marry forboding and thrilling guitar hooks with throat shredding vocals courtesy of Andy Falkous. Insistent, sly and fun.

If you miss The Strokes (and who doesn't?) don't sweat it cos north London's Bombay Bicycle Club­ are in town to fill the void of low-fi but catchy indie. They've only moved The Strokes sound on a tad but they are so sickeningly young you can't help but be won over.

The crowd is absolutely buzzing for Metronomy, not least because they've been shunted from the small stage to the main stage and the wait has been interminable. The well-to-do indie crowd is about to turn nasty any minute ... and then they come on and from the first note all the frustration floats away. To make joyously poppy dance tunes from your meat-and-potatoes indie rock kit (drums, keyboard and guitar) is no mean feat, but Metronomy do it with ease. An absolute delight.


S.C.U.M are­ plodding Joy Division wannabes that end up sounding like a disinterested Interpol. Or a dull Editors. Given the alt-press hype for this band, it's quite a disappointment. Die! Die! Die! pick things up - slick riffs, sophisticated drums and vocal structures reminiscent of At the Drive In - these young men look to feature strongly on the alt hardcore scene.

The XX
Let's Wrestle are the only band we see properly engaging with the crowd over the weekend - eschewing any fear about appearing hip in front of the crowd, they aren't afraid to entertain with stories of their heavy night (waking up in their own vomit featured high on our list). They play their very British brand of catchy, self-aware indie rock with the usual aplomb.

The XX are one of the festival's highlights - understated yet worldy-wise, providing a cool, steady stream of soulful beats and downbeat lyrics.

One of the benefits of Offset is it's size - there's a top class line up and you don't have to miss a thing. Hey hey scenesters - we'll see you next year.

Words by Adam Richmond

Image of Offset from Russ Garrett's photostream.

Image of Bombay Bicycle Club from daddsy's photostream.

Image of the XX from gzig's photostream, all under the Creative Commons Licence.