Offset festival – Day 2

(I reviewed the first day of Offset way back in September, but the other half of the review got delayed for familiar reasons. Here’s a vague round-up of who we saw on the Sunday and, er, who we didn’t. Disclaimer: my festival reviews are always kind of vague and anecdotal. I’m there to have fun, not to review, and alcohol tends to addle my poor memory yet further. Expect no setlists here.)

A lesson is learned: I am probably too old, or have developed too strong a tolerance to intoxication, to drink several crates of extremely cheap dry cider and expect to get up the next morning and run around in the freezing cold after a sleepless night in a tent. Yeah, yeah, I need a waaahmbulance to get me to the party.

I wake up about half an hour before Crocus play but it’s all I can do to inch half out of my tent and breath in some fresh air; anything more might lead to explosive vomiting (or, worse, dry retching). Bleeurgh. Some hours later our campsite is awake and there’s solidarity in suffering. We miss Holy State. We miss Brontosaurus Chorus – an extra shame since I’d previously persuaded everyone that the best way to deal with a hangover was to listen to a man playing twee pop songs on a ukelele. We miss KONG.

Eventually we drag ourselves out to see young screamo noisemakers Maths. It’s a fucking trial. I feel sick just looking at water, let alone alcohol, and I’m shivering from the cold and lack of food. Eating, of course, is right out. Surely some pure, violent, cathartic music will shake me out of this self-afflicted funk? It probably would, but too fucking bad: we’re so slow that we only catch the last song, which I’m too much of a mess to even recognise. Defeated, we slink back to the campsite to suffer, share stupid stories and poke fun at our friend’s decision to leave the festival for six hours on Saturday night to see a play by Shakespeare – “Shitbollocks” – with his girlfriend.

I know what you’re thinking. We’re fucking atrocious. We proceed to miss Let’s Wrestle.

Sometime after five we’re feeling human enough to check out The Stupids. They seem a bit of an anomaly on Offset’s bill since on the strength of what I’ve heard they’re a straight-up UK hardcore punk band – albeit fast and tight as fuck – and aren’t too well known except in certain circles. There’s only a small crowd here to watch them, which is a shame as they’ve probably been going longer than at least 90% of the bands performing here this weekend, but they’re cheerful and amicable, cracking jokes and self-deprecatingly enticing the audience to pirate their new album, The Kids Don’t Like It, to prove that the kids do like it after all. I later do download the record and it’s a decent slab of punk rock, and if it grows on me more after repeat listens I’ll probably buy it.

I try to bolster myself with a drink – more cider, though this time not our ALDI piss – before Throats. Probably for the best I do: this crushingly loud, aggressive band is not the sort of thing you want to be confronted with when feeling fragile. The tent goes fucking wild from the first chord, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s one of the craziest, most frenetic pits I’ve seen in years. There are scores of teenagers throwing themselves and each other around and clearly having an awesome time. It’s totally fucking rad. I try to stay out of the way and just soak in the brutally fast and heavy riffs slamming into me.

There’s one point where I actually feel old – and to underscore this, I’m only 27 – and that’s when one of the band’s guitarists climbs onto a monitor, throws a fist in the air, and roars “FUCK EVERYTHING!” Everyone in their teens screams approval. Everyone older, well… varies. I kind of approve of the general sentiment though I guess I’m a bit old for melodramatic slogans. That said, I’m wearing a Throats shirt which says “I still can’t believe what this world has done to me.” But hey, that I can get behind.

Ten minutes later, Scottish fight-pop upstarts Dananananaykroyd take the stage. It’s the second time I’ve seen them, and the first since drummer/voxalist John broke his arm, so by the looks of things he’s on vocals only tonight and Dana have a permanent second drummer. Or maybe that’s always the way of things; at a later show it’s singer Calum who seems to be playing with the bonus drums. A mystery wrapped inside a cipher. Anyway, the band put on a characteristically exuberant set, exhorting fans to have fun and treat each other well; “moshing is for meat-heads”. Even having seen Throats minutes before, I love the sentiment – later underpinned by the band’s trademark ‘wall of hugs’ whereby the crowd is split in two and invited to charge at one another, hugging everyone they encounter along the way. It’s a brilliant positive subversion of the hardcore ‘wall of death’.

After that we take a bit of a break and I choke down some food before heading back to the hardcore stage for Rolo Tomassi. This is the band most of my friends are here to see, their fusion between metal/grindcore that can be spazzy one moment and tech the next appealing to their oddball tastes. The band don’t disappoint, apart from a soundcheck that takes about half an hour. It seems like every time one microphone or keyboard starts behaving, something previously set up falls over.

Fortunately the band are on good form and everyone’s as eager to see them as they were Throats, if not more so. Unexpectedly James Spence seems to be covering more vocal duties than Eva today; it’s a shame as her terrifying vocal chords and lungs are a Rolo trademark, but we already know that James can roar like a bastard himself so it’s no bad thing. Despite the dodgy soundcheck the equipment mostly behaves, and the volume helps beat my slowly receding hangover further into submission.

After that we end up sat on the grass, drinking and smoking. My friends are moaning about how Rolo Tomassi should’ve headlined. I don’t despise Ghost of a Thousand as much as they do; I’m quite fond of them after seeing them play a small Brighton show years ago and picking up what I’m guessing was their first release, a DIY 2-track CD single with black artwork on black paper. Fortunately we’re sat outside the hardcore tent so I can still listen to their set despite my friends bitching. In fairness, Ghost of a Thousand’s chugging, melodic hardcore sounds uninspired after the intensity and virtuousity of Throats or Rolo, but they’re not a bad band at all.

Eventually, though, we do find something everyone likes: the world’s smallest gazebo has some disco DJs in it spinning vinyl, and a lot of very cold-looking drunk people are dancing next to it. I leave company behind and go off to explore the remainder of the festival’s evening offerings. These include a deeply uninspiring and tedious few songs from the Horrors, complete with a bona fide end of set tantrum from their singer at the crowd not liking his band more, and a couple of pretty cool funk/rock tunes from Gramme. I’m disappointed I didn’t head to see the latter earlier, actually, as their catchy and laid-back tunes were exactly what I needed.

Fortunately after that I find Gold Panda who is playing some very low-key tunes in a tent containing five people watching him and five more people talking to each other. For about half an hour Gold Panda is totally engrossed in his work, and it’s mesmerising listening to his soft, minimalist electronic songs slowly evolving over the course of their (on average) 8-10 minute lengths. There’s a common thread running through each but every element of the song gradually changes so that by the end, although it’s still the same song it seems to have changed completely. I’m impressed at both this and at his cheerful attitude after his set, despite his small audience.

After that, some boring stuff happened: it was really cold so I bought another hoodie, there was more disco-dancing, and then the DJs were stopped, nowhere sold any more booze, and we had to go back to our campsite and nurse our few remaining cans of Taurus. Fortunately we befriend some guys who have whiskey and stories about trying to pick fights with the Horrors’ singer. Good times.

Offset: top festival. Would use again. A++.

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