“Sorry, haven’t got a clue mate.”
These were the words musicOMH kept hearing over and over and over again at Cross Central when we tried to quiz mashed punters about whose DJ handiwork we were all dancing to. Even the people with the timings card fastened round their necks, bobbing up and down in sync with their own lame dancing, didn’t seem to know – or care. Of course the point is that, really, it didn’t matter.
Cross Central retains a unique atmosphere among festivals where the greatest pleasure is slipping from room to room, catching a few great songs, joining the throng and then sodding off next door to cock an ear at what’s going on there. It’s compact, cool and on the gorgeously blistering Bank Holiday Saturday evening it’s a pretty fantastic place to be. There’s no long trawl between stages either, so you can easily divide your loyalties and flit around at will.
But there’s a sting in the tail: this is the last one to be held at the atmospheric Goods Yard just north of Kings Cross station – yes, they’re demolishing Canvas, The Cross and The Key to make way for flats for suited and booted city boy idiots. More’s the pity.
The fact that it was the final flourish made this year’s bash a vast improvement on last year’s. They wanted to go out with a bang and although they couldn’t match last year’s disciple-like headliners Hot Chip, there was still much to admire. Last year of course, half the planned bands and stages never materialised.
In the main room at Canvas, electro-indie lads Goose served up a feast of Belgian bangers flavoured with a Soulwax crossover sensibility. Next door, big beat maestro Soul Of Man did the business too, as did A Skillz, James Zabiela and DJ Noize, cutting and mixing rapidly for the Attention Deficit Disorder generation.
Until 11pm no-one could be bothered with Mr Scruff in Canvas Studio 1 – he cut a forlorn figure until later on when people arrived on the mistaken promise that tea and cakes were being ponied up to the masses. They came, then they saw, and ultimately yes, they danced. Downstairs was the grime dungeon, with a plethora of well-dressed, well-to-do middle aged white men strutting and lurching to the sounds of the street and trying to chat up Vice Magazine-reading hipster girls.
Inspired promoters and DJ tag team Adventures Close To Home had their own tent in the courtyard where they gave us the likes of Lo Fi Fnk and Metronomy live. Fresh faced urchins Friendly Fires went down a storm with their Rapture-apeing cowbell-fuelled schtick.
But best of all – and we are loathe to say this – was the Queens Of Noize-curated Canvas Terrace. Despite being overseen by the female David Walliams and Matt Lucas of Camden AND featuring the “skills” of dosy deck hand Peaches Geldof, it was great up there. It had paper lanterns strung up to turn it into a Japanese Geisha Garden and quite honestly at that point in time, with the view and the weather and the excited al fresco crowd we could think of no better place to dance in London. What a shame then that it’s all over for the Goods Yard. Cross Central will be back in a new venue next August though.