Live Music + Gig Reviews

Adventures in the Beetroot Field @ Fabric, London

13 April 2006

There’s only one queue. Adventures In The Beetroot Field has sold out of tickets, leaving assorted music fans agape and aghast at the prospect of not getting in to this mini festival of new bands at Fabric. The queue is for the guest list. It is long and slow moving, and various important people are left fuming.

Fabric is a venue better known on the dance music circuit, sitting opposite Spitalfields Market. Tonight all three rooms have been taken over to showcase hip new uptempo bands. The youngsters at Transgressive essentially have their own party in room two, with something like half the label’s roster conveyor belting on to and off of the stage in quick succession. In the higgeldy-piggeldy room three it’s mainly DJ sets.

We begin our hunt for beetroots in the main room then, with the first of many bands I’d never before heard. Such is the state of play in 2006 that every week another slew of hitherto unknown chancers, usually whacking guitars, appear, strut and disappear again. Remembering all their names becomes ever more difficult. Tonight’s sets – 20-30 minutes apiece – ensured everything moved even quicker than usual, and boredom was never an option.

Shy Child were the first surprise of the night. Without a guitar in sight, the Brooklyn duo, late additions to the bill, are a drummer and an accomplice with a hand-held, Jazzie B-style keyboard. Their brand of frenetic, bass-driven thumping had the room moving within seconds of their set commencing. We’ll want to see more of them.

We thought at the time that such a high octane beginning would be difficult to follow, but Shitdisco proved up to the task, dispensing glowsticks and proceeding to create something like frenzied anarchy with an epidemic of bass and much whooping. Band members appeared on stage and left again, one jumped onto the drumkit to deliver a sermon and the asembled throng waved glowsticks at them and smiled. Disco, Jim, but not as we know it.

Squeezing along a corridoor to room two, we picked up our first Transgressive band of the night, The Noisettes. A vague suggestion before their gig, to the effect that they were Pipettes wannabes, was disproven instantly when we deduced that two of the three-piece were male and none of them wore polkadots. Their lady singer’s voice reminded of Skin in its power, but she’s not yet that developed. The closest the new wave of noisemakers have to Skunk Anansie anyway, and they’re certainly well named.

Then came the first clash of the evening. Do we stay for Larrikin Love, or switch to the main room for Forward, Russia? We decided on a compromise of half a set each and headed back to the main room to witness the latter take to the stage resplendent in their branded t-shirts. Lots of shouting and screaming ensued. There may have been tunes but we didn’t notice – nor did most of the room, which by now had formed double-speed conga lines. Heading back we caught the end of the Larrikin boys, whose smartly dressed take on the night at least made them visually memorable. Their jangly brand of rock reminded a little of Graham Coxon in places. They did enough with their calypso-rock leanings to suggest a listen to the album is necessary. And anyone hankering after a bit of Libertines-style charisma would do well to watch this lot.

More clashes followed. We shot back to the main room for The Long Blondes who, disappointingly, were neither long nor blond, although singer Kate Jackson did her best to make up for the misleading advertising. Impossibly their set was even more uptempo – obviously nobody tonight would be doing acoustic ballads – and, like Forward, Russia before them, seemed set in winning new records for decibel levels. The ensuing soup of bass drum, bass and bass feedback made lyrics impossible to hear, so off we trotted to room two again.

The Young Knives were on stage by now, and the dizzying ping-ponging necessary to see all the bands had begun to take its toll. The Transgressive room was so packed as to make entry almost impossible. Not for the first time tonight I was pleased to be tall as I checked out the wooly waistcoats and spectacles that style this band. Yet another of Transgressive’s roster, they were the most melodic of the offerings here this evening.

The Long Blondes’ set seemed to be the cut-off point. After that, those lucky enough to enjoy Ken Livingstone’s many new nightbuses were heading for the exits. But we still had hours to go. It had started to feel like days, and there was no escape. Ladyfuzz threw caution to the wind later in room two, with a sound mix that set every line to max and left little room for contemplation of their music, and our tiny minds were so packed with detail by Battle‘s set at 3:30am that we really can’t remember a thing about them.

Tonight was less a festival and more a live sampler. With so many bands on the bill, discerning one from the other was a trial for anyone not already acquainted with all the participants, but like with all good samplers (and after a good day’s sleep), we were left wanting more.

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Adventures in the Beetroot Field @ Fabric, London