Live Music + Gig Reviews

Loop 2009: Day 1 @ Various Venues, Brighton

11 July 2009

Loop 2009: Fever Ray

Loop 2009: Fever Ray

The third annual Loop festival hasn’t even begun before we’re presented with something of a hitch. A biblical storm has descended upon the English coast and the outdoor stage in Brighton’s electronic and alt music festival has been shifted indoors to avoid any damp punters.

It’s a disappointing beginning, but not one that keeps the festival goers away. They greet Zan Lyons with a warm reception in his lunchtime slot. Having been around for over a decade releasing the best in ambient noise, there is a loyal contingent who remain hushed throughout the brief hypnotic onslaught and it proves to be a perfect start to the day.

Casiokids offer some Passion Pit-lite ditties over at the Dome, but it falls flat thanks to poor sound. So it’s down to Sian Alice Group, who deliver gorgeous droney indie fayre from a similar vein to Low. As the rain continues to patter outside, there’s something heartening to witness this quietly triumphant set.

Hotly tipped The xx prove a force to be reckoned with back in the Dome with one of the day’s biggest crowds, with a searing Basic Space getting the first real dancing going but a lack of material sees them trudging off shortly afterwards while Man Like Me still carries out his half camp, half macho routine to a tedious amount that the audience fail to care in the slightest.

It’s the role of NYC’s Telepathe to deliver the first real WOW set of the day. Stood sternly behind their mixing desk they scream, pout and spit into the microphones with ferocious intensity with So Fine sounding almost like a chant. It comes as such a shame when they’re forced to stop just 20 minutes in because this easily could have grown into the day’s highlight, especially when Mirrors, who follow, are given a lengthy time slot they sorely do not deserve.

Local talent We Have Band bring our spirits back though and the band, who once appeared stiff and awkward onstage, come out all guns blazing tonight and it’s touching to see them so pleased with how well they go down. That We Have Band aren’t already selling out venues three times this size is pretty criminal, but their sheer determination and tension onstage ensure this will not be long coming.

Kompakt Records’ minimal techno hero The Field appears at a stupidly early hour. Axel Willner’s second LP Yesterday And Today disappointed some fans, but in the live spectrum it’s been built into something very special indeed, with The Cocteau Twins-sampling The More That I Do packing a lot more of a punch than it does on record. It’s more scheduling woes that put a dampener on proceedings though as the set is simply something you want to hear after dark and not at dinner time as demonstrated by the crowd’s stiffness here.

Being plonked on at the same time as the legendary Squarepusher could have been an uphill task but clearly there are droves of people curious about Fever Ray, the new project from Karin Dreijer Anderssen of The Knife fame, so much so that it feels like the first show of the day that is anywhere near full. Much has been made of the stage show on this tour and the stage is littered with lamps, and the band draped in costume.

Anderssen walks on with her face barely visible, If I Had A Heart trembles through the venue and it’s a genuinely tense few minutes before things lighten up with a sing-along (!) for Seven and When I Grow Up. Anderssen says nothing to the crowd but delivers the songs with such conviction and sincerity that it becomes clear what a startling performer she is. Lasers blind the audience throughout and when the curtain falls, the response is of jubilation and triumph, the feeling that the company of a true original had just been present. Simply amazing.

The likes of The Juan Maclean and Mary Ann Hobbs go on to play DJ sets well into the night, but tired legs call for an end to a mixed but nothing less than intriguing day of music.

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More on Fever Ray
Fever Ray – Radical Romantics
Fever Ray @ Troxy, London
Fever Ray – Plunge
Fever Ray @ Brixton Academy, London
Fever Ray: “It is interesting what we find scary and what we find is beautiful. It’s very close, sometimes” – Interview