Label Mates Festival is back and this year its hosted in Hackney’s finest venues, BSM makes the journey south to see what delights are on offer on Saturday’s line up. We head straight to Oslo early doors, where DIY labels Club AC30, Rocket Recordings and Fuzz Club Records have teamed up to offer forth a particularly appealing line up.
Opening proceedings are London’s own Black Doldrums, who recently put out an EP on Club AC30, Sad Paradise, which sold out almost instantly. This duo has been garnering attention for some time and it is no surprise to see them snapped up by the label to release the EP. Their set is comprised of songs from across their back catalogue, including ‘There Is No Eye’ from the recent EP with its mesmerising motorik beat and recent single ‘Those With A Rope Around Their Neck (Don’t Always Hang)’ which has layers of sophisticated guitar riffs interwoven around a powerful beat that drives the track. They conclude with what has undoubtedly become their anthem, ‘It’s A Dandy’s Massacre’ which has been a firm feature in their live set for some time and a fan favourite. The sound was spot on for them today and they are the perfect start to a strong bill.
Following on are label mates (see what they did there?) Purple Heart Parade; Mancunians with a hypnotic shoegaze, fuzz laden sound that entrances from the opening notes. With a somewhat changing line up, PHP have been around for some time now and it’s taken a criminally long time for a label to pick them up until Club AC30 came along and realised what a diamond in the rough they had found. The quintet are led by charismatic front man Pete Cowap who wastes in pulling the curious crowd closer. They open with ‘Petrichor’, a new track which has a riff so haunting its still in my head days later (see YouTube for some live footage to put it to the test). Their set features tracks from the recent sold out Lonestar EP put out on Club AC30, with ‘Butterfly House’, a laid back, bass groove driven number that revels in all the right elements of brit pop and shoegaze. A track that’s become ingrained into their live sets is ‘The Room’ a haunting track that builds in layers and always causes a stir live. It showcases the talent of the musicians in the band whilst wearing its influences on its sleeve. Although undoubtedly not a sound for everyone here today, the rest of the line up being a lot heavier all round, PHP have held their own and made their mark on this little gathering, undoubtedly collecting a few new fans along the way.
Kuro are a duo who make mood music, possibly better suited to film scores than main stream venues in London. They form part of the Rocket Recordings contingent of the day and are undoubtedly good at what they do, however their positioning doesn’t suit them well and quite a few people are confused by what’s going. Their performance is intense from the offset and the dark smoky room suits their sound and the noise they make. It takes some guts for them to pull of this kind of set in this environment, but they do it.
Next up are Milan post punk prodigies The Gluts, who have a sound so dark and dirty it’s a wonder anyone is still breathing after encountering their live performances. They sprung to popular attention in 2017 when Fuzz Club Records picked them up to put out second LP Estasi which was like a slap in the face from things that had gone before. Their set today is made up of a mix of first LP Warsaw, with tracks such as ‘Rag Doll’ which was also featured on a recent live session recording. ‘Squirrel’, ‘Colline Bianche’ and personal favourite ‘That’s Me’ are all riotous, reverb laden numbers that are driven by bass grooves and powerful guitar riffs; executed live they are impossibly infectious, and the entire room is soon moving along to the vibes. Frontman Nicolò Campana has a style all of his own and his relentless energy and crowd interaction is exactly what this festival wants. It’s hard to put into words a performance like this because its one of those that has to be experienced in every dimension to comprehend. My advice – go and see them for yourself.
It’s hard for anyone to follow that performance, but if anyone is up to the task its Rocket Recordings’ Hey Colossus. The band whose seven strong line up come from across the length and breadth of the country attract attention wherever they go and their inclusion on today’s bill was a huge draw for many attendees, myself included. Their set tonight features a range of songs from across their back catalogue including ‘Back in the Room’ and ‘Experts Toll’, both taken from 2017’s The Guillotine, ‘Hop The Railings’ from 2015’s Radio Static High and several tracks from 2015’s In Black and Gold, probably their most popular offering. The entire set is executed with the precision we have come to expect from the band and the crowd lap them up with enthusiasm. The signs are clear that this is a band who know what they are doing and love doing it.
Concluding Oslo’s line up tonight are Fuzz Club’s Throw Down Bones; a noisy rave duo who blend electronica with guitar in perfect harmony creating something special. They released their debut self-titled LP in 2015 and captured hearts and minds with their explosive live performances that left crowds in awe and wonder. Fast forward to 2019 and the duo have moved in a different musical direction to release II at the end of 2018 to critical acclaim. Their set tonight utilises the best of both worlds and the stand out part of the set undoubtedly comes in the form of the ‘Saturator’ / ‘We Are Drugs’ double header that sees the room descend into a chaotic mess of bouncing bodies. They are the perfect way to end the billing with a vibrating energy that permeates into the soul.
It’s a quick dash after TDB over the road to Paper Dress Vintage, where the Roadkill Records showcase is just getting underway. Currently on stage are The Sly Persuaders who offer up a tasty blend of rockabilly, punk and good old-fashioned rock n roll. I only manage to catch two songs, which is unfortunate as they are definitely interesting; one to watch out for.
The last band of the day for me falls to Déjà Vega, a three piece from Winsford who know how to play music. They play a tight, condensed set of five tracks which sees everyone in the room moving and grooving. Recent single ‘Eyes of Steel’ is always a great song live and tonight is no exception, with the packed to capacity room lapping its beats up before the uber groovy ‘Chasing’ sees a full-on dance party commence. The conclude with ‘The Test’ which has become their flagship song; another one that you have to experience live to understand courtesy of the added loudspeaker. By the time they finish there are a lot of sweaty bodies in the room and the walls are dripping, they came to entertain and they really showed London how its done.