Live Review

Land Of Kings 2013

This is exactly what day festivals are about: milling about in the sun to the backdrop of pounding, pounding techno.

Herding cats is a nigh-on impossible task, the man who creates the metaphors will tell you. What he hasn’t tried is herding cats around 20-or-so fairly small and popular venues in East London set among various city streets and alleyways. Herein lies the real challenge. And it’s a challenge most of the visitors to Dalston’s Land Of Kings festival have to tackle.

Unlike most gigs, festivals, especially one-day festivals such as this, returning to East London for its fifth year, must be judged on more than just the line up. Land of Kings boasts an impressive mix of bands, DJs, short films and spoken word on offer from early afternoon to the small hours, but such is the scheduling there seems to be a strange lull up until the evening. During the afternoon the majority of people are either queuing to the Dalston Roof Park to see the Reggae Roast DJs, though the wait looks impenetrable, flitting between the smaller venues offering entertainment before the bulk of DJs kick off into the evening, or just giving up sorting out the scarcely identified venues and drinking on the street.

The announcement of the special guest, techno hero Richie Hawtin, causes a surge towards the Street Feast venue around 4pm and it hits capacity sharpish, but for those who do make it in, Richie does not disappoint. This is exactly what day festivals are about: milling about in the sun to the backdrop of pounding, pounding techno. Hawtin is a big scalp for a relatively small festival and his presence lends Dalston a buzz double the original line up had.

Next, with the night-time line ups within touching distance, the queues re-emerge. The Arcola Bar, which is to host Bugged Out complete with Riton, Skream and Unkle’s James Lavelle, has a line round the block as fans anticipate entry is now or never. Elsewhere, Chrome Hoof deliver a loud burst of gloomy goth pop to the growing crowd at the festival’s main stage. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs follows and conjures up an almighty feel-good atmosphere with the sun now set. His brand of accessible party house is a fine warm up for the DJ line ups offered across Dalston.

Unfortunately, given the scattered nature of the DJs, you only really have one chance to pick your venue. Heading up the strip of Kingsland Road where venues like the Alibi and Stone Cave are relatively untapped, the Moustache Bar is hosting To The Lazer Cave DJs, an unbearable mix of can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face smoke and frankly rubbish lasers, before Lowlife djs up the tempo ever so slightly before Clancy serves up some crowd-pleasing house. Still, very little hand-in-front-of-face vision. A few Red Stripes on the pavement later and the thrill of herding cats into small, scattered venues has lost its novelty as hoards wade into Birthdays to catch Drums of Death. At least, we think it’s Drums Of Death.

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