Live Review

The Apple Cart 2012

If Apple Cart wrote a book, all of its festival peers would be taking a leaf from it.

Fledgling Apple Cart is the infant of the London festival scene, having sprung up in Victoria Park for the first time just last summer. This one-day East End affair is still learning to walk, which makes it somewhat of an anomaly; billed as a family-friendly festival, with some touting it as a hangover cure for Field Day, we were plagued with questions about this fruity offering. What we found after throwing ourselves headfirst into the Cart was a hearty mix of music, magic, cabaret and comedy that makes you feel like you’ve had a well-rounded entertainment experience. If Apple Cart wrote a book, all of its festival peers would be taking a leaf from it.

Despite the festival sitting on the same day as the Diamond Jubilee, the turnout was better than the previous year’s (according to an accompanying friend), with the site having expanded and additional tents added. Those still wishing to partake in royal pageantry were catered for, with corgi crufts and flag-waving time trials on the bill, with bunting aplenty. We’re sure that if the Queen had had a bit more time on her hands she would have swung by for a cider and a spot of dancing.

Here are DIY’s favourite sets from 2012’s Apple Cart:

Penguin Café – The Spinning Wheel Stage
With the Spinning Wheel Stage running half an hour late and the band’s set peppered with sound issues, it would be understandable for Penguin Café to be sharing a few pained looks. However, despite a few technical and timing difficulties, this nine-piece band play a spellbinding set without so much as a raised eyebrow. Their set fuses the beautiful sounds of Penguin Café Orchestra with their own, weaving their melodic magic through tracks such as the heart-warming minimalism of ‘Perpetuum Mobile’ and the lovingly disjointed ‘Telephone and Rubber Band’.
The array of instruments onstage is staggering: violins, a cello, ukulele, a quarter-size keyboard with what appears to be a feeding tube fusing one end of the instrument and the player’s mouth; and that’s just what’s in our eyeline. One of the wonders of a PC set is picking up a sound, scanning the onstage paraphernalia and trying to pinpoint exactly where it’s emanating from. Truly magnificent.

Piff The Magic Dragon – Cabaret Stage
Whilst wandering aimlessly between tents, we discover a man dressed in a dragon suit, thrusting a chihuahua above his head towards a rain-soaked audience. The first thing we do is decide simultaneously that this is the most surreal thing we’re likely to see all day (and this is after entering the Fairy Tales tent, where children can dress up as their favourite film characters). The second is to step inside the tent and enter the world of Piff - the deadpan dragon who has a penchant for card tricks, female audience members and small dogs dressed in shiny green jackets. Good fun, although some jokes are a little dark for a family-friendly audience.

Marques Toliver – The Spinning Wheel Stage
Having been monumentally drenched by Ye Olde Great British Weather pretty consistently throughout the day, the chances of me multitasking come 7pm are verging on the wrong side of 10%. Therefore, the sight of Marques Toliver taking the stage and blowing us away with his vocal/violin combo is even more spectacular. This former busker’s blend of neo-classical musicianship and soulful harmonies reinforces our good vibes surrounding Toliver, with melancholic beauties ‘White Sails’ and ‘Charter Magic’ our personal highlights.

DIY’s Apple Cart playlist:
Penguin Café – Perpetuum Mobile
Kid Creole & The Coconuts – Annie, I’m Not Your Daddy
Beth Jeans Houghton – Dodecahedron
Marques Toliver – White Sails
Penguin Café – Telephone and Rubber Band
Gaz Coombes – Whore
Josh T Pearson – Woman, When I’ve Raised Hell
Lianne La Havas – Forget

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