Live Review

Yes Way, Sunday 15th August 2010

Upset The Rhythm prove you can get your kicks in the UK underground scene.

As promoters known for bringing the best US underground acts over to London, it’s admirable that Upset The Rhythm turn their attention to the UK scene for the now annual three-day Yes Way festival at the Auto-Italia art space in Peckham.

In the grimey setting of a disused car showroom and with a pretty hip crowd in attendance (mostly made up of the bands playing) it does have the feel of a squat party crossed with an east London gallery opening, but the cheap bar, cakes on sale in the corner, nicely decorated merch room and no clashes of set times make it a fairly comfortable venue for the event.

Staying true to their roots, Upset The Rhythm manage to bring together some of the most exciting acts on the circuit while keeping ticket prices at an affordable level. If so inclined you could pick up a three-day ticket for £18 and see all forty one acts playing across the two stages. Although I was only able to make it down on the final day, a quick scan of the line up reveals that with acts such as Munch Munch, Cold Pumas, Lovvers, Male Bonding, Hype Williams and Islet playing on the first two days you certainly get value for money.

Of course, with so many lesser known names on the bill not all the bands are going to be as memorable, or for the right reasons at least. During the early stages of Sunday there are plenty of sets featuring bad sixth-form poetry, ear piercing screams and band members who look like they’ve just picked up their instruments for the first time. Sometimes these things can work, but usually when there are decent songs to back them up.

There are a few diamonds in the rough, namely Way Through, which is made up of Chris Tipton and Claire Titley, the duo behind Upset The Rhythm. I didn’t even know they had a band but they show a lot of potential. Obviously all the exposure to the acts they’ve brought over has had a good influence, as they sound a little like an English No Age.

Ultimate Thrush take the title of the heaviest and hardest rocking band of the day and are rewarded with a decent amount of people jumping around in front of the stage. It’s a shame the crowd weren’t quite so up for the no wave hardcore of Klaus Kinski earlier in the day. Their lead singer even brought some wrestlemania theatrics to the proceedings by hitting himself with a sock full of thumbtacks and then rolling around on them.

The live dubstep-infused electro of Dam Mantle is a welcome break from the guitar bands. By the end of their set everyone is nodding along to the bass and with their indie-friendly touches that are similar to Mount Kimbie, it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re playing some of the larger festivals next year.

Representing the dreamy jingle-jangle pop revival are Veronica Falls and La La Vasquez. Veronica Falls probably have one of the most polished performances of the day and their gloomy single ‘Found Love In A Graveyard’ is a genuine indie anthem.

Higher up the bill, Runners fire out some 21st century synth-driven krautrock and Gentle Friendly put in a rare live appearance, having been off the road for most of the year. Although everyone is clearly pleased to see them on stage again, the soundsystem can’t quite cope with the crash of the drumkit behind the electro melodies, so unfortunately some of their eccentric subtleties are drowned out.

I’m still not quite sure what to make of Pheromoans, who are the last act on the smaller of the two stages. It’s difficult to tell if their English-literature-students-rocking-out act is actually an in-joke between them and their friends in the crowd, but it’s entertaining enough and with such short set times the joke doesn’t wear too thin.

Rightly headlining the main room are Plug, whose pared-back but perfectly formed post-punk is definitely the most original sound of the day. Despite having such a sparse setup (they’re just two girls: one on drums and vocals, the other on keyboard and a bit of backing harmonies) they produce complete and vital songs. They’ve grown in confidence since I last saw them and have a much tighter feel, which must have come from time recording together because I’m not even sure if they’ve played any other gigs this year. I hear that their debut album is coming out in September, I can’t wait.

With the limited space at Auto-Italia there isn’t much to do apart from watch whatever band is on, unless you want to to join the hipster fashion parade of smokers and people sitting around outside. Luckily most people are there for the music and the majority of it is pretty good. Returning to a regular routine after the festival, Upset The Rhythm will host a run of shows with mainly American headliners. But as they’ve proven with Yes Way, you can get your kicks in the UK underground scene as well.

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