A rock and roll force to be reckoned with at Alexandra Palace

I Will Be Your Mirror 2013 review

published: Wed 8th May 2013

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Saturday 4th May 2013
Alexandra Palace, London, N22 7AY, England MAP
£59
daily capacity: 10400
last updated: Tue 16th Apr 2013

Continuing in the tradition of ATP music festivals curated by famous bands, 2013 saw the YeahYeahYeahs bring together a motley collection of bands under the I'll Be Your Mirror banner. Looking around the festival, it did seem a little smaller in size over previous years, though the line-up for both the Main Hall and nearby Panorama Room promised plenty to keep everyone busy over the bank holiday Saturday.
The Field
Starting off the day and walking in on The Field's live ambient house jamming provided a good introduction into the evening's live music events. Three musicians playing with intense concentration, their set featured droning synthesisers accompanied by live drums and guitar playing to create one large evolving soundscape of strangely compelling rhythms and spacey sounds, subtly shifting from one track into the next.

This was in contrast to the other band at the same time, King Khan And The Shrines, playing their characterful brand of catchy garage/psyche rock to a packed out Panorama Room. Wearing little more than a tight pair of spandex pants and feathered headgear, King Khan is quite a striking front man whose band clearly enjoys their craft. By making use of the small stage and intimate environment, the band got everyone dancing despite it only being the mid-afternoon and culminated in the organ player surfing on top of his organ, held up by the jubilant crowd on the final number. It's this stark contrast in musical styles that is testament to the variety of bands that IBYM showcases and it was good to see that 2013 is no exception.

Black Lips
Moving onward and back to the Main Hall, Black Lips opened up the evening proper with their brand of American rock and set the tone for the rest of the day's bands. Having mellowed out considerably from their earlier and chaotic gigs, Black Lips are still capable of putting on a decent show with a selection of Mid-West rock and roll numbers from across their back catalogue. It was also good to see members of the K-Holes from earlier in the day join in, a sort of impromptu collaboration that this kind of event benefits from to create unique musical moments.

Following on after came The Locust: a band with a unique stage presence on account of their black leather locust outfits . The absolute antithesis to the Beatles, their music is comprised of short bursts of manic metal playing with the volume permanently turned up to 11. No sooner had one song begun than it had ended, with scarcely five seconds to catch your breath for before the next started up. Perhaps the most bizarre group of the day, I couldn't find the cacophony of sound appreciable and could only stand a few minutes before being driven off to seek something a little more musical. Impressive and unique, but certainly not my cup of tea.

Dirty Beaches
Meanwhile in the neighbouring room things had moved on from the dark, syncopated beats and menacing guitar strums of three piece band Dirty Beaches to more reggae-inspired vibes. Despite a significant delay before coming on, sound system heavyweight Jah Shaka's DJ set of solid reggae and dub together with live vocal toasting and turned the darkening Panorama room into a sea of grinding dancers. His set was a complete curve ball in the line-up and the atmosphere was such that everyone seemed oblivious to whatever else was going on at the festival (not that anyone didn't seem to mind!)

Of particular note during the day were The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, which as it turns out was the perfect name for the band. Wasting no time in getting started, the three piece band opened strong and continued with a set of catchy blues numbers with a rock influence – think of some of Hendrix's tracks together with roaring vocals and tempo changes and are you half there. A real treat for rock and roll fans and a great way to open for the main band of the evening.

And what of the headliners themselves? The Yeah Yeah Yeahs certainly drew a large crowd and performed a colourful show to finish up the day, selecting a mix of older hits and material from their newly pressed album to play through their set. Their reputation promised a rock group playing to a high level and the band delivered as much as was expected, with front girl Karen O's lively dancing and singing matching her wild stage outfit to the delight of the crowd across the hour long set.

Whatever the thoughts on the bands individually, the whole festival was a brilliant showcase for the multiple styles of rock, be it thrashy metal, cool rhythm and blues or catchy indie; proof that the genre still has plenty of life in it. While the Yeah Yeah Yeah's certainly lived up to their hype for a good live show, it was also the fantastic selection of largely unheard-of supporting bands and their contrasting musical styles in the Panorama room that provided excellent alternatives to enjoy and is proof that the bands you like have good taste in music.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
review by: Chris Smout

photos by: Chris Mathews

Saturday 4th May 2013
Alexandra Palace, London, N22 7AY, England MAP
£59
daily capacity: 10400
last updated: Tue 16th Apr 2013


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