A Londoner’s dream is Offset Festival; reachable by tube (though The 405 didn’t, the Central Line in the summer being hotter than the sun), inside the compounds of the M25, and the familiar sound of gruff mockney voices inside the Essex border. Whilst at the same time remaining in a lovely location just outside Hainult Forest what feels like the last weekend of summer. And of course, there’s some bands playing and that… After an initial mooch about the site, we discover it’s probably the first festival to adopt the ‘Doughnut shape’ – six or so stages are placed close together facing outwards, with the cordoned-off ‘hole’ in the middle containing all the artists. So you can walk all the way round to back from where you came from in three minutes flat. A great challenge to play when if one gets bored of the music – though how anyone could would be a mystery. The Chapman Family are the first band of the day we catch on the Main Stage. The lively four-piece Teesiders power through some catchy modern art-punk, and certainly seem an improvement from the last time The 405 saw them at The Great Escape when kicking off the summer. The Chapman Family @ Offset Festival Whatever happened to South London’s Good Shoes? After a great album in early 2007 that provided a slice of 21st century living in a glorious wry lyrical style, not to mention lovely angular guitars, little has been heard since. Now they’re back, and after a couple of years away they sound as fresh as ever, reminding what great compact pop-gems they posses. Morden and All In My Head get a great reaction from the crowd who still remember every word. Lead singer Rhys Jones proves excellent company, jumping about and running into the photo-pit, into the crowd and geeing everyone up. He picks up one the photographers at one point and carries her around like a trophy - then squeezes the bum of a Vice Magazine photographer. A couple of new tracks are thrown in including The Way My Heart Beats, which impress on first listen – bodes well for an upcoming new album and extensive tour this autumn. Good Shoes @ Offset Festival Following on are Pulled Apart By Horses. For those that have seen them, you know what’s coming. The. Best. Live. Band. Out. There… Probably. Though there is a certain band on tomorrow who will threaten that crown. They tick every rock-out cliché – though none of the bravado feels forced, all the super-soaked adrenaline, shrieking, sweat, is 100% pure. The ridiculously large photo-pit is abused to the full extent (guitarist James Brown bemoans this, complaining he’s knackered from the journey from the stage to the crowd), rarely remaining in stage for longer than a minute, with the odd bout of crowd-surfing and speaker climbing thrown in too. But hey, what about the music you might say? E=MC Hammer is a behemoth of a track even without the live spectacle, the synergy increasing the enjoyment ten-fold. I Punched A Lion In The Throat is another highlight from a non-stop barrage of a set. Pulled Apart By Horses @ Offset Festival So manic is the set, The 405 catch up with James Brown just post the set, backstage as he tries not to be sick from the adrenaline pumping through. “I know - WATER!” he announces before rushing off. One of the anticipated highlights envisaged before the festival was Future Of The Left, but here we were wandering how the hell anyone could follow PABH. Due to stage times running short, the legendary Falco banter between songs is pretty much non-existent. This possibly left some disappointed as little interaction was had with the audience – but that would be a disingenuous attitude to hold really, Falco and co would contest that with the volume of tracks they were able to cram in in their time slot. What a selection of tracks FOTL did play, with two albums of jizz-inducing quality they couldn’t go wrong. The opening of Arming Eritrea “COME ON RICK!” sounds even better in the flesh – in fact Falco’s screaming is a thing of powerful subversive beauty live. Small Bones Small Bodies crunches it’s way into the organs of the front-row, and traditional closer Cloak The Dagger sees Kelson pounce into the crowd in a rare excursion. Future Of The Left @ Offset Festival After a run of Main Stage bands an exploration of other Tents is due, with a wide-range of music available from Hardcore (at the Hardcore Stage shockingly) to the ECC Stage which has a constant stream of enticing electronic beeps and synths emanating from inside. Inside the Loud & Quiet tent part of Drum Eyes set is experienced, which features the manic DJ Scotch Egg, a beast on all things 8-bit. The few songs we see is a total hoot with Scotch Egg is full performance art-esque form. Back to the homely Main Stage again for those art-punk stalwarts The Futureheads. It’s interesting to see that of the British bands that broke through in 2005 of the indie-art-pop variety (Bloc Party, Kaiser Chiefs etc) The Futureheads have come out the other side with the strongest reputation – which I would have found surprising had someone told me this back then. The Futureheads @ Offset Festival The hits are played for the festival crowd – of which they have a great volume of three albums in. They even play Hounds Of Love for the finale, generous crowd-pleasing folk they are. A rare outing for Le Garage is a pleasure to hear. So as a slight autumnal chill descends into the night, The 405 takes the cowardly route and head off home for the precious home comforts of warm duvets, dirty night buses and absence of tuneless folk playing Oasis songs on acoustic guitars until 4am. Sunday review coming soon… Crowd @ Offset Festival Hands up who thinks the stage is too far away... Good Shoes @ Offset Festival Metronomy look happy after a surprise serenade by Good Shoes Pulled Apart By Horses @ Offset Festival Future Of The Left @ Offset Festival Offset Festival Old school fun with an egg and spoon race Offset Festival