Alexandra Palace is one of those peculiar London pleasure spots that doesn't feel like it's in London at all. They feel above and beyond the city, where the air is breathable, the immediate skyline uncluttered, and the sounds of the city muted out. It's a point of omniscience, outside and inside the city simultaneously; a lavish venue that oddly befits I'll Be Your Mirror (and is generally worth a visit if you enjoy views and gardens and generally nice surroundings.)

I arrived a little late - because I'm terrible at travelling on trains 100% of the time - but fortunately managed to catch the final, psych-punk waves of Brooklyn based two-piece, Prince Rama, whose tone, falling just the right side of sleaze, set the evenings groove in motion.

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By the time I'd inhaled a burger and nosed around the venue to get my bearings, it was time for Dirty Beaches. I'm a big fan of the stuff on record, a sucker for the cinematic, noir-step soundscapes, but it felt fairly underwhelming played out live. There's no doubting that Alex Zhang Hungtai, the slicked-haired man behind the name, made for an endearing watch, as he writhed and pumped to the beat, but I could only handle a small dose. It's the kind of thing you need to lose your head to, and I think I was too bloated on burger to appreciate.

IBYM-Yeah Yeah Yeahs

IBYM-Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Luckily, over in the main room - by which I mean the ridiculously grandiose central hall - Black Lips were playing out their psychedelic, cool-dude garage punk. It was a whole different kind of energy, with raucous solos, inconsistent, slurred lyricism - that's somehow complimentary - and intermittent helpings of fuzz. I'd heard rumours of the lead guy occasionally pissing into his own mouth and spitting his exploits into the audience, a myth both grim and cool simultaneously, but, alas, no urination today, just boring old music.

To fill you in, the event was set over two main stages - The Panorama Room and the main hall - the former (where Dirty Beaches played) a low ceilinged, well-veiled conference room, and the latter a huge, stadium esque set-up in the grand hall, complimented by great, ornamental stain glass windows and grand arches. There was also a cinema, consistently over-busy bar and various food vendors - including the infamous chunky chips stall, which appears at just about every large festival ever. The whole event was peculiarly festival-like in feel, despite it being in held in such an ornate, age-old building, only lasting a day and void of grass, mud or the general outdoors. But people were merry, hair was let down (metaphorically and no doubt in some cases literally) and the sun, if you sat out on the veranda-come-smoking area, had a very lovely hat on.

IBYM-Yeah Yeah Yeahs

The Locust were one of the days utter highlights. They were literally insane, dressed head to toe in weird lycra suits and playing out super intense, over-emphasised prog rock that caused part elation and wonderment, part uneasiness and upset. I'd never heard of them before but now have a firm and lasting memory. All the members were exceptionally talented on their respective instruments, and the incredible irony was, when all together, it was a centreless whirlpool, almost void of any instrumental distinction (in the best way possible).

We played Bowie Bingo, presented by a David Bowie look alike who looked nothing like David Bowie. He kept reeling off politically dubious statements in loose reference to obscure points in the musician's career, and said every number way too fast.

IBYM-Yeah Yeah Yeahs

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion were spectacular, a band whose influence no doubt worms its way into the output of just about every modern artist working within a similar genre. I'd only listened to them briefly before, and I'm glad I got the chance to be introduced properly.

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs brought it all to a resolute end with one of the best shows I've seen in along time. Beginning with excerpts from the new album - 'Sacrilege' and 'Mosquito' - they wound their way through a sizeable back catalogue, fans pretty much keeling over at Maps opening guitar wail and the instant energy of 'Gold Lion'. Someone should probably check Karen O's DNA for some kind of alien strain because she's far too enigmatic to be human. Equally, Nick Zinner isn't earthly either, his face so coolly unphased, and his hands so feverishly agile.

The evening was special, no doubting. The calibre of acts was fantastic, and seeing them all together, under the same, ornate roofing, a rare, rare occurrence. All in all, it was a ball, the perfect way to break in the festival season, making way for what promises to be a pretty wild summer.


Dirty Beaches

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IBYM-Yeah Yeah Yeahs


The Locust

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IBYM-Yeah Yeah Yeahs


King Khan and the Shines

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IBYM-Yeah Yeah Yeahs

IBYM-Yeah Yeah Yeahs


Prince Rama

IBYM-Yeah Yeah Yeahs

IBYM-Yeah Yeah Yeahs

IBYM-Yeah Yeah Yeahs


The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

IBYM-Yeah Yeah Yeahs


The Field

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs

IBYM-Yeah Yeah Yeahs

IBYM-Yeah Yeah Yeahs

IBYM-Yeah Yeah Yeahs

IBYM-Yeah Yeah Yeahs