Words - Matt Canham

Photos - Louise Graham

So on Sunday, explosive riots tore east London to shreds and left the city trembling in their wake. And on Monday a copycat riot took the already shredded shreds and re-shredded them, making a double shred phenomenon which threatened to close the city completely.


What people were really wondering, as they roamed the streets looking for an attractive police van to relieve of a window or two, was this:

How did Underage festival go?

rizzle kicks

Well, after the usual queuing, searching and freebie giveaways (notably a particularly large soft drink company, a high street woman's fashion accessory chain and a clothing company for the very top of men), Rizzle Kicks begun the days proceedings with a frantic, if late, main stage set. Seemingly running on pure adrenaline - perfect for the days pubescent crowd - they drew possibly the biggest crowd of the festival as they leapt, ground and "humped" about the stage debuting new songs as well as inventing dance techniques. And covering Jessie J, but the less said about her the better.

As is the way of festivals, Spring Offensive unfortunately clashed with Rizzle Kicks, but going on 1) the fact that spring offensive were in a tent too small to swing an amoeba, let alone any creature of the feline variety, and 2) very strong recommendations from a friend, we saw Rizzle Kicks and, well, they were a fucking brilliant beginning to the festival, even if they aren't that amazing on record.

pulled apart by horses

Pulled Apart By Horses had a tough job following them, then and they... followed them. The Leeds boys delivered their rock crunch twinged with gruff falsetto to a dramatically shrunk crowd, and although they had a sublime act of a completely different nature to match they did so admirably. Diving into the press pit, climbing the speaker stack – the predictable rock showmanship, but done well to a crowd of teens who had never heard the whole “Will you cheer anything? I found a lump on my balls” spiel before and cheered and laughed wildly as they then launched into the angry big cat beating hit I Punched A Lion In The Throat. A good set to an enthusiastic audience.

Failed circle pit 1 – three or four smug middle class fans running about and shoving each other, before stopping after an entire song's length of rough and ready fun which would be bound to upset their parents!!!

dutch uncles

So after some explosive classic rocky showmanship it was time for something slightly more obscure as Dutch Uncles took the slightly raised floor of the Artrocker tent. Dancing around frenetically, the lead singer opened their 7/8 time based pop to about eleven people as the band around him delivered a perfect set, a particular highlight being “X-O”, their Steve Reich sampling current single. And as the singer led in a flail of limbs and syllabic singing, the crowd was just filling up and starting to move themselves – just as their set ended. A real shame, as this Manchester band clearly had a lot to offer the Underage crowd.

I overheard a fan of Giggs saying “Phenomenal” “amazing” and “quite spicy” - but that was actually about his curry and sadly not about the rapper. The curry seemed a lot more appealing, as Giggs' set was bland, colourless and devoid of rice.

Another set, another failed circle pit – this one for basque dance band Crystal Fighters. Failed cirlce pit 2 – during one of the bassier songs, a slightly more impressive circle pit emerges and people get shoved back as all the repressed angst of acne and body odour are expressed in the form of jumping about a bit and falling into their peers.

crystal fighters

However, Crystal Fighters brought possibly the best light show of the festvial with them as the huge screen behind them lit up with surreal boxes and spinning lights. And the bass; oh the bass! The people in the front couple of rows got enough of a wobble to re-enact the Maxwell cassette ads but with the medieval dubstep of Swallow instead of Ride of the Valkyries.

miles kane2

Energetic Noel Gallagher wannabe Miles Kane was next on the main stage, and he somehow managed to be strutting and louche at the same time, which was impressive. His set, however, was slightly less so – although his hit Rearrange got a huge response, his buzz soon melted as the showman façade wore off and plain arrogance replaced it. But, he did deliver a musically flawless set and kept the fans busy, which worked for him.

wolf gang 2

Wolf Gang's funk rock filled out the small tent they were in and got it heaving, the overactive bassist's lurching being secondary to the charming Back to Back – a highlight not only of the set but possibly the festival. Their impressive harmony in the slower songs was tender, and the more pumped up rock of Lions in Cages closed a set showing a band in superb live form.

is tropical

So we returned to the small tent hosted by an far inferior music journal to catch Is Tropical, as they led the now half full tent in a bouncy set full of aggressive synth loops and distorted bass underpinned by fantastic dance drumming, particularly in crowd pleasing When O When. Their usual costume of a faded bandanna seemed too overplayed by the drummer, who instead favoured a t-shirt duct taped to his face – if only Miles Kane had that DIY ingenuity for his stage show.

o children

Headlining the smallest stage, O.Children brought their enigmatic goth pop to an entire 20 people. Understandably annoyed about their surroundings, the 6ft7 lead singer seemed to take up about as much space as the crowd which somewhat took the buzz away from a superb set. A new song, about driving in a PT cruiser, was sublime, as was the more well known strain of debut single Dead Disco Dancer.

the midnight beast3

For a youtube phenomenon, filling out the second-biggest tent must have been a pretty big thing for The Midnight Beast, but they carried it off with enough pizazz and onesies to justify it. Although the music was.. interesting, the stage show was undeniably impressive as they welcomed cheerleaders, party poppers, mario and lit podiums on with them. And any band who has the audacity to cover Rebecca Black complete with synchronized dancing and brown wigs either deserves a lot of respect or to be put away in a box for a long time and The Midnight Beast had enough women screaming to warrant the former.


Finally, the night's headlining act Bombay Bicycle Club, who managed to get a huge influx of people crowd surfing... during acoustic hit Ivy and Gold, and showcased a handful of new songs to the near-full tent. As Jack Steadman mentioned current single Shuffle, the crowd went mad – and stayed it as he welcomed on the London Samba Collective to add a slice of percussion and a new feelgood aspect to the fantastic Always Like This, thus making it a perfect song and a perfect way to end the festival, which was blessed with sunshine and overall really rather good - hence a complete misrepresentation of the London shredded later in the weekend. Let's just hope that it doesn't turn to triple shredding, as that is a penance suitable only for lettuce and Giggs.