Huddled in a bandstand in East London on the very cold first Sunday of December were some brave music fans. Passers by looked on baffled. Why would anyone choose to congregate in the bandstand in Shoreditch, even with the red wine, coffee and mince pies some had brought with them making some attempt at warming the blood. Bandstand Busking, of course. Since 2008 this group of friends have been aiming to ‘bring life to unused bandstands across London’ and this afternoon was the turn of Arnold Circus.
Forest Fire, a New York based band, defy Brooklyn stereotypes by distinctly lacking a ‘look.’ Or rather, they simultaneously channel several, including 90s Mancunian luddite, a bemused Brandon Flowers and coolly off limits Velvet Underground. Their music too crosses genres, folky melodies combined with full on wannabe Led Zep style guitar riffs, crooning vocals and sonic fuzz uniting, all to make something really rather dreary.. By the end of the set I was more of a fan than at the start, but I’m not sure if this is simply due to the fact that by now I was familiar – every song sounded the same. Despite being disorded and dishevelled, they still manage to drone, and it is the overwhelmingly dragging beat and bass line that propels along the songs, rather than a visceral movement which could come from a band with so ingredients entering their music. An afternoon with this would be an afternoon in purgatory. If you are interested however, their second album Staring At The X has just been released on Fat Cat Records. Enjoy.
Lulu & The Lampshades could never be described as dull, and indeed they weren’t. Quirky, ramshackle, whimsical but yet so utterly together. There is a warmth and intimacy to singer Luisa’s voice that invites you in, but the tone and simplicity as well as the subject of the vocals (60s show Camberwell Green anyone?) ensures that their soul is never wholly bared. Although obviously playing guitars, it is the ukuleles and xylophones which form the musical nexus of their songs, and of course make for a more interesting live spectacle. Just when I was admiring the quirky coolness of the whole venture, they whipped out a typewriter. To play. And it sounded good. With their organic ambience, kitsch personality and upbeat and tropical toned rhythms, it’s hard not to warm to Lulu & The Lampshades. And Lord knows we needed warming.