There are some nasty hangovers in the State camp this morning, thanks mostly to photographer Claire Weir who announced at the last moment that yesterday was her birthday. In these situations partying is compulsory so it’s with throbbing heads and churning stomachs that we force our eyes open and go into action today. Thankfully, the good folks at Europavox have decided that us media types are worthy of a free lunch which helps to restore some shape and form to our destroyed souls, although we respectfully decline the offer of wine whilst mentally calculating the shortest route to the bathroom.
Bodies have recovered sufficiently in time for the first act of the day, which is 18 year-old Anja Plaschg – otherwise known as Soap & Skin. Such is the interest in her appearance that there’s barely room to move in the venue by the time she takes to the stage. With just a piano and a laptop to play backing tracks, the young Austrian singer takes her place to perform songs from her debut album, Lovetune for Vacuum. Dispensing with crowd interaction in favour of dramatic pauses and intermittent moments of darkness between songs, she bewitches the crowd with the haunting airs of -Thanatos’, -Spiracle’ and -Marche FunÃ©bre’ – songs that not only root you to the spot but also send a shiver down the spine.
The blurb may say that Underwater Sleeping Society set out to create a ‘wall of sound’ but we’re certainly not in Phil Spectre territory here. Listening to the band performing -Accidents’, -Silence Teaches You How to Sing’ and -I Saw You at My Funeral’, there’s nothing to suggest that this is nothing other than the usual indie fare. For the most part their set is underwhelming but it does have flashes of inspiration, mostly in more serene moments like -Counting Stars’. Still, that doesn’t redeem their use of cringeworthy lines such as ‘I had an accident with a gun.’
Emily Loizeau, on the other hand, does not disappoint. Her disarming manner and the laid-back nature of her show has the entire audience sitting on the floor but she has their full attention as she strolls leisurely through a set that includes -Pays Sauvage’, -Fais Battre ton Tambour’ and -Jalouse’. Her rendition of -Sister’ includes a significant and altogether heartwarming piece of crowd participation when she enlists the fans to provide the jaunty whistles while she sings. It all makes for a nice warm fuzzy feeling in our tummies and it helps makes Loizeau’s performance one of the outstanding moments of the festival so far.
Bloc Party’s stop-off at Europavox is the second gig on their summer festival schedule and their appearance has been one of the hot topics of discussion over the past couple of days. -Like Eating Glass’, -Flux’ and -Ares’ all make their way into the set and encourage an enthusiastic response from the crowd, who dance and crowd-surf their way through each song. Perhaps not surprisingly, the audience has saved most of its energy for -Banquet’, which arrives at the midway point. The strangest aspect of the night, however, is the omission of -One Month Off’ from the setlist but the fans are more than satisfied with what they get.
As the night draws to a close once again, the State crew can be heard making bold statements about ‘not drinking anymore’ and ‘having an early night.’ In the end, though, the inevitable happens and a small group of Irish people can be found in a festival tent dancing to New Order and singing along with House of Pain. Some things never change’¦
Photos by Claire Weir – click to enlarge.