by / July 15th, 2011 /

The 1-2-3-4, London

Since its inception four years ago, The 1-2-3-4 festival in Shoreditch has become a standard on London’s music calendar. This year’s line-up sees a handful of big names end a day that is a treasure trove of fresh new sounds over three tents and a main stage. It’s cheap (£22.50), the toilets are clean and well maintained, the sun shines and everyone looks lovely. And it’s not Oxegen so we’re off to a flying start. More so than Advert, who are having difficulties on the main stage. The singer’s mic is off. It’s pretty poor, but like most of the bands on early in the day, the trio have never been on a stage that size before so we wouldn’t judge them too harshly.

One of the most noticeable things about the festival is the number of female musicians across the site. If 1-2-3-4 suggests the shape of things to come then we’re set for a radical overhaul in the gender imbalance. Rainbow Arabia follow Advert on the main stage and immediately you notice they’ve done this before. The numbers pick up and people take note. Frontwoman Tiffany Preston is flailing and wailing over a snoozy ethnic electro art-pop. Elsehwhere Novella are making bits of the crowd with a barrage of feedback from joyous enrapturing guitars and The History of Apple Pie offer carefree dreamlike songs with dirty lead guitar oozing from from them. Lots of girls playing amazing music, like it should be. There’s no girl-scene anymore. There doesn’t need to be. It’s finally not anything, just music again.

Over an ostrich burger we check out Sex Beet, one of the few familiar names on the lineup. They’re a ready to package support band for Black Lips or any current lively lo-fi/garage/pop band (Thee Oh Sees, Tyvek, Ty Segall) travelling through Europe and the Rough Trade tent is packed full of people eager to hear their take on mouth organs and ear splitting noise. It was glorious. The Fair Ohs have a bit of trouble getting the London audience moving but they play utterly exhilarating music, afrobeat jingle-jangle land-shanties.

Back at the main stage The Raveonettes arrive on stage in a blast of dry ice that quickly blows away. They’re not as mystical and cool in daylight but dusk soon kicks in and by the opening notes of ‘Heart Of Stone’ they’re in control and cool again. Songs from their new album Raven In The Grave are well received but it’s older tunes like ‘Love In A Trashcan’ and finisher ‘Aly, Walk With Me’ that seal the show.

The Black Lips were a no brainer to headline. Darlings of Vice Magazine, dive bars and any young man with a bad moustache they encapsulate the east London aesthetic of fun, booze and silly attire. As they take to the stage the mixture of excitement and all day supping on Mexican beer collides and all hell breaks loose. Beers cans and toilet paper fired by four super charged men, playing a musical car crash. Rough diamond pop songs, taken from across their back catalogue of six albums and possibly as many side projects. ‘Family Tree’ and ‘New Direction’ in particular, from Arabia Mountain are well appreciated by the small sea of formerly jaded twenty-somethings moshing and crowdsurfing like ’twere 2002.

It’s a winner all round. Well organised, well picked new acts and quality headliners and excellent value. Worth a weekend trip to London too, keep it in mind next year.