Underage Festival, London
When I took my place amongst what appeared to be a never ending line of ticket holders I must admit I was apprehensive. I had seen more House of Holland t-shirts in the last hour than I had in any over priced London boutique. "Cause me pain Hedi Slimane" was getting on my nerves. Agyness Deyn I can forgive but loud mouth sixteen year olds talking about the dads brand new Sat Nav was a step too far.
As almost every promoter in London walked up and down the queue trying to get me and everybody else to, amongst other things, appear as an extra in a hair commercial and take part in a brand new BBC reality TV show that documents serious relationships between teens on holiday (a great opportunity I am told) .
Considering this underage festival was the brainchild of fifteen year old Sam Kilcoyne who has been organizing underage club nights in London for around a year it was all remarkably well orchestrated. He was inspired to create underage club nights as he was unable to see his favorite band the Horrors as all the venues were over 18's only and he was petrified that he might only be able to see them play in large arenas. (If you've heard them you'll know that that fear probably wasn't well founded). But with a little help from dad ("a music industry veteran") Kilcoyne was able to book the Horrors for himself and spitefully declare it was now under 18's only.
As the website had stated that every ticket holder was going to be searched and forced to write a contact number on a piece of paper and wear it around there neck I was expecting to see 5,000 Paddington bear look a likes. However I think this was just said to calm nervous parents. It still took an hour to get inside, so I ended up missing all the freebies except for a few plastic pens.
I caught the last 5 minutes of Laura Marling's set. If you're unfamiliar with her she's 17 and came from Reading to London with nothing but "a guitar and dreams" (cue cringe). Some of her songs make a refreshing change from most female singer songwriters based in London though putting on her sunglasses because she "can't see any of you" had the largest cheer and I guess that sums it up.
After seeing literally thousands of "I Was A Cub Scout" stickers I decided that it would probably be a good idea to check them out. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found, a highly likeable band with some pretty good songs that are great to dance to. "Pink squares" is their best song and will be released as a single some time in September.
As well as big bands in the indie world including the Rumble Strips, Vincent Vincent and the Villains, Tiny Dancers, Mumm Ra (who faffed around so much their set was noticeably shorter than it deserved to be), Underage Festival gave smaller bands the chance to shine. Unfortunately most people stayed away from the bands they hadn't heard of and missed some of the best new music. Tiny Masters of Today (above) were without a doubt the best new band. They had been name checked in most of the newspapers but still only attracted about 40 people.
There were the bands that you had forgotten existed including the Mystery Jets and Boy Kill Boy whose performances reminded you of why you had forgotten them. Jack Pe?±ate, everyone's lovable posh indie kid, attracted a large crowd perhaps because he has just had a number 7 hit. People sang along the wrong words to "Torn on the Platform" getting daggers off his die hard fans.
The Young Knives and Patrick Wolf were on at the same time so I was forced to run from one stage to another. Patrick Wolf described Underage as "like playing in a concentration camp" as he was unable to strip or jump into the crowd. However the audience loved him, chanting "Wolfie" between every song. Magic Position was the best song of the festival.
Underage Festival is exactly that, it's just an underage festival. While both the idea and line up was good. You can't pretend it was anything groundbreaking. The amount of coverage it got was amazing including slots on prime time news and double spreads in almost every newspaper and magazine in the country. It was relaxed and had all the sophistication of the Proms. You can't get away from the fact that it wasn't a small independent event - it had some major sponsors (including myspace and converse). It's not the start of a revolution or anything more than fun but who knows what could happen. The "youthquake" movement was founded on the same type of principle. But for now Underage Festival allowed talent to flourish.