Underage Festival 2011 review
'It remains an accomplished opening to the world of festivals for the next generation.'
Suffering from English summer weather blues, Underage Festival is victim to a dirty covering of cloud
in the build up to the day-long event created to provide under 18's a festival of their own.
The sun may have made a prolonged appearance in the afternoon, but does this event have the atmosphere or enthusiasm to compete with other events?
Cocknbullkid (5/10) largely fails in her attempts to create movement through her upbeat take on the soul genre, with many in attendance more content to lounge in the newly present sunshine than dance to her riffing synthesisers.
Next to appear are eccentric punk rockers Pulled Apart By Horses (7/10). Immediately bursting into thrashing guitars and pummelling drums, medics watch on worriedly at the first major mosh pits of the day, whilst vocalist Tom Hudson resembles a demented marsupial in his bounding around and manic screaming.
On the Topman CTRL Stage Giggs (8/10) is holding court, looking every inch the gangster in his trademark flat cap. The tent is at capacity as his adoring public scream back his every rhyme and respond with gusto to his order to “Put your straps in the air!”
Creating chaos on the main stage amongst heavily layered smoke and thunderous bass lines are Crystal Fighters (9/10), who thrash around to their own music whilst whipping up a horrendous storm of noise and limbs. An outbreak of txalaparta (a wooden percussive instrument) appears within the huge dubstep style breaks of ‘Swallow’, leaving those not pivoting frantically awestruck in a recurrent theme throughout their set.
After a short dash past stilt-wearing princesses and charity stalls, VF witnesses an orchestral triumph in Janelle Monae’s (7/10) enthralling introduction to her very own “motion picture”. An opening all the more startling alongside Viva Brother’s (6/10) Underage debut, a mediocre, jangly sounding and repetitive set only salvaged through the inclusion of several fan favourites including ‘Time Machine’ with its anthemic guitars lines.
A capacity crowd gathers at the Underage Festival Stage to watch headliners Bombay Bicycle Club (8/10), all of whom bop fanatically to both cheerfully rhythmic indie rock and acoustic folk numbers. ‘Ivy & Gold’ quickly introduces the atmosphere of a hoedown, with teens of all kin throwing themselves around wildly to the delicately constructed instrumentalism on show. Following the introduction of The London School of Samba ‘Always Like This’ is given a tropical percussive boost and an all unifying sing-along, leaving vocalist Jack Steadman beaming.
Despite lacking the drunken bravado often responsible for both hilarity and festival atmospherics, Underage remains an accomplished, miscellaneous opening to the world of festivals for the next generation. The festival couples ever energetic performances of every genre with fun fare attractions and a youth market (specialising in limited edition T-Shirts) catering specifically at those who, in the absence of sitting in the sun drinking, are wanting desperately for activities to fill their day.