Turning Point Festival - Rated!
Roundhouse, Camden - 8-10 May 2009
Unicorn Kid - "all I could think of was Scooter"
This three-day event, showcasing music, poetry, DJ’s, fashion and anything else you care to wave a stick at, has been put on by an enterprising group of London’s youngsters and spreads its creative wings far and, maybe a little bit too, wide. It’s a worthy endeavour, giving the often maligned voices of the “yoof” free rein to do as they please in one of the capital’s hottest venues and they so very nearly pull it off. There’s a storming line-up if you look beyond the crowd-pleasing headliners and always random things going on all over the place: spoken word performances in corridors, circus and dancing workshops and even a dressing up box courtesy of Topshop. A great idea, and skilfully put together, but the whole lot never seems to gel. In turn the event is a festival, community project, forum for young people, family day out and a teenagers’ drunken outing. If they can sort out these identity issues for next year then this will be a very solid addition to London’s festival scene.
Getting there and back – 9/10
The Roundhouse lies at one end of Camden’s Chalk Farm Road. It’s a two minute stroll from Chalk Farm Tube or a ten minute gantlet of dodging tourists and shops hawking awful goth-lite rubbish if you decide to get off at Camden Town. Both stops are on the Northern Line and if you don’t fancy the Tube there are countless buses from all over London stopping nearby. If you’re coming from further afield, Kings Cross/St Pancras and Euston overland stations are only three stops away.
The Site – 8/10
The Roundhouse is undoubtedly a wonderful venue for gigs and it serves its purpose extremely well for the weekend. With the main arena busy all weekend it’s always easy to get out and about and explore some of the smaller cubby holes hidden within its vast interior. There’s the Dr Martins Freedom Studio downstairs, a turfed little haven of nature in stark contrast to the utilitarian concrete surrounding it. Only problem is it, as one incredibly sweaty guitarist puts it, “it smells like my bedroom”. One bonus though, with the majority of the crowd being offensively young (well to an old bitter git like me anyway); there was never a queue at any of the numerous bars.
The Atmosphere – 6/10
This is perhaps the only thing dragging the festival down. It’s got such an eclectic mix of ages and genres that it can all seem a bit holiday camp gone wrong. This isn’t helped by the perky as they come compares, who gee up the crowd in-between acts with liberal use of the word “sick” and end up swinging dangerously towards parody territory. This could just be me though, having a good 5 and change years, plus at least three stone, on the majority of the crowd makes me feel like the outcast at some mental school fete. The later it goes on though, the more it feels like a “proper” festival, with the younger members of the crowd slumping against the wall in true “festival casualty” fashion, knackered from screaming at someone I’ve never heard of.
Music – 8/10
A urban heavy line-up dominates the Saturday’s afternoon, with Biggafish Presents… getting things moving in the main arena and in the Yard area, including some smooth synchronised dancing to the ‘Migraine’ and the ‘Stupid Skank’. Tinchy Stryder is the first act to unite the ages, with youngsters down the front screaming his every move, while a man looking like a melting wax version of David Cameron nods his head approvingly near the back. Other heavy hitters The Noisettes round out the night in funky style and come on like a great M People from a parallel dimension. On the Sunday things take a much more laid back approach, with Ebony Bones and VV Brown keeping it upbeat all afternoon as they soundtrack fashion shows from up and coming British designers.
Pulled Apart By Horses – 9/10
The Leeds four-piece tear apart the Freedom Studio with an astounding, punishing set that is high on drama and energy. The lead singer jumps from the stage three songs in and throws up Nando’s onto the grass between his feet, before chasing a preening twat wearing sunglasses with his guitar, which somehow ends between the preening twats legs. All this and they don’t miss a beat. Double kick drums and riffs bigger than The Roundhouse put everyone else over the weekend to shame. With songs like ‘Big Balloon’, ‘The Lighthouse’ and ‘E=MC Hammer’ they should rule the festivals this summer.
Agaskodo Televerek – 9/10
Thrash metal with surf riff breaks fronted by a woman coming on like the love-child of Yoko Ono and that girl down the well in The Ring, what’s not to like? See. This. Band. Now.
The Pipettes – 8/10
Smooth dresses and smoother dance moves made The Pipettes a great way to close the festival, good old fashioned fun with a lovely modern twist.
Natty – 8/10
Laid back vibes and winning ditties like ‘July’, ‘Bedroom Eyes’ and ‘I & I’ get the crowd chilled out nicely after Tinchy Stryder. Undoubtedly the feel-good set of the weekend.
Cinnamon Antics – 7/10
Playing the tiny Café Stage, this two-piece were a pleasure to stumble upon. Consisting of a guitarist who looks like he should be in a young Motley Crue tribute band and a singer with an unforgettable yelp, they made a lovely racket. Backed up by four mesmerising dancers rocking ‘Granny Chic’ so hard it hurt they were enchanting and intriguing in equal measure.
Unicorn Kid – 3/10
OMG WTF???!!! See I’m down wit’ it, whatever it may be, but I just did not understand this Scottish producer at all. Maybe it’s like them mosquito things that scare kids out of shops but can’t be heard by people out of their teens, I just can’t hear his genius like I can’t hear their loud pitched whine. Maybe I’m missing some refined techno wizardry at work here, but for the life of me all I could think of was Scooter. That was it, Scooter for Tweens. The kids were going completely mental though, it was like being at an illegal rave. Only with Scooter. And Tweens.
A special mention must go to the large gathering of teenage boys who spent a good chunk of Saturday leering over a balcony and hollering at any passing female, they were even banging on the walls and yelping like love-sick cartoon dogs. Misogynist? Yes. Crude and offensive? Yes. Funny as fuck? You bet.