On Blackheath – A Preview

Art & Culture

For anyone unaware of the Blackheath area of the Lambeth Borough, which will be most who fear going south of the river, it’s the Hampstead of the South, yummy mummies, foie gras in the local newsagents, farmers markets and content graphic designers and the exotically named children aplenty.

OnBlackheath has worked hard to get to this point, the festival was originally mooted as a possibility in 2011 but the Heath fascists and various politicising by local councils has led to numerous postponements, The 2012 Olympics being used as a reason twice.

So in 2014 it is finally here and has received resistance in some parts, indignant locals complaining about the lack of access to the Heath or the lack of free or heavily subsidised tickets, these being the very people who will say how much a shame it is if the organisers eventually say fuck it, it's not worth it or move it to an area where the locals are more receptive to cultural events on their doorstep.
There has also been issue with the ticket price, initially over £60 per day, this has been gradually chipped away and they have conceded to local opinion and done things such as allowing kids of a certain age for free. The price issue was a valid one, you could get into London festivals such as SW4 festival to see massive DJs such as Deadmau5, Seth Troxler and Maceo Plex, or Field Day to check The Horrors, Pixies and a huge amount of upcoming indie bands.

But this is the inaugural event, some things have been put right along the way, but festivals and having a good time aside, it's also a business. So onto business, much has been made about the headliners (Big shout to Grace Jones and Massive Attack obviously), so we're not going down that route, here a bunch of acts that aren't getting coverage that you'd be much better rewarded seeing over indie bores of yore such as Athlete.

TOY are the best live act in the country bar none. You can keep your 2 bit cabaret act of Alex the tax dodger and his Arctic Monkeys, forget your failed Freddie Mercuryisms of Muse, Biffy Clyro, yawn.
This East London based five piece originally hailing from Brighton have released two albums of krautrock, shoegaze, psychedelic indie pop. They excel in grinding 8 minute musical journeys, they wail and thrash about as their instrument of choice takes them over, they are the heaviest band on the line-up and will be the absolute highlight.

Radiophonic Orchestra.
Not the original members obviously, major players Delia Derbyshire and John Baker are playing with circuit boards in the sky. Responsible for endless soundtracks and incidental music commissioned by the BBC (including the Dr Who theme tune), they rebooted a couple of years ago and have thrilled those lucky enough to catch them. To experience a genuine piece of UK music heritage, they are a must.

Joe Goddard
He’s just billed under Hot Chip, but with his project with Raf Daddy, The Two Bears about to drop their second album, this will hopefully be as mental as their Park Stage DJ set at this year’s Glastonbury. If that’s the case, expect people dressed in animal suits, a bunch of guys in drag whose facial hair makes Conchita Wurst’s attempts look like the pubey tache you grow when you’re thirteen, oh and bunch of chunky house tracks that will will either freak or enthral those who are lucky enough to catch his set.

Jagwar Ma and Steve Mason.

A case of ‘nu’ baggy and old, Australian trio Jagwar Ma have become a UK festival staple with their ass shaking brand of beat driven indie pop, think Happy Mondays, Primal Scream and mid-nineties Chemical Brothers, tracks such as ‘Save Me’ and ‘The Throw’ can’t fail to get even the straightest of edged people cutting some serious rug.

Steve Mason, who will always have –ex of The Beta Band attached to his name (until the reformation). Since their split Mason has toyed with introspective electro, pastoral folk and electronic indie, his last album “Monkey Minds in the Devil's Time”, produced by uber-producer Dan Carey, is Mason at his very best, not to be missed.

Giles Peterson and Don Letts.
If you need us to explain the sheer greatness and importance of these two people there is something seriously wrong with you.

As festival season draws to its annual conclusion, is Onblackheath to take over from Bestival as the unofficial festival season closer? Only time will tell.

Chris Todd