The first band we caught on the Main Stage was John & Jehn, a French duo (lead singer and bass player, accompanied by two other band members). They reminded us of Joy Division, Interpol, White Lies and everything in between, but they were a nice appearance nonetheless.
In fact, they were the complete opposite of the next band, Pulled Apart by Horses, an energetic mixture of alternative rock, punk and power pop - with garage influences - from Leeds. They went crazy up on the stage – banging their heads, running all over the place – like they were playing a manic intro for Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, that was coming up later.
Before that, though, we can’t not speak of the nutty appearance that was Chrome Hoof (apparently, an equine fetish is this fall’s latest trend), a ten people band that seemed to have just dropped off a space ship inhabited by Mad Max worshippers and the grandchildren of R2D2 and C-3PO. It’s hard to define what exactly they were playing – a mixture between everything you can think of – but most people barely even listened to their music. This band is a must see live, although one show will probably be enough.
These New Puritans completely changed the atmosphere though. They were reserved, and simply played their groove based tunes (that seemed to be a theme for this year’s Offset Festival) and left, without making a big deal out of it. No weird costumes, no show. Which in itself was alright, but people had paid to see a live performance, not to listen to the same stuff they could buy on a CD.
So, when Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster climbed up on the stage, everybody went mad. Because EMBD are bad. With a bass player who looks like he just had two small children for lunch and a lead singer who probably drove the tech staff mad from all the times he jumped in the middle of the crowd, after standing on the iron fence like a Jesus Christ of rock’n roll – Eighties Matchbox play the rock that many people have been missing from festivals lately, with all the electro that’s been the center of attention in the last few years.
Right after their performance, though, Caribou calmed things down a bit – their music was danceable and somehow felt neat, but they didn’t have the show we’d expected from one of the headliners of the festival.
Nonetheless, they were a delight compared to Atari Teenage Riot, who, because of a series of delays in the festival’s schedule, came up later and had to reduce their performance to half an hour, which they played after 45 minutes of sound checks and an intro of 5. That actually turned out to be for the best, because their show a soup of running around on the stage, pushing a few buttons, aggressive screaming and weird make up – which was all fine in 1992, when they started playing and an Atari console was actually a pretty cool toy. Not now, though, in 2010, when you just have to be able to do more than some running around and screaming in a microphone to get the audience to respect you.
All in all, though, Offset was a good way to spend a weekend out of the city. Imagine a mixture of rock and electro bands, cows from a nearby petting zoo, a forest, a lake and that true festival feeling that only sleeping in a camping site can give you. What could be better?