Daytrippin' With Canada's Finest Festival Entertainers
Arcade Fire front a day's worth of Indie perfection.
Arcade Fire / Jake Bugg / Wild Beasts / Future Islands @ BST Hyde Park
Wow, there's been a lot of money pumped into this. After many conflicting theories on the whole "cheap tickets" fiasco (was it a genuine leaked link, or a clever way ploy to sell off the rest of the tickets), you can't argue that British Summer Time is value for money; whether you bought full price tickets or the leaked £2.50 ones.
Having been to Hard Rock Calling and other Hyde Park orientated festivals over the years, BST has taken lessons from all that has happened before and evolved into what could be the perfect 'day-festival-in-the-middle-of-London-for-those-who-don't-like-proper-festivals'.
The stage is covered with a faux forest, the bars look like old sets from a forgotten Spaghetti Western (re-colour using Technicolor), there are carnival acts popping up all over the site, no dodgy burgers and questionable noodles; instead a different corner of the globe is represented finely by each and every stand. It's not cheap, but what is in central London?
You can look down at us with a snobby "I've survived ten Glastonbury's you soft southern jessy" expression across your face all you want, but sometimes you want the arena-filling artists on your doorstep with slick public transport to zoom you away from the debris left after a day's festival-ing (and there's only so many times you can take being woken up by some drunkard pissing on your tent at 3am).
Sometimes enjoying a day's worth of music needn't be an endurance test. Ultimately with any experience, it's best to leave the judgmental voice in your head at home (especially if you glance a cursory eye at the other line ups) and try not to baulk at the booze prices inside...
Proceedings kick off with the soulful electro pop of Future Islands. After that Late Show clip went viral, it seems many people are interested in a band who combine icy Synth Pop with a lead singer who looks like a young Burt Reynolds having an existential crisis mid-Yoga lesson.
It's an odd combination, open to ridicule, but once you get passed the detritus of those message board troll-isms there's something wonderfully pure about the emotion that comes from such icy sounds. Remember when Springsteen tried to get as much passion out of the keyboards he smattered on his 80's output, this is like a continuation of that, or what could have happened if the Killers had tried to discover their own path instead of doing that typical thing of any band who wants to be big in the US copying the U2 arena Rock rule book.
Wild Beasts follow with their mixture of oddities and elasticized vocals with an infectious set list. The galloping bass, spatial beats, high life Synths and vocals that aren't afraid of jumping through five octaves in a single verse, sound amazing in this field. Sometimes I do find the band is somewhat trapped by the tools they favour when making their music, but it's just so great to hear a band who are happy experimenting in their own head-space.
Dear oh dear, where do you start with Jake Bugg. I'm sure he soundtracks adverts better than most, I'm sure the songwriters he works with don't do all the work and I'm sure he is a lovely person, but the music is just so trite. He's a young lad, so maybe it's not all his design, but are the 'kids' really liking the umpteenth re-branding of Buddy Holly's back catalogue? Where's the edge?
Time to hit the bar... The field feels half full when headliners Arcade Fire hit the stage (not sure how wise it is to have a headliner of Glasto do their own headline show so soon after the televised event), but it doesn't put a dampener on the band's set. They've worked their way through the darker side of their oeuvre and are now enjoying a reinvention of sorts, and in the process collated one of the finest festival sets.
There won't be another band in the indie-sphere that will have you going "oh I didn't realise they wrote that song," whether this is because you've been listening to too many Spotify playlists (without checking the listings) or they've invaded many a advert/film/TV program's soundtrack. The big headed masks, the masses of glitter balls, the tunes big enough to get a half-filled field bouncing in unison; Arcade Fire deliver the perfect tonic for a field full of people who probably say they're fans because they think it makes them seem edgier and cooler than perhaps they were if they admitted they loved Jake Bugg...