Ah, the multi-venue festival. The running across a town slash city, only to find that you miss half of everything because you’ve not accounted for the 45 minute queue to get in and you’re actually counting yourself lucky if you do actually make it inside the venue at all.
It doesn’t have to be like that, though, as Mirrors festival in Hackney proved to perfection. Four venues, all within easy walking distance. Literally the only queueing of the day was less than ten minutes to use the portaloos at St John’s Church (which we were dreading but turned out to be relatively okay).
We start our day at Oslo, at London In Stereo’s very own stage, catching a bit of Babeheaven‘s dreamy trip hop. It’s all perfectly pleasant, but it’s not really blowing out the cobwebs, if we’re honest, what we really need is something loud enough to make us worry that we’re causing permanent damage to our eardrums and fun with a capital F.
So the good news is that Martha is up next and we don’t even have to move from this spot. As the best band ever to come from Pity Me (it’s a real place) bang through cuts from latest record Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart (and a blindingly good ‘I Miss You, I’m Lonely’ from ‘Courting Strong’), there’s a massive grin on our faces and some proper headbobbing going on. Songs about capitalism might not be your average pop punk subject matter, and we might be missing the mosh pit that formed during their set at End Of The Road a bit (it’s still daylight outside, after all), but they’re glorious.
And there’s time to leg it over to the church for a bit of Bill Ryder Jones, who, on the basis of tonight, we’ve even managed to forgive for ever being in the Coral. Opening his set with a quite lovely cover of Lightship’s ‘Two Lines’, (the side project of Teenage Fanclub’s Gerald Love), it’s a choice that makes perfect sense when what follows is a sublime set of Fanclubesque indie rock. ‘Wild Swans’ ends with a fab Neil Young wig out and ‘Two To Birkenhead’ finally answers the age old question of what Pavement would have sounded like had Stephen Malkmus grown up on the Wirral.
Next up, the Allah-Las are going to bend our minds with their surf-rock-garage-rock-psyche-out (that’s a genre, right?). It’s important to note that at this point, we’ve discovered the cocktail bar at the back of the church, and had some kind of elderflower vodka concoction that’s made our head go a bit wobbly. Still, the Velvet Underground tones of ‘Could Be You’ are joyful, and even though the thought crosses our minds that they’d possibly be more suited to the glittery Moth Club than the church, both visually and sonically, we’re still busting out our best Factory dance moves in the hope that Warhol might spot us and give us our 15 minutes.
But a good festival should be about more than just cocktails and music, so we opt for a bit of spoken word over Fucked Up (because we’re a bit too wobbly for crowd surfing and scared we’ll drop people, or worse, decide to try it) and head over to Paper Dress to catch Art Brut frontman Eddie Argos. As ever, Eddie is both charming and funny, telling us all about screwing up his A Levels by deciding to base his final Sociology exam essay on the lyrics to Frank Sinatra’s My Way, being a bit too nice to be a traffic warden, and kicking Paul McCartney up the arse on his way to Cult Hero status. Inevitably, we all leave inspired to form a band (we won’t, don’t worry, I can’t even play the vacuum cleaner).
It’s time for the festival headliner, and Bat For Lashes‘ Natasha Khan might have left the wedding dress behind tonight, but there’s at least one member of the audience dressed in hers, with a bit of blood thrown down her front for good measure. Truthfully, it’s hard to find a spot where all the quite excellent cocktails and pre-halloween fancy dress excitement haven’t made the crowd a bit on the annoyingly chatty side, but the double whammy of ‘Daniel’ into ‘Laura’ seems to shut them up for ten minutes at least. Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Gypsy’ makes a welcome reappearance in the set, giving Natasha an opportunity to bust out her best Stevie Nicks, and there’s even a dedication along the way to Mother Khan, who’s somewhere in the audience tonight (possibly smashed out of her face on vodka cocktails and loudly chatting to her mates).
Due to last train issues, we realise we have to miss Parrots and various other after show shenanigans at the Moth Club, much to our distress, but we’ve had a smashing day. Mirrors Festival. On reflection, pretty damn good.