News: 2012 Festival Round-up

Latitude Festival Image source: Commonorgarden

The clocks have gone forward and Easter is out they way... It's the time most music fans start thinking about the summer and which music festivals to go to. To help you decide here is a brief round up of some of the better ones.

It's a Glastonbury 'fallow year' meaning all is quiet at Worthy Farm until 2013. Some suggest it is down to a restriction on the number of portable toilets available within one country in an Olympic year but it seems more likely that they simply wanted to give the land a break. Normally every year with a one or a six at the end passes by without a Glastonbury anyway - after the festival last year we are overdue a 'break'!

Rearing up to fill Glastonbury's pretty large shoes are two pretty well established festivals that take Glastonbury's cue in focusing on more than just the line-up, although they definitely have those too.

First-up out of the two then (literally) is Suffolk's Latitude. Held from 12-15 July it brings music plus a lot more to the big blue skies of the East. The line-up is spectacular, with Bon Iver, Elbow, The Horrors, Simple Minds, Richard Hawley, M83, The Antlers, Chairlift and the War On Drugs providing highlights. There is much more though with poetry and literary arenas as well as a sizable selection of comedy, including Jack Dee, Rich Hall and Reginald D Hunter along with Brian Cox, Robin Ince and Al Murray turning up to present their Inifinite Monkey Cage. Very Radio Four. If the weather is good expect a blinding weekend. Get tickets here.

The other big hitter this summer looks to be Bestival 2012, which arrives on the Isle of Wight as the last major festival of the season from 6-9 September. I've not been to Bestival but rumour would suggest it is the closest you can get to Glastonbury without actually being there. The line-up may not be quite as broadly curated as Latitude's but it's almost certainly as comprehensive when it comes to the bread and butter that is music. Highlights include Stevie Wonder, New Order, the XX, Sigur Ros, Friendly Fire, Soulwax (twice, DJing and live), Justice and Gary Numan. Tickets can be ordered here.

If the big picks aren't your thing then there are still stacks of alternatives out there...

Lovebox continues to be your best option for a weekender in London. The line-up boasts Hot Chip, Friendly Fires, Grace Jones, Maceo Plex, the Rapture and Azari & III. Tickets are available here.

In the same London location of Victoria Park Field Day provides the usual selection of latest bands for hipsters - Com Truise, Gold Panda, Kindness, Peaking Lights, Rustie, The Men and When Saints Go Machine all feature on a line-up that is frankly too busy for the single day festival that Field Day is. Get tickets here.

Vintage Festival promises to take you on a trip back in time - expect vintage music and more besides. Chic and St Etienne and musical highlights but there are also plenty of DJs, including the Horse Meat Disco DJs, Danny Rampling, Norman Jay and Craig Charles - the full line-up is here. Elsewhere there will be classic cars, a vintage fashion catwalk show - coming from MAMA Festivals, winners of last year's Best New Festival award for their innaugral event Wilderness, Vintage Festival looks like it may be the dark horse of the festival season. It falls the same weekend as Latitude and tickets can be ordered here.

So there is a very non-comprehensive of some of the festivals that have me excited this year. What did I miss and where will you be going come the innevitable torrent of mud and rain this summer?

News: Simian Mobile Disco to launch Delicatessen with live set

BlackPlastic has a difficult time with Simian Mobile Disco - live they are a revelation, as DJs they are highly proficient and yet their albums, particularly their most recent offering (Temporary Pleasure), leave us cold.

When focused on making music for the dance floor though they have a way with acid and techno that few can consistently match, as evidenced by their early tracks ('Hustler', 'It's The Beat' and 'Sleep Deprivation') and their more recent instrumentals ('10,000 Horses Can't Be Wrong').

As such Simian Mobile Disco's forthcoming album, Delicacies, gets us a little hot under the collar, since it collects all of the tracks they have released on their own techno focused Delicacies imprint so far and puts them in one package.

To celebrate the duo will be performing a "Records & Machines" live set in a secret London warehouse on 26 November, featuring the obligatory CDJs with an 808, effects and of course some synthesizers. If you have never seen them live BlackPlastic would recommend it.

If you are up north you may be interested in the Simian Mobile Disco night in Manchester, where they will be taking over the Warehouse Project on 3 December with a frankly stupidly good line-up including Hercules & Love Affair, Tensnake, Andrew Weatherall vs Ivan Smagghe and Aeroplane.

More details on SMD's official site. Tickets for the London event are priced between £10-15 and are available from Ransom Note and Resident Advisor.

BP x

Live Review: Red Bull Music Academy presents 12x12

Following our recent competition BlackPlastic figured we better taste the pudding with Red Bull's 12x12 event at the Scala.

Be under no illusion - this was a made for TV production with a line up designed to present the maximum number of photo opportunities. Not that the line up wasn’t worthy or even good, but the whole concept, designed to celebrate London’s dance culture, in many ways missed the point. 12 DJs and producers each playing their biggest hit for 12 minutes with more photographers in attendance than punters makes for a strange vibe and ironically, something unlike any London club night over the last 20 years of nights that we were there to celebrate.

Forgive us for being churlish, we’re sure it looked great in the trade press and the event’s corporate veneer did mean we had unprecedented access to the stars. It also made for some compulsively bizarre viewing, MJ Cole gurning his way through an MP3 of 'Sincere' stands out - twelve minutes just about saved by the bizarreness and Cole having Nero's rather more contemporary dubstep remix of the track to fall back on.

Arthur Baker was a ubiquitous presence throughout the Scala for personal photo-ops but when he played Planet Rock you remembered why this clash of German electro and funk was so epoch-making. Martyn Ware predictably played 'Temptation', unpredictably, he played a version with a 90s Euro-dance beat and sang over the top. Just as the embarrassment got too much, like your dad doing karaoke, he saved it by playing his stylish, 80s ballad 'Let Me Go', and that shows what a good song 'Let Me Go' is.

Despite all the pretence, it was the drum and bass DJs who stole the show for the crowd by playing jump-up greatest hits sets with the night’s genuine highlight coming when Ms Dynamite joined Zinc on stage for a rip-snorting p.a. of 'Wile Out'.

We suppose 12x12 proved that the most important element of any night is something that all the DJs and crates of Red Bull in the world can’t make up for, something that Russ Abbott presciently referred to as ‘atmosphere.’

BP x

Video: Red Bull Music Academy Lecture - Trevor Jackson

BlackPlastic has to admit it knew nothing about this but as part of their annual Music Academy, Red Bull have been running a series of lectures and music events across London and whilst this is the last week BlackPlastic didn't want to let the events pass without comment.
The video above is Playgroup Tactics, one of lectures, and this one featured one of BlackPlastic's long saluted stars Trevor Jackson, the man behind Playgroup and the Output label - check it out to get his insights into graphic design and the (frankly hugely under-rated and important) Playgroup record.
If you are an artist or fancy getting into the industry there are a stack of interesting videos on the site from the likes of Kieran Hebden (of Four Tet fame) and Philippe Zdar (of Cassius). Check them out on the Red Bull Music Academy Website.
There are still a few more live events happening this week including 12x12 (12 artists, including New Order's Peter Hook and X-Press 2, each playing for 12 minutes) and the Closing Bash featuring 2ManyDJs and DJ sets from Friendly Fires and The XX.  More on the site.
To be honest one of the best things about all of this is the rather excellent collection of radio shows that Red Bull have put together. There are far, far too many to mention over on the site (which is actually an offshoot of the main site here) but you may want to start with this one from James Murphy and Pat Mahoney of DFA / LCD Soundsystem.

Enjoy - BP x.