Body & Soul festival reviews: Day 3
Rejuvenating power of Shabazz Palaces, East India Youth and Caribou felt by festival goers
Artist: Shabazz Palaces, East India Youth, Caribou, Jessy Lanza, Of Montreal, TOKiMONSTA
Venue: Ballinlough Castle
Date Reviewed: June 22nd, 2014
By the third day of any festival, never mind one that has been as basted in sunshine as Body & Soul, a certain fatigue settles into the bones of any mere mortals in attendance – in this case, that’s a significant minority. Some festivals seek to address the problem with soothing sips of orchestral music. On the Body & Soul main stage, however, the answer is Hip Hop. To those who had tripped the light fantastic the previous night with the Mother DJ wood nymphs at the festival’s prettiest stage, Reckless in Love, this may have felt a little like an abrasive ‘hair of the dog’ antidote to a very glittery hangover.
Hip Hop is essentially studio music – or so the rule goes – so it’s refreshing to hear Limerick’s producer My Name is John & MC God Knows so vital in live performance, delivering an urgent call to action - just what the day requires.
They cede the stage to Shabazz Palaces, a more sophisticated hip hoperation from Seattle. Rapper/musician Ishmael Butler lends a languid snarl to his loose, sinewy raps, but it’s the staggeringly talented percussionist, Tendai Maraire, who may be the stronger asset. “See I’m just like you,” goes A Mess, in Butler’s rich timbre, “Got a pain in my neck, came from staring at stars.” He’s certainly got our number.
Although a committed following press to the stage for one of the best hip hop performances of the year, most people sit benignly on the grass, curious or indifferent, while the coiled Chuch, a squelchy menace on record, is utterly transformed with an intricate melodic drum into something somehow arresting and breezy. Musicianship like this is refreshing in hip hop, and it’s an instructive display for the electronic proclivities of Body & Soul: two performers pushing boundaries, not just buttons. Peter Crawley
East India Youth is one of the rising stars in London’s electro scene, thanks to his slick debut Total Strife Forever. Here he flits between huge banks of synths and singing, trashy distorted bass and a barrage of samples, loops and full throttle beats. He’s carving out a sound that’s all his own, and while the sound mix takes a while to fine tune the details, this is a strong set of intriguing music, lent a touch of class by the man in the shirt, tie and jacket whipping between his instruments. Expect this one to get better and better. Laurence Mackin
Airport traffic problems and lost bags at Heathrow played havoc with much of the later Midnight Circus artists. Jessy Lanza made it on site just a few minutes before her show, and she could be forgiven having a slightly muddy sound – she had to borrow plenty of equipment, thanks to hers being misplaced en route from London. Her extraordinary vocal didn’t always come through strong enough, but when it clicks into place the results are deeply effective. Her high, flighty R&B tones complement the glitchy spare beats and loops, with Lanza committing strongly to the tracks in an elegantly controlled set. Very stylish indeed. LM
So here we are, sympathy dancing at the front of the Midnight Arena, among just a handful of people who have arrived for TOKiMONSTA’s DJ set. Utterly undeterred by this undeservedly tiny turn out, Lee fires salvo after salvo of unpredictable samples and remixes: girl pop, hip hop, industrial, K-pop, glitch, disco, you name it. She smiles widely, operates a laptop with a sticker that reads “eat your girl right”, and sings along brightly with Wu-Tang Clan or Missy Eliott. It’s hard to decide if Lee is the picture of a straight-A student, a wicked rebel, or both. The arena fills steadily, then quickly, and as Lee pushes on relentlessly, through surging peaks and worrying drops, we are soon dancing for our lives. I mean that. I became convinced she was trying to kill us. PC
Of Montreal bring their glammed up electro rock to the Main Stage, as the sun is finally slipping down, and the anticipation is brought to the boil for the last two Body and Soul acts. The band do what they do well, cranking up the energy and theatrics as their set of catchy pop and big choruses trundles happily along. It’s not unforgettable, but it is a very pleasant way to pass an hour in the evening – especially when you’ve got Caribou to look froward to. LM
For Caribou, the main operation of prolific electronic musician Dan Snaith, the smiley Canadian has arrayed a band around him: they each dress in white and form an onstage circle which befits the motion of his music; all swirling spacious textures that finally spin outwards with centrifugal force. Snaith, though, does all the fun stuff himself: singing, adding his own precise drums to Brad Weber’s, triggering appealingly roughened samples, and cleaving to Caribou’s best record, 2010’s Swim, for most of the set and all its highlights. Leave House, Found Out, Jamelia and Odessa sound darker and more luxuriant live, electronica with warm fingerprints, and finally an incantatory Sun ends the main stage programme with an appropriate and lasting glow. This is necessary solar power. Recharged, the largest crowd of the festival retreat en masse to the later pleasures of the woods. PC