We were having big fun.
Everything Everything turned By The Sea festival into some kind ‘90s rave last night, flooding the retro seaside theme park Dreamland with buoyant dance-influenced bangers so jubilant that you’d never notice their doom-filled lyrics. If the Manchester art-pop four-piece’s new album, ‘A Fever Dream’, grapples with the fear and paranoia that is life in 2017, here they implored us to dance at the end of the world.
There is, ironically, a sense of renewal in Margate, home to festival for the past three years. The coastal Kent town is so cool nowadays that The Libertines recently bought a knackered B&B here; the band plans to transform it – in Carl Barat’s words – into a “a hotel, bar, restaurant, recording studio.” No wonder he and the gang are on the bill this weekend, playing the Winter Gardens venue; Pete probably wants to get a bit of plumbing done after the show.
Also performing at the third annual By The Sea 2017: south London punks Shame and HMLTD, the naughtily named choral group Deep Throat Choir, Icelandic riot grrrls Dream Wife and indie-pop faves Metronomy. Before all that, though, last night was closed by Everything Everything, who rolled out the pounding dance tunes along with the fidgety, proggy pop that also runs through their four records. Arriving onstage in matching blue jackets and orange t-shirts, the band opened with ‘Night of the Long Knives’, from the new record, with frontman Jonathan Higgs crooning “It’s a shame about your neighbourhood” over squealing synths.
The show, held at the Hall By The Sea stage in Dreamland, came with vintage footage of tourists in exotic locales; they leapt from diving boards and braved theme park rides. Screened above the bar, the videos leant the set something of a genteel feel. At times Everything Everything sounded like the oddball Los Angeles duo Sparks (see: the comically overblown chorus to ‘Regret’, with which audience chanted along). Elsewhere Higgs’ lyrics and arch croon would make Morrissey proud – only certain performers could sing, “Oh baby, it’s alright to feel like a fat child in a pushchair old enough to run,” and do so with a straight face.
Still, the performance peaked with the dancier moments. The bouncy intro to ‘Can’t Do’ sounded even more like Detroit legends Inner City’s techno anthem ‘Big Fun’ than it does on record and the venue shuddered with the stabs of synth in the killer chorus to 2015’s ‘Distant Past’. The band took us to the distant past, or near enough – a ‘90s rave in a retro theme park.