Offset Festival

Offset Festival

Wireless it ain't - introducing a proper alternative. Hainault Forest Country Park, London (August 30 - 31).

One circuit on Offset’s retro ghost train should regulate our heartbeat, and allow for the seat of our pants to dry off. We need it. For the two-pound fare, we’ll just invoice Die! Die! Die!; the NZ rabble responsible for all the gibbering, damp bodies in Hainault Forest Country Park, having thrashed through a set that sees nobody safe from torment. Frontman Andrew Wilson writhes around like an angry wasp in a Coca-Cola can, diving into the crowd of the Stage as he lashes ‘A.T.T.I.T.U.D.’ into the faces of those backing off, scared and thrilled in equal measures, hoping their tickers hold out and that no-one can spot the suspicious patches on their jeans.

This is Offset Festival, year one, the best alternative line-up of the summer. There’ll be no Ting Tings here, just 190 underexposed bands, most of which are keeping art rock’s soul a healthy colour of pink.

Before mangled-noise legends Wire close the opening night, we – and the surrounding pristine revellers in the finest of monochrome togs (colours are as welcome as The Wombats here) – will swoon to the androgynous, net-curtain-clad SCUM, who are drenched in as much spooky reverb as they are smoke from an over-excited dry-ice machine.

We’ll contribute to the biggest reception of the day for lo-fi, electronic oracle No Bra, even if the plaudits she receives are more related to her feminist confidence than her droning, inaudible ramblings. Thomas Tantrum’s Main Stage set softens all the po-faces as they take a posing time out to ‘go pop’ and chirp along with singer Megan’s angelic and endearing calls. Then Young Knives chase away the sunshine for another day, predictably as professional as their suited attire suggests, if a little boring on account of their well-trodden back catalogue.

But as day two proves, it’s not all new wave this and goth-punk that at Offset. With a scratchy, wonky cover of Nirvana’s ‘Polly’ on hand, noisy London trio Electricity In Our Homes may try their best to prove otherwise, but Black Devil (aka French godfather/inventor of Italo disco Bernard Fevre), performing an ultra-rare live set to a sardine-tight crowd, even has members of The Horrors throwing their hands up to his robot rock. That’s just before Metronomy prove to be the hit of the weekend; their budget T-shirt light show, hypnotising synths and processed computer love songs outdoing the ever-romantic Maccabees and the more-than-slightly-embarrassing Gang Of Four (mainly due to singer Jon King thrusting around like a man his age shouldn’t). Props though, they’re admittedly a band without whom we’d not have had 90 per cent of this weekend’s acts.

And with that, we end as we started – damp once more. Although this time it’s because of the inevitable rain. Or maybe it was the excitement again.

Stuart Stubbs