Located on the former site of the Heygate Estate, the 70s concrete complex that you’ll likely have seen in films requiring a gritty inner-London location (Attack the Block, Shank, Harry Brown and TV series Luther and Top Boy) which was demolished amid a great deal of controversy; Lost Rivers is the venue for 1234 Records‘ latest all-dayer. It’s an interesting space, created from a couple of huge re-purposed shipping containers as part of a complex that includes a new library along with the ubiquitous purveyors of coffee and street food. Like pretty much every previously unfashionable area of London, the Elephant is in the throes of gentrification – its towering concrete blocks having been replaced with even taller blocks of luxury flats, and the venue has been somewhat hamstrung by noise complaints from these developments leading to the imposition of noise limits, which with a line-up as fond of cranking up the decibels as this presents a serious dilemma.
Stepping in from the early afternoon sunlight, we’re met by South London three-piece Sleaze‘s hip-grinding rumble. Sleaze are funky of bass and gravelly of vocal and slink their way through a set of artful indie-punk before proceeding to dismember Robert Palmer’s ‘Addicted to Love’ and reassemble it in their own image.
Gravves‘ grungey post-hardcore racket is the first to be severely hampered by the noise restrictions, with guitar and bass neutered to the extent of being barely audible at some points. Which is a shame as despite pushing the needle towards the limits of my heaviness tolerance, their dual vocal assault and crashing drums could, in a better suited environment, be perfect moshpit fuel.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve written about Frauds in these pages over the past year or so, and today they once again show why. Combining bludgeoning punk rock, canny dynamic shifts, surreal humour and great onstage chemistry, they’re also backed by some increasingly bizarre visuals on the projection screen that covers the rear of the stage, which at one point depicts two giant, snakelike tongues which appear to be cleaning out drummer Chris’ ears, to which he appears completely oblivious.
The visuals have switched to a purple symphony of stars and cosmic rainbows for Birmingham trio Table Scraps, who scorch through a set of psych-tinged garage rock. Frontman Scott Vincent Abbott has a proper rock howl and the rhythm section hammer out a hypnotic tribal pulse for set highlight ‘My Obsession’.
Strange Cages bring a strutting, expansive psychedelic 70s rock edge to proceedings. Tracks build to full on space rock freakouts with reverb-laden guitars, throat searing screams and kit roaming fills from the loose limbed drummer.
There are few things more contagious than a band who look like they’re having the time of their lives on stage, and Thee MVPs have exuberance by the bucketload, smashing out high energy garage rock whilst bounding around the stage in one of the performances of the night.
Not to be outdone, False Heads frontman Luke Griffiths finishes his band’s set atop a precarious tower of amps. Theirs is a familiar but effective blend of distortion heavy grunge and breakneck punk that races to the end of every song.
Sisteray have been building a reputation as one of London’s most exciting new bands, and with their set of rabble rousing political punk tonight, it’s not hard to see why. Chucking in a few Britpop influences alongside the Clash-inspired spiky rock sound, a lead guitarist who is everywhere on stage at once and songs tackling the issues of inner city life in modern Britain, they are the perfect fit for tonight’s show.
And then, abruptly and without warning, it’s over. Noise complaints have been received, the lights are on and the PA is off, denying us a headline set from Deadcuts. It’s a real shame because with a line-up like this, it could have been something special but with bands fighting against the limitations of the noise limit, and the enforced early finish, we’re left feeling a bit flat. Hopefully these issues can be ironed out in what could potentially be a great addition to London’s live circuit as a time when music venues are increasingly under threat.
Review and Photography by Paul Maps