Offset Festival 2008

Gang of Four, Wire, Chrome Hoof, Slow Club and more on the lone sunny weekend in August.

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Getting one of August's few sunny days was a lucky break for Offset Festival’s promoters and it made this small two-day gala a little more enjoyable than most other festivals this year. No flooded tents, no need for wellies, and only a few minor mishaps. The campsite’s generator did seem to have caught on fire in the middle of Saturday night and, and except for the couple lying by another slightly less combusting generator at 6:30 am Sunday, covered in dew and quite probably freezing to death, casualties were low.  

According to the organisers the festival was to be set in the 'beautiful' Hainult forest just half an hour outside London. But most revellers knew that this mini festival was drawing them deep into the unidyllic Essex countryside and that straying outside the camping area might result in a few hurls of abuse and ‘what are you doing here’ glares from disgruntled locals (cue breakfast hunting in the nearby village on Sunday morning).

The line-up, which was noticeably more exciting and diverse on the Sunday, included Gang of Four, Young Knives, Metronomy, Blood Red Shoes and Johnny Foreigner. There were over 100 acts spread around seven tents and a main stage and. With many of the acts scheduled at the same time, and in nearly conjoint tents, actually hearing your favourite band, unless you were deep inside the tent, posed a little bit of a problem.  

The tongue-in-cheek noise pollution created by the ever-enjoyable Glam Chops on stage with their lycra-clad Panther Girls dancers on Saturday was a breath of fresh air in the midst of a day that was otherwise filled with a lot of teenage boy voices cracking in the wind.

The London-based multitalented orchestral collective Chrome Hoof was another band that broke the festival mould with their perfected mishmash of beats and noises that made you crave more. Headliners Wire were on good form and put on a stomping performance (as they should after nearly 40 years of practice), but it was in the Girlcore dance tent that this festival day would end on a high note for most festivalgoers, dancing on the top of a makeshift trailer and pilfering the tent’s tastefully kitsch decorations.  Scottee and Little Boots' performances in the Girlcore Tent laid some serious foundations for an end of the night sweatfest and Trailer Trash's Hannah Holland, accompanied by her Batty Bass Soundsystem MCs, played some dirty heavy electro beats which had the festival bouncing until the early hours of Sunday.

The festival’s second day was filled with nuggets. The checked shirt sporting, Sheffield-based girl/boy duo Slow Club played unfortunately early in the day but managed steal the crowd away from the rest of the festival anyway. Slow Club’s zigzag melodies, fortified with rich harmonies and foot stomping enthusiasm, left every single person with a whopping smile on their face that not even the impending rain could wash away. The second highlight of the day was New Zealand's So So Modern who have perfected their sound and impeccable stage manner with a year of relentless touring. Judging by the rush to buy their CD after their performance they collected a bulk of new fans; and rightly so, they were the best act on the main stage that day.

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