September sees some of the hippest new bands from the UK and across the globe take to the stages of the sixth annual 1-2-3-4 Festival in Shoreditch Park. Branded as an experience for “stylish bands, stylish fans and stylish sounds,” the festival promises a wide range of music the like of which you are unlikely to hear anywhere else.
Bringing together dozens of new bands, never-before-heard combinations of members from the well-beloved groups of the coolest kind and a few one-offs that will never be heard from again, the festival sees independent bands and free spirits congregating on the small but perfectly formed former blitz site in fashionable East London.
Set in Shoreditch Park, the festival has an intimate feel. One of the smaller open public spaces in London, the park covers an area of former terraced houses that were destroyed by the German bombings of London during World War II.
The surrounding area is achingly cool, with music shops, bars and clothing stores that ooze cutting edge chic and are invariably full of beautiful people going about the business of being hip. The festival is something of a sentinel event in the hipster calendar and sees Shoreditch descended upon by bands and their fans to enjoy the music and the atmosphere of the area.
The festival itself is an eclectic mix of artists spanning three stages in the small space afforded by Shoreditch Park. The plethora of new and previously unheard-of acts jostle for space on the stages with the better-known likes of Lovefoxxx and Patrick Wolf who have wooed the crowds and kept those seeking better known names interested through the unknowns.
In addition to the festival itself, Shoreditch gives itself over to festival fever for the duration of 1-2-3-4 and many of the well-known bars and pubs have given themselves over to supplying after-party venues for festival-goers and bands looking for somewhere to continue the fun.
If you’re looking for pop princesses and kings of the mainstream, you’re unlikely to find them at this festival. Arguably the least commercial festival in a swelling tide of corporate-sponsored music events, 1-2-3-4 is quirky and off-the-wall. Don’t let the fact that you’re unlikely to have heard of many – if indeed any – of the acts billed put you off. If you want high-profile, there are plenty of other events that will cater for your tastes in radio-friendly hits. 1-2-3-4 is more the place to go to see and be seen, and hear some new sounds that could enchant you.
But what comes after the show, you may ask yourself. The after-show, of course! Once the festival has finished, several venues in and around Shoreditch are offering post-festival parties for bands, fans and revellers to continue the festivities long after the licence for the festival itself has run out.
Beach Blanket Babylon are hosting an after-show Pussy Riot benefit night dedicated to freeing the Russian feminist punks incarcerated after their protest at a Moscow cathedral. Catch, Powerlunches and Translate, all on Kingsland Road, are offering the chance to see a number of the bands from the festival take on DJ sets for late-night partying while Hysteria and The Old Blue Last on Great Eastern Street have band sets and DJ spots from performers featuring on the festival bill.
As one of the smallest and least commercial festivals in London, 1234 Festival has a cult following and is likely to grow more with this year’s offering. The festival itself, followed by its many after-show parties, guarantee a great day and a long night with some of the coolest emerging and up-and-coming bands all in one place.