The Apple Cart Festival // Victoria Park // London
7 August 2011
This was the first Apple Cart and by all accounts it was the perfect Sunday hangover cure to its sister festival Field Day. Tickets were readily available at the gates and although the crowd swelled as the rain cleared it was clear the festival was not at capacity.
Certainly not the crowd that Field Day attracts, there was a lack of ironic moustaches & girls with bowl cuts that usually lurk at East London events. In place Apple Cart attracted the middle-classes and was a family friendly affair. Penguin Book Tent & Village Mentality provided some of the facilities. Venn Streets market was a welcome replacement to the usual disappointing burgers present at festivals and was a stroke of genius by the organizers to secure their culinary services.
After torrential rain The Magic Numbers managed to bring out the sunshine over London. The sodden spectators could have been maudlin, but the few who were front stage were in high spirits. Hits from 2005 Forever Lost, Long Legs & Love Me Like You were best received. Shown by the inevitable hand clapping they instigate every other song.
Patrick Wolf appeared on stage earlier than expected, given his latest more accessible album. He told the crowd a lot of his songs were penned the other side of the park by Hackney Wick station and he appeared to be in a far happier, more confident place than on previous occasions. This shone through in his performance, which included The City, Together and The Falcons. His voice is a deep, rich, melodic sound and he is no doubt a talented musician, moving through instruments seamlessly. He dedicated Black Is The Colour to Amy Winehouse.
In the cabaret tent Bourgeois & Maurice provided their unique musical act. Credit to them for not censoring their brilliantly sick, political and sarcastic songs. Those lured into the show by melancholy I Can’t Live In London were soon jolted by tracks such as Ritalin, Retro and an updated version of Des’Rees life as Maurice played piano like a beautiful Zombie and George dry humped speakers before throwing himself off stage.
Badly Drawn Boy certainly has the back catalogue to woo the audience Apple Cart attracted, but sadly his attitude left most people looking around embarrassed and eventually uninterested. His refusal to leave the stage seemed at odds to the impeccable behavior throughout the festival – and he outstayed his welcome. A cover of Madonna’s Like A Virgin merged from Silent Sigh was the only set highlight, a sad version sounding like an impotent man singing about sex.
I was glad to catch Sunday Girl Tea Party at her bandstand. Her natural, understated calm in front of the microphone was charming to watch after the miserable Badly Drawn Boy. She is fresh from a residency of tea parties at the uber cool Cat & Mutton on Broadway Market. Her own songs inspired by London were mixed with covers of Laura Brannigan and The Cardigans. Hopefully she can keep the momentum her name is gathering in London. Her performance was reminiscent of watching Emmy The Great or Emiliana Torrini.
Overall Apple Cart gets my support for cultivating an uncanny atmosphere of not feeling too planned – like it just happened to be there and you just somehow bumped into it. Charming and effortless.