A Weekend (Just) Out Of The City

Around 11.2 miles lie between the heart of Hoxton and Hainault forest, a secluded sect of wooded suburbia, cracked pavements and for one weekend only, splashed eyeliner and smashed scenesters. Expanded on last year’s boho boutique knees-up, it’s in with the industrial leathers as bemused local pushchair wielders gaze on perplexed as sperm counts diminish and lungs are perpetually battered with a barrage of tar. Musically, times have changed as hardcore hipsters rip the spotlights from the catacombs lingering over the doom pop of The Horrors and London upstarts R O M A N C E and Ulterior under the canvases of Offset’s seemingly infinite tents. This hefty injection of heftier soundscapes is presumably thrown to the throng like raw slabs of meat to baying tigers by the Bristolian moustached synth swagger of Turbowolf, although with perhaps the tightest security guard scrutiny of Britain’s festival circuit in Gestapo mode, they’re sorely missed. Elsewhere, Kasms have toned their controversy dials down a notch or two, with Rachel-Mary Callaghan remaining confined to the stage throughout. Not that the likes of Male Bonding and Taxidermy sound any less visceral than way back when Callaghan shrieked down the auditory canals of utterly dumbfounded bystanders. Taking up their confrontationally converse mantle are Teesside’s fieriest non-biological clan, The Chapman Family whose socialist swathes fall largely on deaf ears although their spunky post-punk jolts and stabs enthral their meagre “cult” following aptly. Front man Kingsley Hall gyrates and asphyxiates in equal measure, finding pockets in between intertwining man and mic leads to blurt out underground angst anthems Kids and Lies&Lies&Lies before closing with the now-stereotypically cacophonous clash of Million Dollars. Crouch End crawlers Bombay Bicycle Club charm with low-slung, lo-fi new material and Always Like This soothes as the sun sets, throwing up their singular spectacular spark. Bizarrely, Jack Steadman’s vocal chords still sound as aged as vintage Jack Daniels despite only actually throwing in the towel on education a mere matter of months ago. The reinvention of punk stalwarts The Slits is about as heavily anticipated as Halloween in Transylvania yet evident arrogance (“We’re predominantly here to please ourselves” confirms a dreadlocked, dreadful Ari Up) and meanderings in dull dub send minds and feet wandering for rosier pastures. The rosiest of Saturday’s pastures is far and away Joseph Mount’s Metronomy who, having quite literally burst the seams of the Loud & Quiet tent are rightfully relocated to the Main Stage where the hoards await the haunting horns of Nights Intro. By the time My Heart Rate Rapid ignites a mere matter of minutes later, any prevailing pretence is tucked away amongst back pockets as the ground beneath clodhopping Dr. Martens takes a pounding for a meticulously crafted hour of electro pop perfection. Taking a leaf out of Leathal Bizzle’s book (for better or worse...) even leads to the introduction of the weekend’s most original of chants of when I say Hainault, you say Newbury Park. Inspired. Instrumentals You Could Easily Have Me, On The Motorway and krautrock clanger The End Of You Too join the dots between 80s-infused hits Heartbreaker, Holiday and the obscene kids show soundtrack stylings of Radio Ladio as the party poppers left over from a disappointing Reading showing explode extravagantly.

A lethargic Sunday afternoon whiled away behind evaporating cans of Strongbow is dealt a severe syringe of pure adrenaline when New Zealanders Die! Die! Die! return to Hainault, maintaining that illusive 100% record as their brand of blaring, blasé bass-heavy onslaught stands hairs on necks, almost as powerful as Katie & Peter serenading each other at their own wedding. Nothing’s meant to last forever and here’s hoping they settle their quite frankly irreconcilable differences one day... Three London ladies veiled in monochrome able to testify to the deficiency of longevity in modern-day life are Ipso Facto whose Offset appearance marks the end of a troubled, thorny path. Setting off on a far brighter voyage are South London hubs of hype, The xx, who now come equipped with additional light boxes for further guidance. Their beguiling minimal Massive Attack-inspired post-indie and vacuous vocals prove the quartet to be worthy of greater accolades than the soundtrack to a week-long paranoid comedown hidden in dingy basements. VCR is a hymn of defiant hope whilst Crystallised is the brooding beauty powering the whole shebang with Oliver Sim’s gravelled howl colliding, conjoining and weaving mesmerizingly with Romy Madley Croft’s silky-as-caramac hallucinatory vocals. A stunning rendition of Womack and Womack’s Teardrops confirms the kudos and ought see them collecting that old Mercury Prize in precisely 365 days time. The bloodcurdling barks of Frank Carter Jnr, Richard Carter’s Blackhole reinvigorate tiring, traumatised brain cells as he quite literally ring leads the crowd surfing, crowd smashing cronies that surround him imposingly like demented moths circling the brightest of neon strip lights. The spine-tingling refrain of We Are The Dead Hearts has hearts on sleeves and hands aloft as Gallows guitar slinger Steph Carter watches over his baby bro, poised to step in and smash the lights out for any moth close enough to get burnt. Where Blackhole succeed in scrapping together retro screamo with hints of melody is precisely where the Game Boy glitches and terrifying hysteria of Sheffield’s Rolo Tomassi fails on the grounds of veering off into the obscure and unlistenable. Like Dracula on acid equipped with a Casiotone, a loop pedal and a graveyard girl’s screech, they’ve perhaps become too barking for their own benefit. Disappointingly, they’re not the only scamps who fall flat on a fateful Sunday eve as headliners The Horrors endure a similar desecration. Faris flails about in evident unease, as if he’s just bumped into Bob Geldof, Scarlet Fields reverberates more uncannily than ever with the bass-heavy twitches of Love Will Tear Us Apart and the synths are elsewhere throughout. A rare outing of the ephemeral title-track off of hallowed latest offering Primary Colours alleviates the disaffected monotony yet by the time the euphoric ending to Sea Within A Sea cascades catastrophically following a keyboard malfunction, the latest kings of kraut look fed-up following their five-thousand-and-forty-first show of the festive season. Faris parts proclaiming “We tried. Sorry. Bye” as he waves disinterestedly and carts his mysterious man bag complete with cheque off to the Central Line. Headliners make or break good festivals and at this year’s Offset, both headliners broke yet the sign of a great festival is one that ploughs on through adversity with its endearing imperfections tattooed across its vulnerable heart. When Offset returns, hit it happy with hardcore and veer clear of the Main Stage misfortunes but before all, make sure you’re on the Central Line heading eastwards. When I say Hainault, you say Newbury Park. Hainault...

Blackhole- We Are The Dead Hearts
The xx- Teardrops