On The Scene // Threshold festival 2014: Day Two

#srcz spent an eventful weekend at Threshold festival and here we present a report from the second day of the festival from Ash Turner:

Returning gladly to the beautiful Nordic Church on the eve of a second Threshold day, I arrived to find the venue running a little late. I was excited to experience the church's unique acoustics with a roster that would arguably suit the venue a little more so than the previous evening. Fortunately, the scheduling allowed us to catch the venue in a relaxed state of affairs, and the sound check of harmonious sextet Moxie who had their d├ębut at last year's Threshold. The venue shines in a different light by day, the curiously bright sunshine outside bringing the old stained glass to life and casting a sense of tranquillity furthermore. Truly a unique venue that I am sure the festival feels enormously proud in having on board.

Moxie's set was delivered well and with next to no issues, the group's charisma and enjoyment coming across very well with smiles all round. The vocal harmonies filled the room beautifully, but admittedly I thought they could have been utilised a little more effectively with a few song's seeming comparatively thin in contrast to the entire band in harmony. That said, Moxie's music is heartfelt and energetic, and the set was clearly enjoyed by the audience.

Next on the bill was Silent Cities (pictured) aka Simon Madison, a name I have heard both in whispers and with great zeal for a while now, his reputation preceding him to great effect. The brief sound check saw Simon scanning through his technical artillery and a brief mic check before seamlessly launching into the cascade of multi-layered, looped etherea of Global Aerobics that brought a curious stillness of awe struck appreciation to the room. His modest use of his loop pedal is used masterfully, enabling this single soul to sound so symphonic. Silent's voice has been described as distinctive and emotional, to Buckleyesque, and while there are certainly elements of Buckley and Bon Iver that serve as a spice, Silent Cities is very much a unique and unmissable recipe sure to sate a hunger of those with an enormous appetite for original talent.

A half hour or so to kill inspired me to take quick respite in the warmth of the Baltic Social once more, being filled tonight with a far more rock orientated bill. Heading back down Jamaica Street after a few swift ones and a much deserved break for my feet, I headed into 24 Kitchen Street to set up for the much anticipated The Part Time Heliocentric Cosmo After School Drama Club who's name alone casts a spectacular curiosity. Arriving ahead of time turns out to be one of best decisions of the weekend, as on arrival I had the immense pleasure of witnessing the beginning of the Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band's set.

A talented amalgam formed from members of almost a dozen local groups, Harlequin Dynamite immediately blew the roof off the packed venue, with hard hitting brass-packed drum riffery that urged... no, demanded the room danced along. Stunningly unified and a passionate, energetic presence, the band quickly drew in more and more curious folk including a band of laser gun wielding, fish bowl helmeted street performers, making the rounds that night who danced like madmen at the stage's edge. The drum rudiments were music unto themselves, and the entire band together was a huge and undeniably awe inspiring spectacle. The Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band are without a doubt strong contenders for the position of my favourite performance of the weekend and the reasons are twofold, their sound is an almighty experience, and somehow they managed to make this overweight, under-rested, luggage-laden young gentleman dance like the world was ending tomorrow.

Jaunting outside to catch my breath, I was greeted through the doorway by a 20 foot tall alien figure, eyes ablaze and surrounded by the spacefreakiness that had arrived earlier to dance. Surreal and amusing, the dozen or so performers danced along to cosmic music playing from a speaker adorned on the back of one of them. A small crowd gathered to take photos and soak in the mesmerising weirdness of it all, smiles and laughter shared across the board. A few technical issues with the soundsystem were taken comically in stride and a swift kick here and there had the music belting again. No sooner had they landed, the group left again to cheers and applause, heading one can only assume out into the cosmic ether.

Returning inside, it was time to absorb the much hyped Sun Ra tributees lead by the much acclaimed Paddy Steer and Graham Massey. Adorned in matching kaftans and hats the numerous group took their places and prepared themselves, beginning slowly with swirling synthesised bass. The performers' talents were undeniable from the get go, pitch perfect and rhythmically on point despite unusual signatures and incredibly complex phraseology.

Be it no slight on the talent of the Heliocentrics, but I couldn't help but feel however, my heart still pounding from Harlequin Dynamite, that they had somehow failed to retain the high energy that was still lingering heavily in the air. All said and done, the venue was packed wall to wall with both creative admirers and curious passing spectators trying their best to soak in the pseudo-jazz eclectica being fired spiritedly in their direction.

Anxious to rekindle the high octane energy that was beginning to dwindle as evening quickly became night, I found myself returning to District to catch We, The Undersigned and The Fire Beneath the Sea. We, The Undersigned or “Wu-Too” crowd the stage as has been the staple of District's performers this weekend, a dozen local musicians ready to expose their targets to their “stankh” comprising elements of funk reggae and afrobeat. The crowd was jumping in no time to the rhythmic ruckus, to an admirable performance that exuded youth and vitality. I didn't spot a single soul standing  and the band’s songs provoked political internal debate, simply hundreds of people skanking like it was going out of style.

After a cigarette, a cold cider and a chat with friends in the courtyard, once again under the delicious aromatic blanket of the Trenchtown Truck Co.'s offering of the evening, it was time to warm our bones beside The Fire Beneath The Sea. At first sight it was clear that this Liverpool baker's dozen had a flair for the theatrical, with eclectic dress sense, make up and one bearded member sporting a fine dress and wig. After a brief sound check, the fire ignited without warning in a brilliant display, with an energy seldom surpassed so far this weekend. TFBTS displayed an on point connection to the crowd as well with plenty of interaction and dramatics, and it wasn't long before the balloons had started flying again. Tireless and vivacious, The Fire provided a right good knee's up and a barrel of laughs…

Words by Ash Turner. Images by Glyn Akroyd (band shots) and Scattershot (No Fun).  

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