The blog for hip + arty urban adventurers. Uncovering things to do and places to go in London and beyond. Visit the main site at a www.theculturalexpose.co.uk and click here to join the mailing list...
As the Olympics draws ever closer the London 2012 festival steps up its game and brings an incredible music festival to the capital - BT River of Music. Dotted all over town, the festival will stage a two-day musical assault from each continent of the world. The Pleasure Gardens plays host to the much hyped Africa Stage on July 21 and 22 and this is where we think the party is sure to be.
Baaba Maal, influential Senegalese musician and the man given the task of closing the festival, believes that the 3rd millennium “is the beginning of a Renaissance for Africa and its culture” and the lineup certainly looks intriguing and exciting to us. The diversity of music from across the continent is represented and will illustrate the breadth of influence African music has had across the world. The legendary Angelique Kidjo will be there as well as indie rockers The Noisettes, collaborating on stage with other young African artists.
You may have heard the news that Pleasure Gardens venue suffered a massive blow recently with Bloc weekender festival cancelled due to overcrowding. All events are still very much going ahead so don’t let that stop you reserving your dancing spot down there. It is sure to be an incredible event! (Words: Laura Thornley)
It’s a damn near crime we’ve taken our sweet time to spread the word about weekly music night Jazz Re:freshed, but that’s only because we’ve selfishly enjoyed being amongst the first few privy to their long-standing, progressive movement in our neck of the woods. Since 2003, they’ve inspired West London locals and musos all over town to pack out the tiny Mau Mau bar on PortobelloRoad where some of the best homegrown and international alternative musicians are given a platform to showcase their stuff. Artists such as Jose James, Kaidi Tatham, Mark de Clive Lowe and N’Dambi have crossed their threshold (and if those names mean anything to you, you’ll understand JR offer nothing less than superior talent), and with a mission to redefine the concept of jazz music, they’re doing a grand job of honouring the artists doing just that. If you’re not already in the know, it’s about time you check out how it goes down every Thursday at one of the coolest, mid-week nights in town (so you can’t say we didn’t tell you ;-)
Known for its unrivalled teaching and contemporary dance performances, The Place will be showing one special performance by the Zoi Dimitriou company of You May! - a haunting piece of dance theatre examining our role and our duties in society.
If like me you appreciate the beautiful weirdness, sublime and eccentricity of French cinema you will appreciate You May!. It takes inspiration from Chris Marker’s monumental science film La Jetée, (download it from iTunes next time you’re having a quiet Sunday) and asks what it is like to live in contemporary society, where the old paradigm of ‘you can, because you must’ has been changed to ‘you must, because you can’.
With a choreography career spanning over 5 years, Zoi has worked with Sadler’s Wells and danced in New York and Greece - so this is an example of a modern and thought-provoking dance performance you can come to his expect from his company which goes far beyond what you’ll see in the West End.
Tanya Lacey may be fresh on the music scene but the hype she has received so far means catching her performing at Supa Dupa Fly on June 8th shouldn’t be missed. Raised in roughest part of Bristol, Lacey cut her teeth on one of the best music scenes in the UK - the home of Tricky, Portishead, Massive Attack, Drum and Bass - and it shows. She recently went down a storm as Bruno Mars’s support act on his UK tour and her new work has been produced by the likes of Greg Wells (Adele, Katy Perry, Kid Cudi) and Dallas Austin (TLC, Michael Jackson, Gwen Stefani). She’s not just a performer either, having written Loick Essien’s UK chart No. 2 ‘How we Roll’ and even co-wrote with Will.i.am on T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever).
Her new single Letter to my Ex is unmistakably influenced by her love of 90’s soul and R&B and thats why she fits in so perfectly at SDF. The night plays the best of 90’s hip hop R&B and garage - expect to hear everybody from Gang Starr to B.I.G, Missy to SWV and if you love your old-school 2-step there is some of that there too. Resident DJ Big Ted - crowd pleaser extraordinaire - will be hosting the party after the performance, alongside DJ Emily Rawson. And there’s a prize for the ‘fly-ist’ crew - challenge accepted? (Words: Laura Thornley)
The Diamond Jubilee is almost upon us and with it, that rare beast – the four day weekend. So how best to use these four glorious days of freedom? Street party? Could be great but it could also mean spending the day with your neighbour (who you’ve never met) bending your ear about joining the local housing committee, whilst politely devouring another’s bloody awful coronation chicken. The Thames Jubilee Pageant? Well, it will hopefully be brilliant but admit it, chances are you’ll be stuck on a very crowded bridge over the Thames, settling for a view of backs instead of boats because a very tall man has got his girlfriend on his shoulders.
Neither bridges nor bunting your thing? Well head out East, to the double whammy that is Field Day and Apple Cart festivals, which are both happening this weekend in Victoria Park. Now in its sixth year (and thus celebrating a Jubilee of its own, albeit the less glitzy version), Field Day is all about the music – it’s the hip electronica one, with an ear-poppingly good line up - Com Truise, The Vaccines, Metronomy (pictured), Afrocubism, Jessie Ware - and these are just the tip of a very cool iceberg. Get lost in the crowds, have a sweaty dance off in a packed tent and glory in the fact that all of East London will be there.
Apple Cart is an altogether more rounded day which goes beyond the music, one for those who like their tunes but who want to feel free to just wander, not pressured to race from tent to tent in the hope of catching Jamie XX. Noah and the Whale are headlining, current songstress of the moment Lianne La Havas will be on stage and everybody’s favourite world music DJ, Gilles Peterson will be on the decks. Beyond the music, be sure to check out the comedy stage featuring the likes of Miles Jupp, Sean Lock and Josie Long. Once you’ve recovered from laughing so much you’ve almost peed yourself, make your way to the cabaret stage for some good ol’ fashioned entertainment, having made sure to stop by the Art Car Boot Fairstalls (pictured) to learn “The Art of Flirting and delivering Compliments and Flattery in abundance” from the Pretty Boys. That should stand you in good stead for the rest of the night.
So go to one or both, if you’re feeling extravagant, heck, it’s not like you haven’t got two days to recover. (Words: Jane Duru)
Field Day festival runs on Saturday, June 2 at Victoria Park, E3 5SN. Tickets are £45 plus booking fee. www.fielddayfestivals.com
Back in the 70s when the legendary Fela Kuti had the genius idea of combining traditional Yoruba music with funk, jazz and highlife, it wasn’t long before “afrobeat” crossed over and set the legend on course to becoming one of the greatest musical exports to come out of the continent. Fast forward over 40 years and it looks like a new generation of African artists are reviving the spirit of the genre, but with a reckless twist; instead of the flamboyant tribalism of Kuti’s era, this new brand of afrobeat(s) - african pop music - is fun, flashy and youthful, being led by a gang of sharp-suited, bling-wearing rappers and singers who proudly spit in their mother tongue (and sometimes in autotune). “It’s a good vibe,” says DJ Neptizzle, a Vietnamese DJ who regular spins at afrobeat parties all over Europe. ” It’s almost like how bashment or dancehall was 8 years ago. Everybody can listen to it and they wouldn’t even care (about where the artists are from). It’s dance music, and it’s different.”
Despite Afrobeats going back nearly a decade, 2011 was a massive year for the music in London, following the soldout Afrobeats Festival in the summer - and even US heavyweights were getting in on the act, with KanyeWest making a surprise appearance at the show of his new signing, D’Banj, a singer from Nigeria. And now with afrobeats getting playlisted on Radio 1, dances like the “Azonto” catching on and the popular single Oliver Twist getting an official release this month, superfans like Rickie from @AfrobeatsUK believe 2012 will be a massive year for the scene. “People like DJ Abrantee on Choice FM are commercialising afrobeats…and Tim Westwood has started playing afrobeats on his show. There’s been alot of development, with African artists coming over here and selling out…it will become more popular.”
Streetfest returns on May 6th for another spring-time event celebrating all aspects of inner city alternative culture.
Epic works by featured graffiti artists, live music showcases and BMX/skater ramps will all make the heart of urban London beat as Streetfest continues for its fourth year.
Having grown since it started in 2008, Streetfest has brought creative art forms and expressive individuals together in one space to celebrate, interact and enjoy many of London’s innovative works from independent street wear companies, to live illustrations and breakdancing.
From the afternoon into the evening, the atmosphere remains positive and progressive, allowing revellers to exchange ideas or simply de-stress, in an environment deep in the belly of the capital city, but tucked away from corporate and traditional surroundings.
Partners such as Secret Wars and Urban Nerds add to the credibility of this London hangout — an event improving on activities and size, each time, while artists who have performed at Streetfest include Ghostpoet and Wretch 32. This year’s headliner is mighty East End MC Devlin, who’ll also be joined by Lady Leshurr and DJ Wookie amongst others.
The eclectic mix of hipsters, B-boys, students, east-London fashionistas, and everyone in between, adds to the ambiance of the event — a platform that throws a middle finger up to conformity, and promotes visionary unity.
We may be slowly entering yet another noisy blockbuster season but it is fair to say that these last couple of weeks have been extremely generous to the tastes of indie film lovers in London. First, at the London Independent Film Festival,Â they got the chance to discover the raw talents of first- and second-time directors in films that will probably not receive commercial distribution - Â now, they’ll have the opportunity to get a distinctive taste of the most famous independent film festival in the world.
The major role of the Sundance Film Festival in the elevation of the status of the contemporary American independent cinema cannot be argued. Now for the first time, the 35 year old film festival will travel outside the US. From April 26-29, the Sundance London Film and Music Festival will take place at the O2, showcasing 14 feature-length and eight short films from the 2012 fest along with numerous special events.
Staying true to the indie spirit, the selected films are not afraid to tackle important and sometimes difficult subjects. Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbushâs documentary Finding North unveils the human stories behind the shocking statistic that one in six Americans doesnât get enough to eat on a regular basis, while Harmony presents the views and actions of visionaries who try to find solutions to the global environmental crisis. The film will have its worldwide theatrical premiere screening at the festival and it will be introduced by the Prince of Wales who narrates the film.
Moving on to fiction, Russo-Youngâs Nobody Walks (with a script co-written by Lena Dunham, the creator of the new critically lauded HBO series Girls) shows how fragile the seemingly idyllic life of an open-minded family is, when they take a young artist into their home. A more joyful outcome can be found in Colin Trevorrowâs Safety Not Guaranteed (pictured) that employs the lovable quirky humour that has become a staple of indie films to tell the story of three journalists who are sent to investigate a personal advertisement in a newspaper from someone who is seeking a partner for time travel.
As the title of the festival suggests though, this is a celebration not just of films but also of music. The strong connection between those two arts can be found in the music documentaries, Placebo: Coming Up For Air and Sing Me The Songs That Say I Love You â A Concert for Kate McGarrigle, which will be followed by intimate gigs from Martha and Rufus Wainwright. The craft of matching music to moving images will also be the subject of a discussion between the Sundance Institute President & Founder Robert Redford and legendary musician and record producer T-Bone Burnett with the famous writer and avid music lover Nick Hornby moderating the conversation. It is more difficult to make a film connection to the gig of the trip-hop pioneer Tricky but just the fact that it will find him reuniting with Martina Topley-Bird to perform the classic album Maxinquaye in its entirety is enough to make it one of the festivalâs highlights.
So from documentary to fiction, comedy to drama, trip hop to folk, Sundance London will have something for everyone. Not to be missed. Â (Words: Apostolos Kostoulas)
Summer is coming and things are starting to heat up (although with the British weather it might be due to our heating being turned up so high…)
La Linea is nearly in London and every April, the Latin music festival takes over various venues in central London to bring the best of contemporary Latin music to our city.
For those not hip to Latin music, the festival presents the perfect opportunity to learn more about it. Brazilian singer-songwriter Ceu is definitely worth checking out, and as the biggest-selling Latin recording artist in the UK, her music combines dub, samba and electronic and she will soon be crossing over into more mainstream music so head to Koko to check her out.
Also the London Lucumi Choir sing songs from the living tradition of Santeria music (also known as Lucumi) brought to Cuba from West Africa. Playing at Rich Mix, their performance also features a screening of “Matanzas: Growing into Music” exploring through music and dance the preservation and renovation of cultural traditions in Cuba today.
While London has a great selection of indie bands and urban nights, La Linea is a chance to inject some new music into your summer playlists. Visit www.comono.co.uk/la-linea for further info. (Words: Lucy Palmer)
Gone are the days when the words ‘brass band’ would conjure up images of snowy Christmas shopping trips and the Salvation Army booming Away in a Manger from their Labrosones. Well, almost. Â Rich Mix is once again hosting Breakin Brass, a breaking battle that has musical accompaniment from edgy East London horn collective Brassroots Â - a contradiction you may be thinking? Not so urban adventurers, we think it sounds pretty hip and arty!
The club night was a major hit last year and so we can only expect this to continue. The battle includes eight invited dancers and 16 qualifiers. The champ from last year, Lee Roc, returns to defend his crown and charm the judges with his legendary explosive moves. Brassroots will be playing big beat tunes in the battle interludes, on their brass instruments of course. The prize is donated by Soul Powered, a UK agency that has B-boying at its core and their will be freebies galore from Eastpak. The standard is international so prepare to be impressed and then some. Â (Words: Laura Thornley)
The next Breakin’ Brass takes place on April 6th. Â For more info, visit the Rich Mix website.Â