Robots in Disguise and the Big Chill

Posted in gigs | photography

My write-up of the Robots in Disguise gig is a bit late due to a friend winning last minute VIP tickets to the Big Chill festival. We had a lovely weekend of lying about in the sun, and I took my DSLR so there are a few photos and words on at the end of the post. But first, on with the Robots review:

Robots in Disguise are one of my favourite live bands, due to their sheer energy and enthusiasm, and a frequent DIY aspect to their instruments, costumes, stage props and performances. I’ve somehow managed to see them over 20 times live in the past few years and each occasion has been a uniquely memorable event. However I was slightly apprehensive about their gig at XOYO due to the lack of promotion I had seen for it. Unfortunately Robots don’t have a major label backing and have recorded and released their newest album, Happiness Vs Sadness, under their own steam and with donations from fans. Although this fits in with their DIY aspect it has meant that all promotion has come from themselves, and mostly their twitter accounts and facebook pages. This is essentially preaching to the converted, and I was worried that I would arrive at XOYO to find a handful of dedicated fans and not much else.

I arrived at about 9pm (XOYO has a curiously late door time of 8pm) to find the support band, Rubricks, halfway through their set and indeed with only a few vaguely interested spectators in front of the stage. Unfortunately their female-fronted electronic-tinged indie pop was unable to rouse more than a half-hearted applause, although more people had started to trickle in by the time they finished. When it got to 9:45, the venue was about as full as it was going to get and the Robots took to the stage with minimal fuss. Despite the rather sparse crowd they seemed pleased to be playing to their home crowd, and the audience responded with loud enthusiasm. The set was obviously heavy on the new album, maybe hoping to tempt a few more people to purchase it at the merch stand, and although some of the tracks lack a punch on record they sounded a lot better live. However the biggest cheers and sing-alongs were reserved for old favourites such as ‘Turn It Up’, ‘GIRL’ and ‘The Sex Has Made Me Stupid’. I was surprised but pleased to hear ‘Argument’ in the encore as I assumed they would have dropped that track in favour of a newer one. The girls snarled and sneered at each other on stage, playing up to their fake quarrel, before launching themselves into the audience to crowd surf. Before long they were clambering back onto the stage and grinning at the cheering crowd as the track ended.

All things considered, it was a pretty successful gig, but my mind can’t help but wander back to the times when they would pack out larger venues and have fans queuing outside for the best spot on the barrier. Here’s to hoping the next tour is a bit better promoted.

As a cheeky bonus, my good friends at the Velvet Onion had a chat with the girls backstage after the gig. Have a look at their interview here. Velvet Onion – Robots In Disguise interview

The Big Chill Festival was the second I had attended, and the second one that I didn’t have to pay for! I’m getting quite used to this VIP lark now! It was as usual, gorgeous weather, good company, a smattering of awesome electronic acts and a giant bloody hill. Myself and my competition winning friend were in the guest camping area, which meant nice toilets and a shorter walk to the arena, but there was also a group of about 10 of my friends in the normal camping area, so we had a large jolly group which is always useful when everyone wants to go in different directions. Since I last went to the Big Chill, Mean Fiddler has taken over and it is quite noticeable with the loss of some of the more interesting bits of the festival. The stages have been shuffled around and now instead of whimsical things like the drive in cinema and art installations, they seem to have a lot of bars and makeshift clubs. The arty parts are still there, but have been relegated to a field at the back while the more commercial and sponsored attractions take prominence. Surprisingly it hasn’t really done a lot to alter the ambience of the place though, and you can still find families, some mid-thirties ravers and a scattering of teenagers all grooving away in the Sunday sunshine to the Norman Jay DJ set.

The Chemical Brothers set on Friday was probably my favourite, although I was extremely surprised by Janelle Monae on Saturday. It helped that my Oxfam-found black and white striped blazer perfectly matched her stage setup! Other great acts included Metronomy, Calvin Harris’s DJ set, Warpaint and my new favourite band, Crystal Fighters. It was a lovely weekend and not even the massive queues at the train station on Monday morning could bring me down. Fingers crossed for another free pass next year!

You can see the rest at the Flickr page.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback.