Friday, 9 November 2012

Swiss Lips and Bastille @ The Rag Factory, London

What happens when you sign a Manchester band to a major label, enable them to relocate for a month into East London, specifically a converted factory space and then allow that space to be used for a host of parties fuelled by a mix of free beer and a series of exciting acts on stage? Well, in short; calculated pandemonium. See, East London, for all of its remaining decadence is an area governed by a complex algorithm of image over enjoyment, yet the blend created within The Rag Factory, or the #SwissLipsUnion as its preferably called for November overpowers the math. As Swiss Lips take to the stage to open the night, there are people dressed to impress (who’s outfits do not accommodate for being at the front of a show) who begin to let loose in a way that you can’t help but feel has as much to do with their lack of free-alcohol-maths as it does the music. People are even nabbing hand-made Swiss Lips tie-dye shirts from a clothes line!

Swiss Lips nonetheless are unphased. Set up old fashioned style by  the microphone master and all round Danz-er known to many as “the old man who dances in Manchester for Swiss Lips”, they rifle through a selection of tracks for half an hour of dance-pop. Even those reluctant to move at the start of Danz can’t resist a gentle bop to the hard-pop sound of U Got The Power and new single In The Water sounds notably better in this surrounding than on record.  As they leave the stage, Swiss Lips can be confident that having opened their own party in style they should see their stock rise once they’re out of this venue in the new year.

Of course, much of the hype surrounding tonight’s show, and probably one of the main reasons that there’s a queue outside the door come ten o’clock is tonight’s “headline act.” In a repeat of their sold-out KOKO show just a week before, Bastille follow Swiss Lips on stage (after a Horrors DJ set that hardly inspires but moves the room back to the bar with enjoyment) and as Dan Smith and company come on stage, the room erupts once more. The front hundred of the three hundred assembled begin to dance as Bastille kick off with usual set opener Icarus. It’s catchy as sin but the majority of people here only know a few songs. After their covers mixtape featured a hugely popular cover of City High’s What Would You Do, that appears to get the biggest singalong of the night whilst last week’s storm of the iTunes chart with the (mostly re-released) Flaws EP saw Flaws rightfully get the biggest cheer of the night as Dan is almost engulfed in the front rows of fans.

Arguably, the highlight of the set is recent single Bad Blood. Mixing a dark bassline, singalong bridge and hugely catchy chorus, Bastille take it up a level, explaining to an extent how they’ve earnt the hype that surrounds them. Of course its not all perfect, some tracks (who’s names don’t stand out) need dropping in favour of a more definitive sound as the band are in danger of sounding both wet and repetitive at points. This though, is hardly a worry as in one song they can turn it around again. Overjoyed has a quiet quality that displays the act’s breadth of material and closing the night’s music on a high with their unique cover of Corona’s Rhythm of the Night as Dan jumps into the crowd is certainly an enjoyable touch.
As the last few percussion hits ripple out of the small white room, Swiss Lips take the DJ booth up again as many decide to leave. The party continues for another three weeks but you can’t help but feel that it’s been caught at its best here. Whilst both acts have weaknesses, the atmosphere of the night adequately suffices as filler before the undeniably catchy pop-belters. It’s no surprise that both acts have been snapped up by major labels for their debut records.

Braden Fletcher

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