LIVE: The End Festival, Crouch End 23.11.14

The End festival is an annual event that brings new music to Crouch End, taking underground bands a bit further north than their usual Shoreditch and Camden haunts for a change of scenery. With gigs held in make-do local venues such as an ice-cream parlour, a parish church and a furniture shop, it makes for a truly authentic experience – you don’t always get to munch on a cone of raspberry sorbet while listening to an alternative pop singer with a stork on her head – but more on that later.

This year’s event was more ambitious in scale, its programme lengthened to four days and including international as well as local acts. Unfortunately, I was only able to catch the end of The End festival, which limited my choice to the Sunday evening programme in either the Earl Haig Hall or that in the Riley Ice Cream Café. As the former was starting with a documentary on English folk dance, I opted for live music and ice cream and headed down to the latter to hear Swissman Tobias Carshey.

In spite of London bus services trying their best to prevent me from ever getting there (I blame you, driver of 143 who ignored me and made me wait for 35 minutes for the next one), I was still in time to hear the second half of the singer/songwriter’s set. It didn’t seem like I had missed much, as Carshey’s and his supporting band’s acoustic performance seemed altogether devoid of emotion and, consequently, failed to provoke much reaction from the audience, who were giving hesitant and half-hearted applauds after each song. Towards the end of his slot, the singer shed off his band and went on for a short solo performance which didn’t shake things up much either; but soon it was time for the next act.

That was Malka, or better known as Tamara Schlesinger, whom you may have heard singing ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’ on the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels TV show. She is also known for fronting the successful alternative pop band 6 Day Riot, a band known for their furiously energetic records featuring ukuleles, violins and upright basses. Upon hearing her recently-released single ‘Into The Night’ – a calmly mystical folky track – my impression was that under her new stage name, Schlesinger had taken on a completely different route. Her music appeared somewhat more mature, and I was eager to hear more.

As soon as I heard her onstage in Riley, I realised there was one thing the musician hadn’t changed in her new persona, and that was the exuberant energy radiating from her. Appearing in the small ice cream café with the aforementioned stork-faced hat and an equally merry-looking supporting band, she seemed nothing like the mysterious pagan deity that she appeared as in the video of ‘Into The Night’. Malka and her band went on to perform a few songs from her upcoming album Tantrum, all as folk rock as her music has ever gotten, but all refreshingly joyous and upbeat.

The final act for the night were also the longest-standing one, with an actual recorded album back in 2012. Self-described as ‘cinematic future pop’, Talk In Colour mostly play instrumental pop with the occasional bass dropped into the mixture. While on record they sounded quite bleak to me, hearing them live was a pleasant surprise: perhaps it was the emotion they put into the gig, but onstage their sound produce was much more lively and appealing. That said, at one point they considerably diluted their performance with some downbeat ballads that nearly put the audience on hibernation mode for a while. However, towards the end of the gig they recovered ground, nailing the finale with a spectacular closing song that featured a dubstep-styled bassline and a cello.

What I saw from The End festival was little, but it definitely put next year’s edition on my agenda. The event seemed like a real treat for North Londoners such as myself, who are eager to hear exciting new acts; and it was worth getting to the not-so-accessible Crouch End if only to hear more of Tamara Schlesinger’s new repertoire.

Mariana Nikolova