Aussie BBQ at Cargo

You have to feel sorry for the Australians living in London sometimes. Marooned on the opposite side of the world from their land Down Under, they must yearn for some home comforts and knowledge of what they are missing out on at home, while they navigate an alien land of permanent drizzle. Fortunately, the good people of Stage Mothers and One Movement have taken pity on the Aussie ex-pats and recently held an ­Australian BBQ in Cargo, Shoreditch.

This was to be a showcase of up-and-coming Australian bands who are based in the UK, conducted in the May sunshine and assisted by lashings of barbequed Australian food. Unfortunately, the sunny Australian disposition was outflanked by grey British weather and the barbeque side of things was washed out.

The absence of food was not going to deter the punters though and the rain merely served to highlight the importance of the beer and music, helped foster a festival atmosphere and reminded us that there is something inherently beautiful about the sheer bloody mindedness of Australians in their pursuit of a good time.

The gigs kicked off with Larissa McKay, unaccompanied but for her keyboard. She slowly brought us away from our self-pitying Sunday hangovers with her gentle musings on love and loss. The standout moment of her set was her accoustic, pared-down version of Bloc Party’s Banquet.

Whatever lingering remains of Saturday’s indulgences were blown away by London-based band The Kits. This tight four-piece have been together for around two years and were here promoting the release of their forthcoming single. They didn’t let their early billing dent their enthusiasm and put in a blistering set that will lead to a lot of the audience looking forward to the release of Salvation on 3 June.

The female-dominated Bridezilla added to the festival spirit with a predominantly instrumental, Sigur-Ros inflected set. A line-up containing both a saxophone and Warren Ellis-esque violin soared beyond the confines of Cargo into the summer fields of Somerset and Perth and Kinross. This is a band that has bigger, and sunnier, events in front of them, and carry a Picnic at Hanging Rock aura that makes them a live act well worth searching out.

The appearance of the very affable Kav, lead singer of Eskimo Joe, received the biggest cheer of the evening. Initially playing solo acoustic versions of Eskimo Joe songs, he was joined by the other members of the band, much to the crowd’s delight. While most of their setlist was a mystery to the non-Australians present, it was clear that Kav/Eskimo Joe have a special place in the hearts of many an Ozzie abroad.

The headline act, Blue Juice, blew the roof off. They are a hugely energetic band who have supported We Are Scientists and The Specials, co-fronted by a lead channeling the spirit of Iggy Pop. Loud, fast, plenty of catchy hooks, they got the audience dancing through the Sunday blues.

The night was rounded off by Purple Sneakers DJs, but it was now time to face the elements again. As we left, and the rain sought to remind us of dear old Blighty, we gave thanks to Cargo for giving us a glimpse of sunny Australia through the gloom. The lack of shrimps on the barbie notwithstanding…

83 Rivington Street

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