Eliminator Expo are no strangers to the East London music scene, having hosted three successful nights – I ♥ East London – dedicated to all things musical is housed within a suitably intimate, gritty venue.
Graced with guitar shrieks and mic stomps from the likes of Melody Nelson, Babyshambles and Razorlight, Whitechapel’s Rhythm Factory is accredited as the ‘birthing pool’ of The Libertines.
Where else can music goers enjoy rowdy warehouse chants from The Coolness alongside Daytona Lights and their light, breezy indie pop? Factoring in affordable £2.50 bottles of beer, free entry for musicians and an eclectic line-up full of fresh local talent, it all makes for a refreshingly different evening every time.
Despite the cold weather, enthusiastic whoops warmly welcomed opening act Miss Neeks and the Masquerades. Comprising vocalist Miss Neeks strumming guitar, her ‘lover’ Sarley on finger bass and Phil Jones holding down the drums, the north-west London trio belts out passionate rhythmic rock tinged with elements of trip-hop, their focal point being Miss Neeks’ howling cries.
Her stage presence is charming as she jokes with the audience: “A Man walks into a bar and says ouch.” So, too, are her song introductions: “The next song’s about a woman who shoots her husband with a pistol…”
Next up is Rosa Alchemica, hailing from Tartu, Estonia with heavy leanings toward post-punk and abrasive indie rock. Lead vocialist Eddie Darko says: “I like a lot of punk bands, but I don’t really want to be one. They’re quite political and sing about problems and we don’t really have that, we like to be quite free in our song-writing. Sometimes we’re happy, sometimes we’re more serious.”
Anticipation begins to mount for the headlining act; The Little Bleeders up the ante with their rowdy punkish garage rock. Formed in April this year, Harry says the band is looking forward to the future. “We have a great dynamic with four different individuals bringing in all sorts of influences, which is great since, for us, it’s all about the music.”
Frontman Lee chimes in, describing the songwriting process for the band. “I sometimes write a couple songs and bring it to the group, and from there we would see where it goes. Up until now most of our songs are ones I’ve written, but everyone is going to be much more involved,” says Lee, moving on to talk about his influences. “I don’t really believe in role models and heroes. I have people I respect, certainly, but I would never want to be like them, I don’t model myself around them. That doesn’t mean I don’t draw musical influences from them though, I mean we’re all thieves.”
Lee talks about his thoughts on ♥: “Music should always be free. No offense to Elimination Expo, but I think live venues like this should be free entry and organisers should make money from alcohol. A great way to check out some local bands though, I agree on that point.”
Next, jarring, melodic and creative, We Are Animals has a history just as interesting as their slightly off-kilter brand of music. Lead singer Owain Ginsberg, talks about the band’s eight months together on the road so far. “We live in the mountains back home, so we sometimes record some stuff in slate quarries.
“It’s too cold now, but when it’s warmer we like to do that, all echoey and everything. Coming from different bands, a lot of different influences are brought together so it’s great,” says Owain. “We don’t get many chances to rehearse, but we do play at least three gigs a week. Most of us have day jobs as well, so it’s very busy for us.”
As the crowd dances and head-bangs to the last act of the night, Paris-born Camella Agabalyan, 23-year old events manager at Eliminator Expo, talks about how ♥ came to be. “One day back in April I thought, maybe we could do something different from our other events, something that would let people enjoy local music in East London. People seem to have this idea that East London is very hip and the people in it are snobby and arrogant, which isn’t true at all. If you came down you’d see how chilled and relaxed the atmosphere is.”
The music itself is diverse: “We pride ourselves on allowing pretty much anyone to play at these nights. I thought it would be easy to get a roster of bands together at the start, but it was a bit of a challenge. Many of the bands are willing to play though, and I think now that the nights are really going it’ll get easier. We already have a full list for January.”
Having graduated from business school with a degree in Events Management, nights like ♥ are her passion. “I’ve always played lots of instruments growing up doing drums, guitars, piano and a bit of vocals, so I knew from my teens that I’d be involved in something related to music. Everyone there is really passionate about what they do, and their dedication is really inspiring. I definitely hope this will keep going.”
Look out for the next ♥ night scheduled for the 6th of January with yet another exciting line-up, curated by Eliminator Expo’s watchful eye for bands rising out of the gritty streets of East London.
Visit their website for more information.