Music takes over Brick Lane for a fun-filled night

We blogged Macmillan's Brick Lane Takeover music festival as it happened! Click to find out who played and what happened.

Dead Town Radio. Photo: Ikhwan Kim

On Thursday night, a raft of musical acts descended on Brick Lane for an evening of performances to raise money for cancer research. Our roving reporters were there to to sample the atmosphere, hear the music and let you know what was hot or not. You can read our live blog of the evening down below: start from the bottom to get it as it happened.

Earlier this week, ELL reporter Masaya Tanikawa previewed the event with a look at some of the artists involved. You can read his report here.

We also have an exclusive video about the Takeover and the work of its organisers, Macmillan Cancer Support, which you can watch here.

Photo: Macmillan Cancer Support


That said, we’ll be powering down for the night after an exciting evening of cultural events. Thanks to all involved, and kudos to Sofija Radovic for additional reporting. Goodnight!


After a long night’s blogging, Masaya is bowing out too, but there’s still time for a last word:

“Overall a fantastic evening, great line-up playing amazing music, fantastic grilled food and free-flowing booze. Wasn’t so sure about 17-year old pop singer Rachael Furner but turns out she was alright, much better live than expected! DJ Format also tore up the DJ section with his famed 80s/90s-influenced sets. Midfield General didn’t disappoint either with tasty big beats.”


Reporter Hanna is calling it a night. “Signing off now, time to get the night bus home. Ears ringing. Stomach full. Brilliant night and a brilliant cause!”


Masaya waxes lyrical about the headliner:

“Johnny’s music is difficult to describe. While I’m not sure how deep he delves into ‘nu-folk’ territory, I’m definitely hearing a lot of folk. Nice vocals that are easy to listen to despite the almost jarring magnitude of sonic boom I’m feeling. Sometimes has an almost carnival-esque rhythm to his songs. A slow, mellow song starts to build up pace, eventually erupting into a frantic mash of guitar ukulele and drums – is that a trembling fiddle I hear? – then floating right back down to a slow ballad outro…

While it was a shame Eliza wasn’t gracing us with her light sunny pop, I feel Johnny more than made up for her absence! Unlike the VIBE, this CARGO venue is nice as it never gets too stuffy somehow. Disco ball keeps the atmosphere great. VIBE had a lot distractions that took away from the live experience in our opinion -sunlight was coming, in and press kept rushing in and out – also very stuffy.”

“I’m getting vibes of old American blues and traditional English folk music coming through from his tunes and his particular style, it’s very fresh. He is apparently a trained actor and it shows from the way he carries himself on stage, even more so than the fronter of Hoodlums. I think his vocals fit the songs well – it’s quite plain but at the same time kind of… firm, intense…”


Time for some more photos from the day that’s just been. Again, all credit for these to Ikhwan Kim:


Hanna is disappointed by the party’s perks. “Aftershow free booze turns out to be one bottle of Becks!”


From Masaya: “Forgot to mention new secret act was Johnny Flynn, didnt get a chance to let you know. Wi-fi is utterly rubbish!”

“I can see why they kept him a secret, he cites Shakespeare, W.B. Yeats among his influences – quite a big act I must say. He’s supposed to come on at 12:10 – absolutely psyched. Big crowd. Apparently described as the next poster-boy of the ‘nu-folk’ scene, whatever that may be.”


From Hanna: “Sitting next to the overall organiser of tonight’s fun. One very cool lady.”


We’ve got pictures from Masaya’s earlier exploits! All photos by Ikhwan Kim:


“Heading to the afterparty,” says Hanna. “Word is there’s free drinks to be had! Decent showbiz blogging may follow…”


“Starting to get really packed over here at CARGO,” says Masaya. “Erland and the Carnival are on – what an incredible night it’s been so far. There’s a particularly lively bunch of girls at the front that seem to be having a good time.”

“Earlier got to meet one of the security guards, Sam: ‘Very busy tonight so far, but this is all very exciting.'”


Twitter may be having technical difficulties, but we’re still reporting!


Reporter Hanna is having a true Brick Lane experience.

“Brick Lane: bicycles, beer and balti! Excellent music distracted me a bit from THE FOOD. Quick curry
to keep us going. Lots of people at BLT with same idea.”


“Starting to spot some interesting dance moves, including a guy busting some swimming-inspired moves. Five hours of drinking lowers the inhibitions somewhat.”


“Pretty packed to see Three Trapped Tigers. Got a good spot at the front though.”


“Discovering lots of great bands I hadn’t come across before,” says Hanna. “Tubelord just at 93 Feet East was ace – Sam Little was watching them at the bar too!”


Word from Masaya:

“Made it all the way up to Cargo to find ourselves greeted by a lovely, intimate venue. Made up of bricks, the interior is warmly lit and has a festive atmosphere about the place. Lots of football-related decorations, many football fanatics are eyeballing the big-screen TV hung up high on the wall.

Mexico just scored a goal yet again , judging from some estranged cries it looks like we have some French supporters. Hoodlum has just come on and it becomes immediately clear they care about how they look as much as how they sound. I mean just look at the lead singer’s hair, it’ I can’t really describe it, kind of like a weird pseudo-afro thing going on there. Their attire looks quite sharp, all of them have styled hair.

Hoodlums are made up of keys, cello, a Les Paul-wielding guitarist and a drummer, all of whom do backing vocals. The opening track starts out with looped guitar feedback, a powerful ballad bursting into an up-beat almost shoegaze-ish folk tune. There’s a decent crowd turnout for this one – there’s a fantastic atmosphere about this place, with a nice shimmering disco ball. The lead singer occasionally picks up his sticker-covered acoustic guitar, adding some refreshing organic sounds to the electronic distortion. There’s a particularly enthusiastic fan swinging around up at the front there.

Wow, the lead singer is quite the showman. He’s got his foot on the monitor, swinging the mic around (and sometimes throwing it off-stage) and dancing around the stage. Reminds me of Bono during his 70s performance at the Old Grey Whistle Test. He’s real good with the crowd. Before the next song he shouted ‘Miscellaneous sex or long-term relationship?’. Audience enthusiastically booed the latter.

Hoodlums are actually quite well-performed, very showy, very smooth, best of all very energetic. They just announced they’re from Deptford – excellent, might feature them on ELL sometime. The volume is ear-shatteringly loud. You can actually feel the air vibrating. The track they’re playing now reminds me a bit of Michael Jackson. They strongly remind me of Guillemots, definitely. For the finale they really drove the crowd wild, a fantastic distorted guitar-driven breakdown. Very catchy…Aaand the singer finishes off by saying ‘contraceptives are always a good idea.’ Sound advice indeed…”


“Top celeb gossip: Mel of Big Brother fame has been spotted at Brick Lane Takeover.”


“Vibe Bar is the place to be. Clock Opera playing now.”


“Sun is setting and it’s getting busy now,” says Hanna.


“Brick Lane Takeover food update: gourmet grill in the lead – been back twice. Stay tuned for some proper music updates!”


If the photos from last year’s Brick Lane Takeover have got you feeling nostalgic, why not take it a step further with our second Spotify playlist?

Brick Lane Takeover 2009 – a playlist with love from EastLondonLines


Tweet by @souljaof4tune: “#TBLT getting better by the second, awesome bands loads of beer and great weather.”


Masaya’s having wifi issues, but filed this just after eight: “Now back at the VIBE, Jessie Rose Trip has just come on. Fronted by a pretty girl in cool clothing, they remind me a bit of the rock n’ roll-ish vibes of Debbie Harry and her work with Blondie. JRT are much more indie-tinged-in-your-face rock though with rumbling angry drums. Starting to get much more crowded now. Good response from the crowd as the lead singer talks at the crowd, very edgy and aggressive. Great energy.”


Hanna sends another picture: “All the brick lane lovelies enjoying the food and summers evening on Dray Walk.”


Another shot of description from earlier:

“Steve Smyth’s performance was interesting and very unique. In an almost blues-kind of way he passionately and very loudly sings – seems to have a strong fan base as the venue at Brickhouse was absolutely packed. The crowd was cheering, whooping and clapping all throughout his performance. He’s definitely one to see if you ever get a chance – it was just him and his guitar.”


Masaya on Beatbullyz:

“Slightly hip-hop influenced electro-esque, rap-kind of outfit, the way they act is very reminiscent of street-culture. Very lively, it was fantastic. The lead-man was very entertaining, very active, very energetic. A half-naked reindeer-mask-wearing suddenly arrived on-stage, hopping around and flailing his hands all over the place.

Beat Bullyz are interesting in the sense that they seem to dip in and out of a number of genres, all of them loud and brimming with energy. They use a drummer, a bassist, a DJ and a lead singer, supported by another vocalist on keys. They draw on sampled sounds and put smashing beats on top of it, driven forward by body-thumping bass lines.

Fantastically catchy and very entertaining – you could tell the audience was really enjoying them as well. At one point reindeer man hopped off the stage into the crowd, getting them to clap and jump around. They aren’t just a bunch of drunk blokes – their song titles suggest themes of identity, eg. ‘Human nature’. Lead singer had a ‘Stop Wars’ shirt on as well.”


“Impressive range of gourmet burger stalls at this festival,” says Hanna. “Will have sampled them all by the end of the night if I carry on like this. But at £4.50 a pop perhaps not.”


Reporter Masaya describes the atmosphere earlier:

“Checking out female party DJs Blonde Ambition, known for their fresh funky sets – green + red lights whizzing all over the place, would be a good atmosphere if it weren’t for the lack of turn-out. Looks like one of the DJs isn’t here yet – she’s solo-ing it for now, starting the set off with a funky disco classic.

A couple press photographers (or maybe just DSLR enthusiasts) are running around snapping shots of the DJ, who looks like she’s having a great time.More people are starting to come in now as a light, easy-going disco song comes on. Just listen to those classic disco strings. Wow, the photographers are really getting into her face there. Doesn’t seem like she minds though as she rocks on, moving vigorously to the rhythm. What’s nice about this venue is the music isn’t ear-splittingly loud. Okay, she’s really getting into the beats now. It’s almost like she’s here to dance rather than DJ. Either way, entertaining.

Small packs of people crowd the corners, bouncing to the beat. Some kind of oldie is on now, a bit jarring as it doesn’t flow very well from the last tune. A Macmillan officer’s here now, snapping more in-her-face photos. There’s a particularly enthusiastic dancer at the front of the venue, though she’s strangely doing all the dancing sitting down.”


From Hanna: “Rousing chants of ‘Cocaine!’ at Steve Smyth set at the Brickhouse – it’s the chorus to one of his songs!”


Don’t forget to take photos if you’re down in Brick Lane! If you’re not joining the festivities tonight, you could always relive last year’s event with these photos posted by Macmillan on Flickr:
Macmillan Cancer Support. - View my 'Macmillan's Brick Lane Takeover' set on Flickriver


“I was so spellbound by Cosmo Jarvis I forgot to tweet about it. Could well be a highlight of the evening…” tweets @HaveFunDoGood.


“World cup fever is alive and well at the BLT!” says reporter Hanna – “Rough Trade showing France v. Mexico.”


Tweeted reactions to music at TBLT: @spitalfieldsE1 says “Dead Town Radio at Vibe Bar excellent. Hint of new romantic.”


First sketch of the scene from reporter Masaya:

“The atmosphere  is lively and bustling with people tonight. Brick Lane Takeover has kicked off with bands starting up their gigs; I’m sitting right now next to the VIBE Bar in the press room. There are teams from different papers bustling about. Just ran into Eastlondonline’s video team. It was looking a little bare, but the organizers expect more turn-out as the night goes on.

Sam Phillips, PR Manager says: “Yeah it’s been really busy tonight so far, we’re expecting things to get even busier as the night goes on. Everything is kind of limited right now though, so it’s a little hectic.”

Katy, part of the PR team, says: “It’s going alright so far, I do hope there’s more people coming since last year it was quite big – definitely looking forward to it.”

Gemma Jones, minding the press guestlist stall, says: “Really impressed with the whole event, it’s really amazing. It’s all a bit busy right now!”

DTR starts the night off with an explosive bang. Twanging guitars lead the charge, backed up by deafening drums that drown out the slurring vocals. Whining synth pads fill the air. So far the VIBE bar is quite empty. The venue itself is illuminated by red lights, a lone spotlight shining on the band. Current song playing has interesting rhythms, a rowdy lively bunch with nice youthful energy but ultimately sounds like radio-friendly indie rock-pop you’ve heard before.”


TBLT is buzzing in the twittersphere. @mattgwhite says: “Brick Lane Takeover has a great line-up. Just met the lovely folks fom Kill It Kid….I really don’t feel cool enough to be here.”

18:29 user? Compare your taste with TBLT on its very own music profile. Or check today’s event page to find out who else’ll be there…


If you’re out and about and tweeting in Brick Lane tonight, you might like to know that the event has its own hashtag. Add #TBLT to your tweets to surf the social media wave. You can also find the official @TBLT Twitter account here.


First photo of the night! (right): Sam Little performing, snapped by Hanna.


Reporter Masaya spoke to Sam Phillips, PR Officer for the Takeover, who says they’ve been busy and expect a big turnout tonight. Limited numbers of everything!


Word on the ground is the atmosphere’s busy, with quite a crowd gathering.


Fancy sampling some of the sounds of the Brick Lane Takeover? We’ve compiled a special Spotify playlist featuring artists from this year’s event. Just click on the link below to listen (requires Spotify):

Brick Lane Takeover 2010 – a playlist with love from EastLondonLines


Reporter Hanna is in the East End and says things are already kicking off at Brick Lane, with Sam Little doing an acoustic set at Spitalfields. The sun’s still shining too!

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