So I did Land of Kings last weekend. First point: this post of JWZ's, written about Homeless WiFi Fest....sorry, sorry...SXSW, has quite a bit of general validity. The points about not sticking to the schedule, not sticking around if someone is late, and not chasing the party, are all gold dust. I worked this out by following none of that advice.
On day one, we checked in for the wristbands, bounced off the new venue (Birthdays) which turned out not to be ready, and to the Shacklewell Arms to see some vaguely Kitsuné-ish French band, who were mediocre. I can recommend Hasan's for the kebabs, which were excellent even in the light of twitter updates from Alexandra Palace, where they'd finally got their finger out to tell us about the mayor.
Pressing on, we headed to the Vortex for the Mauritian folk-dub bloke (it was hard to say if he was playing or not), the Alibi for Dollop (forgettable and in fact only not forgotten by consulting the schedule), and the Servants' Jazz Quarters for someone with an outrageously silly band name who was actually very good. By this point, disenchantment with the whole project was setting in.
In fact, it had been feeling like work for some time, and my partner was getting into a multiple-walkout sort of mood, and in the end she wasn't up for day two. As the rules have it, day two was actually much better, and the line-up should have told me that. This time out I made a list (it's always the solution), with Is Tropical, Maurice Fulton, Speech Debelle, Hannah Holland, and the special guest who turned out to be Gilles Peterson listed as options.
I had to spend a week listening to a man in a white leather Schott Perfecto jacket yelling into a mobile phone in a mixture of Polish, Spanish, and what Ian Thomson called "a ghastly pimp's English" on the 87 bus - I couldn't work out if he meant it, as every so often he stopped speaking, listened, and replied "Yes. Yes. Of course. No. Yes." like someone's IT director - but even that didn't worry me much.
As it happened I didn't get away from the Brownwood/Peterson set until Tropical had done their thing and gone, due to dancing (someone thrust a DSLR at me, but as far as I know the photo didn't make the cut, and anyway I saw them last year at XOYO), but the Debelle gig was fantastic even if it involved perching on a flight case and hanging on to the DJ's PA stack. The cover of Tupac's "Changes" was special and amazingly nobody seems to have youtubed it.
I had to be back for an early start, to get down to the French polling booth, so more Hollande than Holland.