Saturday, 18 July 2009

On The Scene - United Underground

Full version of today's londonpaper column. I had to cut it down, but if you're up for some edutainment tomorrow, United Underground is us.

On The Scene
Chantelle Fiddy

Activism isn’t just about protesting or waving a banner, believe it or not music and clubbing can play a role too. Demonstrating this is United Underground, a new event launching on Saturday at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (QEH), Southbank Centre.

A partnership between Riz Ahmed (the award winning actor and MC), Ctrl.Alt.Shift (an experimental initiative for young adults who want to tackle global injustice), British Underground (an arts development agency) and Southbank Centre, United Underground is using music, film and art to highlight different ways of becoming an activist.

“I wanted to put on something that brings in a crowd who might not normally go there, and inject the amazing spaces with a fresh underground energy - we're storming the gates and changing the furniture around a bit so everyone feels like they can live here…” explains Ahmed. “The event is about re-connecting music, and other arts forms to activism in a way that is bold and doesn't feel stale or swept under the carpet.”

The event, which kicks off at 5pm, will also be the first club party to be held on the roof of the Southbank. Acoustic sessions from soon-to-be-massive acts including MPHO, Jamie Woon, Maverick Sabre, Gabriel Prokofiev and Theoretical Girl, will be broken up with talks from people who get active in their own unique ways. Speakers on the line-up range from film directors Peter Kosminsky and Noel Clarke, to Iran's Twitter demonstrators and war torn Baghdad’s gay rights activists.

“We've got a stellar lineup of some of the biggest acts around who have all waived their performance fee because they believe in the idea of a party that aims to get people thinking and active. Ultimately this is a conscious rave and festival wrapped up as a rooftop party - but still at a credit crunch beating £5 a ticket.”

For those who don’t like too much fresh air, inside the QEH club promoters Man Make Music, Dirty Canvas and Urban Nerds are coming together to showcase the best of what they bring to the London dance scene, with talent including Afrikan Boy, Bashy, Ice Kid, Lowkey, True Tiger, DJ Djinn and many more putting in appearances. Also ready to keep you occupied are the Craftivists who will teach you how to stitch and sew your own activism materials. Film buffs can also watch climate change flick The Age of Stupid, Rendition and a series of shorts from Ctrl.Alt.Shift and Film London while they’ll be a live fanzine being created for revellers to take away on the night - anyone can get involved by simply twittering, taking a picture on their mobile or dropping a review of a DJ set to the news desk on the night.

With the evenings proceedings rounding off at 11pm, if you’re looking for an afterparty, join the Super Furry Animals Freak Out, an all night acid warehouse party hosted by the band themselves. The Furries will be returning to Corsica Studios, Elephant Road, SE17, straight after their Somerset House show with mates Cherrystones, Andy Votel and Pete Fowler. Tickets are £10 on the door. Finishing at 6am it makes for an epic finale.

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