The main stage at Summer on the City 2014 on Saturday was packed full of appearances, performances and other YouTube-fun-time galore from the likes of Tyler Oakley, Dan Howell, Phil Lester, Helen Anderson, Tessa Violet, BriBry, Mr Weebl and many more. TenEighty were there from 5pm to navigate the madness just for you (well, and to see if we’d won a YouTube Award.)
Hitting the stage at around 5.20PM, Helen Anderson and her band Box of Light were the first act to grace TenEighty’s eyes and ears. In a black and yellow sunflower dress Helen wooed the crowds with her flirty pin-up dancing and powerful yet soulful voice. Her vocal abilities is a delicate mix between the heartbroken wispy tones of Amy Winehouse and sheer power of Hayley Williams, and her onstage presence reflects this as she flitted between contained suggestive dancing around the mic stand to energetic moshing and head-banging.
Her vocals were accompanied by sweet, floaty harmonies and a beachy, summertime indie rock sound from her band. They’re definitely not what you’d expect at a YouTube convention. While a lot of YouTube performers do put a lot into their work and performances, it’s rare that you find an act that is as polished as Box of Light are. They’re not a novelty act or getting by solely because of Helen’s internet fame, they’re a fully-realised band that wouldn’t sound out of place on daytime radio.
But even with this high level of proficiency there was still space between songs to get glimmers of that bubbly and raunchy personality we all love Helen for. It was quite interesting to see the dramatic change from ‘rockstar Helen’ to ‘smiley-YouTube-personality Helen’. Those who know her solely for her videos would never expect such a soaring voice to come out of her, and likewise those who had only seen her perform would be surprised by how heart-warming and down-to-earth she is. The only thing Helen did wrong was chew gum on stage, but hey, for us it just added to her charm.
Next up on the main stage was the YouTube Awards. If we’re honest, no one really knew what this would be, and so quite a few people turned out to find out what it was all about. Essentially it was a pat on the back for five channels that had reached 100K subscribers and another five that had reached 1M, hosted by Dan Howell and Phil Lester. (So nothing for TenEighty then, it’s fine, we didn’t want anything anyway *looks longingly at empty mantlepiece*.)
We won’t lie, it felt slightly out of place with everything else going on at Summer in the City. But when you consider the broad backgrounds and content types of the silver or golden play-button recipients it did serve as a reminder of how big YouTube really is and just how much it encompasses.
Silver play-button recipients were: Gaijin rock band Area 11, guitar teacher Gareth Evans, Minecraft gamer Mr. Williamo as well as vloggers Doug Armstrong and Cherry Wallis. Golden play-button plaques were awarded to The Diamond Minecraft, dubstep and trap music channel UKFMusic, slow-motion specialists The Slow Mo Guys, BBC Radio 1’s YouTube channel and vlogger Joe Sugg.
We get what YouTube were trying to do here. It was a nice idea and a great way to celebrate the work of these amazing channels and benchmark their accomplishments. As we just mentioned, it really did highlight how vast YouTube is too. In fact, the community that Summer in the City is centred around often forgets how many other communities exist within YouTube’s realm.
But our main problem with this whole ceremony was how rushed, unprepared and generally half-arsed it seemed. Dan and Phil were mostly reading from scripts held in their hands throughout, none of the recipients were allowed to speak about their achievements (well apart from the representative from Radio 1 who Dan and Phil decided last minute could), and during Cherry’s bit the music carried on playing longer than it needed to. Maybe it was down to time constraints but it just really didn’t seem as sincere as it should have been.
And then for something completely different, screaming and shouting Lancifer erupted onto the main stage against his trademark glitchy electronic sound, with Klynch accompanying him on the decks. While here in the UK many of us aren’t familiar with all of his work, he did impress us with the sheet amount of energy he displayed onstage, jumping about throughout his set and still having the lung capacity to bellow all the long notes in his songs.
We’d go so far to say that Tessa Violet agreed with us. Joining him on stage for their track It’s Chill, she spends most of it watching Lancifer in awe as he popped out his moves during a dubstep breakdown.
At one point Lancifer burned a ukelele on stage. TenEighty aren’t sure what we feel about this. For us, the ukelele is a symbol of the early YouTube days, but as a community we know better than others that times change and therefore, it’s kind of cool that he did this.
Nonetheless, we’re left wondering what he really meant by this gesture and hoping that the nerdfighter generation aren’t planning an attack on Lancifer as we speak. We also hope it wasn’t Dodie Clark‘s ukelele he was burning, after all she’d only just finished building it a few weeks back!
Tyler Oakley hit the main stage next with special guest Benjamin Cook. It was only a short bit with Ben essentially interviewing him via questions submitted on twitter, but they fired through as many as they could and probably broke the Q&SLAYYY record.
Within 10 minutes we found out that Tyler would be played by Ellen DeGeneres in a movie, that his favourite thing about the UK is the boys, he’d have his twitter handle engraved on his gravestone and that his girl and boy YouTube crush are Zoe and Joe Sugg respectively. We don’t rate Tyler’s chances there.
At one point Ben asked Tyler if he was a good kisser and leaned towards him for a kiss. Considering how many times Ben reminded Tyler to “keep it clean”, we think he should take some of his own advice. Filthy that Ben Cook, filthy.
Seasoned performer and traveller-of-the-World BriBry was up next, bringing his delicate tones to Summer in the City. Having been to The Upload Tour earlier this year, TenEighty knew exactly what to expect, and we were excited to see him light up Alexandra Palace. What we got was more of his warm yet heart-wrenching vocals, pretty and profound lyrics and soft harmonies provided by his fiancee Candice Cathers and tour-mate Dave Giles.
We’ve said it before but it’s worth saying again: BriBry has the ability to harness the energy of a loud and excitable audience and transform the atmosphere into one of contemplation and stillness. Throughout his performance the audience sung along gently, creating an unique vibe within Alexandra Palace that hadn’t been felt during the entirety of Summer in the City thus far.
Yet, as always with BriBry, there was plenty of room for his ‘Irish charm’. For example, during his performance of Adventure Time after singing the lyric “if i lose my Irish charm,” he shouted “Potato!”, and at one point we’re sure he winked at Candice after the line “if I enter fatherhood”. It’s these facets of his persona, and how they seep through in his performances that make him such a loveable YouTube personality.
Dan and Phil returned to the stage next with Dan and Phil Live. It primarily consisted of the duo playing the whiteboard game with PJ Liguori hosting. During the 10 minute stint we found out that Dan would save his laptop from a fire, Phil’s worst habit is leaving socks around the house, Dan’s celebrity crush is Jennifer Lawrence and that Phil’s nightmare meal is cheesy mushrooms.
The whiteboard game is often a risky move for YouTube personalities as it relies on how invested an audience is in the relationship and chemistry between the two people taking part. Thanks to their natural chemistry, which has of course been harnessed and refined by years of making videos, working at Radio 1 and living together, we believe everyone was invested.
In a strange way it reminded us of our personal favourite whiteboard game featuring actors Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen. We hope when Dan and Phil are their age they’ll play it again, looking back fondly over their respective careers and friendship throughout it all.
Returning to the stage after her cameo during Lancifer’s set, Tessa Violet was greeted by warm cheers for a surprisingly mellow performance. While Tessa sang and rhythmically strummed her guitar, she was backed up by Rusty Clanton, who led on guitar, stomped a tambourine and harmonised with her, as well as a man named Martin who tapped and thumped a Cajon and shook an egg shaker.
This stripped-back and simple set-up beautifully accompanied Tessa’s sultry and petite voice, which seductively swayed through songs like Small, Make Me A Robot and Tenessee. In fact, Small is a very good example of how far Tessa has come since her Summer in the City performance last year. Her vocals, guitar playing and stage presence have all been refined and because of this her set was gentle, sensual and far more realised than it has ever been before.
Closing her set, Tessa whipped out a ukelele for Just Right encouraging the crowd to join her on the melodic refrain. The song is a good example of how catchy, pleasant and uplifting a lot of her music is. It was all very cuddly and twee and somehow even warmed TenEighty’s icy, critical heart.
Finally on the main stage, Summer in the City veteran Jonti Picking AKA Mr. Weebl returned for his third headlining spot at the event. Accompanied by his wife Sarah Darling on backing vocals and Oliver Age 24 on synths and launchpad, Weebl and gang threw glow sticks out into the crowd and encouraged everybody to rave out.
We were treated to a seamless set of all his hits both new and old, such as Badgers, Business Cat, Amazing Horse, Narwals and a few Savlonic tracks. Throughout the set the original animations played on the screen behind them, which paired with the lights, glow-sticks and Jonti’s rough and comical wailings really created a unique experience that you’d only get at a YouTube gathering.
We at TenEighty have two personal highlights from the set, the first being the dubstep breakdown duringBusiness Cat which we reckon was the first time Alexandra Palace had ever seen a group of geeky teenagers and young adults dropping low.
The second was Tom Ridgewell‘s cameo as Mrs. Johnson during Amazing Horse. There’s something about a dancing female figure with a horse head in a dress that’s the right mix of silly and absurd that results in the simply hilarious. At one point there were some technical difficulties and the sound cut out, but no one really noticed because we had Mrs. Johnson dancing up and down the stage to distract us.
The madness of Mr. Weebl was truly a fitting end to an evening full of varied and thrilling entertainment on the main stage at Summer in the City, but also a perfect way to gear people up for Sunday.
Despite some technical hiccups here and there, the whole day ran smoothly and it’s hard to imagine anyone going away feeling that they’d wasted their money. What you get at Summer in the City is bonkers, but it’s fun and it encapsulates so many different corners of this online community we are all a part of. And the best bit? We still had a whole day left to go.
Want more Summer in the City coverage?
For more pictures from Saturday at Summer in the City check out our Facebook Album here, or take your pick from the following photo-sets over on Tumblr:
- Helen Anderson & Box of Light
- Tyler Oakley & Benjamin Cook
- Dan and Phil Live with PJ Liguori
- Tessa Violet with Rusty Clanton
- Mr. Weebl with Darling, Oliver Age 24 & Mrs. Johnson
- Louise Pentland at the TenEighty Stand
- Comedy Panel
- LGBTQ+ Panel
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