London Placard Headphone Festival 2008

"One of the highlights of a long hot summer" -- The Wire
"Ludicrously straightfaced" -- The Guardian
"Freebie of the week" -- Time Out
"A far cry from Glastonbury or Reading" -- New Statesman
"the only way to understand the most communal musical gathering is to come along and plug in" -- kultureflash

London Placard 2003


Here is some background information for the proposed London Headphones Festival 2008.


Le Placard started in 1998 in Paris, France. At that time finding venues for alternative music was difficult, and police raids on unlicensed events were frequent. So instead Erik Minkkinen organised a headphone party in his small apartment, called 'placard' after the French word for 'cupboard'.

Since then this concept has grown to an international streaming festival, with tens of cities providing listening rooms for local and remote performances. Placard has formed part of the Mutek, Transmediale, Garage and Pixelache festivals. The event in Paris has itself grown into an institution, running for 72 hours straight where the audience sleep with their headphones on, still listening.

The Scheduler

London Placard

The first London Placard was in 2003, with its own innovations including 20 minute quick-fire performances, organised by a robot directing and switching between performers exactly to schedule. This way 42 acts can be squeezed into a 14 hour session from midday until 2am.

The London Placard has been a group effort supported by many collectives over the years including midRange, [no.signal], state51, the slow sound system, openlab, lurk, the slow soundsystem, moshi moshi records, coombe records, highpoint lowlife records and

Leafcutter John, London Placard 2003


So far the London Placard has been a collaboration of many, where everyone, including the Artists, have worked for free and use of the venue has also been provided gratis.

However as principle organiser, Alex McLean has experience in running professional events, including being the project manager for the highly successful LOSS Livecode Festival at Access Space in 2007, made possible through funding from the PRSF and Arts Council.


Around 40 acts perform at each event, and have included Leafcutter John, Adem, Jem Finer, Max Eastley and David Toop, Hot Chip, Icarus, Slub, John Chantler, Dallas Simpson, Motion, Yee-King, Sanso-Xtro, Si-Cut db and Janek Schaeffer.

Many performers play with the headphone situation, for example by passing microphones into the crowd without fear of feedback or using the detailed,p wide stereo field of headphones sometimes using binaural (in-ear) microphones.


Listening experience

Audio is powered by a bank of 16 headphone amplifiers, passively split into 108 stereo outputs, distributed around the space via four multicore cables. Listeners choose between four sound levels by picking a socket to match their headphone impedence. Listeners bring their own headphones, adaptors are provided for those with minijack inputs.

London Placard 2006

With headphone cables everywhere, moving around the space becomes an intra-audience performance art, part of the placard experience. Wireless headphones have been considered but would spoil this aesthetic, and also introduce practical problems with recharging batteries.

Placard 2003

A headphone listening room has a close atmosphere, the audience directly connected to the music maker. Listeners are often seen to remove their headphones for a while to take in acoustic sounds of a singer or instrument, or the quiet burbling of their neighbours' headphones.

From our headphones to yours


Anthony Guerra, Brown Sierra, Chesh, Colin Potter, Corlab Smac, Crowdformation, Cursor Minor, Dallas Simpson, Dual, Fabrice Moglini, Frankie The Robot, Gagarin, Gary Jeff, Holkham, Icarus, Iris Garrelfs, Ixi Project, Jem Finer, John Eacott, Jonathan Coleclough, LJ Kruzer, Leafcutter John, Max Eastley, Motion, .m u r m e r. , Peter Cusack, PowerBooks For Peace, Rashamon, Richard thomas, Si-cut.db, Sick Lincoln, Slowsoundsystem, Tex La Homa, Voodoo Muzak, We're Breaking Up

Information projection
8 Hours, 87central, A.M.P. Studio, Akira the don, Antenna Farm, CK Dexter Haven, Cedric Pin, Cheapmachines, Chris Coode, Claire Hope, Cylens, Dallas Simpson, David Toop, Discom, Dual, Duncan Whitley, Ed Bennett vs Cormac Heron, eg0, Emanuela de Angelis, Fisk Industries, Heller, Holkham, Hot Chip, Janek Schaefer, John Chantler, Jonathan Coleclough, Karina ESP, Leafcutter John, Main, Max Eastley, Michael Rodgers, Murmer, Nada, Nebogeo, Nullpointer, Paul Hood, Rashamon, Romuald Wadych, Same Actor, Sanso-xtro, Smack Miranda, Table, The Sound Of Squaljax & Farbulous, Thorsten Sideb0ard, Viv Corringham, Yellow6

London Placard 2003
Ardisson, Boca Raton, ButterflyCut, Cheapmachines, Chris Tosic, ClaudiusMaximus, Cormac Heron, Dithernoise, El Muniria, Empty Quarter, Foneq, Gagarin, Gavin Starks, John Chantler, John Macedo, Julian Weaver, Klipp av, Leafcutter John, Les 7 mondes, Liberation Jumpsuit, Matt Gray, Pete Marsh, Pline, Poptatari, RDA, Riccardo Mantelli, Sanso Xtro, Sanspiral, Signals, Slow sound system, Stefano Tedesco, The Reverbarater, Tonic Train, Unked Mobile Unit, VJ Ubergeek, Walker, slub, u:sun.
edgeeffect, pline/36 alarm clocks in milk churn, The People Speak, Krgn, Fubsan, e.g.0., Corlotlab, Dallas Simpson, Tim Blackwell, Slick Lister, Yee-King, Robert Atwood, Signals, sonicvariable + oli, Ollie Bown