Elefest, the music and arts festival celebrating Elephant and Castle – an area famous mainly for its roundabout, subways, and hideous architecture – held their opening night on Thurday at The Coronet Theatre. Now in its twelfth year, Elefest’s director and founder, Rob Wray, says, “Elefest is special because it celebrates one of the most maligned and misunderstood areas of London, we created Elefest to celebrate the cultural and creative diversity of the area and the people who live in it.”

The Coronet Theatre, one of Elephant and Castle’s oldest and most glamourous buildings, has been a theatre, cinema, WW2 bomb shelter, and now a place for live music and clubbing.

After going through an airport-style metal detector (this is Elephant and Castle, afterall), you come into what could be the original ticket hall, and then down a short maze of corridors, and come out into a decent-sized bar area overlooking the stage.

Down below is the floor with a capacity of 2600, which may have been just a little excessive for the 30-or-so people in the audience – often there were more people at the bar than down at the stage.

So small was the crowd, the lead singer of the opening band, Lois and the Love, seemed to know most of them, taking the time to say hello to a few of them in the crowd between songs.

“I’m usually a good girl. On stage I’m a bad girl,” said Lois Winstone in her sweet, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-her-mouth cockney accent, at the end of a set featuring some pretty erotic dancing in a silver cat-suit. While the band are performing, you’d never guess that’s how she speaks. Lois and the Love are loud, dramatic, and aggressive – Winstone’s vocals walk a tightrope between a screaming rage and a vulnerability that gives emotion and humanity to all the aggression.

Next on were a band with an un-googleable name, Movie. Movie are definitely very quirky, from their look – the lead singer wearing a suit jacket over his bare torso, the other members wearing caps – the sort my granddad wore, not the baseball variety – to their crisp, quick-paced Indie/Punk music.

They started off strong, but only truly came alive when the guitarist/keyboardist decided playing just two instruments was no longer enough and started to sing, his crisp, baritone voice really adding an edge to the lead’s much cleaner, higher-pitched voice.

They finished their set with an aggressive climax, the guitarist/keyboardist showing Metal inclinations as he headbanged through the final song, revealing hair longer than you’d expect hidden under the smart-looking cap.

“Why don’t you come closer,” said Escapist’s frontman at the beginning of their set, “I can see a lot of floor.” Escapist played maybe the most polished set of the night and are fine for those who want to relive the indie sounds of the mid-noughties, which they do a great job of mimicking, but without bringing anything really new. Still, they’ve only recently released their debut album, titled Only Bodies, so I’m sure they’ll find their own voice sooner or later.

The night finished with a couple of Maccabee members playing a DJ set. They played some hits, including the Beatles’ Revolution, but by then there were only a few remaining listeners.

The opening night of Elefest, which could have been an excellent show, was ultimately let down by being in a venue much too large. Though it was well worth seeing for Lois and the Love and Movie, you can’t help feeling it would have been livelier and more exciting if held somewhere a lot smaller.