Sound and Vision

This weekend I’ve been at the Hackney-based multi-venue festival, Visions.

P1100908

You know the sort of thing; see a band, run down the road, see another band, spend 10 minutes studying the schedule, run back to the  first venue, see a band, grab a sandwich, see a band…

Now, I’m pretty lazy, so all that running sounds less like fun than I’d like, but I did get to see the usual mix of hits and misses.

The day didn’t start too well. I aimed to get to the wristband pick up point in time to get my wristband and then see at least some of the set by Oscar @ The Laundry before my ‘must see’ for the festival, Girl Band. Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astry, especially when they come up against the monster that was The Great Wristband Queue of 2015. Honestly, I’ve been in some monster queues before but this was ridiculous. Stretching away into the distance, round the corner, stretching away into the distance again, round the corner, oh! I can see the end of it. Starting off a festival like this is a little disheartening, to say the least, as I really thought that despite being there over an hour before Girl Band were due on, the queue situation would probably mean that I was going to miss them (one of the security people was actually telling people to go away and come back in a hour!).

I’m pleased to report that the process didn’t take as long as I had feared it would and I was able to get the necessary wristband and get to the venue just in time to bag a spot for the Girl Band set. Phew! Disaster averted.

So, to Girl Band @ The Laundry. I’ve written a little about this Dublin 4-piece before. They haven’t played in London for a little while and have new material, so I was keen to see them.

Girl Band 1

They started their set with their fun cover of Blawan’s Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage. This is always pretty  popular at gigs and the gruesome video has gone down a storm 😀

Girl Band 4  Girl Band 3

The set wasn’t that long, but it did include the new single and album track, Paul. The vocalist, Dara sounded like he’d been gargling with gravel, but, as always it was good fun. I’m looking forward to the new album.

Girl Band 2

After a fortifying cup of coffee, I went back into The Laundry to see Merchandise. I don’t know this band and so didn’t really know what to expect, but I have since seen them described as “meat ‘n’ potatoes indie rock” and I’d say that sounds about right. To be honest, there was a bit too much of the U2s about this band for my liking, so I only stayed for about three songs and then skipped over the road to The Brewhouse to catch a bit of Torn Hawk. This is a one-man project using laptop and guitar, with visuals, samples, spoken work clips and beats. It was ok but I found myself movie-spotting his samples and film clips and the whole thing didn’t hold my interest enough to compensate for the extreme sweatiness of the venue.

For the next bit of the early evening, I had to make a big decision; Son Lux or Gazelle Twin. They were playing at venues that were about a mile apart, Oval Space and the new, not even open yet, Moth Club, so there was no possibility of skipping between the two. In the end I opted for Gazelle Twin @ Moth Club but as I had a little bit of a wait before they were due on, I went for a cuppa. In retrospect this probably wasn’t the best idea because when I got back to The Moth Club, there was a queue and it was ‘one-in, one-out’. So I  waited. By this time I couldn’t go to Son Lux as it was too far away to be able to get there in time to see anything (and, of courses, with no guarantee of being able to get in there), so I just waited.

I did get in eventually and the venue was rammed. It was really good though.

Gazelle Twin

Two faceless hooded figures pumping out quite sparce but relentless beats, and chanted vocals. It’s actually a bit creepy despite the cool danceability. There’s a lot of dark energy in this.

Gazelle Twin 2

For the rest of the evening, there was a variety of choices, but most of the ones I might have been interested in were either in the Moth Club where I already was, or in venues all the way back down past London Fields, so I decide to just stay put. Due to the threat of more queuing, I didn’t even go back outside, I just took up residence at The Moth Club and this proved to be a good move (or non-move).

The next act was Blanck Mass, another solo project, this time by one half of the Fuck Buttons.

Blanck Mass 1

The first part of the set was essentially soundscapes, arrhythmic and meandering, but this also kept morphing imperceptibly into rocking beats that had the crowd whooping like a dance crowd. This felt to me like a cross between music production and DJing where the DJ works the crowd and builds different moods throughout the set without anything as obvious as a break between tracks. Put together with some great abstract visuals, this was a real treat of a set.

For the end of the evening, I’d had a choice between Holy Fuck @ Oval Space and H09909 @ Moth Club as I’d decided to end the night on something fairly fierce. H09909 it was.

HO99O9 3   HO99O9 4

I also rather liked the Moth Club, despite the fact that, by now, it was pretty sweaty, so it seemed like a good place to end the night. Good choice.

HO99O9

I’ve seen H09909 described as hip hop and I can more or less understand why, but this was really hardcore. The whole this reminded me strongly of some of the old school hardcore gigs that I used to go to at the end of the ’80s. They don’t play the same kinds of instruments, these days it’s a laptop and samples, but they also had a live drummer and, overall, the set had a air of unpredictability and, at times, more than a touch of chaos.

HO99O9 2

This was enormous fun. There was a proper mosh-pit and I’m afraid that The Moth Club may have to do some repairs, as revellers were hanging off the lighting  track and may have trashed the projector. I hope that the people at the club think that it was worth it to be christened in such a joyful and memorable fashion.

So this proved  a fine ending to a mixed day.

I’ll start with the not so good. The queues. I didn’t get it too badly, overall I probably spent about an hour or so queuing, but I’ve seen a lot of frustration being expressed on Twitter about being completely unable to get into gigs. Last year’s festival really didn’t have this problem, so it must be because of the increased capacity brought by adding St. John Church to the list of venues.

The other problem that this caused was that the venues are now quite a long way apart. There’s a little cluster near-ish to London Fields and then two more and the food/beer market up at Hackney Central. This is about a 20 minute walk, making it far more difficult to flit between venues, perhaps checking out unfamiliar bands. It became more necessary to plan every move and try to get to the appropriate venue well before the bands were due on.

Talking of the food market, the Visions-affiliated food outlets involved a bit too much ‘pulled-porkery’ for my tastes. There is definitely an American influence running through hipster food. It’s very meat’n’cheese-heavy and everything has to be ‘pulled’. I gave it a miss.

The good? The music, of course. For me it was Girl Band, Gazelle Twin, Blanck Mass and Ho99o9, who were all cracking. A lot of Tweeps clearly had a good time despite the odd hiccup. For me, the quality and range of music on offer outweighed the negative points outlined above.

And then there’s the brand new Moth Club.

Moth 1

How could I not love a new club that has a golden ceiling? Golden ceiling!! 😀

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I look forward to spending more evenings there.

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