Visions Festival returned to Hackney this weekend, spreading itself over four venues; Oval Space, The London Fields Brewhouse, The Laundry and the all new Moth club. The sheer varsity of genres that Visions, now in its third year, is stereotypical of booking can perhaps be quite confounding, and this year was no different. There was the punk angry shouting of Girl Band, and then the breezy dance music beat of Las Vegas’s 20 year old Shamir, along with Spanish band Hinds who epitomise any summer soundtrack…
It starts with Oscar at The Laundry; the band’s polished throwing it back to Britpop. Lead singer Oscar Scheller’s sultry vocals working its way through ‘Beautiful Words’, ‘Daffodil Days’ and ‘Forget Me Not’, the perfect blend of indie-pop to begin the festivities, the crowd already working up a sweat. Pixx open up the London Fields Brewhouse, the BRIT school graduate – who recently signed to record label 4AD – performing ‘Flee’ and her debut single ‘Fallen’, along with the track ‘Rupture’; an enrapturing set, especially considering her and her band are only in their infancy. She commandeered the stage, a presence when performing quite set apart from her endearingly awkward small talk between songs.
Girl Band, the Dublin four piece, attract one of the largest crowds of the day, the excitement and atmosphere around them seemingly ever increasing. They give a raucous set, lead singer Kiely growling and slurring his way angrily through ‘Lawman’, and new single ‘Paul’, most lyrics unintelligible (“You’re a dog! You’re a dog!” being heard during ‘You’re A Dog’, which seems to be the entirety of the song’s lyrics). With a stage presence that makes you never want to tear your eyes away from them, the unfittingly named Girl Band are definitely maintaining the excitement surrounding them.
Hinds bring a summer filled, feel good set to the Oval space just before the sun starts setting. Greeting the crowd with “Hola! Hola! Hola! Hola!” they launched into ‘Trippy Gun’, breezily providing the packed art showroom with ‘Tin Can’, new track ‘Chili Town’, and ‘Bamboo’, before ending on a cover of Thee Headcoatees’ ‘Davey Crockett’ and hitting an eye ball piñata open, decorating the front row with balloons and streamers.
Shamir showcases his usual sass and dance music, the crowd dancing up a sweat as he works his way through ‘Make A Scene’ and a massive audience sing along of ‘On The Regular’, before letting his hair down – literally – performing his last track with his dreads out and free from his usual quiff style; he is Medusa, winning the crowd and leaving them gushing, quips of “I’m SO glad you made me come see him” being heard afterwards. His set brought to a close as he jumps into the crowd, dancing his way through to the back of the auditorium, hugging people as he leaves – me included, obviously.
Fat White Family bring the day to a close at The Laundry, the 6-piece lounging up on stage with their usual hint of insaneness, a lethargic drawl of ‘Auto Neutron’ beginning the set. They manag to remain relatively clothed until their second song, already three topless, and lead singer Saudi embracing the front row, whipping his beer covered hair in their adoring faces. They’re a freak of nature, no such other band seems able to provoke middle aged men to crowd surf with such aggressiveness, even though they’re wearing socks and sandals; ‘Cream Of The Young’ was met with a sea of feet straight into the air, one after the other failed surfing attempts. ‘Is It Raining In Your Mouth?’ was a mass crowd sing along, with Saudi crowd surfing with precise skill only he processes. Fat White Family are the perfect end to the festival, even managing to get a bunch of middle aged people to cheerfully and exuberantly chant the mantra of ‘Bomb Disneyland’.