Keith Goldhanger gets out of bed early, has a cold shower and visits day two of East London’s Visions Festival.
Considering this was yet again another one of those ‘hottest days for three hundred years’ or something those of us who ventured back to the scene of the previous evenings shenanigans found huge comfort in the success of East London’s air conditioning suppliers.
We’re in England, we like to talk about the weather.
It was unbearably hot outside at street level and every time we left a venue the heat would hit us like a Mediterranean holiday resort.
There really was no better place to be during this hot spell than inside cool rooms with superb bands some of us may not have been aware of six months ago. Visions Festival 2018 was blistering in more than one sense (If that sounds a bit too Alan Partridge we’ll take that line out at a later date).
We learn a little bit more in the first hour why BLACK MIDI seem to be a few peoples favourite band at the moment. They take a while to get going but once the first time listener has got to grips with the idea that there won’t be any catchy choruses or tunes to clap our hands above our heads to then we find ourselves nodding agreeably to the breaks in between any (quite strange sounding) vocals (someone mentions Cartman from South Park) that we’re lapping up (and the drums – the intense, fabulous drumming is very much of our liking) and we try to follow in order to come to grips with this bands challenging music. Pere Ubu come to mind and we start remembering 80’s band Big Flame and recall how we never really liked them but felt the need to attempt (quite a lot of times) to understand what they were doing, how they were doing it and sporadically ask why? There’s a feeling a second or third look will have to take place before the year is out. Scour the internet for tunes and they become addictive.
A short trek around the corner to see JOCKSTRAP stand in front of us and provide a short and very weird set of tunes that are chaotic, do nothing to get our feet tapping, feature a screeching violin, some very odd sounding keyboards, some not so odd percussion and………a flute.
We’ve said too much… time to move on.
RIVAL CONSOLES (Ryan Lee West) is playing at Oval Space, a venue that a year or two ago was akin to standing in a sweltering greenhouse during the afternoon. They’ve curtained the side windows and it’s a comfortable room to be in as a few hundred people congregate inside and dance around without the need to call for some paramedics. Glitchy, dance orientated electronic music not a million miles from some of those early Cabaret Voltaire tunes we still adore after all this time, at times bereft of percussion and superb to listen to at this volume for the best part of an hour. This is glorious entertainment for tea time on a Saturday evening only ruined slightly by it still being 5pm Saturday night and not 5am on a Saturday or Sunday morning. This would be more appreciated by an audience barely able to stand let alone chat to their mates about their expensive sunglasses, nightmare journey on the tube whilst also complaining about people who keep walking around the venue during the show as they try to make some space between these people who keep chatting and the act we’re standing in front of. Much of this years Persona album got an airing, it’s an album to play in the garden during these hot nights. Stay awake long enough and it’s a great sound track as the sun rises too.
CARLA DAL FORNO is an enjoyable addition to our plans. Heaps of electronic trickery to the left accompanied by Carla singing sweet laid back tunes as she plays the simplest yet very effective bass.
BLUE HAWAII are a Canadian duo that look and act like a big band playing a small venue and making a great time of it. We don’t know if this is an act that attracts hundred or thousands of people elsewhere in the world but these tunes are made for huge crowds to dance around to (late at night…flashing lights…you don’t need the picture painted any clearer). Verses Gain gets performed early on, it’s a fabulous tune that deserves to be a big summer hit. Maybe it is. We’ve seen enough to be in love with this band and as well as giving ourselves a good reason to make sure we go and see this again one day. We’d like to think they’ll return in the next few months and play a nice long set like Marie Davidson did at the Moth club last year (after playing the same slot a year ago at this event). Good pop music, fun people by the looks of things, great band with a great collection of tunes on display. Vocalist Raphaelle Standell-Preston has a history with art rock ensemble Braids, Blue Hawaii are a band well worth seeking out for the initiated. This duo have been the best discovery at Visions this year for at least one of us.
SPORTS TEAM are always full of beans and mischief and today is no different. Alex Rice is playing air golf in between verses, chats about fishing for Carp in between songs, he dances like Ian Curtis, surfs the crowd, takes over the percussion so the drummer can crowd surf herself, appears to be asking audience members at the back out side for a fight then starts shaking the hands of the front row asking them their names, why they’re here and being as polite as he probably is in front of his granny. A well honed set of songs are played out with roaring ferocity. They’re like Pavement with Kevin Rowland on vocal duties. Certainly couldn’t be classed as being slack though and as guitars slide out of tune and songs become more recognisable by the minute we start to realise we have a band on a roll this year who have a collection of tunes that have a few years in them still and will no doubt become many peoples favourites over the forthcoming months. There’s a mosh pit that must involve fifty percent of those here and it’s a bit hot in the Sebright Arms (the clever ones know that if you hog the right hand side of this tiny room the air conditioning works a treat). Sports Team are a band that many people will know about over the next couple of years and if you’re quick they’re still available to witness around the UK in smallish venues if you want to have listen to what we expect could be a fabulous debut album we’ll all get to hear one day.
In just over two years HMLTD have gone from what one of us thought was possibly the worst band in the world to what could possible be the the best during their rise from the tiny Stags Head pub around the corner to where we are today inside Oval Space. Without even adding very much more to the songs they possessed then they’ve managed to plod on and allow at least one listener to play catch up. This is a band that’ll probably headline Reading one day and it’ll be ace even if we can’t see anything. This was a big show in a decent sized room and despite their own on stage struggles these songs they have still managed to sound more fucked up any other band happen to own at the moment. To The Floor seems to go on for ages. It’s barely Three and a half minutes long but there’s so much happening. Remember when we first saw photo’s and read articles about Marilyn Manson and then sighed loudly once we stood in front of one of his shows hugely disappointed that it was so plain and conventional and was not very dissimilar to what so many rock bands had been doing over the years and that the only shocking experience was one of ordinariness ? – HMLTD make the music that was in our heads at this time that we thought the God of Fuck was going to deliver.
The six or sixteen piece band (whatever way you want to view these things) arrive late, tackle the sound problems that only themselves seem aware of and open the proceedings with Proxy Love. Tonight they’re covered in white paint, wearing white underpants smeared with a bit if black paint alongside naked mannequins (and a couple of ringers that kept blinking). A man on stilts staggers on and by the time we’ve stopped gasping we’re dancing to a tune that actually sounds more like The Village People than any tune anyone has even come within spitting distance of for over three decades. HMLTD would be playing at (London Goth club) the Batcave if this was 1983 and audience members would be looking like their heroes. We always like bands to look like pop stars and this band play the part more than any other act in existence at the moment. Adam and the Ants, Visage, King Kurt, Specimen, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Prodigy, Virgin Prunes…….no need to analyse all these comparisons individually just the names may tempt those still unaware of the bands existence to visit a show soon. We could mention as many other bands for every other song too if pushed, they manage to ram as much glorious noise and dance breaks as you could ever imagine possible into a song.
The feeling that a lot of people will dislike this as much as we did after a first introduction will attract peoples attention. It’s probably what they set off to achieve in the first place and they’re the band your parents will hate (Who was the last band that achieved this?). In twenty years time they’ll (your parents and their mates) will go to see them whilst you’re busy repeating they’re not as great as they used to be. One of those bands.
This was one of the most dark, glamorous, hectic, fucked up and insane shows some of have seen for years. We swerved Idles for this because we hoped it would be as rewarding than it was. We were not disappointed. Gig of the year (we said this last night too!) that threatened to be over after five minutes which may have still made the whole experience worthwhile.
Visions is becoming one of the most enjoyable diverse events of the year. We’ve covered the last few now and with a little preparation it’s possible to come away with as many memories as a three day weekend in a field. Apart from the Idles show, queues were minimal, performances top notch, timings adhered to and the air conditioning provided all with the most comfortable way of spending the afternoon and evening during the heatwave we’re having in the UK at the present time.
Roll on Visions 2019 and forever more. A fabulous event again in 2018.
All words by Keith Goldhanger. More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Keith on Facebook and Twitter (@HIDEOUSWHEELINV). You may subscribe to the Goldhanger Shorts Facebook page or browse some of his photos too if you so wish.