Various Venues, Hackney, London-5th of August 2017.
Visions Festival is a yearly day-festival in Hackney, London that has a nice mix of different kinds of alternative music, be it dark electronica or twee indie. With the festival taking place across a handful of venues, it’s difficult to see everyone you want to, with capacity limits, ques and stage times, but we thought we’d talk about the artists we did see, because boy they deserve some attention.
Frankie Cosmos delivers breezy, loose indie-rock. Songs are short and sweet with a bare-bones approach that really helps the intimacy of the tunes come out. Quite a few of them seem to end, fairly suddenly, but it adds to the band’s easy-going nature. One of the songs even has a line that admits it doesn’t know what the next line should be and the whole vibe is warm and fuzzy.
Kero Kero Bonito are as joyous as music gets. With their songs carrying such a carefree attitude and the most playful, cutesy sound, made by Nintendo-like beats and lyrics of just going with the flow. They deliver a highly colourful, upbeat set. However, what becomes clearer about Kero Kero Bonito live, rather than on record, is how much muscle and swing is hidden in their songs. The rapidness underlying in ‘Graduation’ or the angular jittering of ‘Trampoline’ are usually disguised by such brightness, but are more apparent when tons of people are bouncing hard to them, no matter how much adorable charm coats their songs. In terms of their performance they’re equally as colourful with vocalist Sarah Midori Perry always skipping around and there being stuffed animals and other objects used for props during songs, for instance a toy flamingo for, you guessed it, ‘Flamingo.’
Jenny Hval’s brooding avant-synth-pop is the polar opposite, but equally impactful. Her sound is driven by slow-burning, tough, but morose synths and Hval’s limping vocals. From start to finish, you’re put in this spellbinding trance you could be hypnotised into being in forever. It’s often pitch-black during their set and Hval and her band are in dark silk cloaks to make for a dark-magic-like atmosphere. They have a strong lightshow, which is subtle, but effective, the way super bright beams slowly descend and look like they’re going to burn into people.
Arguably the hottest producer in the game, SOPHIE, closes us out today. Whether it be his own material, or production credits to other artists, SOPHIE usually brings a sound that’s akin to everyday materials like plastic, rubber and metal being warped into squeaky beats, then put through a pop filter.
He doesn’t play any of his own songs today, however he plays a ton of, what one can only guess is unreleased material, which delivers on being thick, hard and mind-bending, but also colourful, direct and bubbly. This is the sound that’s made SOPHIE’s work such gold so far and likewise it makes his set a real winner today as people are bouncing and twirling to songs they don’t even know. One song in particular feels like a conveyor belt going and then a smaller conveyor belt appearing inside, and them in separate times, so you’re not sure what to make of it.
Whilst he doesn’t play any songs under the SOPHIE name, he does drop songs he has his name to, like Vince Staples’ ‘Yeah Right’ which he teases by looping the ‘boy yeah right yeah right yeah right, BOY YEAH RIGHT YEAH RIGHT YEAH RIGHT’ hook for a while, which alone gets people jumping, before unleashing the whole thing. He also finishes his set playing Charli XCX’s ‘Lipgloss’ which he extends, so rubbery, glimmering arpeggios and blindingly bright lights make you feel like you’re ascending to heaven.
Overall, this was a damn fine day and even across the handful of acts we managed to see, it’s clear this is a festival of many flavours that anyone is bound to find at least something they like about it. Whether it be gentle, cuddly, doomy or bizarre there was always something enticing going on today.
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