Visions Festival returns for its second year this Saturday (August 2), taking place across different warehouses, venues, spaces and outdoor areas in London Fields, Hackney.
After the fast sellout of its first edition in 2013, there have been a lot of expectations of how the festival would reinvent itself. Luckily, not only musicians would sign up for this multi-cultural summer date. In addition to the concerts at its four venues –The Oval Space, The Laundry, Hackney New Empowering Church and London Fields Brewery – there will be exhibitions of local artists, the Skull Paradise Exhibition, a Tattoo Art show (brought by Liam Sparkle), a vinyl record fair (Flashback) and Breakdown Press Comic Fair. Netil Rooftop, which was one of the venues last year, will also open its doors to offer cocktails from Sailor Jerry Rum Shack, BBQs and hot tubs. Pretty diverse.
From the 23 artists that participated last year, 32 artists are getting ready to play at this year’s festival. Four of the bands – XXYYXX, Dâm-Funk, Young Magic + Visions DJs – will play at tonight’s “pre-party” at The Laundry (August 1, from 9pm to 2am)
Despite the short distances between venues, a selection has to be made between the 2pm to 12pm time-frame, as seven bands will play per location, with a break of just 30 minutes between each other.
These are 5 of ELL top choices, in order of line-up:
1. Dirty Beaches (6:00PM-6:45PM – OVAL SPACE – Saturday)
His stage name is Dirty Beaches, but he is called Alex Zhang Huntai, a Taiwanese-born-Canadian musician based in Montreal, Quebec. He began as a one-man band and was influenced by the 70s American synthpunk duo called Suicide. “There’s nothing else that sounds like this right now”, said Pitchfork. On the other hand, Consequence of Sound (CoS) explains: “It sounds intensely personal because it is – these are the kind of songs people record for themselves”. Zhang has lived in Taipei, Queens, Etobicoke, Honolulu, San Francisco, Shanghai, Vancouver, Montreal and Berlin, among other cities, and that’s where he takes the versatility of his sound.
2. Veronica Falls (9:00PM-9:45PM – OVAL SPACE – Saturday)
This is an English indie pop band that formed in London in 2009. The fact that Veronica Falls has made it so far through the press says a lot about the uniqueness of her music. CoS said: “It’s tempting to grab for a familiar collection of low-hanging adjectives: dreamy, ethereal, haunting, except that, actually,Veronica Falls is none of these things. There’s a striking physicality to these songs (…) every tambourine beat hit with the clarity of a shattering window”. Worth watching, worth trying.
3. XXYYXX (10:00PM-10:45PM – THE LAUNDRY – Today)
“I’m just a brat with a laptop and a MIDI controller”, said Marcel Everett (better known as XXYYXX) to Playground Mag. The 18-year old electronic musician and proudcer from Orlando, Florida, started experimenting with music just a couple of years ago in his bedroom, with FL Studio and software from Ableton. “Everett has the gift of enchantment”, said Playground, “that kind of comforting melancholy that can only be achieved if you’re a master of capturing emotions.” Judge the sound for yourselves.
4. Dâm-Funk (11:00PM-11:45PM – THE LAUNDRY – Today)
Damon G. Riddick, better known as Dâm-Funk (often stylized as DāM-FunK), is an American modern-funk musician, vocalist and producer from Pasadena, California. His musical curriculum sees him as a session keyboardist on to a boogie/funk night DJ. But he officially emerged from MySpace with his remix “Burn Rubber”, which became an underground international favorite in a short period of time. Pitchfork summarized: “Fluttering and unpredictable, often flowing more like something that might come out of a free jazz sax or an acid rock guitar than a funk synthesizer. It’s the secret weapon that underscores how seriously he takes this stuff, the catalyst that should provoke listeners to realise this music isn’t just a fun update of a classic sound– it’s a work of real transcendence.”
5. Poliça (10:30PM-11:45PM – OVAL SPACE – Saturday)
Neither kitsch nor R&B, but more like a mixture of both, this American band is identified even further from a synthpop and alternative rock group, as much as an electronic one. Coming from Minnesota and founded by Ryan Olson, they were described by Pitchfork as having the great strength of: “making music that’s both an easy and a torturous listen.”
The Range (7:30PM-8:15PM – LONDON FIELDS BREWERY – Saturday)
Producer James Hinton (aka The Range) is a beatmaker from Providence, Rhode Island, USA, that combines sparkling, high-definition sounds with hypnotic vocal samples sourced from the darkest corners of YouTube. The 26-year-old is friends with Nicolas Jaar (DARKSIDE), and shares with him the characteristic of provoking in the audience a “kind of passive, slowly gestating admiration”-said Pitchfork-, “the kind usually best measured in iTunes plays three or four months down the line (…) the kind that doesn’t surge like a fire but instead grows patiently, like a vine.”