A strong feature in the summer calendar, Visions Festival continues to evolve, this year’s event comprising 5 venues that are closer than ever - all within a 7-8 minute walk. Just as well given the incessant rain today, but with all venues indoors spirits remained undampened.
With £30 early bird tickets in the bag a while ago, Visions represents superb value for money for anyone happy to explore new bands and sounds with a couple of more established names occupying the headline slots.
There’s decent beer on offer in each venue so few downsides to report, apart from the poor sound quality in the largest venue, Hackney Church, something of a perennial problem.
We managed seven bands across four venues
Porchlight (MOTH Club) - 5-strong band, their opening number delivering an extremely noisy start to the day’s proceedings. Their second song gave more prominence to the synth and accordingly gave a more orderly listen. Up-coming single Spin Doctor demonstrated the band’s capabilities in penning a tuneful number. Blue Chalk had unmistakable resonance to early BCNR, leading into a song titled ‘Noel’, honouring of one of today’s RC gathering.
Dog Race (Oslo) - clever vocals, veering between screechy, smooth & jerky. (I preferred the screechy ones). Painted pictures from child’s scribble to a Monet masterpiece, the band performance growing as the set progressed. Humorous moment before the last song: “We’re Dog Race; that’s pretty much us. Thanks very much to ….. “ [looks at wristband] “……. Visions …. for having us”.
Pale Blue Eyes (Hackney Church) - usual energy put into their electro-infused indie tunes. This band never let you down; sadly they were rather short-changed by the poor sound quality which suppressed lead singer Matt’s vocals.
Floodlights (Paper Dress Vintage) - from Australia, playing their first gig in UK. Five piece with occasional trumpet and harmonica. Best band of the day. Guitar breaks reminiscent of Airborne Toxic Event, the harmonica breaks lifting the tunes way above ordinary.
Marmalarky (Paper Dress Vintage) - from Austin Texas, playing their first London gig. Dual vocals lead by Lilly The sound mix was such that the vocals in first few songs were drowned out by the exuberant drums. As a result, the slower tempo songs came across better. Fortunately the sound balance got better after the third song, resulting in a highly enjoyable set leaning heavily on their 2022 album Pocket Fantasy. Keyboard plays an important part of this band’s sound, early-70s psych in places, tinkly notes in others putting us in mind of contemporary heroes Penelope Isles.
Modern Woman (Paper Dress Vintage) - 4-piece from London playing their first hometown gig for a while. Featured best song of the day ‘Juniper’. ‘The Eel’ saw Juan take to the sax, handing over bass duties to keyboard/percussionist David, this same tune moving seamlessly into the closing frenetic numbers, presenting this excellent band in their full chaotic pomp.
Spiritualized ( Hackney Church) - to get the negatives out of the way first….. the full-to-capacity venue comprised a large number of folk who seemed to be sheltering from the rain rather than enjoying a festival headliner, resulting in a constant hum of chatter throughout. The earlier sound issues were also not entirely absent, notably in the more up-tempo numbers when Jason Pierce’s vocal was not as audible as it might have been. All that aside…. an impressive stage set up, presenting Hackney Church in its full glory. The centre-stage drums flanked to the right with Jason Pierce alongside a 7-strong choir, while stage left was occupied by the other four band members. The swaying choristers fitted perfectly with the languid tunes. A fitting show to bring an excellent day to a close.