Visions Festival 2015: Holy Fuck/The Antlers/Hinds

Oval Space/St John Church, London - 8 August 2015

"No one was going home clean and fresh tonight"

This was my first Visions Festival, a multi venue alternative/indie music, food and drink festival in Hackney East London. The previous two Visions Festivals were both sell out events and this was to be no exception, with the last few available tickets being snapped up early on the day.

Due to late running on my part, I arrived too late to see Dubliners, Girl Band, who were one of the acts I had particularly wanted to see. But in some ways this was a stroke of luck, as it meant I avoided the 45 minute queue for check in and wristband collection at Oval Space that my friend had gone through, also missing them in the process. As it was, I breezed in, just in time to see Spanish quartet Hinds take the stage.

Even this early in the day, the venue was already packed with an enthusiastic crowd and despite the near sauna like conditions, I was quickly won over by Hinds infectious brand of lo-fi indie pop. Their performance and stage manner a beguiling mix of instant, catchy, pop sensibility and unfussy simplicity. Members of the audience singing along to the choruses of some songs, they finished their set with bassist Ade Martin, swapping her guitar for a large stick and trying hit a giant eyeball that had been suspended from the stage as a piñata. Laughing herself, as she failed to break it open, she succeeded in smashing it into the main vocal mike mid song, making the rest of the band and audience burst into laughter and ironic cheers, before she finally ripped it open, throwing souvenirs to the audience, the band left the stage to well deserved cheers, applause, and smiles. 8/10

[Hinds] [The Antlers] [Holy Fuck][Visions Festival wristband]

Photos [L-R]: Hinds, The Antlers, Holy Fuck, festival wristband

We escaped the heat of Oval Space and after a quick stop at the London Fields Brewery bar, which had opened as part of the festival, we set off in search of the next act to see. After initially deciding to see Gazelle Twin at The Moth Bar, which we never managed to track down, we ended up following a group of fellow yellow wrist banded festival goers and found ourselves at St John Church, just before The Antlers came on stage. The tranquil venue, complete with beautiful stained glass window behind the stage, proved to be the perfect surroundings for The Antlers dreamy, ambient and lush melodic set. Sparkling, constantly tweaked, keyboard sounds coupled with majestic soaring guitar, drums and vocals, the New York trio held a full and captivated audience under their spell throughout. The hushed environment throughout only broken by the loud and appreciative applause at the end of each song. 8/10

With five venues and many great bands and artists to choose from on the day, two of our main selections had been made long before the festival, with both of us wanting to see The Fat White Family and Holy Fuck, only to find both would be playing in different venues at around the same time.

As it happened, more by luck than judgement, we ended up back at Oval Space, with just a few minutes to spare before Holy Fuck were due on. So, our decision was made for us and it was to be no disappointment.

As they mentioned during their set, Holy Fuck were back on the scene after an absence of five years. Inevitably looking a little more mature now, the band lacked none of the grit and drive that has been the hallmark of their live performances and delivered a set that announced them well and truly back. Seeming to me a little more overtly dance oriented, than when I’d seen them previously, they still retained their own sound and identity. The echoed, overloaded vocals, interlocking loops and bass lines, minimalist synth melodies and effects, combined with the insistent and at times almost motorik drumming, all still present.

Most of the audience were hooked immediately and some acid tinged sequencer lines, a few numbers into the set, finished off the last few stragglers and soon pretty much the whole audience was dancing. The hot and sweaty atmosphere felt like being in the centre of a mosh pit, no one was going home clean and fresh tonight!

The set ended to tremendous applause and calls for more but, given the festival’s tight scheduling requirements, there was no time for an encore. Always renowned as great festival band, tonight Holy Fuck seemed to have moved on to another level to me, truly quite some achievement. 
Review + Photos by Cliff Chapman