As the sun casts a daze, there is more than a spring vibe soaring in the air over Hackney’s Oval Space. The anticipation lingers as the queue stretches down the street – we’re ready for this year’s Flying Vinyl Festival.
The honest passion for music that transcends through everything Flying Vinyl do is obvious from the moment you enter the Oval. Having put themselves on the map last year, not only as a distributor of quality tunes on the best format, but as a prime live promoter, the return of Flying Vinyl Festival (FVF) is a welcome one.
The honour of opening goes to the Yassassin. The girl power group blasts out a smashing agenda matching the striking slogan on the backdrop behind them: “The revolution will not be digital”.
Next up is psych-pop quartet Palm Honey. The Reading outfit matches the sunlight flowing through the windows with their hazy tunes. Though it is still early, the crowd slowly thickens as the set continues. A bit out of the ordinary, Palm Honey are definitely one of the more interesting bands on the horizon. The long instrumental sections during ‘Stick The Knife In’ give variation to the musical terrain and a good insight into the band’s musical capability. Palm Honey released a B-side through Flying Vinyl last year. “From that we ended up playing this,” drummer Ayden Spiller elaborates as we catch up after the set.
So how did it feel to play?
“It’s just like any sort of crowd where they don’t know you. It’s strange in a sense that they haven’t come to see you, it’s like supporting. It’s that same sort of vibe. You come there to do your thing and sort of seeing how it pays off.”
This is also the virtue of Flying Vinyl, that it provides a broader platform for bands to expose their music on. Through a diverse line up they gather a crowd that otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to the range of artist the line up provides.
Willie J Healey’s humorous surf rock definitely brings the vibes. Opening with ‘Would You Be’, his sun-dazed rock could not be more suitable than on this summery day. Though the indie tribe is well represented, even the coolest poser has to discretely bob their head to Healey’s infectious hooks. “Drink responsibly and make new friends” he advice as the set draws to an end.
Trudy and the Romance follow up with a nostalgic throwback. Slightly odd, yet it’s something for everyone. That is in many ways the spirit of Flying vinyl. In frustration over hefty marketing companies “and the industry’s obsession with ‘followers’ and not ‘fans’”. Flying Vinyl’s founder, Craig Evans was longing for a more a democratic and direct approach to music.
“I was beginning to wonder how many of these new people we introducing to new music would end up going to gigs or properly caring about bands. I was having this thought whilst sat listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours on vinyl and just thought, “this is the way to connect people with new music”, there’s something in vinyl as a format that properly commands listeners attention and presents material in the best possible light.”
Following this epiphany came the idea of Flying Vinyl, a box of the best new music exclusively pressed on vinyl. As Flying Vinyl grew, the idea of live shows developed. “I think everyone should try and experience music live, it’s a completely immersive experience. But we didn’t want to put on a small show in a basement club as there’s already so many people doing that, so we decided to do the biggest thing that we could”, Craig states.
And that’s how the Flying Vinyl festival was born. Taking on Hackney Shapes last year, the sold out event certainly was a success. “It was great so we decided to do it again this year at Oval Space in London”. And here we are.
The biggest surprise of the day was London outfit, Anteros. Coming straight from a branch of tour dates supporting Blaenavon’s That’s Your Lot tour, the quartet are surprisingly fresh. Their self-proclaimed ‘bitter dream-pop’ has a unique tang of sharp lyrics and danceable melodies. “Hello London! It’s good to be home”, lead singer Laura Hayden states as she kicks off. The seductive tunes are packed with luscious melodic twists, and the savvy and striking lyricism adds a depth to the light-hearted pop vibe. Hayden is a capturing front-lady, luring the audience in as she dances across the stage. “I’m so drunk and in love with you, been doing all the things that I shouldn’t do,” she sings, on the title track from their most recent, Drunk EP. The realness of the lyrics and the savvy catalysis of the melody gives Anteros something truly special to offer. “Its so cool of Flying Vinyl to put in this festival. Thank you so much for having us.”
Unlike most festival line-ups, Flying Vinyl Festival has some sort of gender balance. Reading & Leeds received quite a shit storm in 2015, when their line up was 89.6% all-male bands. Though it, sadly, are more male bands and artists out there, it’s commendable to see that more female lead bands are gracing line ups like this.
Serving up this truth and more is Icelandic-English trio, Dream Wife. These bad bad bitches do not only show for the first singalong of the festival, they’re also responsible for the first moshpit this Saturday afternoon. Swirling around like the goddess of chaos, Rakel Mjøll owns the room. Bella Podpadec physically embodies the darkness of her bass tunes, slamming fastidiously away. The dynamic of the trio leaves little room for doubt that these ladies are meant to conquer the world. “I am not my body, I am somebody”, Rakel snarls. And if you haven’t got the message yet, you better pick it up soon cause these girls will “fuck you up”.
Traams brings forth fast pace melodies as they enter the stage at the Oval. Dipping into the darker chord and long, nonchalantly played out, instrumentals, the trio’s introverted approach fails to connect with the crowd. The monotone and firm soundscape has some interesting peaks, but it’s soon lost in the dimness of the performance.
As the sun sets, we are ready the get down to business. Entering gloomy territory as Hidden Charms brings in some heavy 60’s secrets. Their effervescent guitar work and frolicking frontman draws associations to both Franz Ferdinand, Black Keys, with a little bit of Alex Turner sass thrown the concoction. This is a band that knows exactly what they are doing, with lead singer, Vincent Davies, throwing himself against the barrier barely through the second song. Bringing forth those guitar thundering dark vibes, it’s almost surprising to see someone presenting classical rock compositions in 2017. However, there are wicked twists, such as Ranald Macdonald in-crowd harmonica solo and sudden burst of confetti. Keeping up this bombastic live feel and Hidden Charms won’t be hidden for much longer.
Having a brief moment before their set, Spring King bassist, James Green, comment on how Spring King came to co-headline FVF. “It’s a great company and I think they just offered us to play here so obviously. It’s a fantastic venue and we’re in great company, so it’s really a pleasure to play”. Headlining next to The Wytches, Green seems confident taking on such task.
“The Wytches are a great band as well, and there’s a number of other great bands on the line up, so should be really fun.”
Fun seem to be on top of the agenda as the Manchester boys kicks off. “To anyone who says guitar music is dead, it’s fucking not,” Tarek Musa stats from behind his drumkit as he kicks up another thundering beat. Spring King certainly have a loyal following, ready to kick up a ramshackle of a mess.
“Who are you” – three words that the band utters more than once. As soul searching that might be I’m sure some of you might wonder who are Spring King? Judging from their set tonight, they’re a bunch of guys with a lot at heart, looking for a good time at a fast pace.
Laddish charm and infectious rhythms aside, The Wytches here. Though you can say a million thing about The Wytches and their music, you can’t exactly call it either charming or light-hearted. So it’s quite funny when I overheard a crowd comment: “oh they’re all girls” (for the record, guys can have long hair as well). Kristian Bell has gotta be the most shy frontman you never saw. As the set is mostly played out in the dark, Bell makes little to no fuss about himself, or the performance for that matter, as he steady delivers track after track. Welcome to the twisted sardonic universe of The Wytches. The honest lyrics and the brutally staggering percussion can be overwhelming, but what is music if it doesn’t make you feel something?
It might feel bleak and intense, but The Wytches still draws on an immensely high melodic quality at the core of their tune. The gloominess isn’t all-encompassing. On the surface it might be a weird choice for a finish. But the spirit of realness that flows through The Wytches’ set is exactly that finishing statement that conveys everything that Flying Vinyl is trying to do.