Aurora Krogh gets high on Hackney’s oil-based music party.
“The world’s first festival for vinyl lovers,” claims Flying Vinyl. Taking over Shapes, the warehouse venue in Hackney Wick, subscription service Flying Vinyl (you sign up for £20 a month and they send you a monthly box of the best indie records) has lined up 10 exciting acts to celebrate their first year of distributing music in God’s Own Format.
“We believe that discovering the best new alternative music should be an intimate, personal experience that digital music cannot satisfy,” says their webpage; and the Flying Vinyl Festival is their first move into the further intimacy of live performance.
The first act of the day is Juice (cute, poppy but a bit too inexperienced to be anything but introverted – yet), shortly followed by Essex band Asylums, who do their best “to cause a little bit of chaos” with their punky 1980s rock. Even if it’s barely 2 pm, the crowd can’t stop themselves being hooked into this energetic performance.
Dedicating a song called ‘Missing Persons’ to late lamented Viola Beach, front man Luke explains that, “We just stepped in to help our good friends at Flying Vinyl out today, because Viola Beach couldn’t make it, obviously, so we just jumped in for them.” He’s referring to the tragic demise of the four-piece band from Warrington who were killed along with their manager in a car crash in Sweden in February 2016.
Other acts such as Black Honey and Swim Deep will also pay their respects; but the main message of the festival is to get the word out on the best new alternative music on vinyl.
Up and coming youngsters, The Orielles are the next band on, declaring it’s “the most people we’ve ever fucking played to.” Check out their track ‘Space Doubt’.
After a darker and more theatrical performance from Yonaka, next on are The Amazons. The crowd has clearly been waiting for this, the first singalong of the day! It is easy to see why the punters are excited for this one. Frontman Matty takes a moment to shout out for Flying Vinyl, stressing how important their work is.
Brief interlude: at a festival dedicated to vinyl, you have to ask “what is so special about this format?”
“The cover and the music and the production style and the playing, it’s all a part of that. And with vinyl you get the full experience,” explains Luke from Asylums. ‘It’s just good for people to be buying physical music again… You can get vinyls in Sainsbury’s, you know. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing but, but it’s still, regardless, it is still like people buying music in a physical format rather than stealing it.”
Jack of The Magic Gang seems to agree: “you become a lot more proud of what you are listening to because you actually own it, and it’s not just fucking about on the internet.” Still he admits that it took him a while to understand why vinyl actually was important as a format of music.
There is not a moment’s hesitation in the crowd’s response to The Magic Gang. As soon as they come on stage, you know you are going to have a good time. So good that, just one song in, there is a problem with security. Vocalist Jack is obliged to announce that: “If you don’t stop pushing, we gotta stop playing.” Afterwards he goes on to say: “I feel like the barrier was coming pretty far forward, and I understand where that’s coming from and we don’t want anyone to get hurt. But it is amazing to see everyone getting that into at the same time.”
But with these tunes and their live presence, it is not at all weird that the crowd gets excited.
Black Honey’s lead singer soon overcomes a squeaking mic problem (there’s always one). All eyes are fixed on Izzy Philips. She knows exactly where she wants the crowd, and they are happy to follow her every move. “Come on down with me, my honeys,” she says, and the whole crowd kneels down on the floor for an especially personal moment.
The final act of the night is Swim Deep. When they take the stage at Shapes, it is the moment many have been waiting for. Though their change of sound in 2015 was one of the biggest controversies known to indie, in this set the boys keeps a balance between old and new sounds.
“We are Swim Deep,” frontman Austin Williams announces – he needn’t have bothered. Williams dedicates one of the set’s absolute highlights, ‘She changes the weather’, to Viola Beach. The band finishes the “fucking fun gig” with their marvellously mad, Flying Vinyl-pressed single, ‘Fueiho Boogie’.
The perfect ending to a festival that really flew.
The first Flying Vinyl Festival took place on Saturday 9 April 2016.