For those of you who don’t know London, Hackney is an area that has been completely transformed in the last five or so years. The droves of warehouses and small industrial estates are now transformed into brightly painted music venues, cafes and general cultural haunts for inner city youth. Having spent £2.50 (an extra 10P for a sugar) on a Coffee (from a place that didn’t serve builders tea) I was in an anti-gentrification mood, which probably isn’t the best head space to be going into a gig with, let alone a 10 hour one. But once my mates (finally) showed up I was reminded of how this scene really is fun to be a part of, social issues aside. Dread to think if the fat white family read that.
Hackney Shapes warehouse is adorned by a really amazing mural and perching on a wall outside hearing the sounds of Swim Deep sound checking grand affection was a slightly surreal yet rather lovely experience. From what I can gather the venue is a nightclub most of the time, and you can tell from inside. The low concrete roof and awkward shape (The sound booth was I think 5 meters in front of the stage at most) are definitely more suited for this purpose than live music. But, it felt intimate so I wasn’t complaining.
Juice opened the day with a really nice set of Vaccines channeling rock and roll songs. The small crowd being unfamiliar with the music meant they didn’t get a roaring reception but once people get to know them better they could be a really good live band, they certainly have the sound.
Few few few bands can carry off what Southend’s Asylums do. Punk music can be drowned in a dour and humourless sensibility, but with the bouncing stage antics of Singer Luke Branch , bizarre contortions of guitarist Jazz Miell, and songs about wanking and fast food ,I’m very happy to say Asylums break through this. It’s the kind of fantastically dumb adolescent punk that gave the scene its resurgence in the 90’s and was a stupidly fun set and really warmed everyone up for the 8 or so bands to come.
The fuzzy and youthful surf rock of The Orielles filled the room next. This was probably the first major revelation of the day for me. I’d heard a few of their songs before and I’d really liked them but seeing the Halifax three piece preform the live really brought them to life, they’re now one of those new bands that you develop a real affection for to me. Singer//Guitarist Henry also has great taste in Beer, enjoying the lovely Japanese imported lager Asahi that the venue were serving afterwards.
Yonaka had been described to me as different. After wrangling with their name (Pronounced Yonna-car, not Yo-naKA as the Yorkshireman in me was pronouncing it) i was pleasantly surprised by their set. I thought the percussive elements really distinguished their sound.
From their huge sounding singles “Ultraviolet” and “Junk Food Forever” The Amazons were always going to be a band that get a huge reception. They’re a quintessentially confident rock band, leather jackets, long hair and all they tear through their set, starting the first real mosh pits of the day. The crowd really got into it and this exposed the only real major failing of the day, the barrier (or lack of a functioning one).
I have a horrific admission to make. I didn’t watch all of the Jar Family set. The small amount of the folky sextets set I did catch seemed perfectly good fun, even if they possible didn’t share a fanbase with most of the audience. But honestly they seemed like a really good fun live band, and playing to more appropriate crowds they should get a great reception.
Before writing about the Magic Gang I wan’t to clarify something. Everyone working in live music on the whole does a great job in a really really difficult industry. Having helped out in theatre and other live events production I know that everyone genuinely works their arses off getting a place ready to host a performance.This is added to by the fact that music venues have to pay unfair fees due to the fact they find it difficult to be registered as cultural institutes by councils, which leads to a string of really tragic closures. I’ve also an undying respect on the whole for bouncers//venue security. They work as the long arm of law and safety surrounded by people who generally don’t have that on the top of their minds. All these people work without much thanks to make sure people like us can have a great time at gigs.
But, at times when things start to go wrong It’s exceptionally hard not to blame anyone.
The Magic Gang are a band we’ve featured many a time before, and the impossibly charismatic Brighton band were on the top of their game, with openers “Lady Please” and “She Doesn’t See” setting the crowd on fire. Unfortunately, somehow the barrier ended up being made of the kind of fencing you’d more naturally see used to control the queue outside the venue. This of course wasn’t rooted to the floor so few forwards when the Brighton band took to the stage, crushing the photographers and generally creating a sense of unease. The management tried to get the band to appeal to the crowd to stop pushing but you put so many people in such tight space there always will be pushing, the venue security then decided to make themselves the barrier, pushing the crowd right back from the stage. This really put the band off and you could tell during Jasmine as well as two great new songs seemingly titled “All this way” and “Only waiting” which tragically fell flat. The barrier issue as quite simply resolved by placing the fencing right up against the stage, so no access for photographers but it put the audience as close to the bands as possible which is arguably quite a result. The boys resumed service as normal, smashing through Feeling Better and closing with the hook filled crawl of no fun, which the audience sang the entire riff too. My fourth time seeing this band they were as brilliant as ever, even with the venue issues spoiling most of their set.
Kagoule were my second big revelation of the day. Taking alternative in a really raw and compelling direction they’re one of the few reasons to really love the alt/metal scene at the moment. They trio genuinely seem to be exceptional musicians as well, with the hammering bass and distortion filled guitar weaving heavy magic with the intricate drums. This is everything heavy should be.
The inescapable Black Honey took to their stage in their well earned slot of sub headliner. Fantastically Charismatic Front Woman Izzy Baxter really leads the band, and her heavily accented vocal delivery is really really powerful. The mesmerising “Sleep Forever” and fantastic “Corrine” were the highlights of the set for me.
As the ambient electronic crossed with trumpet intro fills the room you can tell Swim Deep are as confident in themselves as they ever have been. The now 5 piece have totally moved on from their (brilliantly) shambolic, 90’s pop and shoe gaze fuelled former selves and become a fantastically compelling pop band. Opener forever spaceman really isn’t an obvious choice, but with Ozzy Williams throwing himself around on stage as waves of synth noise and reverbing screams cascade over the audience. Honey really proves itself as the perfect pop song, and has the entire audience bouncing and shouting along to the infectiously catchy chorus. The band tore through a sped up Namaste to open the middle part of their set, which saw them delve into the acid drenched Mothers with One Great Song and the slow (and quite proggy) groove of imagination. These might hot have exactly had the entire crowd jumping but Austin Williams joyous charisma and exuberant performance style make them just as impactful. There probably isn’t an “indie” out there who Doesn’t feel like they have a connection to She Changes the Weather (which was dedicated to Viola Beach) and King City, so by playing these first album cuts sequentially Swim Deep really got the crowd, they’re special songs to me and after seeing them live like that they’ve become even more memorable. Closing with the pretty ravey To My Brother and straight up techno epic Fuehio Boogie really show how brilliant swim deep are, it take allot to pull something like that off and they do in brave, brilliant and joyous fashion.
A really great day, and hats off to flying vinyl not only for booking and organising such a fantastic lineup but for all their doing in the music business.