The sun was shining, the weather was sweet, and along the streets of Hackney Wick hipsters were moving their dancing feet. Over the last couple of years Visions has proved itself a worthwhile addition to the saturated festival landscape, and rather than just a quirk of programming and luck the organisers seem to have something special. Following the success of 2014 it seems capacity was increased, with wrist banded punters flowing through the streets. Glorious weather outside made for a sweaty audience inside, with the Brewhouse’s wooden walls in particular making it something of a sauna – but this just made a cool beer from sponsors Estrella Galicia, who had converted the Space Gallery’s outdoor courtyard into ‘Little Galicia’, all the more refreshing.
This year saw a vibrant and thriving event, where the line-up pulsated with quality acts from all genres. So lively indie pop courtesy of Oscar gave way to the quirky downbeat sparseness from Pixx and Girl Band’s dizzy grunge. The sloppy reggae rock of Spanish band Hinds was refreshing, their failed piñata attempts only adding authenticity to the party vibes, whilst elsewhere Toy’s relentless and motoring gloom and the reverb heavy music of Merchandise could be found lending a heavier air to proceedings.
As the day settled into night, the vast church of St John’s filled up, made for The Antlers’ expansive melodies, although the acoustics meant that some of the nuances were lost. Standing on the balcony of St John’s, looking down on the flailing limbs dancing in front of Camera Obscura’s bounding indie pop, as the beats wound their way from the speakers to a happy crowd, it was clear that either drink or vitamin D had had its effect.
You’d think that the combination of music, London, drink and sun couldn’t be flawed, but some festivals seem to manage it. Not Visions. Even as it expands and becomes hipper than hip, the independent ethos seems to persist, and the programming remains the perfect blend of fresh and established acts. As the sun went down and the lights went up, things looked damn good. Here’s to next year.
Review by Francesca Baker
Photography by Carys Lavin (provided by Estrella Galicia), except for The Antlers, by Francesca Baker