The Oval London, April 2017
Words: Leander Hobbs
Photos: Courtney Farrell
If you’re a regular to Popped you will have heard of Flying Vinyl – probably for its delectable monthly collection of new music that is currently building me a rather cracking vinyl collection – thank you very much.
But as it’s only in its second year, you might be forgiven for not knowing much about the Flying Vinyl festival – delivering the same smorgasbord of indie, rock and pop delicacies in the ripe and juicy flesh. Well you do now so make sure it’s in the diary for next year because Flying Vinyl Festival no.2 was a peach!
It’s hard to give you highlights from a one-dayer that bought together some of the most relevant and exciting British bands of 2017. It’s like asking you to pick your favourite child, or even harder your favourite gig ever. So you’ll have to suffer the enthusiastic rambling of the proverbial kid in a candy shop!
And there will be no lamenting about the weather either. The first proper sunny day of the year and the Oval Space, London is lit up for an early opening set by Palm Honey who – for the super keen crowd that have piled in already to collect their free vinyl goodies (honestly that’s not why I made it on time for once) – are the perfect warm up act. With their slow grinding strings and down and dirty vocals the energetic set assaults my poor delicate winter senses not yet festival-fit for the season ahead. I better get up to speed because the crowd can feel it -there’s no turning back from here.
Trudy & The Romance drag their brand of drawling, cock-eyed pop tunes onto the stage for a performance that is an eclecticism of damn good live music. Sandman feels a little early in the day for me but my head and feet work together to disagree and throw me off guard as I hop and do-bop along. I’m glad I did make it on time because ‘Wild’ live is worth the 320-mile round trip alone. The band’s screaming and throaty vocals are evocative and electric with quick gear changes that have the crowd awkwardly trying to move along before abandoning decorum and just going for the uncoordinated forward-thrust.
Another band straight from the tour bus is Chichester group, Traams. Having finished a gruelling European tour with Car Seat Headrest they burst onto the Oval stage and throw musical fireworks into the crowd with their 8-minute epic A House On Fire. They literally shake The Oval Space to the ground with their driving rifts and speaker-blowing volume.
Sets from Willie J Healey and Hidden Charms keep this energy moving forward with standout performances by both but the real hidden gem for me today is Dreamwife.
I’ve not seen Dreamwife live before and I have no idea why they have eluded me for so long. The three-piece is a showstopper with energy, emotion and a convincing performance by vocalist Rakel Mjoll that gives feminism a new street-cred. Somebody is super cool with a heavy dose of self-respect as a counter to our incessant and ridiculously airbrushed ‘celebrity’ culture.
The Social Politics continue with the interminably bad-tempered Yassassin – whether these girls work at being that irritated or whether it is just a reaction to a still predominantly macho world I don’t know but I do know that it works. Pretty Face delivers a sharp slap of sarcastic lyrics and twanging pop that knocks the crowd, already reeling from Dreamwife, out of their comfortable bubble and calls them to step up and fight for sexual freedom. The swelling audience is riled now, pulsating and pushing – the atmosphere is tense and thrilling.
Into this foray step the Spring King. This is the penultimate set, with just The Wytches to follow – but it is by no means second best. Spring King fire out a rapid succession of fresh punk anthems like It’s So Dark and Detroit to a welcoming crowd, stirring them up with frenetic percussion, grinding guitar licks and showering confetti that sticks to the sea of sweaty bobbing heads like washed out spring blossom. It’s loud and dirty – like Glastonbury in the rain or should that be like Glastonbury every year?! The Flying Vinyl festival might only be in its second year but it feels, smells and sounds like a proper British festival, with real bands, real music but thankfully not a chemical toilet in site.
But wait we’re not done yet and it is left to The Wytches to round the day off in the only way they know how – with hell-bent, psychotic fervour! Success with ‘All Your Happy Life’ has done nothing to mellow the four lads from Peterborough and they smash their way through Digsaw and Gravedweller destroying what was left of the walls at the Oval Space so that I’m not sure Flying Vinyl are likely to see their deposit again! The venue certainly might think twice before letting us back as I see the crowd unstick themselves from their well-worn spots and pour out into the cool night air whooping and jerking to their own internal demons. It’s like a scene from a teen-horror movie complete with smeared make-up and pale drawn faces – or is that just my reflection in the endless mirrored streets that lead me to where my car is parked.
It’s not legitimately summer yet even though we are promised a week of sunshine that will no doubt have us rushing to the supermarket for disposable BBQs. It really isn’t summer – but I can’t help feel its presence lurking around each corner of London tonight as I make the 180 miles trip back to Bristol with my first, official festival of the year under my belt and still ringing in my ears. Now to work out how I get all of this down on paper!
** JOIN US FOR OUR FLYING VINYL LISTENING PARTY ON MONDAY 24TH APRIL AT 8PM **