SLOW DANCE – AUTUMN FESTIVAL
Last month, in London, it truly felt like summer was over as harsh winds came rolling in and late night down pours have been upon party goers. Despite all this, the change in season also marks a special day where everyone time travels and gains an extra hour in bed or an extra hour on their night out. You suggest what would be a better way to celebrate the drop in temperature and the construction of time than to be at an Autumn festival in a mystery location… Cue Slow Dance records, an independent record label who put on a show that welcomed the change of season with a grand line up and all performed in someone’s living room.
Founded by two hard-core multi-taskers (edgy right?), Marco Pini and Darius Williams, Slow Dance records is as DIY and independent as you want a true grit record label to be. Claiming to be “for dancing” they certainly deliver with a growing list of events full of vastly eclectic musicians and DJs. Having only just celebrated their first birthday early last year, the boys have wasted no time at all showing off their networking skills filling spaces with eager spectators and friends.
Their Autumn festival was evidently no acceptation to this rule and didn’t take long before the rented warehouse space became a bustling disco full of smoke and the sweat of Saturday night sinners. Having already moved the location of the event, given Tower Hamlets council’s attempt to shut down the roof top terrace extravaganza (see Slow Dance’s Facebook event for more details), the event was held in a delightful front room next to a scenic canal in East London.
The night started with a beautifully intimate set from South London’s grimiest Stal Kingsley (also known as Oliver Ninnis). Coming at his mini audience with his mastery of DIY music making, Stal performed with just his guitar and the oldest piece of equipment in the building: a tape-deck. Despite technical difficulties, Stal performed songs from his latest album ‘Out Run by a Plastic Bag’ covering topics such as the carnal desire to look under a lover’s dressing gown and perversion of another man watching you fornicate with his wife. Some maybe horrified by the reality these songs are based off, others may find recluse his playful indulgence in the depressing side of life. Either way everyone can agree that Stal is a jester when it comes to lyricism and a master of well executed riffs. With blues rhythms and Elvis like hip gyrations, this boy puts on a good show that even the local cat showed appreciation for.
In between sips of cheap double gin and tonics, and lacklustre chats about drug taking and property prices came a multitude of musicians, such as LolK a young duo who looked as if they’d just left the set of Trainspotting and performing what should be titled their ska-trance beats. They combined unusual sounds from a drum pad that looks like it was extracted from a space ship and smooth notes of a saxophone they created a new age sound that seemed to musicalize art piece you’d stare at in the Tate Modern. Following the pair with literally no internet existence was Martha Skye Hewitt and her band. With a gospel-esk vocal range, Martha is as sultry and despairing as Jessica Rabbit while singing about classical mythology and Ovid’s poetry. Letting centuries old tales inject throughout her work, Martha exposes just how archaic modern struggles can be. Sticking with an eerily beautiful motif came Elsa Hewitt. As a solo artist with nothing but a great set of lungs and drum pad, Elsa’s music is an electronic amalgamation jazzy reverbs and abstract vocals that is just as mesmerising and encircling as the smoke that shifted between her observers.
Bang in the middle of the line-up was The Rebel, the notoriously enigmatic, realist pastiche of a cowboy: Ben Wallers. It’s seemingly a momentous occasion if you see this man live given his highly satirical strangeness and controversial musical persona. Known for his idiosyncratic style and hefty list of musical characters (most commonly known for his band the Country Teasers), Wallers performs just how he writes: taking on a kaleidoscopic array of identities to provide first hand perspectives of trying contemporary subjects such as the benefits system, racism and sexism. Ingeniously provocative and humorously self-aware, The Rebel plays depressingly satirical spoken word over the top of heavy hooks you could hang your socialist sickle off and drums that keep the sardonic realist rhythms that are a staple of London pub-punk music. With lots of twisted electronics, obscurest poetry and reverb that could shatter the cartilage of your ears The Rebel put on a special performance at the festival with Country Teasers’ Sophie Politowicz on drums. Sweaty and thrilled by The Rebel’s nonchalant style, the crowd moved the most they had all evening – even falling about as if in a mosh pit—as a sign of their laudation of this paradoxical agitator of the music world.
Continuing with the ever-going list of performers and livening up the crowd with, what seemed like, an infinite stash of canned beer, Slow Dance put onto the stage three more acts before a select handful of DJs were expected to close the night. First out this final three, were PVA – a lucrative duo who sound as if Talking Heads and the B52’s had a love child in space. They made groovy electro which brought together the past and present like a techno supernova. Sticking to this space-age theme was Swarmm, a soloist who explores the language of a mother board to make AI themed tracks from a near distance future.
The final act of the night, and the surprise headliner, was none-other than the “best band in London” (according to Shame and NME) Black Midi. As another band who limit their social media presence, this foursome uses only the work of word-of-mouth as their chosen media. It is, then, almost a rite of passage for anyone who enjoys touring venues such as The Windmill in Brixton or The Five Bells in New Cross to see these guys play at least once in their gig-going life. This performance, however, was a little different to their regular set-list you can find videos of on YouTube. Instead this was an intimate jam-out which despite blackouts caused by the struggling plugs that were swollen with appliances, continued to get soggy with creative juices and skilful artistry these boys are known for.
Overall the Slow Dance boys did a damn good job at putting on a festival in a front room. Cosy but with the thrill of a party, the night confined its fans with walls made of musical creativity (quite literally there was art plastered to make shift walls) that were difficult to leave only to enter the drizzly cold of Autumn… it’s a good job the night was continued for an extra hour.
Check out slow dance here: https://slowdance.co.uk/
And or here: https://www.facebook.com/slowdancenights/
These words by Aimee Williams-Maynard