Entering its second year in its Hackney, East London home, Mirrors Festival is slowly growing to the size and scale of a Dot-to-Dot or Great Escape. Along with the similar Visions festival in the summer, this is becoming an increasingly cost-effective and enjoyable way to see lots of music all under the one all-inclusive "roof".
Tonight's line-up makes good on building on the festival's initial year with a bigger and better range of acts to go see. Early on, relative newcomers Babeheaven warm up the crowd at Oslo proving why they are one of the most hyped acts at the festival. Despite being a relatively new band and at an early set time, the band are met with a full and positive room, debuting (to many) their luscious sound, crossing soulful vocals, electronic drums, and reverbed guitars on tracks such as 'Faces' and 'Moving On'. Highly impressive, they're going to be ones to watch going forward.
DiS 2016 Neptune Winners Martha are in rip-roaring form after releasing their wonderful Blisters In the Pit Of My Heart. It's particularly encouraging to see the County Durham band going from strength to strength, after last seeing them headline About Time #3 Festival at Total Refreshment Centre in early 2015; they bring their phenomenal live sound and cheery, "Belle and Sebastian go punk" stylings to one of their biggest crowds ever at Oslo. It is no surprise to see the audience's ecstatic reception for singles 'Goldman's Detective Agency' and 'Chekov's Hangnail' and the band themselves are clearly thrilled with their reaction. As one can see Martha are a band destined for even bigger and brighter things.
Next up, Cherry Glazerr play an impressive set to an equally very packed crowd. The mostly female L.A band play a short but effective set, crashing through their inventive fuzz-pop sound, switching from loud to quiet mode with reckless, fuzz-pedal addled, abandon. Latest singles 'Nurse Ratched' and 'Told You I'd Be With The Guys' dramatic, Queens of the Stone Age-esque theatrics promise big things from the band's next album Apocalipstick, out early next year.
Following them was one of the rightful headliners, Fucked Up. Celebrating the 10th anniversary of their seminal classic Hidden World this set promised to play the 74-minute album in full despite only being given an hour set time in the programme. No matter, though, when you're a punk band of Fucked Up's stature, you play as long as you need to fulfil your promises. While it was always going to be an interesting experience to see such a long-form punk album be played out live, Fucked Up manage it expertly. While the Toronto sextet do seem aware of time constraints (there is pretty much no time for chat between songs, only using brief samples of Owen Pallett's violin tracks before quickly rushing into the next song), this does create a similar hypnotic effect the studio album manages, enveloping the crowd and band alike in the long-winding, proto-punk beats. While tracks like 'Crusades', 'David Comes To Life' and 'Baiting The Public' have remained fixtures in the band's live repertoire, to this manic crowd's delight, this show is particularly impressive during the album's deeper cuts: 'Manqueller Mans', 'Two Snakes' and 'Blaze Of Glorys'. By the time the band reach album closer 'Vivian Girls', they're on a triumphant home run, giving this excellent yet underrated record the credit it is due, even finding time to fit in a sneaky encore of practically ancient classic 'Police'.
Elsewhere, headliner Bat for Lashes plays an incredible show in the beautiful St. John of Hackney church. Re-creating scenes from her accompanying film of the excellent Mercury-nominated album The Bride, with Natasha Khan performing in full bridal outfit, she is running off the back of a triumphant year tonight, and it shows in the rock-steady, assured performance of largely new material such as 'Sunday Love' and 'I Will Love Again', while also finding time to dip into earlier classics 'Daniel' and 'Laura'. Amassing easily the largest crowd of the night, Khan has earned her main event status atop this London festival.
Meanwhile, over at the gorgeous gentlemen's club The Moth Club, Swimming Tapes close the night in glorious style with their crowd-pleasing beach-dreaming, reverb-soaked set. The band suit their surroundings excellently as the night progressed towards "the wee hours" and despite being a relatively new band, Swimming Tapes are met with a high-spirited crowd, playing excellent singles 'Souvenirs' and 'Set The Fire' to send the Mirrors crowd home (or elsewhere) into the night content. Overall, an excellent experience at this years' Mirrors Festival, which DiS looks forward to returning to next year.
Photo credit: Ann-Christin Heinrich.