Skimming through social media forums during the build-up to Dalston Music Festival Vol. 2, I had noticed that some of my party-goer-peers in London had taken up issue with the fact that this year’s festival was a pay-in event. Well I say unto them: ‘you pay for what you get’, because never has a consumerist narrative contained such smugness but without all the chafe and this is wholly due to the perpetually good feelings that were aroused in the community on Saturday past. Just to clarify – the event wasn’t entirely ‘pay only’. Just ask the two thousand people or maybe more who gathered at the festival’s focal point in Gillet Square from the early hours of the day right up until the latter stages of dusk. Treated to an array of music throughout, revellers seemed to embrace the selflessness of the organisers, thoroughly enjoying the sounds of Oxman and the legendary Newton Dunbar, both of whom mixed things up with intoxicating blends of dub and jungle that more often than not got coolly reined in and regurgitated back out in the form of laid-back reggae so that the audience were constantly charmed. Under a clear blue pink wash of sky, herbal essences were omnipresent and medicinal potions were consumed to deflect any cramping that muscles would surely feel through throwing such haywire shapes in line to this continual beautiful medley.
However it wasn’t only in the epicentre that we were graced with such fantastic music. The ease at which the quality was flowing was evident over at Arcola Bar where Fumaça Preta surged through their set with blistering assurance. Seasoned veterans; everything from their stage craft, to their sound, to the purple haze of visual eye candy cascading around their stage – they delighted the crowd who were fully immersed in their diverse song selection which aroused images of music collected from all around the globe.
Mean-while Laura Groves got things under way warming up for DEEK Recordings label-mate Bullion who was to appear at Servant Jazz Quarters a little later on in the evening. With a vocal that echoes similarities with none other than Kate Bush, Laura had a entrancing on-stage beauty of stillness that had us entirely at her peril, a ploy which was very useful. As the intelligent darling of the label, Laura provided the teasing foreplay for what was to expand further more daringly in Bullion’s set: atmospheric soundscapes, choppy thin slices of vocal samples and glitching beats warped and looped as the night got later. In such an environment time was of the essence.
Further away from the beating heart of the festival, Beat X Changers recordings showcased their talents at Tipsy which served up nostalgia and anticipation in equal doses. As far as the vibes went; in a nut-shell it was classic 90s deep house. Soul filled vocal samples bursting and splashing along with very loose high hats, with sustained chords throughout and slick running bass lines providing the cheeky smile on your face. Tell, Peter Raws et al. produced sounds that were as warm as the atmosphere, with the Parisian tunesters highlighting that the classic sounds of house are still around, still relevant and still charming, especially in London.
So there you have it. We could have told you much more, but a) we were too busy having fun to think any-more about the journalism and b) you should have went to see what the fuss was about yourself! Good news? It’ll be back bigger, better and even funkier next year. The bad? You gotta wait another year. Enjoy winter.
Photos: Helen Frost
Words: Robbie Cully