It takes some doing for a new, multi-venue London festival to create a fever of its own. Not least when it’s competing for attention in a crowd of hundreds, like an ant trying to catch your eye when you approach its nest. Mirrors’ inaugural year might have the spooky Halloween atmosphere on its side, but it feels different. It utilises venues like Hackney Round Chapel, somewhere that’s barely opened its doors to music before. Instead of over-egging the ‘everything, everywhere’ approach, it picks out three locations and crams them full of bills that essentially morph into separate, exciting all-dayers.
DIY plants its flag in Oslo from post-noon until close, hosting a crop of bright new acts adding fresh shades to outward-thinking pop. St John at Hackney, meanwhile, keeps things hushed and sob-worthy with emotional juggernauts Rhye and Jessica Pratt. The Round Chapel is all things fuzzy, from The Black Tambourines’ eye-opening early evening set to The Thurston Moore Band’s vibrant closer.
Mirrors will no doubt look to expand and go one bigger in the years ahead, but there’s a charm in keeping curation tight and options neat. In the space of ten minutes, punters dash from the smoothed-out, Tobias Jesso Jr.-nodding Cameron A G to the lounged pace of Cloves. When Traams finish thrashing, it’s off to Oslo to witness a heady embrace of dreamy dance from Manchester producer Oceáan. There’s always a sense of something going on, but rarely the feeling that anyone’s missing out on one act in lieu of another.
Photos: Cameron A G, Oceaán.
Still, there’s no doubt that on fiendish costumes and fireworks alone, Mirrors’ first year belongs to the fuzz bandits. The Black Tambourines have three criminally unsung records to their name, and any sense of injustice is justified in a fast-moving set that threatens to smash in the surrounding glass-stained windows. The four-piece switch pace and direction like it’s an inside joke or a fanciful game. If Parquet Courts master the art of acting nonplussed and impassioned at the same time, The Black Tambourines are the UK’s answer.
Photos: The Black Tambourines.
Traams and The Wytches take the baton and go skywards. New album ‘Modern Dancing’ finds the former embracing a more playful side to their heavily structured garage rock. But it’s still left to the barmy ‘Flowers’ to do the legwork. The Wytches couldn’t turn up without dressing for the occasion, but they go one further, providing Saturday’s best set; a deadly mix of ferocious noise and perfect execution.
But it’s clear Mirrors isn’t the type of festival to go without at least one new act staking their claim for big things. Dreller - a multi-instrumentalist barely out the pram and signed to Terrible / Goodbye - does exactly that. His frenzied pop isn’t dissimilar to Passion Pit, but he’s also bringing a showmanship that you can’t teach. If this turns out to be a theme for Mirrors - mixing old and new, giving each sides the same big platform - it won’t put a foot wrong in the future.
Photos: The Wytches, Traams.
All photos: Emma Swann, Carolina Faruolo.
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