LNZRT, Bad Vibrations and Snap, Crackle & Pop have teamed up once again to offer the second installment of Test Pressing Festival; a multi-venue event which takes place across a number of canal side spaces in Hackney Wick. The day is set to be action packed with a tight schedule offering a few too many clashes that means sacrifices have to be made.
Making my way over to The Old Baths, things kick off with Thee MVPs, a Leeds based quintet who know how to make a lot of noise and are the perfect way to start off what is going to be a long, loud day. Channelling the lose surf tuned garage rock sound their set is high energy and packs a punch. The cavernous former swimming pool soon fills with curious onlookers and the bodies are soon moving to the music, which is accompanied with static visuals courtesy of Innerstrings, matching the action on stage.
Next in The Old Baths are Vintage Crop, an Australian outfit who describe their sound as awkward rock that is brash and sarcastic. This performances comes as part of a larger European tour following the release of their Company Man EP in January. Their sound is invigorating, with a pulsating energy that permeates through to the core. Australia is becoming synonymous for producing this kind of music and it’s no wonder bands like this attract so much attention.
Having to leave early, I make my way to Studio 94. The KVB and Fuzz Club Records are on DJing duties to keep people entertained before The Underground Youth. The band need no introduction due to their lengthy time spent on the touring circuit and prolific recorded output. They appear today fresh on the back of their latest release Montage Images of Lust and Fear and their set contains a solid mixture of older tracks such as the ‘Art House’ and ‘Morning Sun’ double header, ‘I Need You’ and ‘Hope and Prayer’. All are executed with their usual professionalism and the packed room laps them up. Recent single ‘Fill The Void’ with its throbbing bass line and ‘Sins’ and ‘Death of the Author’ from the latest LP are slices of post punk genius that only they can produce. TUY have been a force to be reckoned with for some time, but currently they are top of their game and fantastic to watch.
There are other bands that I would have liked to have seen at this break, such as Los Bitchos and Black Country, New Road, but due to the distance of the venue and the fact that the room is already ram packed, they are sacrificed in the name of A Place to Bury Strangers. The Brooklyn trio are quite possibly the noisiest band on the planet right now, a testament that they thoroughly play up to in their sets which include everything from smashing guitars to an in-audience segment that produces a full immersive experience. Highlights include ‘Deeper’ from 2015’s Transfixiation, ‘Never Coming Back’ from latest LP Pinned released in 2018 and ‘Drill It Up’ from 2012’s Onwards to the Wall. The set is executed with the degree of organised chaos that you would expect from a band like this and seeing them in a venue of this size, with wall to wall bodies is really quite something. There isn’t a person in the room afterwards who isn’t in awe.
After a set like that, anyone would have a hard time following it, luckily Moon Duo are up to the task. The now trio are shrouded in spectrums of psychedelic colours which makes the set alluring and intriguing visually as well as aurally. As well as playing a catalogue of their greatest hits, stand out tracks come in the form of ‘I Been Gone’ from 2014’s Circles and their 2018 single, and cover of the legendary Alan Vega song, ‘Jukebox Babe’ which sees the crowd dancing along with enthusiasm. They’re a lot more melodic than the previous band and they calm the crowd substantially, but that makes them no less special.
Next it’s next door to Studio 92 to watch Finnish duo (sometimes trio) K-X-P, who take to the stage hooded and shrouded in white light. Their set is dark and mysterious, with a dance laden energy that takes hold and marks the start of the techno influence which follows shortly after their set. They are the transition band and they perform their set with due diligence.
New York’s Surfbort have a reputation for being wild and tonight is no exception, their name itself being an urban dictionary term for a sexual position. Wrapped in psychedelic colours, they take to the stage clad in makeup and mayhem and waste no time getting things underway. The carnage on stage is mimicked by the crowd who lap up their raw punk vibes in earnest. Unafraid to push the boundaries they make their mark unashamedly and the crowd leave feeling refreshed and invigorated.
One of the biggest draws of the festival for many was the presence of Warmduscher on the bill; a group of miscreants known only by aliases who have had praised heaped on them from across the musical world. The venue fills quickly prior to their set and is crammed full with dancing bodies by the time they begin. Their set is full of energy and bouncing, with the crowd becoming as much a part of the performance as the band. Amongst the chaos there are some seriously funky grooves and some serious beats which only make you respect them more, that they are able to hold down that level of professionalism amongst all the carnage.
As things take a different turn with the closing of The Old Baths there is not much left to say other than thank you Test Pressing Festival for a fantastically organised day of beautiful music.