Visions 2019: Festival back with more alternative music talent... and its popular dog show

Visions Festival. Picture: Nick Sayers.

Visions Festival. Picture: Nick Sayers. - Credit: Archant

“The number of musicians who want to judge a dog show is quite astounding,” chuckles Dan Monsell, speaking ahead of the return of Visions Festival this Saturday (August 3).

Visions Festival. Picture: Lee Arucci.

Visions Festival. Picture: Lee Arucci. - Credit: Archant

Taking place at six venues in and around London Fields, Visions is about putting exciting alternative and underground music acts in front of new audiences where they can thrive. The festival draws bands from across the globe and closes with late-night after parties at Pickle Factory, Paper Dress Vintage and Arcola Bar, but first, of course, it opens with the dog show.

"Every year we try to come up with different ideas to make it not just a great music event," says Monsell, of Rockfeedback, the Visions Festival promoters alongside Bird On The Wire.

"We've had everything from mad yoga stuff to fortune tellers and different types of karaoke events, and the dog show is at the heart of this. The costumes have got wilder and wilder, we were even invited to run the Visions Dog Festival at an Australian festival one year; we're very proud of it. We work with a charity called All Dogs Matter and it's about keeping that neighbourhood, relaxed vibe. We do it before, so everyone can come down early, enjoy the show and then see the first act of the day - it's become a nice fixture of Visions."

This year's dog show theme is Pup Fiction (think all things Quentin Tarantino), and once the hotly contested prizes for cutest pup and waggiest tail have been settled, the music can take over. Visions 2019 will see performances from the likes of White Denim, Anna Meredith, Imarhan and Orville Peck at intimate spaces like Hangar, Oval Space and Sebright Arms.

Visions Festival. Picture: Nick Sayers.

Visions Festival. Picture: Nick Sayers. - Credit: Archant

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"Our goal is to focus on quality and booking acts that you don't see on festival bills very often," explains Monsell, who lives close to Victoria Park. "When we book acts we think 'is this something that we feel is vital; that is particularly exciting?' Hopefully there's a degree of trust (for the festival) so that if you don't know the act before, (you know that) you're really going to enjoy it.

"We are a festival but we see ourselves as a bit more of a one-day happening, where you can take it easy and see a bunch of great music while not having to trek out to be in a different location. (It's about) taking a chance on something - where you like the bio, or the description in the programme, or something you've heard online."

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The music starts from 2pm and there's a full schedule of acts planned for the six participating venues, so you can drift between them before the respective headline acts take the stage at around 9.30pm. Visions also features Do.Om Yoga and a Goose Island Hop Garden, with DJ sets and a Visions Market. Wristbands are £30 and offer access to all of the sites, as well as the specially curated after-parties.

Visions is suited to roaming between venues and taking a chance on something new, but who is Monsell looking forward to seeing?

"It's great to have White Denim playing this year - an undeniably brilliant live rock band that kills it every time. Also Kedr Livanskiy, Imarhan and Orville Peck; an interesting new American artist blurring things between country and alternative rock. Also Steam Down - a great act that blends in to the exciting new jazz scene, and Anna Meredith, one of the most interesting voices in experimental music."

Visions Festival is on Saturday, August 3 at venues around Hackney. Wristbands are £30. More details and tickets here.

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