A show at EartH always feels special; the amphitheatre seating manages to feel intimate yet spacious and the crumbling paint on the walls adds an element of dilapidated grandeur. This being said, the appeal of the room itself is up against the prospect of hosting a seated gig, and all of the contraints that come with it.
It’s as yet unclear how this will suit Vegyn, the London producer set to take the stage to present his live set to a sold-out audience. People trickle in at a pace, and the atmosphere is relaxed and excited as Irish artist pigbaby starts his support slot.
pigbaby performs in a leather gimp-style mask with ears that flip flop as he runs about the stage, skipping in and out of the red spotlight so that sometimes his voice travels disembodied before he stumbles into view again.
As he sings about urban malaise and burnout, the scratchy, irritated bed of synths build beneath as pigbaby’s malaise gets more and more unbearable before simply stopping, and he jogs offstage, little ears bobbing. It’s the perfect opener: a real treat for those who get there early and a name to note down and research when you get home.
Vegyn walks on stage for his first fully live London show (his third overall), and the mood from the crowd is instantly appreciative, even if holding back a little. He makes his way through some old favourites like ‘I See You Sometimes‘, accompanied by words spinning by on the screen behind him which go doubletime when the beat does, blurring into an unreadable overwhelming blur. The crowd is evidently behind him; they give him a loud cheer when the music dips and pauses and Vegyn looks up as though surprised to give an awkward wave.
Veiled in darkness, besides a small light on Vegyn’s live setup and some sparse spotlights, the focus remains entirely on the swell of the music. This works for a time, but the crowd start to feel restless, and something about simply staring at a largely dark stage as someone twiddles knobs and switches wires around feels discordant when the music itself is so emotive.
The tension is broken when the crowd stands up from their seats to dance during ‘It’s Nice to Be Alive‘. The hall stays stood up for the rest of the gig, with people flooding to the front at a certain point to dance.
Suddenly, it feels more like a playful headline festival set than a sat-down recital, and the room feels more like it’s 2am deep in the dance, people dancing with and chatting to their friends. It feels like the room has taken a deep breath out, and Vegyn’s beats get heavier, more clubby.
He plays a strong mixture of old and new, dropping ‘The Pavement is my Pillow Talk‘, a track from the recent Headache collaborative album The Head Hurts but the Heart Knows the Truth, produced by Vegyn and lyrics written by Francis Hornsby Clark before being performed by AI.
The lyric-driven track provides a breather in the middle of the set, a focal point amid the big velvet soundscapes full of texture and crunch. In a live set, Vegyn’s music has all the fun and playfulness of a video game soundtrack with all of the oomph and intricacies of a Squarepusher or Lorenzo Senni.
The music crescendos triumphantly, inching towards a stealthy ending without anyone realising it. We’re teased into thinking there might be an encore, before the lights come up to quash these hopes.
It’s an abrupt but fitting end for a gig that didn’t feel like a gig but something more amorphous. As punters pour out into the Dalston drizzle, there’s a feeling of refreshment in spite of the rain. An exhale, a testament to the relief of loosening dance music from the constraints of its presented context.