Vegan Connections 2017: The Review
With a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, Vegan Connections is a mini-festival that pairs ethos with entertainment
Contrary to its associations with an assortment of less-than-healthy, fried culinary options, Glasgow is often cited as one of the most veggie-and-vegetarian friendly cities in the UK. Vegan Connections Festival takes place at a handful of well-known meat-free venues across town, with an aim to "bring creative people together through art, education and damn good food”. With a soundtrack provided by a line-up of local bands and emerging UK talent, you don’t need to subscribe to a plant-based diet in order to enjoy this sensory feast.
The festival kicks off with a Friday evening launch party at The Flying Duck. A ramshackle presence on stage, Glasgow five-piece and Fuzzkill Records alumni Spinning Coin combine disparate aesthetics to deliver an appealing set. The band members trade vocal duties from song to song, and their sharp musicianship is the common thread that binds the seams of their unhurried indie rock.
TeenCanteen are the Friday night favourite, drawing the biggest audience of the evening. Carla Easton, Sita Pieraccini, Chloe Philip and Debbie Smith have been described as "the Scottish Shangri-Las", but there’s a deliberate and defiant lack of polish to their pop vignettes. Less concerned with a watertight performance (some shaky guitar work is balanced out by Smith’s rock solid drumming) than with creating an effect of overall jubilance, they win over the crowd with a cheeky cover of TLC's Waterfalls which chucks in a bit of All Saints sampling for good measure.
On Saturday, the festival is divided across Stereo, Mono and The Old Hairdresser's, with a daytime vegan market also on at The Briggait. Stereo’s line-up features a hugely entertaining headline performance from Manchester’s anti-folk heroes, Crywank. Kicking off with the faux-maudlin slowburner Crywank Are Posers, which takes aim at a generation of armchair activists, James Clayton and Dan Watson also show off their heavy side with a mixture of old and new material centred around Clayton’s everyman storytelling and Watson’s frenetic percussive talents. "In case you haven’t noticed, we’re a rock band", Clayton quips. Refreshingly unpretentious, theirs is arguably the festival’s best performance.
Across the lane at The Old Hairdresser's, Pinact take the prize for loudest set of the weekend. Back in Scotland after their recent US mini-tour, the trio deliver a tight, thundering racket of a set that delves into material from their upcoming LP, The Part That No One Knows. The hirsute Campfires In Winter then steer the ship in a different direction for the festival closer (the after-party kicks off with Monster Hospital at Bloc+) with a melodic show of alt-rock that blends haunting brass into their post-rock soup.
With a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, Vegan Connections is a mini-festival that pairs ethos with entertainment. Its grassroots approach makes the event slightly haphazard (the line-up is shuffled around without notice, and there’s no indication of set times at the venues). But on the whole, Vegan Connections proves that you don’t need to force veganism down people’s throats in order to make its ideologies a palatable choice.