Hevy Music Festival 2011

author PP date 18/08/11

Hevy Music Festival is a relatively new entrant to the UK festival circuit, having established themselves in 2009 as a one-day festival at Folkestone, a coastal city to the south of England. Since then the festival has moved to a grass field roughly halfway between Ashford and Folkestone and grown into a weekend camping festival taking place during the first weekend in August, featuring mostly small to medium-sized hardcore and punk bands but also the occasional rock and metal acts plus a couple of bigger headliners.

What's unusual about the festival is its location: it's situated on a large grass field right next to Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, a wildlife reserve which has huge open spaces for rhinos, tigers, monkeys, tapirs and gorillas among other species to roam around rather freely around the estate. Because of the proximity of the festival to the reserve, the £89 GBP ticket price also included free entry to the park for those curious and interested. On site, you could also donate money to the reserve, although I'm not sure if that was limited to just the press as a voluntary charge, and included in the ticket price for the general public.

Scroll further down for the reviews, or check out our detailed description of the festival amenities below.




Off!, Make Do And Mend, Gold Kids, Touche Amore, November Coming Fire, While She Sleeps, Lower Than Atlantis, Awaken Demons, Man Overboard, More Than Life, Brutality Will Prevail, Lemuria (cancelled), All Teeth, Me Vs Hero, Spy Catcher, Death Is Not Glamorous (cancelled), Arcane Roots, Rot In Hell, The First, Heart In Hand, Heart Of A Coward, Hang The Bastard, Cheap Girls, Brotherhood Of The Lake, Polar, Carcer City, Giants, Bastions, Revoker, Basement, Crossbreaker, Departures, Harbours, Former Thieves, Hildamay, Loose Cannons

First Impressions

Getting to the festival can be a bit of a pain, given that it's a 20 minute drive from either Ashford or Folkestone stations, and an (overcrowded) local bus runs only once an hour. The most sensible choice was to shell out £20 for a taxi and share it with other festival goers from Ashford station, which is what TL and I opted to do in the end. The festival is located in the middle of nowhere, and they allow no re-entry once you're in, so it's a must to bring enough supplies to last over the weekend. The car park is technically outside the festival, and you were allowed to return to your car to pick up things, so it's a little unclear how well the re-entry rule was enforced in the end.

Upon arrival you're met by a gigantic, enormous queue leading to the gates of the festival. Fortunately the press had its own line, but from talking to some of the people at the line stretching hundreds of meters long, they queued for four to six hours on Friday, missing a great deal of bands in the process. The reason? The security insisted on checking every single piece of luggage from top to bottom for illegal items such as aerosol cans, drugs, too much alcohol (only 1 X 24 case of beer + 1 L liqueur allowed per person). Including tent bags. That's something that needs to be fixed in the year after by either loosening the rules or by introducing several multiples extra staff on the first day.

The camping area was the usual grass field, except it seemed more than spacious given the approximately 3,000 people attending the festival, and the waste handling system was a lot more efficient than at mainland Europe festivals we've covered in the past. You could collect all your trash and recyclable material into black/green garbage bags and dump them into pick-up areas spread out across the camping site (Roskilde, an idea here), where they would be processed by the festival in due time. Other than that, the camping area itself featured very limited facilities: a few toilets, wash basins, and a tiny kiosk .

Festival Area

The festival area is shaped much like the one at Groezrock Festival, a (roughly) triangular shape which features a stage in each corner, but it will surprise frequent festival goers by its small and compact size. The distance from our tent at the edge of the camping area to inside the festival area was about 30 seconds worth of walking, and you could easily make it from one stage to another in less than 15 seconds.

There are four stages: Jägermeister stage, a small canopy-style stage outside which acts as the main stage, Rock Sound/Macbeth Stage, a medium-sized tent stage that could probably house a 1000-1300 people at maximum capacity at a rough estimate, Front & Etnies Stage, a small tent that could fit maybe 400-500 people if you really squeezed in, and the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage, located right next to the main stage as a small showcase for bands with virtually no fan base just yet.

A Red Bull bar is right in the middle of the festival site, not only serving hard liqueur and mixer drinks (with red bull of course), but also acting as the perfect rendezvous point after dividing to go see shows at the different stages. Roughly next to it was the main bar, serving Carlsbergs and Adnams Bitters in plastic bottles and cans, and a nice seating area which allowed a line of sight to both the Jägermeister stage and the Front & Etnies stage.

The food offering was your typical festival fast-food, but our impression of it was that it was excellent on festival standards. Especially from the ribs, wings, steaks et cetera from the Gourmet Grill were a refreshingly high quality change from the usual burgers or kebabs, and the English Breakfast (bacon & eggs) rolls were a killer anti-hangover cure in the mornings.

Of course you had a ton of merch stores as well - both punk/hardcore brands and official band merchandise - although some of the bands opted to sell merch towards the very front right of the Rock Sound/Macbeth stage, which wasn't all too clear as TL realized after searching for a shirt by The Xcerts in vain for a few hours after their set.

The overall impression of the festival area was very good - especially the countless recycling bins helped keep the festival area almost spotless - although it is questionable how much more Hevy can grow attendance-wise before it will feel crammed and too small.


Harbours vocalist in the pit with the..err...animals

Harbours @ 15:50-16:20 on Front & Etnies Stage

The honour of becoming the first band reviewed at Hevy fell upon Harbours, a chaotic hardcore band from Canterbury, UK, who implement sequences of doom to give variety to their sound. In other words, they slow things down to a crawl every now and then, allowing the half-a-dozen or so karate moshers to take position and make their presence known in the (rather empty) pit. They display decent movement on stage, with their singer occasionally vaulting into the sparse crowd and screaming in between the pit bulls, but there aren't enough people in the tent nor good enough songs to make a lasting impression. Nothing out of the ordinary, but then again this band is still at a very early stage in their career. [6] PP

Turbogeist @ 16:20-16:50 on Rock Sound Stage

Next up were Turbogeist, a rock'n'roll driven punk band who kicked things off with high-speed and commendable enthusiasm in front of an almost completely empty tent. As I'm sure you all know, watching any show without an audience quickly becomes trivial, and when Turbogeist tone down their spirit a little after a song or two, it quickly becomes clear that the vast majority of their songs just aren't that interesting. On the contrary, they are rather nondescript and anonymous, and coupled with their inactive stage presence, even the few people present left after a couple of songs. [4½] PP

Departures vocalist at the barrier

Departures @ 16:40-17:10 on Front & Etnies Stage

From the wealth of up-and-coming British bands today it was Departures that was the first one to make a solid impression with their surprisingly catchy brand of hardcore. Dubbed as 'anthemic hardcore' by some, their fierce and chaotic expression is tinged with a melodic edge to it, which has filled up the tent already at this early afternoon. The band deliver a passionate performance with a ton of energy and conviction, with the singer continuously reaching into the crowd to scream into the pits, which in turn reward the band with a great response. The mic exchanges hands between the vocalist and members of the crowd frequently, especially during the bits that transition into breakneck speed melodic hardcore, and it looks like the Hevy attendance is already very familiar with Departures. A great atmosphere in the tent throughout, and a big surprise to the undersigned, at least. [7½] PP

The First had a fashionable emo look

The First @ 17:10-17:40 on Rock Sound Stage

There's a lame pun to be found in the fact that the first band to command my interest at this year's Hevy Fest are indeed called The First. Nevertheless, after getting started on the lavish banquet of ____core offered by the festival, it's already nice with a flash of variety in the form of this considerably more melodically inclined quintet. Despite limited crowd-attendance and response, The First act with all the class and positive energy you'd expect from a band that wants to go places. Smiling wide and moving well, the lads deliver bright, up-beat rockers one after the other, giving new listeners such as myself the impression that their sound is established somewhere in between The Blackout and You Me At Six. Closing song "Kicks" especially impresses with the kind of irresistible chorus that gets you singing along immediately, and judging from the band's overall handling of this show, one has to say that they deserve to draw bigger and more responsive audiences right away. Bar the fact that their music doesn't seem all too deep or original, the lacklustre crowd is really the only thing that's holding this show back. [7] TL

Basement vocalist has trouble with his face

Basement @ 18:20-18:50 on Front & Etnies Stage

Basement were the first band tonight from which I was expecting something if not outright spectacular, then at least thoroughly impressive and hypnotizing given the strength of their debut album last month. And there are certainly moments where they deliver on the promise of the record through an energetic and bouncy stage show and a boatload of good songs. The tent is full - which seems to be the case for nearly every British band at this festival - and the sing alongs are at times breathtaking, sending chills down the back of even this seasoned journalist. The band's brand of contemplative emotional hardcore in the vein of Polar Bear Club is a hit with the crowd, who faithfully recite back the lyrics to all the best songs from their repertoire, but after a while it becomes clear that Basement need a little more material before they'll be able to do a full 30 minute set of only great songs, also evident in the milder crowd reaction later on. Watch the full set in high-definition here. [7] PP

Straight Lines @ 18:50-19:20 on Rock Sound Stage

The next band relevant to my interests is Straight Lines, whose debut LP "Persistance In This Game" I've actually managed to check out before coming to the festival. As is going to be the trend for the softer bands on the festival's bill, the Welsh quartet doesn't exactly draw a huge or particularly dedicated crowd, and the realisation seems to put them in a rather business-like mood, with between-song banter being limited. Fortunately there's nothing wrong with proceedings in-song, as the band takes us through precise renditions of a good handful of their tracks, seeming to especially enjoy the extra rockin' bridge-parts, where singer/guitarist Thomas Jenkins can focus on punishing his guitar. A couple of songs gather singalongs from faithful fans scattered about the front of the tent, and in general it's a good enough performance, even though the mood still stays too casual for it to reach the upper echelon of our grade scale. [7] TL

Revoker @ 19:10-19:40 on Front & Etnies Stage

Although there are a truckload of heavy bands at, err, Hevy Music Festival this year, the vast majority of them have more to do with hardcore in various forms than metal. Revoker is therefore the odd one out, playing sleazy metal with Trivium-style thrash metal roots to it, adding in a little bit of rock in the mix as well. It's a groovy mix that sounds good on record, but given the hardcore-obsessed crowds at this festival, the tent is nearly empty throughout their set. The band show admirable passion nonetheless, posturing themselves in wide stand-still positions as is typical to heavy metal bands when you're expected to do nothing but headbang for the next thirty minutes, but they too have to face the facts: you can't do much without an audience. [6½] PP

A ton of hands at the barrier for Flood Of Red

Flood Of Red @ 19:40-20:20 on Rock Sound Stage

Despite the fact that I've never grown as strong an appreciation for Flood Of Red's "Leaving Everything Behind", as our own DR showed in his review, his recommendation has stuck with me, and hence the Scottish sextet is a band that I'm not prepared to miss today. The Rock Sound/Macbeth tent is still far from overpopulated, with the festival's main demographic no doubt off watching something heavier elsewhere, but that I think is their loss, because amidst bands that have so far relied mostly on either heavy beatings or quick poppy licks, Flood Of Red's ambitiously layered soundscape is a very welcome alternative. As they get going, all eyes and ears quickly fix on singer Jordan Speirs, who delivers an immaculate vocal performance so stunningly similar to that of Anthony Green that it has my jaw glued to the ground for the duration of the show. Indeed, the band sounds much like Circa Survive's Scottish little brother and that's really their only problem (because that comparison would leave most bands wanting). The show stands out like a sore thumb tonight, as the band members spend their time and energy on crafting beautiful music, and otherwise lets that music do the work on the crowd for them. Granted, it doesn't result in any sort of feverish party, but it provides an exhilarating experience for the ears, and that counts for quite a lot in my book. [8] TL

Giants @ 20:00-20:30 on Front & Etnies Stage

Giants are also a part of the UK hardcore swell, proven by not just their aggressive and in-your-face style live performance, but also by the completely packed tent tonight. They are a little softer than most of their colleagues, though, diving into post-hardcore at times with clean back up vocals that should immediately pull your thoughts towards a certain Dallas Green from Alexisonfire. In that sense, they have a lot in common with We Are The Ocean, sharing a similar vocal dynamic, but that's about where the similarities end. Giants often amp up the speed and volume of their expression into a lightning speed metalcore one, inciting, uhm, giant circle pits within the tent. On stage, they are bouncy as many other bands, providing a decent enough stage performance to call it acceptable, but the truth is that their set is driven by excellent material rather than their stage show. As the set progresses, they resemble more and more a heavier version of Alexisonfire, that also plays around with metalcore and breakdowns on occasion. By the end of the set, it's clear that we've just watched one of the best bands tonight based on songwriting alone. [8] PP

Sonic Boom Six @ 20:50-21:30 on Rock Sound Stage

I remember watching Sonic Boom Six for the first time back in 2004 at a small pub in Guildford at the recommendation of a friend. Long time has passed since then and the band have become a bit of an underground sensation in the UK with their unique combination of drum-n-bass, metal, ska, and reggae, sometimes dubbed as 'ragga metal' and the tent is initially packed to its limits. They are faced with huge technical problems, however, which delays the set extensively, and once they finally start and head into an introductory track of some sort with an unusually heavy lean on hip-hop, people start leaving in droves out. It's a shame, because a few songs afterwards, Sonic Boom Six begin delivering what is expected of them, transforming the tent into a huge ragga dance party much like Skindred. There's lots of dancing around the pits - with the band's female vocalist leading the dance moves on the stage - whilst a crazy flash light show takes place on stage, all helping to form an illusion that we've just entered a club-like party atmosphere in the middle of a hardcore festival. Once the band shifts into their trademark ska-metal-reggae combo, huge parts of the crowd can be seen skanking and dancing along like there's no end, representing a climax in their show tonight. A new track then follows, sounding like a Pendulum-inspired ragga drum-n-bass track, drawing another huge response before things quiet down a little. Without the technical problems their momentum would have no doubt been stronger and this could've been an amazing show. Now, we'll just have to settle with good instead. Shame. [7] PP

Don Broco @ 21:15-22:00 on Red Bull Stage

London quartet Don Broco is a band that already has a bit of buzz going, and while I personally haven't found their online material to my taste yet, AP had convinced me to go check out their show anyway. As I approach the Red Bull stage for the first time during the festival, Don Broco already have a party going between them and a decent sized crowd and singer Rob Damiani seems pleased with things as he continually engages his audience. As good as things look though, the actual sound of the set certainly does not do them justice, because the instruments come out a blurry mess and Damiani's singing sounds rather brash and tuneless. Fortunately for the band - and I must admit, somewhat to my indignation - the quality of the sound seems to be besides the point for the gathered crowd though, who seem hell-bent on having a good time regardless. Effectively, the show was probably pretty good if you were in the front group getting some exercise, but if you were further back hoping to be persuaded by music rather than energetic movement, the impression was definitely somewhat worse. [6] TL

Crowd at Lower Than Atlantis

Lower Than Atlantis @ 21:50-22:40 on Front & Etnies Stage

My final show for tonight is with Hertfordshire quartet Lower Than Atlantis, and as PP and I struggle to press into the Etnies tent prior to the show, it's pretty clear that we aren't the only ones who are excited for their appearance. The tent is positively packed, and as LTA kick things off with "(Motor) Way Of Life", it's clear that things are going to be special, because the crowd erupts with activity, singing every word back to the band with force. The singing continues so loudly that it takes half the second song for anyone to notice that vocalist/guitarist Mike Duce's microphone has turned off, and soon enough, crowd surfers are sailing over the barriers by the boatload. LTA themselves aren't really doing a lot to encourage things, instead playing through their songs looking smug with the realisation that they can do no wrong tonight, as people sing and move equally feverishly to songs both old and new. Soon enough, ordinary crowd surfing isn't enough, and people start climbing and diving from the tent supports, hanging from them in such throngs that I nurse a legitimate fear of the tent coming down on us. LTA for their part, do their best to look cool and unsurprised with the heroes' welcome, while splicing bits of Foo Fighter's "Everlong" and "The Pretender" into their set, and security is soon struggling to deter the wild crowd from their climbing efforts. Overall, LTA prove that you don't really have to do much on stage if you have a set's worth of kick ass songs, because the crowd seemingly needs little other encouragement to keep the atmosphere at boiling point throughout, and as the night ends with "Beech Like The Tree", I think everyone leaves the tent with the realisation that this was a show that was pretty special. [8½] TL


Gold Kids @ 14:30-15:00 on Jägermeister Stage

One of the first bands at the Jägermeister Stage today is Gold Kids, an Italian hardcore punk band that have built enough of a following to grant them access to the festival's main stage. A considerable crowd has gathered to check out these Italians - most like myself and TL, completely oblivious to this band's existence before this festival - but there is literally no movement within the crowd. Perhaps it's a reflection of the uninteresting stage show and the relative inaccessibility of Gold Kid's brand of hardcore punk, which sounds generic, monotonous and forgettable on first listen if you haven't heard their studio material prior to the show. As such, their show is quickly forgotten as we move onto better things. [5] PP


Mishkin @ 15:00-15:30 on Red Bull Stage

Hold your horses, however, because before we send ourselves for a day's worth of various forms of core music and a number of great shows, we need to deal with Mishkin first, starting immediately after Gold Kids on the small Red Bull Bedroom Jams stage. They sound like they're a Maylene & The Sons Of Disaster inspired southern rock band on first listen, albeit with post-hardcore influence and bits of hardcore edge to their sound as well. But as the set progresses, the band's sound turns out to be all over the place, visiting emo-alternative and straight forward rock as well in the process. That's not the least of their problems, because their songs just aren't very interesting to start out with. That's probably why there's next to nobody watching, and even those who are, prefer sitting down and chilling out than rocking out to the band's music. [4] PP

Spy Catcher

Spy Catcher @ 15:30-16:00 on Rock Sound Stage

As with Straight Lines, Spy Catcher is another young British band that I have been checking out prior to the festival, and hence have been eager to witness in a live setting. Just as yesterday, the show in the Rock Sound/Macbeth tent draws only a mid-sized crowd while the many hardcore kids are likely packing some core-fest over at Etnies. Spy Catcher's response to this is somewhat imbalanced, with singer/guitarist Steve Sears and guitarist/pianist Mitch Mitchener seemingly wanting to light things up, while the remaining band offers a somewhat more laid back performance. Sears in particular takes his frontman duty seriously, pacing the width of the stage during the songs for which his guitar isn't needed, betraying his hardcore roots. The commitment is admirable to be sure, though personally I question how well it fits the band's more classy punk rock, which, by the way, is getting a rather mellow response from its audience. Even album highlight "Remember Where You Where When Michael Jackson Died" fails to get things cooking, and eventually it falls to the band's 'radio hit' "Don't Like People" to be the only song to get any sort of halfway decent sing along started. It's a shame, because the band's musical output is good enough to deserve a better show, but today the experience remains predominantly better for the ears than for the eyes and legs. [7] TL

November Coming Fire @ 15:30-16:10 on Jägermeister Stage

On record, November Coming Fire have released some of the most challenging and structurally complex hardcore I've come across, triumphing equally well in long-winded hardcore pieces as well as in ferocious snippets of chaos that take aggressive tempo turns in unpredictable moments. As such, they've gathered a significant crowd this afternoon, but it doesn't look like the people watching know the band at all, and the stage seems a little too big for them as well, as they aren't able to draw a connection to the crowd as they might be able to do in either one of the two tent stages. That factor alone makes the band appear worse than they really are; the set just isn't engaging enough to warrant a higher grade. [6] PP

Heart Of A Coward

Heart Of A Coward @ 16:00-16:30 on Front & Etnies Stage

Although Heart Of A Coward can be criticized to some extent of their generic one-chord breakdown sequences that infest many of their songs, they are easy to ignore when the band breaks into melodic and ambient hardcore passages elsewhere, creating an interesting balance between brutality and groovy melodies during their set. The tent is packed, suggesting their surging popularity in the underground, and it's easy to see why: the band's interaction with the crowd is flawless. The band's vocalist is all over the place, guiding and commanding the crowd both from the stage and from the barrier, which results into some huge chant responses from the crowd. There's a ton of synchronous head banging happening on stage, and if you looked over to the crowd, everyone's heads (and bodies because of the sheer amount of people) were in constant movement as well. Towards the end, the singer teaches the crowd an easy 'hardcore unity' part, making everyone recite "WE STAND AS ONE" as a response to whatever he screams at the crowd. It's good, it's solid, it's impressive, even for a breakdowncore band. [7] PP

Me Vs Hero @ 16:30-17:00 on Rock Sound Stage

Returning to the Rock Sound/Macbeth for the Me Vs Hero show, PP and I find that for the first time we actually have to squeeze to get in there, which bodes well for the band's reception. And true enough, the five-pop-punkers with American influences quickly get a party started, with many crowding the barrier to shout along or jump on top of each other. The band delivers a classic, bouncy pop-punk performance, underscoring their choruses which the crowd sing lovingly along to. Despite it all, however, we stand back and feel left cold, because having heard and seen many of Me Vs Hero's stylistic peers, it's hard not to get the same impression from their show as from their album: namely that they fare only decently in comparison. This sense dominates the show, and effectively makes it similar to the Don Broco set, in that it is a good time if you came primed for a party, but if you disposition was more neutral, then it is hard finding something to be thoroughly impressed with. [6½] TL

Make Do And Mend @ 17:30-18:00 on Rock Sound Stage

Make Do And Mend is a name that I've seen popping up and mentioned favourably on the internet lately, and this is pretty much my only background for checking them out today, having never heard any of their music in advance. As it turns out though, along with their crunchy Hot Water Music-ish punk rock, the band brings a poised attitude that is in stark contrast to the slightly try-hard performances given by many of the young and aspiring British bands at the festival. Singer James Carroll may look and appear like an average Joe compared to other frontmen, but he engages the crowd with coolness and confidence, creating an easy atmosphere that likely primes other newcomers than just me to enjoy the music. And as for the music, Make Do And Mend's songs also stand out, seeming to have much better flow, and more carefully considered structure than most of the stuff we've heard so far at Hevy. A tentful of the festival's more mature attendants seemingly agree, nodding along and applauding generously between songs, and overall I think it says it all that I still consider Make Do And Mend the best surprise of my entire Hevy experience. Watch the full set here. [8] TL

All Teeth @ 18:00-18:40 on Front & Etnies Stage

The idea after the Make Do And Mend show for me personally was to go change into jeans at camp as it was getting cold. The route happened to pass by the Front & Etnies stage where All Teeth had just began their set, and it says it all when I walked by, looked on stage, and didn't leave 'til they were done. Up there was a band playing hardcore punk in front of a rather sparse audience with a riveting, instantly grabbing delivery of their songs, displaying easily the most energy out of any band I've seen at the festival so far. Their thick and dense sound is flavored with melody, but that doesn't deter from their expression from being in-your-face to the very definition of the phrase. The songs are short, but they are awesome and varied throughout, with even some rock'n'roll solos peaking from underneath their aggressive expression. It dumbfounds me that the tent is as empty as it is, but the reasons are crystal clear: All Teeth are too fast, too vicious, too frenetic for the British two-step obsessed crowd to take notice, evident in the fact that the band uses only a little over half of their allocated timeslot simply because their songs are so fast and to-the-point they simply have no more material to share with us. Excellent songs and an impressive display of animalistic energy in front of a half-assed audience! [8] PP

The Xcerts

The Xcerts @ 18:30-19:10 on Rock Sound Stage

Right, better brace for bias guys, because The Xcerts are my primary reason for being here, following my recent love affairs with their three fine outings (1,2,3). Hence it breaks my fanboy's heart that the tent is nowhere near full, and that the Scottish trio is confined to the limits of a forty minute set. The fact that the band's noisy indie-rock is out-of-place is not lost on singer/guitarist Murray Macleod, who plays a mock breakdown without distortion and asks if we wouldn't all rather be off watching music like that. Despite the hostile environment though, I dare say the band puts on a valiant effort, playing with passion and precision, punishing their instruments at any given opportunity. Macleod himself proves to be every bit the singer he is on record, and considering the amount of throaty roars that the festival has offered so far, it is sheer joy to behold a singer who so deftly wields both cleans and screeching screams. A handful of diehards, myself included, match the lyrics almost word for word, yet the remainder of the audience mostly looks on with crossed arms and puzzled expressions. The question is: What do you grade a band that plays brilliantly, yet seems entirely lost on its audience? Considering my bias, my assessment may not be fair, but I'm still going to venture that if you have ears to hear, you should hear what I hear, namely a solid show that deserves much more recognition. [8] TL

The usually active Ghost Of A Thousand vocalist kneeling down...is he reading the setlist?

The Ghost of A Thousand @ 19:10-20:00 on Jägermeister Stage

"I think they are going to take the stage down with them". "I think they will literally set fire to the stage" are just some of the speculation I overheard from people discussing the events that are about to unfold at the last ever The Ghost Of A Thousand show, a premature exit from a scene which will dearly miss one of the main inspirations and driving forces behind modern British hardcore. These are all valid expectations as time and time again I've seen The Ghost Of A Thousand tear a venue a new one, disregarding rules almost to the same extent as Dillinger Escape Plan, but tonight, the expected destruction and mayhem doesn't manifest itself at any point during the set. It's a combination of many things: a quiet sound on the main stage, a stage performance far more suited to intimate clubs than a larger main stage, and the sloppy looseness that's probably associated with the band not feeling it anymore for their band or their own music. The beginning, in particular, is frighteningly close to being boring, but as always the band's hardcore-meets-rock'n'roll-meets-groove style gets better once you acclimatize yourself. The band's own movement intensifies as well in the form of scissor jumps, insane headbanging and the usual stuff, but the passion, the unrelenting fury, the unadulterated anger that The Ghost Of A Thousand has always carried themselves with just isn't there in the same gripping and addictive way as in the past. The discontent and underground explosiveness doesn't exist today to the same extent as it did at, for example, their early noon Groezrock performance last year, perhaps due to the last show factor? Whatever it is, I feel demotivated and let down by TGOAT today, leaving early to catch Title Fight instead. Keep in mind though, that even when slightly disappointing, TGOAT are still pretty fucking good, and it's a great loss to the scene that they are stopping. [7½] PP

Title Fight @ 19:40-20:20 on Rock Sound Stage

If there's one thing above all to take away from the Title Fight set, it's the sheer amount of raw emotion and urgency that the band displays for the 35 minutes that their set lasts. They have released a couple of great records with exceptional melodies and passionate vocals, and these are executed with a great dynamic between the band's two vocalists and the crowd. The band's impassioned jumps, movement and appearance on stage rubs off to the crowd, who goes bonkers as the band rips through their technical melodic hardcore pieces at breakneck speeds. They avoid the monotony-trap by adding in a good amount of tempo-variation, which does wonders for the atmosphere, although the slower songs draw less of a response than the fast ones. The last three songs cause particular mayhem as people start appearing on stage for crowd surfing to celebrate some of the band's best material, ending the set in big sing-a-longs and sweaty pits. Excellent stuff. [8] PP

Sam Carter of Architects worshipped by the audience

Architects @ 20:30-21:30 on Jägermeister Stage

After having only seen a few songs by earlier bands on the Jägermeister Stage, Architects is the first band here that I really turn my attention to. The popularity which the band has come into, especially following 2009's "Hollow Crown", is manifested from the first note in a sizeable and responsive crowd, which seems happy to shout along and get moving to the sound of songs from that record in particular. Songs both older and newer get a fair reception as well though, and generally this is one show where the crowd need not take the blame for anything. I'm just not sure I can say the same for Architects, who put in a performance that seems a bit disconnected. Frontman Sam Carter, who I remember as a slender little ball of fury, has bulked up to become a muscle man, and between his vocal parts he stomps the ground in proper hardcore fashion, regardless of the fact that the music behind him shifts from tech metal to post-hardcore and back. And then there's the clean singing which entered the band's repertoire on this year's "The Here And Now". To be fair, Carter initially does a passable job at it, although his vocals clearly aren't too impressive in this department. However, when it becomes time for 'a special moment', as the band plays its two 'ballads' from the new record - "Heartburn" and "An Open Letter To Myself" is it? - Carter suddenly puts on a flawless if noticeably inanimate performance. I could be wrong, but it smells like lip-sync to me. The band does regain some credibility though, when Greg Puciato (from Dillinger Escape Plan) joins them on stage for his contribution to "Year In Year Out". Still, somehow things never really seem very potent to me, and again I get the feeling that the proceedings on stage are not quite worthy of the fine response from the audience. Architects have plenty of energy, but the different aspects of their music seems to contradict rather than compliment each other, and just like with "The Here And Now", I think fans have got to wonder if this band knows its own identity? [6½] TL

OFF! @ 20:50-21:30 on Rock Sound Stage

Two minutes before hardcore supergroup OFF!, featuring original Black Flag singer Keith Morris on vocals, come on stage, the tent is absolutely dead. There are maybe a handful of people where you can fit at least a thousand, leaving those of us in attendance scratching our collective heads over how the otherwise so passionate UK hardcore folks haven't discovered OFF!, whose debut album "First Four EPs" has received nothing but praise by the music press. Again, it must be a two-stepping thing, as OFF!'s music is best characterized as no-frills old-school hardcore, relying more on the insanity of Keith Morris and the groovy, but simple guitars than on anything else. Oh well, their loss, as OFF! puts up one of the most entertaining performances at this year's festival. Keith Morris' in-between song banter approaches pure lunacy as he walks us through some of his twisted humour, and during the songs, the band displays an impressive amount of jumps and energy for a group whose combined ages are that of five or six typical bands from the roster put together. But more importantly, OFF! perform with the kind of riveting urgency and immediacy that puts most of their breakdown-obsessed peers here to shame. Every song sounds like it's written with a purpose, a raw, screeching, screamey affair that still somehow manages to stay catchy, and the performance matches that description. [8] PP

Bouncing Souls @ 22:00-23:00 on Rock Sound Stage

As much as it pains me to miss the most of The Dillinger Escape Plan and assign covering that to TL instead, missing Bouncing Souls simply isn't an option for two reasons. One, the band are funny as shit live, known for their entertaining in-between song banter, and two , I feel like I've heard enough core-genres today for a month's worth. Turns out the decision was an excellent one, as Bouncing Souls deliver as promised despite feeling like the odd one out tonight. "I'm not gonna yell at you like some of these other bands", says the enigmatic singer Greg Attonito to start things off, and from here on there's only one way to describe the Bouncing Souls set: fun. Ridiculously, hilarious, joyously fun, chracterized by bright and up-beat melodic punk songs in between. Bouncing Souls are happy music normally, too, but at Hevy Music Fest they feel nothing short of ecstatic, amplifying their reputation as 'good times music' through the charismatic vocals and performance of Attonito, who brings his trademark 'walking' stance on the stage, when he isn't busy down at the barrier singing with the people at the front. At first, it feels like BS might be playing for a completely wrong audience given the mild reaction from the crowd, but once the band is done playing newer songs and finishes with a nearly 20 minute long hit parade, the sing alongs are the rule rather than the exception. It's safe to say that BS take home the feel good band prize of Hevy Music Festival 2011. [8] PP

The insanity that is Dillinger Escape Plan

The Dillinger Escape Plan @ 22:00-23:00 on Jägermeister Stage

While I can't claim to have TDEP records in regular rotation on my home stereo, I have seen them a few times by now, and hence I come to their Jägermeister show expecting another burst of chaos, the kind of which makes all other shows seen at the festival feel a little lame. Already in the first few songs though, it becomes clear that this is not what the concert gods have planned for us. The crowd that was vivid for Architects stand mostly stupefied before TDEP, and while the instruments sound from the speakers, Greg Puciato's vocals are so low in the mix they are almost inaudible. Normally, this is the kind of thing that gets fixed within a few songs, but here, it takes almost half an hour before the volatile singer's frantic screams begin to peek out from the squirming mass of discordant guitar riffs. By then Puciato appears to be quite pissed off with the way things are going, and despite him and his band's frantic attempts at tearing the stage up. Guitars are swung in wild arcs, amps are kicked, scaled and used as launch pads for hazardous jumps, and still all but the frontmost onlookers act like lame ducks. So eventually Puciato throws his mic stand high and far. The thing is fortunately caught before taking someone's eye out, yet still the crowd is largely docile, and Puciato soon voices his contempt for us 'dorks', when most miss the point of a bawdy joke he makes. It's fair to say that this second half of the show proceeds with him and the band (and Sam Carter, who's on stage for a song as well) doing what they can to get in the audience's faces. Even at the end things remain weird, as Puciato sounds off calling us all 'pussies', and somehow the people who stood still during the show now call for an encore..? And somehow, Dillinger even seem ready to do one?? Problem is that the festival organisation isn't on the same page, so when the band picks up their instruments, half of them are without power. In the light of things, TDEP quickly lose patience with the situation, and proceed to play Nirvana's "Territorial Pissings" with the faithful few up front amplifying the singing in the absence of a working microphone. Overall, it's hard to decide what to think of such a plainly catastrophic gig, because despite all that went wrong, it only seemed to fuel a vitriol in the band, the kind of which is all but absent from punk rock these days. So give it a 6 or give it a 9? Well fuck, make up your own mind about it [?] TL


The Afterparty

The Afterparty @ 12:00-12:30 on Red Bull Stage

Right, it's the last day of the festival and I'm tired, yet up early, because contrary to yesterday's lineup, today actually offers more than occasional alternatives from 'breakdown-bands', and this of course is where my area of interest lies. Hence I'm in a mood to be convinced to see pop-rock five-piece The Afterparty, despite the fact that they were formerly Ghosts On Pegasus Bridge, whom I was never quite impressed with. A good choice as it turns out, because while there aren't too many early birds lining up to receive the band at the Red Bull stage, they graciously seize their opportunity anyway, and soon have heads bopping, feet tapping and smiles widening as an effect of their bright, simplistic and immediately enjoyable tunes. The boys display good energy, and seem pleased to be playing here, and their show makes for a refreshing start to the day, despite suffering from a case of blurry 'support band sound'. Not much else need saying here though. Good stuff, 'recommend it. [7] TL

HildaMay @ 12:30-13:00 on Jägermeister Stage

Next band up for me is HildaMay, whom I have no prior experience with, yet somehow has impressed upon me that I should check them out, and despite noting that I find their name a bit silly, I guess I am obliging because here I am. This time though, I can't say I'm rewarded for my effort, because while HildaMay do provide a stage show of appropriately active movement, it looks a lot like going through the motion from where we're standing, and judging from the apathetic look on my fellow crowd members, I'm guessing I'm not alone in making this observation. The band grinds their way through a set of pseudo-heavy rock/punk/hardcore, full of dull sounding guitars, nondescript scratched singing and zero catchy moments, and it very quickly becomes the kind of experience where I keep checking the time, waiting for things to end and questioning if this band has any relevance what so ever. [5] TL

Hang The Bastard @ 12:30-13:00 on Rock Sound Stage

Hyped hardcore/metalcore hybrid Hang The Bastard were originally scheduled to play the day before, but got stuck in traffic and couldn't make it in time for their allocated time slot. Not to worry, Bastions took over as they were already at the festival, and the festival kindly rescheduled Hang The Bastard to Sunday instead to the delight of all the karate moshers present at the festival. They enjoy a huge response from the pits, where said karate kids annihilate anything and everything that comes their way during the slower breakdowns - the singer even joins them far into the crowd area at one point - and it quickly becomes clear to someone looking from the outside that Hang The Bastard are all about the crowd response and live energy; their music isn't very interesting otherwise. A few good tracks and a lot of generic metalcore later, it's easy to award the band a decent, but not impressive grade. [6½] PP

Man Overboard saddened about another lost girlfriend

Man Overboard @ 13:30-14:00 on Jägermeister Stage

Man Overboard belong to the 'new school' group of pop punk bands who are all about preserving and in some ways re-igniting the pop punk scene. They have t-shirts designs that read like battle cries with their "defend pop punk" slogans, and a boatload of straight-forward songs that adhere to pop punk 101 class from start to finish. That's not an instant recipe for success, but they are also fun, light-hearted, and infectiously catchy, as evident by "Real Talk" from last year and from their Hevy Fest 2011 set today. They have that slightly dorky, slightly hipster look going for them as the energetically bounce and joke around on stage like any good pop punk band does. That the sun is finally shining warmly on the field gives their set an extra boost in up-beat joy, though they receive only a moderate crowd response despite a large amount of people watching. Songs like "Fantasy Girl" and "World Favorite" are fun and sing-alongable, and the vocalist shouts out a couple of laughable comments like "this song is about a bitch I hate", but the early time slot and the still-questionable sound of the main stage takes a chunk out of their set. Nonetheless, they do a good job in initiating the awesome-band parade that's about to take place for the next 10 hours or so. [7] PP

Polar Bear Club's Jimmy Stadt allowing crowd to recite some lyrics

Polar Bear Club @ 14:30-15:10 on Jägermeister Stage

So far almost all the bands I've seen at the festival have been merely playing their songs with good energy, but Polar Bear Club are the first band to really perform their songs. They tear the stage apart with high-energy jumping and the lovable crowd-control from vocalist Jimmy Stadt, who embodies the passionate performance of the band by shoving the mic towards the crowd constantly, inciting singalongs and chant-alongs despite the lengthy distance between the stage and the crowd due to the security and the photographers. The other band members share similar energy, but what really makes Polar Bear Club sound solid is the sheer amount of impressive songs they have in their (small) back catalogue. The setlist represents a fairly balanced mixture of their amazing debut album and still-solid sophomore album, but it's the new song "Screams In Caves" that steals all the attention. This song is arguably the best song the band has written, and it sounds even better live than it does on the Soundcloud stream, suggesting we're in for a fantastic record in a month's time. The old tracks receive a good sing-along treatment, although it feels like the band is rushing through the songs by playing them in a slightly faster tempo to fit them all into their 40 minute slot, but the continued sunshine outside ensures that even the slightly weaker (and brighter) tracks sound solid today. This is about as good as it can realistically get on an early afternoon slot. [7½] PP

Touché Amoré @ 15:30-16:00 on Rock Sound Stage

Okay so admittedly, the Touché Amoré show marks an embarrassing little blind spot in our festival coverage, as PP heads to Capdown thinking I'm covering Touché Amoré, while I use half their show as a backdrop for sorting out my plan for the day, thinking that PP is covering it. It's an unfortunate misunderstanding, which prevents us from providing full details on a show that was probably among the best of the festival, because from what I do see, Touché Amoré's animated screamo/hardcore punk show gets a heroes' welcome from an audience which is screaming back lyrics words for word and sailing over the barrier in a steady stream. The music sounds the way it should, all rough and buzzy from the speakers, while singer Jeremy Bolm make frequent trips to the barrier to sing with his audience and humbly thanks the people for their response in between songs. Meanwhile his band is rockin' out properly, and soon the band is guested by La Dispute singer Jordan Dreyer for a couple of songs, which only whips up the crowd even more. I might not stare attentively from start to end, but even I make note that this is one of the few shows at Hevy where band, sound and audience actually match each other. It's hard to find something to complain about then, so I think it better to just recognize that the show was rock solid. Watch the full set over here [8] TL

Capdown @ 15:40-16:20 on Jägermeister Stage

Capdown are considered by many to be the finest skacore outfit from Britain, blending together ska, punk, hardcore, drum and bass, and reggae seamlessly to produce a unique sound that you can only associate with them. They disbanded in 2007 and today was a rare opportunity to see them play a set, so I was willing to forgo Touche Amore to sneak a peek. Now, if there's one thing I learned from Capdown's set, it's that moshing with the sax looks fucking awesome. Honestly, few other things look as prolifically cool as a semi-old dude rocking across the stage wielding a saxophone during a metallic ska-beat. The sax-fueled ska punk melodies get people dancing; you'd see people skanking and hopping along to the funky melodies all over the crowd even towards the back. Capdown itself goes batshit insane during the heavy parts, and maintain a strong energy and dynamic throughout their set, not forgetting to make fun of the tattooed appearance of the people at this festival or the self-ironic remark of ska being very unfashionable in 2011. They're also one of the few bands to have a great sound on the main stage, which helps them to create an all-encompassing atmosphere of fun around the outdoor stage, a feat not easily accomplished even by seasoned musicians. Overall, the set is excellent, enough for me to recommend everyone to check out Capdown if you'll have the chance. Here's hoping for a more permanent reunion. [8] PP

Living With Lions

Living With Lions @ 16:00-16:30 on Front & Etnies Stage

Considering the love we at Rockfreaks.net have given this year's Living With Lions album "Holy Shit", it can hardly come as a surprise that PP and I are pretty damn stoked to be seeing their show at the Etnies tent. Surprisingly, they are among the few bands playing here that do not fill the tent, and to begin with, things don't appear so awesome as the band opens with two older songs that gather little response. Then a "Holy Shit" song is aired however, an all of a sudden, a score of people are struggling to meet vocalist Stu Ross at the barrier to sing along with him. From there on out, the show is all about bright melodies, ecstatic singalongs and good times in general, and while there are not enough people in attendance for frantic hustle and bustle in general, even the people standing clear of the action at the front seem to be all smiles and tapping their feet. The glad expressions are mirrored in the faces of Ross and the band, as the words of the likes of "Regret Song" and "Honesty, Honestly" are cried back at them, and overall, Living With Lions give us a good show, well capable of overcoming the obstacle of a less than half-full tent. [8] TL

While She Sleeps vocalist close at the barrier

While She Sleeps @ 16:30-17:00 on Rock Sound Stage

The Sunday afternoon schedule is packed with amazing bands, and as such I'm only able to catch a brief moment of While She Sleep's set. The tent is massively jammed, not allowing me to come anywhere near either edge, and I'm not sure if I'd even want to go in because it looks freaking insane in there. The band is getting a fantastic response from the crowd all around, and the rumours about their crazy live show seem to be true: they are jumping around crazily and swirling their instruments around like madmen. Maybe they're not TDEP crazy, but they look like they're owning the tent with their performance today. PP

Zebrahead @ 16:50-17:40 on Jägermeister Stage

Somehow I don't think I presume too much if I venture that most of you people have not been keeping up with Zebrahead in recent years. It seems beyond question that these guys are starting to seem a bit dated and stuck in the stalling 90s pop-punk movement, yet is there any chance I will miss their show? Not by a long shot, because if any band is sure as shit to bring along the party and the good times, it is this one, as is proved today when Zebrahead do what they do best, namely win over a medium-sized audience which was otherwise cautious at the show's beginning. The guys appear with plenty of confidence and time for between-song shenanigans, joking with each other and the crowd and dishing out one fast-paced, fun-filled tune after the other. Okay so it's a little corny when a roadie in a tiger suit comes in and 'masturbates' with a beer bottle, spraying the stuff all over, and when others appear to spray us with water guns while the band commands circle pit and sit-down-jump-up routine and what not, but you know what, it's really good fun anyway, and in fact it is a delight to see a band take its role as entertainers seriously. So while Zebrahead may not have been overly successful when it comes to keeping people interested in the progression of their career, they are still the perfect band for an afternoon show in the sun like this one. So much so in fact, that when it's over, I don't even feel bad about it costing me the entire La Dispute concert. [8] TL

La Dispute @ 17:00-17:40 on Front & Etnies Stage

Alongside Touche Amore, La Dispute are one of the most hyped up-and-coming emotional hardcore bands around. Something about their spoken-word paced screamey hardcore and brilliant lyricism draws immense passion from crowds, but tonight they are faced with immense technical issues throughout their set. First of all the microphone isn't working, delaying the set in the beginning, and then one of their guitars breaks for the duration of two entire songs. Not to worry, the crowd takes over and sings/hums the needed parts from the guitar for the band. That doesn't sound like much on paper, but it's quite a special feeling of community when you have a tent full of people screaming back every lyric to the band's songs, and then also helping out to replace the guitars too. Once all the problems are sorted, though, the band resumes their intense dancing on stage, drawing one of the best reactions from the crowd. I can't help but imagine that the growing discontent among the youth of Britain is being channeled through the lyrics and emotional moods of bands like La Dispute given the impassioned and give-it-all response they and Touche Amore (from the couple of songs I saw) experience today. [8] PP

We Are The Ocean @ 18:10-19:00 on Jägermeister Stage

Despite We Are The Ocean's steadily growing popularity in England, I personally was not convinced of their quality until their recent third album "Go Now And Live", yet in the light of just how catchy some of the songs on that album are, I found myself cautiously looking forward to the band's early evening performance at the Jägermeister stage. Unfortunately, no matter the pleasant reaction of a large group of amiable onlookers, WATO's live show betrays the band's discrepant nature clearer than anything else about them. Lead singer/screamer and frontman Dan Brown is ever the visual focal point of the band, confidently rocking about, engaging the crowd and trying to inspire movement, and eventually venturing all the way to the sound desk only to crowdsurf back. Yet his confidence seems unfounded, because his vocals are nothing worth writing home about, as the band also seem to have realised with their "Go Now And Live" material, where his screams have turned into scratched singing, while taking the back seat behind guitarist/chorus-singer Liam Cromby, whose singing is on the other hand phenomenal. It's the hard truth that seems to be ignored with this band, but even the audience knows it, as its activity consistently increases noticeably whenever it's time to sing along to Cromby's pieces. Simply put, this band has never been as good as when Cromby is in focus, singing alternative rock choruses, yet still the band insists on putting Brown forward, letting him conduct proceedings like it's a hardcore show. Overall it means that the parts that constitute the show never really add up, and instead you feel like you're just standing around waiting for some choruses, just as if you were watching some lame radio-rock act. [6½] TL

More Than Life

More Than Life @ 18:10-18:50 on Front & Etnies Stage

More Than Life face another jam-packed tent as they prepare for their set at the Etnies stage for 40 minutes worth of melodic, but aggressive hardcore punk. By this stage of the festival, I've seen probably a dozen shows just like More Than Life, where the band members storm across the stage, hand over the mic to the crowd, receive a good chanted response, that it becomes harder and harder to distinguish the sets from one another. Individually, each of the set is very good, capable of scoring much higher ratings, but just like you've learned in your economics class, too much supply will cause prices to fall. Therefore bands like More Than Life start sounding monotonous and samey over a weekend like this. So I check out a few songs and note down their tendency to lean into melodic hardcore slightly more than the rest of the bands this weekend, but dismiss the show as one I won't have the patience to watch for more than just about 10 minutes' worth. Watch the full set here [7] PP


Defeater @ 18:40-19:20 on Rock Sound Stage

The same problem carries over to the Defeater set, although to a lesser extent given their focus on emotional hardcore rather than 'basketballcore' as many of our staffers have dubbed two-step hardcore. It's a very similar set to that of Touche Amore and La Dispute, but with a less intense reception and less of a passionate atmosphere in the tent. That said, "Warm Blood Rush" receives a huge sing along as does "Empty Glass" alongside a few other songs, where the crowd recites the lyrics loud and clear for most of the song. But still, the stage show mimics the performance of other similar bands closely, leaving behind a solid set but one that you probably won't remember in a few weeks' time. [7] PP

What is going on with the FFAF bassist?

Funeral For A Friend @ 19:30-20:30 on Jägermeister Stage

As anyone reading this probably knows, Funeral For A Friend is a band made of sheer emocore legend, due to their seminal albums "Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation" and "Hours". While their star has been fading with albums "Tales Don't Tell Themselves" and "Memory & Humanity" never striking home with the fanbase, many have claimed the recent "Welcome Home Armageddon" a complete return to form. And if you're a typical FFAF fan, then you probably could not have asked for a better show than the one the band puts on tonight. As the sun gradually sinks below the horizon, FFAF completely ignore their more mainstream experiments and play strictly heavier material from "Hours", "Casually Dressed..", "Welcome Home.." and their "Seven Ways To Scream Your Name EP". The guys are in a good mood, all smiling and rocking out, and the crowd is loving the set, offering massive singalongs and energetic moshing to especially the older songs. Actually, I feel like the only person on the field nursing reservations about the show, but hear me out: Here's a band that is completely out of touch with the fact that the _EMO_ in their sound is what has made them [ed note: I thought the debut album was what 'made' them?]. Singer Matthew Davies-Kreye even makes light of the term while introducing "Roses Of The Dead", yet it is clear as day that what people want most from the band, are the desperate exchanges of clean/scream dynamics that make the songs sound like they were written to mean something, and which are prototypical to the genre. So can it really only be me who thinks that the band betrays the depth of its own songs somewhat, by being all light-hearted on stage? I mean I'm not asking them to cry while playing, but opening up with a little depth and sincerity wouldn't be as uncool as Davies-Kreye make it sound I think. Having made this point though, I also have to recognize that most people probably don't think it matters much, if at all, as they busily enjoy a setlist and performance which is likely to be everything they could have wanted from the band. In the end I guess a band giving their audience exactly what they want is not such a bad thing, rather it's probably a rock solid approach, I'm just left with the feeling that even so, a FFAF show will never be as special as their best material. [8] TL

Ceremony @ 19:50-20:30 on Rock Sound Stage

For the surprise set of the weekend award, I'll have to go with Ceremony. They play a brand of old school hardcore/punk not too different from the likes of OFF!, Black Flag and others, unpolished and raw in a distinctly 80s way. But what made their set excellent was the lunacy-approaching demeanour of their vocalist. When he wasn't busy screaming at the barrier, he would throw the mic to the ground, only to jump-stomp on it several times with both feet as if to break it on purpose, or he would climb the stage structures only to have the security chase after him, he would pull his shirt over his head and scream through it, he would attempt to eat the microphone through the shirt...you catch my drift. Weird fuckin' shit, but very entertaining visually for the crowd, and of course it helps that they have a bunch of excellent songs that, for once, didn't sound like everyone else at the festival. Watch the full set over here. [8] PP

Your Demise = Airtime

Your Demise @ 20:30-21:30 on Front & Etnies Stage

As the headliners of the Etnies Stage, the festival had elected one of the heavyweights from the young UK hardcore scene: Your Demise. Their set was perhaps one of the most energetic ones of the whole festival, I don't think there was a single moment on stage where the entire band wouldn't be moving in unison, be it trampoline-style up-and-down bounces, head banging, or constant exchange of positions, with the vocalist leading the charge, of course. The crowd loves it, and responds with big shout alongs and appropriate mayhem in the pits. I only had the chance to check out three or four tracks, so no grade given, but check out the full set over at YouTube to decide yourself.


Four Year Strong

Four Year Strong @ 21:00-22:00 on Jägermeister Stage

Four Year Strong is another band whose recentmost output gathered quite a bit of love here at our site, and hence their closing the festival was something both PP and I had been looking forward to seeing. And partly for good reason it seems, because after struggling with the usual early sound problems for a few songs, the show soon becomes relatively smooth sailing for the band which has so many good songs to offer... That is if you close your eyes and only listen while the band is actually playing the songs, because otherwise, you might see quite a few things worthy of going in the complaints department. For one thing, Four Year Strong hardly match the energy of their songs with energy on stage. A fact they apologise for, informing us that they haven't slept for 35 hours and haven't played together for a while either, because they've been busy working on their new album. And then shortly after they wonder out loud about why people aren't going more crazy for this closing show of theirs. Newsflash guys: It's not the crowd's job to make the crowd go crazy, it's the band's, and if you are standing still on stage, wearing windbreakers and looking like you're cold, what do you think the audience is going to do? Furthermore, the guys seem awkward and unprepared between songs, not really knowing what to say to us, so instead they decide to throw various items of food into the crowd for fun. This initially has the intended effect, and people laugh alright, but soon it starts feeling gimmicky, and one starts wondering when they're going to get around to playing the next song. This kind of lacklustre attitude sticks through the rest of the show, with the band continually getting momentum as soon as they actually play songs, and then lose it again immediately, when make more half-assed attempts at spending the time between them. Overall, this made the show a mixed bag of good music and disappointing/annoying showmanship, and effectively it's only the strength of their songs that eventually save FYS from not getting any lower than: [7] TL

Final Words

Overall the festival was a refreshing experience from the various European festivals we've covered in the past. Although the festival was small, the audience was made up from some of the most passionate and enthusiastic music fans I've seen at any festival to date. No matter how small or unknown the band, there always seemed to be a core group of at least 10-12 people who would know the lyrics to the songs and would respond fiercely to a pit combat call, making sure no band felt unwelcome over the weekend. It seemed to me that the festival-goers consisted of people a lot like myself and TL: we love to check out new bands because you just never know how many gems you might miss otherwise. It's an important quality about the type of crowd because the majority of bands seemed to be either on their first, at most second album, so they haven't necessarily built a back catalogue of classics everyone knows just yet.

This year's edition seemed to be very hardcore/metalcore oriented lineup-wise. I don't know if this is the case normally, but in any case the scheduling left some questions open. Take Saturday, for instance. The Front & Etnies tent seemed to be nothing but core and more core bands for the entire day, and the other two stages had their fair share of that type of bands as well, whereas Sunday saw only a few of them just like Friday did. The problem with that is that while many of the hardcore bands are individually very good, when you have so many of them performing together, the good shows blend in and feel a little less special and powerful as they are all very similar in nature. It would help enormously to people who like to vary their musical input away from hardcore at times to spread out the offering a little more evenly over the days.

Lastly, I'll wrap up our Hevy Music Fest 2011 coverage with a list of what was good, and what should be improved next year.

The Good:

* Plenty of recycling opportunities & garbage cans

* Next to no queues at the bar

* Red Bull tent in the middle was a great meeting point

* Food quality was excellent.

* All stages close to each other, didn't have to miss the beginning of any set due to distance.

* Sit down tables optimally located for a beer/eating/watching from a distance

The needs-to-be-improved:

* Queue procedure. It simply can't take four-six hours at a festival of 3,000 people to come in.

* Number of toilets. There were far too few toilets vs how many people were at the camping area. Huge queues = capacity needs to almost double.

* £5 for a program! There was no way of knowing who would play when without shelling £5 for a program. Easy solution: put a poster/notice board in the middle of the area showing the time schedule, people will still buy the necklace program out of convenience (such as myself, despite a free printed program for the press).

* Size/shape of Rock Sound/Macbeth & Front/Etnies tent. Narrow entrances made it difficult to get into the tent because people crowded at the edges at the tents as the design made it look like there was no space ahead at all.

* Sound on Jägermeister stage. Wind may have been an issue, but the sound was far too quiet in all the concerts I saw other than Capdown.

* Lack of post-concert activities. Once the last shows were done by 11pm, there wasn't much left to do on the festival or camping-site.

* Transport. Expecting thousands of people to show up, you can't have just ONE bus running per hour. A more frequent shuttle service is badly needed if the festival will grow.

Photo Gallery

Friday: Found here

Saturday: Over here

Sunday: Check it out here

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