Words and Pictures: Reg Richardson
Organized by Gary Anderson this was to be the first outing for this new festival and everyone had high hopes for it particularly as the line-up was pretty impressive over the three days. The weather had other ideas. I’m not going to review bands’ full sets, this is more of an overview of the festival as a whole. The way things panned out over the three days meant there were a number of bands who didn’t/wouldn’t/couldn’t play but those that were able to get on to a stage kept the festival alive and made it what it was; a very enjoyable success.
Day 1: Friday
Let’s get the downers out of the way first. The day got going to mixed feelings with emails sending the press to one location to park while security sent us elsewhere after being told the VIP bus that was supposed to be laid on to take people to the main arena hadn’t happened. A short detour to the other side of the venue to park followed. Security was a little limited but entry wasn’t a problem, a bit too easy perhaps. Then there was the rain, the seemingly endless rain, but I’ll come back to that!
The event was to have four stages, the main stage, a second stage and two additional smaller stages, bands were scheduled throughout the day with no starting time overlap on the main and second stages. As morning turned into afternoon The Vigil was the band that opened the festival on the main stage with a little bit of heavy Bristolian rock. As these boys finished, down on the Very Metal Art stage Dorja was getting ready to take over, and take over they did. Fronted by powerhouse Aiym Almas the sound reminded me of the early 1970’s band Vinegar Joe and the aggressive, sandpaper vocals supplied by Elkie Brooks.
The zig-zag timing of the main and second stages was due to continue right through the day, as a band finished on one of the two main stages the other stage would get going. The best-laid plans…..
A surprisingly lively duo, Rival Bones, entered the fray back on the main stage. This was definitely one act where the whole was substantially more than the sum of its parts and the sound had much depth than it really should have had with just one guitar and drums. In the background you could occasionally hear music coming from the two smaller stages, all was well….for a time.
Scottish metallers Damaj produced a set of mixed heavy metal. It’s almost impossible to put this band into a box and add a label, their style is a mishmash of several metal genres all twisted together, but it’s a style that works well. Back to the main stage for New Volume, and the electric blue hair-do of Ryan Morris, pumping out their alternative, bordering on indie, rock vibes.
Minutes after New Volume finished the high energy Bleed Again took to the Very Metal Art stage and it was around this time that the rain started to make its appearance. Bleed Again presented a metalcore mallet to hit you with and had bassist, Jon Liffen, flying around the stage. Up next was a very good set of heavy rock from The Fallen State. With a sound not unlike Disturbed, the bands’ very enjoyable half hour set went over in a flash.
Hailing from Exeter, one of my old stomping grounds, Codex Alimentarius hit the Very Metal Art stage with a bang; their brand of thrash metal entertaining the growing crowd as the skies darkened further. Just time to skip back to the main stage for another band with indie influences, Tess of the Circle with a welcome break from the heavy metal that had gone earlier the band’s easy going rock sound kept the crowd’s heads bobbing as the rain came in with more persistence than before. Conjurer made it to the Very Metal Art stage with some dirty, sludgy post-metal sounds and plenty of hairage. As they got to the end of their set the heavens opened even more but still not enough to stop the ever popular Amorettes gracing the main stage. As usual Gill Montgomery alongside the McKay sisters gave an energetic performance which was dampened only by the volume of water falling Earthwards. That volume of water caused electrical problems across the site and as the Amorettes set concluded so did everyone else.
At this point I’ll say that despite visiting the two smaller stages a couple of times I only managed snippets of one band, my timing must have been awful because on the other occasions there were no bands on stage.
The deluge, which was now approaching Biblical proportions put a stop to everything for some time and, following Trucker Diablo snatching a set on the Very Metal Art stage, the reappearance of the torrents meant that this stage, along with the two smaller stages, was closed permanently. The Tavern Stage, originally on a truck bed, relocated to the Tavern Tent, the Shoot Your Hoops stage didn’t reappear as such anywhere.
A temporary Very Metal Art stage came into play and saw Healthy Junkies, Acid Reign and Puddle of Mudd play in the beer tent. However, my night came to an end having received a message that I’d left the sun-roof and a window opens on my car and most of the rain that had come down had accumulated in there. I spent the next two hours with rolls of paper towels drying the car out sufficiently to drive home – the drying process was largely a failure as my very wet back side will testify. So Day 1 closed on a slightly more positive note that could have been considered earlier in the evening, what would Day 2 bring?