Here’s my summary of Saturday’s event at Hevy Fest. If you missed part one, check that out here. A review of the festival experience is coming soon, meanwhile check out my thoughts on the bands I managed to see on Saturday.
Up River (5)
Brighton-based hardcore band Up River opened the second stage on Saturday and once they hit their stride they started to impress. The first few songs had some timing issues which made for a sloppy start, but once the nerves settled and they found their rhythm the crowd got to see what the band is all about. In general the band played a decent hand of hardcore but there’s not a deal of variation in their music which meant that even though their stage show was entertaining and they played their songs reasonably well, the set got too repetitive for me towards the end. There’s definite potential here though and I’d be very interested to hear what they do next, particularly with a new drummer, as it was announced on stage that this Hevy Fest performance was to be the current drummer’s final show.
Female-fronted melodic hardcore act Vales were next to front the second stage and became the second act in a row to demonstrate a lot of potential, but slightly miss the mark. Vocalist Chlo Edwards has superb stage presence, displaying a range of emotions while delivering excellent vocals that fluctuate between gutteral screams and melodic, clean passages. Edwards manages an array of tones in her screams, keeping things varied and interesting and this really helped to add punch to the band’s sound. Unfortunately she’s rather let down by generic sounding instrumentals, leaving the music sounding uninteresting and uninspiring. The drums lacked dynamics and the guitars didn’t do enough to excite, meaning this aspect of the band fell somewhat short against Edwards’ excellent stage presence. Again there’s potential in this band and Edwards certainly has the making of a great melodic hardcore front-woman, but the musicians have got to raise their game if they want to make a lasting impression in this genre.
As It Is (6)
Putting As It Is on the main stage was a strange choice for Hevy Fest; being one of the poppiest of the new-wave of pop-punk acts, it was always going to be difficult for them to impress alongside such acts as The Fall of Troy, Dillinger Escape Plan and Thrice. As such, the band played to a largely uninterested, scattered crowd which did little to lift them from the outset, making this an uncharacteristically shaky performance. The opening few songs were a little sloppy musically and the vocals slipped out of key a few times, not helped by front-man Patty Walters’ attempts to scream some of his lines in an attempt to stir up the audience. To his credit, Walters did a great job of finally getting the crowd to participate after a static and passive response to the set’s opening. Whether the audience’s punk-style jump-along was an ironic protest or a genuine show of appreciation, Walters’ encouragement did manage to get a response, which finally brought the band back somewhere near form towards the end. It can be difficult for a band to prove their worth when the crowd doesn’t meet them half way and in stark contrast to an excellent, electrifying performance at Slam Dunk earlier in the year, sadly this performance petered out just like the crowd’s enthusiasm.
The performance of the weekend came from post/melodic hardcore band Crooks, with yet another stunning performance
. While we continue to await the release of their new album, which is yet to be given a launch date, seeing them live is the only place to catch a whiff of new material and I can’t imagine anyone will be leaving the experience disappointed. The new tracks come across brilliantly on stage, with Crooks’ ever animated and humble frontman Josh Rodgers commanding the stage with an infectious mix of vulnerability in the soft moments and raging angst in the heavy sections. Even more so than the Nottingham performance earlier in the year, the band came alive on stage, wearing their passion and enthusiasm on their sleeves. The improved size of the crowd couldn’t have hurt and in contrast to As It Is, the band were able to feed off the energy and transform it into pure adrenaline on stage. Drummer Jack Batchelor turned in the most impressive skin-smashing performance of the weekend, generating raw power from the back of the stage and elevating each song with dynamics and tempo changes. Crooks’ forthcoming new album is my most anticipated release of the year and having witnessed another performance of such absolute quality, my appetite for promoting this incredibly talented band has grown even stronger. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favour and catch this band on the road.
Arcane Roots (8)
One of the most accomplished, professional bands to do the festival rounds this summer, Arcane Roots are an ever impressive live outfit. Their blend of heavy, alternative riffs mixed with pop hooks and clever time changes offers the London-based three-piece a wide catchment in terms of audience and the crowd at Hevy Fest certainly lapped up the anthemic set so much that even a power cut part-way through didn’t derail their enthusiasm. Singer Andrew Groves’ vocals were perfect and the harmonies provided by bass player Adam Burton were spot on as always. Although the aforementioned power-cut robbed us of the fantastic “You Are”, you couldn’t argue with the band’s decision to favour new tune “If Nothing Moves Nothing Breaks”; a stunning track that should elevate Arcane Roots’ popularity to the level they deserve. I’ve been fortunate enough to see the band three times this year and each time they’ve been consistently fantastic, proving that they have the talent and creativity to be at the leading edge of the UK’s alternative bands.
Fall of Troy (9)
As with Coheed and Cambria the day before, The Fall of Troy’s set centred around the performance of a full album released ten years ago. Doppelganger was the album that put the band on the map a decade ago and it was truly a spectacle witnessing it unfold on stage. Unlike Coheed and Cambria, Thomas Erak’s approach to recreating an iconic album was less clean, choosing to add a few flourishes in between the play-through of the album’s studio tracks and interacting with the crowd throughout. The band’s style has always been rather laissez faire and watching a rigid replication of Doppelganger would never have worked. Instead, Erak took the lid off of whatever emotions have been bottling up while The Fall of Troy have been on hiatus and attacked the stage like a whirlwind, throwing his guitar around and attacking the strings with his signature style. Doppelganger gave us some truly unique music ten years ago and it’s interesting to hear how fresh the songs still sound this many years on. Hopefully the warmth from the crowd and the obvious enthusiasm the band still have will encourage them to write some new material, because there’s certainly still a place for them in today’s scene.
Objectively, there may have been a few missed notes here and there and the drums might have been a little scruffy and imprecise in places, but as Erak himself stated after his effects pedal refused to turn off mid-song “this is punk rock right, not fucking mozart!” While it may not have been the tightest performance I witnessed over the weekend, there were few acts that generated such an intense feeling of excitement, and that’s where the truly lasting memories come from.