LIVE: HEVY Fest: Day 1- Port Lympne Animal Park, Kent 14/08/2015
Armed with cameras, lenses and a notepad, we have an extensive review and photos of many of the acts that played.
Featuring: Wraiths, Waster, Continents, Grader, Press To MECO, Chon, Endless Heights, Youth Man, Black Peaks, Break Even, Creeper, Hacktivist, Heck, Touche Amore, Landscapes, A Wilhelm Scream, Protest The Hero, Betraying The Martyrs, Ignite, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Fightstar, Coheed & Cambria.
Arriving early to the festival site on the Friday (the first day proper of HEVY Fest), the first impression was that the car parking field was at least twice as full as last year. Despite this there were absolutely no queues at the entrance and entry was efficient and hassle free. It seemed the festival goers were keen to get started having mostly arrived on the Thursday for the acoustic stage entertainments which featured Jamie Lenman headlining. An overnight downpour or two hadn’t dampened any enthusiasm, or thankfully turned the main arena area into a muddy bog so it was with a good sized crowd up and ready for the day that we all sought out the first band to hit one of the stages.
That honour fell to Wraiths on the tented Stage 3 (none of the stages were ‘sponsored’ this year) who opened the day with some style, their Doom laden Hardcore setting the barre high. They probably benefited from a slightly larger crowd due to the Stage 2 openers being delayed by 15 minutes but they made the most of the extra interest for sure.
So Waster took to Stage 2 a little later than expected but it was worth the wait for those patient enough to hang around. The crowd soon swelled once the band’s energetic Pop Punk sound blasted out the tent openings. They played a high tempo set, impressing with their tight delivery. A band to watch out for in the future.
Outside in the sunshine(!) the first Main Stage band of the festival was Continents. Anyone still asleep on the campsite would have been well woken by the sound of sub bass drops booming across the fields. Looking at home on the big stage the band bludgeoned the large early crowd with their big weighty palm muted riffs and proved themselves a force to be reckoned with.
Next up on Stage 3 was Grader who upheld their reputation as one of the finest UK Melodic Hardcore bands currently on the scene. Their set had grit, energy and passion in abundance and there were more than a few moments in this set that were truly epic. Why are this band not bigger and playing alongside the likes of Touche Amore on the Main Stage?!
One band for whom it must surely be only a matter of time before they achieve widespread appeal is Press To MECO, who were next up on Stage 2. A full tent would suggest they’re well on their way to big things and their performance here can only add to the growing hype. A three piece with a stack load of catchy melodies, the occasional cool progressive rock phrasing (played well) added to a pop punk base to make a fresh sound. Uniquely, they can all sing. Those harmonies… just great. Standout tracks were “Honestly” and “Family Ties”.
Back at the Main Stage Californian band Chon were busy bringing some jazzy progressive rock fusion to the HEVY fest crowd. In a word… stunning. If one incredible guitar lick after another is your thing (two guitarists too) and you like it backed up by some cool syncopated playing from bass and drums, then these are your guys. A perfect instrumental band to chill in the sun to.
Feeling suitably rested and now ready for another bout of something loud it was time to head over to Stage 3 where Aussie band Endless Heights were playing. Frontman Matt Jones was very much the focal point throwing himself around the stage and urging the crowd to do the same. It was clear that Endless Heights have a lot of depth to their songwriting with a large expansive sound worthy of more attention than is possible to give here. A band to check out further. Incidentally, credit should go to the sound guys on all three stages because the sound could not really be faulted despite the variations in style. Even the Main Stage PA sounded good, always an issue with an outdoor stage.
Heading quickly over to Stage 2 meant it was possible to catch some of the set from Youth Man. As expected things were particularly noisey, with the band putting in a suitably ferocious performance, none more so than from front-woman Kaila Whyte, her guitar sound hitting that sweet spot, feedback tethered to a short leash and always threatening to break free. They aren’t the most accessible of bands but, like other noisy trios (such as We Are Knuckle Dragger), if you give the music a chance to filter into the psyche then the songs repay tenfold. An exciting band.
Black Peaks continued their impressive year over on the Main Stage, their music suiting the grander scale well, and Will Gardner’s powerful singing voice only outdone by his screams of quite simply epic proportions. A quite brilliant “Saviour” despite being introduced as an older song remains important to the set but it was an excellent version of “Say You Will” that really showed why Black Peaks are the powerhouse band that people have recently started to discover.
While Black Peaks dominated proceedings on the Main Stage Break Even were having fun on Stage 3. The singer from tour buddies Endless Heights joined them briefly too with the overall feeling in the tent being one of high spirits and free abandon. Encouraged by frontman Mark Bawden to feel free to do just whatever you like the crowd were having a good time.
A similar time was had over at Stage 2 for Southampton mob Creeper. Looking confident in front of the packed out tent the band were clearly enjoying themselves, declaring this year “a good year for Punk Rock”. The feeling was infectious with much jumping and singing along to the bands many catchy choruses. “VCR” was a highlight of the set with Liam from Grader making a guest appearance to do his part in the song.
Back on Main Stage, after the buzz from the Black Peaks set had died down a bit, Hacktivist showed their quality with another big performance. Vocalists J Hurley and Ben Marvin worked the crowd well, Ben even spending some time off stage at the barrier much to the delight of those at the front. The Hacktivist live show sounded like a well oiled machine, the band particularly tight, and all the electronica nuances created a tangible atmosphere around the arena space. Songs like “Deceive and Defy” sounded positively anthemic. A great set.
Some bands came to the festival with a reputation for manic shows. Heck, who had recently changed their name from Baby Godzilla, were one such band and had drawn quite a crowd to Stage 3 keen to see what all the fuss was about. It didn’t take long for singer / guitarist Matt Reynolds and guitarist Johnny Hall to get in amongst the audience and a fantastic half hour of crazy shenanigans ensued. The security were particularly good handling the chaos without ruining the fun and the stage technicians were on the ball, not able to rest for a second. Good job chaps.
Back in 2011, with their rather brilliant “Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me” album having just been released, Touche Amore played an unforgettable set on HEVY Fest’s second stage. This time round they played the Main Stage, songs from that great record still playing their part in the current setlist, opening the show in style with “Amends”. Fans at the front shouted along, a couple of crowd surfers got bloody noses and a couple more lost a tooth or two, wounds of honour for a band that inspires such fanaticism amongst their followers. It’s not just the fact that Touche Amore play so brilliantly well, it’s the strength of the lyrics, the emotion in the way Jeremy Bolm delivers the vocal that helps makes this band so special. Hearing the poetic words from tracks like “Praise/Love” – “Anyone/Anything” shouted with passion across the fields, by Bolm and the dedicated hardcore within the audience, once again made for another unforgettable experience.
Landscapes on Stage 3 tread a similar highly emotional path but with a bigger more engineered sound. It was an unfortunate clash in the schedule as both bands share a similar audience. Those who left the second half of Touche Amore’s set to see Landscapes in full would not have regretted their decision though, the band totally nailing tracks from their excellent “Life Gone Wrong” album.
There was just time to catch a glimpse of A Wilhelm Scream’s welcome return to the festival having last played here in 2012. Although brief, it was enough to see the Stage 2 tent was having a great time of it, and that A Wilhelm Scream are one of the most musically proficient bands in the whole Punk genre.
Speaking of musical proficiency, it’s hard to beat the next band to take to the Main Stage, Protest The Hero, who treated the large crowd to a mesmerising display of stunning musicianship and great vocal agility. Songs given an airing included “Bloodmeat”, “Underbite”, “Sequoia Throne”, and “Blindfolds Aside”. Basically, a technical masterclass.
Over on Stage 3 Betraying The Martyrs were bringing the heavy to HEVY. Weighty riffs over spiralling keyboard soundscapes filled the tent. The sound was massive, the lighting atmospheric, the band brilliant. Heads did indeed bang.
While Stage 3 had turned Metal, Stage 2 continued with the Punk and, like A Wilhelm Scream before them, Ignite also made a return to the festival having also played in 2012. On that occasion Ignite’s singer, Zoli Teglas, was recovering from a back operation and Jon Bunch from Sensefield stepped in at short notice and did an admirable job. This time it was great to see the band as usual with Zoli at the helm. A great set with crowd favourites “Poverty For All”, “Veteran”, “Let It Burn” and “My Judgement Day” all on the list.
As day turned to evening most of the crowd was gathered at Main Stage for one of the highlights of this year’s festival, The Dillinger Escape Plan. Playing a typical set including opening songs “Prancer”, “Milk Lizard” and “Good Neighbor”, and other crowd favourites “43% Burnt” and “Panasonic Youth”, they put on a polished faultless performance. As expected they were technically brilliant and as exciting to watch as ever, certainly a match for their equally impressive show at HEVY in 2011.
As good as Dillinger are though, there are some who prefer their music a little less complex, with more immediate choruses and just as much energy and passion. Enter Stage 2’s headliners Fightstar. Keeping the packed tent waiting just long enough for the “Fightstar, Fightstar” chants to begin, Charlie & Co. opened fashionably late with “Paint Your Target” and followed it with “Build An Army” and a fantastic “Colours Bleed To Red”. Unfortunately technical difficulties with the Bass halted the set for a minute or two but the flow was soon back on track with “Grand Unification, Part 1”. New song “Animal” was well received which looks promising for the upcoming new album. There were people who wondered whether Fightstar would ever return what with Charlie Simpson’s solo successes… a fanatical crowd was made very happy here tonight.
How to close a day this good? It would require something special. Coheed and Cambria were more than up to the job. Now that the night had fallen the Main Stage lighting really came to life. Coheed and Cambria’s backdrop added it’s own lighting to the mix (very cool) and the band played through “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3” to ecstatic cheers and big crowd singalongs throughout. The sound was crystal clear, the band were pure class and Claudio Sanchez’s voice in particular sounded superb. What a way to end one of the best days in this festival’s history. Be proud HEVY!