Heading down to the New Music stage, I stumbled across one of my greatest finds of the day: Three Times Over. For a festival that seems to have a focus on heavier music, stumbling across a band performing pop punk music was a welcome relief. With so many UK pop punk bands giving up and calling it quits in the last year, it’s exciting to see that the new generation is alive and well, and hopefully will grow stronger still with bands like these.
Back in the Obsidian stage, over half of the crowd had left after Ashestoangels, making me feel really bad for Hawk Eyes, who did not receive a great reaction. They were much heavier than I’d expected, and that combined with the fact that they didn’t really interact or communicate with the crowd meant that the set fell short of my expectations and I left them earlier than I’d been expecting to.
Another band who were much heavier than I had expected were Rolo Tomassi. I first heard of Rolo Tomassi back in 2009, but because they haven’t toured much recently I’d basically forgotten they existed. I wasn’t a massive fan of them in 2009 but I thought that maybe over the last six years their musical style might have changed, meaning I went in to their performance feeling quite optimistic. However I really did not enjoy their set. I am generally opposed to female screamers, because it just doesn’t make a pleasant sound, but Eva Spence’s vocal was more like barking than screaming. I managed to stay in the room for just under a whole song before it was too much for me to deal with.
Returning to the Obsidian stage once more for Colt 45, I was surprised to see that the room still hadn’t refilled, which was a shame because Colt 45 are a very talented band. I hadn’t heard of them until yesterday, but I’m definitely going to check them out more, because with guitars well suited to a Foo Fighters song and vocals that are reminiscent of Dexter Holland from early The Offspring songs, they have a nice blend of some great aspects.
With no one I really wanted to see on stage, I decided to go back downstairs to the New Music stage to see if I could find any other diamonds in the rough. The band I discovered down there was Seething Akira, a band who managed to mix dance undertones underneath heavy riffs in a blend that was subtle and not overpowering. By sampling ‘Fix Up Look Sharp’ in their set, they definitely got the crowd moving, more energetically than any of the earlier sets I’d seen. And you can tell the party has really started when there’s a cat wandering around the venue, which happened during their set! You never know what’s going to happen on a university campus.
The only time I explored the Uprawr stage was during the set of Our Hollow Our Home. Sounding like a heavier version of Issues, their stage presence was absolutely palpable, proven by the amount of mosh pits breaking out throughout the room. With a screamer and a singer, the band aren’t making any huge leaps of creativity, but they perform what they do well, so they don’t really need any gimmicks.
Back on main stage, it was time for my first experience of Arcane Roots, who I’d heard lots of amazing things about. Vocalist Andrew Groves voice has a raw, rough quality that emphasises the emotion in their songs, and while I’d been expecting them to be a bit more polished, I was happy that they seemed to feel the music more. The rises and falls in their set made it a gripping one that has ensured I’m definitely going to listen to more of their back catalogue soon.
Even though I only saw Decade a month ago supporting The Used, I had to catch some of their set, and I was pleasantly surprised but what I discovered. Whereas last month I thought that Decade seemed quite disillusioned and uncomfortable, they were completely in their element on the Big Deal Clothing stage, with singer Alex Sears jumping around and pouring everything into his vocal. I didn’t get to see much of their set, because of overlaps with other bands I was desperate to see, but I was so proud that the crowd seemed well connected and were singing along to the songs, something that Decade really do deserve. I’ve heard that their new song went down really well with the crowd, which means that their new album should be amazing when the time for it comes.
Running from Decade back to the Obsidian stage, I managed to squeeze in the opening song of hometown boys Dead!‘s set. I saw Dead! in the middle of last year and I was absolutely in love with them by the end of their set, so even though I could only see one song I had to do it. Vocalist Alex Mountford is so charismatic, it wasn’t a surprised that the room had filled up quite quickly with people eager to see them, and I definitely recommend keeping an eye on these rising stars.
Sadly missing Fort Hope‘s newest single, ‘Plans’, due to them taking to the stage early, the rest of their set was short but sweet. Mainly filled with new songs from self-titled EP, I didn’t know a few of the songs that they played all that well, but the ones that I did know were performed with perfection. ‘The Rapture’ is always a great song live, and vocalist Jon Gaskin was putting everything into his vocal performance. Their set finished ten minutes early, which was disappointing because it was going really well, but sometimes things like this happen at festivals – it was a shame.
Next up, down on the New Music stage, were Create To Inspire. Despite the fact that their songs were performed very well, they all seemed to blur into one another, to the stage that they all seemed rather generic and bland. ‘Foundations’ stood out slightly from the rest, but overall this was an average set.
Towards the end of the day things seemed to be winding down, with less sets clashing, meaning that because I had nothing better to do with myself I ended up seeing the end of Charlie Simpson‘s set. I hadn’t been intending upon it, because I’ve never been a huge Charlie Simpson or Fightstar fan, but I ended up being surprised at how much I enjoyed his final song. The previous two were very similar, but his final song ‘Riverbanks’ was a song that built so beautifully into a crashing crescendo that left me with chills running up and down my spine. The song sounds as though it would fit beautifully into a movie soundtrack, and it left me yearning for summer and hot, long nights. Even if I never listen to another Charlie Simpson song, I think I’m going to love ‘Riverbanks’ for as long as I love music, as it touched me in a way that not many songs do. Kudos to Charlie for writing such a great piece.
However, after being so impressed by Charlie Simpson, I was utterly disappointed by Fearless Vampire Killers. This was my third time seeing them, but my first time hearing their new material from ‘Unbreakable Hearts’, and I really do not enjoy it. ‘Neon In The Dance Halls’ was rather catchy, but the title track from the album fell completely short. I can see where they were trying to go with their new direction, but to me it just felt as though something was lost in translation. Closing song ‘At War With The Thirst’ was an absolutely insane performance, with the band inviting members from all of the other bands who featured on the Obsidian stage back on. Adam Crilly, vocalist from Ashestoangels, quickly clambered across the crowd, standing on their hands, and if they loved him earlier they loved him even more now. With multiple stage divers and a massive stage invasion it was definitely a memorable performance, but even that didn’t make up for the earlier let down.
The penultimate band I decided to see were Baby Godzilla, who I’ve been avoiding for the last year due to how over-hyped they were – generally, if a band have a lot of publicity surrounding them after only just starting, they aren’t really worth the time of day in the long haul. However, Baby Godzilla seemed to be an exception to this rule. I didn’t get to see much of their set, but in the bit that I did their guitarist ended up on the bar and their vocalist nearly ended up in the crowd. Musically they were rather unique, something that definitely stood out from the crowd, and I can’t think of any other band to compare them to. I wish I’d gone into their set earlier, as it really did seem like something that would be better the longer you stayed there, and I’m hoping I can see them again some time soon.
Headlining their first ever festival, Mallory Knox were making a triumphant return home after their recent stint as opening band for Sleeping With Sirens and Pierce The Veil’s co-headline tour, all over the States. I saw Mallory Knox four times last year, including their show in Oxford back in November that I extensively reviewed, so I don’t really have that much more to say. Their set was a lot shorter, because of the fact that it was a festival headliner rather than their own show, and they’re still promoting ‘Asymmetry’ and focusing on their new songs. Even with this, the set was half filled with songs from their first album, all of which were lapped up by the crowd, proving that Mallory Knox really do know how to structure their set. After overhearing two songs in their soundcheck earlier in the day, I was stunned by how powerful Mikey Chapman’s vocal is when he’s relaxed and not in front of a crowd, and during their set his vocal did seemed more strained but that’s almost acceptable when they only travelled home from America two days before. However, ‘Shout At The Moon’ seemed much more polished during their soundcheck and I really hope that Mallory Knox think about doing some more laid back, possibly acoustic, gigs in the future.
This wasn’t the best Mallory Knox I’d seen, but their stage presence is still infectious, making you want to singalong and dance as much as you possibly can. If you haven’t seen Mallory Knox I’d definitely recommend you check them out as soon as you can, but try to see them at one of their own headline shows – they seem much more relaxed and confident, and they add lots of surprises to their setlist which will leave you impressed and intrigued throughout. However, this was their first ever festival headliner, so maybe they will grow accustomed to turning a crowds opinion over time – seeing as they opened Takedown three years ago, they’re definitely progressing a lot faster than many other bands that started at the same time.
Shout At The Moon
When Are We Waking Up?
Dying To Survive
Ghost In The Mirror