ArcTanGent: day two
That it was still summer turned out to be an illusion. Friday morning was COLD and the weather was going to get worse during the day. Quite a lot of people wore jackets and wellies, which further into the festival weekend would prove to be a wise choice.
Today the beautiful Arc Stage – the festival’s main stage – was opened, and first out were “one of them bands from Liverpool that don’t sound like a band from Liverpool”: Alpha Male Tea Party, (un)dressed in white, nearly transparent protective suits and brightly coloured gear underneath. After a couple of hard rocking tunes they requested a mosh pit, making the moderately sized crowd laugh, but no one takes the opportunity of producing a little heat this cold morning. The generous Alpha Males throw us tiny boxes of breakfast cereal instead and continue to play wordless, groovy tunes with inhuman amounts of energy.
People were running from Arc Stage to the smaller Bixler stage when they heard that the rumbling melodies of Flies Are Spies From Hell had already started. The rhythmic, dark tunes sounded very enticing and as I reached the full tent I was met with a band that were playing their hearts and souls out. During an overall entertaining show they treated us with emotional piano-led songs possessing a great feeling of dynamics and tension, special earworm highlights were “Next Hour” and “Axe To The Root“.
The six members of Rumour Cubes entered the stage in refreshingly colourful garments and sunglasses. Songs from the newly released Appearances Of Collections filled their set, and it takes mere seconds to get immersed in their vibrant, sweeping melodies. The string instruments, a soft bass and a piano add so much beauty and emotion that it’s almost heartbreaking to listen to – in a good way. Like many other bands in the genre, Rumour Cubes’ music is built on a post-rock base of ebb and flow with crashing endings, and seeing them on stage makes it clear that every song is lifted up by the sheer passion and confidence of the whole band.
“Swiiisssh… haaaah… ooooh… “. Crashing waves, dark pulses, howling winds and ethereal vocal harmonies. With an acoustic guitar and a number of pedals in front of his feet, Howard James Kenny set about recording sound effects with both his hands and mouth. He gave us a minimal but magical show, adeptly playing through a selection of his atmospheric folk-influenced songs like the beautiful “Insects“, “My Wrongs” and a cover of Massive Attack‘s “Teardrop“.
From a quiet solo project to a wild and noisy largely instrumental duo from Los Angeles, 100 Onces were one of the biggest surprises of the weekend. The Bixler stage was overflowing with people as the guitarist shouted “Do you like PUNK?” and started pouring out distorted, jaw-dropping twists and turns through his guitar, backed up by a highly skilled drummer who never stopped smiling.
The positive atmosphere during the set went through the roof and the musical chemistry between these two dudes was unmistakably good. At times the ever changing, playful songs went into experimental hardcore territory, continuously impressing us by never losing momentum. Time goes fast when having fun and afterwards I too was smiling from ear to ear.
Two members from the bluesy hardcore act Bastions explore a different type of angry music in the interesting project Sleep Beggar; mixing electronic noise with rap and angsty screams backed up by dark drum & bass. The result is hypnotizing and disturbing in the most positive sense and I wasn’t the only one in the audience who busted out some weird dance moves to the irresistibly heavy beats. Sleep Beggar were a great addition to the lineup and this is the kind of odd dance music the DJ’s of the silent disco should play more frequently.
Time to slow down a bit with Crippled Black Phoenix, a group that are more prog than most other bands on the festival, and includes members from bands like Electric Wizard, Iron Monkey and Mogwai.
With no fewer than seven experienced musicians on stage there was never a dull moment, and the variation of styles in their lengthy, layered songs gave the set a nice touch of unpredictability. It was a highly enjoyable show – in particular the beautiful duet between the keyboardist and the singer, and the huge sing along during the dreamy “Burnt Reynolds“. The best way to describe it is Pink Floyd goes post-rock.
As the stormy sky darkened and the rainfall increased the instrumental shoegaze-rockers in This Will Destroy You entered the Arc stage. Introspective melancholy filled the area; this was music to close your eyes to and get lost in.
The four band members were completely focused on playing sorrowful ambient melodies, and not a single word was spoken. The first half of the set was a bit anti-climactic and dragged on; it felt like the selected songs were all ambient build up with no real direction. More dynamic tracks soon followed and I waited to hear my favourite TWDY song “A Three Legged Workhorse” before leaving to catch a front row spot for the next band.
The tent was filled to the brim with excited fans and the air was thick with anticipation; it was time for Friday’s headliner on the Yohkai stage. To the tones of Lil’ Wayne‘s voice – “Uh, but shit then again maybe she will. Do it for the realest niggas in the fuckin’ game right now, she will, she will, she will” – the five gentlemen in Maybeshewill appeared on stage.
From the very start they gave us a phenomenal show, playing both old tunes and songs from their new album Fair Youth with extraordinary amounts of passion and energy. Enhanced by a magical lightshow, they quickly won the crowd’s adoration and joyful participation. The band members humbly expressed their gratitude, saying this had been the greatest show of the tour, they were blown away by the loving response. It was well deserved after such an awe-inspiring and tight performance.
Maybeshewill continued the night with a great DJ-set at the famous silent disco – a strange but highly recommended experience.