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Tech Fest is over. The aftermath begins (tomorrow…)

Tech Fest final banner

So that’s it, then. It’s Monday, I have crashed through my front door, abandoned my rucksack to gently steam to itself in the middle of the dining room, and retreated to the comfiest spot in the house with a cup of coffee strong enough to be measured on the Richter Scale. Tech Fest 2014 is done, and it was glorious.

With four of us on site over the weekend, between us we have watched nearly every single band that played, and thoroughly disgusted a significant proportion of them with our festival question bank of restricted seriousness. You will be able to read all about those performances, and read the best responses the bands gave to our questions over the next couple of weeks.

But, just as I did last year, I feel the need just to throw down a few thoughts on what transpired to give those of you that couldn’t make the trip to Newark a first taste of what transpired on the Showground this weekend.

This year’s festival had some big, if slightly ramshackle, boots to fill if it was going to live up to last year’s experience, but the four words that best sum it all up are contained in the title of the Daft Punk track that made an appearance in The Algorithm’s second stage headlining spot on Saturday: Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger.

It’s very difficult not to lapse into some awful frenzy of gushing hyperbole, but we really did have a fucking splendid time. Tech Fest is growing up; more attendees, slicker production, a bill that fully delivered on its drool-inducing promise, and a site that was superior in almost every respect all helped to make the weekend a roaring success for Simon Garrod and his super-dedicated team. A lot of people worked stupendously hard, often going well above and beyond the call of duty to help make the festival such a success.  Tech Fest is clearly a labour of love for many people, and all of them have our unqualified gratitude for their substantial efforts.

Tech Fest certainly cemented its reputation as the friendliest festival on the circuit as well. Friendships forged last year were strengthened, and new ones created. Falling into conversation with like-minded people was as easy as learning to play an Emmure song, and at least three times as satisfying. Well played, everyone. The only slightly unfortunate side effect was that I made several quite egregious breaches of etiquette on the tube home this morning. After four days of saying ‘Alright, buddy’ to pretty much anyone and everyone you pass or make eye contact with, it’s hard to break the habit.

Of course, if there was one word on everyone’s lips all weekend, then that word was SikTh. The atmosphere as they finally took to the stage to close out the main stage on Sunday was electric, and they generated a pit of biblical proportions with their short, sharp, favourite-packed set. It’s probably not going too far to say that had there been no SikTh, ultimately there would be no Tech Fest. You could almost hear the clank of the ‘I was there’ stories being deposited in the anecdote banks of the audience as the band played.

Tech Fest SikTh mischief

Someone couldn’t help but have a little joke though…

But naturally, there was far more to the weekend than watching a reformed sextet playing the songs that inspired a scene, so in no particular order, here is a short list of moments that – for me – made the weekend so thoroughly memorable:

  • The incredibly warm and respectful reception that greeted Jon (Djon?) Gomm. Who would have thought that a slot vacated by Glass Cloud could be so completely filled by one guy armed with only an acoustic guitar and an effects pedal, leading the crowd in the rendition of Chaka Khan‘s “Ain’t Nobody“?
  • Thursday night’s ‘Techeoke’ being brought to a raucous close by a mass rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody“.
  • After missing at least their last two London shows, finally getting to see The Sun Explodes shake their magnificent thing.
  • Being eased gently into Friday by the luscious post-metal of Mountains Under Oceans, then having our faces torn off immediately afterwards by Bear. Again.
  • Aliases actually played. Aliases played five new songs. Wonders will never cease.
  • Confirmation that if a band is going to play a set beleaguered with technical problems, as Monuments did, having Chris Barretto holding the microphone means that everyone still has a great time. Is there a better frontman for a metal band out there right now? I doubt it.
  • The dawning realisation that The Algorithm could actually make keytars cool again.
  • The almost complete absence of a dividing line, once again, between bands and fans. Tech Fest is a place where you can not only watch some of your favourite musicians play, but also share a drink and some silliness with them over the weekend as well. There’s no room for ego in a family, innit.
  • Getting to watch The Ocean playing Pelagial in its entirety for possibly the last time on British shores (depending on the length of their slot at Hevy next month). Seeing one of your favourite albums of the last five years performed end-to-end is a treat, but getting a second chance to do so is a privilege.
  • Watching Black Dogs feed their PR guy a shot of their ‘Bastard’ hot sauce. It didn’t kill him, but not for the want of trying.
  • The infectious craziness of Destrage followed immediately by the positively majestic Alaya.  Two unforgettable 30 minute sets in the space of an hour that left me scrabbling around on the floor for any spare superlatives.
  • Dancing like a teenager to Seething Akira and Collisions on Friday night and waking up feeling like a pensioner on Saturday morning because of it. Thanks, guys.
  • Watching the expressions of horror and alarm on the faces of bands in interviews as we asked our notorious ‘Question 13’. Brace yourselves.

That’s just some of my own highlights.  I’m sure those of you who attended had many of your own, so feel free to add those to the record in the comments below.  Now, if you don’t mind me, I’m going to pass out on my face for a bit.