Ten reasons to get psyched about 2014′s edition of UK Tech Fest
Long time readers will recall that we had an unrelentingly splendid time at UK Tech Metal Fest last year. With the third announcement now out in the open and the line-up all but complete, I think we can expect the third coming of the festival to be a solid highlight of year at least, and maybe even eclipse the weekend we spent being boiled in our tents and battered by a never-ending stream of sub-drops outside Peterborough last July.
Considering the fact that Tech Fest 2013 was possibly the best festival I’ve ever been to, that’s a pretty tall order – but here are ten reasons why we are tremendously excited by this year’s event:
1. Secret headliners
I like surprises. I like the anticipation, I like the speculation. So I find it disproportionally pleasing that with barely six weeks until we are putting our tents up, we still don’t know who is closing two of the three main nights of the festival. The previous bills have read like a who’s who of tech, so we have no reason to doubt the quality, but considering the major festivals often lead with the headline acts in the first announcements, I find this break with tradition most satisfying. Who will the headliners be? Of course, I have my suspicions – I have my hopes – but I’m not going to make an ass of myself by making them public. So there.
2. The Ocean
I couldn’t be happier, though, about the one headliner that has been made public. We devoted a whole week of coverage to the release of Pelagial, and have pounced at every opportunity we could to watch them perform. This stage-closing performance will also be the first opportunity for our UK-based team to witness the new-look Ocean, following the departure of Louis, Luc and Jona to pursue Coilguns and their family of related projects, but we have little doubt that Robin, Loic and the new additions will be able to deliver the goods.
3. UK/EU exclusives
The bill now contains an impressive array of exclusive performances to entice punters into ticket purchases. Of these, we are definitely most excited about Alaya jetting in from Chicago to do their Muse-shuggah thing. Following closely behind that is finding out whether watching Josh Travis’ Glass Cloud really does feel like being hit in the face with something very substantial, like a Volkswagen. This third announcement has also contained the surprise re-emergence of The HAARP Machine, who retreated from public view some time ago when everyone other than guitarist Al Mu’min left the band. At the time of writing, the band’s Facebook page contains little more than a collection of silly conspiracy theory links, so concrete information is – ironically – elusive. Our curiosity is piqued.
4. The Return of the Old Guard
The UK Tech scene definitely has a core of bands around which it revolves, and it is pleasing to see a number of them will be performing again this year. Quite frankly, Tech Fest wouldn’t be Tech Fest without the likes of Chimp Spanner, The Algorithm, No Consequence, Nexilva and Red Seas Fire, all of whom – plus a couple of special mentions we will get to in a moment – are returning for the third time to the bill. We confidently expect the campsite to be virtually empty when any of these guys are on stage, underlining the community spirit of the tech scene.
Aliases have now appeared on the bill of all three tech fests, but in both 2012 and 2013 events conspired against them to prevent a full performance. So we are seriously hoping that the ‘third time lucky’ thing holds water. With guitarist Pin’s heritage with SikTh being one of the main reasons that Tech Fest – hell, even tech metal itself – exists today, it seems only right that they finally make an appearance. We fully expect it to be triumphant.
6. Destiny Potato & David Maxim Micic
Also returning for the third time, the Serbian progressive metal adventurers very nearly didn’t make it in 2013, when travel hiccups delayed their arrival onsite by 24 hours. Possibly my biggest regret of last year was that, after spending just a bit too long in the sweltering tents that held the stages last year, it was just as Destiny Potato took to the stage that I finally broke and had to retreat in search of shade and fluids. I will most certainly not be making that mistake again. A number of bands have released excellent albums since last years event, but the Potatoes have managed two, with the glorious recently released Lun from the band and Bilo 3.0 from David. Both projects are getting an outing over the weekend and I intend to be front-and-centre for both of them.
7. The New Blood
Balancing the return of old favorites is a sizable batch of fresh talent being welcomed to the fold. I’m not going to pretend to know what all of them are about, nor promise that I’m going to be able to check out every last one before the weekend rolls around. But, as I’ve already said, I like surprises. However, of the bands now on the list I have heard but am yet to see, then Italian crazies Destrage are topping my must-see list. Either way, this year’s festival is shaping up to be equally a trip down memory lane and a voyage of discovery.
8. A New Site
Perhaps it contributed to the ramshackle charm of last year’s event, but the facilities at The Plough were just a bit basic, weren’t they? The prospect of free showers, more choices for eating than spectacularly average pub grub and a rather dubious food hatch, shorter cab rides to the nearest station and a new site to explore make the practicalities of living on site for four days seem a little more appealing this time round. Obviously, the organisers can’t do anything about the weather on the weekend, but last year’s festival did feel at times like it was taking place on the surface of the sun itself, so we can only hope for slightly more moderate temperatures this time round.
9. Impromptu Musical Marvels
Its no surprise that tech metal attracts musicians, so the chances will be that not only will you be watching a bombass guitarist on stage, you’ll probably be standing near one in the crowd as well. Last year saw a more organised jam take place on stage late on Saturday night with a thoroughly fearsome list of participants, but the Double Slit Guitars tent also played host to a number of spur-of-the-moment jams. With the promise of more instrument manufacturers displaying their wares on site this year, we can fully expect some more unplanned magical moments for those in the right place at the right time.
10. Splendid Socialising
Even away from the procession of top quality bands gracing the alternating stages, what made Tech Fest 2013 such a delight was the relaxed, friendly and largely ego-free atmosphere on site. The line between punter and performer was at least blurred, and at times completely non-existent, with many of the bands hanging around for the whole weekend and happy to collapse in whatever shade they could find, along with everyone else. The internet can be an angry and sneery place to talk about music, but clearly those who make it that way were content to stay at home with the blinds down, so the folks who actually turned up were relaxed, easy-going and welcoming. I came home last year with a substantial list of additions to my Facebook friend list, and I can only hope that this year will be no different.
So there you have it. In just over a month, a relatively small but hugely passionate group of music fans will get together to spend the weekend hanging out together and enjoying a powerfully enticing line-up of established and upcoming bands from right across the tech metal spectrum. Bollocks to Download and Sonisphere, Tech Fest really is the only choice for the discerning enthusiast of boundary-pushing metal this summer.