Mark reels off his five bands to watch at Tech Fest 2014
All this week we’re gearing up to Tech Fest 2014 with the attendees talking about five of their most anticipated acts each. Up today is 2013 veteran Mark:
Playing: Sunday – 1:30pm, Main Stage
Norwich quintet Aeolist are no strangers to The Monolith; we caught them recently at the Tech-Fest All Dayer in London, where their brand of tech-metal went over a treat. Their sole eponymous EP may be the only material available so far, but it’s a 30-minute work of art in itself. Not unlike Uneven Structure performing their material in order, Aeolist EP is designed to smoothly transition from one track to the next, in a whirling flurry of off-the-wall melodies, burly breakdowns and the occasional jazz noodling for light refreshment.
Their stage presence is also similarly enticing, particularly the movements of vocalist Bradley Gallagher, who switches up boogying and headbanging with ease, and the breakdown following the vitriolic lyric “The last book has been burnt” is always a potent one. Aeolist will be a highlight of the festival and are destined to go very far, mark my words.
Playing: Thursday – 9:30pm
Paul Ortiz, AKA Chimp Spanner, is much loved around these parts, and rightly so! The instrumentalist has a rather healthy habit of putting out incredible music and putting on mind-blowing live shows, as Simon testified in May. Despite being down a bassist and reportedly “out of practice”, their set was still outstanding, so seeing them in full flight at their third Tech Fest will be nothing short of phenomenal.
It’s always a pleasure to see Boris Le Gal play with a concentrated grin on his face, while the three axemen (including guitarist Jim Hughes (Shattered Skies) and bassist Adam Swan (Monuments)) let off controlled bursts of fretwork. Tracks like “Bad Code” and “Harvey Wallbanger” are bound to set the crowd into a headbanging frenzy, while the 15-minute “Möbius” suite will most likely be the pinnacle of this set. Miss Chimp Spanner at your peril.
Playing: Friday – 1:30pm, Main Stage
It feels strange to see Eumeria‘s name on the list: when I first came across the band they were a relatively recently-formed prog-power metal act who released an enticing debut, one that introduced me to the glorious tones of Jonny Tatum, who recalls a little of Circus Maximus in his impressive vocal range. Rebel Mind is a strong release in its own right, but I’m reliably informed that their new material is firmly in the proggier direction (appropriate for this festival), and it will be very cool to see it in the flesh.
Derek Blakley has been giving teases of his phenomenal bassing capacity on YouTube, while Reece Fullwood’s top notch guitar skills may be more known in these woods as part of Mask Of Judas. The other band members including fellow founding member Kevin Bartlett have all got chops to spare, and seeing it all come together will be a treat, so check out this band if you need a break from the djentier side of town.
Playing: Saturday – 8:00pm, Main Stage
This possibly made one or two people raise their eyebrows. “How can an acoustic guitarist play at a tech-metal event?” Well you haven’t seen this guitarist. The amiable and modest Jon Gomm plays with the whole guitar in a fingerpick style not unlike Andy McKee or Eric Mongrain, which also includes percussive hits and tuning strings mid-note. Oh, did I mention he sings wonderfully as well, like on “Passionflower”?
Gomm came to the attention of the tech-metal scene when his instrumental cover of Chaka Khan‘s “Ain’t Nobody” got reworked by the much-loved Dan Tompkins (TesseracT, Skyharbor, In Colour), and if that happens again live then minds will be blown. Gomm’s one-man show already rocked Download; now it’s time for him to rock Newark, quite possibly harder than some full bands.
Playing: Saturday – 9:30pm, Main Stage
What a way to celebrate a triumphant second album like The Amaneunsis than to headline the Saturday? Upgrading each year, Monuments have gone from strength to strength in the years since their début Gnosis, and especially since Chris Barretto joined as vocalist. He’s already proven his worth several times with live shows, particularly his rendition of “Blue Sky Thinking” and ability to get the entire crowd crouched down before springing up into action. The band will doubtlessly be smashing out classics like “Doxa” and “97% Static”, but new belters like “Horcrux” and “Origin Of Escape” should get an airing as well.
An engaging frontman with a sonic force of a band behind him, now it’s time for the titans to show Tech-Fest just how it’s done. John Browne and Olly Steele’s riffs will trade off with Barretto’s compelling vocals, Adam Swan and Mike Malyan will smash out the rhythm section and it will be glorious to witness. Saturday is bound to go out with a bang.