Port Lympne, Kent, August 6th- 8th
For one weekend only the wild animal park in Port Lympne, Kent is taken over by wild creatures of a slightly different nature. Combining extreme sports and bands angry enough to safely ensure the animals stay away for the weekend, Ross Timms was down there to try out things on the heavier side of life. Here’s the round-up from Saturday, while Sunday’s antics will be coming very soon…
For a festival with so many angry bands shouting about angry subjects and being watched by a vast array of angry music fans, it was fortunate that everyone who graced port Lympne with their presence at Hevy Festival’s first offering had a means of directing their ferocities.
There were no chants of impatience from the crowds or (thankfully) any lacklustre attempts from bands to stress political upheavals they may have had. No, everyone was quite well versed in who they were going to be showing their displeasure to this weekend.
Wasps. The pesky critters were everywhere. Undeterred by the suitably named Hevy line up, they took it upon themselves to create quite a name for themselves as being one of the few fauna at Port Lympne animal park to actually make an appearance – albeit a rather unwanted one.
But the festival won’t be remembered for any tiny flying insects. Hevy has made sure that it has established itself as not only a hugely successful festival, but also one that will be known for displaying unrivalled talent of both well established and unsigned bands from all around the country and all across the world.
There’s something about the first night of a festival that results in dire consequences for the first band on the next day. To say the crowd looked somewhat worse for wear on the Saturday morning would be a lie, but Feed the Rhino did everything in their power to tempt them out of their comatose, igniting the hung-over masses with their unique blend of bluesy hardcore and classic rock.
TRC are somewhat of an acquired taste, but one that satisfied the punters’ appetites. Their impressive hardcore was tarnished slightly by vocalist Chris Robson’s MC-like cockney shout-outs in between songs, but few could argue that their fresh take on the scene came through defiantly in their live performance as ‘London’s Greatest Love Story’ completed their short stint aboard the main stage.
Dead Swans aren’t the luckiest of bands. Whenever they’ve had the chance to play to anyone more than 50 people in somewhere other than another unimpressive basement, something goes wrong. Today was no exception as the five-piece battled through one guitar breakage after another. But old favourites ‘The Hanging Sun’ and ‘Lines of Separation’ did enough to reignite an inkling of hope that some good fortune may be on its way.
For anyone who hadn’t seen Trash Talk live before, they were about to witness something special. The tone was set with the very first blow of the microphone that vocalist Lee Spielman dished out to a man in the front row as he threw his instrument above his head with less than lasso like precision.
He and his fellow Sacramento kings went onto obliterate everything on and off stage, with his forehead taking some customary beatings from the microphone, just for good measure. Few songs are longer than a minute, and words are rarely deciphered in amongst the chaos of shouting and relentless guitar chugs, but the kids are still jumping on one another to shout the lyrics right back into Spielman’s now bleeding face. So much so that set finisher ‘Sacramento is Dead’ is hardly contributed to by their front man as he leaves it to the die hards in the front row.
As was the same during their spring touring, Rolo Tomassi followed Trash Talk onto stage and similarly could not emulate their predecessors’ dominance. Their experimental musicianship is one to be admired, as is their ability to transfer it from CD to their live sets but it they lacked a certain bite that was needed if they hoped to stand alone in amongst a line up of much meatier bands.
Fucked Up’s Damien Abraham took the prize for the most animated performance of the festival all by himself. Forget the rest of the band – for all he knew they might as well not have been there anyway. Instead as he ran around in the crowd with his man breasts and beer gut shaking around like a lava- lamp they watched from afar with total resentment to their band mate’s notoriety and their almost ghost-like roles to their live performances.
Comeback Kid are quickly becoming the band that everyone else is aspiring to be. Their gang vocals and insanely catchy lyrics are what festivals like Hevy were birthed for – proved beyond doubt as ‘Wake the Dead’ and ‘Broadcasting’ are greeted by an unrivalled rapturous unison of voice. However, there was a definite sense that no matter how well the Winnipeg maestros played they were always just going to be the calm before the storm – and what a storm it was.
You have to prepare yourself to watch Gallows. Mentally and psychically you have to ready. You must accept that you will be exposed to Frank Carter’s whimsical mutterings of anger at all times and you must be completely acceptant of the fact that you will be involved in some form of activity that requires more than for you to just stand and watch mindlessly. In fact even if you’re on the periphery of proceedings you’re still in danger of becoming swept up in the frenzy that inevitably follows.
Carter is on fine form as usual, both during songs and while addressing his disciples that stand below. ‘London is the Reason’ and ‘Black Eyes’ are delivered empathically, as the fist pumping lyrics are collectively echoed back to Carter, before old favourites ‘Abandon Ship’ and ‘In the Belly of a Shark’ induce manic crowd acceleration. Carter crafts the biggest circle pit of the weekend as the sound tent sits lonesome in the centre while hundreds circumnavigate the colossus of space which now exists.
It had to be ‘Orchestra of Wolves’ that finished the night. No other Gallows song can compete with its insatiably beguiling lyrics and instantaneous ability to get the best out of a crowd before they head back to their tents, far from ready for bed.
By Ross Timms
Want to know how Sunday at Hevy Festival shaped up? Keep checking the website for Ross’s review coming very soon.