Hevy Festival - Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent
With all that excitement behind us, and a little bit of rain to hinder the mood of the Saturday, Arcane Roots opened the Rocksound tent. Now, I personally was somewhat confused when a very British voice said “we’ve flown in especially for this from Florida”, but I didn’t let that bug me…that much. They were great, worked hard with the small crowd that they had there, were really confident and in a strange way calming, think of Alexisonfire with the guy from Temper Trap’s voice and that’s almost what they sound like, but still, expect big things from this lot.
Now, I’m all for experiencing new bands, but I felt that I had to go and see Mishkin on the Red Bull stage, as they were our camping neighbours, and with an outside tent, and a tiny crowd, they would notice if we weren’t there! But do you know what, I was more than pleasantly surprised! They were great, and held the crowd they had despite the rain. The only problem I had? Once I’d noticed the front man’s nipples it was all I could see, next time he needs to wear a better t-shirt!
Spy Catcher, who I thought were Welsh, and that’s not because they really sounded like Kids in Glass Houses, which they did, and not in a bad way. Turns out they’re from Watford, so I couldn’t have been more wrong really. They were good, if you like that sort of thing, but it’s a shame they weren’t on the band wagon faster as they could have been massive by now. The Rocksound tent was busy, and the sound was loud, but it should have been busier.
The bands playing in the tents must have thanked the rain, as it meant that they had great crowds, Me Vs Hero being no exception. Filling, but not packing out the Rocksound tent, they played a really tight set, and absolutely cemented the fact that pop punk is not only for American bands. With the exception of the failed human pyramid, and my mild concussion from a crowd surfer, it was a highlight of Saturday afternoon.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to watch music, but the pull of the animal park on site (and the cheap, proper cider they sold) was what I did until Ghost of a Thousand. As Hevy is a very small festival, but in a nice, grass-roots way, it wasn’t too cliquey and you always knew what was going on, and could see everything, including the animals in the zoo, which is something that I think they should emphasise more, it’s such a great experience!
The Ghost of A Thousand played their last ever show on the main, Jagermeister stage on Saturday night, and boy did they milk it. I know they are a great band, and I have raved about how brilliant they are in the past, and they didn’t make this any different, it just seemed to lack a certain something, and unfortunately I don’t think that was their fault, I think it was just too quiet!
Next, was one of my bands of 2010, Architects, and they were probably my biggest disappointment of Saturday. What I was expecting just never happened, they were boring, and had no real energy. There was nothing exciting about their performance, and it seemed as though they didn’t really want to be there, which isn’t a good vibe to send out! Yes they played their biggest songs, and a new one, but it seemed to totally miss the point, a real shame.
Now, not being a massive fan of either headliner, I chose to start watching Dillinger Escape Plan, and my word did they convert me from not knowing anything to being shocked as to why I’d never got in to them. they were incredible, loud, together and just incredible, so I have NO idea why I did what I did next, I went into the Rocksound tent to watch Bouncing Souls… who were good. Great fun, it wasn’t packed out and all the chord sequences were ones I recognised from some of my favourite bands, so undoubtedly where they got their influence. It was a completely different vibe here however, Bouncing Souls seemed more intent on having fun, unlike Dillinger who seemed to be intent on impressing, and they both succeeded in it, so really what a great choice of headliners.
I must admit, Sunday morning was not the best morning to be alive, Red Bull somewhere along the lines decide it was a good idea to put on a free bar, but I was up in time to see The Afterparty open the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage, with a straight cut pop-punk sound, that could have been Lostprophets if you hadn’t been watching. They were very together, and had a great sound for being outside and on such a small stage, but they were great openers for the last day of the festival.
Man Overboard took over the main stage straight after, and to be fair, I should have stayed in bed. They were a poor man’s Movielife, boring, not interactive with the crowd, missed their harmonies and did the one thing I hate most, did a drugs call from stage. They’re grown men, surely they know that doesn’t make them look cool?! Anyway, I love pop-punk but got seriously offended by this, this want defending pop punk, it was pathetic. They looked too much like they were trying too hard to look like they were taking the mickey out of themselves, and it fell miserably flat.
Polar Bear Club, however were fantastic. Not much chat with the crowd but they played a full set of great music. It was a very tight performance, something you’d want with the perfect point of the day they were at, to win themselves new fans, me included.
The most fun set of the weekend goes to ska legends Capdown. They put on a brilliant show, playing up for the crowd and photographers alike, even if front man "Shakey" Jake did go on a bit too much about how they weren’t ‘hardcore’ like the other bands. It was great, not sure if the bald bouncer appreciated a spectacle being made over his head though…
Being on time is not my forte, and I learnt that the hard way with both While She Sleeps and La Dispute being in tents that were too full, they both sounded great from outside mind…
In the mean time I went to see Zebrahead on the main stage. Now there is a certain ‘uncool’ stigma about them, and I’m not sure why. They epitomise everything I love in a band, yet I would never say I was a fan of theirs. They struggled to engage the crowd on the outside stage, and would have benefitted from being on one of the tented stages, and again did a drugs call, what is it with bands these days?! (Wow, I sound like my nan...)
Another band that surprised me was We Are The Ocean. They had a large crowd, and played well, even if it did seem like they wanted the sound turned up louder (as did we). It was good, another band proving that british music is better than we give it credit for!
The most outstanding, impressive, and overwhelmingly brilliant performance (can you tell I loved it?) of the weekend goes to Defeater. A band I’d heard lots about and never got round to listening to that have now become my most listened to band on iTunes. They started with an acoustic, cute song ‘I Don’t Mind’ and I thought, aw this could be fun, a band packing out a stage that seem a bit Frank Turner-esque, then dropping into a brutal breakdown for the next song, I realised quite how talented, and metal, this band were. If you haven’t, check them out, I can’t underline how incredible they were live, captivating, interesting and motivating, a sure fire favourite highlight of the weekend.
Which seemed to juxtapose the next band I saw, with quite possibly the worst set of the weekend, if not the entire festival season. Which is a shame, because Four Year Strong are one of my favourite bands, and normally great live, but their Hevy 2011 headline set is one I hope they forget pretty quickly.
You could tell they were tired from the start, and, granted, they had flown in from the states that morning and were flying home that evening, but it’s not the point. they were confused as to what was going on, played 3 songs in 20 minutes, and then proceeded to throw most of their rider into the crowd, I’m not kidding: Bread, tortilla chips, cheese, lettuce, batteries, oranges and luckily when they got to the peanut butter they stopped. They then played a new song which no-one wanted to hear, and when playing one of the songs they play the most live, they got confused over words, and presumed that no one would notice. The only problem with that was that it was nowhere near loud enough, and sounded like you were listening to them with your fingers in your ears. Not a problem, except Four Year Strong are one of those bands that need to be turned up to 11. They got no crowd response when they tried to start a chant, and everyone was looking bored, and if they were anything like me, wondering why on earth they weren’t at the Bronx (always a massive problem for me with serious band envy anyway…). It was like watching a car crash though, so you couldn’t leave, it was a really disappointing end to a brilliant festival. As their own song says, it must really suck to be Four Year Strong right now…
Released: Wed 10th Aug 2011