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Hevy Fest 2014: Saturday review

The Murderburgers, Show Your Teeth, Moose Blood, Palm Reader, Save Your Breath, Me vs Hero, Capdown, Empress AD, Heights, 68, Anti-Flag, The Ocean, Reel Big Fish, Stampin Ground, The Vandals

It's a real shame that at half one in the afternoon, there are around 90 people at the main stage watching The Murderburgers (8) open the day.

The sun is out and the music is in full flow as the band blast out song after song of solid pop punk and punk rock, but it must have been slightly depressing for them to be playing to a field of people sitting down, barely interested.

Show Your Teeth (3) bounce around the stage with plenty of youthful exuberance, but they have about as much originality as a bag of ready-salted crisps. Throw a dart randomly at the line up poster and you’re likely to find another band doing exactly the same thing but better. Their hardcore is so forced and predictable, that when the drummer cuts off their vocalist mid speech and the band launch into a song you get the feeling that even they want it to be over as quick as possible.

Slightly misplaced on a main stage full of punk rock, pop punk and ska, Canterbury’s Moose Blood (7) envelop the slowly filling field in a cloud of emotive rock. Tracks from Moving Home sound huge as the band boldly string together old-school emo vibes with some modern flair. Though they would have suited the Friday main stage lineup better, their set exudes confidence and we’ll no doubt be seeing a lot more of them in the future 

Palm Reader (8) prove why they're head and shoulders above the majority of their peers as one of the best bands in the current hardcore scene. A set that is battering ram business as usual, their passion is raw and tangible. The intensity delivered by all five members means it’s hard to pick a sole focal point. It’s like Where’s Wally psychopath edition as wild-eyed guitarist Andy Gillan relentlessly punches his guitar and bassist Josh Redrup climbs into the crowd to raise hell and get in everybody’s faces.

Much more suited to the Saturday main stage audience are Save Your Breath (6) and Me Vs Hero (6). This double-hitter of pop punk wakes the crowd up somewhat and people are actually finally beginning to get on their feet to watch the bands. Although they're relatively similar, the double injection of massive choruses and sickly-sweet pop sensibilities is exactly what the crowd needed and they both serve as a great aperitif before Capdown take to the stage.

Capdown (7) were, of course, 100% Capdown. For a band that has broken up and reunited more times than the entire lineup of The Big Reunion, you’d think they would have lost some of their energy, but there’s no chance of that at Hevy. The crowd go crazy for Capdown’s ska-infused punk rock songs, with the especially skanky Ska Wars ensuring that everyone’s dancing shoes are firmly on for the rest of the evening.

It’s hard not to feel a bit sorry for Empress AD (5) who have one of the poorest turn outs of the day. Despite the lack of people watching them, it doesn’t seem to phase them, yet their progressive rock only has one tempo and it’s a slow, plodding pace that sees few stick around. The punters come and go, choosing to buy more beer to spill down their beards rather than standing there stroking them.

The days of Heights (7) may be coming to an end as the band have announced they are to split following a farewell tour in the autumn, and hopefully then front man Alex Monty can have a nice relaxing bubble bath and a cup of camomile tea, but for the time being at least he remains a very angry young man. Closing with a vicious rendition of The Lost And Alone whicjh provokes a huge circle pit, it just goes to show how much people will miss them when they're gone.

68 (6) front man Josh Scogin is undoubtedly a legend within the world of post hardcore. As the original vocalist for Norma Jean, and more notably mouthpiece for notorious trouble makers The Chariot, he is undoubtedly a cult icon. However the set today was something of a hit-and-miss affair. It was always going to be different to what he’d done in the past, and when he cranks up the distortion and starts the screaming it’s evident why so many of the band’s playing this weekend owe him so much. However the don’t-give-a-fuck attitude that saw him all over the place with his former band has turned into faffing about with overly indulgent jam sessions which really kills any momentum.

With those shoes now securely tied, the audience are absolutely up for rocking out to Pittsburgh’s finest, **Anti-Flag **(8). Anti-Flag are pretty much the a-typical punk rock band and rapid-fire songs like Die for the Government and Power to the Peaceful confirm this. Anti-Flag are always a huge draw at festivals and it’s totally obvious why at Hevy, as they bounce off the audience and each other with the energy of a band half their age (8/10). 

Taking to the stage basked in smoke and blue lights, while seemingly having a who can spread their legs the furthest apart competition between themselves, The Ocean (4) go on to play one of the most boring sets of the weekend. While their progressive metal is clearly meant to pack an emotional punch it is so clichéd and dull that it doesn’t provoke any stronger feelings than when you lose a pair of pants.

An ideal Saturday night party act, Reel Big Fish (9) are on fine form on the main stage at Hevy, inciting mass dance-offs throughout their set. Sometimes you want to brood and emote to music, but sometimes, you just want to throw shapes until you collapse. By the time the Californians finish ska punk classics like Beer, Good Thing, Take On Me and more, it looks like a lot of the crowd need to take a brief sit down. 

Following an eight year split it would be easy to think that Stampin Ground (7) belong in the hardcore retirement home, yet they spare little time in proving they’ve still got it. Between bassist Ben Frost looking like a bulldog chewing wasps and frontman Adam Frakes-Sime orchestrating circle pits and walls of death, the entire set sees the London five piece play with a steely determination that shows may of hardcore’s younger whippersnappers exactly how it is done. They sound huge, and above all are a lot of fun.  

Saturday’s main stage headliners and indeed the final band to play at Hevy 2014, are The Vandals (8). As the Port Lympne field is rather empty still, there’s plenty of room to be a complete buffoon and The Vandals are the perfect soundtrack for silliness. As guitarist Warren Fitzgerald derobes to just his boxers and an orange t-shirt, the remaining faithful have a jolly good time to the likes of I’ve Got An Ape Drape, My Girlfriend’s Dead and a lightning fast rendition of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. A great way to end a fun, if not full festival and with any luck, Hevy will return next year. 

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