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Hevy Fest: Day One

Live Review

Venue: Hevy Fest, Port Lympne, Kent

Everything that happened on the first day of Hevy Fest

Fair play to the organisers of Hevy Fest, after the debacle and cancellation of the 2013 event it could have gone under and vanished forever. But, even if last year’s event wasn’t quite the stellar return you’d have wished, this year’s line-up shows that there is a real desire to stay the course in the constantly growing world of festivals.

The first day is certainly the one that would prick up the ears of fans of heavy (as opposed to Hevy) music, and mainstage openers Continents [6] do their best to blow away the cobwebs with a set of decent, rudimentary metallic hardcore. It’ll get your head bobbing, no doubt, but there isn’t really anything new or original going on here. Although there are nods at a well of untapped potential.

If Continents got you in the mood to start the circle pit party then Chon [5] do their best to slow it down, make it more serious and chin stroking. It’s their first ever UK show and they are obviously delighted to be here, but up on a big stage it’s doubtful whether their instrumental, post-rock/tech leanings are suited for the environment, crowd or bill that they find themselves in. One thing is for sure, they certainly don’t suit the casual listener.

There’s a shitload of hype around Black Peaks [7] at the moment, and there are occasions on their watch today that you can understand why. But, unfortunately, there are other times when it seems bewilderingly too soon for a band that is clearly in its infancy to be put under such scrutiny. Take away that level of expectation and you will see a band that meld melody and riffing power with total genuine passion. One day they could be as good as you’ve been told they will be… but that day isn’t quite here yet.

One band that do a better job of living up to the hype are over on the second stage. Creeper [8] are as box fresh as they come and already look like, not just a band, but a gang. The pace and ferocity that they attack their emotional, goth-tinged punk rock is incredibly impressive. The AFI comparisons are well-founded, and they could do with establishing a touch more of the Creeper personalities into their music, but that is no bad thing. What with Davey Havok and co. currently a diluted version of themselves, Creeper could clean up.

Hacktivist [8] have had the hype before, and there is still a frustrating wait for their debut album. But luckily, with their commitment to tour as if their lives depend on it, they are not only as tight and precise a live band as you could imagine, but you’ve probably seen them enough to familiarise yourself with tracks like False Idols to the point where you can sing along regardless. And, even though you’ve seen it enough times, their djent-hop mash-up still sounds like the freshest noise of the weekend.

Some people really love Touche Amore [7], and if popularity and commercial appeal were judged solely on passion then they would be bigger than U2. And there is nothing wrong with their traditionally-minded DIY, punk rock stylings. Although you also can’t help but feel that there are many bands that have done this before and have done this much better. Integrity and commitment is not in doubt here, but actual ability maybe is.

The same could apply over on the second stage to A Wilhelm Scream [7] who seem hell-bent on being the fastest band of the weekend by a long way. Their melodic, breakneck speed punk holds attention far more than Touche Amore by adding in an element of fun. Plus singer Nuno Pereira is a dead ringer for Descendents frontman Milo Ackerman if he’d been on the protein shakes. But, the one paced nature of their output does struggle to hold the focus of everyone throughout.

Rody Walker spends a large amount of Protest The Hero’s [7] set dishing out typically bizarre stage patter. He’s a funny guy, but the gaps between songs do drop the levels of momentum and distract from their melodic tech-metal. Occasionally you get a glimpse of the thing that made them such a loved band ten years ago, but it’s been a while since Protest The Hero have felt like anything other than a band treading water. Stop mucking about for a minute and sort yourselves out lads!

If you need to take a leaf out of anyone’s book then it should probably, definitely, obviously be The Dillinger Escape Plan [9]. For the last 15 years they’ve been coming to our shores and decimating everyone and everything in their path with their stunning live displays. You should be well aware of the drill by now; vicious, technical, unique music performed by five men that are seemingly hellbent on destroying their own bodies. Greg Puciato dives into the crowd during Farewell Mona Lisa and is submerged for what seems like an eternity, before bursting back out and re-joining his band mates onstage… although, ironically, that is probably a more dangerous place to be. It’s hard to pick a highlight, but the classic riff of 43% Burnt would certainly take some stopping. Predictable as it may sound, they’re the band of the weekend by some margin.

Poor old Coheed And Cambria [8] have the short straw of having to follow that. Luckily they are such a different band that they don’t really suffer by comparison, and there is no real comparison to be made. This is a much more subtle live experience, with a much more instantaneous set of songs. They are the first band of the day that look like true rockstars and are worthy headliners. Playing their classic album In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3 in its entirety, Claudio Sanchez teases out the only mass singalong of Hevy Fest by revisiting one of their most beloved career periods. It’s not a perfect album, and Coheed don’t have the same visceral and visual thrill as a live band as TDEP, so the set does lag towards the middle. But for putting Hevy back on the map, pulling in a healthy crowd and closing with an encore of excellent new single You Got Spirit, Kid and the classic Welcome Home, that sparks wild abandon from the throng, Coheed And Cambria are certainly a success and end day one on a high.

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