So, it’s been a week and to be honest – I was still struggling up until Wednesday. Hanging out in a field, eating pizza and drinking copious amounts of booze really takes it out of you. Festivals eh?
Thursday till the Sunday of last week I was at ArcTanGent – The baby sister of the grass roots awesome-fest that is 2000 Trees. ArcTanGent arrived on the scene last year, and its first run turned out to be such a great success, so I was worried that it couldn’t be topped this year. But as it turns out, I think the second time around it was even better.
I had such a great weekend. Hanging with friends new and old; being a complete glutton with the fantastic food they had on offer; narrowly avoiding a black eye in the “pit” for Maybeshewill; getting up on stage with Mutiny On The Bounty during the silent disco and then very nearly crashing into the lights with Peckett from &U&I, and just generally having a right royal knees up. What a fucking festival. As much as I’d like to tell you all about the drunken antics (of which there were many), I’ll try and keep this mainly to bands. ArcTanGent 2014, hurrah!
The aim of Thursday for me was pace. Last year I royally fucked my chances of enjoying any of the bands by getting annihilated not long after arriving. The only parts I can really remember from the Thursday are trying (and only partially succeeding) in doing a front flip over my tent (much to the chagrin of my mate who was sharing with me) and swaying about whilst watching Maybeshewill, telling everyone who would listen how shit they were (I take it back, I truly take it back!) The curse of cherry whiskey…
Luckily, this time around I managed to not make a fool of myself and remain pretty compos mentis throughout the festival. This proved hugely beneficial in terms of Thursday bands, and I got to see some rad sets. Due to buggering about with setting up at camp, I missed half of The Physics House Band, but what I did see was great. Thankfully, this would prove to be one of three sets they played over the course of the festival and I was able to catch their full set when they filled in for Purson on the Friday. The chaotic Baby Godzilla were up next and absolutely thrashed it. Whilst maybe not as lively as their 2000 Trees set in July, they were still great and provided some killer visuals – my favourite being when a Marshall cab was passed around the crowd, ending up with a punter not only standing atop it triumphantly, but then diving off into the baying crowd. A lot of people (myself included) got their first taste of Baby Godzilla at last year’s ArcTanGent, so when they took to the Yokhai stage this time around, the place was heaving.
We also saw great sets from TTNG (though it seemed to go very quickly – too much time focused on pass the parcel!) and Northern Irish boys And So I Watch You From Afar, the latter of which were pretty incredible. It was such a great atmosphere in the tent, and it was amazing to see fans chanting along to each song – especially considering they’re largely instrumental. I wasn’t hugely aware of ASIWYFA, but this set certainly made me take notice. Fantastic live band. The Thursday early entry tickets really are worth buying, as you get an extra days’ worth of festival fun and there are usually some top bands on.
Having spent the night freezing my bollocks off and then waking up in a sauna, I was ready to get up and out of the bastard tent (which nearly flew away over the weekend …) and catch the first main stage band of the festival. I was totally made up for the boys in Alpha Male Tea Party, who were the band to receive this honour. Alongside Cleft, I’ve been pimping AMTP for quite a while and it feels like I’ve watched them grow (but not in a creepy way…) into this three headed math juggernaut that they are now. The crowd was absolutely massive for their set, and I’m happy to report that AMTP totally smashed it. The best part? They looked like they were having the best time on stage. Bassist Ben was throwing leg kicks, and drummer Greg and guitarist Tom never stopped grinning (except for during the RIFFS!) At the first ArcTanGent, Cleft made such a great impression on the crowd that they went on to reach near math-god status, making people stand up and take note. I’m hoping Alpha Male Tea Party go on to experience this from their first ArcTanGent, with a rocket firmly stuck up their arses to shoot them into math god territory. It looks like this might soon be the case, judging from the amount of AMTP shirts I saw over the weekend.
Human Pyramids also played the main stage on Friday, providing people with a slight break from the math assault of most bands, with the big-on-numbers group playing a real uplifting, heart-warming set. Conductor Paul (of Axes fame) looked like a proud Dad during the set, a smile plastered on his chops the entire time. At one point the band were joined onstage by a choir of pals/contemporaries and encouraged all in the tent to accompany them in a sing along. Perfect festival band.
Gracing the Yokhai stage on Friday were two bands that both made big impressions on those in attendance – BATS and Lost In The Riots. Save for one incredibly cringe-worthy moment with the former (the lead singer recited binary code during his mic check, and everyone in the tent threw up in their mouths…) both bands were really great. Not heard anything from either but I will certainly be checking out more of their stuff.
Another new band for me was Tellison, who played the Bixler stage later in the afternoon. These guys were proper fun from the off, and the crowd was fully behind them. That’s the great thing about festivals (and ArcTanGent in particular) – the line-ups are full of great bands to discover that you might not have had chance to before.
The two biggie bands of the Friday night for me were Cleft and Maybeshewill. At the Yokhai stage, a packed out tent experienced the joys of Maybeshewill. I hang my head in shame for thinking these guys were shite at last year’s ATG (and blame it on the booze…) This time around it really was something special; An incredible live band with a real buzz about them. The first 5 or so rows appeared to be a wave of people – all as one. Fully justifying their place on the bill, I can easily see them slotting to an even higher place on the main stage at next year’s festival.
The Bixler stage saw the triumphant return from math-rock, turbo-prog heroes Cleft and they certainly upped their game from last year. As the tent packed out, the two piece worked through some bangers from the new record ‘BOSH!’ and were eventually joined on stage by Alpha Male Tea Party guitarist Tom for the last tune – a Rage Against The Machine medley! ‘Bulls on Parade’ had been hinted at through the band’s social media, but nobody was expecting the medley. Pure riffage, it was awesome. Nick Duke of Trojan Horse even showed up unannounced to shout the chorus of ‘Killing In The Name’ to the raucous crowd. Perfection.
Written down, it would appear that I didn’t check out many of the bands on Saturday, but I assume I’ve missed some out through sheer memory loss – apologies to those bands. Those I remember though – OOFT! Scorchers!
Every man and his dog loved Reuben, and subsequently those same men (and dogs) adore Jamie Lenman as a solo artist. I hate to admit it, but before ArcTanGent I was unfamiliar with his stuff, but was eager to check him out. Along with his ‘Heavy Mellow Band’, Lenman looks absolutely tip top. All decked out in suits, the group actually looked like a bunch of hard geezers as opposed to a band (maybe they’re both!) It soon became clear why everyone loves this guy, and the tunes were pretty killer. They even bought on a saxophonist (in matching attire) to help them belt out a version of the 50’s classic ‘TEQUILA.’ Blistering set.
The first true dilemma of the festival came in the annoying clash between Tall Ships and &U&I. Whilst technically they didn’t clash, there was only 5 minutes between the end of Tall Ships and the start of &U&I. With our group wanting to be at the front for both, and both bands playing at opposite ends of the camp, we inevitably had to leave before Tall Ships last tune (which I can only imagine was brilliant group sing along ‘Vessels’ and not old favourite ‘Hit The Floor’) But what we caught of Tall Ships was really great. Perhaps not as good as their set at last year’s ArcTanGent, but still brilliant. As they did at 2000 Trees in July, they worked a few new tracks into the set and worked through a load of ‘Everything Touching’ and it was pretty magic. A couple even got engaged during the set!
&U&I playing more shows is music to my ears (literally, HAHAHA) so I was delighted to see they had been added to the ArcTanGent line-up (though it’s a shame Tangled Hair had to pull out.) As per usual, they were pretty incredible and sounded massive. Front man Peckett thoroughly got into it and looked the business in the process. Unfortunately, I ruined the big surprise for myself, spying the set list on stage…But in case you’ve not heard, the boys from &U&I ended up playing a BLAKFISH tune with the help of ex-Shapes Steve Bachelor, and it was sick! ‘Ringo Starr – 2nd Best Drummer In The Beatles’ was the penultimate track and the place went pretty mental for it, proving to be completely unexpected for the majority. Harking back to their 2000 Trees set in July, they ended on ‘Kiss From A Rose’ by Seal. I really do hope &U&I come back for good (and that the Seal cover remains on the setlist…) because they’re too good to just knock it on the head.
Out of all the bands, one of the main highlights of the whole festival for me was Mutiny on the Bounty. We’d caught up with them a bit before their set on the Saturday, and not only are they the nicest geezers, but as a band they’re fucking banging! They proper went off on the main stage, playing to a highly energetic crowd. The absolutely huge ‘North Korea’ kicked things off, and people subsequently lost their shit! What followed was an entirely instrumental set, showcasing just how good these guys are. Danceable mathy radness which really got the crowd moving; the ovation was mental. Band of the festival, hands down.
So that was ArcTanGent 2014. I had so much fun and met some truly wonderful people – It really is a great festival. The team behind it put on a great show, and the bands involved really make it a special event – math rock, eh? Tickets are already being advertised for 2015, so I can only imagine bigger and better things are in store. See you in the fields!