ArcTanGent Festival: Day One
The ArcTanGent Festival which takes place near Bath is now in it’s 6th year and I have to admit to having been tempted in the past but this years line-up is of such a high quality that it there was no question I was going to miss it.
In case you aren’t aware, this is more of a “boutique” festival so has more of a family feel to it, with high quality food vendors and great beer. The best bit is the crowd is limited to about 5000 people which means even if you are at the back of the tents you still have a great view – even in the largest Arc tent.
Thursday, the first day doesn’t start well for me as the M6 is closed and delays me by a couple of hours which means I miss a trio of acts I really want to catch – Boss Keloid, Alpha Male Tea Party and Ohmms.
Svalbard is the first band I catch and they seem to be more comfortable here than at Tramlines a few weeks back. Their brand of hardcore alt-metal is structured around delivering messages within songs from their latest album It’s Hard To Have Hope like Unpaid Intern and Feminazi?!, a word singer/guitarist Serena Cherry wants banning from the dictionary and rightly so. Their all too short performance is as intense as it is captivating occasionally giving their music space to breath, a trick missed by many but used to full effect here.
Everyone meanders to the next tent as Delta Sleep are getting going with their bouncy soft math-rock to which many are singing along to, it is almost the polar opposite to Svalbard and as such offers some temporary relief. Their music ebbs and flows beautifully with swirling medlodies and vocals over a math rock style drums and guitar. And they are very good, so good I went to buy their album Ghost City at the merch tent… except they didn’t have it! The band are embarking on a US tour to which we wish them well.
Being lactose intolerant the thought of seeing People Like Milk Products, a band formed of six dairy farming brothers with a passion for making music and drinking cold milk, didn’t sit well with me. I chose some brain curdling doomy sludgey riffage instead courtesy of Curse These Metal Hands, a metal mash-up of Pijn and Conjurer. They bonded whilst on tour together and this collaborative set is the outcome. And it is solid. And it is heavy. Very heavy. An album may be forthcoming in the future – we will have to wait and see.
Another band I have been wanting to see for sometime is Rolo Tomassi and I am not disappointed with their performance. The band cannot be defined by a single genre they cover and they prove this with their set culled from their excellent fifth album Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It. The lightweight mathrock of Aftermath is brutally followed by the gruesome screaming hardcore of Rituals.
I only saw the beginning of Bossk as I had to whizz off to the media tent but from people I talked to it sounded like they opened a portal to hell.
“My name is Jamie Lenman and I can’t hear a fucking thing” is how the ex-Rueben guitarist introduces himself at the start of his set in-front of a predicatably chaotic audience and he is clearly enjoying himself. In some ways this is exactly what the festival needed - it’s party time as Lenman, dressed more like a milkman in his whites, performs a number of tunes from his latest album Devolver including All Of England Is A City and his bonafide number one hit single (on the 7” vinyl charts) Long Gone. The first proper mosh pit starts as he bangs out Rueben covers A Kick In The Mouth and No One Wins The War. Every Time A Teenager Listens To Drum And Bass A Rockstar Dies is still an anthem! Another cover, this time Toto’s Rosanna, which also features drummer Dan Kavanagh singing the chorus, really gets the crowd singing along. You have to see this man live, it is cathartic.
Back to the big tent and post-rockers Pianos Become The Teeth run through songs from their latest album Wait For Love opening with Charisma which gets the crowd going followed by Love On Repeat. Vocalist Kyle Durfey is pulls all the emotional stances on stage, which although eye catching at first, do become a bit much as the set progresses. There are also a trio of songs from Keep You but for me Fake Lightning is the highlight of their set.
I must admit to only briefly catching La Dispute and their rap metal which oozes loads of energy but I need to eat and something had to give - sorry! The food here is excellent with so much choice (the vegan Thai burrito I have is outstanding) and is heartily consumed before heading to the big tent again to watch the Thursday headliners And So I Watch You From Afar. The band start out performing their latest album The Endless Shimmering from beginning to end which is fine in theory, and it is an excellent album, but I could have just stayed at home to listen to it; as you would expect it comes across far heavier and is performed with gusto. Fortunately they continue with tracks from other albums including Big Things Do Remarkable from All Hail Bright Futures which is remarkable – but no Set Guitars To Kill, bugger!! Day one over…
Tickets for next year are already on sale and you get an nice 20% discount if you book now!!