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FESTIVAL REVIEW: ArcTanGent Festival 2017 – Thursday & Friday

There a number of festivals out there now, and the majority will try and cater to a broad audience in order to gain the maximum appeal. But then there are places like ArcTanGent Festival, where the bands can be as far left field as they come, with the majority not even coming with a vocalist. These festival caters to the thinking music fan, with technical wizardry from the musicians coming under tremendous praise and every band being able to pull a crowd thanks to the nature of the ArcTanGent punter; someone who actually wants to listen to the bands playing. The tiny site means the festival has an incredibly intimate feel to it, making the whole weekend a remarkable experience. Find out what we thought in the full review below!

Thursday

GALLOPS – Yohkai Stage

Gallops opening the weekend. Photo Credit: Helen Messenger

For the uninitiated GALLOPS are a good introduction to the weird and wacky sounds of ArcTanGent Festival. The looped electronic sections gives the sound an eerie atmosphere but with the band relying on the loops to start the songs, when the tech failed throughout their set, the momentum drags to a halt. When everything is working there is a dark tranquillity to their music that makes it enticing.

Rating: 7/10

USA NAILS – PX3 Stage

USA Nails live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Ed Sprake
USA Nails live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Ed Sprake

With a dirty garage punk sound, USA NAILS play a set that oozes attitude but lacks anything of real melody. The vocals are lost in the mix of the harsh guitars and the songs, whilst boasting choruses and sections to move your feet too, aren’t the most memorable collection.

Rating: 5/10

TOTORRO – Yohkai Stage

Totorro live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Helen Messenger
Totorro live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Helen Messenger

Despite being such a young band, TOTORRO have created a nice little following behind them. Playing their second ArcTanGent Festival, the French five-piece lead the crowd through a incredibly enjoyable 40 minute set complete with a conga line. Their feel good summery tunes are somewhat juxtaposed by the rancid weather on site but the band all play with huge smiles and the crowd reciprocates the tangible positivity that the band create.

Rating: 8/10

HECK – PX3 Stage

Heck live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Helen Messenger
Heck live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Helen Messenger

Playing their last ever show after only announcing it mere days beforehand, the PX3 Stage packed out to watch HECK decimate one more venue before they called it a day. Before the band starts, the words ‘one more time’ murmur from the amps before Powerboat Disaster absolutely levels the entire tent. The band hold absolutely nothing back as they blast through their set staples of Good As Dead, The Great Hardcore Swindle and Mope. Whilst the members flail around on stage, jumping off amp stacks and generally running riot, the thoughts of losing a band as brilliant as this becomes quite a bitter pill to swallow. British hardcore has always been a bit whacky, but HECK, as they proved during their final show, took whacky and ran with it to the greatest effect.

Rating: 9/10

FUTURE OF THE LEFT – Yohkai Stage

Future of the Left live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Helen Messenger
Future of the Left live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Helen Messenger

With basslines that hit right in the gut, THE FUTURE OF THE LEFT boast some proper power behind them, and their weird lyrics and song topics just make the set a different affair from the rest. Whilst the muscle is definitely there, the band lacks any real hooks instead opting for groove to keep the crowd locked in.

Rating: 6/10

NORDIC GIANTS – PX3 Stage

Nordic Giants live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Helen Messenger
Nordic Giants live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Helen Messenger

Watching NORDIC GIANTS live isn’t as simple as watching any other band. The two piece ambient outfit don’t simply offer up live music, instead opting to deliver a complete experience including some mind boggling visuals. Walking on stage to a large screen and a projector, every song NORDIC GIANTS play serves as the soundtrack to a short film, each one different from the last and yet still as impactful and moving. Seeing this band live is a completely different experience to anything else, as there isn’t just enjoyment to be found here, but buckets of admiration towards just how much work must go into making something of this calibre.

Rating: 9/10

RUSSIAN CIRCLES – Yohkai Stage

Russian Circles live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Joe Singh
Russian Circles live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Joe Singh

With a MASTODON support slot ahead of them, RUSSIAN CIRCLES show just why they’ve been chosen for that tour. With a colossally heavy sound that crashed like a tidal wave whenever the band see fit, their crunching guitar tone sounds massive on the Yohkai Stage. The band pack out the tent, probably due to the fact that the entire surrounding town can hear them due to how loud the music is, but this works in the groups favour, as the crowd provides plenty of energy to make up for the rather static members on the stage.

Rating: 8/10

Friday

RIGHT HAND LEFT HAND – Arc Stage

Opening up the main stage are the two piece of RIGHT HAND LEFT HAND, and their performance is intriguing in its set up. With a drummer and a guitarist, the guitarist loops motifs from one guitar before switching to another and so forth before the song is made. It’s a cool idea but the swapping of guitars wastes time and the songs are difficult to really get into as they’re being built.

Rating: 5/10

HIKES – Arc Stage

Hikes live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Ed Sprake
Hikes live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Ed Sprake

Playing their first ever UK show, HIKES absolutely smash the main stage. With their almost lounge influenced sound, they run through a soothing selection of pleasant rock with enough thought behind the drums and polyrhythmic guitars to keep even the most technical musical brain on their toes. The band show such gratification for being on the stage, with the band mentioning how happy they are In the moment of playing. It’s a great set and one that paints HIKES in an incredibly memorable light.

Rating: 8/10

ITOLDYOUIWOULDEATYOU – Bixler Stage

ITOLDYOUIWOULDEATYOU live @ ArcTanGent 2017. Photo Credit: Ed Sprake
ITOLDYOUIWOULDEATYOU live @ ArcTanGent 2017. Photo Credit: Ed Sprake

With a sound caught somewhere between the emotionally inflicting musings of AMERICAN FOOTBALL and the hardcore energy of BEING AS AN OCEAN, ITOLDYOUIWOULDEATYOU have a unique feel to them from the moment they get onto the stage. With every member boasting a clear and differing style from the next, the rag tag group write songs that incite not only sing-alongs but also have enough bite to get some people off their feet. With a bit more fullness to their sound then this band could indeed tap into a market that is begging for more talent, but until then their modest and stripped back guitar leads will have to do.

Rating: 6/10

OHHMS – Bixler Stage

OHHMS live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Joe Singh
OHHMS live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Joe Singh

Having caught OHHMS at Bloodstock Festival just the previous week, OHHMS still refuse to let their set be anything close to disappointing. With vocalist Paul Weller looking more comfortable on a smaller stage, the packed out crowd on the Bixler Stage at ArcTanGent Festival is treated to some truly thunderous riffs that are played with authority. The Fool is still a fantastic album and The World simply left the entire tent speechless before their final song lets the set just dissolve before the audiences eyes. OHHMS are proving to be a consistently fantastic live band.

Rating: 8/10

LISTENER – Arc Stage

Listener live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography
Listener live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography

With some funny stage banter LISTENER ease themselves onto the stage and start their set and show that their banterous nature flows through into their strange, semi spoken lyrical delivery. The intonation in which vocalist Dan Smith delivers his words is difficult to get to used to, but it makes the music feel almost as if he was making it up on the spot and his emotive voice really lets the poetic words impact as they were intended. Musically the band sound relatively stripped back, clearly allowing enough room for the vocals to remain the focal point, and it allows LISTENER to set themselves apart from not just the bands without vocalists, but the band with.

Rating: 7/10

HARK – Bixler Stage

Hark live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Ed Stark
Hark live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Ed Stark

At a festival that is dedicated to the weird, wonderful and often times confusing music, HARK are a welcome reprive, with their set containing only the most monster of riffs being used for their set. The welsh lads are an imposing force on stage, with little movement from any of them but every single one of them stares murderously into the crowd whilst delivering riffs that groove and crash with frightening effect.

Rating: 7/10

BOSSK – Yohkai Stage

Bossk live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Ed Sprake
Bossk live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Ed Sprake

Continuing to prove their ability to play at almost any festival, BOSSK play a set that feels like it has far more energy than their set from last weekends Bloodstock Festival. Their set not only has more bite but seems to have an urgency that wasn’t there last weekend. With this added pace, the set feels far less choppy, and even allows for far more segments that get every head within the Yohkai Stage tent banging. BOSSK straddle so many genres with their music that it’s a wonder they aren’t bigger than they are.

Rating: 8/10

HO99O9 – Bixler Stage

HO99O9 live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Ed Sprake
HO99O9 live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Ed Sprake

One of the more unspoken acts within the alternative scene, HO99O9 fuse the relentless punk rock energy of the late 70’s with the attitude and punch of modern day hip/hop to create a frightening aural assault that is genuinely unique. Their drummer keeps the other two members in lock step whilst also being the inciter of the ridiculous moshes that kick off when the band up their gears. HO99O9 have enough angst and noise to force the attention onto themselves if they have too, because pretty soon people are gonna click onto something this good.

Rating: 8/10

GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT – Arc Stage

God Is An Astronaut live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Joe Singh
God Is An Astronaut live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Joe Singh

Being one of the most prolific bands on ArcTanGent Festival‘s lineup, Ireland’s own GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT provide some of the heavier instrumental experiences over the weekend. When they decide it fit, the group bring a monstrous sound to the main stage and when coupled with the spinning light show going full pelt behind them, GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT deliver one of the more interesting and investing performances over the weekend. There’s a tangible weight to their music and it elevates their songs whilst they try to create a celestial atmosphere with the star map lighting up behind them.

Rating: 8/10

CONVERGE – Arc Stage

Converge live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Helen Messenger
Converge live @ ArcTanGent Festival 2017. Photo Credit: Helen Messenger

Easily the most aggressive act on the line up, CONVERGE are also one of the most prolific and consistent bands on the planet; if you book CONVERGE, you’re almost guaranteed a good show, and tonight is no different. Opening with Dark Horse the band refuse to fuck about, kicking right into a set that represents the musical equivalent of being savaged by a Rottweiler. Under Duress and I Can Tell You About Pain fit snuggly into the setlist as fresh cuts but it’s the haunting Eve that provides the set highlight, as Jacob Bannon screams his though provoking lyrics with aplomb. The awful weather simply helps create the perfect atmosphere for CONVERGE to thrive in, with the rain reflecting in the spotlights making the entire scene feel like a battleground, and the muddy ground dirtying up the stage. CONVERGE are a band to be reckoned with and with the state of affairs regarding their new sound, the band should very quickly find themselves atop the pack once again after tonights performance.

Rating: 9/10

And there you have it! Keep posted to Distorted Sound as we bring you the final day of coverage of this year’s ArcTanGent Festival very shortly!

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