The nihilistic and gruelling breed of hardcore Oathbreaker (9) deliver may not be the most obvious choice to kick off a festival, but those present witness one of the early highlights of the whole weekend.
Outside this tent the four horsemen of the apocalypse could be raiding the burger vans while fire and brimstone rain down from the sky, and nobody would bat an eyelid. All eyes are transfixed firmly on frontwoman Caro Tanghe, taking to the stage in a long flowing white dress with hair obscuring her face for the entire performance. She has to do very little and proves to be an enigmatic and mysterious character, who can’t help but have the entire crowd compelled throughout.
“We could be the next band to blow, why not? They made it!” screams TRC’s (8) Anthony Carroll on #TEAMUK. Their self-proclaimed prophecy of world domination may not have happened yet, but it’s hard to explain why they’re not bigger when they deliver sets like today’s. It’s a tirade of non-stop bangers, in particular We Bring War from last year’s Nation album, which sounds devastating today. Fellow frontman Chris Robson remains a true character in a world of hardcore frontmen screaming to sell products from their t-shirt brand. His unique London MC style vocals wouldn’t see him out of place on a Wiley or Tempa T mixtape, and he has an edge of realness that most rap rock bands could only dream of.
There’s a time and a place for everything, but unfortunately for Three Trapped Tigers (4) the time and place for them certainly isn’t Friday afternoon on a huge open air festival main stage. Perhaps in one of the tents their weird synth sonic creations could take flight and have a life of their own, but here they fall flat. The band look out of place and are faced with a sparse disinterested crowd sat on the floor. It feels more like an overly long interlude rather than a main attraction.
A still thin and somewhat timid crowd aren’t left with much choice in the matter of whether they’re going to have fun or not by the time Kvelertak (8) hit the stage. As soon as frontman Erlend Hjelvik arrives with the now obligatory owl on his head, he and his fellow Norwegians waste little time in grabbing the audience round the neck and forcing them into having a good time. Looking like the rock stars this stage has been desperately craving, guitars are flung around while Hjelvik perches centre stage every bit the rock & roll Viking, gobbing on security and waving a huge flag around.
Heading over to the second stage, Feed The Rhino (9) proceed to cause chaos in the way only they know how. They’ve built tup quite a reputation for their live show and at Hevy it’s clear to see why. With hulk-sized riffs flying everywhere, the band make the packed-out tent their playground. Frontman Lee Tobin puts himself in constant danger, climbing up to the top of the speaker stacks and screaming his heart out despite a faulty microphone. Tides is a particular highlight as the audience sing every word along with Tobin. Full of groove, headbanging moments and party vibes, the set is triumphant and there’s definitely a bright future ahead for this band.
It’s time for everyone to remember who was in their top eight on MySpace, and how their vision was impaired by a swooping fringe covering one of their eyes as Silverstein (5) take to the stage. While they play their nostalgia-packed emo numbers with aplomb, it’s hard to get over the fact that it’s five fully grown men still playing songs they wrote years ago when they were upset because ladies wouldn’t touch their willies. Surely it’s happened by now, and as frontman Shane Todd dedicates songs to those who have been in a ‘fucked up relationship’, it’s hard not to titter. At times it feels like your uncle had rallied his mates around after not coping well with a messy divorce. The set soon starts to drag and the band’s desperate attempts to stay relevant by doing exactly what they did ten years ago only make it seem more dated.
When Tesseract (8) finally begin playing on the third stage, people are already leaving due to the 25 minute delay. That being said, the diehards stay true and they are rewarded with some of the best prog/metal songs England has to offer. Returning to the foray, vocalist Dan Tompkins’s voice is incredible, soaring high over the monumental riffage. The band are tight as hell as they chug their way through choice cuts from Concealing Fate — as if there was any chance of them being anything less than note-perfect. Although there were only a handful of people around to see it, the set was another affirming step towards the next chapter of Tesseract’s life.
Back over on the second stage, it’s apparently party time as Australian ‘ladcore’ mob Deez Nutz (2) take to the stage. What the band lack in musical merit, they more than make up for in the fact that they definitely know how to drink. The crowd are clearly of the same mindset and Deez Nutz’ frat boy ‘hardcore’ gets the circle pits going, but any musical credibility is entirely thrown out of the window the second they start playing.
Getting excited about Finch (7) headlining a festival in 2014 is a bit like rushing out to tell all your mates how awesome the wheel is. It’s easy to be cynical of bands relying on past glories, yet if there’s a time to put cynicsm to one side it’s when you’re belting Letters To You out at the top of your lungs. The set unsurprisingly weighs heavily in favour of the band’s debut album, however these songs prove to be timeless. As hits keep coming thick and fast they sound as great as they ever did and provide the biggest sing alongs of the weekend so far, climaxing with a superb What It Is To Burn. The two new songs aired can’t compete with the band’s classic material, which makes you wonder how much more life is left in the band, but for the time being at least Finch provide a great send off for day one of Hevy.