Perched on a high plateau of farmland between Bristol and Glastonbury, ArcTanGent is one of the newest niche festivals in the summer calendar. This is a fan‑friendly and affordable event dedicated to post-rock, math-rock and noise-rock.
A rich subcultural tapestry uniting the progressive fringes of metal, hardcore, electronica and avant-punk, this year’s bill features an international mixtape of heavy hitters. The smaller Bixler tent hosts some of the wilder electro-noise acts, including London duo Gum Takes Tooth, who deliver a lighting storm of heavily rhythmic clatter, seething with sonic anarchy and combustible mischief. Likewise** The Algorithm**, who play a visceral set of laptop-driven mathcore, augmented by live drums and bass.
The midsized Yohkai tent features mostly left-field guitar bands like pastoral post-rockers Her Name Is Calla, who sound like baby siblings to Anathema. Shape-shifting avant-hardcore headbangers Rolo Tomassi are also in jaw-dropping form, with Eva Spence jackknifing balletically as her voice switches between melodic crooning and diabolical growling, like Linda Blair in The Exorcist.
Mike Vennart plays Yohkai twice across the weekend, first under his own self-titled band project, then as half of British Theatre with fellow Oceansize survivor Richard ‘Gambler’ Ingram. The personal **Vennart **material has plenty of cerebral pop-rock polish, but seems a little conventional for a prog-flavoured festival. The British Theatre set is more ambitious, reaching towards the romantically charged, lush experimentalism of Radiohead.
ArcTanGent’s main Arc stage is something of a prog rock attraction in its own right – the architectural white domes are suggestive of 1970s Roger Dean sci-fi posters. A couple of main stage acts disappoint, notably Leicester’s instrumental post-rockers Maybeshewill, whose swollen guitarscapes aim for Sigur Rós heights but mostly land in Snow Patrol shallows. But there are still plenty of stand-out performances, including ear-pummelling DIY power duo That Fucking Tank and massed guitar-shredders Axes, whose hard-slamming, tempo-shifting jazz-metal jams occasionally billow into shimmering high-life euphoria reminiscent of Vampire Weekend.
The Brits are punky and irreverent, but the Americans bring the heavy weaponry. Recently reformed post-hardcore warriors The Fall Of Troy combine power and precision, like a crazed hybrid of Primus and Slayer. But nothing tops Dillinger Escape Plan’s set, a non-stop maelstrom of super-heavy Godzilla stomps and soaring prog metal anthems, with singer Greg Puciato and guitarist Ben Weinman struggling to outshine each other in their perilous crowd-surfing and high-diving stunts. ArcTanGent isn’t about superstar headliners, but these testosterone-heavy New Yorkers bring a welcome jolt of high-voltage arena rock showmanship to a wondrous weekend of wonky delights.