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LIVE! – Hevy Festival

September 13, 2011 by  

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LIVE! – Hevy Festival

EVENT: Hevy Festival
LINE UP: Dillinger Escape Plan, Architects, Four Year Strong, Funeral For A Friend, We Are The Ocean
VENUE, TOWN: Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent
DATE: 5th August 2011
RATING: 4/5

FIVE WORD REVIEW: Too Much Hardcore You Say?

MAIN REVIEW: It has oft been observed that fans of hardcore and large hairy apes have much in common, so the choice of holding this year’s Hevy Festival at Port Lympne Animal Park should come as no surprise. Indeed, the place boasts of having the spectacularly named ‘Palace of the Apes’ – The world’s largest Gorillarium. Oh yes, you heard me. Hapless punters could thusly almost taste testosterone and foul monkey odours in the air, but from where did they come – the pit in front of the teeny main stage or the rear end of a big furry silverback? Same dif, amirite? Eh? Eh? Ahem…

Bad jokes aside, it may have been somewhat of an oversight to not close the park to the general public; my drink addled heart went out to the families who gazed forlornly at tattooed masses goading baboons to fight and crowding around a pacing, agitated lion. A further oversight was the appalling cue faced by festival-goers upon arrival. Arriving slightly after the gates open on Friday afternoon, you are met with a four hour wait and just the one portaloo for solace. Weak effort, guys. If your innards survive this ordeal you are to be commended. For the rest of us making headway on the Red Stripe and Pringles became a frustrating and somewhat painful experience. But good things come to those who can handle the dull, constant ache of a full bladder; Hevy is a warm, friendly festival of likeminded people, and once you get over your shock at its tiny size (my tent felt bigger than some of the stages) you feel at home very quickly. It’s only been going a few years so the queuing situation is something that will hopefully be worked out in time, and at the risk of sounding sounding like a big poopy pedant, here’s hoping the severe lack of toilets is rectified too.

Music-wise, Friday yielded little joy – the whiny strains of Sonic Boom Six are enough to make the discerning festival-goer shove tepid overpriced chips in their ears until the shrieking diminishes to an inoffensive peep. Ahhh, that’s better. To their credit though, Sonic Boom Six’s vocalist frequently alludes to feminism and the mistreatment of women in rock, so it is with bitter, bitter irony that mere hours later the Front Magazine DJs (a few scantily clad girls dancing round an iPod cunningly disguised as a pair of turntables) take the stage to frenzied hooting requests to get a glimpse of boob. Somewhere, back in the darkest recesses of the world’s largest Gorillarium, a grizzled ape pricks up his ears and grunts in approval. Oh dear.

Saturday provided more of an appetising line-up; Bastions tore the afternoon a new pooper with well-placed, bouncy yet complex enough hardcore (a feat that would be repeated again on Sunday) that shook away the excesses of the night before back where they belonged, allowing a fresh day of Jagerbull and dancing to begin. The absence of Trash Talk a few slots up on the main stage meant that local chaps Feed The Rhino had some high expectations riding on them, however, they carried off their set with confidence and vigour despite the drunken animosity being thrown their way by those who had already overdone the aforementioned Jagerbulls.

Architects were a fine prospect who produced a flawless set of dark bass-y rumbles best enjoyed from a distance by your intrepid reporter, lest the pit swallow her whole. The ground shook well enough with a varied set only marred by the slightly dodgy sound from the main arena, contending with the noise of smaller stages. Highly anticipated headliners The Dillinger Escape Plan suffered the same fate of bad sound, yet this didn’t stop some immense circle pits and a crowd that stretched the entire length of the arena, engulfing the teeny Red Bull bar sat precariously in the middle. The set began almost as precariously as that tent, with ‘Panasonic Youth’ and ‘Black Bubblegum’ receiving a somewhat lukewarm response when compared to the carnage of Architects. Dillinger powered through with their usual destructive vigour, breaking parts of the stage with a convincingly enraged performance that got cut short by killjoy festival organisers who pulled the plug halfway through ‘43% Blunt,’ rendering their lighthearted cover of Nirvana’s ‘Territorial Pissings’ barely audible by those of us who dared not enter the pit.

Sunday brought a pretty mixed bag, driving many to seek solace from the reeking portaloos and ropey bands in the rolling hills of the Animal Park. Capdown peddled their bog standard ska to a crowd that pogoed appreciatively along, even though you’d have to be hewn from the most ancient granite to not cringe at their on-stage antics. Yawn. Once tired of this, those who got up early ran to La Dispute, who managed to pack out the Etnies Stage relatively early on with a tight set of short, intense tracks that melded mewithoutYou-esque intensity with proggish breakdowns. Ahh, that’s the stuff. Good music was, alas, not to last as who else but Zebrahead took to the main stage. With a combined age of 650 and the combined talent of that cat who plays the piano on YouTube, the outlook was bleak. At one point a guy came on stage dressed as a tiger and pretended to jerk off a champagne bottle. Sure, when you’re wasted in a field this is pretty funny, but when casting my mind back a part of me dies that I found this as hilarious as I did. There is absolutely nothing to like about this band at all. Unless you’re a hyperactive prepubescent who enjoys nothing more than running about the place shouting about their penis and making anyone within a 20-foot radius want to savagely beat you.

Thankfully though, Sunday had more pleasing treats on offer in the form of Essex’s We Are The Ocean. Despite a comparatively small crowd, they absolutely wiped the floor with their predecessors. Vocalist Dan Brown’s crowd-surfing acrobatics caused quite the spectacle in a set that took in tracks from the entirety of their short but successful career. Closing on a soaring version of ‘Nothing Good Has Happened Yet,’ they managed to erase most of the Zebrahead memory from Hevy’s collective mind. And for that, my eternal gratitude. Funeral For A Friend promised a nostalgic reprise for those of us who latched onto them back in 2003 with old favourites ‘Juneau’ and ‘Escape Artists Never Die’ giving much in the way of rose-tinted enjoyment. Their newer stuff, however, fell pretty much flat, Matthew Davies-Kreye’s irritating shout-outs doing little to absolve this. The return of their original sound on their latest albums is very welcome, yet didn’t do enough to win over the predominantly hardcore crowd.

After that lacklustre performance there was but one more chance for Hevy to insert itself into my good books, Gorillarium or no Gorillarium. Thankfully the option to shun Four Year Strong was a viable one as the MacBeth Stage closed with an insanely fun and furious set from The Bronx. Those of us not distracted by the questionable wannabe pole dancer gyrating against the tent supports enjoyed a frenzied and well-rounded set that ended the festival on a high note, and almost made the thunderstorm that battered the campsite tolerable.

Hevy made for a relatively dodgy weekend. Sure, 90% of festival enjoyment is based on who you share your time with, and in that respect I’m certain most people’s experience was flawless. Musically however, you need to eat, sleep and breathe hardcore to make a trip here completely worthwhile. Despite the draw of some depressed looking lions and the odd screeching ape, the variety in music was somewhat lacking; the absence of a dirty dance tent cut deep into my heart when surrounded by stage after stage of yelling, sweaty men. But them’s the breaks I guess, and if you’re fool enough to attend something called ‘Hevy’ you’re not exactly going to have the most chilled of times. Ah well, you live and learn

LINK: http://www.hevy.co.uk

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