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Note: As only three members of the site were able to review the festival weekend, we were sadly unable to cover every band performing throughout the day.
Extended to a full three-day weekend and being one of the only festivals to be hosted at a wild animal park, Hevy is most definitely a unique beast that’s growing from strength-to-strength year after year since its creation. With such great acts like Sonic Boom Six, Basement and Flood Of Red kicking off the festival weekend, it’s sure to follow in similar great fashion.
THE BOTTLENEX – 4/10
The Rock Sound/Macbeth Stage gets off to a stilted start with the uninspired pop-punk of The Bottlenex. The handful of people who have clustered in the tent to watch them look restless and bored, with the band’s beer soaked frat boy songs failing to lift the mood. Kind of like Reel Big Fish without the charm or the tunes, The Bottlenex‘s set nudges the festival into motion.
TURBOGEIST – 5/10
With thousands of people still queuing to get through the Hevy gates, Turbogeist play their slot. Their abrasive punk rock is nothing new, but they have a certain presence on stage that holds attentions at least for a while. Despite the poor turn-out, the band put in a valiant performance. They still feel a little green; the songs aren’t quite there yet, neither is the image and stage show, but there is promise here.
THE FIRST – 7/10
The First really shine today. Clearly revelling in the atmosphere and soaking up the support of the first notable crowd of the stage, they play a set studded with catchy pop hooks and infectious energy. Ben Salter is a likeable front man. He’s got the Ian Watkins look but none of the somewhat cocky attitude, guiding the crowd with enthusiasm. Though their music isn’t going to turn many heads for its originality, it’s certainley delivered well and gets feet tapping. Surprisingly a circle pit springs up towards the end of their set, mainly incited by a bunch of guys dressed as furry animals, but a number of punters join in for a good-natured mosh.
STEEL RULES DIE – 3/10
Any momentum that may have been gained during The First‘s set is quickly lost as Steel Rules Die plod through their set. Somehow their fast, angry punk is made to feel slow and drawn-out. Maybe it’s the band’s hang-dog faces, or Ricky Robinson‘s ropey vocals, or the generally sloppy performance, but their music just isn’t attracting any attention. By the time SRD head in to their final song, the tent is looking distinctly bare and the band looks even more miserable than they did when they started.
FLOOD OF RED – 10/10
Flood Of Red are one of those bands that seem to have been about forever. However, having had a dramatic change in direction with the release of ‘Leaving Everything Behind’ in 2009, the Glaswegian outfit came back with a sound so ambient, they themselves call it ‘earth rock’. Tonight they proved why they are most certainly destined for great things. Every part of their set was flirting with perfection. Throwing in a few new songs did no harm either, and just built the anticipation for their new record. Finishing the set with ‘Little Lovers’ followed by ‘Home, Run’ left the crowd in awe, with the Scottish twang in Jordan Spiers‘ voice echoing through the room the band left the stage, having delivered something very, very special.
SONIC BOOM SIX – 8/10
Sonic Boom Six absolutely kill it tonight. Their mix of punk, hip-hop and ska creates a complimentary sound to the hardcore bands dominating this festival, and the packed out tent lap up every second of the unique noise. There are some technical issues at the beginning of the set, with Barney Boom‘s microphone giving up a few songs in, which leads to an awkward intermission of jokes and crowd banter. Things soon get back on track though and the band pick up momentum quickly, with a triumphant run-through of ‘The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Inventions’ and a new track ‘For The Kids Of The Multiculture’. Their delivery is clean and professional, and their attitude is punk as fuck. Ending with a surprisingly brutal wall of death and circle pit, Sonic Boom Six are an unexpected hit.
MAX RAPTOR – 8/10
With the demise of one of the UK’s best punk bands of the last 10 years upon us this weekend, it only made sense to open the festival with Midlands new boys, Max Raptor. Having created a huge buzz after the release of debut mini-album, ‘Portraits’, they threw down a huge set of politically powered punk rock at its finest. Ending the set with forthcoming single ‘The King Is Dead’, the Midlands outfit set the bar high for the rest of the weekend, it’s just a shame there wasn’t more people there to witness it.
DEPARTURES – 7/10
As Glasgow’s Departures took to the stage, the Etnies tent was thick with an aroma of sweat, beer and smoke. The hardcore mob cut through the sticky atmosphere with their angry, at times ambient, assault, complimented by a huge crowd response. Despite a few technical difficulties, the band power through an admirable set proving to be another example of why the UK hardcore scene is so strong right now.
CROSSBREAKER – 8/10
The swords are out on this fine Friday afternoon, quite literally too, as a wild foam swordsman cavorts himself around the ensuing madness in the pit. Powering through their visceral, pissed off metallic hardcore punk, Crossbreaker show the revellers exactly why they are getting a bigger reputation for themselves. Like a hammer blow to the face by Thor, they smash every expectation had of them. Mental.
BASEMENT – 9/10
Being one of the buzz bands in not only the UK but also the US, it’s no wonder the Etnies tent is packed out when Basement take to the stage. Clearly in the prime and always on the up, the hype around the Ipswich quintet is definitely deserved as the crowd go insane to hit after hit after hit. A sound spilling with punk rock glory, at times flirting with an obvious pop-punk influence which is complimented by the gritty vocals of Andrew Fisher, which sound anthemic when sung back to him with such intensity. You could tell this was always going to be up there for the set of the weekend.
CARCER CITY – 7/10
Playing what they perceive as ‘scouse metal’, the North West metalcore act have a big following as the sub drops and breakdowns are laden in amongst twiddling guitars and thundering bass guitar. Whilst they are generally not a band for most of the attendees, they still get a good reaction, one they must be pleased with. Definitely an enjoyable listen in the gleaming sun of South East England. Who doesn’t like the scouse, right?
LOWER THAN ATLANTIS – 9/10
The buzz around Lower Than Atlantis is apparent as the crowd swells to twice the size of the tent before the band has even begun. Even with the sound difficulties at the beginning of their set, the crowd still goes mental for them, in fact the lack of sound from Mike Duce‘s microphone only highlights how many people are there signing along to their gritty punk anthems. They have people climbing the tent poles (quite literally) to see them power through huge numbers like ‘High At Five’ and ‘Deadliest Catch’. The louder the band get, the crazier the tent goes, the fans even manage to knock out the input during a hectic ‘I’m Not Bullimic…’. The tent reaches fever pitch during the fantastic ‘Beech Like The Tree’ as the crowd sits on the floor in preparation of a mass jump a minute later. It’s a huge, dynamic, brilliant set and frankly it will take some topping all weekend.
TEK-ONE – 8/10
The sun having set and the heat of the day slowly beginning disappear, the Etnies tent was transformed into a dub-rave of the biggest proportion. Tek-One were greeted by a sea of drunk, hardcore lovers ready to get their skank on. Every bass drop went off like a bomb, as the band dug deep into their arsenal to keep the crowd moving. Completed by MC Tonn Piper, they fed off the energy everyone is oozing with creating an incredible performance.
NEVER MEANS MAYBE – 4/10
Usually such an enigmatic live band, post-hardcore five-piece Never Means Maybe are a huge disappointment when it comes to this evening’s performance. Their lacklustre musicianship and vocalist Renz Byrne‘s ability (or lack of) to hold a note for a sustained amount of time fail to draw any sort of crowd to the stage, and even the aggressive, fast-paced ‘Output: Listen’ has people staring blankly at the band.
LOST BOYS – 3/10
It’s a shame that Lost Boys are a real disappointment tonight, as their hugely infectious pop-rock tunes could have made this festival a success for them. Instead, they stand playing dreary, out of tune pop music to about 25 bewildered onlookers. You can’t help but feel sorry for lead vocalist Jamie Wright as his vocals are agonisingly bad, and as a result, the whole band’s set falls like a lead balloon. Even bouncy numbers such as ‘Loveproof Heart’ and ‘Tired and Lonely’ fail to salvage this poor set.
DON BROCO – 7/10
For a relatively new band who don’t fit particularly well with the other acts on the bill, Don Broco draw a sizeable crowd. They are clearly fired up for tonight and attack their songs with passion. ‘All Good’ and ‘Dreamboy’ from their latest EP sound great, and the audience are more than ready to scream every word back at vocalist Rob Damiani. Musically there are a few mistakes, with a scattering of bum-notes and missed beats, but this does little to diminish the effectiveness of their energetic show. Ending on ‘Do What We Do’; one of their best singalongs, the band put on an undeniably enjoyable show that will definitely have picked them up a few more fans by the end of the night.
Written by Dom Wyatt, Grant Bailey, Oliver Thompson and Chris Loomes
Photos taken by Harriet Denton