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Having run for the previous five years, Macmillan Fest 2014 is set to be one of the best yet. Spread across five stages, the festival showcases some of the finest local talent Nottingham has to offer, as well as offering sets from bigger bands like Bleed From Within, The Safety Fire, Violet and Lock & Key. Previous headliners have included Ingested and Exit Ten, so how would Bleed From Within and The Hype Theory fare?
FAMOUS FOR NOTHING – 7/10
Local lads Famous For Nothing open the largest stage of the day. Straight from the get-go, the six-piece are incredibly enthusiastic and roaring to play, and the energy they bring seems to transpire onto the crowd. Despite having no official release to their name, the band have been making waves around the local scene. AJ Boulton‘s screams are absolutely on point, and Sam Barson‘s cleans remain as tight as always. Fan favourite, ‘Leap Of Faith’, gets the crowd singing and the inclusion of a short beatdown to please their friends is very surprising, but enjoyable nonetheless.
WE ARE TYRANTS – 10/10
Though they’ve had a little bit of a shaky start after swapping vocalists, We Are Tyrants absolutely dominate the stage. Having previously seen them play far smaller venues, you might think they’d be a little out of place on a stage this big, but they seem to go down an absolute treat. Though the crowd is a little small, it still seems to be just touching on triple figures. WAT‘s approach to melodic death metal is absolutely fantastic: riffs provided by Ben Wright and Harry Petcher are catchy enough to remain fun, with just enough neck-wankery to add a technical flair. Throw in a few meaty breakdowns, solos and Kelsey James‘ tight drumming, and you have yourself a winning recipe.
CABIN BOY JUMPED SHIP – 3/10
Currently one of the most polarising bands in the UK, Macmillan Fest marks Cabin Boy Jumped Ship‘s first show in Nottingham. One of the most obvious things to pick up on is that CBJS aren’t ready for a stage this size; the band stand around for the majority of their set, looking away or shifting uncomfortably in front of an audience that diminishes as the set continues. It’s vocalist Conor Peek who seems the most comfortable, trying to whip the crowd up into a frenzy. As a frontman, it’s obvious he takes a lot of influence from Ronnie Radke, but his vocals are flat and monotonous, halting any built momentum. They’re somewhat tight though, especially for a band who’ve played about four shows, but the most bewildering thing about their performance is the moment when their electronics cut out less than a minute into the final song and the band walk off. The complete inability to play without these backing tracks is amateur and embarassing for everyone in the vicinity. People hastily leave, probably thankful that it’s over.
THE WINTER HILL SYNDICATE – 8/10
By absolute contrast, Nottingham’s down-tuned, 7-string-wielding metalcore machine known as The Winter Hill Syndicate are nothing but a pleasure to watch. Their set at Macmillan Fest today marks their first show with their new vocalist, Tom Walker (ex-Opposition). Playing a few old songs with a new spin on them, Walker and co. rip the stage in two and are welcomed with open arms. The stage presence is good too, with bassist Florian Imbaud jumping all over the place, and the band are smiling at the audience, loving every single second. There’s a couple of small things that’ll be ironed out with more experience, but TWHS definitely have potential.
THE SAFETY FIRE – 10/10
London’s The Safety Fire are no strangers to Nottingham, and once again they deliver a flawless performance. Opening up with ‘Yellowism’, the third track on their latest record ‘Mouth Of Swords’, the impressive technicality of each musician is revealed straight from the get-go. The band are all over the place and seem to be loving every second as they work through their setlist, comprised of older tracks like the well-known ‘Huge Hammers’ and album finalé, ‘Old Souls’. There’s plenty of material from their latest record and the crowd eats it up, with people singing along from every corner of the room.
BLEED FROM WITHIN – 10/10
A main stage headline slot comes from the Scottish lads in Bleed From Within, and they’re nothing less than phenomenal. Opening up with a handful of tracks from 2013’s ‘Uprising’, the band storm through an all-encompassing setlist, featuring three older tracks in the form of ‘Servants Of Divinity’, ‘The Healing’ and ‘The Novelist’, as well as brand new offering, ‘Death Walk’. Towards the end of the set, a room-sized wall of death opens up for ‘Leech’, while everyone else in the band seems to absolutely dominate the stage. Each musician should be commended for their technicality and just how tight they are as a unit, but it’s certainly vocalist Scott Kennedy who seems to own the night. Sounding as good live as he does on record, he makes use of piercing highs, guttural-type lows and everything in between, and it sounds absolutely on point. Here’s to hoping they’ll be back in Nottingham very soon.
THE GREAT WHITE – 8/10
Mansfield-based The Great White are early on in Stealth, a dingy little venue that’s perfect for the riff-filled type of hardcore they play. Previously known on the local scene as a melodic hardcore band, in the last couple of the months they’ve stepped their game up considerably. They can be fast and thrashy, or devastatingly heavy, whatever the situation calls for. The sound’s absolutely perfect, and there’s enough instrument throwing to keep things interesting.
LOCK & KEY – 10/10
Birmingham’s Lock & Key look so goddamn comfortable on the Stealth stage. It looks like absolute chaos, but they’re so co-ordinated, not once do they bash into each other or trip over one another. Vocalist Rich Lardner (ex-Odessa) seems to have a real connection with those who are fully into it, hanging onto his every word inbetween and during songs. The band come under a lot of fire for various reasons, but their shows should silence any naysayers without question. They have a great stage presence and the guitar tones sound wicked. There’s no doubt that they’ll be welcomed with open arms the next time they play Nottingham.
AS DECEMBER FALLS – 8/10
As December Falls are a Nottingham-based quintet, and the band drop the electric instruments (bar the bass guitar, which works out surprisingly well for them) in favour of two acoustic guitars and some percussion for today’s performance. The five-piece are so tight, and everyone in the intimate venue is cheering for them by the time they drop a Lorde cover early on in the set. It’s the mixture of Bethany Curtis‘ lead vocals and Ande Hunter‘s harmonies that really set them apart, and, armed to the teeth with an arsenal of well-written songs that are as catchy as they come, As December Falls are definitely one to keep an eye on.
Written by Jack Boaden