LIVE: Takedown Festival @ University, Southampton (11/05/2013)

Date: May 11th, 2013
Venue: University, Southampton


Expanding up to 5 stages for its second year, Takedown Festival once again engulfs Southampton University Student Union with a who’s who of British alternative rock music, along with a few staple performers from overseas. Over 40 of the country’s best established and up-and-coming bands are looking to make it even bigger and better than last year, climaxing with The Blackout headlining the main stage this year.


An impressive set on the Southampton Music stage at the 2012 festival sees Max Raptor promoted onto the Rock Sound stage for this year’s event. Wil Ray looks in deep concentration as his band fly through new material, including the huge sounding ‘England Breathes’, leaving their fans salivating at the thought of a new album this year. ‘Obey The Whips’ and ‘The Alarm’ please the ‘Portraits’ lovers before ‘The King Is Dead’ finishes with Ray launching himself into the crowd with excitement. A monster set from the Midlands’ best punk rock band is just the tip of the iceberg of 2013 for Max Raptor.

Although a huge circle pit doesn’t really reflect the musical direction of We Are The Ocean anymore, it at least sums up the enthusiasm and passion the crowd still has for this band. Evolving their sound rapidly since becoming a four-piece has tightened their live performance, with Liam Cromby‘s voice sounding effortlessly perfect. New tracks ‘Young Heart’ and ‘The Road’ are met with chorus sing-a-longs front to back, but ‘The Waiting Room’ and ‘Trouble Is Temporary, Time Is Tonic’ get the biggest receptions and leave the room shaking.

DON BROCO – 9/10
The rise of Don Broco over the last year is almost unheard of, from opening small club shows to magazine covers and radio play, all down to their own hard work and their critically acclaimed debut release, ‘Priorities’. The Bedford boys return to the Rock Sound stage this year as the band that everyone’s talking about and they never disappoint. Their trademark push-up squad pyramid and unique swagger makes their performance stand out while blasting out hit after hit, with the crowd lapping up ‘Hold On’ and ‘Whole Truth’. It’s incredible to think that ‘Priorities’ and ‘Fancy Dress’ were played at last year’s Takedown Festival as new songs unknown to the audienc. Who could possibly imagine what size venues the band will be playing in 12 months from now?

Whether you love or hate him, it’s hard to argue that Sean Smith isn’t the perfect pop-punk frontman. His jokes and on-stage banter with the rest of the band, along with his eccentric presence, makes today’s headline show fly by. Just 3 songs in and red-haired Smith is at the sound booth being mobbed by hundreds of The Blackout fans while co-vocalist Gavin Butler controls the stage. The Welsh lads get through the majority of the ever popular ‘The Best In Town’ album, but still have time for new singles ‘Radio’ and ‘Start The Party’ before old school finisher ‘I’m A Riot? You’re A Fucking Riot!’ brings the hottest and sweatiest room in the whole of Southampton to a close. The Blackout prove worthy headliners as expected and continue their reputation as being one of the most reliably excellent live bands on the circuit.


German deathcore band, We Butter The Bread With Butter, have packed out the Monster Energy stage early on in the day, with their pig-squeal vocals combined with heavy electronic giving them a somewhat different sound to most bands playing today, but it’s the more sing-a-long friendly ‘Der Kleine Vampir’ and ‘Superföhn Bananendate’ that prove the biggest hits with the metal fans. The Germans are clearly far bigger in their homeland, which is easily seen from their tight show that’s developed since the current line-up assembled in 2010. Plus, the more and more popular inflatable balloons and confetti ending which finishes their second trip to the UK in style.

TRC – 8/10
The fact that the sound isn’t great and the stage is way behind schedule is making vocalist Chris Robson angrier and angrier, which is exactly what the TRC fans want; the more riled up, gritty and energetic the London hardcore boys are, the better the show. ‘#TeamUK’ shows off the dual singing between Robson and Anthony Carroll, while ‘Define Cocky’ and ‘Temptation’ send the crowd into a brutal frenzy of fists and high knees. TRC are driven by hard work, being true to your music, representing the UK music scene and killer breakdowns, and it’s clear that the crowd at Takedown Festival relate to their message today.


I DIVIDE – 7/10
Exeter rockers I Divide are up first on the Big Deal Clothing stage and are looking to get rowdy before a lot of the crowd has even turned up yet. Soon enough, vocalist Tom Kavanagh‘s energetic performance turns heads in time to see hits ‘Never Be Stopped’ and the excellent ‘This Ship’s Going Down’ as he climbs on top of the amps adjacent to the band. A slight slip off the stage doesn’t bother him in the slightest as he continues to warm up the room up with ‘Follow Me’.

We Are Fiction are on the warpath today, smashing through their set as if they have a point to prove. Phil Barker and Marc Kucharski‘s dual harsh/clean vocals work together expertly on ‘Sail On’, and they look like they’re having a blast too as Barker spends most of the set in the pit, only returning to the stage for crowd favourite ballad ‘My Dreams Are Haunted’. Emotional scream-a-longs bellow round the room for the Peterborough band, who are looking to be a tough act to follow.

It’s almost impossible to take your eyes off Mike Hodges due to his hypnotising movement and charismatic showmanship, and it might also have something to do with his glittery gold shirt and trousers. Rat Attack like to party and, as they have a day off tomorrow, they aren’t holding back. With a bottle of rum proudly placed at the front of the stage, the band smash through songs from their self-titled EP plus some new tracks, with ‘Heartbeat’ and a new song poking fun at posh people going down particularly well before ‘Bad Catholic’ closes the band’s set to cheers all around.

NATIVES – 8/10
After playing their first ever show as Natives on the Rock Sound stage at last year’s Takedown Festival, the New Forest band return to the event with more songs under their belt. Latest single ‘Stand For Something’ goes down well with their fans, who are literally begging to get their hands on a record by the local boys. Another tight set from Natives who, on this showing, are going to explode by the end of the year and will start seeing those ‘Big Plans’ through.

The reinvented Sonic Boom Six close the Big Deal Clothing stage bouncing off the walls faster than a chipmunk on crack, with Barney Boom and birthday girl Laila Khan up to their normal antics. The Manchunians control the stage and the crowd equally well, treating Takedown Festival to a cover of The Streets‘Let’s Push Things Forward’ and have their occasional saxophonist join them on stage to spice up classic ‘Piggy In The Middle’. The fans in the pit have saved enough energy to party until the end, and it appears that they would dance to Sonic Boom Six all night long if they could.


Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review any acts that performed on this stage.


Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review any acts that performed on this stage.

Written by Michael Heath