Day One

Hevy Fest is a relatively new festival that caters for, oddly enough, lovers of heavy music such as hardcore, punk, metal and its million subgenres. There’s is also a smidgen of emo rock sprinkled over proceedings for those with independent minds but like their guitars a little mellower in tone. What’s more the festival is situated in the grounds of Port Lympne Animal Park so when the noise was too much I could just walk across a field and go hang out with some monkeys, all included in the price of the ticket.

Security at this festival is pretty damn tight; only one crate of beer per customer and the toughest bag search this side of a New York airport. At one point whilst I was queuing up a girl was having her bag ransacked by a steward, and let out a scream as the woman pulled out her vibrator for everyone to see! Her fellow, to give him his due, lightened the mood by saying it was for him. But, sheesh, I was glad I left my strap-on at home!

So I saw at least a bit of every band today but there were only three that really stood out and simply killed it. The first was Blacklisters from Leeds. They were something special indeed! The frontman, Billy Mason-Wood, had the banter down and the band was tight as hell behind him. They played in a Jesus Lizard/Shellac vein, but had their own unique twisted take on the skewed indie-noise sound. They were a total surprise for me on the bill, and a band I will definitely explore further in the future.

Over at the Red Bull stage it took mere seconds to fill the tent once Brotherhood of the Lake took to the stage. Singer Robert Clark couldn’t believe the size of the crowd, and we, in turn, fed off his enthusiasm. We prepared ourselves for a metal onslaught and the band provided it in spades. Thing is, I knew they would be good, I saw them already this year and I knew what to expect. Yet nothing prepared me for Deez Nuts. The Australian hardcore mob have just left me cold every time I’ve heard their stuff, yet tonight I just got it and thought to myself, “What the hell have I been missing!” Gone was the tough guy posturing that had plagued a large portion of today’s bands, and instead on stage these Aussie riff mongers literally tore the Friday night line up a new one. There was nothing fake or OTT about them. They play a style of hardcore I would normally avoid, and yet somehow they turned out to be my fave band to watch of the day.


Day Two

I had a great one today. I ended up going to the zoo in the morning to meet up with some buddies and their kids, and spent the morning looking at apes, rhinos and lynx cats shagging.

We arrived back at festival HQ in time for Balance and Composure who pulled off a brilliant set. They were a bit of a curve ball on today’s bill, yet their Appleseed Cast-isms found an attentive crowd gathered before them. That doesn’t mean they don’t rock out though. Singer Jonathan Simmons and his swish guitar antics took me back to watching the likes of Billy Corgen during Smashing Punpkins ‘Gish’ period. Don’t let all this put you off though; they were all that and much, much more.

The next band that caught my interest was Vales. I’d fallen in love with the bands recent ‘Clarity’ EP and couldn’t wait to catch them live. The Cornish crew didn’t disappoint. Playing to an almost packed out house the band took us through each track of the record. Stand out track was the end of ‘Stallions,’ which vocalist Chloe screamed with so much passion I thought veins in her neck would burst there and then!

Norma Jean., Meshuggah and Rolo Tomassi did an okay job of satisfying the crowd, but it was the double thrash metal whammy of Municipal Waste and This is Hell that truly turned the OK-ness to greatness. Firstly, This is Hell, who are brilliant on record, baffled me at first live. Vocalist Travis Reilly complained of eating dodgy noodles and looked half asleep. while Rick Jimenez on guitars looked utterly pumped and was pulling off some utterly serious Scott Ian kick jumps, and I say serious because at one point it looked like he would personally maim the front of the crowd if they didn’t react to the man’s requests for attention. Somehow they got away with it well enough to pull off a pretty decent set. But Municapal Waste came, saw and utterly destroyed. Where This is Hell took a time to get going, the Waste hit the ground running, literally whipping up the crowd and spitting them out of the pit one by one. They were outstanding. Best band of the day by a mile.


Day Three

On the final day of any festival the fans always look worse for wear. Hevy is no exception. The lack of rain during the night meant that people were partying harder than Andrew WK till the early hours. The follow on effect meant the opening bands like Mallory Knox ended up playing to only a couple of hundred people, but it didn’t dampen their spirits. They told the audience they were quite happy just to see a few nodding heads. Looking at the state of the crowd I would say they were lucky to have had that.

Today was an old school hardcore kinda day and so many of the bands did nothing for me. The likes of Lewd Acts, Verse. Madball, Ignite and even the magnificent 7 Seconds just melded into one long thuddy plod, preaching obvious nonsense about “breaking chains”, “the streets” and “respecting hoods and hating wars.” I could go on and on but that would make me as redundant as the bands spewing out his garbage, so I’ll focus on my top three bands of the day.

Rise and Fall were a huge surprise and had the best guitarist I saw all day. The Belgian crew are on Deathwish and 100% deserve their place on that legendary label. The final song, ‘Faith/Fate’ in particular was so majestically intense that I immediately visited the merch stall and bought their new LP the second they walked off stage.

Taking things to another level were scene kings Converge. They earned the right to keep their crown opening with the ten minute extravaganza of Jayne Doe and not looking back. Walking out of the arena after they played I felt as if I had been kicked repeatedly in the head. It seemed the slower they played the better they became, yet ‘Concubine’ and newie ‘No Light Escapes’ were played so fast and tight that you would think that if a band could play this style this well, then why would they ever want to expand their repertoire?!

But just pipping Converge to the punk rock post tonight were the Chariot, all the way from the US of A. I gave up watching the brilliant Listener for these dudes. For that I have to blame Willhaven, who mysteriously pulled out of the gig, thus unwillingly affecting the running order of the Punktastic stage for the majority of the day. So a coin was flipped and as luck would have it the Chariot won, so I nestled my aching feet down the front and waited to be impressed. I needn’t have worried about my choice. They were everything I have ever wanted to see in a hardcore/metalcore/whatever-core band. Utterly and tirelessly they laid down the ultimate punk rock show that I have ever witnessed. I had enjoyed Municipal Waste so much the day before, and to have a band better them today was pretty much down to the savvy booking of the Hevy organisers. An inspired choice of band.

Before I sign out, massive thanks have to go out to the Hevy team. I had all but given up on festivals years ago, and Hevy has rekindled my love affair with them. As a punter I found the atmosphere as chilled and well-organised as any festival could ever be. Thanks for the most awesome memories!

















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