Festival Review

Hevy Festival 2012
Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent
3rd - 6th August 2012

Taking place at Port Lyme Wild Animal Park Kent and featuring some fantastic bands Hevy 2012 was set to be a good festival with only one drawback, the Great British Summer, with a storm forecast to hit on Saturday.

The weekend would host bands on two alternating main stages sponsored by Rock Sound and Punktastic, plus the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage featuring contest winners from around the country. It was going to be an interesting and exciting weekend, with a wide variety of bands including Descendents, Deaf Havana, Meshuggah, the party animals Andrew WK, Hundred Reasons performing "Ideas Above Our Station" as an album set, and so much more.

As with all smaller festivals Hevy was chocked full of the little festival extra's, with a vast increase in merch stalls from the year before, including stalls by the US based Johnny Cupcakes, Dead, Big Deal Clothing, Friendnfoe, Hype Clothing, InTheDark, and of course the bands and Hevy merch stall. The guest area also included an Atticus stall offering free clothing and haircuts, as well as a licensed tattoo van in the main arena. If all that wasn't enough to set it apart from other festivals then maybe the free access to Port Lyme Wild Animal Park's complex would.

The first day of the festival suffered slightly due to massive traffic on the M25 in causing large delays. With Brighton three piece Gnarwolves kicking off the day at 2pm on the Punktastic stage with their "punk fucking punk" style, as well The Bots, and Never Means Maybe also suffering the brunt of the crowd reducing M25 delays.

Sharks (3/5) After a six hour drive from Bath we finally arrived in time to catch Sharks play their chilled indie style rock, mostly picking tracks from "No Gods", the band's debut full length album. Sharks will have come to many as a shock, with a much more mellow style than most of the line up, they could easily have been disregarded. However, very much to the contrary, they found themselves playing to a reasonable and highly impressed crowd throughout. The set, whilst unusual, sat as a perfect melodic break from the more thrashy nature of many of the bands to follow.

Trapped Under Ice (4/5) Trapped Under Ice came storming out in true hardcore style, blaring sound and absolutely explosive energy both on and off stage. Front man Justice Tripp was getting as much out of the crowd as they were out of the speakers, with constant interaction, with a crowd past the point of disenable control he settled for just throwing more fuel on the fire. Tracks like "Reality Unfolds" and "Pleased To Meet You" continued the battle between Justice and the crowd for vocal domination. With a slight reputation of hostility to the crowd from Justice, this could have been a worrying set but anyone who had no knowledge of the reputation would guess completely the opposite based on one of the top performance of the day if not the weekend.

Lower Than Atlantis (3.5/5) We have seen some great performances from LTA over the summer, and again they have kept up their high standard, with the added bonus of better sound than at NASS festival. Opening their set with "Motor(Way) Of Life" starting the crowd singing. Lower Than Atlantis were up to their usual tricks throwing the Foo Fighters medley in mid set and continuing to impress with their shortened "Everlong". The set also featured the high energy "Beech Like The Tree" and ended strongly with "Deadliest Catch", one of the most sing-along friendly songs of the weekend. However in spite of putting on a good set, and giving a good balance between energy and quality, they may have disappointed many of the fans from Hevy 2011 whom caused chaos, that show saw the crowd knock over the barrier, scale part of the tents supports, and trash the tent to the point of cutting the set short.

Deez Nuts (4/5) Deez Nuts where surrounded by some fantastic acts, with the likes of Trapped Under Ice storming the Punktastic stage before them and Lower Than Atlantis last year's definite stand out, playing immediately before them on the alternative stage in the main tent, and if that wasn't bad enough they were being followed by Deaf Havana. Yet somehow, amidst all of that Deez Nuts managed to stand out and raise the bar set by Trapped under Ice. With "I Hustle Everyday", the Australian hardcore band managed to revitalise and wear out the crowd in their failed attempt to keep up with vocalist J.J. Peters and the rest of the band before passing on the remains to Deaf Havana.

Deaf Havana (5/5) Following on from Deez Nuts wouldn't be easy for most bands but Deaf Havana destroyed every other band that played on the Friday. I'd caught them a year before at Slam Dunk festival on the Honour Over Glory stage and they put on a good set, and It's no secret that they were one of the band's I was looking forward to most but let me take a moment to explain the way me and photographer Neil Oliver award a 5 out of 5. 4 is flawless, and 5 is a concert beyond faultless, further more we both have to agree. Whilst I maybe slightly biased they weren't a band he was bothered about seeing. He got "Meet Me Half Way At Least" within two days of Hevy ending. They opened with "Youth In Retrospect" off of "Fools And Worthless Liars" the bands second studio album, with a more chilled nature. They followed up strongly with "Little White Lies", "Leeches" and "I Will Try" with James Veck-Gilodi's ability to write and sing things that are annoyingly catchy getting the crowd to sing along, and sadly I couldn't stop singing "Woah oh oh oh Woah oh oh oh" for two days. Bassist Lee Wilson and guitarist Chris Pennells adding some energy to the set as well as a few pints. James cracked a few jokes but didn't waste much time between songs. One such joke of the band was to say that touring keyboard player Mike had won a contest to play with them at Hevy, we later found out they neglected to mention to Mike they were going to say anything of the kind. Whilst they may have felt they weren't heavy enough for the festival they still put on a good show and "Nicotine And Alcohol Saved My Life" had many of the crowd stood mouth open in awe or singing along. The band ended the set on "The Past Six Years" before front man James came back to play an unplanned acoustic version of "Friends Like These" that I implore them to release. Not many bands have the courage to go to a show and not play their biggest song and it shows just how far they've come. That being said the acoustic track was the perfect way to end the set, everyone jumping and singing along, I even found myself arm to arm with someone I'd never met bellowing the song word for word at the top of our lungs. There was so much emotion on and off stage.

With the sun shining through for the 2nd day in a row it was hard to see how Deaf Havana's incredible set could be followed. However the day was off to a good start when the storm failed to show up, with the sun out and the Punktastic stage taking the main roll today with headliner's Andrew WK things were looking good.

I Divide (3/5) Exeter rock band I Divide were the second band to take to the Red Bull Stage. Playing though some of their debut CD "What's Worth More" I Divide were one of the bands that managed to get past the isolation issue of the Red Bull Stage with the crowd filling to the back of the tent. Even witnessing Guitarist Josh Wreford climbing the stage rigging in one of the crazier acts. The only drawback to the set was the sound issues the band suffered, meaning they couldn't perform to the best of their abilities. The sound was reasonable and the band didn't let the technical problems slow them down. Putting on a strong enough set to compel a few listens to their CD as well as the urge to see them without the sound problems, I Divide probably attracted a fair few new fans this weekend.

Devil Sold His Soul (4/5) With the bands third full length album "Empire of Light" due to come out later in the year it was no surprise the Punktastic stage started to draw a crowd before these UK post-hardcore rockers took to the stage. With Ed Gibbs impressively powerful melodic vocals during "A New Legacy" the second single of the new album getting a great response. Not only does he have a cracking singing voice but a scream that's up there with the best. The band also performed "No Remorse, No Regret" the first single from "Empire of Light" with the same electrifying energy as throughout their set, infecting all of the crowd. By the end of the set it was difficult to find someone who wasn't bobbing along, jumping or moshing, and it's no surprise as Devil Sold His Soul performed one of the tightest shows of the set.

Pianos Became The Teeth (3/5) Baltimore rock band Pianos Became The Teeth put on a memorable performance and got a lot of the crowd singing along as they worked though "The Lack Long After". It's hard to pinpoint what drew so much attention, whilst they put on a good show musically that doesn't stick given the high level of performances this weekend but there was a definite intensity and character to their set.

Rolo Tomassi (3/5) Starting their set off perfectly with "Howl" off the soon to be released "Astraea" with the song begining with a simple synthesizer riff played by James Spencer and building up, the song soon kicks in with Eva Spence's beasty scream that could scare a bear. They quickly followed with "Old Mystics" however sadly James's vocals were drowned out slightly. Getting most of the crowd clapping before starting "Oh, Hello Ghost" with Nathan Fairweather's bass driving the song. The performance was generally pretty good, with Eva jumping around on stage, however the show was pitchy at times and there was less of a rapport with the crowd than some of the other bands. Rolo Tomassi played a number of other songs including "Remancer", "Kasia" and ending the set strongly on the popular "Party Wounds". There were a number of impressive aspects of the set and there was a pretty large crowd however with such a strong line up Rolo Tomassi fell slightly short of the real standouts.

This Is Hell (3/5) Hardworking Long island band This Is Hell took a little while to get the crowd going but then they couldn't be stopped. They put on a high energy performance that left front man Travis Reilly fighting for the mic during "Permanence" the last song of the set. Like many of the hardiest working bands such as Young Guns, they put on a storming show and a tight set.

Set Your Goals (4/5) As one of the softer acts of the day one could wonder how Set Your Goals would go down. They soon played "The Fallen ..." and showed they were force to be reckoned with. Pop punk at their lightiest melodic hardcore at the heaviest Set Your Goals managed to get more out of the crowd than most bands at the festivals. As they played though a lot of songs from "This Will Be The Death Of Us" including "The Few That Remain" ,with guest vocals from Hailey Williams on CD which were well filled by tag team Matt Wilson and Jordan Brown. The crowd were literally flooding over the barrier trying to crowd surf, less than a minute apart. Inflatable beach balls were a well suited addition to the audiences manic nature as the Californian band bounced around on stage enjoying every minute. Every time I see this band they get better and better, a true highlight of the weekend for me and judging by the chaos many others.

Andrew WK (4/5) It came time for Hevy to be turned on its head by Andrew WK. If you think you've partied before, you’re wrong. Opening with "It's Time To Party" before moving straight into "Party Hard". The tent it's self might as well have been jumping up and down and singing along, as everyone was getting involved in the party. Somehow managing to top even Set Your Goals record of fans over the barrier. One flaw with playing the biggest hit so early was that a number of the crowd left, but many more were so engrossed in the party they couldn't help but stay. I don't know how to describe an Andrew WK set and if I tried to paint a picture it would come out looking like a Jackson Pollock (an Abstract artist) absolutely barmy. With everyone being lost in the party spirit Andrew WK managed to overrun and have the power cut to avoid breaking the curfew and sadly cutting them off mid way though "Head Bang". Guitarist Erik Payne managed to squeeze a little bit more out of the crowd by coming back to thrash out a few more licks by himself and causing a huge vocal eruption. Whilst many songs are very similar Andrew WK put on a fun set that keeps you bouncing up and down.

Bury Tomorrow (3.5/5) Started the set with a few technical problems but soon sorted out the issue. The melodic hardcore band dealt well with the problems and put on a fantastic show, like Devil Sold His Soul they stood out with a mix of melodic and shouty vocals. In spite of losing a couple of songs and having the final one cut off mid way though they managed to get a massive mosh pit. Definitely one to see on tour, with no technical issues and the added bonuses of intimacy and improved sound that comes with non-festival gigs this band could truly show what they’re capable of.

Balance And Composure (3.5/5) With three guitars Balance And Composure's punk style carries a massive force that doesn't entirely come though on their debut album .... Whilst a battered and worn out crowd didn't move to much they showed their affections by constantly applauding the set. The same can't be said of the bassist ... who was practically bouncing off the walls.

Glassjaw (4/5) One of the biggest disappointments of the weekend came with this set. Putting on a CD perfect set, with the weight, talent and energy that is simply Glassjaw, this was not mirrored by the crowd. With a few mosh pits breaking out but nothing that truly rewarded one of the best performances of the weekend. This being my first Glassjaw gig I was impressed by how insanely good the sound was as they played "You Think You're John F***ing Lennon" before moving on to the slower "Ape Dos Mil" bellowed back by the entire crowd word for word. "Siberian Kiss" was the perfect end to a perfect set that left me and everybody else wanting more.

Meshuggah (3.5/5) Being one of the senior acts of the weekend as well as a big influence to many that took the stage before them Meshuggah came out in true metal style. With an absolute wall of sound as guitarists Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten are stood in the classic power stance chugging away. With the first notable light show Meshuggah were going in true professional style that left me wondering why they were’nt one of the weekends headliners, added to by the eruption of the audience with circle pits and many taking the tumble over the barrier as they crowd surfed. They played about half of their set from "Koloss" the album they released earlier in the year, opening with "Demiurge" but they also fit in some older classics such as "Future Breed Machine", " New Millennium Cyanide Christ" and "Bleed". It's hard to sum up with anything other than standard or what you would expect but when you talk about a set by a band of Meshuggah's calibre and reputation it has a whole new meaning.

As it came to the final day the weather managed pull though once again which served to be the cherry on top of this incredible weekend. Once again the band's managed to set the bar high for the following day with Set Your Goals and Andrew WK getting the crowd to go insane, not to mention a flawless set by Glassjaw. How much more did this festival have to offer? The answer a lot.

Reachback (3/5) Managing to stumble away from the main tent trap only to see the Red Bull stage crowded to the back by west Essex pop punk quartet Reachback". As they;re not a band I've heard of before they came as a pleasant surprise, particularly vocalist Ruby Williams strong clean voice and even more so her confidence getting the crowd to sing "W.H.O.R.E" from "Whore at The Space" even pressing for everyone to participate. The band churned out a few catchy lines and looked like they were enjoying every moment. If the band keeps playing shows like that we might soon see them being upgraded to the main stage.

Attack! Vipers! (3/5) Kicked off the final day at the Punktastic stage with their own brand of thrashy fast paced hardcore, and spent all of about 3 seconds before singer Joe left the stage to bellow the vocals face to face with the fans stood at the barrier.

Night Verses (5/5) After we left this set we went and arranged to see them just over a week later on their UK tour, I suggest you do the same.

The Chariot (4.5/5) The word energy has been used to describe quite a few bands this weekend, and so has a good crowd response, more so than any festival I've been to in fact. But The Chariot were on a different level with front man Josh Scogin jumping around as if he'd broke into the Red Bull supply and drank it all himself. The performance was as fierce as their music, and the crowd couldn't help but join in the fun.

Hundred Reasons (4/5) With little more than a handful of shows remaining in their career after deciding to call it a day I was worried. When a band says they've had enough of playing, you feel like they don't enjoy it anymore and that's what you expect from the set. But I could not have been more wrong. Playing an "Ideas Above Our Station" as an album set absolutely flawlessly and with so much emotion. "Avalanche" leaving only Colin Doran and Larry Hibbitt onstage was incredibly moving. The intense show combined with it being the last chance any one may have of seeing them again made it send shivers down your spine, whilst many stood in awe they got the respect and send off they deserved.

Converge (4/5) As the last act to take to the Punktastic Stage for a year Converge had a huge responsibility, given what that stage had housed this weekend, Andrew WK, Deez Nuts, The Chariot and many more. They lived up to the role as well as their reputation for putting on a good show. Playing though the hits on their lengthy backlog of albums to a completely packed tent got the crowd in to a flurry ready for Descendents.

Descendents (4/5) Punk rock veterans Descendents picked up right where Converge left off, and finished the show in style. Like Converge they blasted from hit to hit, opening with "Everything Sucks". "Coffee Mug" and "When I got old" seemed to hit many of the old scores back into nostalgia central. Having been on and off since 78 they've truly mastered how to put on a show. Having missed a large amount of their career due to age I feel like this didn't mean quite as much to me as many other's but it was a faultless show that got everybody involved. They kept up a high energy set of a whooping 26 songs ending on "I'm Not A loser" before being dragged back on stage by the roars of the crowd to finish off the festival with a faultless version of "Descendents". The crowd managed to dig deep to find the energy the performance deserved. If there's a lesson on how to play a gig to an entire festival you wouldn't find many better examples.

As a whole the festival was organised brilliantly and I'm sure that the rain wouldn't have changed that. It's been a truly incredible weekend, with only one slight drawback. The main tent trap, As bands are alternating on the main stage there's very little time between sets. This was great, but since all of the bigger bands were in the one tent and playing only minutes apart I found myself reluctant to stroll over and see some of the Red Bull bands. A small blip on a great festival and a line up that was both strong on paper and in practice with everyone performing brilliantly.

Alternative Vision at Hevy Festival 2012 By Neil Oliver

Review By Marc Rich
Video By Neil Oliver

 Hevy Festival 2012

Hevy Festival 2012
Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent
3rd - 6th August 2012

 Friday - Rock Sound

Deaf Havana
Lower Than Atlantis
The James Cleaver Quintet
Our Time Down Here
The Bots

 Friday - Punktastic Stage

Deez Nuts
Trapped Under Ice
Reign Supreme
Bleed From Within
Last Witness

 Saturday - Rock Sound

Norma Jean
A Wilhelm Scream
Set Your Goals
Pianos Become The Teeth
Balance and Composure
War From A Harlots Mouth
Martyr Defiled
The Social Club

 Saturday - Punktastic Stage

Andrew WK
Municipal Waste
This Is Hell
Rolo Tomassi
Devil Sold His Soul
Bury Tomorrow
Feed The Rhino
The Safety Fire

 Saturday - Red Bull Stage

The Long Haul
Dead Harts
Golden Tanks
I Divide
Strangle Kojak

 Sunday - Rocksound

Hundred Reasons
7 Seconds
Cruel Hand
Night Verses
Mallory Knox

 Sunday - Punktastic Stage

Will Haven
The Chariot
Rise and Fall
Suis La Lune
Lewd Acts
Worms Feed
Attack! Vipers!

 Sunday - Red Bull Stage

Vinnie Caruana
Hawk Eyes
The Smoking Hearts
Mechanical Smile
The Jellycats

 Event Related Links
 Review Score Code
- Top Cheese
- Brilliant
- Pretty damn good
- Ok I guess
- What Was That?