It might be an annual tryst but there was even more subterfuge to the subversion of this year’s DIY underground punk festival with it being at a secret location. You didn’t have to turn up with a pink carnation or black and red rose in your lapel though, a lot of the regulars were always going to come back on this date, it was only through limiting the numbers to the ever expanding success story that it had to be somewhat hidden.
A lovely peaceful, relatively isolated, location would leave us largely undisturbed for this weekend’s mayhem (although some sensitive souls in the area might not rest so easy). When I turned up early on the Friday to help/hinder the preparations I was amazed at the huge field setting, reminded me of Bloodstock. Three stages each with their own style, lots of stalls and displays giving it a great carnival atmosphere, even if there was no meat eating. I wasn’t able to stay for the first evenings bands but returned for the full day session on the Saturday
the afternoon gentlemen
First I caught Black Light Mutants at the Dirty Stage. There was a lot of ingredients I could appreciate here, with their mix of digital hardcore with strident punk, but think they need a bit more time to tighten up their show and stage presence. Much more seasoned crusty veterans Vitriolic Response drew a big crowd and a worthy positive response. Fattened up their sound with two guitars now it was real steamrolling power. Chewed Up on the Pumpkin stage have a good deal of solid power but still mix in some skanking rhythms. Like bad sharpened pennies our local angry men Spam Javelin had been thrown in as a late addition to the line-up, and although the tent was a bit quieter they still gave their usual humorous and charged show, with some really driving tunes among the waves of psych guitar noise. In the afternoon a pleasant return for some more old-schoolers, This System Kills up from the other end of Wales, again they know how to crafty a shout along hardcore punk song and the sun shines on their righteousness! Agnosy I‘d seen before at a Scumfest in London a while back but was freshly blown away by the impact of their raging melodic crust, probably the band of the weekend for my particular tastes. Had heard good stuff about Petrol Girls (two of the four are) and they were a great melodic punk treat, fierce vocals added to by the gravitas about talking about a rape experienced. Prolefeed from the north east are heavy hardcore, really charging along, well crafted violence. Mixing things up a bit towards the thrash metal end of the spectrum are Suicide Watch, who are relentless and cutting through with their sharp shock songs. In contrast out on the Pumpkin Faintest Idea have a great dub-ska vibe enhanced with a superb brass section, great party vibes. The Afternoon Gents were one of the highlights of the event in Wrexham a couple of years back and, as they did then, demonstrate the open-mindedness of the attendees in the unbridled enjoyment of their gruff grind chaos. The Laggan have a very Oirish drinking punk feel, entertaining enough and gets the crowd in the mood. Northern scum Extinction of Mankind are a brute force in crust punk, a proper wall of wall smashing noise thundering along. Anti System remain on form since their recent resurrection, with the d beat power ruling their hardcore punk riffing and keeping all motivated into the night. Over on Wango’s many are looking forward to more South Wales action from Grand Collapse, and they don’t fail to fire things up with their progressive hardcore with cutting lyrical onslaught, any nod to Propagandhi a winner in my book. Local scumbags Rat Arsed provide us with an “aftershow“ playing their punk classics covers set and I enjoy in my messy state, despite the prejudices I face 😉 . End in the trippy weirdness of the Wildwood stage, with its orientation to the more folk and acoustic end of the punk/alternative spectrum, with dub vibes grooving us along to… well, sometime in the morning
Sunday is eased back into, with lengthy queues for the vegan breakfasts and a general gathering and chilling of happy hungover people. Just the thing to aid digestion is some grind’n’roll from yours truly and Emissaries of Syn, and even with a blisteringly condensed set we were very pleased with the show and response. The welcome Polish migrants of Picasso Blot gave us some raw and furious punk next, with harsh vocals to match their abrasive riffing. Autopsy Boys on the pumpkin stage was an odd contrast with their mix of almost electronic dance with riffing. Last band of the day before an early exit for me was Regret, up from Bristol. And what a highpoint to finish on as their mix of sludge and punk raging was superbly crafted and shook us to the roots, with singer Dean taking it too the crowd as usual.
extinction of mankind
All accounts were that there were no disappointments for the rest of it, and while all punters raved about this being one of the biggest and best of the events so far, it may well be pushed on its travels by NIMBY’s once more. When and where shall we meet again? Who cares, let’s just get down and dirty!