Sunday, 4 August 2013

Ash in The Pan. Burnout Festival live review.

Burnout Festival (The Ashes)
The Anvil
Bournemouth Saturday 27th-Sunday 28th July

Right, let's get the grotty stuff out of the way first. The regrettable cancellation of what was potentially the UK's best small festival line up with around 80 bands over three stages over a couple of days at the seaside. A genuine tragedy for all concerned, the bands, the fans the organising team, and in particular Dom Patience the main man and brainchild behind the event. A more genuine man you couldn't choose to meet. And a genuine music man through and through. 

The reasons for cancellation were candidly and heartbreakingly broken by the team only 5 or so days before the event. Poor ticket sales being the premier spanner in the works. Maybe not totally unsurprising given the clash with relatively local Redfest with many of the bands due to appear here also on the bill in Redhill. Add in the almost uncontrollable heated bacterial growth of the number of festivals up and down the country at this time of year and things were always going to be tough.

That all said, it's to Patience's enormous credit that he rallied around and persuaded half a dozen bands on each night to heroically volunteer their services for free. So further big ups to all the talent who so generously put their shoulders behind Patience to make the weekend become unmissable.

Ok, that's the last time we'll mention all that malarky. So on with the shows.

But first a brief word about the Anvil. This is a small venue. Brilliant. But small. No, really small. Fritzl's dungeon small. It makes the Barfly look like Madison Square Gardens. But armed with a sizeable bugger of a front of house PA, what it lacks in size, it makes up for with balls. Anyway, onwards... 


Shockmaster *****
Kicking off proceedings in the dungeon are the brain-wronged skate punk bin men Shockmaster with the ever-loveable and cheeky bastard Mike Foster driving the dysfunctional dustcart. 

A short, fiery, fun-filled bombardment including new fast ones and new slow ones and even a skirmish with death metal (which could have been lifted from The Hell's savage new album download it here) serve as a perfect appetiser for the good-sized sweaty crowd. Foster is in hilarious form. Witty, quick, endearing, ribald and always beguiling. And although I can't work out whether they're just a novelty act, they're really not bad. In a brain-wronged skate punk bin men kind of way. 

Have a listen to their latest Steve Sears Jr-produced  EP here and you'll get the picture.

Tasting notes: They remind me of that rotten pickled cabbage stuff that Koreans eat; Kim Chi. On the face of it, bloody horrible, but somehow irresistible.

Earth Eater *****
A right old interesting melange. Flash, heavy riffs, growly powerful aggressive vocals, big rhythm section. More Parkway Crescent than Parkway Drive, but energetic, tight and even throw in a solo. Had a few sound issues but brave and engaging effort.

Tasting notes: A hot and relatively subtly spiced, fiery bowl of devilled offal. A bit confusing but with enough difference to generate interest. Nothing too startlingly original but pretty tasty all said.

Emily Wilson ***1/2**
Next up on this mainly hardcore/punky/brutal evening is the diminutive but huge-piped Emily Wilson and her band. Anomalous and incongruous as though their blend of frothy pop rock is on a night like tonight, it's actually rather jolly good.

Cleanly sparkling in among the torn flesh, briars, napalm and vicious weaponry of the other acts, her voice is majestic; hitting every note and soaring above the chuggy Bon Jovi/Rainbow MOR dad rock her backing band thump out effortlessly. The songs are hooky, backed with laptop-triggered strings, harmonies and pads and despite a dreadfully out of tune acoustic guitar on a nostalgic pared-down number about being 17, the set is polished and tasty. Out of the same biscuit tin as Portia Conn and even slight hints of Paramore chocolate chips. Cracking voice though.

Tasting notes: Silky but not sickly. One of those enormous cartoon book ice cream sundaes, but spiked with sneaky bits of raw meat and the occasional shard of glass. 

Palm Reader *****
So, after the schmoove pop rock grooves of Emily Wilson, it's time to strip to the waist, don the war paint and get into some brutal hand-to-hand combat in the swampy dungeon. The AC unit is spewing out a stream of water to add to the steamy, brooding Louisianna backwoods Deliverance feeling. I fear for my anus.

Despite ongoing mic problems, front man man Josh Mckeown leads his horrible horde into a savage assault. The crowd move up a gear turning into a seething, boggy murky lake of sweaty humanity baying back the words and swallowing up Mckeown into its guts.

Palm Reader force feed themselves on metal, hardcore, vicious punk, claymores, flick knives and caustic soda then bulimically vomit the malodorous and fiery fois gras gack all back into the swirling swamp; and they slurp up the unholy mixture greedily.

One of the human swamp actually gets stark bollock naked at one point; to win an anorak. Standard. Which sums up the stygian squalor of the set. Dark, fierce, mean and festering.

Tasting notes: a filthy but full-flavoured stew of red meat with bramble thorns, sharp gravel and bile reduced and enriched with chilli seeds and ear wax (and we all know how bitter that tastes don't we kids?). Disgusting, but bizarrely, hugely appetising.

Out of the same section of the illegal arms supermarket as buddies Palm Reader, Polar are the next nuclear fuel tipped into Fritzl's furnace. And they get things even hotter. Just when you think the level has reached its upper limit, the Guildford noseniks perform open heart surgery on the soggy, hyped up rabid crowd with a dirty crowbar, chainsaw and rusty razor blades. This is high energy, raw filth with big refrains and as near to hooks as hardcore can offer. 

The crowd, however do strangely start to wane a little as the relentless barrage continues and the mic, once more joins them in not getting fully involved. But Adam Woodford heroically powers on through, wringing what he can out of both the technology and the crowd. A full-on energetic set from one of the UK's most full-on energetic bunch of blokes.

Tasting notes: powerful and full-on chilli con carne with rusty tacks, rat poison and semtex served on a bed of mescalin infused maggots in a corroded jagged artillery shell casing. Fierce.

Touring with both Palm Reader and Polar, Hertfordshire''s  brutal but quirky Heights are given the task of closing tonight's sweaty sodomy fest. There are obvious similarities to the other two bands, but their fare is more varied. More full of nuance and dare I say, subtlety. 

Their work appears more carefully crafted. There are more melodic moments. More light and shade. Don't get me wrong, they're still fearsome and dripping with ferocity but there are more textures. More depth. More intrigue.

The crowd are bullied back into life. Pyramids, circle pits, walls of death and general mayhem ensue with singer Alex Monty milking the adulation from the now dripping and wrung-out throng.

The classiest act of the night by a distance and set for bigger stages (although compared to here, that's not difficult). By the time the last bowel pummelling power chord and scream fades into the fuggy, humid haze there isn't an unsoaked shirt, an untortured limb or unhoarse throat in the subterranean reactor. Hot, heady and handsome stuff.

Tasting notes: On the face of it a what you'd expect deep brown, volcanic vindaloo-looking bowl of fire. But under the surface there's a huge variety of spices, colours and flavours. Quirky mixtures and brave juxtapositions of seemingly unworkable ingredients. But well fucking tasty.

Now for the after party...


Really glad I baled earlyish from on the after party. 

But still managed to appropriate a vast bin-shaped hangover.

Before I dive into today's bands, in keeping with last year's Burnout review where the mighty Shahi Raj got 5 stars, I thought I should run the rule over a local restaurant.

Dosa World *****
This year, it's the turn of Dosa World.

Clay oven-baked spicy fish. Think Tool. Sophisticated but big on flavour. With background quirky and original taste of Meet Me In St Louis. Mutton curry: deep, rich, delicious. Think Mastodon crossed with early Sabbath with a light sprinkling of Enter Shikari or At The Drive in. Devil potatoes: Definitely the Reuben of the meal. Like nothing else. Fiery but sweet in places. Merlot: think Chet Baker and Maybeshewill. Mellow with edge. Right that's quite enough of that, back to the real food...

Mike Foster*****
He's back. Flat cap 'n' all. But just with his acoustic this time and no fellow bin men. And funny as fuck. Skewy sidewipes at Nike dunk wearing hardcore kids, fun, wit, bant, sweat. Bin. Great start to the night.

Tasting notes: A zinger burger (remember them?) and a jumbo bucket of chicken wings. Served with spicy relish spiked with African Black Bush Giggle Grass or a Thai stick (ask your dad kids) oh, and some more of that Korean Kim Chi shit. Tasty fun.

Pump Action Radio *****
Next up we're treated to Fall Out Boy. Well, it might as well be. With perhaps a dash of Funeral For a Friend. Ok, maybe a bit unfair, but despite the apparent lack of total originality, these local lads bravely steam through a tight, drop tuned rocky punky set that showcases the singer's good, strong voice. Nowt too new but a good effort.

Tasting notes: Sugar coated vanilla with a comforting familiarity. No real bite or spice, but ultimately reasonably satisfying. More McDonalds than Michelin star.

One of the absolute highlights of last year's Burnout, there's a real anticipation in the bunker as the kings of librarycore take to the stage.

Unlike the similarly young Pump Action Radio, Yearbook truly are original. Totally impossible to categorise, they bestride bundles of influences but usually only fleetingly. For a nanosecond you're being Weezered. Then, there's a sharp veering towards the choppy math rock of Brontide. But the very next moment there's the powerful aroma of Sikth or Flood Of Red. And the resultant melange is wonderful, heady and spellbinding.

They're so tight and full of chops and groove. Bolstered by big sphincter-loosening bass drops and illuminated by what looks like wartime searchlights. This is a sensory overload. 

However, Andy Halloway's normally ├╝ber-impressive vocals, which famously effortlessly switch between crystal clear almost soprano to spine-shuddering screams and even rock diva are unfortunately a little off kilter tonight as even the emergency vocal spray fails to fully oil his mojo. Nevertheless, the enthusiastic crowd sing just about every word of the older tunes and Louis Martin the bass player, backing vox, head groundsman, bottle washer and lighting controller manfully steps in when it's just too challenging for Halloway's howls.

Saying that, there's well enough of the crooner's range that remains unaffected so the overall output is only minutely interfered with. Hamish Dickinson's drumming is razor sharp throughout and with Brooker and Halloway's duelling guitars being so umbilically linked, the overall effect is as mesmerising as it is delicious.

A couple of new tunes are thrown in among the crowd-pleasing favourites Visionary, Art Student, the raw and brilliant All Squares and Circles culminating with the not too regularly aired 3s and 6s. And it's brilliant. Simply, well, not really simply at all, brilliant.

Tasting notes: more of a surprising and complex cocktail than something to eat. Sharp, multi-layered, sophisticated yet playful and laced with mind-altering elixirs, unctions and magical potions. Impossible to accurately describe but astonishingly intoxicating. Cheers. Hic.

Idiom ***1/2**
Hairy pop/alt metal next. There are moments of generic fare, but they're fully outweighed by the overall variety in the offering. Ranging from dubby/rappy interludes to Robert Plantesque vocal gymnastics from singer Matt Sharland, Idiom have bags of energy and aren't afraid to mix old with new, optimistic daylight with doom laden dominatrix dungeon gloom and even unsavoury fisting with passionate caressing. And all delivered with genuine and honest passion.

Think Terrovision and Bullet For My Valentine's bastard lovechild brought up by Korn and forced to listen to A and REO Speedwagon but with Dimebag on guitar. A fucked up kid maybe, but genuinely interesting and refreshing. 

Tasting notes: Beer. Cold, pilsner beer. But mixed with  a foaming hoppy old farty Scruttock's ale. Then topped up with spiced rum. And washed down with after shave. A bit weird but ultimately powerful and distinctive. 

The Smoking Hearts *****
Smoking hearts on sleeve more like. You always know what you're going to get from Ben Mills and his noisy bastard sidekicks. And honest, frenzied, genuine and full-on passion fest. Certainly not dimmed lights, nibbles on the neck and chocolates passion; more like a clothes ripping salivating, screaming, chandelier-swinging brutalisation jiz explosion kind of passion. With a ski mask and a butt plug. And, ladies and gents, that's what we get tonight. No respite, no tenderness, no time to catch breath or sip from the flute of love. A sound fucking. Even with a brutal Rolling Stones cover thrown in as lube. Ow.

Tasting notes: Impossible to equate with food. More like a Lemmy-esque menu of bags of speed, handfuls of amphetamines, gallons of Jack Daniels, lashings of poppers and a cherry Bakewell. Without the cherry Bakewell. 

Arcane Roots *****
For these boys to agree to do this show speaks volumes about their support, not just for Mr Patience, but for music itself. After recently supporting Muse in European Stadia, having produced what's already clearly the album of the year and rapidly becoming the musicians' favourite musicians and careering headlong for what looks like well-deserved superstardom, the chance to see them perform in something the size of your nan's under stair cupboard is to much of a mind fuck to contemplate. But here they bloody well are.

The hum that kicks off Energy Is Never Lost just Redirected has become a staple of an AR set starter now and fuels the heightened anticipation of a now packed under stair cupboard.

Then it kicks off. The best part of an hour of total, unmitigated genius. The big numbers from Blood and Chemistry are given airings including the searing Sacred Shapes, the mega-chuggy half time infused Resolve and the delicious single Slow (sadly no Triptych as yet, but Mr Groves did promise to unveil its live glory at the fabulous Arc Tan Gent festival later this month). Old favourite You Are brings the house down as tapped riff as it lurches its head from the dreamy loch of Andrew Groves' improvised noodlings.  

Groves' incredible voice has never sounded better. The highs almost dog-whistle range and the control and soul is peerless. As always it's wonderfully counterpointed by Adam Burton's canine barks and growls. The hypnotised crowd lose their collective shit pretty much constantly throughout the set generating a superheated sweat box with cider and Sailor Jerry infused condensation dripping from the ceiling. And just about every word is sung back  passionately. What an end to a phenomenal and breathless weekend.

Arcane Roots are, without a doubt one of the very finest bands in the UK, no, fuck it, the world. After decades of going to literally hundreds, if not thousands of shows, I find it hard to recall anyone better. And on the strength of tonight's amazing performance, they're managing somehow to perfect perfection. Astonishing. Simply Astonishing.

Tasting notes: the finest hand-massaged fillet steak sizzled in the finest vintage Grand Cru Pauillac prepared by the finest chefs and served with the most piquant and eye-watering reduction imaginable. All class. But this is no languid, indulgent and gluttonous bacchanalian or sybaritic vulgar orgy; nah, it's psychopathically fucked up with meth, fire, brimstone, weapons grade uranium and so much scotch bonnet spice it makes your nob throb even without  touching it. Masterful.

So, that wraps up what was left of Burnout. I can't stress enough how amazing it was of all the bands to put their hands up to play over the weekend. Their selfless, ego-less support truly marks them out as genuine and remarkable human beings. The same obviously goes for Dom Patience and his small but dedicated team. 

Let's hope that he doesn't lose the faith that so many brilliant (and some shit) bands have benefitted from over the years. I know he has plans and dreams for next year. Let's hope they come true. For all our sakes.

In the meantime, here's a pissed up iPhone video thingy of the weekend.

More tunes soon, Bwoooar!

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