Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Take Me Down. Review of Takedown Festival 2015

Takedown 2015
Ft. Black Peaks ***1/2** Hawkeyes***** InMe***** Rolo Tomassi ****1/2* Arcane Roots ***** And more
Southampton University, Saturday 7th March

Well, It's been a while since I've pulled the quill out and emptied my brain bin's foetid and oozing contents onto the page in celebration of live rock music (other ongoing but exciting music projects have got in the way). But, I'm glad to be out of the enforced semi-retirement to be back at Southampton Uni for what promises to be a splendid and diverse day.

However, true to form and due to the tardy arrival of certain colleagues, I'm a bit late starting, so sadly miss the playful and always good value Zoax.

So, cheap Cider in hand, it's into action and into the Stygian gloom of The Cube...
Black Peaks ***1/2** 
A cracking start to the day. A grungy, dirty, hugely enjoyable, twisty and turny journey through post-rock forest, mathy meadow and heavy hollow. So many influences and reference points. Think Bovine and Mastodon chucked into a silage tank then mixed with a good sludgy dollop of Intronaut and more than a whiff of Katatonia and Karnivool with surprising traces of Mogwai and even Blakfish. 

Throughout, mustachioed charismatic front man Will Gardner impressively growls, cajoles, spellbinds and assaults ears and arseholes alike cutting sharply across the deep and involved grungescape.

A curious but surprisingly original and very fertile mixture. Can't wait to see how it matures and develops.

So, a quick waddle over to the main stage in the scout hut to see Alt metal spacey, fantasy-soused genuine top geezer legends playing their seminal masterpiece Overgrown Eden.  

A surprisingly early mid Saturday afternoon football kick off slot hasn't stopped the punters careering through the turnstiles and a packed, sweaty room welcomes the Essex lads with the fervour normally reserved for a lager-pickled home end at Upton Park (or whatever the fuck it's called these days). Mercifully without bubbles - but with huge swollen rock God balls in their stead.

The set is delivered perfectly, energetically and with huge clown-face grins. So stunning to think this record was produced so long ago. And it hasn't aged a bit. Still sounding fresher than a newly baked baguette smothered in that delicious French butter (never tastes the same over here). The playing, as one would expect from such sensational musicians is note-for-note perfect even allowing for Dave's mildly anachronistic flabby phased, flanged guitars on the slower ones. Just splendid though. Splendid.

And to top off the loveliness, as an extra treat Mr Mikey Chapman from the fenland parish of Mallory Knoxville joins the boys on stage for a rip-roaring canter through Faster The Chase. Pure, timeless class throughout and an appetite whetter for the forthcoming tour and imminent epic triple long player. Brilliant stuff.

I fucking love these bums. Unreconstructed, straight up and down, honest genital furtling and squeezing ballsy rock and roll. Massive riffs. Just massive. A truly dirty, filthy, hairy, sordid and brutal onslaught but with the heart the size of a watermelon.

Playing the Obsidian stage rather than a more apt dingy, Jager-soaked hovel may not be the greatest venue for this blend of filth, but the boys manfully career through their canon of huge riff bombs with the new material off the sublime Everything Is Fine album regardless of the brightly lit, 'oh-so-funky' student bar setting.

Honest and truthful brilliance. Oh yus.

Rolo Tomassi ****1/2*
There's nobody on the planet that comes close to this crazed, mashed-up, amalgamated and generally fucked-upness of this oh so special quintet. Seamlessly mixing mathcore, noise rock, jazz, screamo, metal, (and its core cousin), industrial electronica, brass band, kazoo orchestra and roadworks, the Spence siblings front up a truly original and breathtaking and magical melange that has to be on everyone's bucket list.

The tiny and hyperactive Eva quacks, barks, roars and seduces as she almost epileptically spasms, contorts, flounces and hurls herself around like a crazed acrobat full of crack and speedballs being repeatedly stung up the arse by killer hornets. All backed with such tight and surgically sharp heaviness and power and mind melting electonic beeps, farts, burps and pads.

New drummer Tom Pitts ably takes over the reins from the departed Ed Dutton and pilots this fucked up tossing and turning heavily armed Hadean torpedo boat  through the tumultuous and brilliant set. The new tunes aired, serve only to whet the slavering appetite even more for the next stage of this truly unique band's sensational career. Amazing stuff.


Arcane Roots *****
Next in the main stage scout hut are the incredible Surrey shredders Arcane Roots and they've come armed with an arsenal of new claymores, IEDs and napalm cluster bombs to launch into the packed hall alongside their tried and tested weapons of choice from the remarkable Blood & Chemistry and its equally incendiary predecessor, Left Fire.

And what results is just ridiculous. Carnage. Destruction. Sodom and Gomorrah. But laser guided, precise and flawlessly executed destruction. Not random bomb tossing. Oh no. The playing, is, as always, flawless; as are Andrew Groves' searing and razor wire sharp vocals. 

All the way through, from the chugging splendour of Resolve through to the brooding malevolence and brilliance of Million Dollar Que$tion, the set is so beautifully and cleverly constructed. The pits open up, the bodies gyrate and contort: like Picasso's Guernica, there's a distorted, abstract, challenging  and chaotic discomfort but the overall effect is mesmerising and, frankly,  just remarkable.

And if the hugely anticipated new album is even one iota as brilliant as the freshly baked genius of If Nothing (Breaks Us, Nothing Moves), then the very cream of British rock music will be giving birth to one of the greatest rock records imaginable. I can't bloody wait.

Seriously, live rock music doesn't get any better. Any.

So, That's the main stuff that I have managed to see. I must admit after the total splendour of Arcane Roots, everything else is going to suffer by withering comparison. But Moose Blood**1/2*** and the always beautifully harmonised Decade***** strut their pop-punky, alt-infused rifftastic stuff with aplomb. The Blackout***** emotionally do their thang for the last time at a festival. Charlie Simpson***1/2** strums and croons through a typically melodic and mellow collection of niceness and I'm sure the always fabulous Mallory Knox slay it with their classy brand of pop rock - but by this time I am otherwise involved with beverages and chats with other boozers, losers and jacuzzi users and frankly too pissed to care.

But, once again, Takedown have produced, curated and delivered a spectacular day. The feel-good vibe here is like nowhere else. Brilliant diversity. Good friends. A top, top day. Oh, and did I mention how bloody amazing Arcane Roots were.

Now, if only they were doing a 30 odd date UK tour soon....

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