Handmade Festival 2017 Announce First Wave of Bands

The first acts announced for Handmade Festival 2017 are:

Twin Atlantic

Frightened Rabbit

British Sea Power

Pulled Apart By Horses

Honeyblood

JAWS

Muncie Girls

Tigercub

Puppy

Idles

Handmade Festival will be held at the O2 Academy in Leicester on the weekend of 29th and 30th April 2017.

Tickets are £40 per adult, £30 per student and £20 per under 16, and are available from handmadefestival.co.uk

Keep an eye out for further announcements!

2000 Trees – The Full Review

This is a special year for 2000 Trees festival. As it celebrates its 10th birthday as a festival it also bares witness to not only its biggest line up to date but also a ridiculously high attendance that fully solidifies itself as a growing and important British festival.

 

Thursday

The Thursday kicks off with Max Raptor (8) delivering a feisty set at The Cave that gets everything going in tremendous fashion. It’s genuinely refreshing to see an opening band bring this much energy, as it really sets a fantastic vibe for not only the rest of the festival but also for young newcomers Milk Teeth (7). Having released Vile Child this year to universal praise, Milk Teeth’s set is strong if a little choppy with regards to pace. An ill placed Kabuki ruins the momentum the band gathered with their opening songs, but it is regained by the time Crows Feet kicks in.

13612327_1799778786904095_474079429115533233_n
Milk Teeth on The Cave stage – Photo by Jade Falconer

Over on The Axiom stage, Rob Lynch (6) delivers his acoustic melodies with relative success, sounding good but the scarce crowd not overly enthused. If nothing else his set serves as a relaxing half hour before Black Peaks (9) waltz along to blow everyone before them out the water. The stupendous vocal delivery steals the show, with Glass Built Castles becoming a theatrical welcoming of the apocalypse. The band sound incredibly tight, the vocals continuously impress throughout and the crowd loses its collective shit for them, so it all in all a massive success.

It’s a shame that We Were Promised Jetpacks (6) have to follow them because their set certainly fails to live up to expectations. The tracks come short, not quite hitting the emotional mark they were aiming for, and with a set that sees them stretching songs far beyond their intended length makes it all a bit boring after a while. Ireland’s own And So I Watched You From Afar (7) manage to pick up the energy rather well as they follow on. Not having a singer doesn’t seem to stop them controlling the crowd with ease, as the pit swells and crashes with each riff. The songs however are repetitive enough for them to start to become boring if you aren’t already familiar with them.

The not-so-secret headline slot of Frank Turner (8) sees The Axiom tent absolutely packed out. The moment Frank, armed with just his guitar, walks on stage the crowd loses it’s mind and remains captivated for the rest of the set. Performing a slightly altered version of the England Keep My Bones album, it serves as a special set for all those present, and despite losing some momentum towards the tail end of the set, it finishes with an almighty sing along that immediately stands as an early highlight of the weekend. It remains all fun and games though until The Bronx (9) begin their vicious headline slot over at The Cave. Remaining modern-day punk legends, the band deliver a set that is firmly set at 100mph and does not let up for the first 30 minutes. The Unholy Hand is a spite filled middle finger to the religious establishment and White Guilt serves as a welcome reprise before the band slam it right back into overdrive. The performance is effortless, the level of enjoyment is clearly displayed on the face of every single person in attendance and when you see steam pouring off the heads of every band member on stage, it truly indicates a phenomenal end to the first day.

13669058_1799777590237548_7428688569079202627_n
Frank Turner delivering a stunning set on The Axion stage – Photo by Jade Falconer

 

Friday

With Thursday off to such a cracking success and everyone clearly still riding the high from the previous night, Press To Meco (8) are quick to capitalise on it. Playing early on The Axiom means the tent isn’t as packed as one would like for a band of such talent but tracks like Honestly and Autopsy impress everyone present and the band undoubtedly leave with more fans than when they arrived. Over at The Cave, Trash Boat (7) begin a set that comes off the back of a sweaty headline tour with WSTR in tow, but they remain still full of energy. Their recent album Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through fuelled the majority of their set. Opening with How Selfish I Seem, the atmosphere is tangible and the floor erupted into a pit. Top tracks from previous releases like Perspective and Boneless brought on lots of crowd interaction. The only issue with the set is a slightly unavoidable one. Trash Boat’s updated style dominated by heavy punk and harsh vocals leaves the set more inaccessible for those unfamiliar with the band. It’s a show for the fans, but a damn good one.

13599990_1799779826903991_3018880769679458136_n
Trash Boat on The Cave stage – Photo by Jade Falconer

Keeping the momentum up on The Cave stage, Palm Reader (6) deliver a set that drips in intensity. From every member of the band staring down the crowd to the sheer chaotic brilliance of their post-hardcore assault. Technical issues and one member struggling to remember the setlist means their performance misses the mark, but the new song they play sounds like their most aggressive out put to date. It’s a better performance than Krokodil (4) though, as they march on the stage only to be greeted by a sparse crowd. They immediately kick into Shatter and Dead Mans Chest, both of which boast monster riffs that just do not resonate with the audience. The performance quickly becomes stale with no one present being too familiar with the material and the band quickly losing favour. A new album will do well to inject some more ferocity into a band desperately lacking something.

Easily one of the biggest draws for the weekend, Lonely The Brave (7) are welcomed by a packed out tent of genuinely devoted fans. It’s a joy to watch the band grow, and whilst their new material goes down well with the audience, it’s obvious everyone is craving more material from their stellar debut. If the set was far more balanced in terms of song choice then this could have easily been one of the sets of the weekend, but it instead falls disappointingly flat. It’s not uncommon to see Neck Deep (7) hitting the main stage of festivals nowadays, and 2000 Trees’ Friday saw their bright, flame-based stage scenery come out in preparation. Opening with the first track of off Life’s Not Out To Get You, Citizens of Earth and it sets off their time well. Neck Deep don’t seem out of place playing outside stages any more, but despite playing with admirable gusto, it doesn’t quite translate perfectly just yet. It’s not surprising to hear Neck Deep bring out their heart-throb acoustic A Part Of Me, but it feels almost cliché. Their recent ballad December was performed as a full band rendition, and proved one of the best songs of the set, filled to the brim with energy

13615378_1799778036904170_9131850635081797821_n
Lonely The Brave delivering their emotive set on The Cave stage – Photo by Jade Falconer

Mallory Knox (8) follow them out on the main stage and simply captivate everyone in the audience with a confident set that proves them to be one of the recent success stories of the UK underground. Their stage set is cool to look at and their sing along anthems keep the dancefloor moving for the entirety of the set. These lads proved with ease why they could’ve just as easily headlined a stage and in future may just headline this festival. Over at The Cave Basement (9) are back, and their headline set proves they’ve not lost any ground. The band’s song choices for their hour-long set were perfect, paying tribute to the best of each release. Opening with Whole, the first track of their last pre-hiatus album Colourmeinkindness, the crowd were raising the roof on the tent and throwing themselves over the barrier in celebration. The sound mix for the set was stellar, with the live performance sounding nigh on record quality. Songs from Basement’s recent album Promise Everything went down excellently, especially the energetic Aquasun. A magnificent use of lighting and stage smoke had Basement silhouetted on stage resulting in one of the most atmospheric sets of the festival.

Headlining The Axiom stage at 2000 Trees is a big deal for Moose Blood (8) and they address it with their usual, continually repeated thanks. They also couldn’t wipe the grins off of their faces for most of the set. Kicking off with the rocking single Honey, Moose Blood seem more of a rock outfit on stage than a subdued emo-punk piece, and it works excellently. The band’s first ever song and fan favourite Bukowski had the tent ringing as the crowd blasted all the words back. The second half of the set faltered slightly due to a higher number of slow songs coming out, but Moose Blood’s delivery was still spot on. For those who decided to watch the entire Twin Atlantic (7) set instead of Moose Blood will probably feel ever so slightly salty. Whilst Twin Atlantic start off with gusto and tracks like Free providing fantastic highlights of their performance, the set slowly lose momentum in the second half. The set only really re-energises with closer Heart & Soul as the crowd sing the band off in glorious fashion. Whilst not absolutely mind blowing, Twin Atlantic perform deliver a fun set that by and large goes down well with the packed out crowd.

13600178_1799778330237474_1796049574553779739_n
Mallory Knox had a tremendous main stage slot – Photo by Jade Falconer

 

Saturday

Being somewhat akin to a 12 car pile up on the motorway, Heck (7) are second on the main stage and their set is absolutely fucking mental. With two members spending more time out in the crowd and climbing random structures than on stage, the show becomes very scattershot very quickly, with too much to take in and thus no time to digest the brilliant chaos that’s occurring. Powerboat Disaster remains a banger though and sounds massive on the main stage. After witnessing all that bedlam, Puppy (5) are incredibly tame in comparison and their Deftones-gone-Ghost sound does not gain any traction with the lingering crowd. The songs sound good and would undoubtedly do better at one of their own headline shows.

13606725_1799777713570869_994657847174417812_n
Heck being hectic – Photo by Jade Falconer

WSTR (5) are one of the UK pop punk scene’s protégé bands of recent years, but their set proved you can only ride the hype of a six song EP for so long. Newcomers to seeing WSTR live may not have found as much to be disappointed by, but any that have seen WSTR multiple times since the release of their debut EP nearly a year ago are likely to have found the set stale. Despite promising new music “very soon”, the band are still playing the same set as they have been since they made their way into the limelight. When the biggest crowd pop comes from a Limp Bizkit cover then it’s really time to reinvigorate your live show. Remaining the exact opposite of this are Creeper (8), who rather ironically, creep along to deliver a contender for set of the weekend. The crowd is a lot thinner than most anticipated but the band refuse to let that stop them as the energy they bring is second to none. VCR kicks off the set with gumption and playing 4 of the 5 tracks from their most recent EP The Stranger sends the crown into a complete frenzy. Henley’s Ghost doesn’t resonate as well as it would in a smaller venue but the entire set before it more than makes up for the flat set closer.

Immediately following are Arcane Roots (7) whose loyal fan base make up the majority of their main stage crowd. Slowly progressively builds until the entire crowd explodes as the band display their hidden aggression that actually bites harder than you’d expect. A muddy sound prevents the riffs from truly reaching their full potential as notes are lost in the mix, but the band are tight and play with clear enjoyment on their faces. The King Blues (9) are up next and what absolute form they find themselves on. Itch is dressed rather well considering his through and through punk ethos but despite this the seething spite that comes through the microphone during Off With Their Heads is intimidating. The set is balanced nicely and spans their entire career albeit missing out Long Live the Struggle and every song is played with passion. It’s a set of the weekend from a band that are regaining their spot atop the pack.

13606728_1799780253570615_7041665404290375560_n
Itch getting damn close to inciting a revolution – Photo by Jade Falconer

The Cave quickly becomes a hub for every technical music fan in attendance as Animals As Leaders (8) put on a talented display that simply stuns at every opportunity. As well improvising over already incredibly technically challenging pieces of music, every member delivers their parts with the utmost accuracy. Tosin Abasi is calm as ever as he displays his genuine god-like guitar playing ability. There isn’t a better musician on the line up and for those present they get an absolute treat of a performance. Where Animals… were unable to get the crowd moving, SiKth (7) have no such issues. The crowd explodes as they blast through a full career-spanning setlist that includes tracks off their most recent EP. The instrumentation is masterful but the vocals are so muddy that hearing anything either of the vocalists says is impossible. Pussyfoot fails to hit its chaotic peak because of this, but when either of the guitarists get a chance to shine they steal the limelight.

‘Why we’re headlining this stage I’ll never fucking know’ screams Loz Taylor as While She Sleeps (10) go about proving to everyone exactly why they should be there. The band are on colossal form tonight, as Brainwashed kicks up an almighty mosh pit and the intensity doesn’t let up. Loz’s vocals sound brutal and effortless as rest of the band play like their lives depend on it. Our Courage, Our Cancer sounds damn near identical to record and the planet sized circle pit that engulfs the entire tent during Dead behind the Eyes is just obscene. Couple this with a triumphant Seven Hills and a monstrous Four Walls to close out the set and you don’t just have the set of the weekend, you’ve got a contender for set of the fucking year. It’s a legitimate shame that Refused (8) have to follow this, because following any other band and they would’ve faired so much better. Despite this, the punk legends deliver a comfortable set that sees them confidently play and command the crowd. The band seem to lose some momentum mid set but it is quickly gained back as the band take it all in their stride. Taking time to speak out about issues surrounding the music scene such as the gender inequality sees the band targeting and railing on the wrong people but the sentiment remains true and the crowd agree whole heartedly. When its eventually time for New Noise to play, the crowd collectively lose their minds for one last time and the eruption is nuclear. Refused bring the weekend to a tremendous close and play out a brilliant weekend well.

13612298_1799779126904061_3467336683703554422_n
The Refused closing out the festival in style – Photo by Jade Falconer

Download 2016 Friday Preview

It’s that time of year again. It’s a metalhead’s christmas as the hallowed Download Festival returns for another year of riffs and chaos and mud. lots of mud. Because of how many amazing bands there are this year, we’re taking each day and giving you our choice picks for each day, so these lot should keep your Friday nice and busy!

 

Main Stage

Alien Ant Farm

Alien Ant Farm are back in the UK following their 2015 tour playing 2001 album ANThology in full to play the Lemmy stage on Friday. The band, debatably most famous for the classic Smooth Criminal cover and wacky video style, have gained very little attention outside the cover and Movies from the same record (ANThology), causing an unofficial break-up in 2007 due to releasing their least successful album to the then present. Their show in 2016 however promises to be a fun-filled nostalgia session as the crowd indulges in the tracks of Alien Ant Farm past, but should be an interesting watch to see how exactly the future will treat the band. Pay them a visit for a pop punk set of the highest order!

Babymetal

They have created quite the frenzy since their inception back in 2014, but as they climb higher and higher towards the metal throne, you cannot deny how welcome and loved Babymetal have become.   Those who were skeptical at first now look on with admiration and enjoy what they see, even Download’s head poncho Andy Copping himself. They take to the main stage on Friday, and it will certainly be a set not to miss.

Killswitch Engage

Having helped pioneer metalcore back in the late 90’s early 00’s, Killswitch Engage have become one of the most well respected and consistent bands of our time. Now on their 7th album Incarnate, Killswitch’s set will be filled with even more anthems, with Hate By Design and Strength Of The Mind, slotting in besides the likes of My Last Serenade, Rose Of Sharyn, End Of Heartache and In Due Time to name a few.   If you’re a fan of vocalists being able to sing live like they can on an album, then Jesse Leach will definitely blow you away, with his intense screams and super melodic vocals.

Korn

You don’t need to ask around Donnington who Korn are, the Nu-Metal 5 piece have become one of the most established bands to grace the fields of Download. Since the return of original guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, Korn have come on leaps and bounds, the energy they first had all those years ago has returned and it has allowed them to flourish. With a new album expected within the next 12 months, Korn’s live performance and stage production will be a spectacle to witness, you’d be a fool to miss them

 

2nd Stage

All Time Low

After having a listen one might be confused about why these guys are on the Download bill, but looking back at their recent studio work and tours, this band is definitely on the rise. Having recently played an arena tour with Good Charlotte supporting, ATL have proved once more that they are in it to win it. Whether you like pop punk or not, you’re sure to recognize some of the tracks they’ll be playing. If you want something perky to bounce along to, this is the band you are looking for.

Glassjaw

Believe it or not, but this is the first year Glassjaw have played Donnington. Though the band have been together since 1993, their sudden hiatus in 2004 halted their chances to play Download. With a big step towards releasing new music, this is a band whose return has been awaited for a while. Even if the set lacks new material, their two previous albums are highly regarded as classics and will serve Glassjaw in good stead for their debut.

Skillet

Christian rockers Skillet are back in the UK, this time marking the release of 9th studio album Unleashed on 5th August later this year. The band are well known for having spiritual lyrics and powerful riffs that blow almost every other band in their scene clean out of the water, and their live shows match that. Husband and wife team John and Korey Cooper have a chemistry onstage that is second to none which really brings out the best of the band to transfer the recorded material to stage immaculately as so few other bands can in the modern day. Catch the 4-piece on Friday on Zippo Encore for a massive show packed with the new delights as well as some of the classics, definitely not to be missed!

Twin Atlantic

A lot has happened for Twin Atlantic since they lasted played Download in 2009. Most recently last year the band were nominated by the Association of Independent Music for the Best Live Act award after playing their biggest show to date at the Glasgow SSE. Their last album Great Divide headed straight to the top of the UK rock chart making it their second album in the top 5. The set is sure to see old favourite such as Crash Land, Hold On and Make a Beast of Myself with the possibility of a sneak peek at some new music after posting picture suggesting they have been in the studio.

As Lions

As Lions are a metal band that manage to have crowds in the palm of their hand within a couple of songs. Although they only have a handful of fairly well known songs, the band have already played Download in their previous incarnation as Rise To Remain. Having opened for the likes of Trivium, As Lions have already learned a lot and are currently in the process of perfecting their craft on stage. They have recently released new song; White Flags which sounds just like hard rock taken down to its harmonious roots. These guys are definitely ones to check out for fans of melodic metal with down to earth passion.

 

3rd Stage

Heck

Heck have again already played Download albeit under the moniker Baby Godzilla. Their sets have become legend with fans citing the band running amuck outside the tent, rather playing on bins than an actual stage. With an infection progressive hardcore sound harking back to old Dillinger Escape Plan, this is band that needs to be seen to be believed.

Zoax

Fresh off the tour bus and goodbyes from Funeral For A Friend’s last tour and with a new self-titled album under their belts, Zoax are very much at the start of something big. After performing Download 2013 before releasing any music and then again in 2014, they took a break from Donnington for a year to finish up their debut full-length and it’s come with a vicious demand for attention. They have previously supported all manners of punk bands – Gallows and Cancer Bats to name just two – so it’s clear to see they mean business and will tear up the Maverick stage like never before.

Kadavar

Kadavar make their download debut this year with their style of psychedelic and stoner rock. This is a group for fans of bands such as Led Zeppelin and also Black Sabbath. There is something contemporary within the sounds of their records Abra Kadavar and Berlin, all suggesting that their set at this year’s event will undoubtedly be one you can absolutely lose yourself to.

 

4th Stage

Raging Speedhorn

Legendary sludge metal and hardcore crossover Raging Speedhorn make their return to Download for the first time in over a decade. The band recently reformed in 2014 and have back with new material to boot an a number of UK tours under their belt. Be prepared for a lot of intensity as these noise mongers headline the 4th stage.

Havok

Havok make their debut appearance at the festival this year but their set will undoubtedly be a memorable one. Taking influence from thrash acts like Testament and Overkill, this is a band born to play Download. If the line up lacks any real punch for your liking, get yourself down to Havok and see the chaos.

Counting Days

London-based Counting Days create a fusion of hardcore and death metal that would be almost unfair to deathcore bands to use the same genre label. Their blend of huge, super heavy riffs and crushing vocals have led to support slots with some huge bands including Coldrain at their May UK headline tour and Architects at their release show for new album All Our Gods… which can only prove their royalty among the community. The lads are looking to be dropping more music soon, so watch this space and watch them at Download.