Hevy Festival @ Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent 03-05.08.12

What do you get when you cross thrash metal with a shit throwing monkey? Hevy – the righteous King of all the festivals.

Aug 3rd, 2012 at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent / By David Waite & Eleanor Carter
Hevy Festival @ Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent 03-05.08.12 The first thing that struck about Hevy was its size. Actually scratch that, it was the confirmation of free entry to the adjacent animal park. The second thing is the size. After setting up camp, the urge to adventure kicks in, but when you can get from one end of the site to the other in around 5 and half minutes, it became obvious that the primary focus here was on the two and half stages of music. That and the monkeys. And the rhinos.

First up - Napolean. For a young band, they certainly knew how to bring the noise and ‘Liars and Sellers’ boasted one of the most genius guitar melodies heard all weekend. Proving they recognised their strongest asset, the guitar shone throughout every song, providing perfect support for the dynamic hardcore screams.

A quick trip to the bar and some disappointing nachos later and Australian Hardcore Gangsta's Deez Nut's hit the stage. Entertaining for sure, but possibly not in the way J.J. Peters and co. envisaged. But with chorus's like "Dudes love pussy, bitches love dick", at least there's not really much of a grey area with this band.

Friday came and went with some decent bands on show but nothing that felt like a big festival event. Luckily Saturday's line up was a strong one. First off, however, was Strangle Kojak. The band skulked at the back of the stage and gave a really half hearted performance full of obnoxious lyrics and monotonous melody. In other news the lead singer is irritatingly good looking - Every cloud etc.

And then it was time for the serious music. From the moment Feed The Rhino stepped onto the Punktastic stage, anarchy was thick in the air. They stormed their way through tracks with an aggressive, brutal energy which was rarely matched all weekend. Channelling the likes of Deftones and QOTSA, their primal infectious no bullshit punk rock was unrelenting in its genius. They could have done without demanding a sit down, but who cares? Feed The Rhino kept things disgustingly simple and that is why they stood out from 90% of the bands on show. A band perfectly in synch, with a singular aim of smashing you in the face with a fat hard rock groove.

With the unenviable task of following that, Bury Tomorrow nervously muddled through their first few songs, but by the time they reached their biggest song to date, ‘An Honourable Reign’ they had managed to pull themselves together and deliver a perfectly acceptable performance. Unfortunately they overran and had the distinct embarrassment of having the plug pulled by the sound crew.

One very short walk later and it was time to check out Reading based band, Golden Tanks. Surely deserving of a bigger stage, this straight up punk rock band were big on energy and massively fun. Powering through a short set they absolutely owned the small audience who had gathered to see them, and then looked utterly exhausted afterwards!

A frantic dash to the main stage follows to see American quintet of Piano’s Become The Teeth rain down a brand of dense noise that in the context of the weekend was certainly a welcome change and offered a momentary chance to gaze and sway. A very literal change of pace.

In her little Melon skirt, Eva Spence of Rolo Tomassi was certainly impressive. Her band of Mathcore synth prog experimentalists isn’t everyone's cup of tea but they clearly revel in it. And their fan base lapped up every second of it. With a third studio album on the way and an intrigue and curiosity about them - not least how such a violent scream comes from within Ms Spence - Rolo may continue to confound and confuse the hardcore community for some time to come.

One thing’s for sure, there's no fucking around with A Wilhelm Scream. They absolutely pounded their way through a set of hardcore classics and they have the look and feel of a band who have been playing together forever. Because they have. Well, since the early 90's at least. Also, surely the only punk band to feature two hand tapping on a bass guitar!

Most of the bands this weekend tried to impress with an energetic stage presence. Not Meshuggah - They planted their feet a shoulder width apart and hammered revellers ears, taking no mercy. It could have been construed as arrogance but the relentless abstraction made it easy to appreciate this bizarre and hypnotic modern metal display.

The last band on the Rocksound stage are Glassjaw and boy were they on good form, proving that they are still a very special band. Daryl Palumbo slipped the whole tent under his spell, diehard fans hanging off every one of his delicate lyrics. Intensity and force allowed for flawless renditions of every tune, whilst ‘Tip your Bartender’ and ‘Cosmopolitan Blood Loss’ temporarily transported Hevy back to it’s angry teenage bedroom.

After giggling at a few tigers in Port Lympne Zoo, Sunday’s line-up began with a few small names. Mallory Knox being the first. ‘Death Rattle’ is their newest creation and early(ish) morning the vocals sounded gorgeous. They were, however, noticeably tame compared to the majority of Hevy bands, which unfortunately resulted in their set appearing a bit innocuous.

Possibly the nicest surprise of the weekend were US newcomers Night Verses. The crowd grew as the band worked their way through a short set of songs from their debut EP and demonstrated a refreshing mix of pretty synths, hard riffs and sincere lyrics - all executed with enough vigour to wake up the entire population of Kent.

One band on a lot of peoples lips wandering around the festival was Suis La Lune, their traditional sound ensured everything you need from a Swedish screamo band was provided, but with an unusual amount of geek chic.

Occasionally on the Sunday evening of a festival you can be forgiven for slipping into a waking coma. To those low on money and energy The Chariot were a serious metalcore shot in the arm. To describe them as magnificently chaotic really is not sufficient hyperbole. They play so hard that often, they don't play at all, choosing to spend as much time in with the crowd as much as on the stage. "They call us the Chariot" barks Josh Scogin. If you haven't seen them, you need to see them.

And so, with one last big push Converge close proceedings on the Punktastic stage. This is classic dark moody metal at its most cynical. Full of atmospheric soundscaping and fast and violent blast beats. The announcement that a new record is in the works brings a large cheer from a crowd. Converge remain an important and influential band in this scene and on this performance you can understand why there are so many 'Jane Doe' hoodies floating around this small field in Kent.

Hevy is one of the best specialist festivals in the country. Don't come here if you want variety, but if you like eating from the same four food vans for a weekend, laughing at embarrassingly bad tattoos and listening to a lot of hard and raucous music at a loud volume, you’re guaranteed a good time. And there's lions. And tigers. And bears. Fuck yes.