ArcTanGent 2016- The best one yet?
If you’ve yet to experience ArcTanGent you really are missing out. It’s so much more than a festival. One inviting farm, thousands of music fans, an array of incredible acts from across the globe, fans, friends and family. ArcTanGent unites so many like minded individuals where they create the best memories throughout the course of the festival. ArcTanGent is hands down one of the greatest UK festivals for all those that love anything experimental, mathy, instrumental and that something a bit different.
In the past few months there seems to be a trend of acts calling it a day, and for a few Arc was that final performance, making 2016 that extra special and sentimental.
Unlike previous years, ArcTanGent opened it’s gates with the sun shining on the festival go-ers. The bands and acts eagerly awaiting to take the stage, tents popping up everywhere and cans being opened- Thursday arrived as did the talent. Over on the Px3 stage, the first band to open up the stage and the weekends live music- Anta kicked the festival into the swing of things, offering up a tasty set of perfected psychedelic prog rock, these guys are onto huge things and are an act we urge you to check out. Hair, Riffs and Keys. What more can you be after, a perfect sound for this alternate festival. Body hound took to the Yohkai stage to officially start proceedings on that platform , the Holy Roar act returned to the festival for another insane live set. The label dominating the acts once more, Body Hound proved why they are an unmissable act. They were followed by experimental instrumental trio Poly-math who bolted through their time over on PX3 showering the farm with vital vibrant instrumentation and tracks from their release earlier this year ‘Melencolia’. Finishing their set fans rushed to and from the stages and the acts all on offer for Thursday. The solid line up continued.
No festival is complete with out acts pulling out last minute and unfortunately this year was no different, the day before arc bolted into action, Tangled Hair announced they were unable to play, with that Memory of Elephants, Bristol based eccentric trio stepped in to perform early Thursday afternoon. A happy return for these 3 local guys who impressed their onlookers. Welsh band Samoans, known for their recent album ‘Rescue’ and previous performances at 2000 trees took to PX3 for a hard hitting, pulverising collection of their best material- a firm favourite for so many. Returning this year, Hereford/London based instrumental, frankly wild act Talons ruled the Yohkai stage. The 6-piece instrumental band who are heroes of ArcTanGent, combine classical and rock instrumentation with such dramatic results. Talons proved once more that time just adds to their tightness, their ability to engage the listener and the fact that visually they are something else. Whilst Talons ended their set on a startling high, instrumental Irish lads Alarmist set up ready to captivate the audience in their dynamic and intricate projection. They belted some jazzy organic and electronic orchestrations.
ArcTanGent is no stranger to Holy Roar’s violent Rolo Tomassi, an act you simply can’t look away from. During their time over on Yohkai they got the crowd moving. Frontwoman Eva is mesmerising, going from soft, delicate harmonies to hard hitting hardcore screaming, she draws your attention whilst the rest of the band revel in their ferocious sound. Delta Sleep played off the back of Rolo Tomassi with a more calming, equally illustrious set.
Sargent House firm favourites TTNG returned from their very recent US tour to hit up Fernhill Farm and showcase their distinguished style. Having just departed from Mylets during their time in the US, it was clear the three were missing their fellow label mate and announced the parts in their songs where Henry Kohen, aka Mylets, would join them on stage. Without their additional assistance the three still packed out the tent for their performance. Mixing their classics with new orchestrations from their new album ‘Disappointment Island’. Think its safe to say that their most loved fans all united in front of the Yohkai stage for their set.
Heading past the bar back to PX3, we welcomed the return of what we believe is one of the best live acts, packing out their tent and rightly so, instrumental experimental duo all the way from Le Mans, France- the delightful Quadrupède returned for their second year at Arc. We’ve witnessed this act perform live in various venues/stages in the past year and each time the pair bounce off one another, they are visually entrancing to witness during their live performances. The pair weave between their own take on noise rock and electronic math rock. With the right mix of dual drumming from both acts heightening their performance; you can’t help but devour all they offer. Joseph is a skilful musician who absorbs all your attention whilst he’s behind the drum kit, across the stage Damien effortlessly creates some astounding live looping. Mixed with samples and a crowd full of fans from across the globe, it was special and one of the best performances of the weekend. That being said at the end of the set, we’ve never witnessed so many people in the audience run, run so fast, to the next stage. Why were they going to miss Three Trapped Tigers. The sound was huge!
Fans were in complete awe of the legendary Three Trapped Tigers. Individually the three musicians each bring their own creative competency to culminate exceptional compositions. Each track they played should be credited on its structure and format and how cleverly their work has been harmonised- their ability to articulate emotion within their electronic escalations and more importantly their attention to detail accompanies their credibility to captivate a crowd.
Axes triumphantly closed the evening’s proceedings on PX3 stage whilst Mono ended the first day of ArcTanGent with a stunning live performance on Yohkai. The Japanese post-rock pioneers left the farm in utter awe. Where else were you going to see MONO in a field with your friends, well played arctangent!
Following some late night silent disco shenanigans, sore heads with overcast weather, Friday arrived and the fun continued. With all 4 stages now in action, clashes of acts began, and the crowds were frantically pacing from Arc to Yohkai, to Bixler and PX3.
Early morning those that caught the start of the music, Viva Belgrado opened up the day on Yohkai with Sleep Kit at the same time over at Bixler, the first act to play that stage this year. American talent Vasudeva officially opened Arc stage. With a mixed crowd of dedicated fans and people yet to hear Vasu for the first time, they stole the show with their dynamic performance. Altogether the three gave a seriously tight set showboating their intelligent, layered and uplifting compositions tied with elements of post-rock, ambient multi-instrumental passages and some serious drum grooves. Taking us into the early afternoon Super Goliath, The Brackish, MNHM flowed nicely before Adam Betts took to PX3, despite seeing him play the night previous- a few days before the gates opened, Adam announced details surrounding his debut solo record due later this year via Blood and Biscuits– fans congregated to watch this hypnotic musician annihilate his drum kit and his live set . Fall of Messiah took to Bixler and provided pure chaos during their live attributes, with Tiny Fingers playing over at Yohkai at the same time. For fans that timed it right they could easily catch a bit of everything throughout the day, whilst enjoying the company and fantastic atmosphere.
A fierce set engulfed Bixler as HECK dominated the stage, the ground surrounding the stage and their fanbase. Providing a seriously palpably dangerous and unstoppable enactment. Whilst Heck caused Havoc, Agent Fresco played at the same time over at Yohkai. But our attention went to the next clash of the day, choosing between local duo or La Dispute we walked over to Px3 stage to what originally started out as the last A Werewolf show. Worcester based 2 piece A Werewolf previously announced this would be their final show, so their fanbase gathered all sporting one of many A Werewolf shirts the band have created during their time together. Joining forces A Werewolf’s fans took to PX3 stage to see their favourite band for the last time (or so they thought). In one of the best sets of the entire weekend, A Werewolf broke all band/audience boundaries to inject the festival with the fierce fun these two provide. Frantic orchestrations from the get-go, feedback, fuzz, outrageous samples, circle pits, a pedalboard/flightcase crowd surf with fans both sat and stood on top, a security guy assisting with the chaos and a crowd in utter amazement. We witnessed the pair see how many friends, fans and people who genuinely care about A Werewolf turn up to see them, and with that the pair realised its not their time to be over, offering up a short hiatus. A highlight for us at this years Arc.
Following A Werewolf! it was another final performance over on Bixler, this time from Manchester Cleft. Gearing up for their final show the same time as Animals as Leaders took to Yohkai stage. Cleft caused a stir. The duo’s progressive noise rock tracks sounded so big on their stage, fans were spilling out the tent, surrounding the stage from all angles. The pair were relishing their time at Arc, and bounced off one another on stage, they created such a momentous sounding intense explosion of filthy instrumental rock. Their set in it’s entirety, simply put- colossal. Cleft, what a legacy you leave. You will be missed (possibly see you guys for a Arc reunion show in the future).
Whilst Falls followed over at PX3, we were captivated by Toe. Just a short distance in front of our very eyes, holding the thought on Arc, influential Japanese post-rockers Toe fascinated their audience. Such a rariety to see such incredible musicians perform in front of us, the festival have provided so many unique and rare opportunities to see so many of your favourite musicians in a more intimate setting (despite the open fields). Toe’s equally unique sound of melodic, clean, abrasive then acute drumming, subtle beat changes and then sudden rock surges, all made for a vibrant set.
Yohkai filled up to see Nordic Giants blast through their intense arrangements. The instrumental, electronic duo heightened their performance with visual aids, astonishing cinematic visuals at the front of their stage set up and across the back, combined with their dramatic, operatic performance and stage outfits left audience members with no other choice but to pay attention.
Finally the big closing performances of Friday night, hoards of guests complete with their chairs swamped Arc stage to get comfy ready to witness an unmissable live and long headline set from the legendary Godspeed You! Black Emperor. A 2 hour live set, with the musicians set up on stage, each with their own stack to accompany them, Tangent goers and cult fans were about to witness something so special. Orchestrations filled with huge unison riffage, impelling bouts of droning, oscillating overtones, crushing crescendos- another incredible addition to a pretty breathtaking line up.
Whilst GYBE stole the show at one end of the field, Holy Roar‘s Svalbard and Plini took turns to impress fans at Px3. Svalbard stood in the dark taking in the final moment before their live attributes kicked those stood in the tent right in their face. Svalbard effortlessly combine elements of post-hardcore, post-rock, black metal and more creating something entirely their own, their intense set won over all those nearby- ferocious yet melodic!
Following Friday’s epic silent disco, the heaven’s opened and washed out Fernhill Farm, dedicated campers took no shit and stood their ground ready for the final day of the festival, nothing was to ruin their day of incredible acts.
Let’s talk Daggers opened Arc stage for the last day, whilst sets from Bearded Youth Quest and Exxasens pumped up the crowd, lifting those slightly damp spirits. Over on the Px3, the second set of the day on that stage was ready to take place. We were so thrilled to see one of the tightest and best instrumental acts take to the stage this year, Chiyoda Ku, took to Px3 for the second set of the day on that stage. The Bristol based trio looked at home during their time on the stage. Chiyoda Ku captivate, with a set full of stop start percussion, alternating time signatures and tempo and illustrious riffs. The three are getting stronger together, moodier and projecting a fuller sounding back catalogue.
Alma, Dialects and Kusanagi all followed with some impressive sets and American duo Spaceblood, added in the comical factor to the day, creating a set which everyone is still talking about. Completely on form and taking ArcTanGent by storm, Spaceblood effortlessly unite all who absorb the act and their music and the two like-minded musicians bounce off one another. Throughout their set the craziness set in and later on they were also joined on stage by Dan from Cleft to play “I Can’t Stop Seeing Creed”. Winding down their UK tour for their final show at Arc, Spaceblood are an act unlike any other, and for all those who witnessed them, an act you have to see to believe.
Owen hit Bixler for the first of 2 performances from the musician himself throughout the day, later joining the headline act American Football (fans did go crazy), his delicate set left fans swooning for more .And over on the main stage, crowds gathered with anticipation to see another act you never thought you’d see in such close proximity- Mewithoutyou. This Iconic band performed a set complimenting their expansive and incredible 16 year legacy. A pure frontman in every sense, a drummer who shone throughout and their classic notorious sound, dedicated fans re-lived their youth during their impressive set.
Over on Yohkai, another Sargent House act slayed their set, catching Mutoid Man destroy their fast paced set of heavy, dark compositions and also quickly securing their position of one of the most entertaining acts to see. Mutoid Man’s infectious performance consisted of new tracks and those abrasive recognisable hits from their album ‘Bleeder’.
As Caspian took to Arc for one of the final three sets of the evening on that stage; we set up camp under Px3 tent hiding from the rain and waiting patiently to see good friends Cheap Jazz smash their time performing at Arc. Cheap Jazz have come such a long way during their existence, with a lot of change and a lot of passion, Cheap Jazz pulled a large fan base to relish in their proud achievements. The trio are just effortlessly good, brilliant, in all they create together. Dan, Jamie (of Alright The Captain) and Chris are renowned for providing sets with “Twisty Turny Riffs and other devilry” but these three just work so well together, creating such complex, well written, tight compositions that engage everyones attention. It’s melodic, fun and frankly exhilarating. With Jamie on bass for the first half of the set, Dan on drums and Chris on guitar, the trio made all onlookers move to their creative pursuits. Mixing things up with a slight instrument change, Jamie heading back behind the kit and Dan swapping drumsticks for a guitar, the direction intensified. Perfect combination of angular guitar riffs, deep structural beats (insane drumming) and a heavy projection. Their final song of the evening, Marty Toner (you know who he is- Alright The Captain/Buttonpusher) joined his friends on stage to blast some bass, adding even more so to their growing intensification.
Following Cheap Jazz, Enemies took to Bixler for another highlight of the festival. Again another band who have become stronger, more dynamic and tighter during their course together. It was so warming to see Enemies on a stage with adorning fans just loving their hard hitting, uplifting set. This band are so genuinely thrilled with their welcoming reception. The four musicians gave a tantalising and energetic performance with a set featuring new material and their classics. With a mixture of upbeat loops to powerful elongated riffs and the right amount of compelling beats. With two drum kits in use during a few occasions throughout the set, each musician aided in an explosive set. All those inside the tent joined forces to help a true Enemies lover crowd surf around the entire tent and back again whilst he airdrummed to the beats, the atmosphere that Enemies created during their set was so refreshing, they really bought the evening to life.
And So I Watch You From Afar, the penultimate act on the main stage gathered the festival goers around the Arc to give another solid set. Hitting the audience with a big wall of feedback before slamming into their first track, the quartet effortlessly kept the party going with their hard hitting, fast paced compositions. It really does take an impressive range for an instrumental band to truly captivate and impression listeners but the technical ability of all 4 lads is just outstanding, their set remained so tight, very melodic, vivacious and energetic. They left everybody sincerely amazed and wanting more.
As so many fans ran from the main field over to Yohkai stage in order to see the live return of Meet Me In St Louis we were patiently waiting for Gallops to obliterate our ears’ over on Bixler Gallops did exactly that. Welcoming the live return of Gallops with open arms, these four make it known they’ve been missed. They created a set that topped all others. With everyone moving to their savage rhythms, brutally smashing together live electronic elements, angular and cutting guitars, insane and mesmerising live drums and the perfect amount of synth/samples oddities- Gallops are the complete package.
And finally American Football ended things on one hell of a high. Last year, American Football played their first ever UK show and fast forward 12 months they make their mark on their headline performance at Fernhill Farm in a field full of dedicated fans. The influential late-90s emo band from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois were active from 1997 for around 3 years. Now almost 16 years on, the trio have fully revived their roots to reunite for another blast of live shows, and more recently announced a new album. Without their triumphant and now iconic debut release, who knows what bands would be creating now, American Football is the foundation to a lot of our favourite artists as we know it today. To be in the company of so many people who discovered, appreciated and gained inspiration from their 1999 release, the atmosphere was unlike anything else, nobody wanted the night to end- but what a way to close the festival!
ArcTanGent provides more than a weekend of exceptional music, they’ve curated their own solid music community, their own festival hub and it’s a pleasure to be a part of this.
The perfect combination of the best music and the best like- minded attendees. Every person attending, working or performing they all make the festival so sincerely special and unique and we already need to be at the next one!
All Images by Oli Montez
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