Thursday, 5th July, 2018. A sea of beards and vibrant hair colours grace my eyes, the air is filled with excitement and the chatter of eager festival goers discussing what bands they’re excited to see. Tech-Fest had begun and what a weekend it would be. The sun was out in full force as I wandered into the main campsite with my newest friend Jonny who I was lucky to be stood with in the queue. He does make a mean white Russian. My eyes couldn’t focus on any one thing at a time and I was in awe listening to the sounds of music and laughter coming from each individual little community that had been formed by large groups of friends, old and new. Immediately you get a great sense of family and this being my first time here I was immediately calm and ready for whatever antics the weekend would throw at me.
Despite a few festival teething issues, like forgetting tent poles and pegs, I was finally set up and ready to go. Just off from where we had pitched up our little portable homes was a group of people with three gazebos lined up in succession which I thought was great! Little did I know, the people that had created this masterpiece would be one of the main highlights of my weekend. It’s only right that I mention briefly the spectacle that was the Tech-nado, and that one ballsy camper that tried to punch it, the start to this incredible weekend really was like no other, my thoughts go out to the poor patrons that had their gazebo and airbed stolen by this force of nature.
Although the line-up for Thursday, being the early bird special, was quite small, that didn’t take from the hustle and bustle and the ever growing exhilaration of camp life with an incredible, eclectic set of bands performing throughout the day. I had interviews lined up with some phenomenal bands and people and my nerves in a frenzy as I was stepping completely out of my comfort zone. I wandered around checking out the sights accompanied by the sounds of guitars shredding and drums being battered in to submission around the two hangars in where the stages had been set up. The diversity in the eateries lined up in succession across the front of where the weekends main chaos and action would take place was incredible and you were definitely spoilt for choice, the selection was great, suited to all manners of individuals food preferences and beliefs.
Thursday I was lucky enough to sit down with some incredible bands, have a chat and find out what’s on the horizon for them with their newest endeavours in to late 2018 with talks about new albums and tours to get excited about, all interviews done will be up separate from this article so keep an eye out! DVSR had come all the way over from Australia for what was their first ever show away from home (performing on Saturday,) and I was blessed with being their first ever European interview, as tense as that was being a genuine fan of the band. Thanks guys! I also got to sit down with Ravenface, From Her Ashes and talk to Kaan and Vi from Heart of a Coward, again, all amazing, talented people and a delight to talk with.
Due the the hectic schedule I had managed to acquire I was limited on the bands I could see but I was definitely blessed with the ones I did get to see (as much as I missed out on some I wanted to see) and each and everyone smashed it. Ravenface being the first band on the agenda, their latest line up after a long break and what a solid line up it was. They played a mix of old and new which was great to see as the new members picked up and really owned the older songs and not to mention the difference in styling between the two. I feel it’s only right that I mention it was sweltering in the stage area but that didn’t take away from the bands enthusiasm.
Crystal Lake were up next and having seen these guys perform before supporting Crossfaith, I was mad excited, and I’m a sucker for the Japanese Metalcore scene being a bit of a weeb and listening to the likes of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas open up some of my favourite anime and the technical skills that bands like them and Crystal Lake possess. I viewed these guys a little different from the crowd and was lucky enough to be up close and personal in front of the barriers, camera in hand to shoot them live. That being said, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment, if anything it amplified it. They always go hard and heavy with their shows. Yes, for fans of the band, they did their version of Rollin’ and it was incredible.
Closing what was an incredible start to Tech-Fest was Heart of a Coward and what a way to end the main stage escapades. Being Kaan’s fifth show with the band it was great to see the already well established band get in to it and play like Kaan had always been there, his vocals blended well with the already existing songs that we’re all familiar with and in my opinion I think he did incredible and I think we needn’t worry about the bands future with him as the front man.
The nightlife around camp at this point was booming, everyone wandered out from the main stage returned to their camps or to the amenities to recover what calories had been burnt and to replenish their intoxication after sweating most of it out in the pits, the evening had began. There was plenty to do, from the afterparty that was occurring in one of the stages typically kicking off from 11:30 and also one of the main highlights for me being the shisha tent, they had music blaring out all day that only grew more and more intense the longer the day/night went on, great food and overall just a great atmosphere so shout out to the staff running the Smoky Tentacles marquee throughout the weekend. I had other plans this evening in the form of hanging with the guys from DVSR after interviewing them earlier that day and enjoying how genuine they were. We mooched around the shisha tent before making for the afterparty where I was introduced to some amazing bands in the form of Of Virtue, The Royal and Invisions, all of which were insane to see and I hope get a spot during the main stages next year as I reckon they’d put on a fantastic show for everyone.
I awoke Friday like most I’d imagine, cooking in the heat of my tent with a pounding headache and a throat as dry as the Sahara desert, that’s festival life for you. I wandered out in to the blaring heat that graced us throughout the entire weekend and sat down with the little festival family I’d acquired the previous day and excitement immediately hit as the bands on today’s menu were discussed in their entirety. The best part about Tech-Fest is that there aren’t any conflicts in schedules and you are actually able to see every band that is on the days agenda meaning that you never had to prioritise and could go off on a musical adventure of discovery checking out the suggestions from fellow campers.
From Eden To Exile kicked off the day for me, a band I’d heard of but not heard. Shocking given the amount of time they have been around but thankful now as I have some additional content for some of my pluralists. They were insane and a great way to start off as they played well and really got everyone pumped for some coarse riffs and technical genius.
The next band I checked out was From Sorrow To Serenity and it was actually a highlight of my day as the performance they gave on the main stage was beautiful, from the artistic faces of Gaz to his amazing vocal range. Performing previously in 2016, it was great to see them return showing that it is a festival that people want to attend and play again and again.
I was told to check out This Is Turin by a friend as they were a band I wasn’t familiar and at the end of their set I left a fan, I’ve also seen some footage from their set with me up at the front of the barrier clearly having a blast. They really engaged with the crowd throughout, coming up and performing mere inches away from peoples faces and also having a brief vocal appearance from Joseph, the vocalist in From Her Ashes who was stood enjoying the This Is Turin not far from where I was.
That is another great part of Tech-Fest in where the band members performing would be wandering around and would engage with fans which isn’t something you get a lot in the bigger festivals. I said it before but overall, it is like a big family, even where the artists are concerned with the fans.
To a lot of peoples disappointment, Jinjer who were set to hit the main stage on Friday had issues with their visas from what I was told and weren’t able to make it.
VOLA, this is where the tune really changed, literally. The weekend wasn’t without variety and VOLA highlighted the diversity that people have in their music tastes by putting on an incredible show that even the heaviest of metal heads enjoyed.
Bleed From Within kicked off the evenings highlights with a stellar performance, this is a band I always wanted to see but had never been lucky enough to see, I had some guy just as excited to see them as me come up and ask nicely to squeeze in next to me because he hadn’t seen them for years, shoutout to you my man, I hope you had as much fun as me.
Going back to my previous statement about the diversity in performers and performances, The Contortionist were another fan favourite of the weekend. The atmosphere that had built up in the main stage area was incredible, combining dulcet tones with a heavy backdrop of guitars and drums was an incredible combination for the eyes and ears to behold.
SikTh headlined Friday night and closed it down impeccably, with a large amount of already existing listeners pumped up to see them perform for the nth time and new fans. The musical stylings were a sight to behold as they throw a lot out there in terms of tempo and sound changes, combining what I can only describe as a bangin’ clusterfuck of vocal ranges.
Saturday kicked off in a similar fashion to Friday, difference being I may have spent a bit too long in the heat and throughout the day had intermittent periods of migraines and the potential of chucking up my toastie from Smoky Tentacles. I however did manage to see a few bands and do an interview with Conjurer who were on stage Sunday.
I managed to pull myself away from the shade to check out The Five Hundred and I’m glad I did, they had a great reception and performed impeccably, some band members more enthusiastic and interacting with the crowd than others, it’s always nice to get a hug from a band member mid show, thanks Andy. Overall, they were really refined and having only released a few songs/ep’s, I’m hoping to see a full length album with this years singles because the stylings in their music is quite mixed but we got some sneak peeks into the new album and it was mega.
Arch Echo being relatively new to the scene given the release of their self titled album last year ripped it up. It was nice to see them show their excitement of being a part of the wondrous Tech-Fest. Now onto the music, Arch Echo in my opinion make music that would kick ass sat on the back of a game soundtrack, so being the massive geek that I am, they immediately had me hooked. Amazing face melty riffs followed up by delightfully complex keys with an incredible polished finish.
This was the moment I had been waiting for, DVSR had come all the way over from Australia to rip up the stage with their djenty sounds accompanied by the killer vocals of Matthew Youkhana. This set wasn’t without it’s problems, we lost Andrew’s guitar periodically throughout, Julian’s strap decided it was going to play up, bare in mind it was on loan and not his usual partner in crime for sets. Despite all of this, they owned it and everyone left pleased that they had the opportunity to see them. I overheard some comparisons at the end but it was the general consensus from fans that they enjoyed this band more than others in the unique genre.
Nexilva tore it up later in the day given the long break in between their album/new EP, people overall seemed incredibly happy to have them back, and they definitely made it known that they weren’t here to mess around. Nexilva showed an incredible range in vocal changes throughout accompanied by impeccable support by the rest of the bands epic ability whilst dominating every inch of the stage.
Martyr Defiled were a must see, being the local band to me and having intermittently seen them throughout their early days to where they are now and it was sad to say goodbye as they’re currently running through the last few shows that they’ll perform on their farewell tour. This band definitely had honed their art, smashing through their set with no issues and a consistent level of energy that would leave most exhausted given the heat in the stage area. They had an amazing mix of songs, old and new, it definitely is sad after such a perfect show to know that we’ll hear no more of the incredible sound that they have consistently been able to produce.
The Acacia Strain stained the pit red with ever enthusiastic fans of the bands ever growing catalogue of songs, given the nearly two decades Vincent has been around owning the deathcore scene. It was nice to see how humble he was with his little breaks in between songs where he lifted the crowds spirits with motivational speeches about battling through the trials and tribulations of life. One thing that always amazes me is the ability given the ever-changing line up is that the synergy between members is always so crisp.
I didn’t tend to make much of an appearance around the after party stage, but given the excitement from my little festival family about the first band on the agenda, I was roped in to going along to check them out and I was glad I did. Chiasmata kicked off the evenings antics with an incredible display of skill and talent definitely deserving of a day time slot on one of the main stages. From the killer vocals and deafening screams of vocalist Zoe Gale to the incredible drumming ability of Cameron Booth, the band tore up the mini stage like they’d been doing it for years.
The final day of Tech-Fest didn’t take from the buzz around camp, although I was sad that it had come to an end, everyone was enthusiastic including myself to get on on with the days line up.
The day for me started with Stomb and it was pleasantly easy to enjoy this instrumental collective of pure ambiance and metal in a well thought out, put together set. Stomb had no issues showing off their technical mastery and ingenious prowess on stage leaving people stood in absolute awe at the clarity that this band projected. Each song in turn brought something new to the table making this one of the least stale sets I’d ever had the pleasure of enjoying.
I left it a while before going in to the next band as I was leaving that evening and wanted to have all my stuff packed away before I spent time in the heat of the stages accompanied by the sun that had graced us all weekend rarely dropping below 25°C. I continued on with the day after with Lotus Eater’s performance. Stylish in sound and definitely in the clothing, the quintet dominated the stage with the small but definitely impressive collection of songs they’ve put out this year in a fashion that kept everyone engaged throughout wit the bands distinct sound of deep riffs and deep vocals.
Loathe were next on the agenda and I wasted no time at getting in the pit to enjoy a bit of thrashing about and a cheeky somersault at the peak of a beefy drop. They excited the crowd and kept it at 100% throughout. They were definitely ranked highly over the course of the weekend in terms of favourites of the bands that had played and were an great last minute replacement for Norma Jean. They had incredible stage presence throughout, and some off stage presence as well, accompanied by a sick stage layout with two screens going throughout plastered with a very poltergeist-ic look.
People lined up for the secret act in anticipation of who they might be… Just kidding, this was the worst kept secret of the weekend but it didn’t take away from the hype, it only excited people more. The faux pas came from a cryptic message on Sleep Token’s Facebook page that was easily deciphered with Google Translate. Never in my life have I myself been so captivated by a performance but it was as if they had hypnotised the entire crowd as everyone stood in awe, mouths wide open. Everything was perfect, the music, the vocals, and it was that perfect that all you could feel in the air was an onslaught of emotions, some that actually brought tears to eyes.
Betraying the Martyrs were last to close down this amazing, happy weekend that had been full of so much laughter and music. No, Let It Go didn’t make an appearance and I feel like it was probably a good thing, after so long of doing the same thing, as funny as it is, you don’t really want to be “that band that did the Disney song.” Despite a lot of disappointment with the original headliner for Sunday, Protest The Hero, not being able to make it, that didn’t stop Betraying The Martyrs from ending the festival with a bang. There were no games, just straight brutality as they smashed out their setlist in a definitive, crisp manner.
Overall, Tech-Fest was indescribable, from the people to the bands. I want to thank each and every person I met and talked to for making my first appearance, quite honestly the best time of my life and I’m happy to be part of this tight little community. Next year better makes its way here soon because I miss you all and have so much room in my heart for you all. Again, thank you.