Date: August 7th & 8th
Reviewed by: Kelly Murray
Cerebral Ballzy begin proceedings for a truly brutal line-up of some of the most exciting heavy bands in existence today. Making their British festival début, the Brooklyn gang tear up the Rock Sound tent with their first UK release 'Insufficient Fare'. It's a raucous deliberation of modern punk mayhem set within a classic rebellious attitude far older than the band members themselves.
Leeds boys Pulled Apart By Horses draw a rowdy crowd for some hardcore audio graphics. Angular yelps from within current single 'High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive' enable all the ambience this intimate festival audience needs to get riled up.
Chickenhawk arrive doing what they do best; breaking amps and carrying on regardless with some good old fashioned northern humour in between. The mega-riffs bouncing from each corner of the stage can only mean one thing: they've already had vodka for breakfast and are banishing any possible hangover with an out and out rock show. 'Nasa Vs Esa' rings effortlessly between each crammed in body who has just enough head room for an adequate intake of (un) fresh air.
Notorious Sacramento stoners Trash Talk pump the main stage full of hysteria next, with an ear-drum devastating explanation for why they're one of the most sought-after thrash bands on the planet. 'Rabbit Holes', 'Explode' and 'Sacramento Is Dead' are instant keepers for future reminiscing. Can you ask for more pleasantries than live hardcore on a sunny day? Hats off and black eyes on; these boys know how to kill it.
Toronto's Comeback Kid hit Kent with a knowing growl, producing their trademark penchant for for non-stop energetic action – the perfect circumstance for some of the weekend's best circle pits. We're impressed!
Fellow Canadians Fucked Up let their minds loose onto a somewhat prepared crowd, but surely there's never a moment of total sanity when allowing a 300 pound front man to be lifted by a bunch of drunk teens!
Rolo Tomassi gather quite the support with their spazzed-out math rock taking a beating from the roaring crowd. Newbies The James Cleaver Quintet are not just local to the area, but indeed, a tummy-tingling reason to visit again. Dominating the Local Heroes stage shortly before Glassjaw conclude the weekend, The JCQ engage in some swish guitar coordination for a 30 minute set of blinding rock n' roll. Screaming out the chorus to 'Chicken Shit For The Soul', their captive audience seem to agree.
On then, to the most exciting band that will probably ever emerge from Watford, Gallows engulf the main stage festival goers in an immediate display of musicianship. Perhaps they've put British hardcore firmly on the map in America in recent years, but if tonight is anything to go by, this band certainly have a very secure fan base in Blighty.
Back in the Rock Sound cave, Napalm Death are on top form, proving that over twenty years in the grimy business of progressive death metal can only make you get better. Thudding around on stage like a gorilla with a wasp sting on his tongue, singer Mark Greenway is as verbally unpredictable as ever. Birmingham, we bow to your talent!
East Coast icons Glassjaw end this truly special festival where a new generation of punk experimentalists started it. Having not released any new material in the last five years, allowing side projects to take centre stage, Glassjaw are back with an ever-growing army of loyalty in front of them. We hear brand new songs which take a heavier edge alongside classic tunes such as the unbeatable 'Ape Dos Mil' the avant-garde 'Tip Your Bartender' and the ever-charming lip curls of 'You Think You're John (Fucking) Lennon'. As bassist Mani Carerro pulls some of the best note-hitting expressions you'll see all year, guitarist Justin Beck creates the guitar lines that no other band can emulate – and get away with.
An early (11pm) finish sees the party come to an end, but thank goodness there's innovative, fresh and dedicated festivals like Hevy putting on a joyous choice of alt music this summer.