INFEST: University of Bradford UK – 26/27/28 August 2016.
Since its inception in 1998, sparked by three University students; the UK’s premier alternative music festival has grown from strength to strength, much in part from the later involvement and takeover of Mark Guy’s Terminal Productions. Indeed this annual festival has weathered many a storm, battling through poor worldwide financial climates and the threats of other promoters trying their hands at possible rival shows. With only one year of absence (due to the venue requiring much needed refurbishment), it’s testament to the promoters, staff and fans that this event is still going strong today.
I have attended every single Infest; and regardless of line up, always finding something to my liking. This year I was more than excited at the prospect of an event that didn’t include an old faithful to draw in the crowd; relying on artists who had never attended the event before, with a great variation in style for good measure. In all honesty, I never get to see all the bands, due to the internal wreckage I regularly cause myself the night before; but for me, the event is more than just music, it is as much about socialising. There is a distinct lack of photographs here, because I simply didn’t take many whilst watching the bands, or those I did came out rather shaky (due to reliably strong beer).
Friday 26th: Pop Will Eat Itself– Dead When I Found Her – Me The Tiger – Massive Ego
Turning up early to catch up with folks I criminally only see once a year, coupled with others I have not hung out with in years; gave me time to customarily get a few beers and look through the expansive store brought by sponsors Storming The Base. Also due to a few issues surrounding late equipment arrivals, bands this year were a little behind schedule and would be appearing late on stage, which meant more time for conversation and drink. The plus side to this for Massive Ego was that they managed to open up to a full audience. Regardless of this being a solid sounding set and visual effort on stage, their blend of rock-tinged synthpop did little to endear me to them personally.
With possibly one of the worst band names I have encountered in ages, a lot has been said about Me The Tiger. I took time before this weekend to check these guys out; and luckily they are a lot better live than they are on record. Whilst still not pressing all the right buttons for me, they certainly seemed to have the appreciation of the audience; popularity sealed with a lot of the crowd singing along.
Dead When I Found Her are another act where their blend of old school Industrial charm has been making waves of late. I stayed for the first few tracks, which highlighted a couple of songs each from from their first two albums; and whilst I still appreciate the style, I must admit I get more out of listening to the older generation that built the genre, rather than newer outfits.
Suitably oiled with alcohol, there was only one band I really came to see on Friday. Harking back to my days dossing around, pretending to do some form of higher education, my nostalgia was primed for stalwarts Pop Will Eat Itself. Shaking off their Clint Mansell past and forging their own way, the poppies are intelligent and graceful enough to recognise that fans want the hits; regardless of how good their newer material may be. Much to my enjoyment, we got ‘Wise Up! Sucker’, ‘Ich Bin Ein Auslander’ and a whole host of other memorable slabs of past glories and a riotous time was had by all. The indie edge that PWEI brought to the festival also shows just how far Infest has come; and all in all this left me in great spirits to the end of the night when it was time to go home.
Band of the day: Pop Will Eat Itself.
Saturday 27th: Atari Teenage Riot – Velvet Acid Christ – Grausame Töchter – Hysteresis – Monica Jeffries – Tapewyrm
This as normal is the first day proper for me; unfortunately though, it always starts the same. Due to the damage I caused myself the night before, the only energy I could muster was relying on the hair of the dog, to drag myself back to normal in the company of great people. This meant that by the time I was ready to watch anything, I had already missed Tapewyrm and Monica Jeffries, both of which I may add, I heard good reports about, so apologies to them both.
I have mixed emotions when it comes to Hysteresis; and this is mainly down to their albums in general (of which you can find reviews of a couple on this site). However, they were more than enjoyable to watch live; and when they concentrated less on the dance side of their set, they really got me in the mood as the noisier elements started flowing.
I am guessing the majority of people watching Grausame Töchter were not doing so because they love their German blend of Industrial tinged rock (hey I may be wrong right?); and I lasted just a few tracks before heading off to the bar. I will give them full marks for providing an actual ‘show’, which leant on nudity, sexuality; and urinating on stage. However, as I am 42, I have seen and indeed touched naked ladies before, so that kind of gimmickry was never going to wash with me, nor make up for their rather average songs.
I was looking forward to seeing Velvet Acid Christ; another act that stirred up some nostalgic moments from my past when they were confirmed for the bill. Indeed Brian pulled out a few classics such as ‘Dial8’ and it was good to see them live finally. I was stood with a good friend watching this and we discussed in great length how we used to listen to this band with near Industrial legend status. It’s at that point when you realise just how much your tastes evolve and move on over the years; and with no disrespect to VAC, they became just another act ticked off the list from a long distant memory.
Big things were expected of Atari Teenage Riot, so I watched with an open mind. Tonight however, they suffered with a flat sound; where beats hit an invisible wall just in front of stage, as opposed to punching a hole through your chest. The edge the band used to carry with them as a weapon has all but fizzled out these days it would appear; and shouting “fuck!” a lot and stage diving doesn’t evoke enough of the ATR attitude of old. Once again I took to looking at stalls, hanging out with friends and visiting other areas of the compound.
Band of the day: Hysteresis.
Sunday 28th: 3TEETH – Leæther Strip – Displacer – RRoyce – Vigilante – Johnny Normal
After getting Formula 1 out of the way (customary viewing on Infest weekend), my throng and I got our way over to Bradford as soon as possible. As usual, the bar comes first and a few chats with friends along the way; inevitably meaning I missed Johnny Normal (of which I heard mixed reports) and I managed to catch the last track of what appeared to be a invigorating set from Vigilante (apologies to both).
As is customary, Infest always place a synthpop act on Sunday. This year it was the turn of RRoyce, who brought an excellent vision of big chorus’ and clinically executed sounds. Somewhat reminding me of elements of Xymox and Propaganda, I thoroughly enjoyed the set from start to finish; which is great considering I had never heard them before. They’re utterly pleasant chaps to talk to too.
Next up was the act I came here to see. I don’t tell any lies here and Mike is a friend; but I am honest and not afraid to criticise if needed. However, Displacer stole the show today (and quite possibly the weekend), joined on stage by occasional collaborator Keef Baker (in more of a Nimon-esque guise) on ambient guitar. The duo only practiced once this weekend before the show and were on amazing form. Covering a few bases of his musical career we were treated to elements from Michael Morton’s new ‘Curse of the Black Vinyl’ opus alongside touches of ‘The Witching Hour’ and ‘Foundation’ amongst others. The upbeat pace, alongside mellow yet intricate electronics massaged the senses for many of the listeners; and appeared to be just the tonic they needed on a Sunday evening. Coupled with an excellent sound and appropriately complex lighting, there was nothing more anyone could have asked for.
Then onto Leæther Strip; yet again another act I can’t quite believe haven’t graced the stage at Infest before. Blasting through a whole host of classics such as ‘Fit For Flogging’ and ‘Civil Disobedience’ tearing the audience up in fine fashion, this is the nostalgic side of Industrial electronics that have learned to stay relevant and with purpose. You know what you are getting with Claus Larsen’s baby and he has never failed to impress when I have seen him live, with his no bullshit approach to commanding the stage. Amazing people too.
Now, I am all for bands getting the acclaim they deserve. However, co-headlining or not; selling a lot of one album and playing with some large bands out of the scene does not warrant a band such as 3TEETH closing the show above Leæther Strip in my opinion. Some may disagree, but it just feels a tad disrespectful in my book. I guess it may be what the kids wanted, but I can’t get my head around it. Either way I went to give them a chance; and not withstanding rumours of just how ‘live’ they actually are aside, they gave a solid account of themselves, from the excellent ‘Nihil’ right through to ‘Master of Decay’. When their debut came out, I really enjoyed it, as I hadn’t heard anyone take this approach in a while; but it did burn out rather quickly in the listening stakes (even if it is a good album). This inevitably led me to not being as energised or enthused by their set as I possibly should have been. Good show nonetheless.
Band of the day: Displacer (followed close second by Leæther Strip).
So, another year, another Infest and another amazing weekend that is worth shelling out for and travelling to if you haven’t before. It’s a great place to catch up with old friends and share an experience and create memories together, regardless of musical preferences. My thanks go out to the promoters, volunteers and bands that go out of their way to make this event special, each and every year. Long may it continue.
Yes, I took just two pictures (both of Displacer).