Live Review: ArcTanGent Festival 2014 – Bristol – 28/08/2014

It seems that in a crowded market, festivals are having to carve out exceedingly niche, esoteric audiences in order to get themselves noticed. Few are more niche than ArcTanGent Festival, now in its second year, a festival that goes under the banner of “art-rock”, but predominately plucks its lineup from the realms of math & post rock. A sister festival of sorts to indie rock festival 2000Trees, itself set up as a cheaper alternative to the staid lineups of certain Berkshire-based giants, ATG came up against horrendous late August weather to build on its successful first year, and came out top trumps. Here’s how it all went down, through the eyes of Ollie Connors.

For those who decided to plunge their hard earned cash into an extra night in a tent, early entry ticket buyers are treated to a “best-of” last year’s lineup, providing a tasty morsel of what’s to come over the following days. My weekend began with Bristolian locals The St. Pierre Snake Invasion; in a week when a special one-off “Mclusky” show has been announced, it’s apt to catch this bunch, as they couldn’t sound any more like the Welshmen or Falco’s current charges, Future Of The Left. Boasting lyrical turns such as “If your favourite band is Razorlight, your favourite band is shit” and “If the only way is Essex, you can kill me now”, this early afternoon crowd leave fired up raring for more riffs to arrive at their faces throughout the weekend. (3.5/5)

Pity then, that the next band this writer observed were hype-magnets Baby Godzilla, who play one of the worst festival sets I’ve ever seen. The band have attracted plaudits for their antics, of which today include the guitarist running into the neighbouring beer tent and rolling around in the mud during one of their songs – the problem is, beneath the chaotic façade, there’s not one ounce of substance whatsoever. All the style/gimmicks in the world won’t protect you if you don’t have any tunes, and Baby Godzilla boast nothing more than an unbearable mess. I’ll let this bandwagon pass me by, thanks for asking. (1/5)

The band formerly known as This Town Needs Guns, orphan initialism TTNG showcase cuts from across their entire discography, including a couple of new songs from the follow-up to last year’s ‘13.0.0.0.0’, which shows a nigh-on prodigious workrate from the Oxfordians considering the 4-year gap between their first and second albums. Henry Tremain and the Collis brothers deliver the kind of set we’ve become accustomed to from the trio; mesmerised by their tightly-wound riffs and gorgeous melodies, it’s one attendees are unlikely to forget. (4/5)

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Nordic Giants. The duo certainly possess a wonderful audiovisual element to their set, a series of short films accompanying the songs projected onto the backdrop, however the music is rather bland, channelling 65daysofstatic to the point of directly ripping off the post-rock titans. (2.5/5)

Fortunately, the next to take the stage are Three Trapped Tigers (4.5/5) a tour-de-force in electronic post-rock. Treble T are half a mark off a perfect score purely for the frustration in a lack of new material, but while their set is a familiar one to anyone who’s caught them over the past couple of years, songs like opener ‘Cramm’ have not lost a fraction of their potency. It’s no wonder the Londoners have attracted celebrity fans such as Brian Eno and Chino Moreno; one stint of listening to Adam Betts’ drumming could make even the staunchest of “luv indeh, me” music fans sit up and pay attention to this beautiful noise. (4.5/5)

Lumbered with the unfortunate task of following that up are Northern Ireland’s And So I Watch You From Afar, who are not on the same kind of incendiary form tonight as this writer last witnessed at Reading Festival last year. It’s a bit of a running joke within these circles that the quartet only have one riff and that their entire discography is just slight variations on that riff, but in their defence it’s a damn good one – just a pity that their relative lack of inventiveness pales in comparison to what preceded it. (3.5/5)

Words by Ollie Connors (@Olliexcore)

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