Live Review: Takedown Festival – Students’ Union, Southampton Uni – 11/05/2013

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It had been one hell of a trip but we finally made it Southampton Uni, easily parked up and headed to get our wristbands. It quickly became apparent that the whole set up and feel of Takedown Festival was much like that of Slam Dunk, but on a much smaller scale. 

We kicked of Takedown festival with Bristol based band A Tale of Two Cities at the Small Town Records stage. These guys had a huge sound and were giving it everything they had especially the bass player who constantly drove the energy with his bouncing as he passionately sang along to every word; there were a few cheers from the audience, which gradually got bigger throughout ATOTC set, but unfortunately a “whirlwind of pure, flawless energy” didn’t lift the roof like Already Heard had expected. This may have been due to the daylight flooding into the venue that may have taken the edge off the “gig” vibe. Highlight of the set was latest single ‘I Plead Guilty’, instantly hitting the audience with an infectious guitar hook, with a chorus of interwoven vocal harmonies on a bed of hypnotic guitar riffs powered by the relentless rhythm section; this was the track that showed the potential of ATOTC. (3/5) (HM)

Staying with the Small Town Records stage, Hey Vanity tried to wake up the crowd. A few down the front were clearly there for the band, or at least awake enough to decipher the effort that the lads were putting in for the fairly full room. Despite the PA giving way during the first song it’s a strong start for the lads, but the crowd seem to fluctuate in and out of reaction. There are nodding heads, clapping and sing alongs throughout, but they seem to occur with every other song. ‘Terry Tibbs’ brings the crowd back in with some good harmonies and new single ‘Wading Through Dreams’ sees the energy still being given from the band but again, less from the crowd. Their final song helps the band go out with more of a bang, but not enough to spark much from the audience. (2.5/5) (MB)

Elithia were a nice surprise for us as we caught the second half of their set by accident at the Southampton Stage. Founded in 2010 these guys have evidently been working hard and it’s paid off, as this is one hell of a tight band, driven by an exceptional rhythm section. Drummer and bassist seemed completely in sync. The drummer’s powerful double pedal work was enhanced with his fluid fills whilst the bassist played a six string nearly as big as him which, refreshingly, wasn’t for show. He played all those strings technically and tastefully without breaking a sweat, even when playing in unison with the guitarists! The frontman had one of the meatiest growls of the day along with a passionate energy which he infected the audience with. (4/5) (HM)

Roaring straight into ‘Obey The Whips’ it’s clear that Max Raptor are worthy of this main stage presence as soon as they step onstage and it’s a whole new level of performance to that of what we’d seen so far. There’s movement and singing from quite a few from the middle of the room heading towards the stage and maybe it’s me, but I didn’t know quite how big Max Raptor were up until this point (I’m realising now I’m simply late to the game).

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved ‘Portraits’ and if anything all of the songs from it sounded even better live; absolutely massive. Every song has such a clear, distinct chorus that they really do bode well in such settings like this and it’s easy to get lost and carried away in your own mind with those melodies. Further on from this is that frontman Will Ray is absolutely on it in such a way that being a frontman is simple another state of being for him. Oh, and there’s that voice of his. That quintessential British accent that has me yearning for scones inside a red telephone box whilst being draped in the flag of our nation. But there’s more! Those new songs sounds pretty damn good as well and the whole performance and sound is brilliant. Towards the end of the set ‘The King Is Dead’ delves into the audience and the chants in that chorus really do send shivers up my spine. Will rides the barrier, gets dragged in by the mob who really have let loose by now (with girls trying their best to sexy dance; fair play gents) and end up dragging him into the crowd to then immediately realise they should keep him afloat and surf him about 5 yards. SPOILER ALERT; Max Raptor were my upmost favourite band and favourite set of the day. Absolute smashed it. (4/5) (MB)

It’s hard to watch these guys and not be surprised at how young they are. Bradford based Marmozets make me proud to be from The North! Their 2012 ‘Vexed’ EP was enjoyed by plenty of critics and it’s evident why. The musicianship, song technicality and arrangement and stage presence ticks all the boxes for a live gig. I listened in awe as lead vocalist Becca roared her lyrics across the fans from the stage, switching effortlessly to a “sing” style, whilst the rest of the band “owned” the stage. Marmozets went out with a bang, making a lasting impression with their mammoth track ’Vexed’; a tapestry of time signature changes, fluid guitar harmonies, infectious vocal melodies and thunderous drum and bass parts. As bassist Will goes crowd surfing, guitarist Jack is in front of me on the edge of the pit with his guitar, after Will’s return Sam sacks off his guitar, launching himself into the crowd taking his mic with him. The band infected the whole room with their energy and the audience left bouncing along to ‘Stacy’s Mom’ which I doubt would of happened if it hadn’t of been for Marmozets’ passionately infectious performance. (4/5) (HM)

Subsource are like a frightening Pendulum with a frontman who’s escaped a classical conservatoire, traded his acoustic double bass for a suave electric stand up to then let out his anger via this fusion of electronic-dub-metal. They’ve got a pretty eye-catching set-up (along with the electric double bass they have a couple of Roland drum triggers and slick Nord keyboard) but could push boundaries of the genres they are covering more; this was partially made-up for via the sheer energy and passion of these guys that is testified as all four of them drip with sweat during the set. This adrenaline fuelled performance reaches its climax as frontman Stuart yells to the sound engineer, “I need you to pump it for the last tune, these people need to hear this,” before hurling himself from the stage to crowd surf. I predict that the size of the crowd didn’t do this band justice. The small turn out was a little surprising due to the band having over 5,000 Facebook likes, but that’s not the bee all and end all is it?! It would of been interesting to see how they would of have done later in the day at the Rock Sound or Monster stages. (2/5) (HM)

Unfortunately for Hildamay the band don’t seem to be recognised in ways they probably deserve. The crowd don’t seem to be paying much attention and actually deplete slowly as their set rolls on. ‘Changing The Key’ sees Tim coming to the barrier trying to grasp more out of the crowd. It works, but there’s still not as much as an impact that I’d expected. Maybe it’s just bad scheduling for the band, which is unfortunate, as this should’ve been a much more anticipated set. Even shout outs to other bands get larger claps and hollas than the band’s own songs seem to. (3/5) (MB)

Attention Thieves are [unsigned!] rockers from Reading; a solid band with infectious melodies and hooks and it’s no wonder they supported Enter Shikari in April. There was great crowd interaction from the band throughout, such as when vocalist/guitarist Alex cheekily talked the audience through how to nod their heads. The inter-band chemistry was also evident; smiles all round as they played which was really inspiring to watch- these guys work hard and play hard, creating solid tunes without forgetting to enjoy the music. These guys deserved a later slot with a bigger audience. Their physical performance was slightly restricted due to the size of the stage, but this didn’t hinder their spirit as Alex ran round and leaned across the audience singing his heart out as bassist Ryan, and guitarist James, vain poppingly sang along- give those guys microphones! Attention Thieves gave it everything in a confined environment, hats off to them. (3/5) (HM)

Honestly, I’ve never been quite sure about Rat Attack. I got into them at the same time as Max Raptor and the latter instantly took over my listening time. Most notable track of the band’s is single ‘Heartbeat’ which is great, but no guest appearance from Liam Cromby of We Are The Ocean is a shame as he should be in close vicinity. The band play to a small crowd on a very awkwardly placed Big Deal Clothing stage (Basically it’s a corner protruding from a flat wall with a pillar in the way) and frontman Mike Hodges tries his best to get just about anything out of the crowd, but as he says so himself “I’m pretty disappointed in this room”; even his own gold sequin jacket and gold pants don’t seem to grab much attention. Everything feels a little flat, thin and not to the level that it should be. (2.5/5) (MB)

Arcane Roots deserved to be on the Rock Sound stage. Admittedly, they set the stakes high for my opinion of everyone else’s performances, after playing ‘Sacred Shapes’. Unfortunately the crowd didn’t “lose [their] shit” as guitarist Andrew had wanted. The audience went pretty bonkers during the last track but I wouldn’t be surprised if throughout Arcane Roots’ set that the audience had wanted to just stand, watch and absorb. This three piece create a tight, monstrous sound with dynamic and atmospheric contrasts and make me wish the word “epic” hadn’t lost all meaning so I could express the beauty and power of the choruses of this band. Debut album ‘Blood and Chemistry’ was only released on the 6th May and Arcane Roots had a room full of respectful listeners. I wouldn’t worry about the audience not losing their shit Andrew, I think we were all just fascinated. (4/5) (HM)

All the way from Melbourne, Australia, Closure in Moscow graced us with a memorable show and the most memorable LOOK of the day (vocalist Christopher sported a fuchsia play suit whilst the rest of the band looked exceptionally dapper in zany vintage suits) but more importantly, memorable TRACKS, and as the crowd came flooding in whilst the band took to the stage, it was clear we were in for a great show with Christopher’s humour tickling the audience throughout the set- “Flaming Dog Poop and the Human Response” is the course he would take if he was at Southampton university. The audience were treated to the title track ‘Pink Lemonade’, from the soon to be released second album, and it was a corker! A colourful arrangement of textures and hooks with a display of Christopher’s impressive vocal range, followed by their “classic” ‘Sweet#hart’ which really got the crowd going! (4/5) (HM)

Waiting for Hacktivist we realise that we ended up watching the final few songs of The Algorithm. Something’s up that’s caused delays on this stage that end up throwing off the rest of our day which is such a major issue with something of this scale. Of course it could’ve just been traffic on the motorway but still, it doesn’t help. Hacktivist finally make their way to the stage and play to a relatively full Monster Energy Stage room, although the sound is atrocious. Incredibly muddy and too much low end going on. Still, the crowd are incredibly responsive and having two frontmen will always be a bonus in initiating a response from any crowd; it’s the most involved crowd of the day so far. The band knock out songs from their self titled EP and even a cover of ‘Niggas In Paris’ claiming that “if you don’t know Hacktivist, you’ll know this song” and it goes down tremendously well. It’s fair to say that the band will be easily climbing the ladder for festivals like this and their set at Download in June is surely going to be something spectacular. (3.5/5) (MB)

Southampton’s locals Natives helped whet the appetite for later, more gripping sets from other bands, such as Don Broco, who were on immediately after, next door. Their pop-rock was decent pop-rock and their image was pretty spot-on. There were some nodding heads, cheers and singing, and from the band, especially the frontman, there was a fair amount of crowd interaction- including a photo of us to add to their collection of audience pics. Their sound was pretty great and there were some catchy riffs, unfortunately overall, Natives seemed like a British band trying to be American. (2/5) (HM)

I’d been looking forward to this set for quite a while. A new vocalist brings a whole tonne of new vibes to a band and Hang The Bastard are relishing on this with their new song ‘Sweet Mother’. I don’t get to see much of their set though due to every stage seeming to be behind schedule which throws off the rest of my plans for the day. What I can say from my short blast from Hang The Bastard is it’s fucking loud, it’s a crime not headbang and RIFFS RIFFS RIFFS. New vocalist Joe sounds incredibly eerie and chilling which his spectacular haunting screeches and howls. They fit so well, bring a fresh sense of life to the band’s back catalogue. The band’s sound is an acquired taste, but if you enjoy it you’re gonna be salivating a hell of a lot. Just keep your mouth shut whilst you headbang bro. (3.5/5) (MB)

Oh Don Broco. Personally it’s been a long time coming but finally tonight I get to witness these “lads” play possibly the catchiest songs of 2012. There’s no denying in this galaxy that Don Broco have gone from strength to strength; the band are absolutely massive now and whilst many music fans seem to either love or hate them, there’s a a whole bunch of lovers in this sweaty and horrendously humid main stage room. Before the band even come on we’ve got shouting of “LET’S GO FUCKING MENTAL” which does sum up the intentions of the room.

As ‘Priorities’ kick in so do the crowd and this whole cocktail is why the band have such a reputable spot on the main stage tonight. However, I am still thinking that they could easily have headlined the festival. Anyway, I digress. Let’s talk about that part where there were 20 plus people on shoulders and it was way too many for the bouncers to try and interrogate and bring them back to the ground. Let’s talk about the mass push up during ‘Thug Workout’ which is a change from the lad centred push ups down the front where the fittest get down on the mucky floor (I would’ve but I had a job to do. That and I didn’t want to show everyone up you see). Let’s talk about how every song, even the older stuff like ‘Beautiful Morning’ are all well received and sung back with the loudest of voices without any indication needed from frontman Rob. This is me talking about why the room was hotter than one of the hottest bands in the UK right now. This is the takeover. Wait, no; the takeover began long ago. It’s one of the best performances of the day but the band can still top this. (4/5) (MB)

After eight years as a band, California based rockers Dance Gavin Dance have clearly established a loyal fan base. As soon as the first chord of the set was struck heads were being thrown back and forth and throughout the whole of the set audience members kept piling in, resulting in a thriving reception. The infectious set from DGD was given complete justice with the sound quality, with a thunderous kick drum penetrating the guts of the audience whilst they sung along to the soaring melodies, flailing their arms round, clapping and simply having a great time! (3/5) (HM)

Again with the delayed start due to whatever it was that’s hindered the Monster Energy Stage. FInally though While She Sleeps triumphantly bring their precisely crafted, monstrously huge and vicious songs to the packed out room. The sound seems better than it was with Hacktivist because the kick drum cuts through the sound so well and sets my heartbeat to a new rhythm. With a band like While She Sleeps this kick drum being heard is vital and makes such a difference when comparing to Hacktivist. The band can appreciate that a lot of the crowd are tired from their 10 hour festival day but there’s still a plentiful horde concentrated in the middle who utilise every limb they can to flail and, basically, “lose their shit”. Sleeps don’t hold back and give it their all as always and ‘The North Stands For Nothing’ has a mass sing along which must be such a humbling feeling for the gents on stage. There is one girl behind me singing awfully, but she really is giving it her all which says a lot for the band and their impact; While She Sleeps will hit the same heights that Bring Me The Horizon have. I know it’s an easy comparison with both being from the steel city, but they’ve both been game changers and it’s why While She Sleeps are headlining a room of devoted fans. The Yorkshire men can smile tonight. (4/5) (MB)

The Welsh lads in The Blackout have been nominated for Best Live Act in various competitions and it’s blatantly obvious why; not only are their tunes solid and catchy, but for the whole hour of their set their energy didn’t once fade and with their two vocalists Gav and Sean running round, that’s a lot of energy! They got the crowd going, stirring and encouraging pits the size of the room, throwing themselves into the crowd and regaling tales of shit covered shoes. Let me tell you the story, it was a highlight. Singer Sean Smith tells Takedown a humorous little tale of how he went to the toilet and pissed on someone’s shit- finding it hilarious. He then flushes the toilets only for it to flood and come pouring out over the sides of the toilet (it’s okay though, he always takes two pairs of shoes to a show he says), but swimming amidst the shit Smith sees a pair of BOXERS and concludes that someone has come to Takedown, gotten too pissed, shit themselves and tried to rid the evidence. Unlucky! The humour doesn’t end there as later in the set Smith addresses a Don Broco fan at the front of the audience, calling her a “miserable bitch” and tells her if she smiles during the next track he will pay her £5. This carefree attitude is infectious and the room is filled with avid fans throwing themselves back and forth to the infectious music and lapping up the stage presence of the band. These guys are a must see. (4/5) (HM)

All in all we did have a top day. The late happenings did throw off quite a lot of sets, but the line up was fantastic and we felt everything else was pretty well organised. Move it to March and keep up the great selection of bands and Slam Dunk may just have a rival.

3.5/5

Takedown Festival links: Official Site|Facebook|Twitter

Words by Hayley Mason (HM) and Mikey Brown (MB).

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