Temples Festival: Motion Skatepark, Bristol – day one review
Friday Night Headliners: Converge © Emily Power
Temples Festival 2015,
Motion Skatepark, Bristol
29th May 2015
Louder Than War had a team of reporters on site at Temples Festival this year meaning we can give it the full attention it deserves with a day by day, blow by blow review. Guy Manchester and Philip Allen report back with words below, while Emily Power provides pics.
Day One: below.
In its second year, Temples Festival takes over Bristol’s skatepark and venue, Motion, offering the sort of incredible line up fans have come to expect from the European festivals such as Hellfest or Roadburn. Temples has built a solid reputation as one of the world’s ‘must go to’ heavy music festivals, with past year’s iteration hosting blistering sets from Neurosis, Clutch & Electric Wizard and this year raising the bar – and some – with Converge, Sunn O))) and Earth headlining Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively. It’s hard to conceive how a festival so young in its infancy can be so “on the money” in every respect – and yet that is exactly what Temples Festival is.
Before we plunge in with day one, a quick reminder of the ethos of Temples which in itself – before even any bands are mentioned – helps explain why we think it should be regarded as the blueprint for every music festival ever.
We begin with the legend that is “no corporate sponsor” which has always struck us when we navigate onto to any online page maintained by Francis Mace and his team. Or, as they put it on their Facebook page, “No Sponsors. No Gods. No Masters” – in case you’re wondering why we respect that decision so much, that definition should go some way to explaining. It was therefore with pleasure that I edited out a cardboard cup from a popular coffee house chain in the photo which accompanied our interview with Dylan Carlson from Earth. Add in the fact that the festival is knowingly undersold – for a multi-stage event it is rare that everyone who wanted to see all three headliners could see all three headliners! The festival also strives to avoid clashes of like for like bands, and when a clash finder was released the number of “phew, I can see everyone I want to see” comments were manifold. Patrons feel truly appreciated and respected by the founders too – any queries on Facebook are responsively met within minutes and always with the very best of grace and good humour, while any issues are dealt with immediately. The whole staff working the festival are also the friendliest people you can meet – I even saw some random, massive metal fan “hugging it out” some equally random, equally massive security guard as he left on Saturday night bawling, almost in tears, “usually at heavy music festivals the security are absolute c***ts, you guys are the best”. The cost of the festival is rock bottom too – all those bands over all those stages for way less than £100? No wonder it sold out months prior to the weekend!
I could go on – and probably will go on elsewhere – but I’m conscious that our review last year stretched to over 7000 words so onwards, finally, with the bands of…
Whilst in the queue to get in, I can hear the first band of the festival, Teef, ripping the room a new one. After realising I spent an hour in the wrong queue, I finally enter and head to the main stage for Throats. Back from the dead, Throats reformed last year after a four year hiatus. Full of attitude and giving the audience the finger, they bring their chaotic hardcore, energising the room and raising the bar to a keen audience who seem to really appreciate the intensity. It’s good to see them back – tears where shed when they announced they were calling it a day and that they almost immediately made their whole back catalogue available to download for nada was but a meagre balm to ease the understandable pain. We’ve been assured that they have new material ready to record – and have been assured their previous label will happily release it, but we’ve nothing solid in that respect yet.
Oblivionized are first up on the second stage and since no other band are clashing with their set, they get the benefit of a jam-packed room to entertain. Their debut album, ‘Life Is A Struggle, Give Up’ (our review) is a culmination of 7 years development in which they moved from their death metal roots to a more punk / grind hybrid and the frenetic fingerwork is awe-inspiring to watch. The crowd response well to the assaultive tones, leaving them with humbled words of appreciation. I set out to find some lunch and see what the alcohol situation was. In the courtyard besides the venue, I find very little in the way of food unfortunately. From what I can gather, the organisers were let down by their caterers, again, leaving me with the solitary option of chips with dips. Very tasty but I think I am going to have to get out into the city if I am going to keep my energy up. Following comments last year about the absence of any great selection of alcohol – it was a case of one can each of lager, cider or guiness – a great choice of well priced barreled ales, ciders stout and lagers from local suppliers are this year available – thank fuck!
Harms Way © Emily Power
Meanwhile, Chicagoan straight edge hardcore / thrash troupe Harms Way were next up on the main stage, where they played an intense set largely culled from their latest album, Rust, on Deathwish. It was an early intimation of how we were going to end day one on the main stage – brutal music, powerful riffs and an all round muscular (see photo above) intensity we don’t often experience at 3:30 in the afternoon.
Not for the last time this weekend as the last riff rang out on stage this, the first riff sounded on stage that – true to their word the organisers had prevented any side by side clashes but there were plenty of bands playing back to back meaning that by the end of the weekend our PBs for the 50 yard dash were all obliterated. Afternoon Gentleman were on stage two, the Leeds power violence heroes who have, refreshingly, never taken themselves too seriously and once more they treated us to a crazed, fast and heavy set which went down a storm.
Enabler, not to be confused with Enablers who also released a new album a couple of months ago (I say not to be confused but should probably put my hand up and admit that I was totally confused all weekend by this fact) followed them on to stage two playing an impressive set which borrowed as much from the genre noise-rock as the one they’re more normally associated with – metalcore. With a new album out soon on Century Media Records there were a few tracks that none of us had heard before, but that didn’t phase the audience for a second. Early indications suggest the new album’s going to do as well as last years La Fin Absolue Du Monde – if not better – and cement their growing reputation as one of the best and most progressive of metalcore acts. Their set was both as crushing as it was hook laden – which goes some way to explaining why even the tracks the patrons of the festival hadn’t heard before were so well received. Also check out our interview with the band.
Energised, I head back in for Belgian’s Leng Tch’e. Described as ‘razorgrind’, they are quite an experience with their singer, Serge Kasongo (Photo, right, © Emily Power) commanding the attention with his ‘pig squeal’ vocals. Their socio-political stance is strong with tracks like, ‘Totalitarian’ and ‘Man’s Inhumanity To Man’, matched with their blitzkrieg riffs and beats, Leng Tch’e are the sound of violence. Kasongo goads the audience into participation, throwing the mike into the crowd, laying down the gauntlet for a battle of intensity. Despite some having a go, no-one is as loud or as crazy as Kasongo. Finally, a suitor in the form of Zac Broughton, the singer of Oblivionized, grabs the mike and is hauled up onto the stage for a duet of sorts. Very impressive.
New Zealand’s Methdrinker take the 3rd stage witch is situated out in the courtyard. Their buzzsaw sound and sludgy, downtempo, flow are just the antidote, getting the heads banging back and forth. The raw caustic vocals head the death march and are truly disturbing. They remind me a little of EyeHateGod, where the riffs cascade and tumble to their crumbling end with squalls of feedback.
Chris from Nails © Emily Power
I wasn’t going to risk a repeat of last year where I was locked out of the headliner’s set on day one, so I took my place early for Converge – by which I mean half an hour before Nails set. It’s hard to explain just how powerful a band Nails are. The next day War Wolf described them as “the best band ever” and although the guy behind us begged to differ, some of us think War Wolf came fecking close to, er, nailing it (deepest apologies.) There was a dichotomy over the festival that I’ll allude to here – the contrast between bands whose being on a large stage enhanced their performance and those who I’d prefer to see on a smaller stage. Nails fit into the latter category, but only because I’m fearless (ahem!) – those of a more nervous disposition might prefer a but of space, not to mention a crash barrier, between them and Nails. The thing is, though, that Nails set is predicated on “intensity” like no other band I know. Brute fucking force aint got nothing on these guys, and the closer you can get to them and the adrenalin mixed with testosterone mixed with sheer unbridled might that spews out of the pit which manifests itself wherever they play is something else. It’s a heady, intoxicating brew and I’ve honestly rarely experienced a rush as intense – and immense – as when I saw Nails at The Exchange a couple of years ago. Put them on a larger stage and you lose some of all that BUT, all that being said, they still played a stonking set which, to steal a line from themselves, was “…beyond brutality, filthy, vicious and raw.” We described their last album as “a must have, a spitting, seething ball of hate and loathing” and we’ll now add to that that this band are a “must see” band too. They were the perfect band to play before Converge, but by fuck did we need a breather before the headliners took to the stage.
Converge © Emily Power
Converge own the day as they perform a blistering career spanning set on the main stage. The passion is palpable and the cultish crowd respond in kind causing the room to feel like it was on fire. The oppressive sweat and heat only goes to show where the audiences attention lay. They end their set with tracks from their legendary album, ‘Jane Doe’ and you can see on the audience faces the look of completion and bliss. What a fantastic end to an incredible day.
All photos © Emily Power, whose website is here: emilyspower.com.