What has become affectionately known as #industrialsummercamp kicked off this weekend just gone with Terminus in Calgary. It has become something of a thing in recent years that I usually try and make at least one of the North American festivals (Festival Kinetik (Montréal) in 2011, then Cold Waves (Chicago) in 2014, 2015 and 2016), but this year is not to be one of those years. Look out for coverage of Terminus and Cold Waves this year from my friends over at I Die: You Die and Regen Magazine.
Welcome To The Future: 005:
Infest 2017 Preview
Memory of a Festival: Infest
The UK edition of #industrialsummercamp, though, takes us to our usual August Bank Holiday destination of Bradford. A city that, perhaps, isn’t exactly on the usual tourist routes, but it is actually worth exploring, particularly if you have any interest in Victorian architecture or the Industrial Revolution (Saltaire, a short train ride away from Forster Square station, is well worth a visit for the latter, and Little Germany, on the eastern edge of the City Centre for the former), and good (and cheap, by London standards!) food is easy to find, too.
The main focus of Infest, though, is music, and this year there are sixteen bands across three days, along with a whole host of DJs too. The 2017 edition is my seventeenth Infest, and the festival reaches its nineteenth edition (I only missed the first two). And with so much history, I thought it time for a proper preview this year.
Before I get to the music, a couple of other things to note that are important to bear in mind. Regular Infest goers will of course have known Tails, the festival compere and so much more who sadly passed away earlier in the year, and others may well have known Jazz Man, one of the Brum Goths who also passed away recently.
Tails’ death had already meant that mental health charity Mind was to be one of the beneficiaries of the usual charity donations from the festival, and as well as them, Macmillan Cancer Support and the Guide Dog Association will also benefit.
As is usual, amodelofcontrol.com will be covering the festival in written and photo form (the review and related stuff will appear in the days after we leave for home), and inbetween all that, my wife Daisy and I will be assisting Jacek at the Storming the Base music stall. We’ve got a bigger and wider music selection than ever this year, so come say hi, buy some music. I’m sure there’ll be badges too.
What am I doing today, then? I’m having a look at each of the bands, some of which I don’t know at all, some of which I’ve listened to but never seen live before, and then there are a number I’ve long been a fan of, and in some cases have seen live many times. It helps me to have an idea of the bands that are playing, and hopefully it might help you, the reader, particularly if you’re still considering whether to attend (spoiler: you should anyway, right?)
(Photos here come from last year’s Infest photos on amodelofcontrol.com: Bands / People)
Bands I don’t know
Chemical Sweet Kid
Sidewalks and Skeletons
Among The Echoes
They Called Him Zone
First up, then, the bands that are new to me.
They Called Him Zone open up the festival on Friday evening, and this band local to Infest (they are apparently actually from Bradford) are certainly an interesting band on record. Sleek, synth-based post-punk is about as good a description as I can muster – although there is a distinct synthwave influence in here too. I’m not a particular fan of the vocals, that seem to rather lack force, though, as they kinda skulk around the mix without really wanting to draw attention to themselves. That said, this band could be a really interesting proposition live, and I’m looking forward to what they do.
Directly following on the Friday night are NOYCE™. From what I can tell by reading about them and listening to them, this is another of the seemingly never-ending German synthpop assembly line, although these guys seem to have been around longer than many, which perhaps makes it all the more surprising that I’ve not come across them before. Giving them a listen, though, they do exactly what I’d expect a band like this to do. They are melodic, they have a danceable beat, they’re not bad. I’m kinda hoping that their live show makes them stand out that bit more.
One that will certainly stand out in this line-up are Saturday afternoon band Chemical Sweet Kid. A French band who’ve clearly been listening to Marilyn Manson over the years, they have wisely concentrated on an influence of his late nineties output, with snarling vocals, industrial-rock riffage and a whole sackload of hooks. I’m also fascinated by their guitar-laced cover of Hellraiser that has appeared on their Soundcloud, too, as from the snippet online, it works surprisingly well…
Along similar lines, actually, Among The Echoes are a bit of a surprise, sounding from their recent single Breathe to have a distinct European darkwave sound. So, rumbling basslines, buzzing guitars and a soaring gothic ambience that may well sound a little bit surprising to many nowadays at Infest (a festival that has long since left the majority of its gothic origins behind).
Now I think about it, the whole Witch House business almost totally passed Infest by – I can’t recall a single WH-oriented band that played the festival at all – so I was a little surprised to find a band who unashamedly invoke the genre in their bio added to the bill. Sidewalks and Skeletons – another band local to the festival – open up the Sunday, and the mellow, glitchy electronics may well be just what we need to ease us into the final day. That said, while there are a few unsettling moments among this artists’ sound, there is nothing of the ominous threat of V▲LH▲LL, or the dark, simmering hate at the core of ∆AIMON. They are very, very different to everyone else on the bill, though, which is always a plus.
There are only four bands this year that I’m already familiar with, that I’ve not seen live before.
The first of those is on the Friday night bill, with German band Accessory that resulted in a whole lot of excitement online when they were announced as one of the last bands added to the bill. Despite their sometimes dour sound (particularly the deep vocals), there is the distinct feel of a band who are not being entirely serious across many of their songs, and I hear word that live they are quite something. I’m looking forward to this one.
I’m also really looking forward to the Infest debut, early on the Saturday bill, of Riotmiloo. Her challenging debut album took in sonic experimentation and a variety of women’s stories from across the world, that involved violence, subjugation and worse in various forms – and had a whole host of guest musicians, too. There was more on amodelofcontrol.com about la pierre soudée at the time, on Talk Show Host: 015. I’ve been meaning to see Riotmiloo for ages, and somehow this is my first chance. Make sure you arrive early on Saturday for this.
Rather less serious, I’ll wager, is the punishing EBM throwback of WULFBAND. If you know your German, their answers to most of their Facebook bio is “In Einer Berghütte auf Einem Heide” (go translate it otherwise), which isn’t quite what you’d expect. Live videos suggest a masked band, and their sound is one of hard-hitting, catchy-as-hell Swedish EBM (there has been no shortage of that in recent years, either), and I get the suspicion that this set will liven up the Infest crowd no end.
Seeing as end.user is then following directly afterward, that livened up crowd could well then be destroyed. An hour has been alloted for his set, and expect an hour of punishing drum’n’bass, breakcore and bass. Lots and lots of bass. Obviously, this set is really not going to be for everyone, I suspect (my wife being one), but I’ll be down the front for this as long as my body can stand it (I’m an old man nowadays, ok?).
Bands I’ve seen before
Interestingly, there isn’t a single band that I’ve seen before that I wasn’t happy to see on the bill. Just one of those seven has played Infest before, too.
Rotersand were that band, who’ve headlined the festival twice before, the last time remarkably already seven years ago (Memory of a Festival: 009: Infest 2010). So, with a new album after a lengthy absence, I’ve no doubt that this most uplifting, friendly of bands will deliver once again.
Onto Saturday, and young band Empathy Test have come on a considerable way from the first time that I saw them live about three or four years ago. Their downbeat, emotional synthpop has carved them an impressive niche, as they do slower songs, rather than outright dancefloor songs, and after a number of high-profile festival appearances and support slots on tours, they have gained quite the fanbase. I long wanted to do an interview with the band, but then I read this from I Die: You Die and it told me all I needed to know. Their single Demons last year was #2 in Countdown: 2016: Tracks on this website, they have an extraordinarily well-funded two albums coming simultaneously soon. Believe the hype.
Headlining Saturday is a band I was kinda amazed that Infest had never managed to get on the bill in the past – the German EBM/industrial legends Die Krupps. Their style has changed over the years, from being early pioneers of German EBM to becoming an industrial metal band at points (and literally metal in others), but at no point have they ever dropped their political fury (sadly songs like Fatherland are all the more relevant nowadays). I’ve seen them at least four times, in Sheffield, London, Montreal and Chicago, and live they have a power few of their peers have.
The first of two bands on the Sunday line-up that I last saw in Chicago is Vampyre Anvil. A new-ish side-project of Jason Novak (Acumen Nation, Acucrack, Cocksure) and Sean Payne (Cyanotic), this takes the Acucrack sound into new, darker and oh-so-heavy realms. Their debut album Tetsuo only hints at just how hard and heavy that they get live, by the way.
Another festival I’ve been a regular at in recent years has been BIMFest in Belgium (although my honeymoon meant that I missed last year, but I’ll be back in December), and at BIMFest XIV we caught The Juggernauts. Their heavy-but-danceable EBM sound sounds serious as hell, until you see them live, where…well, I’ll let you find that out for yourselves.
My first taste of iVardensphere – nowadays something of a regular visitor to these shores – was in their earlier days playing at Festival Kinetik when I went across in 2011. Their popularity has ballooned in the meantime, with a number of albums and a very impressive, energetic live show with multiple percussionists and guest vocalists. This said, it’s unlikely that you won’t have seen iVardensphere before if you’re a regular festival or gig goer in this scene in the UK, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy them live once again, as I’ll certainly be intending on doing so.
The final band of the weekend brings the return of Revolting Cocks to these shores for the first time in a great many years. This line-up of the Cocks is partly the original line-up that did Big Sexy Land thirty years ago (so Richard 23, Luc Van Acker and Paul Barker), and they are joined by Jason Novak and Chris Connelly to play other material too, and it’s awesome fun (as I found at Cold Waves last year). They also play O2 Academy Islington on the Saturday night, too, if you can’t make it north.
I’m really looking forward to this year’s Infest. Yes, there will be some moments of sadness and reflection, but life must go on, and I’m sure as hell going to enjoy the weekend. Looking further forward, too, next year is the twentieth Infest. I’ll be there, of course, but in the meantime, see you in four weeks time in Bradford.
Infest 2017 is 25-27 August at University of Bradford. Tickets are available here.