Welcome To The Future: 050: Infest 2018 Preview

As we creep out of July and into August, it is usual that my thoughts begin to turn to two things – my birthday, and Infest. And as it happens this year, it is one of two important milestones. I turn 40, and then two weeks or so later, Infest turns 20.

The very fact that this festival – the only Industrial and Electronic Festival in the UK of this size nowadays, and I think the only one to last more than five in this country – continues is a reason for celebration, but to reach a twentieth edition is a heck of a milestone for any event.

Infest has seen a way through various fashions in the music it covers, music of varying extremities, and a whole host of bands that may otherwise have never made it to these shores, but has continued a core commitment to introducing festival goers to new music, as well as bands that they may already love.

Intriguingly, too, nine of the artists – and three of the headliners – are British bands this year, including perhaps the most high-profile headliner they’ve ever had, as they also expand to four nights from the usual three for the first time. Which might well change the dynamic, that’s for sure – festival-goers might need to pace themselves a bit. Might.

My Infest going in stats: I’ve been to seventeen of the nineteen so far (I only missed the first two). I’ve seen 246 sets from 228 artists, DJed the festival twice, and posted thirteen reviews of past festivals. I’ve published photos from those thirteen festivals, too, in twenty-six albums, with 1,151 photos of bands and 852 photos of people. Work on those photos and reviews has taken incalculable hours, that I’d rather not think about, not to mention the countless friends I’ve made over the years, many of whom I’ll see once again this year.

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, I’ll be around-and-about at the festival and hoping to catch up with people.

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

For me, these bands are often the most interesting on the bill. They are bands that I’ve no prior knowledge of, that I’ve not consciously heard before, and so aside from any prior research like this, they might be bands I come away as a new fan of.

One such band appears to be the Festival opener on Thursday, a slot that has sprung up some real surprises in the past. The honour of opening this year appears to go to Grave Diggers Union, a band from the North of England who from picking out a few songs, are an intriguingly dark and doomy post-punk(ish) band. Their sound on record seems to be heavily processed, so I suspect their live sound might be a bit different.

Onto Saturday for the next potential new discoveries. Adam Is A Girl seem to be female-fronted synthpop, and what I picked up from sampling a few songs was pleasantly melodic, so I’ll definitely be checking them out. Yura Yura are a different thing entirely, and their presence as a Hands Productions act should help to give an idea of what to expect. Loud, relentless and likely one my wife will avoid.

Infest 2017: Bands: Noyce

Sunday has a couple more bands I’m unfamiliar with. Elegant Machinery strike me as a band in thrall to eighties synthpop, and particularly early Depeche Mode (which is no bad thing, I guess), while I’ve only come across MASSENHYSTERIE as a guest vocalist for local-to-Infest-stalwart ESA, and her own work strikes me as being rather less bleak. A more lighthearted take on synthpop, you could say – not to mention, going on her videos, a bit risqué too. Although nothing on the level of Grausame Töchter the other year, mind…

Bands I’ve not seen

Onto the bands that I’ve not seen live, but am familiar with, then. This year this is broadly a set of bands I’m really excited about, but the one band on Friday that I’ve not seen is, perhaps, the one I’m least bothered about.

By no means the first Greek band to play the festival, Siva Six are what I seem to recall are best described as “harsh electro”, a style I’ve barely listened to in some years. I’ll still give them my time, of course, but…

The Saturday has a number of interesting bands that I’m looking forward to seeing. One is UK band Flesh Eating Foundation, who I’m fairly certainly I’ve not seen before – but their industrial-punk weirdness has long been fascinating on record. The recent trend towards industrial techno isn’t ignored over the weekend, either, and one such artist (of a couple) here is Daniel Myer’s project Liebknecht, who’ve been fabulous on record.

Infest 2017: Bands: Accessory

Then there is one of the bands I’m really looking forward to across the whole weekend. ACTORS released the belting album It Will Come To You earlier in the year, and following rave reviews of their dark, melodic post-punk in the live environment elsewhere, I can’t wait to see them for myself.

Sunday also has a number of bands I’ve been looking forward to seeing. Sheffield band Promenade Cinema have tons of promise, and I spoke to them recently on Talk Show Host: 047. Canadian duo STRVNGERS have an intriguing mix of styles on record – and I must confess not all of it I’m sold on – but I’m curious as to how they work out live, while the recently decloaked, genuinely unsettling Witch House-y electronics of V▲LH▲LL should be an essential watch, too.

Bands I’ve seen before

Perhaps more than usual this year, there are more bands that I’ve seen before, but then, there are more bands overall, and also there was an explicit intent by the festival to return to a few old favourites to mark the 20 year anniversary.

That said, there are also a few bands I’ve seen elsewhere, too, including the festival’s big headliner on Thursday night. That is Peter Hook & The Light, where Peter Hook and his band play a mix of Joy Division and New Order favourites. I wasn’t especially enamoured when I saw him back in 2012 at BIMFest, but I must admit that I was rather drunk back then, so I’m happy to give it a go here.

Infest 2017: Bands: The Juggernauts

I’ve seen Empirion a bunch of times over the past decade, and with their first new material in a while being released the weekend of Infest, I’ll be interested more than anything what they’ve done to move forward. No such need for local heroes Zeitgeist Zero, who’ve been around for some time, and have very definitely evolved their sound over the years I’ve been following them. They’ve always been an exceptional live band and I’m very glad indeed that they are finally playing Infest.

Friday brings a couple of acts who really should have played the festival by now. It will be headlined by the rejuvenated Cubanate, who absolutely destroyed in Chicago a couple of years back, at their first show since reforming (Memory of a Festival: 027) and weren’t far behind that in London last year (But Listen: 195), and have absolutely nothing to prove to me here. It will still be a pleasure to see them live again, mind, and with murmurs of new material to come, I do wonder if we might hear something from it here.

Yann of Iszoloscope has of course played the festival before as part of other acts, but not under his own guise. Needless to say I’ve seen him elsewhere before, most notably at Kinetik (Memory of a Festival: 011.1), in a stage act that involved some sinister clowns. I’m not expecting – or hoping – for any such shenanigans here, but do expect some atmospheric, pounding industrial rhythmic noise, and you can also count on my wife being in the bar.

Infest 2017: People

Also on Friday, I suspect Def Neon may well surprise a few people. They certainly did that for me at the BEAT:CANCER Festival last year (Into the Pit: 203), where their sound is pretty much unclassifiable as they leap across genres – and their musical skill is obvious, too. One to watch, this.

The rest of the weekend has less I’m familiar with. I saw SΛRIN earlier in the year, supporting The Soft Moon in London, and the filthy, nasty industrial techno is very now, and very good. I can’t imagine any surprises particularly from Mesh, either, but why should there be? One of the best synthpop bands to come out of the UK, they have a whole host of great songs and the only complaints after their set will likely be about the songs they choose not to play on the night. Although, seeing as they’ve been asking for old Infest photos for Friends Like These, I think it is fair to say that we can expect to hear that this time around.

I saw This Morn’ Omina for only the second time in London a good few months back, and even with a smaller onstage line-up, they pack a hell of a punch as they wind up their tribal-rhythmic industrial-dance sound to ecstatic heights. Be sure to be ready to dance like maniacs.

The Sunday headliner, I have to say, is something of a surprise to me. I really wasn’t expecting to see Aesthetic Perfection headlining the festival, but Daniel Graves has worked hard and built a hell of a fanbase. I must confess his more recent material has left me cold a little, but his earlier work is still stellar (second album A Violent Emotion was #1 on Countdown: 2008: Albums, and I stand by that) and I will be interested to see, with a longer set to play with, how much of the older stuff he chooses to play.

Less than four weeks to go, and I’m counting the days. Counting the days to seeing great live music, old and new friends, and a weekend of great fun as ever. See you there.

Infest 2018 is 23-26 August at University of Bradford. Tickets are available here.

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