In ten days time, and a couple of years later than originally expected, I will be attending my twentieth Infest.
I first went along thanks to the invite from a friend to most of Infest 2000, when I discovered a particular love for In Strict Confidence, and I was so hooked that from then on until COVID hit, I never missed an edition.
/Subject /Infest Festival
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /183/Infest Retrospective /amodelofcontrol.com/Infest Reviews /Tuesday Ten/Index
/Events /Infest 2022 /Twisted Firestarter 2 infest Warm Up /Circling Overland /003 /Infest Preview
/Details /Tracks this week/18 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/18 /Duration/74:00
Why would I? A weekend of (mostly) excellent music, a chance to see friends from all over, and the odd ill-advised drinking event, not to mention huge entertainment from whatever silliness might be suggested from certain sources (most notably, of course, the much-missed Tails, whose grave we’ll be visiting on our way up this year to pay our respects, as has become tradition).
COVID made things more difficult for everyone, of course. Needless to say Infest 2020 didn’t happen in the usual sense, instead becoming a twelve-hour Stay-In-Fest that raised a ton of money for charity and was a lot of fun (and I was privileged to DJ at, and I conducted a number of interviews for both the 2020 and 2021 editions), and then last year a limited, hybrid event was done – but being only a day, it wasn’t worth the 540 mile round-trip from our home on the Kent coast, so we watched again from home.
2022, though, with the relaxation of restrictions (and yes, I know COVID is still a thing), Infest is back, as a full three-day event once again – with the pre-festival warmup event, also in Bradford, on the Thursday night for earlybirds too. Six of the originally intended 2020 lineup remain, while the rest naturally changed due to scheduling and availability, and interestingly, there was a fair bit of this new lineup that was unfamiliar to me.
So, as is occasional tradition, here’s my look at the artists playing at Infest this year (want the full schedule? That’s here on the Infest ‘site). There will of course be full coverage from /amodelofcontrol.com of the festival, and as well, look out for a few snaps on instagram.com/amodelofcontrol as I get through the weekend, too.
The opening set of the festival has long been an important one – often unlike the early bands on Saturday and Sunday (with a few notable exceptions), the Friday opener has a vastly bigger crowd than many other artists lower down the bill, and so it might be considered that the pressure is on somewhat to deliver.
Looking down the lineup, it seems that KNIGHT$ might give an indication of this year’s festival trends, too. Subverting my initial thinking, they aren’t Witch House related (as the stylised name might once have suggested), but instead are apparently a British take on “Italo Disco”. Certainly the songs online are slick, punchy tracks that should get a crowd moving: although Infest might be wanting more than one dude behind their decks onstage. I guess we shall see!
Following KNIGHT$ comes something of a stacked Friday lineup. Coventry dark electronic/darkwave group Attrition make their Infest debut, and intriguingly will mark the reunion of the original duo of Martin Bowes and Julia Waller, marking a distinct change from recent work (the death of Kerri Bowes at the beginning of the year, naturally, may have resulted in a change of thinking). Like a few bands at this festival, Attrition can be a little hard to pin down, but their experimentation and often avant-garde sound has certainly been influential over the years, even if they perhaps haven’t always been credited for doing so.
It is, amazingly, fifteen years since Matt Fanale’s project Caustic stole the show at Infest 2007 (/Memory of a Festival /004 tells you more), and Matt’s workrate since then has only turbocharged, with numerous sideprojects (of which more anon) and a steady release schedule from Caustic itself too. Nowadays Matt is teetotal, which perhaps suggests that this time around might be a less wild affair, although having seen Caustic in Chicago since, it won’t be by much. What to expect? Industrial with a sense of humour, broadly. Go prepared.
Headlining Friday night is The Cassandra Complex, a British/Irish band that formed aeons ago, and certainly in the UK has long flown under the radar. Partly because, I suspect, that they are difficult to pigeonhole, with their sound switching across the tracks of Goth, Darkwave, Industrial, Punk and even lush balladry. I finally got to see them pre-lockdown at BIMFEST XVIII in Sint-Niklaas, at the end of 2019, and I’m looking forward to doing so again, especially with their first new album in an age, The Plague, having been released earlier this year.
The Saturday opener Vaein looks like they will be worth getting down early for. Self-described as Leather-inspired, queer dark techno, there’s an infectious, bouncing groove through Vaein’s songs. They appear to have developed in parallel, but Vaein doesn’t feel a million miles away from last year’s performer RED MEAT – RED MEAT, however, lean more into noisy nastiness.
They are far from the only band new to me over the weekend, either. German artist Reichsfeind seems to come from the long line of pounding, dark-industrial artists out of that country, although it is by no means cookie-cutter stuff. Recent album Darken has an impressive variety to it, and an appropriately gloomy tone.
I only really know French artist Grabyourface from their work with other artists (particularly the excellent Science Fiction with Matt Fanale’s Daddybear alterego, and the belting False Gods with Covenant). So I’m curious to see how their live show works, particularly as rampaging recent single FKNBSTRDS is quite the change from the more measured material that came before.
Somehow, along the way, I’d never really listened to Glass Apple Bonzai before. Perhaps the suggestion that it was synthwave put me off (a genre I’ve never cared for at all), but listening to a few songs, I’m going to re-evaluate, as I’m hearing lush eighties-influenced dark pop full of hooks (and a few off-kilter covers from the time, too), and I have a hunch they might be a big hit with the Infest crowd.
Another band whose name I’m aware of, but have never really explored, is Wynardtage (performing at Infest as an amalgam of that and their other project Hydroxie), and apparently as part of a farewell tour as the artist puts these projects to bed. It is something of a throwback either way, to a time where aggrotech industrial was the big thing in the clubs, and maybe with some distance away from that style, perhaps it is time to revisit some of it.
Talking of aggrotech, Saturday headliner Suicide Commando practically invented the genre, having been a club presence for decades now. They’ve also played Infest a few times over the years, this being their fourth time (and first since 2012). Johan Van Roy released his first new SC album in five years recently (the punishing Goddestrucktor, his best album in a long time), and while I’m not expecting any radical difference in their live set this time around, it is always good to hear some classics live again.
Continuing the trend of the last couple of Infests, there are late-night sets on the Saturday and Sunday from industrial-techno artists, and after SC, Monya will take up the reins. This Berlin-based producer/etc is firmly part of the industrial techno infrastructure in the city, but going by her 2019 album Straight Ahead on HANDS, there is a harsher, noisier edge that might make even a DJ set an abrasive experience.
Perhaps the only truly local band to be playing this year open Sunday’s proceedings. Wakefield-based Berlyn Trilogy lead us into what has long been dubbed “Synthpop Sunday” with melancholy electronics, and I’ll definitely be there early to catch them. Similarly, Beautiful Machines may well fit that theme as well (especially as they’ve recently supported no less than Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark in Germany). Lush recent single Baum Baum now has me paying attention.
DO YOU KLACK? If you’re already aware of Matt Fanale (yep, him again) and Eric Oehler’s wildly popular EBM throwback, you’ll have already marked 18:15 on Sunday evening as a time to be ready to dance for forty-five minutes (and you may well have seen one of their inventive livestream performances during lockdown). If not? It’s good-natured EBM that pays homage to their influences, but crucially also making a style and sound of their own. Or let’s put it another way. Like 242 and New Beat? See you down the front.
If I’m not mistaken, French group Moaan Exis contain an alumni of the flourescent electropunk-noise chaos of Punish Yourself, and a listen to some of the Moaan Exis material suggests a similarly aggressive, brutal sound that should be fantastic fun onstage.
Another artist I’m really looking forward to is rising Swedish EBM star REIN, another I’ve seen previously at BIMFest. REIN’s early singles – all banging EBM-techno workouts – created a heck of a buzz, but I seemed to be alone in thinking that by the time the debut REINCARNATED dropped in 2020, the energy of some of the songs had been produced out of it. That said, the likes of Bodyhammer absolutely destroy live, so I’m ready for it.
The final two acts of the weekend take us back to Berlin industrial techno, it appears, with back-to-back live sets firstly from MÆDON, and then from Adam X. Intriguingly it has been scheduled as such that we get MÆDON, part of the new breed of industrial techno artists, before they hand over the veteran Adam X, who has been recording since the nineties and runs the techno powerhouse Sonic Groove. One last dance before we finish Infest for the year, perhaps?
I’ll certainly need sleep after this. Although I might not get much, with a new job to get my teeth into, and Cold Waves just a couple more weeks away. Thus, see you at Infest, and then some of you at Cold Waves?
Anyway, are you ready? Your countdown starts now.