Prolong the Agony are about as metalcore as the name suggests. Their sound has a lot of punch, but they really struggled to make any kind of stage presence. Despite the energy behind their music, Prolong the Agony didn’t get about much, frontman Larry Welling spent most of the set testing a variety of uncomfortable looking squats.
On the District-sponsored main stage, Zoax embodied the horrendous cliché of a band who want nothing more than to be Letlive. Singer Adam Carroll didn’t last two songs on stage before he hopped down into the crowd, only rather than doing anything interesting, he just walked around and licked a few people’s face, and carried a handbag for a while. It was all just a bit much, and nothing short of a desperate bit to draw attention away from their dramatically average music.
Astroid Boys categorically do not fit the Takedown bill – regardless, they killed it. Two parts rap, two parts banter; watching Benji, Traxx and Dellux piss about on stage is what makes Astroid Boys so good. Their unique blend of grime beats and tanking drums gives you rap that you can actually get your mosh on to.
Refuge of the Fallen are one of those bands where you know exactly what you’re going to get. They played the Southampton Music Stage early on in the day, and really just blended into most of the UK’s metalcore scene of the past three or four years. Lots of upbeat china breakdowns, acting tough on-stage. The crowd’s need to impress each other with mosh-moves. Whilst the five-piece’s short set displayed interesting grooves and breakdowns that were verging on heavy, it just didn’t hit the mark.
Local lads Creeper were the first to real hit if off on the Big Deal stage. Their home town crowd went suitably nuts for the poetic punk. Creeper are one of many bands whose record sounds hopelessly reserved, but when they play live they really come into their own. Singer Will Gould boasts and incredible set of lungs, belting out heart breaking lyrics in his thick county accent (which oddly disappeared when he wasn’t singing).
Before InMe took to the stage, the room felt skeptical. A band of nineteen years making the choice to play a full album set, it was either going to be sink or swim. Thankfully, as soon as Essex’s alt-metal veterans kicked into ‘Underdose’ from renowned album, Overgrown Eden, it’s clear that this choice was the right one. Soaring choruses, passionate and technically sound vocals, and chorus drenched riffs, made it blatantly obvious that InMe are in their element. Their playfulness with Takedown’s packed District stage meant it was smiles all round. If anybody was a sceptic before this show, they certainly left with a whole new look on a band still proving their worth to music.
The couple of times Milk Teeth have played Southampton, they’ve left an interesting but average impression of kids playing grunge, which is partly true. However, when the Stroud 4-piece played the Big Deal Clothing stage’s growing crowd, they felt like a real band. They had their heads switched on the right way this time. Opening with ‘Forty Six’, a song which admittedly has Nirvana written all over it, Milk Teeth proved that they can captivate an audience from the word go. Their presence, a strange mix of anger, sass and intensity, that goes hand in hand with their classic 90s grunge aesthetic and sound. This was made apparent as the up and comers kicked into the grim dream that is ‘Linda’ from new EP Sad Sack and ‘Swear Jar’, a modern anthem. Milk Teeth prove that you should never write off a band just for being young. All ages is the way forward in alt music, your youth is rotten to the core.
Rolo Tomassi are a band that have altered their sound a lot since their formation in 2005. Instead of an abrasive onslaught of odd, jazzy, mathcore intricacies, Eva and James Spence have had time to get familiar with the new members and vise-versa , which brings a new spin to the Sheffield 5-piece. As they took to the District stage, Rolo started to play a set that wasn’t nearly as chaotic musically, but what it lacked in chaos it certainly makes up for in a new, almost classic prog direction for the band. Meandering, spacey sections become soaring and heavy without batting an eyelid, with both vocalists’ distinct styles both on stage, with unusual clockwork doll moves from Eva and frantic shaking from James. Vocally, yelping and harsh screams stamped classic Rolo Tomassi onto all the new tracks. The work of upcoming album Grievances could be seen throughout the whole set and they might be changing, but they’re certainly progressive.
West Yorkshire’s answer to everything good that happened in the nineties Allusondrugs, led by the playfully flamboyant Jason Moules, strike up a mid-way between grunge and shoegaze. Totally wrapped up in their own sound, the band flail about the stage without a care in the world – their loud, heavily distorted guitars soak over the whole room.
The Hell are a “joke” band. At least that’s what they’re so heavily hyped for. Really? A bunch of angry men stood on the Uprawr stage calling the crowd “dickheads” for the best part of 30 minutes. They had the potential to be amusing, but them acting like numbskulls in the least side-splitting way… Is that a joke? … No. While some of their metal influenced hardcore riffs were mildly heavy, they were hardly creative or interesting. Astonishingly enough, the whole room were eating this shambles up. The cold, hard truth is that comedy very rarely works in music. Obviously there are some exceptions to this rule. However, The Hell will never be able to compete with the likes of Spinal Tap. Even the secret appearance of Lower Than Atlantis’ Mike Duce and his runaway balaclava couldn’t save this train wreck. Sad but true.
Decade seemed to enjoy their set even more than everyone else did, the obvious reward of playing to an eager crowd was written across their faces for the duration of their set. They sailed through off of their album Good Luck, if took them a few song s for their sound to tighten up, but once they got into it they were solid. Closing with a new song ‘Lurch’, funkier than anything else they played, Decade showed they’re ready to grow some more.
Did anybody care about The Blackout playing their last festival show? Apparently so. The District stage was completely full, side to side, back to front and completely ready for the Welsh sextet, and they knew it. As Sean Smith, Gavin Butler and their backing band ploughed through a nicely balanced set of songs released throughout the band’s thirteen year career, classic breakdown ridden pop-punk songs from The Blackout! The Blackout! The Blackout! to their most recent party-influenced record Start the Party created a vibe where there’s something for every fan of The Blackout’s brand of early to mid-00s post-hardcore sound. The Blackout know it was to be all over soon, and so did their fans, which made watching a bunch of former scene-kids being idiots to a band that were putting their all into one of their last shows was really something special in itself. It was completely positive and pleasant vibe and as the band hit the hardest last note of ‘I’m a Riot? You’re a Fucking Riot!’ they’ve ever hit, it was over. Thirteen years has come to an end, but what a way it was to go out.
If there’s one band that captures the hearts and minds of the alternative youth of today, it’s Moose Blood. They create an ideal for teenagers, in terms of relationships and pop culture almost in the vein of Michael Cera’s signature films, the only problem is that it doesn’t feel as charming. Moose Blood appeared as every person around the building rushed for the Big Deal Clothing stage; there they found Canterbury’s own opening their set with their brand of soft sing-along pop punk. While the first couple of songs were upbeat and concise, they fall into a trap of doing nothing more than stand pretty still for the rest of the set, making no kind of effort to put on a show. This is Moose Blood’s downfall. Songs such as ‘Bukowski’ and ‘Evening Coffee’ are received well by the crowd, with huge sing-alongs and crowdsurfs dotted around, but even that doesn’t make up for the static stage show that partly cripples them.
Fort Hope are a fairly easy band to work out; My Chemical Romance, The Blackout, possibly Black Veil Brides… You get the demographic. Somehow they escape being painfully generic rock, trading on punchy melodic parts and thumping drums. Jon Gaskin’s vocals were crisp and unfathomably high pitched, with the occasionally wretch snarl thrown in intermittently. Fort Hope manage to sound like they’re playing to a much larger audience than they really are.
Baby Godzilla give an education in chaos. It goes without saying that the unstoppable frenzy of their set shook the whole room. The only moment of stillness came when the crowd united to chant and stamp the end of ‘Powerboat Disaster’, even that was anything but calm. Dizzied by the staggering heat, guitarists Jonny Hall and Matt Reynolds frequently got swallowed into the swell, resurfacing seconds later only to give in again at the next opportunity.
Straight off the back of an enormous world tour with Pierce The Veil and Sleeping With Sirens, Mallory Knox took the helm on the main stage, which they’ve been climbing the ranks of since their festival debut four years earlier. They powered through the sweltering heat, adding a raw punch of emotion to the best of their two records. As ever, singer Mikey Chapman seemed astounded about the support Mallory Knox continue to receive, getting super soppy on stage. Takedown’s headliner’s ended their set with ‘Lighthouse’, the District stage flooded with phone lights as the day came to an end.
Callum Cornwell, Steven Fox