ArcTanGent 2016

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August is always an exciting month for math and post rock enthusiasts, it’s festival season and all your favourite bands are on tour and the ever amazing ArcTanGent is just around the corner with excitement levels at an all time high! This years lineup was incredible especially with headliners like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, American Football and And So I Watch You From Afar taking to the stage over the weekend.

We arrived on site early on the Thursday to glorious sunshine and proceeded to set up camp with all our buddies before making our way into main festival site which consists of just four stages. The first band of the weekend was ANTA – the Bristol band aired lots of new material to an amazing response from the early festival arrivals. Last year Body Hound were one of the most talked about bands at the fest so it was only right that they were asked back again and they only went and did it again didn’t they, opening with a new track and continuing to melt the crowds faces with their own style of proggy math. No time to mess about it was straight over to the PX3 were the crowd was already overspilling for Polymath who were following last years inflatable bananas with confetti cannons and literally had the whole tent bouncing along to their energetic instrumental chaos as they pulled all the shapes and Bassist Joe pulled ALL the faces!

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Memory of elephants were up next having stepped in for Tangled Hair who had cancelled last minute, the Bristol three piece know how to command your attention, you just cant ignore their noisy grooves. We chowed down on some much needed munch and beers in the sun to the sounds of Delta Sleep and TTNG and proceeded to get a little drunker than planned before Three Trapped Tigers, the crowd filled the Yonkai tent for their slot so getting a good spot was impossible as theband wowed the crowd with their electronic, progmath mashup. Moving off in a completely different direction Mono played an hour long set of emotive post rock which certainly had tears in quite a few peoples eyes as they closed out the first night of the festival.

Friday morning was a different affair on site as the sun had disappeared and the rain was beginning to set in but that wasn’t stopping a massive crowd gathering for Arc openers Vasudeva with their floaty upbeat postrock. The good thing about ATG is that you can go from watching a postrock band to something more insane like Intervals whose technical math metal was cool and got the day of to a nice start before our dutch buddies MNHM took to the mainstage sounding bigger than I’ve ever heard them before, Otto’s baritone sax sounding like an almighty rumble of doom through the huge PA, they came with the intention of airing new material from their forthcoming second album and went away winning over many new fans.

Lille’s Fall of Messiah had a great buzz surrounding them for their slot on the Bixler stage and packed it out, they were delighted to be there and you could tell as they played their hearts out engaging the audience from start to finish.
Up next were Floral, an awesome duo from California with guitarist Nate displaying some insane tapping skills with a laidback attitude making it look super easy. In stark contrast another two piece,A werewolf, played what was meant to be their last show. The weirdos had a packed out px3 which made them change their minds about calling it a day and instead decide to take a years holiday (or maybe they planned that all along, eh Niall?) There were circle pits, crowd surfing on guitar cases and general mayhem as the duo assaulted the crowd with their disgusting mathcore.

Scene favourites CLEFT actually did play their last ever show to a rammed Bixler, it was pretty emotional and highlights included Ben Forrester joining Dan and John on vocals for Elephant in the bar room and he nailed it, highlight of their set for me for sure and of course they finished up with a big riff medley with Tom Peters of Alpha Male Tea Party and Nick Duke from Trojan Horse as is tradition now much to the crowds delight.

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Toe the Japanese legends played ATG for the first time this year and as expected were incredible although I must admit I did get a little distracted by the hunger at this point so it was time to find some food before Friday nights closer Godspeed You! Black Emporer. The Canadian band played a 90 minute set of atmospheric and cinematic instrumental music. They have been doing this for a long time and it’s a big deal that the organizers secured them as a headliner. It just shows how well established the festival is already and its only in its 4th year, yeah it wasn’t upbeat or a crazy close to the evening but it was pretty damn special, if you wanted to dance that’s what the silent disco was all about and dance into the early hours is what we did.

Saturday we awoke to yet more rain and more rain and it just didn’t really stop but that wasn’t stopping anyone as an impressive crowd was gathering for Lets Talk Daggers on the Arc Stage. The band had clearly had an early night as they threw themselves around the stage with boundless energy so early, but it sure got the crowd warmed up and helped defeat the hangovers many of us were adorning. ENVOYS woke the bixler tent up to the sound of some Northern post metal as the band celebrated bassist Daniels last gig before moving to Canada.

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Chiyoda Ku were one of my personal highlights of the festival, the three shrimps absolutley slayed the PX3 stage with their dynamic experimental mathrock. They looked nervous but they literally owned the tent, everyone there was watching with eager anticipation knowing that this is only the beginning of something special for this band. Watch out for them SERIOUSLY!

Kusanagi had people dancing like it was friday night in the PX3 playing songs from their recently released album Yugen. Town portal are a band that have been recommended to me a million times but I’ve never had a chance to see them live so I took it and wasn’t disappointed at all, will be checking them out again next time I get a chance.
Space Blood brought their weird antics from Chicago and brainwashed the crowd to buy their merch while dressed in spandex and masks. Dan Beesley of Cleft fame also joined them on stage as Boris Johnson before being malorted and joining the band on guitar for the track I can’t stop seeing creed.
Black Peaks nearly didn’t make it due to almost missing a flight so you could tell they were glad to be there as the crowd lost their minds from the get go! A new discovery for me but Leeds based Classically Handsome Brutes were excellent on the PX3 and I’ll definitely be checking them out again! My boys in Cheap Jazz followed them with a set of twisty turny math rock keeping things nice and upbeat before the Irish legends And So I Watch You From Afar took to the Arc Stage to what was possibly the biggest and craziest crowd of the weekend. The boys can do no wrong, not many bands in this genre can get an entire crowd to get down on their hunkers before jumping back and all hell breaking loose with people losing their shit in the pit. They even treated us to a new song!

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A bottle of buckfast later and it was time for Gallops who have reformed; I didnt get a chance to see them before they split so this was a great first time and hopefully not the last. For live music that was where I intended to call it a day but I ended up being drawn into American Football set and stayed for the duration and really enjoyed it.
We partied long into the night catching up with all our friends especially those we only see once a year at ATG and ended up at the barn until about 6AM. My last memory of ATG 2016 will forever be Joe Branton of Polymath caked in mud and glitter from head to toe wandering back and forward in the rain.
Good work ArcTanGent the party was strong in you! Until next year!!!!!