STRANGEFORMS FESTIVAL 2018 : REVIEW

Strangeforms returned this year for it’s fifth birthday and what better way to celebrate than by increasing capacity and moving to one of the best venues in the UK for live music? The Brudenell Social Club, yeah it’s an old working mans pub but it’s one of the best places to go see your favourite bands. From the get go the layout is better than previous years not that there was anything wrong with Wharf Chambers. There’s just heaps more space for people to hang out and with a great variety of cheap drinks and food in the vicinity from pizza and pies to a great selection of delicious Indian food it was sure to be a great weekend!

We arrived nice and early on the Saturday afternoon to catch Adam Betts, perhaps better known as the drummer from Three Trapped Tigers, Betts delivers an intense set of electronic headfuckery with chaotic drumming to an impressively busy opening crowd, it’s strange having him open the festival but it turns out he has to leave immediately after his set but what a way to kick things off.

Soeur had the pleasure of following on from this as they also had another show to play later in the evening, the Bristol based grunge band blitzed their way through a powerful set before handing us over to one of the surprise highlights of the weekend, Bradfords Trigger Thumb.  Having seen these guys play a few times in the past we knew it would be good but this was next level, they played ferocious riff after riff like their lives depended on it and the audience were more than happy to let them, special mention to vocalist Aarons impressive range as he flitted between falsetto highs and gnarly growls effortlessly.

Next up were Chiyoda Ku, at this stage the boys don’t need an introduction, everyone knows the Bristol math rock band and everyone loves them. They seemed stressed as they were setting up due to a malfunctioning effects pedal but once they started it was clear that something so trivial wasn’t going to stop them smashing  out a set of powerful instrumental tracks from their debut album “How it Works” as well as a few new darker songs, most noticeable however was how much drummer Toby Green had stripped his kit back to basics, turns out this was his first time trying this setup, definitely a bold move as they played to a packed room  but it paid off.

Electric Cellist and composer Jo Quail was super appreciative of people taking the time to pay attention to her performance. Fully aware that it requires patience to absorb her beautiful Cello pieces and you could tell she was glad to be there. Keep an eye out for here at ArcTanGent Festival this year. In complete contrast Big Lad took to the Brudenell stage with their high octane party bangers, the two piece were amazing with drummer Henry absolutely pulverising the kit,  they should have had a later slot to really finish the night off in party mode!!!!

Alpha Male Tea Party have quickly become the big boys of the scene and its no surprise, people love them and they always put on a great show and it’s always a joy watching them perform and really take in how many awesome riffs they manage to squeeze into each track.  Valerian Swing followed but unfortunately it just didn’t seem to click which was a real shame as we’d been looking forward to finally seeing them live for the first time.
Herefords finest sextet Talons headlined the Saturday with their apocalyptic doomy postrock which made for an intense ride, our only regret was not catching their full set, next time!!!

SUNDAY

Understandably Sunday got off to a slow start for most people but that didn’t stop new boys Vogons blowing away everyones hangovers. With an eclectic set of songs which morphed from jazz to math into completely different beasts altogether keeping the constantly growing crowd on their toes. Next up were new discovery Earthmoves with a set that was super heavy, powerful and beautiful at points, any remnance of a hangover was gone at this point.

Tacoma Narrow Bridge Disaster were great with influences from Tool shining through at times, especially on new song “The Creeper” which also featured vocals from Guitarist Drew Vernon.  Wot Gorilla? played an absolute blinder with their melodic, post-hardcore tinged take on math rock which also featured a cameo from Ben Forrester (Peaks) on vocals after joking he could sing their entire back catalogue the night before.

At this stage in the day anticipation for Glasgows finest VASA was building, Niblock and co. took to the stage for the first time in what seems like forever, still extremely tight as a live unit, they treat the crowd  to a selection of tracks from their debut album Colours as well as an untitled new song from their forthcoming album which they are currently writing, it sees the band follow a heavier direction while still maintaining the sound which people have come to know and love from the post/math rock.band.

Poly-Math were up next with their new look and new format, all dressed in black and with added organ from Josh Gesner the band previewed material from their forthcoming double album “ House of Wisdom | We Are The Devil”  which is released on the 20th April. This band are intense and don’t care about being indulgent with it. Joe Branton marches around the stage like an over excited puppy and the crowd grow ever more engrossed in the perfomance as the band roll out their prog odyssey, the only problem is it’s over too soon.

As we approached the end of the weekend it was time for Codes in the clouds who have returned after 4 years away. With their relaxed post-rock vibes they were definitely the calm before the storm as Rolo Tomassi appeared on stage to close the weekend . 

Rolo continuously evolve and never cease to melt faces with their high energy perfomances.  The now heaving crowd  are all ears as they blast mainly through tracks from their latest release  “Time will die and Love will bury it” it becomes very clear that they are a band more than comfortable doing what they enjoy most. And so as the weekend drew to a close it was time to hand the venue over to a bunch of wrestling fans who were ready for the long haul into the early hours to enjoy Wrestlemania 2018. You’ve got to love the Brudenell!

Massive thanks to Stewart, Kerry and the rest of the team for all their hard work and for making it such an unforgettable weekend, we’ll see you again real soon x

Photos by : ANDREW SIDEBOTTOM