LIVE REVIEW: Burn It Down Festival 2018 @ Various Venues, Torquay – 1st September 2018

As the noon sun shines down over the seaside town of Torquay, the blasting of guitars and drums can be heard as the first band carries out their sound checks. With three stages to choose from, and each hosting varying genres from pop-punk to heavy metal, a range of alternative music fans are eagerly waiting for the doors to open.

Hypophora (8) open the festival on the Jägermeister / Matty Kenward Stage located in The Foundry. The alt rock / post-hardcore group set a high standard for the rest of the line up to follow. Katie McConnell’s vocals soar above the heavy instrumentation. Performing a range of tracks, including some from their upcoming EP, Hypophora’s set shows off the diversity in their sound. The group give a teaser of their next chapter by including the first single Spires from their debut album in their set list. The bass on this track fills the stage and creates an immense sound with all the instruments and vocals remaining balanced. The progressive nature of this track reveals their talent as musicians and songwriters. It is just unfortunate that Hypophora are placed so early in the listing and do not have the larger audience present.

Veridian (8) perform on the Jägermeister / Matty Kenward Stage and appear very popular with the audience. Their full sound reaches the upper and lower levels of the stage creating a dramatic atmosphere. Their tracks feature detailed melody sections with the guitars and keyboard which develops their sound beyond standard alt rock. Diving into heavier sections throughout the set gives greater variety to their music. The band’s debut EP, 40826D, was released in May 2017 and fills a large amount of their set. Veridian also perform a brand-new track suggesting there may be new music from them on the horizon. Simon Jackman demonstrates his wide vocal range with tracks reaching high pitches which complements the tone of the instruments and gives a fantastic show.

Wolf Culture (7) perform on the Pistonhead stage located in The Apple And Parrot. To begin with the drums over power the other instruments and vocals causing the sound of the first track to be lost. With adjustments made fairly swiftly to the volume levels, Wolf Culture’s unique sound really starts to show through. Max Dervan’s vocals are strong and carry the vocal tone that is stylistic of emo/ punk groups. With audience members dancing from their first track it’s clear Wolf Culture are a hit. The band from Bournemouth add an extra edge to their tracks with their developed drum rhythms which adds more interesting layers to their music. The heavier tones of some tracks also gives greater depth to their set. Many bands of this genre lack diversity and originality in their tracks however, Wolf Culture’s own sound comes through whilst retaining the recognisable characteristics of this genre that appeal to so many fans.

SHVPES (8) give a powerful performance on the Jägermeister / Matty Kenward Stage. The dramatic bass and synths, which suggest tech metal influences, create an atmospheric sound. This is amplified with their strong stage presence to create a brilliant show. Contrasting clean and harsh vocals provides extra depth whilst more melodic sections elevate parts of their tracks from the heavy focus of the guitars. The soaring high vocal range of vocalist Griffin Dickinson takes their sound to another dimension. Darker, heavier tones give their set an aggressive edge and the head banging and dancing in the crowd soon sees the beginnings of the pit opening as the evening draws on. The performance of Undertones, from their upcoming album to be released later this year, filled the stage with fast synth rhythms, heavy guitars and melodic vocals and proved to be a great hit.

Performing on the Fireball stage at The Attic, Lotus Eater (7) create a heavy atmosphere which suits their stage setting aptly. Performing to a packed-out audience it’s evident they are a popular choice amongst the festival goers. Despite the ever-rising temperature of the Fireball stage, the mosh pit is full force with vocalist Jamie McLees choosing to mix with the crowd rather than remain on the stage. The harsh vocals contrasting with drummer Cameron Humphrey’s clean vocals intensifies their sound, displaying their talent and competence with their music.

Home Wrecked (7) bring a different tone to the Pistonhead stage. Their heavier music contrasts other bands of the pop punk and emo genres, whilst retaining aspects of those genres that are clearly identifiable. Joe Daniels’ vocals carry the emo tone but a heavier edge in sections of their tracks adds something different to their sound. A surprising element of their set is the inclusion of bass drops – not something that is usually found in this genre. These unexpected elements place Home Wrecked apart from other bands; this progression into other sounds with influences from other genres is a unique aspect to them. The fast pace of their music keeps the stage buzzing with energy that infiltrates through the audience who clearly are enjoying this set.

Dream State (9) give an incredible performance. Vocalist CJ’s disregard for health and safety sees her climbing on every piece of stage equipment in the vicinity. Jumping over the barrier and into the mosh pit, which is now in full swing, she defies the segregation of band and fans giving Dream State’s set a far more personal touch. Her heart felt speech on mental illness, a topic that links through many of the ideas behind their tracks, reinforces the sense of community that bleeds through the alternative culture. It is appropriate that they are performing on the stage dedicated to Matty Kenward and aren’t afraid to be so open towards their audience. Dream State deliver a set that is full of energy; the heavy instrumentation fills the stage along with the combination of soaring and edgier vocals from CJ. Their performance is of such a high standard and builds up energy levels and emotional spirits amongst all.

Arcane Roots (8) blow the audience away with atmospheric melodies and soaring vocals from the start. Andrew Groves’ powerful vocals enhance the clean guitar melodies and prominent drums before their opening track builds up into the heavier sections. The progressive nature of this trio’s sound brings something different to the Jägermeister/ Matty Kenward Stage that has been home to a variety of alt rock, post-hardcore and heavier genres throughout the day. The dramatic tones of their tracks radiate through the crowd. The number of people dancing ever increases, whether due to alcohol consumption or enjoyment of the music it is unclear, as the space is electric.

Mallory Knox (8) take to the Jägermeister / Matty Kenward Stage for their headline slot. The full crowd shows the presence of many fans. They are an ideal choice for the headlining act with such a broad appeal; Burn It Down Festival successfully caters for music tastes across the spectrum from alternative to heavy metal bands and the main stage ultimately incorporates an ideal selection of the different genres. Vocalist Sam Douglas, having taken up the role of frontman following the departure of former lead vocalist Mikey Chapman, appears completely at ease in his new role. His melodic vocals have power behind them and the tone of his voice suits that of the instrumentation of the tracks. They give a fantastic performance bringing the live music of the festival to a close in a spectacular fashion.

The end of Mallory Knox’s set is by no means the end of the festival as the afterparty (8) keeps it going. Alex Baker from Kerrang! Radio DJs in The Attic with a mixture of late ’90s, early ’00s and onwards alternative genres. Everything from Marilyn Manson to Slaves blasts through the venue to the dancing, and now rather intoxicated, crowd. In the early hours the party relocates to Apple and Parrot and sees the pub remaining full as the time go by. It wouldn’t be an afterparty if Tenacious D’s Tribute wasn’t played right?

As everyone is taken back to their early teenage years the festival draws to a close. The cover of darkness remains for the early hours as the venue empties. This has been an incredible turn out for Burn It Down Festival’s debut. Bringing an alternative event to an area of the UK that is lacking events of this nature, hopefully it will return next year!

Words by Holly Royle

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