LIVE: Butserfest 2015

By Tamsyn Wilce

Set in a country park just thirty minutes from Portsmouth is a Festival with an attitude, no drink, no drugs, just a whole lot of fun. Now in its ninth year, Butserfest aims to bring the younger generation the best in alternative music and prove that you don’t need substances to make your day enjoyable. We went along to experience what may well be their finest line-up yet, all whilst we enjoyed a lovely cup of tea.

With one of the toughest slots of the day, opening up the Crossroads stage (the heaviest of the stages at the Festival), were Rugby hardcore outfit wars. Despite a small crowd due to the early stage time, the guys were full of energy as they thrashed themselves around the stage, guitars flying and cymbals crashing. Frontman Rob Vicars is quite the stageman, climbing on the drum kit, jumping off stage to scream in peoples faces, the anger and passion rising out of him. Everything together worked perfectly and they could well be one of the most exciting hardcore acts hitting the scene right now.


Dirt have already had a fairly successful year as a band and playing the main stage at Butserfest was somewhat of a highlight for them. And, for a band who have been together not much longer than a year, their set was impeccably tight and well thought out. It proves the point that practice makes perfect, as the band performed brilliantly, with no sound issues and the confidence of a band well beyond their years. If anything, many of the smaller acts on the bill at Butserfest should look to dirt to see how it’s done.

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Having travelled eight hours to play Butserfest, it was a relief to see a strong crowd out to support Boston Manor on the main stage. While we lap up the last of the summer sunshine, the band delivers their pop-punk hits that have soundtracked this year’s Festival season. Having had an already brilliant year, touring across the country on a handful of big tours, the band have got their set down to a T and put on a solid performance. We’re now just ready to here something fresh and exciting to come from the Blackpool five-piece.

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Sign a major label deal with Spinefarm and Search and Destroy records? Tick. Support Bring Me The Horizon, Atreyu and Fightstar? Tick. To say things are picking up for SHVPES is something of an understatement right now and there’s no denying that they’re a talented bunch, with Griff Dickinson playing the role of entertaining frontman incredibly well. However, their set at Butserfest didn’t quite click, the band worked well to perform to the somewhat small crowd, but technical issues plagued the sound leaving an underwhelming impression on many.

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For many of the bands playing the early slots at the Festival, they struggled with an ever-thinning crowd, but there was one band that turned that around in an instant, and that was The One Hundred. They’re fusion of tech-metal/hardcore/hip-hop is not going to be to everyone’s taste, but hell they know how to put on a show. Within moments of opening track ‘Breed’ the energy was high from both band and crowd, with circle pits forming and everyone getting involved with the intensity of it all. Their set may not have been long, but every single minute of their time on stage was memorable and they will have earned themselves a whole new group of fans from that performance.

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Slotting The Xcerts in between the most intense and energetic bands of the day probably wasn’t the best thing the Butserfest booking agents could have done. Perhaps the most underrated band in the UK, The Xcerts have so much talent and deserve crowds three times the size of which they play too. Unfortunately though, the younger generation didn’t quite grasp that, and the band were left playing to a somewhat tiny crowd with the biggest sing-a-longs coming from ourselves. The lack of reaction hindered the bands overall performance, as they understandably looked and felt uncomfortable during their set, but the songs played were still played to their best and if anything, we had a lovely time.

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If there’s one thing that Zoax are known for, it’s their live performances and their set at Butserfest was everything we could have hoped for and more. From the outset frontman Adam Carroll had the crowd eating out the palm of his hand, his vocals on form while he parades around the stage (and off it), entertaining the crowded tent. Having such an erratic frontman is a heavy task for the rest of the band members, but they perform the set with ease, enjoying every moment and delivering their slick riffs and bouncing basslines alongside Carroll’s motions. With a moments peace as Carroll gets the crowd sat on the floor as he serenades us with an acoustic intermission, their set is then rounded off in a fabulous fashion and once again we’re reminded of why Zoax are an incredibly exciting band to have around right now.

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One great thing Butserfest does, is give smaller acts the opportunity to perform to a Festival crowd and help establish themselves as upcoming artists. Creating an overwhelming amount of noise on the Introducing stage in the evening were Southampton metalcore outfit Deference, who delivered powerful choruses, meaty breakdowns and plenty of “blegh’s” to go with it. Pulling in the strongest crowd we’d seen all day at the Introducing stage, they’ve already gathered quite the following and new fans joined them for a good old mosh as frontman Rob Lea swaggers around the stage, interacting with friends and fans with confidence. There’s a lot of energy and raw passion within Deference and it wouldn’t be surprising to witness them much higher up the bill within a year or so.

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Rumours were rife that a certain Welsh band were soon to be calling it a day, so catching Funeral for a Friend for one of the final times was a must. Thankfully the crowd filled out and the reception they received was heart warming. To no surprise, tracks like ‘Roses for the Dead’, ‘Streetcar’ and ‘Juneau’ saw almighty sing-a-longs from fans and bands alike, as we all gathered to witness the band that soundtracked so much of our lives. Frontman Matt Davies struggled with his vocals slightly and it was becoming apparent from their stage presence that they were sad their career was coming to an end, but who wouldn’t be? Despite this, they put on a triumphant set and we wish them all the luck for the future.

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Having played Butserfest in previous years,Don Broco made a welcome return to the main stage, this time to headline the Festival and close off another fantastic year. The set was heavily delayed due to set up time and after twenty minutes stood in the cold we were starting to get grumpy. However, as soon as the cheeky Bedfordshire chaps bounced onto the stage, apologising for their lateness and kicked things off with ‘Money Power Fame’ all was forgiven. Their performance only proved how far Don Broco have come over the years, they have an incredible amount of confidence on stage and know exactly how to perform to their crowd, with Rob Damiani perfecting the role as frontman very well. The wall of death for the infamous Thug Workout was unlike any we’d seen in recent times and they absolutely smashed it from start to finish. Butserfest is only the start of their Festival headline appearances, there are much bigger things to come from Don Broco and we can’t wait to see it.

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Photography: Amie Kingswell