Live: Friday @ WTFest – Apologies, I Have None and more

By Tom Beck

Southampton hosts one of the UK’s best alternative music scenes. It’s a popular stop off for international tours, boosts some excellent emerging talent, and has one of the most on point studios in the country. Its success has come off the back of solid hard work and blind faith though, and this is often personified by the good folk at Wrong Way Round and The Joiners. The venue welcomed the 6th instalment of WTFest this October and the line up on the Friday night showcased some of the most exciting bands in the UK right now.

Unfortunately the M3 decided to take a break during rush hour on Friday night so we spent most of Bleach Blood‘s set sat in the car. What we did see, admittedly only one and a half songs, was great fun and far more pop-tinged than we’d anticipated.

Creeper were up next. The local band were only playing their fifth set since forming but they’ve made a huge impact in a short space of time. They cracked through the whole of their debut EP (the absolutely brilliant self titled five track) and throw in an AFI cover for good measure. It’s catchy punk-rock with a dark vibe from the former Our Time Down Here members, with the Davey Havok and Matt Skiba influences worn right on the sleeve of frontman Will Gould. Anthems ‘VCR’ and ‘Gloom’ go down well with the lively crowd, whilst closing track ‘Novena’ is a theatrical ending to the set. Creeper are an early tip for 2015 already.

Many predicted the next band to have a great 2014, but even Moose Blood themselves are probably surprised at quite how great it’s been. The Canterbury based band have just released their debut album, on the internationally renowned No Sleep Records no less, and they’re days away from starting their first mainland European tour. There’s a real vulnerability about their live performance and that’s certainly part of their charm tonight. Their brand of accessible emo-pop is a nod to bands like Brand New and The Movielife and they, importantly, never shy away from that. ‘Bukowski’ and ‘Moving Home’ are set mainstays but both still excellent live, whilst ‘I Hope You’re Miserable’ and ‘Pups’ are great new additions. Moose Blood have had a really progressive year but they’ll push this band even further next year.

Great Cynics were the penultimate band and it was a solid performance from the trio. The vocal dynamic between Giles and Iona has always been strong and that shines through tonight. These also something warming about seeing a band so into playing live and loving being on stage, and we doubt you can find a more enthusiastic musician than Giles Bidder here. The band end on the Limbeck inspired ‘Twenty Five’ and it’s probably the moment of the night for us. It’s a melodic pop track at heart and a clever reminder of an underrated band.

Apologies, I Have None wrapped up the night and we were absolutely blown away by them. ‘London’ was easily one of the best UK albums of 2012 and their ensuing live sets were truly life affirming. However ‘Black Everywhere’ took the band on a darker, more progressive, route and that definitely divided opinions. We’ll admit to doubting that route and so hadn’t expected to love those tracks as much live. They open with the anthemic ‘Sat in Vicky Park’ and it’s clear that the crowd left behind are into it from the start. However it’s the newer tracks that steal the show – they’re flawless live and push the band on far more than the melodic punk-rock sets we’d previously seen. It’s a shame that we’d waited so long to get back on board here.

Friday night at WTFest was a real triumph for both the Southampton and the UK scene. There’s long been greater support for North American alternative bands on these shores but the five on show here were every bit as captivating and as exciting as you’ll see Stateside.