LIVE: Hevy Fest 2014

By Ben Tipple

Like most festivals, Kent’s Hevy Fest has faced its fair share of roller-coaster moments. From garnering acclaim from almost all in attendance in 2010 and 2011, their dual stage set up and over-ambitious line-up proved difficult to swallow in 2012, ultimately leading to a cancelled event in 2013.

Not ones to back down, the festival brushed itself off to return in 2014, bringing with it a line-up of new and established music including the return of cult post-hardcore superstars Finch and veteran punk outfit The Vandals. Not just that, the smaller stages boasted a plethora of talent from both the UK and further afield, while punters were as ever offered the opportunity to visit the animals in the adjacent Port Lympne animal park.

What Hevy 2014 lacked in numbers, it more than made up for in character. As the festival faced recovery from 2013, and undoubtedly the result of a late announcement, there was an undeniably low amount of faces pointed at any stage. Yet in their place was a friendly, homely and dedicated fan-base, and one that brought enough to the table to make it all worthwhile.

We joined them to experience Hevy 2014.


Perhaps Apologies, I Have None should have been higher up the bill. ‘Two Bombs In A Box’ was contagious above all, with Josh McKenzie’s vocals brimming with volume, losing none of the texture of the studio recordings. AIHN were satisfying to watch, and it’s reassuring to know that they tour prolifically across the UK.


Refused are a band who, if you’ve witnessed them live, are a privilege to have seen. INVSN, the new project of lead vocalist Dennis Lyxzén, are far from that. Forgetting the odd, sometimes hilarious dance-moves that Lyxzén was attempting on stage, INVSN sounded watered-down and baffling in relation to Refused. That’s unfair perhaps, but INVSN sounded tinny – ‘#61’ was more like a half-baked power ballad than an accomplished pop-song.

We bloody love a bit of post-rock here at Punktastic and Maybeshewill are one of our favourites within the genre. Their sound filled the stage comfortably and the band absolutely smashed it on stage. There are a couple of things that detracted slightly from the set, the ending of ‘To The Skies From The Hillside’ getting interrupted by drum being soundchecked, prompting an audible ‘SHUSH’ from the band and their early slot means people aren’t quite getting into it as they should. That being said, the band gave it their all and as always were an incredible joy to watch.

TRC insist on mashing up hardcore-punk and grime in the most lumbering, clumsiest fashion. That’s implying that the two genres can be put together coherently at all. Six of them clobbered about the stage and lead singer Chris Robson stomped about with the most self-satisfied grin of them all. It was baffling, considering that TRC rely on breakdowns and rap-influenced yelling – whilst full of machismo and aggression – they ended up sounding muddled and loose in a live setting.

Synth-filled, instrumental rock is pretty niche, but then again rock is a genre filled with niches. Three Trapped Tigers can only be judged on the fact that they gave it their all in front of a crowd that may not have fully embraced their rhythmically loose sound, reminiscent of both prog-rock and pop-punk at the same time. Not for everyone, sure, but entertaining nonetheless.

Re-emerging from a hiatus can’t be easy but Crime In Stereo seemed to have forgotten that they’d even taken a break. Bass guitars grooved and the Long Islanders were frantic and pacey, bringing up memories of The Bronx and Brand New too. At times, Kristian Hallbert’s vocals seemed to falter though, ending up a bit weaker-sounding compared to the solid band behind him. The vocal harmonies stood out from their set and punctuating, forceful drums were carried out to a tee.


The best way to enter a stage is to wear an owl-mask on your head. Combine that with thundering hardcore-punk mixed with a good dose of metal and you’re onto a winner. Well done then to Kvelertak, who blew us away with thrumming bass and solos which took cues from classic rock. Don’t be put off by the fact that they sing in Norwegian – Kvelertak were a highlight from Friday – raging, roaring vocalist Erlend Hjelvik is a lesson in how to lead a band.

Friday’s sub-headliners on the main stage were Burlington, Ontario post-hardcore veterans, Silverstein. It might be the post interview beers talking here but they absolutely smashed it. The pace rarely let up, coming on stage to ‘Smashed Into Pieces’ provided a much needed injection of energy. Silverstein are a band who know just how strong their back catalogue is and the appearances of the likes of ‘Smile In Your Sleep’ and ‘My Sword Versus Your Dagger’ went down an absolute treat. Silverstein put in a great shift and did well to lift the spirits of the Hevy Festival crowd.

It’s telling that guitarist Randy Strohmeyer fell off the stage and that was barely a pockmark on Finch‘s triumphant set at Hevy. A fair few tracks were played from ‘What It Is To Burn’ and the reception was fitting. Nate Barcalow was expressive and emotive, and he barely missed a note. The post-hardcore band from California took full advantage of their headline at Hevy; entertaining and rapid, Finch were solid. But full credit goes to Alex Pappas for the perfect, percussive drumming. Oh, and the guitarist for getting back up on stage after falling two metres into the photo pit.


With that we retired to the Uprawr Party and for some late-night campsite beers, ready for what Saturday had in store…




Scotland’s own The Murderburgers kicked things off on the Saturday afternoon with an infectious blend of melodic yet punchy punk. Their melodies drove them through a gripping set, seemingly unphased by the small number of people parked infront of the main stage. These melodies combined with their evident enjoyment to perfectly match the sunshine basking over the festival site.

Acres were a little bit closer to home than The Murderburgers; the five-piece from the South of England played post-hardcore with ambient qualities. It was a welcome change, hearing sweeping riffs and vocals which reverberated through the tent. Interesting and accessible, Acres hit surprising heights at Hevy.

Me Vs Hero definitively sound better on their studio recordings. Perhaps that’s because of the way that their records are produced. Either way, they weren’t as good as we would have hoped. Sam Thompson’s vocals sounded stretched and strained, sometimes out of key. The guitar wasn’t weighty enough for the kind of music that depends on breakdowns and power chords in a dropped tuning, nor was it always in sync with the bass. ‘Can You Count, Suckers’ came off as a little sloppy rather than tight and focussed.

The Hell filled the stage wearing masks and sunglasses, and had a guy dressed like a penis dancing around them. If you’re thinking that this is some kind of gimmick, you’d be right, but they were entertaining. Heavy breakdowns were carried out really well, and while they may draw comparisons with TRC, The Hell don’t take themselves too seriously and can play with some kind of cohesion. It was really heavy too, in case that hasn’t been mentioned.

Over on the second stage, Empress AD offered a powerful take on melodic-math-metal-rock. It was an interesting and often indescribable combination. With moments that hinted at ‘Vheissu’ era Thrice intertwined amongst Dillinger Escape Plan time signatures and thundering drums, the result was an unquestionably audible assault.

Taking to the third stage, California’s Worthwhile put in a set full of emotive, raw energy. Their 2013 debut ‘Carry On Kid’ is a stunning piece of work and it’s no surprise the set is packed with tracks from it. The hook in ‘Evergreen’ and the set ending of ‘Unlovable’ inspired some of those in attendance to indulge in a little mosh and that didn’t go unnoticed either with vocalist – James Teyler taking the time to say thank you and shake the hand of those who do got involved. It’s a nice ending to what was a brilliant set.

Having two people in your band seems to be fashionable at the moment but it really was much more than just a one-dimensional gimmick in this case. ’68, all the way from Georgia USA, pull it off with buckets of energy and lead singer Josh Scogin exudes charisma. Surrounded by people, including a few packed together on stage, ’68 churned out grungy, infectious riffs, searing vocals and some rumbling drums. Just as well that they played in a tent rather than on the main stage – the set felt more visceral and frantic as a result.


Capdown said it best: “You don’t have to be cool to have fun here” – they were an absolute blast. Lead vocalist, Jake Sims-Fielding, whilst a father of three kids, was hyperactive and charismatic up on stage. Whether he was trilling on his saxophone or amping up the crowd it was just impressive. At one point he crossed his arms and stared at us, and I crossed them back and started laughing, unflinching through his calls for us to dance. In hindsight we regret refusing to dance – Capdown deserved more than a shivering, somewhat dwindling crowd.

Anti-Flag‘s commitment to showmanship was doubtful, as they’re a pretty serious politically-minded group now, but when they entered the stage to ‘War’ by Sly and the Family Stone, all those doubts were dashed. ‘Die For Your Government’ prompted the loudest singalong of the weekend and ‘1 Trillion Dollars’ felt tragic and cutting, as it should have. Then, as the drum kit and bass were quickly brought off the stage and onto the ground in front of us, there was a great feeling of spontaneous community. The words to ‘Drink Drank Punk’ were yelled out by everybody crowded around the members of the band – that was a lesson in how to end a live set.

Not everything has to be some kind of macho exhibition in beatdowns – Reel Big Fish certainly knew that, although the thrash-metal version of S.R. could’ve fooled me. It’s pretty clear that they’re an inspiring live act and you could judge that solely on the amount of people that ended up skanking up til the triumphant finale that was ‘Sell Out’.

Numbers might be noticably small as veterans The Vandals walked out onto the main stage, but those that remained were clearly more than happy to be along for the ride. Racing through tracks from their extensive back-catalogue, The Vandals entertained as any expert showman should. Although they remained fundamentally punk, the charisma and upbeat melodies combined to cover the field with a pop-punk mentality. Joyful and engaging, frontman David Quackenbush seemingly lost all his inhibitions as he cavorted around the open stage. It was a masterclass in performance, and one that reaffirmed The Vandals as one of the key players in the genre.


And so the sun went down on Hevy 2014. Despite the aforementioned and obvious difficulties, it proved to be one of the highlights of the summer. With 2015 already announced, we will see you down the front.