Macmillan Fest @ Rescue Rooms, Nottingham – Saturday 7th September 2013

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Review by Matt Bradley

There are two things certain in this world: death and taxes. Whilst the government are responsible for the latter, the former is incited by many horrendous diseases , the most infamous of which is cancer. Macmillan Fest took place in Nottingham recently to raise money for one of the leading cancer support charities in the UK.

macmillanOpening up on the Mutiny Press Stage were Nottingham’s own Sink The City. Unfortunately for them, there was still quite a queue to get into the complex so they played to quite an empty room. The few that had queued early enough to see them seemed to really enjoy the set but muddy sound really didn’t help convert any new fans. By the time The Winter Hill Syndicate hit the stage, the room was pretty full and powered by the quality drumming of Owen Thornton (who looked like a long-lost relative of old school pro wrestler Hacksaw Jim Duggan), TWHS’ unapologetic metal really struck a nerve.

Progressive hardcore five-piece Opposition were up next and despite the band and a few faithful fans obviously loving every minute of it, after the previous band’s showing, their performance didn’t really make a big impression. Derby’s Skies In Motion promptly took that opportunity to smash the Mutiny Press Stage a new one. Newcomer to the metalcore group, guitarist Dave Stewart, seemed like he’d been in the band since day one and with mosh pits aplenty (none bigger than the wall of death at the end of the set), SIM really showed why they’ve recently earned support slots with bands like blessthefall and Killswitch Engage.

The Algorithm spent half an hour putting what sounded like C3PO and R2D2’s sex tape to a beat (a drummer next to a guy fiddling with some knobs next to a laptop is the most boring stage show ever, by the way) and after that snooze-fest, Midlands lads Virtues reminded Macmillan Fest what real music was. After a calm intro, Danny Foster and co smashed through a forty minute set of ridiculously intelligent hardcore. With touches of melody now and again, the bulk of Virtues’ set was ungodly brutality set to a beat that constantly changed; it was a wonder they could remember the structure of their (admittedly fantastic) songs.

No Honour are one of the East Midlands most rapidly rising hardcore bands and whilst today’s gig was unfortunately their last of the year due to a line up change, they made up for it massively with an insane set with crowdsurfing galore. Rumour has it; a music video will spawn from that set.

After nearly six hours of non-stop metal and hardcore, a break was needed. Over on the Born Wild Stage, Skarlett Riot played their brand of melodic hard rock to a receptive crowd and it was clear to see why they were picked to play on the BBC Introducing stage at Reading & Leeds earlier this year. Straight after, hometown boys Emperor Chung strolled into the limelight. Hot off an awesome performance at this year’s Download Festival, the Nottingham five-piece really demonstrated why their fanbase is hastily becoming a ‘who’s who’ in alternative music. Imagine Alter Bridge, but heavier and with much more crunch, and that is what the ‘Chungsters’ in attendance were treated to. With more chants of ‘Up The Chung’ than is possible to count occurring during their set (as well as the crowd doubling in size), they definitely left all in no doubt that these guys are going to go far.

Back at the Mutiny Press Stage and the room is full. Really full. How full? Well, it wouldn’t have been surprising if all fire code regulations in regards to maximum occupancy were violated – there were SO many people crammed into that relatively small space in anticipation of the headlining band. The ambience faded in and the crowd naturally exploded into cheers – Tesseract were here. Incredible songwriting incarnate via flawless technical proficiency, the proggy and experimental metal quintet put on a metal masterclass the end the day’s musical festivities. The crisp guitar work of Alec Kahney and James Monteith was backed up by solid bass work from Amos Williams and the stellar drumming of Jay Postones, but what stood out most on a day dominated by hardcore bands were Ashe O’Hara’s vocals. Note-perfect during his singing (which was a good 95% of his performance), O’Hara proved that you don’t have to scream for your band to be heavy. The capacity crowd ate up every track the Tesseract guys played and the day ended rather fittingly with chants of ‘one more song, one more song’…

Roll on next year.

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