The Sunday started off wet and miserable. On our drive into Lincoln, Kitteh and I stared gloomily out of the windows at the grey skies and thanked the hardcore gods that the venue was indoors. When we were inside, they tried to foist off some Powerade onto us instead of Red Bull. Kitteh was perturbed, I was ecstatic. Full of sugar and a new found zeal, we stumbled upon Towering Heights (3.5/5), a pleasant surprise for the first band of the day. Instead of the screamo-esque sort of thing we were expecting, we were hit by some “Faith No More times Guns And Roses taking a segway via Neil Young and being pretty good” rock and roll. A soulful start to our Sunday, Towering Heights had some great musical talent on show. The bass in particular was magnificent and the vocalist had some powerful lungs on him. It was an odd fit, but one we were very happy with. With a bit more confidence, Towering Heights will be incredible. They Say Fall (2/5) were another story – kiddie hardcore but without the typical screaming vocals. While the band played some highly recognisable but relatively tight melodies, the vocalist wailed over the top like a banshee who’d been impaled with a flaming spear and had just been told their cat had died. Best to be avoided unless they get a new vocalist.
Never Cry Wolf (2.5/5) were yet another of the bro style hardcore bands we stumbled in on (and usually promptly walked away from) throughout the weekend. They played fine but unenthusiastically and failed to grab us, there being nothing particularly individual about their style at all. Brotherhood of the Lake (3.5/5) were a great improvement on this, assaulting our eardrums with their furious yet doomy hardcore. Peppering their set with movie quotes started off cool but got a little bit stale as it happened before every song without any real concept behind it, but ignoring that, they were solid, if requiring a little more movement (personally, we were just a bit upset that the hammered guy from the day before wasn’t pulling some moves in front of them).
Upstairs, Astpai (3.5/5) played some great gruff punk. Bouncy and heartfelt, it was the stuff of Tony Hawk games. While we only caught half a set, they made for a fine interval in between bands on the Big Cheese stage. Then downstairs, Mallory Knox (4.5/5 from Ripper, but a resounding 5/5 from Kitteh) blew us away. A fantastic deviation from the identikit hardcore, Mallory Knox are heartfelt, honest and catchy as hell. Their fine-tuned melodies flooded the venue and were received by an enthusiastic and highly grateful crowd. Woody from POLAR also made a far less threatening appearance, which was nice.
Above Them (5/5) are never, ever anything short of amazing. On Sunday, on the Punktastic stage, it was simply a joy to watch them perform. Above Them have brought out my favourite record so far this year (and if you haven’t got Are We A Danger To Ourselves, go and get it now from Specialist Subject Records, one of the best decisions you’ll ever make) and while only a few songs from that made it into their set, their positively electric performance showed them at the best I’ve ever seen them at. Melodic punk rock at its absolute best.
Departures (3.5/5) were pretty good fun. Good melodic hardcore. A clear Parkway Drive influence coming through, and I’m sure if they were on a bigger stage, they’d be a bit more lively but were a bit too timid to step off and parade in the pit like a few of the other bands. Nevertheless, I’ve heard their album is great and based on their performance, I’ll be bound to check it out. TRC (4.5/5) were possibly our biggest surprise of the weekend. Absolutely crushing hardcore with a rap element to it. Incredible breakdowns too. Kitteh and I were left scratching our heads, holding extremely hot cups of tea, thinking “how have we not heard of these guys before?” Now we have, and we’re happy that TRC are in our lives.
Our final band of the weekend was Random Hand (5/5). Random Hand are brilliant wherever they are. But on the Punktastic stage this weekend, in their own words, they KILLED IT. The best performance of the weekend, Random Hand made us all dance, skank and lose our minds at their simply sublime ska-punk. Ever the masters of banter (“I once tried to reach the French town of Evian on a novelty pedalo but didn’t get there cause I only had an hour and had to take it back”), there were dual circlepits, police sirens, general mayhem and I thought the floor was going to collapse. The lads were on top form. And with that, Kitteh and I decided to be not-so-punk, go home, get a cup of tea and a cheese and tomato pizza and watch The Cowboy Way in our pyjamas because we were absolutely knackered and The Skints are supporting Less Than Jake later this month anyway. But there wasn’t a better way we could have ended the weekend, and we couldn’t have celebrated the end of our degree anywhere better than Crash Doubt.