Crash Doubt Festival – The Showroom Lincoln, 2/6/12 [pt 1]

After a very successful first year, Crash Doubt returned to the deepest and darkest depths of the North (well… at least on the very rainy Sunday) for another go. Hosted in The Showroom in Lincoln, the punk and hardcore fest was a beautiful interruption to the Jubilee weekend.

Before I get into the bands, I have to stress how well organised the whole weekend was. Bands rarely overran or came on late, the stages were laid out well, the merchandise section was fantastically managed and the bar wasn’t too overpriced. The venue, a conference centre combined with a youth centre, was a great space to host in. If only half of the festival-goers spent more time in the venue checking out the bands than out in the car park.

Saturday started out strong. We got to the venue just in time for Climates (3.5/5), whose particular variety of melodic hardcore was good fun. The vocalist, who looked a little bit like Parkway Drive’s Winston McCall, had a great tone to his voice and the band as a whole sounded brilliant for one of the first on. Following them up on the Time Will Tell stage were Fair Do’s (3/5), a local Lincoln pop-punk band. Tinged with posicore, they were fun and bouncy but they wore all their influences on their sleeves. Nevertheless, with their sense of fun and a little more development, they should be going places. Up on the Punktastic stage, Tim Van Tol (3.5/5) regaled us all with his solo folk punk. Reminiscent of sea shanties at times, some gruff and soulful acoustic fare did everyone some good (and Kitteh thought he looked a bit like Varg from Burzum).

Watch Commander (2/5) were fairly boring melodic punk rock – their songs had promise but failed to hit the mark. However, Attack! Vipers! (5/5) were nothing short of incredible. One of the most impressive hardcore bands coming out of the UK right now, their performance was intense, exciting and completely involving. If Attack! Vipers! play near you, don’t ever miss them. Moral Dilemma (2.5/5) weren’t really to my taste – abrasive punk rock that sounded all the same. It’s difficult to write good punk in the old style these days and while their overall performance was reasonably solid, I still found their set dull. Bangers (4/5) are proof that musical evolution often wins out and their gruff punk anthems rang out loud and clear on the Punktastic stage. There were awesome singalongs, sweet hooks and some actually very cleverly written instrumental sections. You can still be a musician in a punk band; Bangers will show you how.

Back downstairs on the Big Cheese stage, The Smoking Hearts (4/5), along with a guy who was either so wasted or on some variety of pills, showed us all how to party. Admittedly, they played fairly standard hardcore stuff – nothing new, but it was tight and they were batshit insane. Lots of jumping, some rolling around and potentially broken elbows – that’s how it should be done. Demoraliser (1/5) clearly didn’t observe how The Smoking Hearts did it and were truly the first of a few identikit hardcore bands we managed to stumble upon. They may have been local heroes but their breakdowns were so subpar, the vocals had no tone to them whatsoever and they sounded like a Terror ripoff without any of the brutality. Hang The Bastard (4/5) are how you should do hardcore, in comparison – terrifyingly. There are no other words. And yet the man in the khaki balaclava wasn’t the most intimidating thing all weekend. That accolade belongs to Woody from POLAR (4.5/5). While POLAR’s set was impressive, it was distracting to see a guy who looks like he has rabies push a crowd around because “if [you] don’t move, [I’ll] fucking move you”. Highly counter-productive to crowd involvement, but nonetheless, a stellar performance from one of the UK’s most exciting new bands. Heights (3.5/5) struggled to follow suit but their crowd involvement was certainly better. Their sound was less intense and more dirgey – the doom influences in their music rang loud and clear but still remained full of desperation.

And we finished off the night with No Trigger (3/5). I’ve been waiting to see No Trigger for a while, ever since I was bowled over by Canyoneer. To this day, it’s one of my favourite records. But I found No Trigger to be a bit… well, flat. There was plenty of enthusiasm but it just felt like there was something lacking. Might have been a levels thing, might have been an end of tour fatigue, but it just didn’t ring true. It didn’t end my night on a total downer though because they played Owner Operator and that put a fairly big smile on my face.

So, Saturday was pretty damn sweet. Sunday’s writeup to follow!