ArcTanGent 2018 will be a tough act to follow. The festival was a fast-paced whirlwind. I saw about eight bands each day, all playing to an incredibly high standard. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, with people wandering from stage to stage either to see a beloved band or to seek something sonically new. Fuelled by a combination of Red Bull and vegan nachos, I spent the days jumping from stage to stage, bumping into people who were just as enthused by the bands they had seen as I was.
Weekend festivals in fields have always been daunting places for me. Having been to Washed Out and Ladyfuzz recently, smaller day or two-day festivals seemed to be where my comfort zone lay, and even then, I would get very anxious after four or five bands. So, when I booked my ticket for ArcTanGent 2018, I was half-expecting a weekend of anxiety. Fortunately, that was far from the case. Small, friendly, and well-run, I’m looking forward to seeing what ArcTanGent 2019 has in store.
It’s tough to narrow down the 25+ bands I saw to just write in detail about a select few, but also writing about every single band would lack the depth these bands deserve. So here’s a list of ten bands that really stuck out to me, be it their sound, their stage presence, or the atmosphere of the crowd.
Fresh off the release of their second album, Ghost City, Delta Sleep offered a sparkling, clean, and heartfelt array of mathy songs, with definitive emo influences. Ghost City is a concept album based around a sprawling dystopian city that covers the entire planet, following the story of a person that seeks nature, which is only known about through legend.
Another band that released an album this year, Rolo Tomassi defy typical genres. Their blend of heavy guitars and ambient synth pads create warmth and harshness simultaneously. Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It is at times slow, melodic and beautiful, and other times cacophonous, with the band drastically switching between styles, genres, and melodies with ease. They’re an incredible live act to watch.
Quite possibly the best live band I’ve ever seen. Completely electrifying. They had a stage presence that clearly conveyed that every band member was happy to be there. The band played a mixture of songs from their first, second, and most recent album, released only a few weeks ago. Their new album sounds huge and breaks out of the emo box that Foxing have been confined to for so long. The songs from this album made the whole record click with me, and I’ve been listening to it non-stop since I regained signal on Sunday.
This was the first time I’d seen or really listened to Jamie Lenman. I think he’s one of those acts that really clicks when you see him live. Seeming to flit from genre to genre, he played a mixture of new songs from last year’s record, Devolver, songs from his Muscle Memory days, and older Reuben songs, skipping between vastly different tracks with dexterity and charm.
Math rock that makes you want to dance, even if the rapidly changing time signatures make that a bit tricky. Their second album, We Do What We Can, was released earlier this year and demonstrates influences from a huge range of genres, from math rock and emo, to post-rock and jazz.
A band that did not disappoint, despite the enormous amount of hype around them. This was the first time I’d seen them live and their stage energy was amazing. They played a fair few older songs, which I was told was rare, but they pulled it off and the crowd were clearly enthralled by their performance. Hectic, urgent, and intense.
And So I Watch You From Afar
Playing last year’s release, The Endless Shimmering, in full, And So I Watch You From Afar were an energetic, intense, and starkly beautiful act to watch. The crowd seemed to take just as much enjoyment from their newest album as they did from the encore that consisted of older material. The band are post-rock giants, and deservedly so.
A friend pitched Space Blood to me as “a comedy duo that kind of sounds like Don Caballero”, and they weren’t wrong. With a vocoded voice for communicating with the audience, a wealth of bizarre effects pedals, and confetti cannons, they definitely held their own. Their set was fun, exciting, and, as their last show, very intense. I had a great time.
Jean Jean strike a balance between electronic influences and post-hardcore. Purely instrumental with synths and drums, their sound was more than enough to fill the Arc tent. Music to dance to.
Giraffes? Giraffes! were one of the few bands of Saturday’s line-up that I’d listened to before, and I was intrigued how they would make it work on stage. Their music is extremely math-oriented, with frenetic drumming, and incomprehensibly complex guitar. This was their first UK show, and they definitely pulled it off well. The crowd were clearly having fun, and, more importantly, the band seemed to be too.
Thank you to ArcTanGent for providing me with the opportunity to attend the festival, and thank you to everyone that made the festival such a welcoming place.
Photo Credit to Paola Baltazar