By Judy Tate
August 3rd-6th, 2012
For me, Hevy Festival 2012 was perfectly, though unexpectedly, summarized by an elderly lady outside the Bison enclosure in the nearby animal park, which wristbands gained festival goers free entry to. The grandmother stated she had never seen so many tattoos and piercings in her life and this was pretty accurate. Perhaps if she had been aware of flesh tunnels, vans, flat caps and creepers she may have also been impressed at their abundance too. Having set the scene (in particular the subcultural ‘scene’) of Kent’s rock and alternative festival, it was American hardcore band Trapped Under Ice that set the bar musically and atmospherically for Hevy 2012.
Trapped Under Ice delivered a taste of what was to be expected of the bands and crowd alike this weekend. Frontman Brendan Yates, contrary to previous accounts of his less than warm nature towards audiences, was consistently interactive throughout TUI’s set, humorously beckoning the crowd to make the festival security earn their wages. His request was met, as during the remainder of the band’s performance a sea of crowd surfers were pulled over the barrier, immediately sprinting back to rejoin the continuous moshing (obviously it wouldn’t be long before the ‘M’ word was required!). Yates’ powerful stage presence, the band’s impressive performance and the crowd’s response were an exciting indication of what was to come.
This excitement was later dampened by torrential rain hammering the side of my tent at 5am on Saturday morning, however falling back asleep I was miraculously met with dazzling sunshine when reawakened at 10am. With the perfect festival weather and the discovery of the Jäger bar, I was ready for some more hardcore action. Highlights of the afternoon began with Balance and Composure, an emotive hardcore band from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, formed in 2007. Last night’s enthusiasm was continued, and B&C delivered all but two tracks from last year’s debut album Separation. Baltimorean’s Pianos Become The Teeth gave an intense performance with tracks from The Lack Long After. The band’s new album has been described as moving in a darker and heavier direction, mostly due to the record’s biting content. A particular example is the piercing ‘Cripples Can’t Shiver’ describing the condition MS, written about the father of PBTT’s frontman Kyle Durfey. Sheffield’s Rolo Tomassi lifted the mood somewhat, drawing a huge crowd for so early on in the day. Initially experiencing the band from the comfort of the sunshine outside, I was surprised to discover that the throaty, gravelly roar that was to be heard emanating from beneath the Punktastic tent belonged to Rolo Tomassi’s Eva Spence. Having only seen what the band looked like on a Kerrang poster hanging in a friend’s flat in which Spence confusingly looked like a sweet and lovely girl, I was bloody impressed that what I was hearing was courtesy of her vocal chords.
— Rolo Tomassi
The evening of Day 2 of Hevy Festival 2012 was drawing in but things were in no way winding down. Californian hardcore punk rockers Set Your Goals double teamed the crowd with the entertainment of their two vocalists Jordan Brown and Matt Wilson and as expected ‘The Few That Remain,’ normally featuring Paramore’s punk princess Hayley Williams, went down a treat. Anticipation was no doubt in the air for tonight’s headliners Glassjaw and Andrew W.K., and as a swift stepping stone and the first venture into the festival’s smallest stage, the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Stage tent, we caught Brutality Will Prevail. Reminiscent of Trapped Under Ice’s performance the previous night, BWP seemed more aggressive due to the proximity of the tent in which a group of about 5 or 6 guys (my first glimpse at some ‘straight-edgers’) had formed a modest mosh circle in front of the stage, inside of which they were conducting an aggressive sort of relay. When BWP ended, and we tired of watching guys trying to dislocate each other’s shoulders, Daryl Palumbo and co awaited us across at the Rock Sound Stage where an already steadily growing crowd had convened, ready for the double dose that was to be Glassjaw and Andrew W.K..
No surprises, Glassjaw were excellent, with Mr Palumbo the most charismatic front man of the weekend, drawing an excitable crowd response. With a hearty amount of tracks from the band’s second album Worship and Tribute the crowd surfing once again reached its peak and at the persuasion of a friend I ventured into the action. Unsurprisingly to me in my 5″1′ frame, within less than 10 seconds I was barged to the ground, managing to demolish my Primark ray bans, and so I pathetically retreated to the safety of the sidelines, where I was able to enjoy Glassjaw’s ‘Tip Your Bartender’ and vicariously mosh via the engrossed audience. Before we knew it, Mr W.K. was blinding the crowd with tight white trousers, with a female companion in a similarly interesting tight black catsuit. Andrew W.K. gave the crowd what they wanted, performing ‘Party Hard’ two tracks in, and many who earlier in the day were self consciously selecting the coolest band tee to purchase from the merch stall were throwing themselves about in delight at W.K.’s biggest hit, with the carefree mood carrying throughout the rest of the set and into the night. AWK certainly instigated the most fun set of the weekend.
— Andrew W.K.
It seemed like it was moments since crates, tents and sleeping bags were lugged through the gates and it was already the last day of the festival. Many of Hevy’s attendants, perhaps inspired by Andrew W.K.’s hairy appearance and animalistic dance moves, were inspired to take up the free entry granted to Port Lympne Animal Park near to where the festival was taking place. To cut a long story short, families were confused, as previously mentioned, by the unexpected clientele that day and Ambam, the silverback alpha gorilla, punched a window due to frustration at some emo-punks getting too close. Back on site, the Red Bull Stage provided an entertaining stop gap before the pop-punk originals The Descendents took to the stage. A band I had been keen to get a look at, Lemuria, with their less aggressive musical styling proved a refreshing break from the intensity of much of the hardcore performances that had been witnessed. The singer/guitarist Sheena Ozzella sang well and performed well with her co singer/bassist Kyle Paton, and the trio (drummer Alex Kerns) entertained the small but enthusiastic audience. Vinnie Caruana charmed with both his music and relaxed chatting and comical anecdotes between songs. I Am The Avalanche fans should have left content as Caruana performed acoustic versions of IATA songs interspersed with his own new stuff, and a brilliant cover of ‘Brooklyn Dodgers’ was a highlight of the whole festival for me. Promises of a full UK tour understandably went down extremely well.
Finally, The Descendents, noted as pioneers of modern day pop punk, gave everything they had, and got it all back from the ecstatic crowd. The band performed a sizeable number of tracks from all six of their studio albums beginning with ‘Hope’ from their aptly titled 1982 record Milo Goes to College through to ‘Talking’ and ‘Nothing With You’ from 2004′s Cool To Be You. Due to my position in the crowd I was unable to get a close look at the actual band members, but their onstage energy didn’t give away their age, and tracks ‘I Don’t Want To Grow Up’ and ‘When I Get Old’ still carried the band’s youthful defiance, mirrored in the crowd’s animated dancing, embracing the last performance of the weekend.
— The Descendents