The summer of 2013 will be one I remember in one of two ways; as the first of many wonderfully weird ArcTanGent festivals, or as the time I went to that new ridiculously niche festival that nobody ever heard of and never happened again. Either way I’ll be glad to say I was there.
ArcTanGent, the sister of Grass Roots Festival Award winning 2000 Trees is certainly far from your average run-of-the-mill festival and brings its very specific crowd the very best of obscure genres – the most prolific of which are math-rock and post-rock, with a few other kinds of “insert word”-rock sprinkled in for good measure. This specificity has its drawbacks – namely the relatively small 3000-strong crowd – but it also has it merits in that if this is what you’re into you are going to have the time of your life. Safe to say, this is what I’m into.
Early arrival on the Thursday was a fairly low-key affair with the exception of the mind-blowing instrumental talents of Maybeshewill, and it wasn’t until Friday that things really started to heat up. Friday was a day reserved almost entirely for the pinnacle of instrumental-only music. The first really notable act of the day comes in the form of scene-favourites Brontide, who were widely regarded by some drunk festival goers and one particularly outrageous Scottish man as one of highlights of the entire weekend. Their electrifying riffs left many unsure as to whether they should stand and appreciate, or charge face first into one of the many slowly expanding pits. In the end, there was a bit of both. Other highlights include a refreshing change of pace in vocal-heavy Future of the Left and a visual stunner from Public Service Broadcasting, who littered the stage with televisions showing hypnotic old war broadcasts. The grand finale came from an awe-inspiring set from techno-without-the-technology-rockers 65daysofstatic.
Saturday took on a slightly different tone for those who were getting a little tired of instrumental bands, and was dedicated mostly to the most complex of genres; math-rock. Kicking off the day was Big Scary Monsters Records’ summery and relaxing Delta Sleep, followed by an incredibly energetic performance from Axes – complete with what was probably one of the earliest crowdsurfs ever. Following this, an upsettingly small crowd gathered for a mesmerising set from Cardiff’s own Among Brothers who were largely missed by most of the crowd who had, we can only assume, gone to discover whether Fat Goth is in fact a fat goth. Highlight of the day, and perhaps the entire festival, goes to an incredible set from Tall Ships. Judging by the baffled look of wonder on every member of Tall Ships faces, I’m not sure they quite expected every member of the crowd to know all the words to every song and love every minute of it quite as much as they did. This just goes to show that Tall Ships are finally getting the recognition they deserve.
Both the Friday and Saturday nights were lit up by the flashing lights of thousands of silent disco headphones blaring the most outrageous of tunes. Said tunes were chosen by select bands who were asked to DJ such as Tall Ships, and The Physics House Band – who stole the show on Friday night.
The festival itself was well organised, the stages looked incredible and there was a wide range of tasty treats to sample from the various carts and vans dotted around the tiny campsite. Overall all I can say is that I hope ArcTanGent doesn’t fade into the memories of festivals that once were but never quite took off, as I had a ball.