It may only be March, but the birds are singing, the sun is shining and it is officially the start of festival season. This weekend sees us heading to Southampton for Takedown Festival 2014. Ok so we might not be able to walk around in bikinis yet, but as Takedown is indoors, thankfully we don’t need to.
One of the best of the younger festivals, Takedown Festival was launched in 2012 and is now in its third year. It may be one of the smaller festivals, but it still has 5 stages and a capacity of 2000, as well as a fantastic atmosphere and being bloody good fun! So much so that I’m flying from Edinburgh to Southampton to make sure I’m in attendance. Meeting the lovely Laura Herbert at our hotel (where we coincidentally ended up in neighbouring rooms), we got our glad rags on and hiked up the (small) hill to Southampton Uni.
First up today we have The Catharsis, who kick off the Uprawr stage with straight up carnage. Amour unleashes the beast in the crowd and a sea of hands and legs fill the air. We’re immediately told to ‘fucking kill each other’ and at 1 in afternoon, I’m left thinking it’s a bit too early for that. Nonetheless the mosh has not subsided and vocalist Morgan heads into the crowd, before climbing on the speakers with the subtle words ‘I wanna see this place explode’, and the fans did them proud! 6/10
Meanwhile, over on the Southampton Music Introducing stage, the kids are chanting the bands name before Ugly Love have even taken to the stage. Throwing a mix of inflatable toys out in the the crowd, its clear for all to see that this is a band with a dedicated fan base, who are so hyper they’re practically drooling. This young, colourfully dressed band are full of energy, and bounce across the stage as they deliver pop punk anthem after pop punk anthem. The audience love it and the band relish in it. 7/10
Over at the main Jägermeister stage we are treated to a steampunk ball by the suave Fearless Vampire Killers. Although half of the crowd are still going for the old, face paint FVK look, while the other half look raptured. The audience are bouncy, sweaty and really enjoy the set. The quintet treat us to an epic set, with frontmen Keir Kemp and Laurence Beveridge sharing the role expertly. With lots of red light, and the band donned in suits, there is something almost sermon like about the bands set, with the audience worshipping at their feet. Closing with the fabulous Could We Burn, Darling?, the set demonstrates Fearless Vampire Killers ability to write catchy songs, full of heavy riffs and bounce along choruses. We can’t wait to see these guys again. 9/10
At the Total Rock stage The Howling demonstrate their unique style to great avail. A techno drum beat fills the room and it seems drummer Jack is on his own, before the rest of the band unite on stage and heavy rock n roll riffs consume everyone’s attention. The Howling’s music is perfect head banging material, although the crowd didn’t appear too blown away when vocalist Blacky demands “come closer, we’re not Ian Watkins”. Well, that’s a relief! The Rev treats us to guitar wizardy with crisp solos which dominate the set and crowd favourite The Outsider secures a few new fans for the band, while anthems Beat The Panic and Champion delight their older fans. 7/10
Zoax consistently play wild shows and there is no exception today. The piercing eyes of Irish vocalist Adam Carroll make everyone feel like they are being watched, and in turn meant we couldn’t take our eyes off the band. The usual madness ensued and Adam soon found his head touching the ceiling, on which he commented “its not very pretty up here. All suited up, you would expect a man would retain his composure, but fans were met with screams to the face- which matched perfectly with their heavy guitar riffs. From start to finish, the energy levels shot through the roof and it’s clear to see that these lads are going far. Catch them ASAP. 8/10
Its clear that Heart In Hand are popular, as the Uprawr stage was bursting with people as the band set up. Charlie Holmes never once held back, as he jumped onto the barrier with vocals blasting from his lungs. Thankfully everyone was able to get a good look at the fella as he leaned in to the audience. White strobe lights struck the room, forcing your eyes into a sense of euphoria while our ears our drawn to the demanding riffs. The catchy guitar melodies were at the peak of tonight’s performance, with the crowd merging into a mega storm of sweaty bodies. 6/10
With their glorious return to the festival, alternative rock stars Idiom show Takedown what they’re made of. Windmills of hair annihilate the stage, where not one second was taken for a pause. Despite constant energy, vocalist Matt Sharland produced tip top cleans and it’s a relief that they can be transferred to live from the studio. Almost instantly we’re told to bang our fucking heads. All I’ve Known is about partying, we’re told, so every last person swings their heads from back to front, trying not to spill their beers. A cover of Alex Clare’s – Too Close held some heavy riffs and Brain Dead saw Adam jumping in to the middle of the crowd, letting loose with the fans. 6/10
London glam rock gods Jettblack bring heavy ’80s riffs with a melodic edge to the Total Rock Stage. The band are on top form, moving around the stage constantly, climbing in to the audience for solos and generally bating the crowd. Vocalist Will Stapleton has a fabulous gravel to his the voice, and it compels you to listen.The band are overly confident, swagger dripping off the dual guitarists/vocalists. The playing was fantastic- riffs and solos ripped forth from the band The highlight of the set was definitely Raining Rock, which had us singing along the whole way through. Other than that the songs just blended in to each other, time for a new album we think lads. 5/10
Heart Of A Coward took the Uprawr stage by both hands and almost brought it down to the ground. A set list that was full with tracks from both Hope and Hindrance and Severance, saw the crowd take advantage of every second. Deadweight released disorder and bedlam as it was every man for themselves in the pit tonight. Severance and Prey ensured menacing riffs and drum rolls that kick into the heaviest breakdowns your brain can’t comprehend. As always, Jamie Graham’s vocals were sharp and as always, makes sure that we all know he’s angry. Grrrrr. 9/10
Somehow or other we ended up with an AAA pass and were treated to the view of Jamie Lenman from the side of the Jagermeister Stage. The former Reuben frontman is here with his solo band, who are all dressed to the nines as per usual. Having spoken to Jamie earlier in the day, we know we’re in for a heavier set. Ain’t Your Boy is the only quiet track to make an appearance, which is a pity really as we adore the acoustic beauty of the softer side of Muscle Memory. However tonight’s set is ferocious and phenomenal, focusing on the much heavier side of the album and a spatter of Reuben anthems. The crowd love it, we love it…oh and Jamie, we love you. 9/10
As we wait in eager anticipation at the Big Deal Clothing Stage, we’re completely unaware of what is about to hit us. We are, for once, lost for words as Baby Godzilla launch themselves onto the floor, dragging down amps and pulling drums in to the crowd to play there. Powerboat Disaster is a standout track which translates perfectly from recorded to live, and descends in to utterly chaos. We stand back in awe as bassist Paul Shelly goes nuts running around the room, culminating in him disappearing through the side door and reappearing at the back of the room before bashing through the crowd and jumping on to the bar. Even for a seasoned reviewer its hard to put this show in to words. All we can say is “They were fucking fantastic”. 10/10
Sadly due to no fault of their own Glamour of the Kill are more than an hour late getting on to the Total Rock stage so we make a mad dash back to the Big Deal Stage to catch Derby rockers LostAlone. And boy are we glad that we did. LostAlone provided us with their brilliant combination of indie, classic, modern alternative rock. Throwing out catchy riffs and brilliant songs left, right and centre, it’s hard to find fault with LostAlone’s performance. It’s clear throughout the set that it’s important to the trio to put on their best show for their fans, and the band relish every moment. 7/10
In spite of their delayed start, Glamour Of The Kill still put on a brilliant show and flow through their pop-metal material like the road hardened veterans they are. Before long the band really get the crowd going, with Break from latest album Savages inspiring an impressive sing along. Watching Glamour of the Kill perform, we appreciate why they’re regarded as one of the most exciting,emerging bands in the UK scene at the moment; it’s emotional and they’ve got their live performances down perfectly. 8/10
Directly after Glamour of the Kill, was another British talent who you should all get excited about. Heaven’s Basement deserve nothing more than to be headlining to a large crowd. The hardworking band have been touring their debut album Filthy Empire since before it was released, so we are delighted to hear some new material, and boy does it sound good. The band carry themselves with the heir of seasoned professionals, yet with none of the cockiness that can go with it. Heavens Basement also treated us to classics Fire Fire, I Am Electric and Welcome Home. Their performance tonight cements their place as one of the most exciting bands in the UK at the moment and they responded with a blistering set. We wouldn’t be surprised if this time next year they are headlining the main stage. Well played guys. 9/10
And so our day at the festival is almost over, but not before we danced the night away at the Total Uprawr after party where we did shots with Team Rock, saw the huge vocalist from Feed The Rhino being accidentally floored by a petit lady, and were apologised to by Glamour of the Kill and Yashin. For what? We will never tell.
Well played Takedown, see you in 2015!
Reviewed by Lisa Fox and Laura Herbert