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 2015. One of the best of the younger festivals, Takedown Festival was launched in 2012 and is now in its fourth year. It may be one of the smaller festivals, but it has 5 stages and a capacity of 2000. Takedown is a one-day “welcome back” session for the British music industry. Bringing with it the unique Takedown blend of mosh pit inducing metal and head banging rock. Ladies and gentlemen, Festival Season 2015 is here.
First up we have punk rockers Miss Vincent on the Obsidian Stage. Frontman Alex Marshall ramps up the energy as he leaps across the stage, demonstrating all the skills of a punk rock frontman of twice his age. Blasting us with catchy, hook driven tunes, the crowd really stand up and take notice as the quartet batter their way through an impressive opening set. 7/10
Zoax get the day off to a fiery start with funky tune, Click. With Adam Carroll in his favourite place surrounded by the crowd, he makes it clear that he’s the fucking man. It’s obvious Adam wants the crowd’s latest fashion, pinching hats, sunglasses and handbags whilst flaunting them for the last verse then into Jekyll Meets Hyde. As fervent riffs slide to finger clicking and hip popping goodness, it’s apparent that all eyes are 100% fixed on the poised frontman. The rest of Zoax strut their stuff on stage, creating chaotic riffs whilst smiling at the wild antics beneath them. There’s no better way the day could start, but let’s hope they’re at the top of the bill next time. 7/10
After much support from Radio 1, Black Peaks back up the hype with a stellar performance. Charming vocals aplenty, lead singer Will Gardner eases the crowd in but batters them with a remarkable yell. As the lads get comfortable on stage, the head banging weaves its way in yet the crowd don’t mirror their energy. Riffling through their few tunes, Say You Will shows their overall softer side, whilst radio favourite Glass Built Castles kicks up a wild storm. Through catchy riffs, raucous vocals burst through as cleans come up to the mark too. It’s pretty clear why Zane Lowe is going nuts about these guys; they’re heavy, impressive and ridiculous all at once. 7/10
With such an immense turn out, Ashestoangels demonstrate that they’ve hit the right notes. Through screams and a swaying audience, singer Crilly clambers on top of the many excited shoulders, wasting no time to get the party started. Their gothic take on catchy melodies are filled out with the singing of fans but there’s fresh faces on the side lines too with puzzled. But it’s not about them; the crowd are up and down as Adam throws his guitar around like a rag doll and Crilly gives every drop of energy to their doe eyed supporters. 7/10
Small in stature but galaxies away from small in volume, Eva Spence tears the main stage into more than two. As 2015 marks their 10 year anniversary together, Rolo Tomassi prove the fire hasn’t burn out. A short burst of ambience signals the familiar heaviness of Eva’s harsh vocals along with her signature dance moves. New track Stage Knives throws the set into bedlam, with jarring chords and out-of-this-world synths. They could be conjuring the alien race down to earth by the sounds of it, but it’s interrupted by a shout out to National Women’s Day and intense track Howl. Scream, headbang and mosh to your hearts content, people. 7/10
Melodic rock quintet Forever Never quick up quite a fuss and the matter of such a small space is far from their worries. For the many that had never heard of these guys, there’s no doubt it’s their soundtrack now. As the Killswitch Engage vibes ooze from Renny Carrol’s slick vocal chords, he shows that his pure talent can really carry a track. Their new track, ready for release in May, Never Giving Up shows a glimpse of the next chapter and as the riffs drive deeper it’s clear they’re stripping down the bullshit for real rough rock without the frills. The final track of the set, Empty Promises showcases the talent and the audience’s dedication in a nutshell, singing back that they’ve really had enough of their empty promises. 7/10
Having just come off tour with Funeral For A Friend, there is a lot of hype surrounding Creeper. Passionate singer Will Gould stalks the stage, complete with the Joey Ramone get up of drainpipe jeans, leather jacket and a mop of jet black hair. Opening with Gloom, they manage to get the attention of the Stags Head, blending the darkly melodic punk of an early AFI with a distinctively English 80s goth sensibility. After their recent announcement as support for Bury Tomorrow, these boys have a lot to live up to, for a young band on their first tour, there’s real promise here. 7/10
If you haven’t heard of The Hell by now….then where the hell have you been? This mysteriously disguised line up are the metal version of NWA. Dressed up with gold chains, sunglasses and their now trademark bandanas over their faces, the crowd are instantly enticed as they bash out bangers such as Bangers and Mosh, Groovehammer and Shit Just Got Real. This is by far the rowdiest set of the day, with the constant mosh pits never losing momentum. The Hell hit us with their typical abuse, and we bloody love it; you cunts! 8/10
Next on the main stage was an emotional performance from Welsh rockers The Blackout, who took to the stage for their last ever festival show. A sad event indeed, but this was not a depressing event. Instead Takedown is treated to a jubilant celebration of The Blackout’s career. As the intro to Tick Tick Boom rings out, the crowd start jumping and do not stop till the boys leave the stage 30 minutes later. Wolves, Higher and Higher and Save Ourselves (The Warning) ring out and we all chant along. Not only are the band on fire musically, they are fully engaged with the audience in a unique and endearing way. It wouldn’t be a Blackout show without their trademark style of bating the crowd. “Who is here to party?” vocalist Sean asks. “We are!” Is the reply as they blast out Start The Party. The sense of camaraderie between the two vocalists Gavin and Sean is clear, as it their appreciation for the audience, even in the bands final throws. Tonight The Blackout’s set was one of the best performances we’ve ever seen. Closing on the anthemnic I’m A Riot? You’re A Fucking Riot, it made for one hell of a send-off. Bye bye boys, we’ll miss you. 10/10
Scottish metallers Bleed From Within sweep the stage with pure rage. Opening with Death Walk, energy surges through the crowd who open the floor with heads driven by the riffs. Ripping through the heaviest stage of the day, these bruts pummel the senses with good old fashioned metal. Pits begin spin, as well as their collection of impressive hair-dos, the guys from Aberdeen are incessant on ensuring everyone is as sweaty as them. From start to finish the beatdowns are brutal as they are melodic, with more crunch than a bowl of crunchy nut. 8/10
Closing the Obsidian Stage, we have patrons/ curators Fearless Vampire Killers. This is the second time in a fortnight that we have seen London’s favourite goth rockers, but their set is exciting nonetheless. Commanding the loyal crowd in attendance we first have vocalist Kier Kemp, followed by a change to fellow front man Laurence Beveridge midway through the set. Fresh from tour with In This Moment, the British pop goths (didn’t know that was a thing? It is now!) bounce across the stage with all of the energy and enthusiasm of duracell bunnies. Tonight’s headline show demonstrates Fearless Vampire Killers ability to write catchy songs, full of heavy riffs and bounce along choruses, leaving the audience sweaty and satisfied. 7/10
Heart Of A Coward instantly confirm a performance of intensity with Jamie Graham at the forefront of chaos. Pacing through their setlist of bangers, Shade, Nauseum and crowd pleaser We Stand As One ensure a raucous atmosphere. Shouting the words in unison the lads have clearly been doing this together for years, as they show us they are slickly in-sync. Last year the guys from Milton Keynes were on in the late afternoon, but tonight sees them headline the Total Uprawr stage with pure conviction. With an opening main stage slot at this years Download Festival, this performance shows us how devastating they can be. Expect to see more of Heart Of A Coward this year, as they rise through the ranks of the UK’s metal elite. 9/10
Closing the Stag’s Head in style we have the must see band of this generation; Baby Godzilla. Their brand of extreme, violent punk infused hardcore, sounds even more massive in the small, sweaty space in which they are performing tonight. And it works, perfectly. We stand back and watch in awe as Jonny Hall and Matt Reynolds go nuts running around the room, culminating in them bashing through the crowd and jumping on to the bar, merch table and any raised surface they can balance on. All the while continuing to blast out deafening screams while never missing a beat from their instruments. Even for a seasoned reviewer its hard to put this show in to words, all we can say is “They were fucking fantastic”. You need to see Baby Godzilla, and you need to see them now. 9/10
Finishing up the main event for us tonight we have London rap rockers The One Hundred. Bringing the party to the small Southampton Introducing Stage, a room that had been much empty through the day was suddenly filled with mosh pits, breakdowns and one of the best performance of the day. Tiny frontman Jacob Field enraptured the masses with his impressive rap/ screaming combo, which is met by a delighted crowd bashing in to each other with total disregard. The One Hundred are the ones to watch in 2015. 8/10
And so our day at Takedown Festival drew to a close. Now it was time to get a drink, head to the afterparty and begin the countdown to next year. Bring it on!
Reviewed by Lisa Fox and Laura Herbert
For the latest up-to-the-minute info on Takedown Festival including news on 2016, please follow them on Twitter at @TakedownFest.