Event Spotlight: DV8 Festival [York, July 16 – 18, 2010]

DV8 weekend has been a fantastic one and we are very proud of the organisers for putting on such a diverse and epic event right in our backyard. We’re going […]

DV8 weekend has been a fantastic one and we are very proud of the organisers for putting on such a diverse and epic event right in our backyard. We’re going to take you through the best and brightest musical performances from this weekend just to try and give you a sense of the immense talent and sheer diversity that we have been able to check out. Some bands we’ve heard and seen many times, and others we’ve had the fortune of covering but never actually seeing live, hopefully this will give you a sense of the great atmosphere…

Deviation

FRIDAY

AFX

We start off by checking out local industrialists A-FX (rating-2) on the Fibbers stage. On record they sound polished and ever-poised to take the industrial niche above and away from the underground, unfortunately with tonight’s performance the band fail to recreate the strength of their recorded material live and are left to battle constant sound issues which ruin the atmosphere and impact of the otherwise credible songs. Despite the effort and energy that is evident throughout the standout tracks ‘The Darker Side Of Dawn’ and ‘Dies Ist Nacht’ (both serve to demonstrate the band’s musicianship and technical prowess) for a variety of reasons, the crowd never really give the EBM-crossover material the full attention that it deserves.

Next, we trundle over to the goth stage at York’s biggest music venue The Duchess to see the end of Legion’s (rating-3) set. This Leeds four-piece is another group that we’ve seen before, and they hold their own tonight in front of a bigger crowd than normal. The band certainly have done well for themselves over the last few months with gigs all over the country – it’s worth mentioning that probably has something to do with vocalist Maisey’s credible PR skills, but we’d like to think it’s partly down to musical talent too. Indeed, the band unleash their brand of straight down the middle gothic rock all over the audience who lap it up – their performance is not mind-blowing by any means (and there seems to be sound issues wherever we tread), but there’s a definite strength in this material that will make old and new fans believe in the longevity of this hard working act.

Grooving_In_Green

Grooving In Green (rating-3) follow on next with their neutral dark rock sound and please the many established followers here, but there is little variation and progression from the sound that Legion employ though, in our eyes vocalist Tron is one of the more entertaining singers within the dark alternative scene – his wit, coupled with the band’s energy help to drag the band’s material out from the simple and bleak confines of the gothic genre. The standout in this set comes as the band performs ‘Dirt’ which builds on a backbone of distortion with steady rock beats and accessible-yet-haunting vocals. Following that, Vendemmian (rating-3)

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Always received well in the rest of Europe, there was a token Russian and a couple of Germans with inflatable cows determined to have a great time and it was a relief and a pleasure to listen to the band hammer through a mix of classics and newer material to a responsive crowd.  Rather than leave an empty space, the departure of their bassist seems to free up the twosome, who strut around, shouted at eachother a little and blasted out a great set. Denying their usual slogan of Drunk, Stupid and Goth and putting them on the first night second down the bill was indeed good timing by the promoter, as they were tipsy, less deadpan and happier than we’ve ever seen them in the UK. Finishing on an unreleased track named ‘I’m Falling‘ which was well received; we very much anticipate what they will do next.

Following up is The Eden House (rating-4),

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with a guest appearance from Lilygun’s Anna-Christina, who is captivating – her voice blends perfectly to the sultry mix of their slower songs – though at times is a little quiet as Amandine Ferrari takes to the stage.  Her performance of ‘The Dark Side‘ is astounding and her closing note is to this scribe the highlight of the festival. ‘The Looking Glass‘, always a pleasure to hear, really comes to life performed live and tonight was no exception. There has been much debate towards whether this band should mix things up with some faster numbers but to us they are so potently colourful and they need to be heard in slow motion to really appreciate. At the centre of the crowd the usual mob were replaced by somewhat quieter fans, allowing us to really concentrate on the performance and tonight this is something special and leaves a somewhat sedated crowd jolted back to life with ‘Up the Racket‘, the evening’s clubnight.

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At the Fibbers stage to catch a rejuvenated and re-assembled Deviant UK (rating-4) with the self-proclaimed “egomaniac” Jay Smith in full swing – amalgamating rock, electronica and pure goth in a decadent cocoon of noise for the band’s new anthem ‘Wreckhead’, the act have the crowd eating from their collective hand.

Deviant_UK

Since introducing live drums, the band have opened themselves up to a whole new market and fanbase – it’s evident here that the group are ready to take on all comers from all scenes. Much like primary influence Gary Numan, Jay has added a whole new dimension to his electro-orientated pieces and while theses works still sound like dancefloor stompers, they have been sufficiently tweaked so that each one becomes a crossover masterpiece that would fit in at most alt-clubs. The biggest and baddest tunes from this set include the aforementioned and ‘Access Denied’ which sees the singer take his vocal register into pure rock territory with shouts and cries that will strike fear in the ears of those who feared Deviant’s progression into the mainstream alternative market. Smith is not quite the God of UK alternative music…but he (and his band) is pretty darn good at making it.

Geoff_Lee

After feeling sufficiently rocked by the Deviant crew, we are then gifted total EBM annihilation from Manchester electro-noiseniks Modulate (rating-4). As ever Geoff Lee’s fun-loving attitude to performance is a welcome change from the moody and aggressive stereotype that dominates the industrial genre (like GIG’s Tron before him) and this whole set is one big alternative rave with hard beats and serious headbanging. While Modulate spend the majority of their set behind their instruments keeping the beats together, the crowd really let themselves go (arguably for the first time this evening) for the worldwide club anthem that is ‘Skullf***’ and an absolutely storming robot-themed (what else?) new tune that mixes the most accessible elements of Daft Punk in with the dirtiest parts of Combichrist – absolutely brutal and defiantly brilliant. We are very much looking forward to the next album from this lot and so should you be. For those who don’t know, Modulate play pure industrial-EBM and to an outsider it might not sound like much of a stretch away from other acts in the land of glowsticks and PVC, but again it’s the intense live energy that makes Modulate’s show work and that’s why many can recommend this act to fans across the great genre spectrum ahead of others – they will take your wired up soul. On that note, we leave excited for the days to come and ready to stick our collective finger up at those who say that industrial (or goth for that matter) is dead.

The_crowd_at_DV8


SATURDAY

GLASS

Rolling into The Duchess to begin our Saturday with some dark progressive sounds from York’s own GLASS (rating-3). This band were formed as a result of York veteran Alex King’s fascination with the work of quirky 19th century inventor Anthony Philip Glass – some would call the inspirations and themes for this band’s sound “steampunk” but the music itself is a soulful blend of Joy Division-style indie and Horrors-esque alt-pop. King and co. push every fibre of their collective being into this material (though, we feel they should express themselves more with movement) and the vocalist employs his diverse range to spear through his recorded standout ‘My Elan’ which features biting riffs, raw beats and haunting lashings of synth – the bright lights wrapped around the mics are a nice touch and serve to create a decadent atmosphere that suits the band’s remit. If this lot could get out and gig more they’d be one of the most hailed acts on the re-emerging UK post-punk scene. GLASS show real promise and the strong desire to break the established mould of what new, new wave should sound like.

As Luxury Stranger (rating-4) takes to the stage we are already anticipating a fine performance – why? Because this band have been one of the biggest and most popular modern “gothic” bands in these parts for a long time and their sound crosses boundaries like no other act on this stage for the weekend. Indeed, as they launch into ‘Paradise Untouched’ immediately we are inspired to think back to all of the great names associated with the genre’s past but also its future – there are lashings of progressive rock that is some parts The Cure and one part latest Deftones. The material showcased tonight comes across much heavier and more progressive than on record and this only adds to their genre-bending appeal – for the near packed-out room, the live dedication of this Nottingham-based unit in terms of their presence, the haunting and visceral sounds that they conjure using keys and punk riffs on tracks like ‘On And On And On And On’ (and of course, vocalist Simon York’s trademark black and white make-up) is as a whole package un-matched even on this powerful bill. LS is without question one of our top bands for the weekend.

SBA

Oh dear, next up we are left to witness the last ever show by York’s favourite goth band The Screaming Banshee Aircrew (rating-4). We have a long history in supporting this band who in nearly a decade have created some of the most accessible goth rock to come from out of the UK and turned themselves from “a joke band” into one of the most popular and recognised acts in the contemporary genre. Tonight, the act motor through some of their most recognised hits including ‘Hello Mr Hyde’ but with a focus on the undeniably catchy later material including ‘So Sorry’, ‘Shutter’ and the defining ‘Cool Ghoul Band’- this stuff is the work that Mister Ed and his misfits are most proud of as it shows the progression of a group that have always maintained a gothic heart but never been afraid to push boundaries and fight back against the stereotype that dogs the scene. Following the band’s ferocious set, festival organiser Chris Sherrington and compare Rosie Lugosi show their appreciation for a band that has been at the centre of York’s alternative scene for a long time and from this the crowd are inspired to begin a round of applause that shakes The Duchess to its foundations – we’re not sure whether the SBA will ever truly understand how much they have meant to York’s scene, and we will not be the first to tell the members that we’ll miss them – a top final performance by one of goth’s most accessible bands.

Fitting it is then, that the follow-up act is Romance (rating-3), a nu-goth act of sorts that blends the glamour of Patrick Wolf in bed with Interpol mixed with the tongue-in-cheek attitude of the previous band. Before the young artists come on stage we are a little concerned that the established goth crowd and Wayne Hussey / Mission fans (did you hear they are officially re-uniting now? – thanks Chris!) in attendance might scoff at this glittery foursome as they get all up in faces with their energetic and passionate take on 80s alternative over them. Fortunately though, our long-standing idea that most goths have good taste holds true and Romance are allowed to hit The Duchess with all of their collective might and plough into future hits including single ‘Another Place’ and The Cult-esque ‘River Runs Red’ – their tunes hit the crowd in all the right places with enough old’s cool influence to make their death-pop instantly likeable and addictive. Goth’s latest saviours? Probably.

Tenek

After taking the short stroll over to the industrial stage to check out Brighton’s Tenek (rating-2). Now, this band are a complex one for us, we like their recorded material because it sounds clean, crisp and it’s easy to digest electro-pop akin to the newest Depeche Mode, also their words are strong – ‘Blinded By You’, ‘No Time For Fighting’ and ‘I Don’t Cry’ are perfectly crafted songs and as such, Tenek certainly deserve the respect that they have gained on the European scene particularly. Problem is, we just don’t dig it live. ‘Why?!’ we hear you exclaim with wonder! Well, it’s just a bit…plain. This band would really benefit from live percussion (like more than a few of the other bands on this bill) and while tunes like the aforementioned and ‘Submission’ in-particular serve to get the crowd moving and the glowsticks flailing as a result of some strong vocals and classic riffage, from our point of view that live excitement and key movement is missing from the two-piece band today.

Faderhead

For the main event we get Faderhead (rating-3), and on this evening Sami and his two partners (Daniel and Joe Meyer from Project SAM) in crime take to the Fibbers stage with a vengeance pounding out crossover dancefloor stompers like the end of the world was coming this very evening. Standout tracks include ‘Noisebastards’ and our personal favourite ‘TZDV’ – for these tunes especially Sami lets the vodka free-flow (even sharing it with the audience, and our photographer) at regular intervals.

Again, we might sound hypocritical here, given that we’ve just slated Tenek for not having any live energy but like Modulate before them, Faderhead have the attitude to carry the stereotypical synth and vocal combination off  – while the lads from Project SAM are fixed behind their synths for most of the show they do make the effort to have a good jump around and get the crowd in the mood – again, this interaction is essential for any industrial and EBM band to succeed and Faderhead are a great example of how it should be done. The most essential thing about this sound and the aspect that separates the act from the crowd is the vocalist’s ability to balance ballad-like material like ‘Girly Show’ with the more aggressive club hits including ‘Drrrtygirls / Dirty Bois’ – we thoroughly enjoy rocking out with the rivetheads tonight!


SUNDAY

Our Sunday starts in Stereo which has been home to the country’s best rockabilly acts all weekend and immediately we are thrust back into the early 90s when shock rock was still scary, wearing bad make-up and cross-dressing was the done-thing in metal…well, if you were Marilyn Manson anyway – but we’re not watching his band. Almost every aspect of Wrapped In Plastic (rating-3) is lifted from Spooky Kids-era Mazza and for the most part that tribute element works well…we say that because the vocalist chucked us a ready-made peanut butter sandwich – did we ever tell you that we are open to food-related bribes? Well, we are.

Otherwise (and remember that this scribe is a massive MM fan) there’s not too much to this band. Again, from a nostalgic point of view they will un-doubtedly appeal to fans of early Placebo and perhaps even NIN because this band knows how to have fun, they know how to talk loud and act silly and bung some scary samples in the mix to top it all off – in the end, isn’t that what rock music is all about? No? We’ll say that it’s very nice to see a band having fun and taking their audience back to when alternative music was all about pushing people’s buttons, making grandma’s cry (and doing it well), during standout tune ‘Mother Love’ their “bring chaos to order” remit is perfectly displayed with frenzied riffage, chaotic keytar work and twisted, aggressive vocals but, in order to succeed in the future, the band need to progress beyond what makes them feel comfortable (imitating an obvious influence) and push themselves.

Meanwhile at The Duchess, Berlin Black And The Shades Of Grey (rating-4) take the stage to applause from a respectable crowd. This being the band’s first gig, many people are not sure what to expect from this post-punk-glam extravaganza hatched from the mind of former Screaming Banshee Aircrew guitarist Xris Banshee. The band (for tonight made up of Alex King of GLASS and former bandmates Jo Moy and Neal Unreal) plays 80s-tinged glam rock music that contains just enough dark-pop elements (think Adam Ant and Bowie’s baby growing up with a Yorkshire accent) to keep the black-clad masses happy. Berlin Black is an energetic and focused take on Xris’ other work and with brooding-yet-accessible keyboard-led tracks the likes of ‘Tired Of You’ and ‘Burn It Down’ played with a live vigour that should hook in fans across the great alternative rock spectrum his project is set to become York’s one to watch over the coming year.

Covering all bases for Sunday we’re at The Duchess for York’s premier industrial rock band Digicore (rating-3) – their mix of raw and aggressive punk and lashings of tasty electro will always pull a local crowd. Tonight, the band face an unusual challenge, as they are used to performing to diverse genre-defying music fans, the potential of showcasing on a stage that has championed EBM all weekend must be fairly daunting, As usual though the Core rise to the challenge with their KMFDM-styled full throttle onslaught. Highlights include ‘Rise Up’ which sees them joined by UK digital hardcore standouts Flesh Eating Foundation and the new track ‘Parasite’ which is much more melodic than most avid listeners will be used to. The band end on their anti-anthem ‘Rot’ which encapsulates the band’s multi-faceted take on metal perfectly. It’s our opinion that this band need to put more effort into touring now, with a solid catalogue of songs and a credible live showcase this act have all the potential to become the city’s most prized alternative bands.

Back at The Stereo, New York Alcoholic Anxiety Attack (rating-4) bring their infectious brand of pure glam rock to York. The Bradford-based four-piece play one of the more “straight-forward” sets of the weekend and it’s good to see a band bringing no frills instantly catchy rock music to the weekend. Coming off like Terrorvision meeting T-Rex via Sonic Youth, the group plow through their set of feel-good alternative rock that pushes guitars and melodies to the forefront. On tracks like ‘Lullaby Us’ and ‘Guns And God‘, the band put all of their collective energy and emotion into their craft and create hefty, accessible and dance-worthy sounds built to restore faith in pyschadelic rock music with an uplifitng twang – the NYAAA are one of our surprise standouts of the weekend – a great performance by a band that are set to be at the forefront of alternative music in Yorkshire over the coming years.

Next up on the Fibbers stage is Manchester’s own SkinjoB (rating-3), led by Fitz and backed by Susana on keyboards this outfit comes across like a supreme amalgamation of Psyclon Nine, Nitzer Ebb and Front Line Assembly. With vocals that bare more than a slight resemblance to Trent Reznor at times this band instantly have appeal, but with the absence of live drums this evening there’s obviously a very important ingredient missing as ever (for us, anyway) the introduction of live acoustic instruments is key for any EBM act to remove themselves from cliché. Aside from that though, the two-piece put on a decent show and work hard to entertain the eager crowd (despite sound problems) by balancing old and new material in a way that appeals to every facet of the audience. The standout of the set is ‘Beauty Is Your Toy’ which incorporates cutting beats and wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the soundtrack to Mortal Kombat back in’t day – it’s hard, fast driving music that will surely become an anthem – we applaud the group’s professional approach and look forward to seeing them will some live drums one day soon!

As the follow-up act Goteki (rating-2) hit the stage with their fashionable electro-pop it is somewhat refreshing as we have been treated thus far to a massive weekend of pure “oontz” in Fibbers, so it’s nice to have the slight break. The only problem is that it’s all a bit under-whelming. Guitarist Ali Star doesn’t seem to be pushing his instrument to the limits; in fact…he doesn’t seem to be doing much with it at all. Meanwhile vocalist Tregenza tries, but seems to be pushing his voice too hard on latest tracks ‘Shoot Me Dead’ and  ‘Journey To Storyville’ and Crash’s synths seem to overwhelm all of the other musical elements which is a shame because we expected a lot from this band pre-show. Nonetheless, Goteki are a fine example of an industrial band that have made the successful crossover into pop and rock music without butchering their sound, it’s just unfortunate that this doesn’t come across so well within the live arena.

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After a cracking gig in Whitby performance, we have been listening to Pretentious Moi (rating-4)’s debut album so much recently we’re sure we caught next door’s kid singing ‘Witchhouse’ a few weeks ago.  Definitely my favourite album this year, their last fiery performance really brought out and highlighted the complexity and deep melodies of every track and this time we were very excited beforehand to watch them perform. ‘Better Late Than Never’ began at an ambient, throat clearing volume, but then they fire into ‘The Garden‘ and then I lost a pin badge. I know this to have happened not through sight but because I heard it hit the floor. I don’t know if the sound guy had fallen asleep in the heat but it was an incredible shame not to hear that song, as they put on a great show. ‘One Last Wish’ was beautiful and the luscious harmonies fought through the blur of sound. Tim Chandler was captivating and Rachel Iden nearly flawless.

For our final act of the weekend we decide to flitter (what a good word?) between The Duchess for goth and Fibbers for some pure industrial goodness. As we move between Gene Loves Jezebel and Noisuf-X basking in the complete contrast of the scenes and musical style we come to appreciate just exactly what DV8Fest means to York – it means that the city has now been placed firmly on the map for alternative culture, it means that the area’s premier venues Stereo, Duchess and Fibbers have proven that they can work together for the good of the music scene and pull-off a proper bloody three-day festival…not bad going! It also makes us think that dark culture in the UK as a whole is at the very least alive and well represented by not only by the great bands and artists in this city but also by clubs like Manchester’s Analoguetrash and York’s Darklands and the organiser’s own DV80s night. It makes us think that anyone who ever says there’s nothing to do in this town is talking total rubbish. Disagree? Let us know your thoughts.

Here’s to next year, eh?

rating-4

*More photos of Sunday coming soon!

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