20 years was so long ago, but 1998 was full of many key moments. It was the year Google was founded, when Europe agreed on the single currency of the Euro, when the first Harry Potter book made it’s debut in America, just to name a few. But why mention this? Because the first Infest festival was 20 years ago, plus I really couldn’t think of another segue into this topic. To mark their 20th anniversary, when the festival ran it’s usual yearly slot of the August bank holiday weekend, we were treated to extra artists. This also meant an extra fourth day of partying. Three days is usually more than enough to destroy me, so this in itself turned out to be somewhat of an endurance test. However, it was more than worth it!

Alas, the Thursday arrived, and due to a combination of feeling knackered from travelling and catching up with friends, I managed to miss the first two bands. Oops. This ended up becoming a theme throughout the course of the weekend. The first band I managed to check out were Peter Hook & The Light. It was certainly a different choice for the Infest crew to make, especially as the line-ups have veered more towards Industrial in recent years, but it was an inspired one. Considering Peter Hook’s legendary legacy, it’s no surprise they went down extremely well. It was a joy (no pun intended) to see hits from Joy Division and New Order performed live especially “She’s Lost Control”, “Blue Monday” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” It was a fantastic experience. Next up were headliners for the night, Empirion, and they absolutely smashed it! Delivering hard-hitting electro beats, they filled the dance floor, and got the crowd into the festival spirit. Even better, this also served as a launch party for their new EP, I am electronic / Red Noise, which was also available exclusively at the festival, and meant we were treated to some amazing new tracks. Expect a review of it soon. It was such an epic set, that I had to take a break and escape somewhere too cool off. It was pretty intense!

Def Neon were the opening act for Friday afternoon. I can’t deny, I have a lot of love for them. Their music is astounding, and mashes genres in ways I never thought possible. It seems the message had been spread far and wide, as they managed to pack the room quite nicely. The entire set was absolutely electrifying from start to finish. The duo truly gave it their all, and they clearly loved every second of it as much as the audience did! They powered through songs old and new, such as “Rotoscope”, “Night Vision” and (my personal current favourite of theirs) “Control.” The latter alone has me desperate to listen to the new album! It was truly a sight to behold as they took everything to the next level, it was all killer no filler. The fact that the crowd demanded an encore once their show was over is a testament to how incredible they are. Not only is the demand for an encore rare (with the obvious exception of headline acts), but it’s unheard of for the first band on the Friday of an Infest. They were, without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite band of the weekend. I was absolutely blown away by their performance. Keep your eyes on these guys, they’re going to be huge! After a lot of shenanigans with great company, I finally went and saw the headliners for the night, Cubanate. Utilising their brutal mix of techno and rock, they delivered a storming set. It felt like a blast from the past, with an old-school Industrial feel to their music. It was incredibly atmospheric, and great to listen to. However, after the massive high I had from Def Neon, I wasn’t particularity feeling the mood as much.

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Def Neon giving it their all!

So, erm… Saturday was a bit on a non-day for bands. By which I mean, I failed to see any bar one, and that was Mesh. For long time readers of the blog, you may know I have had a few reservations about them live. When I first saw them in Sheffield at Corporation on their own tour in 2016, they were stunning. However, they were not so good at M’era Luna last year, and fell flat. I went off them a bit after that. So this was the pivotal make or break moment. Luckily, whilst the set list was still a bit odd, they were fantastic. Clearly their music is better suited to smaller, more enclosed environments, as the atmosphere was rich, and the tunes packed an emotional punch. Also, maybe I’m a bit harsh when it comes to judging their setlists. After All, they have 8 studio albums under their belt, and had to squeeze what they could into the space of just over an hour. Even then, we still got tracks like “Little Missile”, “Friends Like These”, “Taken For Granted” and “Born to Lie”, which closed off the set. It may not have been perfect, but Mesh have definitely redeemed themselves in my eyes.

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Mesh, redeeming themselves with a great show

Ironically, Sunday, the last day, the day where I was the most hungover and exhausted, was the day that I saw the most bands. Kicking off the festivities for the final day were Promenade Cinema. Once again, it was a great turnout for an opening act. Although they are somewhat local heroes, hailing from Sheffield, which is only down the road from Bradford. What ensued was a beautiful show. It was incredibly atmospheric and enthralling, to the point where it literally gave me goosebumps. The melodies and harmonies came across extremely effectively, and were stunning. Even a slight unfortunate hiccup, where the fire alarm accidentally activated at one point, causing the lights to come on, wasn’t enough to deter anyone, and the duo kept their performance going regardless. It was professionalism at it’s finest. Having missed half their set last time I had the chance to see them, it was wonderful to catch a full show, and a lovely way to begin the day. Massenhysterie was my biggest surprise of the weekend. I’d heard a few of her tracks online, and enjoyed what I’d heard. However, in a live setting, it was a whole different story, and it made me wish I’d listened to more beforehand. They delivered a lively set that was fun and energetic. The fast-paced electro pop tunes certainly created hysteria on the dance floor, and it was glorious! I have to give a mention to her cover of Rammstein’s “Bück Dich”, because it was an excellent rendition of the track. After the combo of these first two acts, it was enough to cure my hangover, and get me into a happy, bouncy mood. So then we come to the final headliner… Aesthetic Perfection. I’ll be honest, I’m not a hundred percent keen on AP, but for once I let my reservations slide. Dare I admit, as the show went on, I actually found myself having a great time! It can’t be denied that the songs are catchy, and on this night in particular, they were infectious. By the end of the set, I was dancing around quite joyfully, including some synchronised Goth Tree dancing with some friends. A dance move which I’m sure will be all the rage next year! It was a great set, and it got the entire room into a frenzy. Although that’s no surprise really, as they were the most requested band to play Infest. The final after-party of the weekend was absolutely legendary. DJ Kohl spun the decks and delivered a savage set that lasted over two hours. It was probably one of the best DJ sets I’ve ever experienced in my life, and the perfect way to close the festival!

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I actually enjoyed Aesthetic Perfection!

However, the true highlight of this year’s Infest for me (besides Def Neon), was time spent with friends. It’s the reason why I saw so few bands, because I spent so much time catching up with so many wonderful people. Pretty much all my favourite people in the Goth scene were present this year, and it made the festivities even better. There were all sorts of shenanigans, including wild after parties in the halls, an impromptu 90’s rave outside the venue (including a dance off), conga lines and our very own party, Rave Grave. Sometimes I feel that Infest could just be a social gathering without any bands, and it’d still be the best weekend of the year (although we still want bands, of course!) Seriously, I love you guys, and thank you all so much for making it such a blast. My ticket is already purchased for 2019, so I hope to see you all again next year!