It feels like it’s all over as soon as it started, as the summer festival season has pretty much drawn to a close. Over the course of the August bank holiday weekend, I saw it out with style at Infest. Yup, it was once again time for Goth Summer Camp at the Bradford University campus, and with an interesting roster of bands, plus a huge party atmosphere, everything was set!
The first day of live music got off to a roaring start with Bitman, as he delivered a legendary dose of adrenaline fuelled chiptune goodness! The skills of Lex Leibert (of Biomechanimal) on guitar helped add an extra dimension to the music, making it even more impactful. The energy was wild, as they blasted through track after track, the audience clinging to every moment. The additions of Petrol Hoers, Ben Christopher (of Petrol Bastard) and a giant dinosaur (totally representing Karkasaurus) getting up to silly antics on-stage made the performance even more enjoyable. They even performed a cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer”, which went down a treat. It was genuinely one of the most fun acts of the entire weekend, and this was only the start! Dare I admit, the experience was so uplifting, that I wasn’t enticed by any of the other artists on this night. I know, I’m a terrible reviewer, but I made up for it over the next two days!
The first act of the day was Witch of the Vale, and being as I’d heard so much praise of their live shows, I did my utmost to make it in time. I can confirm that the praise is completely justified, because they were phenomenal! The slow, dark, droning electronics gave an eerie atmosphere, and the vocals provided by lead singer Erin Hawthorne were absolutely captivating. There was a very tribal feel to it, their use of attire backing up this theme, as they became their personas. The entire set wasn’t just a show, it was an experience, and an enchantingly haunting one at that. The music was that powerful that I literally had goosebumps, it was truly stunning. It was a beautiful way to start the day.
Next on my list was a band I’d been looking forward to seeing since their announcement, and probably my most anticipated of the weekend, Rave The Reqviem. Having seen them at Resistanz Festival in 2015, I knew to expect good things, plus they were long overdue a visit. Needless to say, I was absolutely blown away by their set, as Industrial Metal met with Electro, Dubstep and everything in-between. This was easily one of the most energetic bands that I’ve ever seen live. It was almost difficult to keep up with them, and there was no respite as they flew through some of their best songs. It was glorious! We were treated to “Skydweller”, “Mono Heart”, and “Ikaros” among other excellent tracks, ending on the mighty “Aeon”. Sadly, Carola Lönnqvist (AKA The Holy Mother) stepped down in 2017, so she was no longer present. Fortunately, her successor, Jenny Fagerstrandh, was just as incredible on vocal duties, her amazing harmonies contrasting the harsher tones of frontman Filip Lönnqvist. The only flaw was the fact that it ended. I honestly couldn’t pick out any faults with their show at all. I only hope they visit the UK again soon.
I had waited over 10 years to see She Wants Revenge, and tonight was finally the night. They were a pretty interesting, somewhat unusual addition to the line-up, considering they’re a goth band who were headlining a festival that is mainly known for EBM/Industrial artists. I’d honestly argue it was an inspired choice, as diversity is always a good thing. Either way, this seemed to work, as the venue was packed-out. As their style is of a more moodier tone, and slower paced than most of the other bands, I was initially concerned that this wouldn’t translate well in a live environment. Fortunately they proved me very wrong, as the atmosphere within the hall was extremely gripping, and I found myself hooked from start to finish. It does feel as if there were extra synths added in the background throughout the show, and they were a welcome addition, as they helped to really beef up the sound. They not only lived up to my expectations, they exceeded them. I honestly cannot even begin to describe the joy of finally experiencing tracks like “Written in Blood” and “Red Flags and Long Nights” live. Ending on “Tear You apart” was a superb way to finish too. It was extremely fulfilling to tick another band off my bucket-list, and the fact that they were so brilliant made it all the more satisfying.
But the night wasn’t over yet, for there was a DJ set from Zardonic to come. His last minute drop-out from Resistanz Festival 2016, due to visa issues, was painful (damn our shitty government.) However, he was finally here, and, for lack of a better term, he fucking rocked! It was an extremely intense set, driven by hard beats, pounding bass and some incredibly epic mashups/remixes. The moment he dropped in a rendition of Rammstein’s “Feuer Frei!” had me completely losing it. It was like a roller-coaster, if the cars had jets strapped to the back of them, the adrenaline was unparalleled. It was easily one of the best DJ sets I have ever had the pleasure of attending.
And before I knew it, it was Sunday, the last day to party. The first band were on at the stupidly early time of 4pm, which may sound quite late, but it really isn’t after partying until around 5 in the morning. That was not going to stop me, because DED.PXL were due to play. I can honestly say that it was completely worth it, because they delivered a storming set. Even a slight technical issue with one of the microphones early on was not enough to be a detriment. Being more of an experimental synthwave trio, it was yet another unique choice, one that seemed to resonate extremely well with the crowd. The atmosphere was mesmerising as the electronic soundwaves filled the venue, and the riffs soared. They had a fantastic presence, and completely owned the stage, bringing the day to a very strong start.
Next up, all the way from Germany, were Future Lied To Us. This is yet another band that I hadn’t heard much of, and after seeing them live I sincerely regret not doing so. The atmosphere was electrifying, as the rich electro melodies created a beautiful ambience. It was all catchy as hell too, and that really made it difficult to keep still, which I’m sure didn’t help my already aching body. Mind you, when you have the likes of Thomas Lesczenski ([:SITD:]), Krischan Jan-Eric Wesenberg (Rotersand) and Vasi Vallis (Frozen Plasma) within the same band, you know it’s going to be strong material. It was hardly anything original, for sure, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable!
After a long, much needed break (this festival had broken me), it was time for the final band of the weekend, Nitzer Ebb. For most, they’re a band that need no introduction, they are one of the pioneering EBM bands of the scene, after all. For me, however, I was pretty sure I’d (somehow) not listened to them, although that changed throughout the course of their set. I found myself recognising numerous tracks, that I’m pretty sure I’ve danced to at various club nights over the years. It goes without saying that they dominated, blasting through their set with prowess and ease, the hard tunes completely taking control. Although with tracks like “Join In The Chant”, “Murderous” and “Godhead” being presented to the crowd, it’s always bound to create an intense mood, one that feels tenfold in a live setting! It was extremely impressive, but given their pedigree, that’s hardly surprising.
Things weren’t over yet, of course, because there were after-parties to be had. Unfortunately due to other commitments, I completely missed the first half of Karkasaurus‘ DJ set. By this point, the duo had gotten the party well and truly going. The room was filled with a ton of energy, and it was clear to see why, as the selection of music was amazing, plus it was absolute hilarious insanity. The wackiness was only enhanced by the amount of people wearing dinosaur costumes or appropriate Jurassic themed attire just for the occasion. It was a set of banging tunes, extremely odd mashups and it was all so much silly fun! Not only was this the perfect way to close off the festival, but I feel it epitomises what Infest is all about.
I have to hand it to the festival organisers for putting on one hell of a weekend. Not only was the lineup incredibly strong, but it’s probably the most diverse it’s ever been. It was a gamble that could have fallen flat, but it was pulled of with a finesse that few other events manage. The organisation was on-point, and I felt the whole schedule flowed very smoothly.
Obviously Infest wouldn’t be Infest without one key component; the people. Whilst it felt like I was less social than last year, I still got round to seeing many amazing friends, and it was great to catch up with so many familiar faces. Then there’s the shenanigans that went on, from random spur of the moment partying, to hilarious in-jokes, that I’m sure will last for the years to come. The culmination of all these elements is what made this yet another fantastic weekend, and I cannot wait to do it all again next year.