ArcTanGent 2014

28th - 30th August 2014

While the branches of the festival are beginning to spread wider, ArcTanGent’s purer post-rock roots will continue to hold it steady.

On paper, last year’s inaugural ArcTanGent was the nichest of festivals. Set amongst the West Country’s minuscule Fernhill Farm, the line-up and clientele was a veritable who’s who of math- and post-rock’s ever-insular scene. It’s a scene that embraces its nerdy stereotype – as the festival returns for a second outing, sensible footwear abounds, scene star Jamie Lenman calls out those in the audience that have grown beards “especially for the occasion”, and the silent disco hides a secret third channel which plays exclusively The Mars Volta. But it’s also a scene which houses a far greater diversity than its surface might suggest.

Thursday begins and ends with a short offering of last year’s highlights, almost all of whom return to the site with new material and a headliner-worthy crowd. TTNG and Three Trapped Tigers lay the progressive groundwork for the weekend, and it’s picked up quickly the next day by Suffer Like G Did, whose jazz-laced instrumental offerings draw an early morning audience that leaves all members visibly humbled. Despite its home life as the solo work of producer Josh Trinniman, in the live setting Brighton’s Luo drag the drum kit away from the backbone of the song, instead bringing their highly technical live drumming to the forefront, and building upon the rest of the band’s whirring and pulsing electronic synth-work. Mutiny On The Bounty are another left-field offering that draw a sizable crowd, laying claim to Saturday afternoon with a frantic thrashing of tangled, electronica-indebted riffs.

ArcTanGent 2014

Samoans offer a more straight-forward rock sound which - while touching base with odd phrasings and expansive, post-rock leanings – ultimately has far more of a Deftones feel to it, and is refreshingly direct amongst a line-up of fretboard noodling and mad time signatures. Aforementioned cult hero Jamie Lenman then returns, and laces his set of abrasive hardcore with nods to his former role as frontman of influential mob Reuben, even dropping a few of their tracks amongst his setlist. It’s a gesture that is repeated by &U&I, who hark back to their Blakfish heritage with a performance of ‘Ringo Star – 2nd Best Drummer In The Beatles’ that subsequently becomes the talking point of the whole weekend.

ArcTanGent 2014 ArcTanGent 2014 ArcTanGent 2014 ArcTanGent 2014 ArcTanGent 2014

There’s pop, too – but not as we know it. Tellison are perhaps closest to the mark with their stripped-down guitar pop, but the more warped perspectives on the genre really shine. Olympians’ choral twist are the perfect addition to a cloudy Friday morning, their on-stage jubilance cheering hearts while their morose musical output hits home amongst the hungover throng. If they can iron out the kinks of their incredibly long-awaited upcoming full-length, they’re sure to grace such stages again.

Gunning For Tamar later take to the same stage, but suffer from an unfortunate clash with current math wonder-kid Mylets and thus draw a sparser crowd than they deserve. It’s only the start of their wasted potential though, as a broken kick drum plagues the entirety of a set which consequently never manages to break out of first gear. The crown ultimately goes to Tall Ships, who are once again ArcTanGent’s shining glory – their heartfelt singalongs housing a crossover potential that could see them headlining not only this festival, but ones far closer to the mainstream in years to come.

Friday’s headliners Russian Circles are upstaged by the early evening’s This Will Destroy You set, which stakes claim to post-rock perfection right from the off with its elegance and emotion. As Japanese instrumental powerhouses Lite and Mono close out the Saturday night in impeccable style, it’s evidence that while the branches of the festival are beginning to spread wider, ArcTanGent’s purer post-rock roots will continue to hold it steady.

The closure of the weekend brings about something of an epiphany; far from the niche festival it initially seems, ArcTanGent is in fact a highly nuanced offering. Under its collective banner of ‘art-rock’, the line-up houses a wonderfully diverse musicianship. Amidst this summer’s festival horror stories of cancellation and missing paychecks, ArcTanGent is a successful beacon for a scene which – for as long as it sets foot on this farm - no longer has to lurk in the shadows.

Tags: Tall Ships, ArcTanGent, Festivals, Reviews, Live Reviews

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