While the very first Havoc Festival saw headliners Fearless Vampire Killers steal the show by the end of the night (it is their festival, after all!), there were plenty of other great bands that hit the stage on Sunday to show off some of the best of undiscovered British rock. Here’s what we thought of the UK’s newest day festival.
With such a strong line-up, Ashes really do have one of the hardest jobs of the day, what with having to open the proceedings. That said though, they seem unfazed and smash through a brutal set of pure metal. It’s loud, it’s not even a little bit subtle and it gets everyone in the mood for more. Task complete gentlemen! We look forward to seeing you again. 7/10
“Play Killing In The Name”, it’s a heckle that the band have probably heard a million times before, yet there is no denying that Rage Against The Machine is possibly the only band it it possible to compare these guys too. Brutal Rap-Rock is the name of the game here and the crowd absolutely lap it up, like a kitten with a bowl of cream. It’s big, it’s bad-ass and it is absolutely excellent. The perfect way to kick things up a notch or five. 8/10
After hearing Hindsights on record, their upbeat pop-punk sound held a lot of promise to set them apart from the rest of the line-up. However, the gods of technical difficulties seem to be glaring down on Havoc Festival today as their set is riddled with them; they even have to beg another guitar after theirs breaks and, once the loaner also refuses to play ball, their frontman gives up with the guitar altogether and just sings, with his band mate taking over lead guitar duty. Their spirit does falter a little, and you can’t help but feel sorry for their bad luck – especially as they profusely apologise and thank us sincerely for sticking around – but sympathy isn’t really what you want to be left with after a performance. Hindsights have a lot of potential, but unfortunately technical faults let them down today and their short-cut set doesn’t have much of a chance to shine. Better luck next time, boys. 5/10
Let’s just start off by saying that Essex rock band Villains haven’t played a show in a year or so and when a band hasn’t practised their art in a while it creates plenty of opportunities for mistakes. A lot can go wrong when you’ve been off the scene for a while, so there are plenty of people here unsure of what to expect from Villains. However, to say that they surpassed expectation would probably be an understatement. There is a real sense of naturalism that comes from Villains as they play with total ease; their frontman is a born performer, with his high energy and onstage banter making for a real relaxed atmosphere, as well as taking some of the edge off of their heavy sound. They manage to keep their set light, fun and effortless all the way through, and they become one of the more pleasant surprises of the day. 7/10
Allusondrugs are a rare find in rock music today; they’re different. Okay, maybe not ground-breaking, but they do bring something truly unusual to the table that makes them stand a mile out from other bands around right now. With frontman Jason‘s stage presence, it’s impossible not to become captivated by Allusondrugs; from the desperation of his strangled screams and the chaos of his jerky body movements right down to the innocent awkwardness of his oversized, baggy t-shirt and lank blonde hair, he just draws you in. He really seems to feel the music and, in turn, we feel it too. Other band members don’t shy away from the performance side either though, as guitarist Damian goes wild, dancing at every opportunity – even putting down his guitar at one point just to boogie! Despite wishing the vocals could be heard a little more, Allusondrugs are the sort of band who don’t need crystal clear vocals for a crowd to hear the melancholic fun of their pop-grunge music or feel the sense of freedom in the air. 8/10
To say that ZOAX absolutely wiped the floor of Havoc would be the understatement of the year. With a set that combined cuddly toys, beard love, some of the most brutal rock of the day, a magnificent wall of death and an absolute s**t tonne of glitter and talcum powder all over the place (much of it on the band’s front-man), ZOAX tore The Dome apart. One of the best and rawest live performances in recent memory, ZOAX should rightfully be crowned as the Prince’s of party time. Obviously not as Kings though. That’s Andrew WK‘s job. 10/10
Forever Never are given the tough task of following the outstanding ZOAX to warm up the crowd before headliners Fearless Vampire Killers hit the stage, and it would take a real cynic to say they didn’t try their best. Their fans really carry the energy, as most other people are getting a little tired from standing around all day and are in need of some party pioneers to pick up their mood. It’s safe to say Forever Never have a pretty solid run; their vocals are beyond up-to-scratch, their songs bounce nicely between catchy and fun and anthemic sing-a-longs, and their desire to get the crowd involved is admirable. However, thanks to ZOAX’s insane previous performance, people just aren’t feeling this one quite so much. Still, there is a truly touching moment as the band say farewell to long-standing bassist Kev as he plays his last Forever Never show, and the whole room shares an emotional moment – even people who have never heard of Forever Never find themselves wanting to give Kev a good send-off! Forever Never don’t do a bad job – far from it! – but they just simply fall short of what else has been on offer today. If anything, that says something for today’s underground British rock scene! 7/10