On a mild day in March, Southampton University became home to one of the UK’s best Alternative music festivals – Takedown. Full of appreciators of dyed hair, band clothes (these people actually know who the bands on their clothes were, unlike many of those who own a Ramones or Nirvana T-Shirt from a certain high-street clothing store… You know the one…), piercings, tattoo’s, multi-coloured hair and, most importantly of all, rock, metal, punk and whole plethora of alternative music. MOSH went along to witness this spectacular display of love for the Alternative music scene over 4 different stages. Here’s What we thought…
So to kick off the afternoon we began at the Stag’s Head Stage, with it’s properly pub-like feel and intimate atmosphere. A pint of lager-shandy was bought (well, the sun was shining bright and warm, what else would you order?) and we hit the stage just as Astroid Boys made there way onto it. Now, it is not uncommon for rock fans to like a bit of rap music, with acts such Limp Bizkit and Rage Against The Machine being proof in itself. However at a festival like Takedown the guys in Astroid Boys look massively out of place. With dark bass lines and hefty beats supplied by a DJ and drummer combo, fronted by three MC’s, the lackluster crowd response was matched only by the band’s performance. A lesson in how having a chugging guitar sample playing every now again does not make you a rock band. That’s not to say that at another festival or venue, these guys couldn’t tear it up, but not today.
Off to the Main Stage next, in all it’s glorious splendor. A huge room in the center of the festival, but not so huge as to destroy any feelings of intimacy between performer and spectator. Here we find Empire getting ready to let rip for the next half an hour, with a small yet eager crowd. Let rip they sure did! The band are as tight as they are ferocious in all the best ways, with a blend of heavy-hitting rhythms and roaring guitars playing behind a lead vocalist with seemingly limitless range and power. From Ville Valoe style highs through to Bon Scott esque shrieks, with an almost symphonic rock sound akin to bands such as Alter Bridge, Empire press all the right buttons. We predict that, much like the vocal abilities of their front-man, the future holds no boundaries for them!
Away from the main stage, just off the University reception desk there lay a room, known for today only as The Obsidian Bond Stage, hosted by Goth-Rockers Fearless Vampire Killers! Sounds are being checked, vodka-lemonades are being poured and Ugly Love front-man Tom Adolph can be found changing into a Zebra-Print shirt that can only be described as fabulous. The response the band receive right from the off is nothing short of stupendous. Every person that stands in front of the band know every line to every single song that roars through the PA System. The guys are in full stride as well, offering up an explosive performance, with a fine blend of rock ‘n’ roll showmanship, topped with a sumptuous dollop of sleaze and just a sprinkling of tongue-in-cheek camp, making these guys stand out as nothing if not unique. Ugly Love know how to party and deliver a set of no-frills rock, complete with a tonne of audience interaction (their trolling of the audience mid-song was a particular highlight, leaving a crowd singing to nothing but silence), a few crowd-surfers and the longest conga-line Takedown has ever seen. Never pass up a chance to party with Ugly Love.
Next up to storm the Obsidian Bond Stage are AshesToAngels, a four piece goth-punk outfit, with possibly the most glitter-soaked bassist the world has ever seen )or will ever see). Right from the off, lead-singer Adam Crilly leaps into the audience, held up by captivated fans as he roars into a microphone. The band are on top form, with breakneck riffs and head pounding drums being the order of the day, served to a Michelin Star standard. Heads banged, the crowd jumped and stage divers dived. A slight moment of over excitement and a call to ‘see some violence’ in the pit sees some moshers getting a little carried away with themselves, but this is but a brief lapse in what is easily one of the most extravagant performances of the day
Once the glitter and sweat has been cleared from the stage, it’s time for Hawk Eyes to strut their stuff. Right from the go, the old school rock sensibilities are evident. With filthy guitar riffs and dramatic tunes combined with a strong sense of urgency, Hawk Eyes know their sound and work it well, much like the love-child of Killswitch Engage and Foo Fighters. The slightly held-back performance, although a welcome break after the previous bands merciless onslaught, feels a little too reserved. Musically, there are no complaints to be found, although a little more showmanship would have gone a long way.
Back at the Stags Head Stage, a young man with floppy black hair fronts a band who are absolutely killing the room, with a noticeably high level of young ladies in the crowd. The sounds that spill forth are nothing short of marvelous. Creeper are in full swing, with a sound and image that puts them in the running to fill the now empty podium that My Chemical Romance once stood upon. With plenty of youthful good looks and charm, Creeper could so easily rely on these traits along to build themselves up, but that certainly is not the case. Offering up firey lashings of punk, similar to that of the aforementioned MCR, mixed together with an old school Green Day and Fall Out Boy vibe, Creeper put on an excellent show, with plenty of energy to keep the crowd pumped.
A swift journey back to the main stage finds Arcane Roots already smashing the living daylights out of their set. Head-banging, fist-pumping rock at it’s purest is what these guys are all about. An absolutely stunning stage dynamic and a sound as tight as a penguins posterior, as they smash their way through a fearsome set full of anthem quality tunes. Arcane Roots came to rock and did just that, in absolute splendor.
Back at The Stags Head stage, Decade have brought their own brand of simplistic yet catchy Pop-Punk to add to the proceedings of the day. Their energetic sounds and party-time fun stage manner hits all the right notes with the younger festival goers, offering a refreshingly lighter sound to the bands that have graced this stage so far, causing the crowd to bounce like waves through the ocean. To put it in it’s simplest terms, Decade are a hell of a lot of fun to watch and make sure they keep their audience engaged. The music is pretty generic, with very little in the way of change in dynamics. About three quarters of their way into their set of angsty Pop-Punk, a slight change in pace would have been welcome, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. A great band to party to!
On the Main Stage, with one of the most highly anticipated sets of the day, The Blackout have a hell of a lot of expectation to live up to. Takedown 2015 sees their last ever South Coast performance, so emotions are running high among those in attendance, many of whom are evidently dedicated fans. The lights dim, then explode as the band fly out onto the stage and straight into their first number, no introduction needed. The set that follows is nothing short of a greatest hits compilation, full of audience sing-alongs, which peak with such tremendous volumes that it’s a wonder that there are no complaints from other stages. Their reminder that this is the last show of it’s kind is met with an explosion of booing, followed by uproarious cheering. It’s a big moment for the band, yet not once do they break their stride as they smash out song after song, with few gaps in-between. As the lights dim and the set is over, the love shown for the band is clear to see, with some audience members brought to tears. The Blackout may now be gone, but they didn’t go without a huge bang.
At last it was time to hit the Uprawr stage for Bleed From Within, with it’s dark and dingy setting being an almost direct contrast to the rest of the festival, the atmosphere is noticeably different. A nearby festival-goer can be overheard making a remark about how the testosterone levels are roughly 10,000 higher here than anywhere else, which is not far wrong. Bleed From Within chug and bellow their way through a 40 minute set of nothing but the most heavy-hitting hardcore possible. Strangely, the crowd is a lot more reserved than they have been at the other stages of the festival, mainly standing still, head banging appreciatively, until a wall of death is called out for, causing untold chaos and a mass panic attack amongst the security team present. Strangely though, once the wall dies down, the audience go back to their original state. As strange as the reaction is from such an evidently ‘Metal-Head’ audience, the band don’t let that stop them from throwing themselves around in a flurry of hair wind-milling, sweat and huge breakdowns. Loud, heavy and sweaty, Bleed From Within is an example of how Hardcore should be done!
Headlining the Obsidian Bond stage are Goth-Rock outfit Fearless Vampire Killers. With the room now at boiling point (both in a figurative and literal sense), expectations are running high, and boy are those expectations met and surpassed with ease. A set mixing new material with fan favourites sees the audience driven wild, with crowd surfers flying all over the place, a single fan jumping on stage to sing along with front-men Laurence Beveridge and Kier Kemp (much to the delight of those in attendance) and an encore involving a stage invasion from the other bands who have played throughout the day. FVK hold absolutely nothing back and deliver a no-frills, spectacular lesson in rock at it’s roots. Playing hard, fast and loud, this is without doubt one of the best sets we saw at the festival and a mind-blowing close to the Obisidan Bond Stage. Here’s hoping that Takedown 2016 will see a return from the guys to a similar reaction.
With every other stage now closed and the Festival in it’s final hour, the main stage fills up ready to see tonight’s main attraction: Mallory Knox. The crowd, although tiring from a full on day of rocking, greet the band with the humongous response they are deserving of. A set filled with crowd pleasing material is a great way to finish the day, yet there is something that just doesn’t quite match up to Obsidian Bond Headliners, Fearless Vampire Killers. Flashing lights and a far larger stage production give the set plenty of pomp and ceremony, but it lacks in energy. Perhaps it’s just because it’s the end of a very long day, but everything feels almost subdued. Mallory Knox play through all their songs to a great quality, but the charm of the other stages (or even on this very stage when The Blackout where stood upon it) just isn’t there. A good end to a fantastic day, but there was a potential for so much more.
Words by: Mitch Emery
Photos by: Ellie Mitchell