Hevy Festival 2010: Rated!
Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent - 6-8 August
12 August 2010
Overall – 9/10
Fans of alternative music rarely find a festival bill that puts all their favourite bands in a single field for one weekend, but it’s clear from the overwhelming feeling of sheer excitement as campers turn up on Friday that the organisers of Hevy Festival have done just that. Offering a line-up that many of the people here have probably dreamt about, with the added bonus of thrill rides, extreme sports displays and a built-in safari park, it’s hard not to be enthusiastic.
Aside from the weather having a couple of shots at ruining things for people spending the weekend in tents, and an overzealous security team intent on firmly policing the already fairly strict conditions of entry (no aerosols, no glass, alcohol limits, no re-entry), this is a weekend that won’t be forgotten by those who attended, for all the right reasons.
Getting there and back – 8/10
While the site isn’t particularly close to any local train stations, it’s a bus ride from both Ashford and Folkestone, a service that runs regularly throughout the day. As the festival site is in the grounds of Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, it’s already a stop on the bus route and most locals and taxi drivers know the location. Driving is easy thanks to the signs directing drivers to the festival/animal park straight from the M20 – connected to the M25 and therefore everywhere else, ever - and while the privilege of a parking pass is an extra £5 at the gate, plenty of people seem to have taken this option.
The site – 8/10
The site is very small but at the same time is a massive step up for the team behind the festival, who last year operated just a single day event for just 2000 fans. This has its pros and cons; it is clearly a steep learning curve, evident in the huge queues at the gate as security search every single bag, the lack of organisation for press, and a few other missing details once the festival is underway. However, these are overshadowed by the opportunity to see some top bands from the alternative genres in intimate settings and experience the whole thing with a handful of like-minded fans. Each of the four stages is a short walk from the next, but they are carefully laid out to minimise noise leaking when two bands are playing at once.
The campsite is close enough to the festival that it’s not a pain to wander back to the tent, and the area of toilets in between the two is enough to serve both sites.
At a festival with this much noise, it’s understandable that some people will be seeking a bit of peace and quiet, which in this case comes in the form of the Port Lympne Wild Animal Park: a 600-acre landscape with enclosures, breathtaking views, and huge areas of wildlife where rare and endangered animals are free to roam as part of a variety breeding programmes and conservation projects. As you venture further into the Park the music disappears completely and it’s easy to forget there’s a festival’s worth of hardcore and metal bands playing a few minutes walk away.
Atmosphere – 9/10
The alternative crowd are largely a friendly bunch and even more so when surrounded by great music, just enough alcohol to party and generally good weather. Rain on Friday night does its best to dampen spirits – along with almost everybody’s clothes, sleeping bags and food – but by late morning on Saturday the sound of rock music pumping through the PA along with coffee, beer and exquisite potato wedges sets the mood back in the right direction. As the live bands start up around lunchtime, the response is great and it’s a sign of things to come over the next two nights. As with most festivals, with the exception of a few stand-out daytime acts, the headliners come out to the best reception, but even the relatively unknown bands on this bill seem to be given a fair chance.
Music – 10/10
While the addition of extreme sports and access to a safari park prove popular with this festival crowd, the music is by far the main attraction. A carefully-produced line-up of acts ranging from the established and internationally respected – Glassjaw, Sepultura and Comeback Kid among a few others – to the up and coming and those new to the festival circuit – Young Guns, Pulled Apart By Horses and Deaf Havana – all set on unusually small festival stages in order to treat fans to some of the most special shows they will see all year. For some of the bands, including Glassjaw, it’s a chance to show off new material rather than taking the easy option of a ‘greatest hits’ set, and for others it’s an opportunity to draw in new fans. Either way, it’s clear that everyone is here for the music.
Failsafe – 8/10
Easily one of the tightest live acts of the weekend, Failsafe are an established touring band with a set that still sounds fresh. Every harmony is spot-on and the energy is constant throughout the set, but singer Jim Norris’ rockstar moves and shouts fail to motivate the small, hung-over crowd into action.
Pulled Apart By Horses – 9/10
Exciting band touring material from their first album, reminiscent of when Biffy Clyro were still interesting, the songs are as unpredictable and thrilling as the live show.
Comeback Kid – 10/10
Playing their only UK date this summer, Canada’s Comeback Kid use the opportunity to prove they are far more than just the band who wrote ‘Wake The Dead’. With a set that spans three albums and a brand new song, they have a rapport with the crowd that only comes with years of touring and a genuine belief in what they do.
Frank Carter’s desperate attempts to get the crowd moving during the marginally-above-average set from Gallows, until fans eventually give in and form a circle pit so big it becomes a group of people just going for a jog around a field in the dark.