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"A happy cyber bubble!"
Infest 2007 @ Bradford Uni, reviewed by Dr Dott
In the welcoming confines of a goth/alternative festival such as Infest, where the atmosphere is a bit like going clubbing with a thousand of your friends, it's easy to forget that the world isn't so open minded about how people choose to dress...
Soman @ Infest 2007, Bradford
Infest 2007 at Bradford University Students Union is a happy cyber bubble, where people are proud of their wool hair falls, and the wilder the outfit the better. But small reminders happen throughout the festival: this year from the carloads of lads making comments while driving past festival-goers at night, and from the sad news of the death of Sophie Lancaster, beaten up a few weeks previously, most probably for her alternative look. VNV Nation, Sunday's headliners, dedicated song 'Illusion' to her, with singer Ronan Harris gently imploring the crowd, 'Please Don't Change'.
The Gothsicles @ Infest, 2007
But in the world of Infest, the show must go on – and go on it did. For the tenth anniversary Infest, celebrating the growth from its roots as a goth/industrial festival to the UK's premier alternative/electronic event, and bringing together bands and festival-goers from all over the world, the emphasis was on fun. Opening the festival in style were the Gothsicles. The Gothsicles? Why did they hire a band with a name like that? Starting the show with a specially written song ('Holy S**t, We're Playing Infest!'), the band spent the entire set bouncing around with tonnes of energy, performing humorous songs with a knowing satire of goth and geekery, including a cover of the Duck Tales theme tune...For a first band, they certainly made an impact!
It wouldn't be Infest without a few noise bands creating electronic music full of samples and pounding beats, and Greyhound filled the gap with the UK debut for this German duo. They suffered somewhat from following the Gothsicles – there's only so much you can do on stage with two men and two mixers – but seemed to get people dancing. Finishing off the Friday session were Portion Control, the seminal British industrial legends. The most confrontational stage show of the festival saw the lead singer pacing around the stage like a caged animal, with a heavy on the bass, old school EBM [Electronic Body Music. Music Ed.] sound.
Saturday afternoon dawned bright and early (?!) with Synnack, aided onstage by Tony from Autoclav1.1, with a mesmerising electronic experimental sound, getting people moving at 4pm. To follow this was another UK debut, Faderhead. Performing a mixture of techno and punk, with a laidback Southern US drawl over the top – confusingly, for a German band – they played songs that wouldn't sound out of place on a Radio 1 evening show (such as the dancefloor hit 'Dirtygrrls/Dirtybois'), and others which wouldn't pass the censors. This band certainly won a few new fans.
ESA @ Infest 2007
The next band was Caustic who ruined Infest for everyone - according to the stickers they handed out afterwards. Only, given the buzz from the crowd following the performance, they didn't manage to fulfil this aim. Backed by the Gothsicles (were they drunk, or was the exaggerated staggering about the stage done for amusement? Who can tell..?), Matt Fanale was quite a hit with his playful and cheeky songs. These included 'The Reason I Broke Up With You Is A Million Reasons You Psychotic Wang' which was livened up by the addition of psycho-ex stories. The tone of the show was set at the start, with the addition of go-go dancers in inflatable sumo fat-suits, and confirmed later with the addition of guest guitarist Keef Baker. In a sparkly dress and fez...
Bringing the festival back down to earth were Dope Stars Inc, an Italian band tipped to be the next darkwave superstars. An interesting choice for Infest, they took to the stage with a wash of guitars, and mixed harsh drums and their guitar riffs with electronic sounds. 13th Monkey followed, bringing to the stage a loud mix of techno and rhythmic noise and a toy monkey, all with a backdrop of excerpts from Monkey the TV series.
Headliners for the night were Apoptygma Berzerk, last appearing at Infest in 1999, when they were starting to become a favourite on the darkwave/EBM scene. They opened with 'Starsign', a sure way to get the crowd on your side, and the dancefloor was packed with people trying to dance and see the show. The addition of guitarist and live drums added to the mix, and there was a really good reaction from the audience.
ESA and frontman J Blacker were given the daunting job of warming the crowd up during the 4pm slot on Sunday. His death metal origin showed through the use of a guitar and live drumming, mixed to give electronic noise. Guest vocalists, including Erica (Unter Null) on 'We All Know The World Is Wrong', added an extra edge. This was a very nice concept, albeit needing some polishing for the live performance.
Next up was another UK debut, the synthpop band of the festival Rupesh Cartel. They were pleasantly upbeat but just didn't carry enough of the happy poppy bounciness normally associated with this sort of act at Infest. Painbastard took to the stage next, bringing the strange dichotomy of a man dressed in armour with buzz saws for shoulder pads, growling menacingly at the audience during songs with an overly happy 'pleased to be here' attitude between songs. Described as a massive wall of sonic terror, it could well have been terrifying without knowing he's actually a lovely person, not a Doctor Who villain.
Soman followed. Looking suspiciously like Vin Diesel in Pitch Black, complete with shades, Soman is another act consisting of a man and a mixer. Unlike other bands from the same genre, however there were breaks between songs and actual talking to the audience from another artist definitely happy to be there.
Apoptygma Berzerk @ Infest 2007
To round things up were headliners VNV Nation, taking to the stage in matching VNV shirts. With a cry of, 'Welcome to the glowstick capital of the world!', Ronan Harris, Mark Jackson and co took to the stage to present their range of dancefloor hits. The stand-up comedy (from Harris, Jim Bowen impersonator of the goth scene) was unexpected but filled nicely the gap when the drum kit fell to pieces, and they continued the fun theme for their third Infest appearance. VNV really know how to work the audience, dedicating a very unromantic sounding song to the couples in the audience, and admitting that all of their songs sound the same, but were still able to switch to serious during 'Illusion'. The only downside to the performance were the attention seeking overlong waits between the two encores.
After this were a few more hours of dancing and DJs, and then a return to normality...
last updated: 04/09/07
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